Proper Appreciation of the Vastness of this Country~June 1863~the 1st and 2nd

The curtain rises on two months which will change the American Civil War. President Lincoln looks for a general who can win battles. The Vallandigham affair drags on. Freedom of the press becomes an issue in Chicago. Vicksburg, Mississippi, suffers under siege. Colonel Shaw misses his wife and family. General Bragg resents the number of civilians being sent into the Confederacy and vows to stop the practice. The writer Samuel Clemens admires the breadth of his country. Elections promise change in Canada. The crisis in Poland brews on while American foreign policy supports the Russian Tsar.


 June– Rochester, New York– In this month’s issue of Douglass’ Monthly, Frederick Douglass prints a copy of a lengthy speech which he delivered in the preceding month in New York City at the Church of the Puritan and entitled “The Colored Race in Americas.” He concludes with these words: “We have passed through the furnace and have not been consumed. During more than two centuries and a half, we have survived contact with the white race. We have risen from the small number of twenty to the large number of fiver millions, living and increasing, where other tribes are decreasing and dying. We have illustrated the fact the two most opposite races of men known to ethnological science can live in the same latitudes, longitudes, and altitudes, and that so far as natural causes are concerned there is reason to believe that we may permanently live under the same skies, brave the same climates, and enjoy Liberty, equality and fraternity in a common country.”


Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

June 1– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– A large public meeting condemns the arrest and trial of former Congressman Clement Vallandigham.

 June 1– Monday– New York City– The New York Times reports on political change in Canada. “An ordinary party crisis in Canada would not be likely to disturb the balance of power in either world; and would, perhaps, fail to excite any particular emotion beyond a limited provincial circle. But, we take it, that a careful analysis of the Parliamentary upheavals which have been witnessed in Canada, at intervals during the past twelve months, would show something like a growing conflict of interest and of sympathy between the great dependency and its parent country. . . . In the meantime, we may indicate in a word, what are the probable results. The priest party and the railway interest will jointly carry a majority against the Government in Lower Canada. The very existence of the great railway Corporation is almost involved in the return to power of the Tory leaders, who, in addition to the vast subsidies, they secured for the undertaking from the Provincial Treasury, had secretly, and in defiance of law, advanced it over a million of dollars, a fact which the vigilance of the new Government has only recently brought to light. The electors of Upper Canada, on the other hand, are likely to give the Government a large majority; but it may be doubted if it will be sufficient to counterbalance their want of support in the Lower Province.” [Although not exactly the same as the contemporary provinces, it helps to understand in this period Lower Canada meant Quebec and most of what had been called “New France” until the British conquest, with predominantly French-speaking and Roman Catholic population along with an English-speaking and Protestant minority, Upper Canada meant southern Ontario and the lands bordering Lake Superior and Georgian Bay.]

June 1– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln meets with Senator Charles Sumner about the recruitment of more black soldiers.


Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts

Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts

June 1– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The Chicago Times, under orders from General Burnside, suspends publication for what the General describes as “repeated expression of disloyal and incendiary sentiments.” The mayor and others immediately petition President Lincoln to rescind the order.

June 1– Monday– on the steamer De Molay, off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina– Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, in transit with his men of the 54th Massachusetts, writes to his new wife, Annie. “It is only three months and a half since I got to New York, and Nellie called to you to come down and see me. I hope I shall never forget the happy days we have passed together since then, and that I shall always look back on them with the same pleasure as now. It may be a long time before we find ourselves driving about Berkshire together again; but I do hope that some day we can live over those days at Lenox once more . . . . Truly, I ought to be thankful for all my happiness, and my success in life so far; and if the raising of colored troops prove such a benefit to the country, and to the blacks, as many people think it will, I shall thank God a thousand times that I was led to take my share in it. . . . Did any one tell you that, after bidding you and Mother and the girls good bye so stoically, Harry and I had to retire into the back parlor, and have a regular girl’s cry? It was like putting the last feather on the camel’s back; I had as much as I could carry before. It was a great relief, though.”


detail on the memorial honoring trhe 54th Massaachusetts Regiment

detail on the memorial honoring trhe 54th Massaachusetts Regiment

June 1– Monday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– Union artillery conducts a day-long bombardment of the city. 

June 1– Monday– San Francisco, California– Samuel Clemens, age 27 and, since February of this year, becoming known under the pen name Mark Twain, writes to his mother and sister. “I rode down with a gentleman to the Ocean House, the other day, to see the sea horses, and also to listen to the roar of the surf, and watch the ships drifting about, here, and there, and far away at sea. When I stood on the beach and let the surf wet my feet, I recollected doing the same thing on the shores of the Atlantic– and then I had a proper appreciation of the vastness of this country– for I had traveled from ocean to ocean across it.”


Samuel Clemens a/k/a Mark Twain, c1871

Samuel Clemens a/k/a Mark Twain, c1871

June 1– Monday– St P:etersburg, Russia– While continuing to deal with rebellion in Poland, Tsar Alexander writes to King William of Germany expressing his desire for peace but concerned about the attitudes of Great Britain and France, worries that a large scale European war may come by August if those two powers intervene on behalf of the Poles. He asks if he can count on political and military support from the Germans.

June 2– Tuesday– New York City– In a letter to the editor published in today’s New York Times, an anti-slavery activist evaluates the possibility of restoring the Union by compromising with the South on the question of slavery. “Now, Mr. Editor, I desire thus publicly and from the beginning to announce my emphatic wish to be counted out of any such arrangement. I went into this Anti-Slavery business earnestly, and on the presumption that I was acting with honest men – men who hated Slavery, and who were determined to cast it out, come what might. I find that as to many I have been deceived. I find that these men want power, and care for nothing else; and that for the sake of power they would kill all the white people of the South, or take them to their arms; that they would free all the slaves, or make their bondage still more helpless; or do any other inconsistent or wicked thing. I have no sympathy whatever with such an unhallowed last of dominion. As to the Union. I would not give, a cent for it unless it stood as a guarantee for freedom to every man, woman and child within its entire jurisdiction.” 

June 2– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– President Lincoln meets privately with General John F Reynolds, 42 years old, a graduate of West Point and a career officer. Reynolds and others have been publicly critical of General Hooker and Hooker’s conduct at Chancellorsville a month ago. The President sends a telegram to General Grant, asking, “Are you in communication with General Banks? Is he coming toward you or going farther off? Is there or has there been anything to hinder his coming directly to you by water from Alexandria?”


General John Reynolds

General John Reynolds

June 2– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Navy Secretary Gideon Welles summarizes today’s Cabinet meeting in his diary. “There was some discussion of affairs at Vicksburg. The importance of capturing that stronghold and opening the navigation of the river is appreciated by all, and confidence is expressed in Grant, but it seems that not enough was doing. . . . Stanton does not attend one half of the Cabinet-meetings. When he comes, he communicates little of importance. Not unfrequently he has a private conference with the President in the corner of the room, or with Seward in the library. Chase, Blair, and Bates have each expressed their mortification and chagrin that things were so conducted. To-day, as we came away, Blair joined me, and said he knew not what we were coming to; that he had tried to have things different.”

June 2– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– President Davis, distrustful of Clement Vallandigham, orders the man to be sent to Wilmington, North Carolina, and held as an “alien enemy.”

 June 2– Tuesday– Tullahoma, Tennessee– Angry that Union forces are sending to the Confederate lines many civilians who will not swear allegiance to the United States, Confederate General Braxton Bragg issues the following order: “The enemy has seen fit to expel from his lines and send to our midst not only those supposed to be guilty of crimes, but non-combatants found at their homes in the peaceful pursuits of life. In the perpetration of these outrages on humanity, and these violations of civilized warfare, he has prostituted the flat of truce to the base purpose of protecting the guards who drive forth these exiles. Hereafter that flag will not protect those guards, but they will be seized and sent forward to be treated as spies or prisoners of war, as the circumstances in each case may require.”

June 2– Tuesday– St Petersburg, Russia– American Minister Cassius Marcellus Clay advises Secretary of State Seward that he gave permission to the Russian government to publish Seward’s dispatch of May 11th. “Your position was just, and therefore could not be offensive of right to our powerful rivals, who were acting offensively against Russia. Whatever effect it was calculated to produce on England and France has already been effected. Its publication would aid Russia by our moral support at home and abroad, and that support is needed at once, . . . . and above all, I felt that it was due from us to be grateful for the past conduct of Russia towards us in our troubles, by a like moral support of herself, in defense of the integrity of her empire.”

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