What Passingbells~July, 1862~the fourth week

As July draws to a close, former President Martin Van Buren dies while President Lincoln continues to deal, publicly and privately, with the questions of slavery and emancipation. President Davis and General Lee worry about Union General Pope. George Templeton Strong worries about why the government fails to press hard against the South. The governor of Pennsylvania worries about and challenges England. Mexico worries that the United States will fail to help her against France. The Alabama is well on its way to becoming a worry to Union shipping.

A disaster at sea off the Mexican coast surprises many Americans while a natural disaster in China draws little attention in the American press. Parts of Canada suffer from draught. A British explorer finds the source of the Nile in eastern Africa.

Federal authorities arrest Belle Boyd while Union officers such as Robert Gould Shaw find no danger in her.

In the busy war-time capital, regular streetcar service begins throughout Washington.


President Van Buren, 1782~1862


July 24– Thursday– Kinderhook, New York– Former President Martin Van Buren dies at age 79 from heart failure.

July 24– Thursday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– Governor Andrew Curtin delivers a patriotic speech which includes a denunciation of the British. “The rebels having blistered their souls in perjury, ask for the intervention of foreign nations. When one of our commanders seized two of their representatives, we surrendered them to an arrogant Power for reasons well known. Now, if that Power desires to test the pluck of this nation, let the English lion show his teeth by intervention. Our sea is girt by iron ships, and if twenty millions of people rise in their power, they can crush out the rebellion, and at the same time protect themselves from foreign intervention.”

Governor Andrew Curtin

July 25– Friday– Montreal, Canada– The Montreal Gazette reports that “owing to the dryness of the weather, a very large quantity of the best quality of white and red pine, will not reach Quebec this season. Fifty to sixty thousand pieces are estimated to remain above Ottawa, as also 100,000 saw logs. The water is unprecedentedly low, and a good deal of timber, not included in the above, it is generally believed, will not come over the Calumet and Mountain Slides, and, indeed, the river will be pretty well covered with sticks of timber stuck in different places.”

July 25– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order for a time of mourning for the death of former President Van Buren. “As a mark of respect for his memory, it is ordered that the Executive Mansion and the several Executive Departments, except those of War and the Navy, be immediately placed in mourning and all business be suspended during to-morrow. It is further ordered that the War and Navy Departments cause suitable military and naval honors to be paid on this occasion to the memory of the illustrious dead.”

July 26– Saturday– New York City– Worried by the war news, George Templeton Strong writes, “I greatly fear that we are on the eve of some vast calamity. Why . . . doesn’t the President order the draft of one million fighting men at once and the liberation and arming of every able-bodied [slave] in Southronia? . . . . War on the rebels as criminals has not begun.”

George Templeton Strong

 July 26– Saturday– Washington, D.C.–The Mexican Minister reports to his government that it appears that the United States will not enforce the Monroe Doctrine against French intervention in Mexico so long as France does not ally itself with the Confederacy.

July 26– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to the Maryland jurist Reverdy Johnson whom he sent to New Orleans to investigate complaints from the Netherlands, Great Britain and France regarding the conduct of General Butler. In a letter ten days ago, Johnson has raised concerns about attitudes in Louisiana regarding emancipation of slaves. Lincoln replies. “I am a patient man— always willing to forgive on the Christian terms of repentance; and also to give ample time for repentance. Still I must save this government if possible. What I cannot do, of course I will not do; but it may as well be understood, once for all, that I shall not surrender this game leaving any available card unplayed.”

July 27– Sunday– Pacific Ocean off the coast Manzanillo, Mexico– The fast passenger steamer Golden Gate, out of San Francisco and headed for Panama, catches fire and sinks. The dead will total 213 while 85 passengers and 61 crew members survive. The ship goes down with $1,400,000 in gold on board.

July 27– Sunday– Canton, China– A hurricane strikes the city, killing approximately 40,000 people.

July 28– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes a private letter to Mr Cuthbert Bullitt, a citizen of New Orleans who professes to a Unionist but complained about the military operations in Louisiana. “I think the true remedy . . . . does not lie in rounding the rough angles of the war, but in removing the necessity for the war. The people of Louisiana who wish protection to person and property, have but to reach forth their hands and take it. Let them, in good faith, reinaugurate the national authority, and set up a State Government conforming thereto under the constitution. They know how to do it, and can have the protection of the Army while doing it. The Army will be withdrawn so soon as such State government can dispense with its presence; and the people of the State can then upon the old Constitutional terms, govern themselves to their own liking.”

July 28– Monday– Washington, Virginia– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his mother about Belle Boyd. “There was quite a long and ridiculous letter about her copied into the Evening Post the other day. . . . Other men who have talked with her, tell me that she never asked for any information about our army, or gave them the slightest reason to suppose her a spy; and they were probably as capable of judging as the correspondent who wrote about her.”

July 28– Monday– St. Joseph, Missouri– The first railway post office car in North America begins operations on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad with the mail being transferred to stagecoach here for the rest of the journey to California.

July 28– Monday– St Stephens, New Brunswick, Canada– A mob attacks and destroys the office of the St Croix Herald, a newspaper which expressed support for the Northern cause and the Lincoln Administration.

July 28– Lake Victoria, Africa– British explorer John Speke reaches this lake called Nam Lolwe by the Luo people and names it after Britain’s monarch. He continues exploring the area and determines that this body of water is indeed the source of the Nile River.

John Speke

July 29– Tuesday– Stockbridge, Massachusetts– Birth of Robert Reid, Impressionist painter.

July 29– Tuesday– Liverpool, England– Despite official protests of U S Minister Charles Francis Adams to Her Majesty’s Government, British authorities allow the Confederate warship Alabama to sail. The ship, known here as the Enrica, was built in secrecy by John Laird Sons & Company. However, Adams had become aware of the deal and has tried for several weeks to have the delivery stopped but to no avail. As it sails today it is without armament and is supposedly going on a trial run. The builder has secretly arranged to arm the ship later.

July 29– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.–The Washington and Georgetown Railroad Company begins streetcar operations on Pennsylvania Avenue in the city.

July 29– Tuesday– Warrenton, Virginia– Federal authorities arrest Isabelle Marie Boyd, a/k/a Belle Boyd, on charges of spying for the Confederacy.

July 30–Wednesday–Boston, Massachusetts–Churches with bells made in the South sell the bells to be melted down for Union canon.

July 30– Wednesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– The Valley Spirit, an organ of the Democratic Party, expresses a view on the nature and needs of the war. “All speak of a patriotism worthy of the olden time; and implore an infatuated radical majority, in the name of all that is dear to country, to desist from the atrocious and bloody revolutionary program of emancipating the four millions of slaves at the point of the bayonet; but, in good faith, to stand solidly by the Constitution, and thus restore the Union as it was: that is, revive the social, commercial, religious, political intercourse that endeared our several political communities in the sacred relations of one nation. . . . the proclamations of Fremont, Hunter and Phelps, and the articles in the New York Tribune, are used to inflame the public mind. The people have become desperate. . . . What can be worse than the partizan caucus and the partizan schemes of the radical members of Congress? What can be worse than the partizan appeals of such portions of the Republican press as represented by the New York Tribune and the Chicago Tribune? It is enough to say that such schemes as Sumner doggedly presents in the Senate, and the presses that go with him continue to urge, tend directly to divide the loyal men, paralyze recruiting, and thus do detriment to the sacred cause of the country.”

July 30– Wednesday– Dublin, Ireland– Eugene O’Curry, pioneering modern scholar of Irish history, language and law, dies at his home of a heart attack at age 67.

July 31– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to Mr August Belmont, New York financier. Belmont sent to the President, through Mr Thurlow Weed, an anonymous letter from a Louisiana man, criticizing the President’s policy toward the South. “This government cannot much longer play a game in which it stakes all, and its enemies stake nothing. Those enemies must understand that they cannot experiment for ten years trying to destroy the government, and if they fail still come back into the Union unhurt. If they expect in any contingency to ever have the Union as it was, I join with the writer in saying, ‘Now is the time.’”

August Belmont

July 31– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order canceling all leaves and furloughs in the military and authorizing not only officers but a great variety of federal, state and local government officials to arrest any soldier “absent from his command without just cause and convey him, to the nearest military post or depot.”

July 31– Thursday– Harrison’s Landing, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes updates his diary. “I have been quite sick for a few days but am all right again now. Colonel Wheaton has recommended me for promotion to Second Lieutenant. . . . I have received a box [from home]. The cake was spoiled, but the other things were all right.”

July 31– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– President Davis writes to General Lee about the treatment of Union prisoners. He directs Lee that given the Confiscation Act and Lincoln’s authorization to use the labor of fugitive slaves [“to take the private property of our people for the convenience and use of their armies without compensation”] and the orders of General Pope in the Shenandoah Valley, General Lee is hereby “to consider any officers hereafter captured from General Pope’s army” as outlaws and bandits guilty of “a campaign of indiscriminate robbery and murder.”

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