Looking with a Critical Eye

Is the current Bishop of Rome serious about change in the Church of Rome? In a brilliant essay my friend Dr Mary Hunt speaks truth to power and identifies the porquerias which Francis verbalizes on a regular basis.

Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D., is a feminist theologian who is co-founder and co-director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. A Catholic active in the women-church movement, she lectures and writes on theology and ethics with particular attention to social justice concerns.

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Her essay:

Pope Francis is a Feminist? Not!

by Mary E. Hunt

August 5, 2015

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Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig in The New Republic thinks that feminists should not give up on Francis. Maybe not though he provides little to chime my feminist bells. My view is that any suggestion that Pope Francis is a feminist is like calling Raul Castro a Republican. It is simply absurd.

While one can affirm many good things about Francis’ views on the environment, the end of capitalism, and the need to transform global structures of power, all of which I agree with, his views on women and most ethical issues having particular impact on women are problematic with devastating consequences. Think about the ban on birth control and then try to use the word “feminist” in the same sentence. It does not compute. The educational needs of poor women and dependent children are simply too grand to pass over a key element of what opens doors for them, namely, safe, reliable, legal, and economical forms of family planning.

Time and again Francis reiterates what in Argentine Spanish is called “porquerias,” a folksy way of saying “rubbish” or “garbage.” His pious statements about women as mothers and wives are embarrassing. His notion that women theologians are like “strawberries on the cake” would make Sigmund Freud do a double take. When he isn’t joking about women, he is proclaiming the need for more women to be involved in church life without making any structural changes, e.g. ordination, to make that real. One statement in which he said having women in key positions would be a form of “functionalism” remains completely obscure. Whatever can he mean? What does having men in those jobs signal? I admit that I am confounded by it.

On his recent trip to Ecuador, Francis had lunch with a group of Jesuits. A picture of it is haunting. The pope and two dozen of his confreres were enjoying a happy occasion at a well-set table with a nice red wine, joking and toasting as the boys will do. Several women, hovering in the background and well out of their sight, served the table. One peers around the corner of the open door (to the kitchen no doubt). The men are focused entirely on one another; the women exist to serve them, if they exist at all. The photo captures a reality I have seen too often. It makes me ill.

Uncritical journalists give Francis a pass on women, as if he were someone’s old uncle who just crawled out from under a rock. Yet they praise his pastoral touch, his homilies, and his erudition on lofty matters of science and economics. What would it take to get him to sit down with a few women and hear how we see things? I could connect him with some powerful feminists in Argentina who could talk in his preferred language about experiences in settings he knows well. They would give him an earful and be ready to answer his questions with patience and kindness.

pope with colleagues-Articolo

Did it ever occur to the gentlemen at the luncheon to turn the tables and serve the women the next day? Women are not decorations and servants. We are far more than the sum of our marital status and our commitments to children. Many of us are trained and able, capable of professional work with the best of men, no questions asked. And we are well aware of the plight of most women in the world who still can’t resist their husbands sexual advances, many of whom lose children to unclean water, live with HIV/AIDS, and want the best for their families. What is so complicated that he can’t understand about twenty-first century women?

It is amazing that someone who can call for massive lifestyle changes to deal with climate change cannot see the connection between women’s reproductive choices and population issues. It is stunning that someone who preaches equality at every turn has to think twice about ordaining women to the priestly ministry and thereby including them in the decision-making structures of their own church. It is beyond belief that a pope who understands global politics does not get the fundamentals of feminism that that shares many of the same goals he espouses but with full and dynamic participation of women on women’s own terms.

How does one explain a pope who comes from a male religious community with many, perhaps a majority of, gay members who is unable to see the beautiful reality of same-sex love and justice of marriage equality? What gives Francis the right to pronounce on women’s use of contraceptives and abortion as if he were going to care for the children that result from policies he supports?

Apologists for Francis reinforce and reinscribe male power by ignoring his limitations when it comes to women. My question is why so many people, especially in the media, are so enthusiastic about him despite this major lacuna in his thinking. Obviously his predecessors were even less attuned to how cultures have changed with regard to gender and sexuality. But it is only if one brackets the matters most specific to women that such enthusiasm can be sustained. I, for one, cannot bring myself to do so.

I cannot utter a full-throated praise of Francis much as I support his efforts to socialize resources and protect our fragile Earth. I respect him, which means I have high expectations and high hopes. Thus far, I have been deeply disappointed when it comes to half of the world. What surprises me is that many others do not respect him and expect as much of him as I do.

What does he have to do to erase the asterisk I put on virtually every sentence he speaks– *except for women? First, the problem is not really the pope but the papacy. The very structure of a hierarchy with one person in the highest spot is antithetical to feminist commitments to participation and power sharing. The logical step would be to jettison the papacy and every structure that flows from it in favor of a horizontal, concentric circles model of church.

Assuming that won’t happen, I would expect him—as a minimum condition for qualifying for a history-changing papacy—to strike down all distinctions between men and women in church teachings and policies. That would mean making women eligible for every office and ministry, involving women in making decisions at every level, and ending clericalism as we know it. He would also need to regularize the sacraments for everyone, i.e., ordination of all who feel called, are trained, and vetted; marriage for all who request the sacrament, including same-sex couples.

If there is any justification for a hierarchical structure with one person having Francis’ quantity of power, it must be used to open doors. Thus, Francis could show his colors by telling recalcitrant church officials to rehire those fired because of their sexuality, reappoint priests who have married, receive with a warm welcome those who are divorced and remarried, and especially make reparations for sexual abuse and its cover-up by clergy. That’s for starters and none of it is novel, just common sense driven by history and the good example of other Christian groups.

The argument will be that no one can change a two thousand year old institution in five years. To the contrary, I think that anything less is simply more of the same power wielding of his predecessors albeit with a kinder, gentler face. After all, we now send an email in a nanosecond rather than posting a letter to the Vatican in the diplomatic pouch. Now is the time to change while there are still people who are interested. Millenials’ interest in things Catholic is surely on the wane. Concern for market share if nothing else ought to play a role in making change.

It is all well and good for Francis to decry capitalism and call for environmental changes. But without a) involving women as full partners, b) making connections between patriarchal theological ideas and problems of inequality planet-wide, and c) leaving aside outmoded notions of women as virgins and mothers, this pope will be half as effective as he could be, and nothing even faintly resembling a feminist. I know a lot of women (and a few feminist men) around the world who would be delighted to help him change that.

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My addendum:

As a liberal Protestant with intellectual roots deep in the Reformation, I personally take a much more critical view of Pope Francis. Dr Hunt’s essay is, in my mind, generous to the man. My Protestant sensibilities are offended by the very concepts of “papacy” and “infallibility” and the other assorted heresies which those unbiblical concepts have spawned. In my view Francis is a bishop, the Bishop of Rome, one among thousands of Christian bishops in the multiple branches of Christianity and he is no more unique than the bishops of the Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist churches or any other such called and anointed bishops, women and men alike.

The Great Charter~June 15, 1215

The Great Charter

King John I signs the Great Charter

King John I signs the Great Charter

On this date in 1215 England’s King John I made peace with contentious nobles by signing the Magna Carta or Great Charter. John was the fifth and youngest son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He had none of the political skill of his father and certainly none of the intelligence of his brilliant mother. He ascended the throne of the death of his older brother, King Richard, the Lion-Hearted. As I used to tell my students, King John was in every way as nasty a piece of work as portrayed in the Robin Hood legends and then some.

Circa 1150, Eleanor of Aquitaine (c.1122 - 1204), the wife of King Louis VII of France and later of Henry II of England. One of her sons by Henry was Richard the Lionheart. Original Artwork: Taken from the carving on her tomb at Fontevrault. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Circa 1150, Eleanor of Aquitaine (c.1122 – 1204)

King John declared the Magna Carta invalid in September of 1216, barely a month before his own death and fighting with the nobles– both Norman and Saxon– continued. When John died his young son, Henry, needed the support of the nobility to keep the throne, and so Henry’s guardian issued an edited version of the Magna Carta. The adult King Henry III re-issued a final version of the Magna Carta in 1225, though it did not officially become law until 1295.While most of the rights in the Magna Carta, like the protections against unreasonable taxes and fees, had already been established by the Charter of Liberties, and others had been established by previous monarchs (John’s father, Henry II, had established a fairly decent system of trial by jury), the Magna Carta included one significant provision that had never been put into law before– the Council of Barons. This turned the Magna Carta from a list of intentions and promises, like the Charter of Liberties, into a document that could actually be enforced on the king. The Magna Carta meant that the king’s power was no longer completely absolute; however, the monarch continued to exercise great power until additional changes took place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, giving shape to the English monarchy as we know it today.

monument at Runnymede

monument at Runnymede

What did the Great Charter actually say and do?

The Magna Carta prevented the king from levying taxes without his nobles’ permission, except in a few special situations, and from demanding goods or services without payment from his free subjects. It also limited the power of the barons to levy taxes on their own feudal subjects, and protected debtors from having their land seized to pay their debts, except as a last resort.

The Magna Carta protected the widows and heirs of nobles from having to pay unreasonable fees to receive their inheritances, and ensured that they would receive enough money to live on even if their husbands or fathers died in debt, as well as making the royal officials who managed the estates of underage heirs accountable for how the estates were run. It also limited the power of the king to force the widows and children of barons to marry, a power King John had abused for his own profit.

The Magna Carta set up permanent courts for different kinds of cases, and forced royal officials who accused someone of a crime to produce witnesses to prove their case. It protected free men from fines that would ruin them or that were out of proportion to their crime, and protected nobles from being fined except by the rest of the nobility. On the other hand, the Magna Carta also established that priests could be fined under the same rules as lay people. It established protection for free men from being arrested or punished in any way unless the punishment has been agreed by a jury of their equals or decreed by law.

One of the most important steps the Magna Carta took was the establishment of a council of twenty-five barons to enforce the rights it granted. The Council of Barons had the right to challenge the king if he or any of his officials violated any of the provisions of the Magna Carta, and if the king refused to make reparations, the council could force him to comply by seizing his royal property. The council was not elected by the people. When members died or left, the remaining members chose noblemen to replace them but by setting up a group of subjects with the power to hold the king to account, and to punish him if he failed to abide by the law, the Magna Carta paved the way for the later creation of Parliament, beginning around 1295.

tomb of King John I

tomb of King John I

We must remember that the Great Charter was created by nobles and a king not interested in civil rights but only in reaching a bargain to avoid civil war. Its purpose was to protect the nobility from the King. It did nothing for the peasant. It offered nothing for the Jews, the Scots or the Irish, or any foreigners living in or conducting business in England.

Yet it had long-reaching effects in establishing constitutional government in Great Britain and in the United States.

A Note to My Readers

My apologies for not keeping the flow going about the events of April, 1865. However, I have been busy with involvements in family matters & awaiting the birth of grandchild #8 in the next weeks. I will as soon as I can post materials on April, 1865 & on May, 1865. These I will follow with a periodic series which I’m calling “After the War”– a look at how some of the people whose letters, diaries and adventures I have described over the last four years continued their lives after the spring of 1865.

Be well! Keep reading! Remember: “A page of history is worth a volume of logic.”

Clio, the Muse of History

Clio, the Muse of History

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

1
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

2
O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

3
In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.

4
In the swamp in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary the thrush,
The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat,
Death’s outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
If thou wast not granted to sing thou wouldst surely die.)

5
Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep’d
from the ground, spotting the gray debris,
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the
endless grass,
Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the
dark-brown fields uprisen,
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards,
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.

6
Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop’d flags with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves as of crape-veil’d women standing,
With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the
unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong
and solemn,
With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour’d around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—where amid these
you journey,
With the tolling tolling bells’ perpetual clang,
Here, coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac.

7
(Nor for you, for one alone,
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring,
For fresh as the morning, thus would I chant a song for you O sane
and sacred death.

All over bouquets of roses,
O death, I cover you over with roses and early lilies,
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes,
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you and the coffins all of you O death.)

8
O western orb sailing the heaven,
Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk’d,
As I walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,
As you droop’d from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the
other stars all look’d on,)
As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something I know not
what kept me from sleep,)
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you
were of woe,
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night,
As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black
of the night,
As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.

9
Sing on there in the swamp,
O singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear your call,
I hear, I come presently, I understand you,
But a moment I linger, for the lustrous star has detain’d me,
The star my departing comrade holds and detains me.

10
O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love?

Sea-winds blown from east and west,
Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till
there on the prairies meeting,
These and with these and the breath of my chant,
I’ll perfume the grave of him I love.

11
O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,
To adorn the burial-house of him I love?
Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes,
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright,
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking
sun, burning, expanding the air,
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves
of the trees prolific,
In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a
wind-dapple here and there,
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky,
and shadows,
And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys,
And all the scenes of life and the workshops, and the workmen
homeward returning.

12
Lo, body and soul—this land,
My own Manhattan with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides,
and the ships,
The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light,
Ohio’s shores and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies cover’d with grass and corn.

Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty,
The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes,
The gentle soft-born measureless light,
The miracle spreading bathing all, the fulfill’d noon,
The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.

13
Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird,
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes,
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.

Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.

O liquid and free and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul—O wondrous singer!
You only I hear—yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,)
Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.

14
Now while I sat in the day and look’d forth,
In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring, and
the farmers preparing their crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb’d winds and the storms,)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the
voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sail’d,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy
with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with
its meals and minutia of daily usages,
And the streets how their throbbings throbb’d, and the cities pent—
lo, then and there,
Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping me with the rest,
Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail,
And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.

Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding the hands of
companions,
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not,
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars and ghostly pines so still.

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv’d me,
The gray-brown bird I know receiv’d us comrades three,
And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love.

From deep secluded recesses,
From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still,
Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol rapt me,
As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night,
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.

Come lovely and soothing death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later delicate death.

Prais’d be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,
And for love, sweet love—but praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.

Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.

Approach strong deliveress,
When it is so, when thou hast taken them I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss O death.

From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feastings for thee,
And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread shy are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night in silence under many a star,
The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know,
And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil’d death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

Over the tree-tops I float thee a song,
Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the
prairies wide,
Over the dense-pack’d cities all and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee O death.

15
To the tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night.

Loud in the pines and cedars dim,
Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume,
And I with my comrades there in the night.

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,
As to long panoramas of visions.

And I saw askant the armies,
I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags,
Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierc’d with missiles I saw them,
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody,
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in silence,)
And the staffs all splinter’d and broken.

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,
I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war,
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not,
The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d,
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d,
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.

16
Passing the visions, passing the night,
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands,
Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul,
Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling,
flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again
bursting with joy,
Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,
Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring.

I cease from my song for thee,
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.

Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe,
With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep, for
the dead I loved so well,
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands—and this for
his dear sake,
Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.

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This poem is one of several that Walt Whitman wrote in honor President Lincoln after the President’s murder. it was published in 1865. It is my personal favorite and I think it one of Whitman’s best poems.

Murder Most Foul ~ April 14 and 15, 1865

Murder Most Foul!

assassination2

As I have studied over the course of almost three decades the roots and causes of the Civil War, the people and events of that fratricidal conflict, and the people and events of the decades after the war, I am more and more convinced that the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was the most evil and heinous crime in American history. By killing the President, John Wilkes Booth did grievous harm to the United States as a whole and the South in particular. Had Lincoln lived to complete his second term he would have led the country on a far better path, as outlined in his passionate Second Inaugural, than Andrew Johnson did. His absence hurt the reconciliation between North and South and left open the door to many wrongs against African Americans. In my mind Booth is far and away the worst criminal in American history. If Dante’s Inferno exists, Booth would be one of history’s greatest traitors being chewed eternally in the mouth of Satan. Herein follows a description from an eye witness to the tragedy.

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

From the diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

“‘I had,’ the President remarked, ‘this strange dream again last night, and we shall, judging from the past, have great news very soon. I think it must be from Sherman. My thoughts are in that direction, as are most of yours.”

I write this conversation three days after it occurred, in consequence of what took place Friday night, and but for which the mention of this dream would probably have never been noted. Great events did, indeed, follow, for within a few hours the good and gentle, as well as truly great, man who narrated his dream closed forever his earthly career.

I had retired to bed about half past-ten on the evening of the 14th of April, and was just getting asleep when Mrs. Welles, my wife, said some one was at our door. Sitting up in bed, I heard a voice twice call to John, my son, whose sleeping-room was on the second floor directly over the front entrance. I arose at once and raised a window, when my messenger, James Smith, called to me that Mr. Lincoln, the President, had been shot, and said Secretary Seward and his son, Assistant Secretary Frederick Seward, were assassinated. James was much alarmed and excited. I told him his story was very incoherent and improbable, that he was associating men who were not together and liable to attack at the same time. ‘Where,’I inquired, ‘was the President when shot?’ James said he was at Ford’s Theatre on 10th Street. ‘Well,’ said I, ‘Secretary Seward is an invalid in bed in his house yonder on 15th Street.’ James said he had been there, stopped in at the house to make inquiry before alarming me.

Lincoln's rocking chair in which he sat at the theater

Lincoln’s rocking chair in which he sat at the theater

I immediately dressed myself, and, against the earnest remonstrance and appeals of my wife, went directly to Mr. Seward’s, whose residence was on the east side of the square, mine being on the north. James accompanied me. As we were crossing 15th Street, I saw four or five men in earnest consultation, standing under the lamp on the corner by St. John’s Church. Before I had got half across the street, the lamp was suddenly extinguished and the knot of persons rapidly dispersed. For a moment and but a moment I was disconcerted to find myself in darkness, but, recollecting that it was late and about time for the moon to rise, I proceeded on, not having lost five steps, merely making a pause without stopping. Hurrying forward into 15th Street, I found it pretty full of people, especially so near the residence of Secretary Seward, where there were many soldiers as well as citizens already gathered. Entering the house, I found the lower hall and office full of persons, and among them most of the foreign legations, all anxiously inquiring what truth there was in the horrible rumors afloat. I replied that my object was to ascertain the facts. Proceeding through the hall to the stairs, I found one, and I think two, of the servants there holding the crowd in check. The servants were frightened and appeared relieved to see me. I hastily asked what truth there was in the story that an assassin or assassins had entered the house and assaulted the Secretary. They said it was true, and that Mr. Frederick was also badly injured. They wished me to go up, but no others. At the head of the first stairs I met the elder Mrs. Seward, who was scarcely able to speak but desired me to proceed up to Mr. Seward’s room. I met Mrs. Frederick Seward on the third story, who, although in extreme distress, was, under the circumstances, exceedingly composed. I asked for the Secretary’s room, which she pointed out, the southwest room. As I entered, I met Miss Fanny Seward, with whom I exchanged a single word, and proceeded to the foot of the bed. Dr. Verdi and, I think, two others were there. The bed was saturated with blood. The Secretary was lying on his back, the upper part of his head covered by a cloth, which extended down over his eyes. His mouth was open, the lower jaw dropping down. I exchanged a few whispered words with Dr. Verdi. Secretary Stanton, who came after but almost simultaneously with me, made inquiries in a louder tone till admonished by a word from one of the physicians. We almost immediately withdrew and went into the adjoining front room, where lay Frederick Seward. His eyes were open but he did not move them, nor a limb, nor did he speak. Doctor White, who was in attendance, told me he was unconscious and more dangerously injured than his father.

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War

As we descended the stairs, I asked Stanton what he had heard in regard to the President that was reliable. He said the President was shot at Ford’s Theatre, that he had seen a man who was present and witnessed the occurrence. I said I would go immediately to the White House. Stanton told me the President was not there but was at the theatre. ‘Then,’ said I, ‘let us go immediately there.’He said that was his intention, and asked me, if I had not a carriage, to go with him. In the lower hall we met General Meigs,  whom he requested to take charge of the house, and to clear out all who did not belong there. General Meigs begged Stanton not to go down to 10th Street; others also remonstrated against our going. Stanton, I thought, hesitated. Hurrying forward, I remarked that I should go immediately, and I thought it his duty also. He said he should certainly go, but the remonstrants increased and gathered round him. I said we were wasting time, and, pressing through the crowd, entered the carriage and urged Stanton, who was detained by others after he had placed his foot on the step. I was impatient. Stanton, as soon as he had seated himself, turned round, rose partly, and said the carriage was not his. I said that was no objection. He invited Meigs to go with us, and Judge Cartter of the Supreme Court mounted with the driver. At this moment Major Eckert rode up on horseback beside the carriage and protested vehemently against Stanton’s going to 10th Street; said he had just come from there, that there were thousands of people of all sorts there, and he considered it very unsafe for the Secretary of War to expose himself. I replied that I knew not where he would be more safe, and that the duty of both of us was to attend the President immediately. Stanton concurred. Meigs called to some soldiers to go with us, and there was one on each side of the carriage. The streets were full of people. Not only the sidewalk but the carriage-way was to some extent occupied, all or nearly all hurrying towards 10th Street. When we entered that street we found it pretty closely packed.

The President had been carried across the street from the theatre, to the house of a Mr. Peterson. We entered by ascending a flight of steps above the basement and passing through a long hall to the rear, where the President lay extended on a bed, breathing heavily. Several surgeons were present, at least six, I should think more. Among them I was glad to observe Dr. Hall, who, however, soon left. I inquired of Dr. Hall, as I entered, the true condition of the President. He replied the President was dead to all intents, although he might live three hours or perhaps longer.

Lincoln on his death bed

Lincoln on his death bed

The giant sufferer lay extended diagonally across the bed, which was not long enough for him. He had been stripped of his clothes. His large arms, which were occasionally exposed, were of a size which one would scarce have expected from his spare appearance. His slow, full respiration lifted the clothes with each breath that he took. His features were calm and striking. I had never seen them appear to better advantage than for the first hour, perhaps, that I was there. After that, his right eye began to swell and that part of his face became discolored.

Senator Sumner was there, I think, when I entered. If not he came in soon after, as did Speaker Colfax, Mr. Secretary McCulloch, and the other members of the Cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Seward. A double guard was stationed at the door and on the sidewalk, to repress the crowd, which was of course highly excited and anxious. The room was small and overcrowded. The surgeons and members of the Cabinet were as many as should have been in the room, but there were many more, and the hall and other rooms in the front or main house were full. One of these rooms was occupied by Mrs. Lincoln and her attendants, with Miss Harris. Mrs. Dixon and Mrs. Kinney came to her about twelve o’clock. About once an hour Mrs. Lincoln would repair to the bedside of her dying husband and with lamentation and tears remain until overcome by emotion.

[April 15.] A door which opened upon a porch or gallery, and also the windows, were kept open for fresh air. The night was dark, cloudy, and damp, and about six it began to rain. I remained in the room until then without sitting or leaving it, when, there being a vacant chair which some one left at the foot of the bed, I occupied it for nearly two hours, listening to the heavy groans, and witnessing the wasting life of the good and great man who was expiring before me.

About 6 a.m. I experienced a feeling of faintness and for the first time after entering the room, a little past eleven, I left it and the house, and took a short walk in the open air. It was a dark and gloomy morning, and rain set in before I returned to the house, some fifteen minutes [later]. Large groups of people were gathered every few rods, all anxious and solicitous. Some one or more from each group stepped forward as I passed, to inquire into the condition of the President, and to ask if there was no hope. Intense grief was on every countenance when I replied that the President could survive but a short time. The colored people especially – and there were at this time more of them, perhaps, than of whites – were overwhelmed with grief.

Ford's Theater draped in black the next day

Ford’s Theater draped in black the next day

Returning to the house, I seated myself in the back parlor, where the Attorney-General and others had been engaged in taking evidence concerning the assassination. Stanton, and Speed, and Usher were there, the latter asleep on the bed. There were three or four others also in the room. While I did not feel inclined to sleep, as many did, I was somewhat indisposed. I had been so for several days. The excitement and bad atmosphere from the crowded rooms oppressed me physically.

A little before seven, I went into the room where the dying President was rapidly drawing near the closing moments. His wife soon after made her last visit to him. The death-struggle had begun. Robert, his son, stood with several others at the head of the bed. He bore himself well, but on two occasions gave way to overpowering grief and sobbed aloud, turning his head and leaning on the shoulder of Senator Sumner. The respiration of the President became suspended at intervals, and at last entirely ceased at twenty-two minutes past seven.

A prayer followed from Dr. Gurley; and the Cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Seward and Mr. McCulloch, immediately thereafter assembled in the back parlor, from which all other persons were excluded, and there signed a letter which was prepared by Attorney-General Speed to the Vice-President, informing him of the event, and that the government devolved upon him.”

President Andrew Johnson

President Andrew Johnson

Aiding Soldiers ~ March 1865 ~ 30th to 31st

Aiding Soldiers

black preacher

black preacher

It seems that slaves are not as happy and satisfied as their masters claimed. They are escaping in droves to Union lines, helping Confederate soldiers to desert and Yankees escaping from Southern prisons back to Federal positions. A modicum of Southern social life continues yet many from each side feel that the end draws near.

March 30– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Alexander, slave of William B. Randolph, of Henrico county, was sent to the city yesterday by General Longstreet, and committed to Castle Thunder, upon the charge of aiding soldiers to desert to the enemy from the Confederate services.” ~ Richmond Sentinel

March 30– Thursday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “I have endured this life for nearly four years and I sometimes think that I enjoy it. Great events are to happen in a few days and I want to be there to see the end. The end of the war will be the end of slavery and then our land will be the ‘Land of the free.’” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

March 30– Thursday– City Point, Virginia– “I begin to feel that I ought to be at home and yet I dislike to leave without seeing nearer to the end of General Grant’s present movement. He has now been out since yesterday morning and although he has not been diverted from his program no considerable effort has yet been produced so far as we know here. Last night at 10.15 P. M. when it was dark as a rainy night without a moon could be, a furious cannonade soon joined in by a heavy musketry fire opened near Petersburg and lasted about two hours. The sound was very distinct here as also were the flashes of the guns up the clouds. It seemed to me a great battle, but the older hands here scarcely noticed it and sure enough this morning it was found that very little had been done.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

March 30– Thursday– Macon, Georgia– The state legislature has authorized the use of militia on horseback to stop the escape of slaves to Union lines.

March 30– Thursday– Presov, Austrian Empire [now in Slovakia]– Oleksandr Dukhnovych, priest, writer, educator and social activist, dies at age 61.

Oleksandr Dukhnovich

Oleksandr Dukhnovich

March 31– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The Negroes would always assist the fugitives [Union soldiers escaping from Confederate prisons]; give them food, and pilot them to the best routes. They said that their masters generally offered them $25 reward to betray a Yankee. In spite of this tempting reward, they acted the part of the Good Samaritan in all cases. ‘They are,’ say the officers, ‘as true as steel in all cases.’ Captain Timpson says, while waiting at the banks of the Saluda River, pursued by a pack of hounds, the chivalry mounted on horseback, to the number of fifteen or twenty, armed with shot-guns, pursuing them, the slaves on the opposite shore hearing the baying of the hounds, one of them pushed into a boat, and rowed rapidly across. He knew from the sound of the dogs that they were in pursuit of some Yankee fugitives. The barking of the hounds grew louder and nearer, and the officers feared they would be overtaken and devoured before the boat could reach the shore. The faithful Negro pulled for dear life, took the officers into this boat, and bore them in safety beyond the reach of the men-hunters and their natural allies the bloodhounds, at the risk of his own life. He piloted the officers around the pickets, who were lying in wait for them, by which means they escaped. The slaves said: ‘Our masters curse you all the day, but we pray for you every night.’” ~ The Liberator.

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March 31– Friday– New York City– “Sherman’s officers say that their campaign was made possible by the order of the rebel government that corn be planted instead of cotton. . . . They marched through a land of groaning corn cribs and granaries, and their men and their animals entered Savannah in better flesh than when they left Atlanta.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

March 31– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining; rained all night. My health improving, but prudence requires me to still keep within the house. The reports of terrific fighting near Petersburg on Wednesday evening have not been confirmed. Although General Lee’s dispatch shows they were not quite without foundation, I have no doubt there was a false alarm on both sides, and a large amount of ammunition vainly expended. . . .We are sinking our gun-boats at Chaffin’s Bluff, to obstruct the passage of the enemy’s fleet, expected soon to advance.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 31– Friday– Albany, Georgia– “Mrs. Callaway gave a large dining, and I wore a pretty new style of head dress Cousin Bessie told me how to make, that was very becoming. It is a small square, about as big as my two hands, made of a piece of black and white lace that ran the blockade, and nobody else has anything like it. One point comes over the forehead, just where the hair is parted, and the opposite one rests on top of the chignon behind, with a bow and ends of white illusion. It has the effect of a Queen of Scots cap, and is very stylish. The dining was rather pleasant. Kate Callaway’s father, Mr. Furlow, was there, with his youngest daughter, Nellie, who is lovely. As we were coming home we passed by a place where the woods were on fire, and were nearly suffocated by the smoke. It was so dense that we could not see across the road. On coming round to the windward of the conflagration it was grand. The smoke and cinders were blown away from us, but we felt the heat of the flames and heard their roaring in the distance. The volumes of red-hot smoke that went up were of every hue, according to the materials burning and the light reflected on them. Some were lurid yellow, orange, red, some a beautiful violet, others lilac, pink, purple or gray, while the very fat lightwood sent up columns of jet-black. The figures of the Negroes, as they flitted about piling up brush heaps and watching the fire on the outskirts of the clearing, reminded me of old-fashioned pictures of the lower regions.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi

March 31– Friday– Kalyan, India– Birth of Anandi Gopal Joshi, who will become in March, 1886, the first South Asian woman to earn a degree as a physician of Western style medicine and probably the first Hindu woman to come to the United States. [Dies February 26, 1887, shortly after her return to India.]

I Make No Plans For The Future ~ March 1865 ~ 28th to 30th

I Make No Plans for the Future

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Much gloom pervades Southern civilians and soldiers, mourning dead family and friends.

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March 28– Tuesday– Petersburg, Virginia– “While I was gone the Regiment got into a severe fight. It was on the 25th and like to have all got killed or captured. The loss of the Regiment is 6 killed, 25 wounded, 118 captured. From what I can gather about the fight is this. Above here in front of Petersburg our forces attacked the yanks taking a number of prisoners and a good portion of their works. To retaliate they attacked our picket line, in front of this place capturing many but never got to our main line, and in trying to reestablish our picket line our Regiment got so badly cut up and failed to do it that day which was the 25th. Yesterday they reestablished the line with little loss. All is quiet now again but it is sad and heart sickening to look at our Regiment now. It seems that Providence ordained that I should miss it, or else I might now have been captured or killed. I feel sad and lonesome now, all my mess is gone, and I am alone again, but I can get along about that. The weather is pleasant now but it is uncertain about its continuing so long.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

March 28– Tuesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “You must let me off with a few lines to-night, because I have some little packing yet to do and would like a good modicum of slumber; for to-morrow we are up and moving betimes in light order. I do not look for any grand action from this (taking the liberty of guessing where I am in the dark). I fancy a heavy infantry force will move to our left and rear, to mask and protect a great movement of cavalry with Sheridan at its head, directed at the South Side Rail Roadand other communications; all of which the enemy must be fully aware of; but I don’t think he can have one half our force in cavalry. The amount of fighting will depend on the moves of the enemy ; but I do not ever expect to see more than one such field-day as we used to have in the ever memorable campaign of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania perhaps not even one. Meantime I will not recklessly run against bullets. It isn’t my style; not exactly.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his wife Elizabeth.

Army Potomac-US-AHNN

March 28– Tuesday– Albany, Georgia– “Misses Caro and Lou Bacon spent the day with us, but I could not enjoy their visit for thinking of the poor boy, Anderson [a slave youth], who has been sent to jail. He implored me to beg ‘missis’ to forgive him, and I couldn’t help taking his part, though I know he deserved punishment. He refused to obey the overseer, and ran away four times. A soldier caught him and brought him in this morning with his hands tied behind him. Such sights sicken me, and I couldn’t help crying when I saw the poor wretch, though I know discipline is necessary, especially in these turbulent times, and sister is sending him to jail more as an example to the others than to hurt him. She has sent strict orders to the sheriff not to be too severe with him, but there is no telling what brutal men who never had any Negroes of their own will do; they don’t know how to feel for the poor creatures.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 29– Wednesday– New York City– “I almost hope this war may last till it becomes a war of extermination. Southrons who could endure the knowledge that human creatures were undergoing this torture [the treatment of Union prisoners in Confederate prison camps] within their own borders, and who did not actively protest against it, deserve to be killed.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

March 29– Wednesday– Petersburg, Virginia– Union General Grant begins a pincer-like operation in an attempt to prevent Confederate General Lee from evacuating the area.

cabin at City Point used as General Grant's headquarters

cabin at City Point used as General Grant’s headquarters

March 29– Wednesday– Headquarters of Confederate General Johnston, North Carolina– “I thought My duty as the friend & bother officer of your deceased husband to write you, giving the particulars of his death. Colonel King Returned to the Command from the Hospital at Charlotte, N.C. (where he had been for a few days with slight illness) on the 9th instant. On the morning of the 10th our brigade was ordered to charge the camp of the Yankee General Kilpatrick. The Cobb Legion under Colonel King led the charge which was entirely Successful until the enemy rallied & the Cobb Legion again charged the Yankee Battery in which charge the Colonel Received a mortal wound while most gallantly leading his men in the fight. When I first met him he was speechless therefore, I did not hear his last words. I learned from those who were very near him at the time that his last Remark was, (Say to My wife I die willingly defending My country). I trust Madam that you will accept My Sincere Sympathy in your great very great bereavement. You have lost a Kind good husband, I a true & tried friend, and our common country a staunch & noble patriot. I trust Madam that you May have the fortitude to bear your loss as becomes the wife of So brave & noble a man. Again I tender you My heart felt Sympathies.” ~ Letter from a fellow officer to Bessie King, the widow of Barrington Simeral King.

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March 29– Wednesday– Augusta, Georgia– “At times I feel as I was drifting on, on, ever onward to be at last dashed against some rock and I shut my eyes– almost wish it was over, the shock encountered and I prepared to know what destiny awaits me. I am tired, oh so tired, of this war. I feel the restraint of the blockade and as port after port becomes blockaded, I feel shut up, pent up and am irresistibly reminded of the old story of the iron shroud contracting more and more each hour, each moment. I may perhaps be glad hereafter that I have lived through this war but now the height of my ambition is to be quiet, to have no distracting cares, the time to read, leisure to think and write and study. Country, glory, and patriotism are great things but to the bereaved hearts of Mrs. Stovall and Mrs. Clayton, each moaning for the death of their first born, what bitter mockery there must be in the words. Thus it is I strive to get away, to forget in reading or in writing or in talking the ever present, the one absorbing theme of war and thus it is thrust upon me. I make no plans for the future.” ~ Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas.

March 30– Thursday– Augusta County, Virginia– “I take this opportunity of thanking you for the excellent selection of tracts you sent me. I have read many of them and think them excellent. The soldiers appear glad to get them. I hope they will be read by many and be the means of doing good. I always request those to whom I give tracts to give them to others when they have read them. I have some of them yet perhaps as many as I may be able to distribute for a month that will depend very much on the movements of the army near us. I again ask the favor of another bundle when it may be convenient for you to send them. I send you $400 which I place at your disposal to be used in the way you think will do most good. There is one thing I must tell you. Some of our returned prisoners complain of the treatment they met with in Richmond. They say they came there destitute of money and could procure nothing to eat without it. If this is true it is discouraging to our soldiers who have suffered so much in Yankee prisons to meet with such neglect at home. I suppose Government has made provision for our prisoners But it may be through some neglect some are left to suffer. If you are situated so near the Landing as to have an opportunity of observing our prisoners and see such, please relieve them. We are now looking for some of our Providence and Shemariah boys– T Smiley, H Wright, of Beard, F Meatcheon. If you should see any of the above named destitute please furnish them with the means of procuring such things as they need. If you have not funds in your hands at the time they may come and you expend any thing for their comfort, Let me know and I will refund it. I do not wish you to keep this money waiting to see if they will need it But use it in any way you wish for doing good.” ~ Letter from Mr E. Martin to Reverend H. Brown.

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March 30– Thursday– Headquarters First Army Corps, Virginia– “Your letter expressing the views of the commander-in-chief in reference to the policy to be pursued in raising Negro troops is received. I am apprehensive that we shall have applications and evidence enough to take from us more men than we can well spare at this critical moment in our affairs. It seems to me that any person who has the influence to raise a company or a regiment by going home could do so as well by letters to his friends at home. If I am right in this opinion, an order announcing that the officers of the companies and regiments of colored troops would be appointed from the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates on duty with our armies would have the effect of bringing back more absentees than we should lose by making the appointments. If we may judge of our future success in getting up new organizations by the past, we may rely upon it that many will furnish the necessary evidence, and go home and there remain for eight and ten and twelve months. I think it would be well to publish a general order, explaining more clearly the policy indicated in your letter, in order that a better general understanding may exist amongst the parties who may desire to furnish evidence of their ability to get up new organizations. Otherwise I may adopt rules which would not be as favorable to the officers and men of this command as those of other commands.” ~ Letter from Confederate General James Longstreet to Colonel W. H. Taylor.

Extreme Peril At This Moment ~ March 1865 ~ 26th to 28th

Extreme Peril at this Moment

petersburg siege images

Civilians and soldiers alike express great concern for the Confederacy. President Lincoln orders a special salute as the Stars and Stripes once again flies over Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. He meets with his two best generals to plan a quick conclusion to the war. George Templeton Strong mocks England for “playing nice” now that it appears the Union shall prevail.

March 26– Sunday– City Point, Virginia– In a public display of temper, Mary Lincoln, who has accompanied her husband on the trip, loudly criticizes her husband for his courtesy to Julia Grant, wife of General Ulysses Grant, and to Mary Ord, wife of General Edward Ord. [John Hay and John Nicolay, President Lincoln’s secretaries, consistently refer privately to Mary Lincoln as “the Hellcat.”]

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

March 26– Sunday– Goldsborough, North Carolina– “I have the honor to submit a brief report of the operations of the medical department . . . during the campaign commencing with the departure of the army from Pocotaligo and ending in the occupation of the town of Goldsborough. It was not without anxiety that I looked forward to the development of this campaign. The season of the year, the character of the country, and the personal hostility of the citizens all rendered it extremely probable that sickness and large losses would test to the utmost the resources of the medical department of the army. The result of the campaign and the comparatively small loss of life from disease or the efforts of the enemy is a source of gratification. The army left Pocotaligo unencumbered with sick or wounded, all such cases being left in the U.S. general hospitals at Savannah and Beaufort. Full supplies were drawn and were replenished at Columbia, S.C. Notwithstanding the bad weather, bad roads, and the necessary exposure of the campaign, the ratio per 1,000 of men unfit for duty during the campaign has been but 49.26. At no time have we been seriously pressed for accommodation for our sick and wounded. After the affair at Rivers’ Bridge, S. C., we were enabled to send to the rear many of the sick and wounded on hand, and again at Fayetteville, N. C., 150 were sent by transports to Wilmington, N. C. The country has furnished a large abundance of nutritious food, and the appearance of the men does not indicate suffering on that account. The hardships of the march have wearied them, and a period of rest is imperatively needed. The heaviest engagement of the campaign fortunately occurred so near the termination of the march as to give us no inconvenience in the removal of the wounded. Our loss in wounded on that occasion was 263. Provision has been made for the sick and wounded in this town until such time as they can be safely removed to general hospitals. . . . It is unnecessary for me to say more for the medical staff of the army than that all duties pertaining to it have been discharged with the usual promptitude, cheerfulness, and fidelity.” ~ Report from Union Dr. D. L. Huntington, Acting Medical Director, to General William Tecumseh Sherman.

field hospital

field hospital

March 26– Sunday– along the Atlantic coast, heading to City Point, Virginia–”The railroad was finished yesterday into Goldsboro and I came down to Newbern and Morehead City and am now in a fleet blockade runner on my way to meet General Grant at City Point to confer on some points, when I shall forthwith go back to Goldsboro and get ready for another campaign. There is no doubt we have got the Rebels in a tight place and must not let them have time to make new plans. They abandoned all their cities to get men enough to whip me but did not succeed. They may unite Johnston and Lee, when if they make the further mistake of holding on to Richmond, I can easily take Raleigh and the Roanoke, when Richmond will be of little use to them. If Lee lets go of Richmond the people of Virginia will give up.” ~ Letter from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to his wife Ellen.

March 27– Monday– New York City– “Poor, mean, shabby, fallen, old England restores us the tribute of her shop-keeper’s civility and compliments the moment she discerns that we may win our unpromising lawsuit after al.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

March 27– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Ordered, first. That at the hour of noon on the 14th day of April, 1865, General Anderson will raise and plant upon the ruins of Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, the same United States flag which floated over the battlements of that fort during the rebel assault, and which was lowered and saluted by him and the small force of his command when the works were evacuated on the 14th day of April, 1861. Second. That the flag, when raised, be saluted by one hundred guns from Fort Sumter and by a national salute from every fort and rebel battery that fired upon Fort Sumter. Third. That suitable ceremonies be had upon the occasion, under the direction of General William T. Sherman, whose military operations compelled the rebels to evacuate Charleston, or, in his absence, under the charge of General Q. A. Gillmore, commanding the department. Among the ceremonies will be the delivery of a public address by the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher. Fourth. That the naval forces at Charleston and their commander on that station be invited to participate in the ceremonies of the occasion.” ~ Executive order from President Lincoln.

March 27– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “About 10 or twelve days ago I was taken quite sick with severe cold and fever, and one of the hardest chills on 19th instant I ever had in my life. On 20th our Regiment received marching orders and the Surgeon sent me here. I had no more chills and am nearly well now. I shall return to my Regiment tomorrow. I do not know where they are but suppose they are not far from Petersburg. The war news is highly encouraging, and our troops are in the best of spirits. Johnson has checked Sherman in his wild career, twice, and Lee captured a few days ago a considerable portion of the Yankee works in front of Petersburg with a large number of prisoners. The Negro troops have been called out. I have seen two companies. I hope it will work well. I will close up. Tell Henry [his son] I have his cup yet, and that I want to see him mighty bad. May God bless you all. Pray for me.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

a salute to fallen comrades

a salute to fallen comrades

March 27– Monday– Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, Virginia– “I deeply regret to announce the death of Another beloved Brother [Barrington Simeral King] in this cruel war. I enclose you the telegram. It has been some time in reaching me in Consequence of the [telegraph] wires being down. I wrote Bessie [Barrington’s widow] immediately on Seeing the two reports both official, one reporting that he was Killed. & the other wounded hoping that the latter would prove the correct news in the end, but alas, it is not so. & the Sad and Severe stroke has fallen upon us again. I write you to get you to See poor Bessy and break the Sad, Sad, news to her. I have felt for her much in her anxiety and suspense, but more, far more, in her sad bereavement. May our Heavenly Father support her in this dark hour.” ~ Letter from one of the King brothers to his uncle in Roswell, Georgia.

March 27– Monday– City Point, Virginia– President Lincoln meets with General Grant, General Sherman and Admiral Porter aboard the River Queen.

the River Queen

the River Queen

March 27– Monday– Albany, Georgia– “Went to call on the Callaways, Mallarys, and Dahlgrens. The general and his wife were just starting out to make calls when we drove up, so we went along together. The roads are so perfectly abominable that it is no pleasure to go anywhere. At one place the water was half a foot deep in the bottom of the carriage, and we had to ride with our feet cocked up on the seats to keep them dry. Some of the ponds were so deep as almost to swim the mules, and others were boggy. We stopped at the post office on our way home and found a letter from Mec urging us to come over to Cuthbert right away.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 28– Tuesday– Headquarters First Army Corps, Virginia– “Your telegram asking if we can spare General Pickett’s division as a supporting force to our cavalry is received. I suggested that it should be sent on that service because I was apprehensive that our railroad would be in danger of being broken up behind us, leaving us without supplies sufficient to hold Richmond until our communications south could be re-established, or in case Sheridan went to North Carolina, his mounted force would be too formidable for that of General Johnston’s, and that General Johnston would be in great danger if we shall not reinforce him. I do not think that we can well spare the division. But I think that we would choose a lesser risk by sparing it in case Sheridan’s cavalry makes either of these moves contemplated than we would by holding him here to await the result of these operations. The enemy seems now to count upon taking Richmond by raiding upon our lines of communication, and not by attacking our lines of work. I think, therefore, we should endeavor to put a force in the field that can contend against that of the enemy. If Grant sends off his cavalry, he can hardly intend to make any general move of his main army until its return. In every aspect of affairs, so far as I am advised, I think that the greater danger is from keeping too close within our trenches. If we can remain where we are independently of the railroad, and if General Johnston would be safe with such a force as Sheridan’s operating against him, in addition to Sherman’s, we had better keep the division here. You know much more about all those points than I do, and are much better able to decide upon them. My supply train is in from Northern Neck, and starts back to-morrow for other provisions. If there is any impropriety in sending it back, please telegraph me as soon as you receive this, that I may recall it. We have about one hundred thousand pounds of meat near Dublin and eighteen thousand at New Boston. The C. S. complains that the railroad agents will not ship the meat unless it is boxed. This cannot always be done. If you can in any way aid us in this matter, we shall do very well for some time to come.” ~ Message from Confederate General James Longstreet to General Robert E Lee.

March 28– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Cloudy and sunshine; but little wind. Too ill to go to the department, and I get nothing new except what I read in the papers. Some of the editorials are very equivocal, and have a squint toward reconstruction. The President, and one of his Aids, Colonel Lubbock, ex-Governor of Texas, rode by my house, going toward Camp Lee. If driven from this side the Mississippi, no doubt the President would retire into Texas. And Lee must gain a victory soon, or his communications will be likely to be interrupted. Richmond and Virginia are probably in extreme peril at this moment.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

A Many-sided Field-day ~ March 1865 ~ 24th to 26th

A Many-sided Field-day

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Talk of some type of evacuation of Richmond flourishes at many levels. Lee tries a desperate measure to relieve the siege but suffers a bitter loss. Longstreet worries about the number and morale of his soldiers. Whitman visits his brother George home now from a prison camp. Mexico struggles against the French invaders.

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March 24– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and very windy. The fear of utter famine is now assuming form. Those who have the means are laying up stores for the day of siege– I mean a closer and more rigorous siege– when all communications with the country shall cease; and this makes the commodities scarcer and the prices higher. There is a project on foot to send away some thousands of useless consumers; but how it is to be effected by the city authorities, and where they will be sent to, are questions I have not heard answered. The population of the city is not less than 100,000, and the markets cannot subsist 70,000. Then there is the army in the vicinity, which must be fed. I suppose the poultry and the sheep will be eaten, and something like a pro rata distribution of flour and meal ordered.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 24– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I see no cause for despondency; but on the contrary, I think there is great encouragement to hope. Sherman has gone almost unopposed through the most flourishing portions of the Confederacy; but has he conquered the people? True, his progress will have a deleterious effect upon our cause abroad; but tis far from ‘crushing the rebellion.’ The repulse of our Peace Commissioners, has also produced a desirable effect, causing a greater unanimity of feeling to exist among our people than ever before. The ‘Negro’ bill has been passed, and already the Negroes are being put into the field. This will undoubtedly greatly increase our effective force, since the places of many of our troops now occupying the lines around Petersburg and Richmond can be easily filled; but I think this bill unconstitutional and violently antagonistic to the principles for which we are fighting; if however, tis reported to an act of necessity I cheerfully acquiesce. These men being relieved can operate more successfully upon the enemy’s flanks, and soon we would be ready for another foray into Pennsylvania. I know what you will say to this, since you’ve already told me, you were ‘opposed to invasion;’ but I believe that’s the only way to make the Yankees cry ‘enough.’Tis certainly better for us to enter the enemy’s country, and be fed by them, than remain in these detestable ditches poorly provided for, subject to every manner of disease and to death from the many and fiendish invasions of our foe. More men have been lost since we came south of Richmond than in the celebrated battle of Gettysburg. I’m glad to learn that Senator Hill and others are delivering addresses to the people of Georgia; for I am sorry to say I think they need some stimulus to make them do their duty, since they will not do it voluntarily. Now is the times we need their encouragement and their strongest efforts. Why do they withhold it? Surely they do expect to save anything by submission or reconstruction. On the contrary, they will lose everything, not even their home will be spared.” ~ Letters from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

March 24– Friday– Quebec, Canada– Four political leaders are appointed to negotiate Confederation in London.

March 25– Saturday– New York City– “Benito Juarez, President of Mexico, has issued a New Year’s proclamation, dated Chihuahua, in which he urges upon all Mexicans to fight out the question with the [French] invaders. He reiterates his hope that he will triumph in the end. . . . The British army and navy estimates for the year 1865-6 have just been announced. The cost of the army is $71,000,000; of the navy $51,000,000. Total estimates for the military and naval establishments for the coming year, £24,76,671; or, in American currency, $123,703,355.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly.

President Benito Juarez

President Benito Juarez

March 25– Saturday– Vernon County, Wisconsin– The “Claywater Meteorite” explodes just before reaching ground level. Its fragments, having a combined mass of 1.5 kg, are recovered.

March 25– Saturday– Headquarters First Army Corps, Virginia– “The impression prevails amongst the Georgia troops of this command that persons at home having authority to raise local organizations are writing and sending messages to the men in the ranks here, offering inducements to them to quit our ranks and go home and join the home organizations. The large and increasing number of desertions, particularly amongst the Georgia troops, induces me to believe that some such outside influence must be operating upon our men. Nearly all of the parties of deserters seem to go home, and it must be under the influence of some promise, such as being received in the local forces. I would suggest, therefore, the publication of a general order warning all officers or persons authorized to raise local organizations against receiving such deserters or in any way harboring them, and cautioning all such parties that they shall be punished for such crimes under the twenty-second and twenty-third Articles of War. It may be well to publish the articles in the order, and to send the order South to be published in all the Southern papers. If the order is published, I would suggest that copies be sent to the Southern papers by special messenger or by parties going South who will take pains to have it published, otherwise I fear it may miscarry or be delayed by our irregular mails. Another growing evil seems to trouble us now in the shape of applications to raise Negro companies, regiments, brigades, etc. The desire for promotion seems to have taken possession of our army, and it seems that nearly all the officers and men think that they could gain a grade or more if allowed to go home. I presume that many may try to go merely because they get furloughs. I would suggest, therefore, that some regulation be published upon this subject, and it seems to me that it should require the companies to be mustered in as non-commissioned officers and privates by the enrolling officers, and that all of the officers (general, field, and company) shall be selected from the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates on duty with the armies of the Confederacy. If these matters are not speedily taken hold of by a firm hand, I fear that we shall be seriously damaged by them.” ~ Letter from Confederate General James Longstreet to Colonel W. H. Taylor.

General Longstreet

General Longstreet

March 25– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– In a desperate attempt to break the siege, Confederate troops launch a heavy attack against a Federal position called Fort Stedman. After day-long fighting, initial Southern success is turned into a defeat. Total casualties– dead, wounded, missing– are approximately 1400 for the Union and almost 4000 for the Confederacy.

March 25– Saturday– City Point, Virginia– “We may indeed call this a many-sided field-day: a break fast with a pleasure party, an assault and a recapture of an entrenched line, a review by the President of a division of infantry, and sharp fighting at sundry points of a front of eighteen miles! If that is not a mixed affair, I would like to know what is? It has been a lucky day, for us, and the 9th Corps, after patient waiting for eight months, have played the game of the ‘Mine’ against their antagonists. The official despatches will give you the main facts very well, but I can add some particulars. About daylight, the enemy having massed three divisions and a part of a fourth, made a sudden rush and carried Fort Stedman and about half a mile of line commanded by it. The garrisons of the forts on either side stood firm, however, and repelled a severe attack with much injury to the enemy. Meantime, General Parke had ordered that the works should be retaken, if it cost every man in the Corps; and all the scattered regiments immediately at hand were put in and checked a further advance, until General Hartranft (I m not sure about the spelling of his name) brought up the 3rd division, which had been camped in reserve. He person ally led in one brigade of it, with conspicuous gallantry, retook the whole portion lost, and captured, at one swoop, 1800 Rebels. It was just the ‘Mine,’ turned the other way: they got caught in there and could not get out. Their loss also in killed and wounded must have been severe, not only from musketry, but also from canister, which was thrown into a ravine by which they retreated. Upwards of a hundred Rebel dead lay in and round Fort Stedman alone. Our own losses in the 9th Corps will be somewhat over 800, half of whom may be reckoned prisoners, taken in the first surprise. I should guess the loss of their opponents as not less than 2600.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his wife Elizabeth.

interior section of Fort Stedman

interior section of Fort Stedman

March 25– Saturday– Mobile, Alabama– Federal forces begin a siege of the city.

March 26– Sunday– Brooklyn, New York– “I write a few lines to tell you how I find the folks at home. Both my mother & brother George looked much better than I expected. Mother is quite well, considering– she goes about her household affairs pretty much the same as ever, & is cheerful. My brother would be in what I would almost call fair condition, if it were not that his legs are affected– it seems to me it is rheumatism, following the fever he had– but I don’t know. He goes to bed quite sleepy & falls to sleep– but then soon wakes, & frequently little or no more sleep that night– he most always leaves the bed, & comes downstairs, & passes the night on the sofa. He goes out most every day though some days has to lay by. He is going to report to Annapolis promptly when his furlough is up. I told him I had no doubt I could get it extended, but he does not wish it. He says little, but is in first rate spirits. I am feeling finely & never enjoyed a visit home more than I am doing this. I find myself perplexed about printing my book. All the printers tell me I could not pick a more inopportune time– that in ten days prices of paper, composition &c will all be very much lower &c. I shall decide tomorrow.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friends William D. and Ellen M. O’Connor.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

March 26– Sunday– Staunton, Virginia– “I am still at the Hotel & keeping it open. I have been trying hard to make some disposition of it but it seems impossible to do it & I fear the only way to save it until after the war is for me to keep it open & don’t know now who to get in it & for the present will have to stay here myself. Sometimes I think it best for you to come out here & live & when I think of the risk of all of our property I hesitate & can’t decide what is best for us all round but I think it will not be long until we will be able to judge more fully what is best & what to do. I assure you I am very anxious to be with you but I can’t ask you to abandon home with all its comforts to come here with me for my own comfort & pleasure & of course I have concluded to try & stand it longer.” ~ Letter from John Quincy Nadenbousch to his wife Hester.

March 26– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “I fear now it will be impossible to prevent a junction between Grant and Sherman, nor do I deem it prudent that this army should maintain its position until the latter shall approach too near.” ~ Message from Confederate General Robert E Lee to President Jeff Davis.

General Lee

General Lee

March 26– Sunday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “I feel it my duty this pleasant Sabbath Evening to Inform you that I just came from the hospital from seeing your husband and he requested me to write you a letter to let you know how he was and what had happened him. The Rebs did make a break in through the picket line about one mile from this yesterday morning and we was called out about 5 o’clock and about 6 o’clock we was in line of battle in front of the enemy and we had just gave them two volleys when Sylvester and I was both wounded. Sylvester is wounded through the leg but I guess the bone is not fractured any at least he thinks so. He was in very good spirits to day and I think that it wont be sore very long. I got a slight tap through one of my fingers on the left hand. Mine is a very light wound but it is pretty sore to day. Sylvester was taken to the Hospital just shortly after he was wounded and I came back to camp. There was eight wounded in our Company and one killed. The rest of the boys are all out yet lying at the breast works. There was some of them had to go on picket last night but they will come in this evening but we drove the rebs back and they loosed a good many men. They had taken two or three of our forts before we got to them but we soon took them all back and the report is that we took fifteen hundred prisoners. There was over three hundred of the rebs killed and our loss don’t exceed more than three hundred killed wounded and missing. . . . Old General Lee told his men that they would go to City Point again . . . when they started but the old fellow missed that game . . . . Well I must soon bring my scribbling to a close for I will have to get at and get supper.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Jacob Shearer to Harriet A. McElheney.

My Army Is Dirty, Ragged and Saucy ~ March 1865 ~ 22nd to 24th

My Army Is Dirty, Ragged and Saucy

General Sherman

General Sherman

General Sherman boasts in a letter to his wife. His boast is justified. As he pushes up from North Carolina, he and Grant move closer to catching Lee’s dwindling Confederate force in a powerful vice. As part of list ditch measures, the Confederacy tries to rapidly mobilize black soldiers. Radical abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, whose newspaper antagonized the South and poked the consciences of the North for decades, announces that his paper will cease publication. It is the end of an era.

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March 22– Wednesday– Albany, Georgia– “Up very early and drove to the depot with Mecca. Mr. Godfrey was there and proposed that we should go as far as Smithville with her, and let him drive me out home in the afternoon, but the roads are so bad and the weather so uncertain that I thought I had better go back with sister. The journey was the worst we have made yet. We bogged at one place and had to wade through the mud while Aby helped the mules to pull the carriage over. At Wright’s Creek we found a crowd of soldiers and countrymen on the bank, and they told us the creek was too high to cross. Some of them were exchanged prisoners impatient to get home, and they had determined to swim over. They stood on the bank with bare legs, ready to strip off and plunge in the moment our backs were turned. I couldn’t help being amused at the nonchalance with which one burly fellow pulled off his stockings and commenced playing with his toes while talking to us. Another, wishing to call sister’s attention to the water-mark, grabbed her by the arm and led her down the bank, saying: ‘See this here stick here, where the water has already begun to fall, an hit’ll fall a heap rapider the next hour or two.’ They meant no harm. These are unceremonious times, when social distinctions are forgotten and the raggedest rebel that tramps the road in his country’s service is entitled to more honor than a king. We stood on the bank a long time, talking with the poor fellows and listening to their adventures. There was one old man standing on the shore, gazing across as wistfully as Moses might have looked towards the promised land. He could not swim, but his home was over there, and he had made up his mind to plunge in and try to cross at any risk. The soldiers saluted him with a few rough jokes, and then showed their real metal by mounting him on the back of the strongest of them, who waded in with his burden, while two others swam along on each side to give help in case of accident. Sister and I thought at first of getting General Dahlgren to send us across in his pleasure boat, but soon gave up the idea and concluded to stay at the Mallarys till the creek became fordable, for we knew it would fall as rapidly as it had risen. We bid our soldier friends good-by, and drove away to the Mallarys, where we spent a pleasant day and night. General and Mrs. Dahlgren called after dinner and said that we ought to have stopped with them. Mrs. Dahlgren is a beautiful woman, and only twenty-two years old, while her husband is over sixty. He is a pompous old fellow and entertained us by telling how his influence made General Joseph E. Johnston commander-in-chief of the Army of Tennessee; how Hood lost Atlanta by not following his advice; how he was the real inventor of the Dahlgren gun, which is generally attributed to his brother, the Yankee admiral , and so on.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Eliza Frances Andrews

Eliza Frances Andrews

March 23– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The President has gone to the front, partly to get rid of the throng that is pressing upon him, though there are speculations of a different character. He makes his office much more laborious than he should. Does not generalize and takes upon himself questions that properly belong to the Departments, often causing derangement and irregularity. The more he yields, the greater the pressure upon him. It has now become such that he is compelled to flee. There is no doubt he is much worn down ; besides he wishes the War terminated, and, to this end, that severe terms shall not be exacted of the Rebels.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

March 23– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “4. The enlistment of colored persons under this act will be made upon printed forms, to be furnished for the purpose, similar to those established for the regular service. They will be executed in duplicate, one copy to be returned to this office for file. No slave will be accepted as a recruit unless with his own consent and with the approbation of his master by a written instrument conferring, as far as he may, the rights of a freedman, and which will be filed with the superintendent. The enlistments will be made for the war, and the effect of the enlistment will be to place the slave in the military service conformably to this act. The recruits will be organized at the camps in squads and companies, and will be subject to the order of the General-in-Chief under the second section of this act. 5. The superintendent in each State will cause a report to be made on the first Monday of every month showing the expenses of the previous month, the number of recruits at the various depots in the State, the number that has been sent away, and the destination of each. His report will show the names of all the slaves recruited, with their age, description, and the names of their masters. One copy will be sent to the General-in-Chief and one to the adjutant and Inspector General. 6. The appointment of officers to the companies to be formed of the recruits aforesaid will be made by the President. 7. To facilitate the raising of volunteer companies, officers recruiting therefor are authorized to muster their men into service as soon as enrolled. As soon as enrolled and mustered, the men will be sent, with descriptive lists, to the depots of rendezvous, at which they will be instructed until assigned for service in the field. When the organization of any company remains incomplete at the expiration of the time specified for its organization, the companies or detachments already mustered into service will be assigned to other organizations at the discretion of the General-in-Chief.” ~ Directive for the enlistment of black soldiers issued by Inspector General Cooper.

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March 23– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Yesterday afternoon the Camps Winder and Jackson battalion paraded on the Capitol Square. In the battalion were two companies of Negroes (not uniformed), which were made up from the Negroes employed about the hospitals. They are not, we believe, in the Confederate military service. In marked contrast to the appearance of these Negroes was that of a squad of Major Turner’s colored troops, neatly uniformed, and showing a good soldierly carriage. These regulars had gone up to look at their colored brethren. Volunteering would be much encouraged by the parade of Major Turner’s men, which will, we hope, soon take place.” ~ Richmond Dispatch.

March 23– Thursday– Goldsboro, North Carolina– “I wrote you from Fayetteville. On our way thence the enemy struck our left flank and I turned on him and after three days maneuvering and fighting defeated him and drove him off towards Raleigh. The fight was near Bentonsville, 20 miles from here on the south side of the Neuse in the direction of Smithfield. I got here to-day and all the army will be in by to-morrow. Thus have I brought the army from Savannah in good order, beaten the enemy wherever he attempted to oppose our progress, and made junction with Schofield and Terry from Newbern and Wilmington on the 21st, one day later than I had appointed before leaving Savannah. It is far more difficult and important than the Savannah march. Besides the immediate results we have forced the Rebels to abandon the whole sea coast. . . . I have no doubt that you will be sufficiently gratified to know that I have eminently succeeded in this last venture, and will trust to luck that in the next still more hazardous I will be again favored. I don’t believe anything has tended more to break the pride of the South than my steady persistent progress. My army is dirty, ragged and saucy. I have promised them rest, clothing and food, but the railroads have not been completed as I expected and I fear we may be troubled thereby. I am just informed that the telegraph line is finished from the sea to this place, so our lines of communication will be shortened. Strange to say we are all in fine health and condition, only a little blackened by the pine smoke of our camp fires. I would like to march this army through New York just as it appears today, with its wagons, pack mules, cattle, Negroes and bummers, and I think they would make a more attractive show than your [Sanitary] fair.” ~ Letter from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to his wife Ellen.

Ellen Sherman

Ellen Sherman

March 24– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “It is true that we have concluded to discontinue the Liberator at the close of the present year, which will complete its Thirty-fifth volume. As we commenced its publication for the express purpose of effecting the extinction of slavery, and as that sublime event has been consummated by a constitutional decree of the nation, so that henceforth no salve is to beheld within the domains of the American Union, it seems to us historically fitting that the Liberator should simply cover the whole period of the struggle, and terminate with it. Unless, therefore, something should occur beyond our present belief or anticipation to make it necessary to change our decision, we shall not prolong the existence of the paper beyond this Year of Jubilee; and have instructed our General Agent to take no subscription for a longer period. This is not the occasion for us to say all that such a conclusion naturally suggests. Let it be deferred till the time is at hand. On many accounts, we shall regret to discontinue a paper which has cost us so much of trial and fiery persecution, experienced so many vicissitudes, wrought out such results, afforded us such opportunities to test the spirit of the age, attracted to its support such pure-minded and noble spirits, and absorbed the larger portion of our earthly life. But this will not necessarily sunder our connection with the press, nor prevent our publishing another journal, under a new title, and for other reformatory purposes. Whether we shall retire altogether, or commence anew in the manner suggested, we leave it for Divine Providence to determine. If nearly forty years of editorial service (begun when we were only twenty years of age) have made it ‘as second nature,’ and if we should feel out of our element divorced from that service, still, with advancing years, we confess that, ‘though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak;’ and that something of repose and seclusion is coveted by us, in order to recuperate both mind and body. Yet let not those whose cause we espoused when all was dark and desperate, and the whole weight of the nation was brought to crush us– in whose behalf we have periled all that is dear to man, through a whole generation of conflict– whose chains are now happily broken, whose reproach is fast passing away, and whose future is now one of glorious promise– imagine, for one moment, that we shall ever grow weary in maintaining their rights, or consent to any abatement of their claims to ‘liberty, equality, fraternity.’ We have always made, and shall continue to make, their case our own. It was not on account of their complexion that we gave them our sympathy and advocacy, but because they were members of one great human family, endowed by their Creator with the same attributes and prerogatives, and destined to the same immortality as all other races; and, therefore, their enslavement was a blow struck at the liberties of mankind. We claimed for them, at the outset, all of justice and fair-dealing; and we have never since claimed anything less. . . . They can firmly demand whatever is yet wrongfully withheld from them, and still be neither factious nor insolent. They can protest against bring victimized in any direction on account of their complexion, and yet be filled with thanksgiving that such mighty changes have taken place in their favor in so short a time. There is now, very generally, a deep sympathy and a warm-hearted interest in their condition as a people; and a growing purpose to make, as far as practicable, atonement for the past, and to give security for the future. What contributions are made, what labors put forth, what means of enlightenment provided, what sacrifices offered, in behalf of the millions who are coming out of the Southern house of bondage! Is not all this as wonderful as it is cause for joy and gratitude? Let there be no revulsion in this tide of benevolent feeling caused by any unseemly behavior or unreasonable fault-finding; but let it be rejoicingly taken at its flood, and accepted as the harbinger of complete enfranchisement at no distant day.” ~ The Liberator.

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

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