What Passingbells~July, 1862~the third week

President Lincoln again has several busy days. He signs the Second Confiscation Act which authorizes the seizure of property, including slaves, from those in armed rebellion against the United States, asks Congress to extend thanks to a New Yorker who donated a ship to the government, authorizes his commanders to employ for pay fugitive slaves who have escaped into Union lines and proclaims the treaty of friendship and commerce with the Ottoman Empire to be in effect. Acting in response to European complaints he orders the Federal military to cease harassment of aliens. His most important action takes place in a Cabinet meeting where he releases a first draft of an Emancipation Proclamation to take effect next January 1st in the states in rebellion. In Mississippi a slave child named Ida B Wells is born. She will become one of the foremost African American journalists, a suffragist and out-spoken crusader against lynching.

Soldiers from both sides raid towns and write home requesting tobacco. Confederate General Bragg teaches the Union about mobility in warfare while Union General Pope terrorizes civilians.

In foreign affairs, the United States and Denmark sign an agreement regarding the colonization of former slaves. French Emperor Napoleon III receives the Confederate emissary who soon advises him that Richmond has no objection to French intervention in Mexico. Harpers Weekly describes French understanding of the situation in Mexico. The British Parliament debates about offering mediation to the battling Americans while Her Majesty’s Foreign Secretary writes privately that most English folk favor the South. In the Alps mountain climbers reach new heights–literally.

The New York Times prints a letter from the missionary David Livingstone who castigates slavers and declares that Africa has future greatness. The paper also describes an attractive and educated Southern woman as a dangerous spy and calls for her arrest and deportation.

Civil war nurse caring for wounded

July 16– Wednesday– Holly Springs, Mississippi–Birth of Ida B. Wells, African-American journalist, feminist and social reformer. At the time of her birth, both of her parents are slaves.

Ida B Wells

July 16– Wednesday– Paris, France– Emperor Napoleon III receives the Confederate commissioner John Slidell.

July 17– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs the Second Confiscation Act which Congress passed yesterday. Its provisions are much stronger than the First Confiscation Act which was passed last summer and the President considered a veto, worried about the consequences in the loyal border states. In the relevant parts, it decrees that “every person who shall hereafter commit the crime of treason against the United States, and shall be adjudged guilty thereof, . . . all his slaves, if any, shall be declared and made free;” and that “any person . . . being engaged in armed rebellion against the Government of the United States, or aiding or abetting such rebellion, . . . all the estate and property, moneys, stock,. and credits of such person shall be liable to seizure as aforesaid, and it shall be the duty of the President to seize and use them as aforesaid, or the proceeds thereof.”

July 17– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln reports to Congress “to inform you that in March last Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt, of New York, gratuitously presented to the United States the ocean steamer Vanderbilt, by many esteemed the finest merchant ship in the world. She has ever since been and still is doing valuable service to the Government. For the patriotic act in making this magnificent and valuable present to the country, I recommend that some suitable acknowledgment be made.”

Cornelius Vanderbilt

July 18– Friday– Newburgh, Indiana– Confederate troops raid this river town and carry away supplies and ammunition.

July 18– Friday– Valais Canton, Switzerland– A team of climbers makes the first successful ascent of Dent Blanche; at 14,291 feet it is one of the highest summits in the Alps.


north slope of Dent Blanche

July 18–Friday– London, England–The British Parliament vigorously debates whether Her Majesty’s Government should offer to negotiate the American Civil War but votes not to at the present time.

July 19– Saturday– New York City– Harper’s Weekly reports on French attitudes concerning the situation in Mexico. “The Emperor of France has determined to send such an army to Mexico as will force its way to the capital against all obstacles. Admiral la Graviere is to take the command of a large concentrated naval force of France in the waters of America, the Paris Patrie saying that such a step is justified by events which ‘may arise out of the American war and Mexican affairs.’ In the French Chamber of Deputies, M. Jules es Favre censured the expedition to Mexico, and demanded an explanation of its purport. He argued that the honor of France required that she should treat with Mexico and withdraw. M. Billault, in reply, said that France had insults to avenge upon the Juarez Government. He declared that the Emperor would leave the people entirely free, when the French flag floats over the capitol of Mexico, to vote for whatever government they might choose.”

July 19–Saturday– Beaver Dam Station Virginia–Federal forces burn warehouses, supplies and railroads.

July 19– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– The United States and Denmark sign an agreement that “all Negroes, mulattoes, or persons of color delivered from on board vessels seized in the prosecution of the Slave-trade by commanders of United States armed vessels during the five years next succeeding the date of this agreement” shall be provided safe haven on the Danish-held Island of St. Croix.

July 19– Saturday– London, England– Lord Russell, the Foreign Secretary, writes to Lord Lyons, the Minister to the United States. “The great majority are in favour of the South & nearly our whole people are of opinion that separation would be a benefit both to North & South.”

David Livingstone, missionary and explorer. When he dies years from now, he will literally leave his heart behind–buried in Africa while the rest of his body is shipped back to the United Kingdom.

July 20– Sunday– New York City– The New York Times carries a letter from the explorer and missionary David Livingstone. Written over six months ago, the letter details some of Livingstone’s recent explorations of central and southeastern Africa. About places where slave trading continues, he writes, “We were . . . robbed in the sphere of the Slavers’ operations; the first time we had suffered loss by thieves in Africa. The people are much less honest where Slavery goes on than elsewhere, and there they place but little value on human life.” Of Africa itself, he writes, “Africa is a continent of the Future. It is impossible to recite its capabilities.”

July 20– Sunday– New York City– Another piece in today’s New York Times profiles Belle Boyd, a young socialite from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and allegedly heading a network of female spies at work for the Confederacy. “She is a sharp-featured, black-eyed woman of 25, or care and intrigue have given her that appearance. . . . . She has undergone all that society, position and education can confer upon a mind suited to the days of Charles the Second, or Louis the Fourteenth – a mind such as Mazarin or Richlieu would have delighted to employ from its kindred affinities. . . . She is so well known now that she can only practice her blandishments upon new raw levies and their officers. . . . The reports that she is personally impure are as unjust as they are undeserved. She has a blind devotion to an idea, and passes far the boundary of her sex’s modesty to promote its success. She, with all her faults and false devotion to ideas, which are at the foundation of our political and social disorders, has not yet lost the crowning virtue of woman. Reporters who thus attack a woman, defenseless within their province, exceed the license which justice and fairness even allot to outlaws.” The paper calls for her to be arrested and deported to Richmond. [Ms Boyd in fact just turned 18 on May 9th and did attend the Washington Female Seminary in Baltimore for several years, speaks French fluently, is well-versed in classical literature and rides horseback extremely well.]

Belle Boyd

July 21– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Acting upon complaints from several European powers, President Lincoln issues an executive order regarding aliens. “They can not be required to take an oath of allegiance to this Government, because it conflicts with the duty they owe to their own sovereigns. All such obligations heretofore taken are therefore remitted and annulled. Military commanders will abstain from imposing similar obligations in future, and will in lieu thereof adopt such other restraints of the character indicated as they shall find necessary, convenient, and effectual for the public safety.”

July 21– Monday– Camp Ashby, Virginia– Confederate soldier Thomas Garber sends a request to his sister, Addie Garber. “Tell Pa to send me sone smoking tobacco and a pipe. Bill Waddell has some good tobacco put up in bags 2 ½ pounds each [so] tell Pa to send me one of them.”

July 21–Monday– Paris, France–Confederate emissary John Slidell advises the French government that the Confederacy is not adverse to French intervention in Mexico.

July 22– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– In an important meeting with his Cabinet, President Lincoln presents to them his first draft of an emancipation proclamation which he explains in the document “the object is to practically restore . . . the constitutional relation between the general government, and each, and all the states, wherein that relation is now suspended, or disturbed; and that, for this object, the war, as it has been, will be, prosecuted. And, as a fit and necessary military measure for effecting this object, I, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, do order and declare that on the first day of January in the year of Our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state or states, wherein the constitutional authority of the United States shall not then be practically recognized, submitted to, and maintained, shall then, thenceforward, and forever, be free.” Considerable discussion occurs about the slavery question and its significance in the war. Reception of the idea is mixed. Also, the Cabinet considers the failures of General McClellan and what, if anything, to do about him.

Lincoln and his Cabinet discuss emancipation

July 22– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order authorizing the employment of fugitive slaves who have escaped into Union lines, declaring that “military and naval commanders shall employ as laborers within and from said States so many persons of African descent as can be advantageously used for military or naval purposes, giving them reasonable wages for their labor.” The President also proclaims to be in effect a treaty of trade and friendship with the Ottoman Empire. This treaty was concluded at Constantinople, February 25, 1862 and signed ratifications exchanged at Constantinople, June 5,1862. The favorable terms are seen in part as both the inducement and the reward for the Sultan’s ban on Confederate ships in any of the Empire’s waters or ports.

 July 23– Wednesday– Shenandoah Valley, Virginia–Union General Pope orders all males in the region to swear a loyalty oath to the Federal government. The property of any spies and traitors is subject to immediate confiscation.

July 23– Wednesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– In another pioneering use of the railroads in warfare, Confederate General Braxton Bragg arrives here with his troops, having quickly covered more than 770 miles from Tupelo, Mississippi by rail.

Confederate General Braxton Bragg

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