Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Soldiers Are Noble~January 1864~29th to 31st

The Soldiers Are Noble ~ Walt Whitman

Whitman writes home about soldiers, Congress and the war’s prospects. Senator Sherman gives his opinions to his brother. General Sherman gives his opinion to a subordinate officer. Harpers Weekly writes about the abuse of slaves. Soldiers write home about love, furloughs or the lack thereof, and what fighting may come next. The Confederacy tries to provide financial relief to the families of soldiers while desertion increases. The rebel governor of Louisiana tries to rally the citizens of New Orleans. 

January 29– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “I find so many noble men in the ranks, I have ceased to wonder at it. I think the soldiers from the New England States & the Western states are splendid, & the country parts of N Y & Pennsylvania too. I think less of the great cities than I used to– I know there are black sheep enough, even in the ranks, but the general rule is the soldiers are noble, very. . . . . Congress is in session . . . . I don’t go much to the debates this session yet. Congress will probably keep in session till well into the summer– as to what course things will take, political or military, there’s no telling. I think though the secesh military power is getting more & more shaky– how they can make any headway against our new, large & fresh armies next season passes my wit to see.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

January 29– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “I have met several from Cincinnati who saw you there, and all concur in saying you bear the storms of life well, and appear in better health and spirits than before the war. Your official report is very interesting, and I wish to see it published. . . . . We are all looking to the operation on the Mississippi and at Knoxville. The latter seems to me the point of danger. If Longstreet should be reinforced, why could he not pounce upon Foster, or his successor, and make another march necessary for his relief. The movement of recruiting is going on well enough. . . . . The general prosperity of the country is so marked that I am afraid of a reaction or a collapse. The currency is awfully inflated, and our ability to borrow and to pay interest has a limit. If the war continues two years longer, we shall be terribly embarrassed. Still we have the sure foundation of public credit, a great country, and a large and active population. Let me hear from you as often as possible.” ~ Letter from Senator John Sherman to his brother, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

January 29– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “I would like more than I can tell to have you with me and do not you think of the expense for I am sure I can afford to have my own darling with me. And you know I have now over $100 a month extra pay. At all events do let me hear from you. If you come the sooner the better. The weather is marvelous. How you would enjoy it.” ~ Letter from Union officer Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to his wife Fanny.

January 29– Friday– Hampstead, England– Lucy Aikin, translator, historian and author of children’s books, dies at 82 years of age.

Lucy Aikin

Lucy Aikin

January 30– Saturday– New York City– “Rebecca Huger is eleven years old, and was a slave in her father’s house, the special attendant of a girl a little older than herself. To all appearance she is perfectly white. Her complexion, hair, and features show not the slightest trace of Negro blood. . . . . Rosina Downs is not quite seven years old. She is a fair child, with blonde complexion and silky hair. Her father is in the rebel army. She has one sister as white as herself, and three brothers who are darker. Her mother, . . . mulatto, lives in New Orleans . . . . Charles Taylor is eight years old. His complexion is very fair, his hair light and silky. Three out of five boys in any school in New York are darker than he. Yet this white boy, with his mother, as he declares, has been twice sold as a slave. First by his father and owner, Alexander Wethers, of Lewis County, Virginia, to a slave-trader named Harrison, who sold them to Mr. Thornhill of New Orleans. This man fled at the approach of our army, and his slaves were liberated by General Butler. . . . . His mother is a mulatto; she had one daughter sold into Texas before she herself left Virginia, and one son who, she supposes, is with his father in Virginia. These three children, to all appearance of unmixed white race, came to Philadelphia last December, and were taken by their protector, Mr. Bacon, to the St. Lawrence Hotel on Chestnut Street. Within a few hours, Mr. Bacon informed me, he was notified by the landlord that they must leave. The children, he said, had been slaves, and must therefore be colored persons, and he kept a hotel for white people. From this hospitable establishment the children were taken to the Continental, where they were received without hesitation. Wilson Chinn is about 60 years old . . . . [at] 21 years old he was taken down the river and sold to Volsey B. Marmillion, a sugar planter about 45 miles above New Orleans. This man was accustomed to brand his negroes, and Wilson has on his forehead the letters ‘V. B. M.’ Of the 210 slaves on this plantation 105 left at one time and came into the Union camp. Thirty of them had been branded like cattle with a hot iron, four of them on the forehead, and the others on the breast or arm. . . . Mary Johnson was cook in her master’s family in New Orleans. On her left arm are scars of three cuts given to her by her mistress with a rawhide. On her back are scars of more than fifty cuts given by her master. . . . Robert Whitehead . . . a regularly-ordained preacher, was born in Baltimore. He was taken to Norfolk, Virginia, . . . and sold for $1525; from Norfolk he was taken to New Orleans where he was bought for $1775 . . . . . The reverend gentleman can read and write well, and is a very stirring speaker. Just now he belongs to the church militant, having enlisted in the United States army.” ~ Letter, submitted with a group picture to Harper’s Weekly, by Mr C C Leigh.

illustration accompanying the article in Harpers Weekly

illustration accompanying the article in Harpers Weekly

January 30– Saturday– Washington, D. C.– President Lincoln receives a proposal to aid the Sanitary Fairs run by the Sanitary Commission, by letting Bell & Brothers, photographers at 480 Pennsylvania Avenue, make and sell his photograph.

January 30– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “On Thursday last a bill was passed by the House of Delegates of Virginia, appropriating the sum of $1,000,000 for the relief of the families of soldiers within the lines of the lines of the enemy. We have not had an opportunity of examining the bill, but understand that it contemplates the distribution of this fund to the counties overrun by the enemy, through agents to be appointed to represent the county in the matter. A proposition was made to prevent the exchange of Confederate money appropriated under this bill for other currency at less than specie value, which was properly, in our judgment, opposed by Mr. Monroe, of Hampshire, upon the ground that it would render the appropriation entirely useless in the very portions of country where it was designed to be operative and effective. The passage of this bill will doubtless exert a sanitary influence upon those gallant men who have left their homes and families within the enemy’s lines. Even if the objects of the bill are not attained to the extent contemplated, its passage will go to show that the State of Virginia is not unmindful of the welfare of those who have sacrificed all for the accomplishment of Southern independence.” ~ Richmond Dispatch.

January 30– Saturday– General Longstreet’s headquarters, Tennessee– “Nearly a hundred men, part of the First Alabama, the remnant of a North Alabama battalion, consolidated with the First Alabama,left, officers and all, for home night of the 27th.” ~ Report to Richmond from Confederate General James Longstreet.

January 30– Saturday– Shreveport, Louisiana– “To the Citizens of New Orleans! . . . . Do not despair ; but rather let the fires of patriotism burn brightly at every fire-side; for in a few short months you shall be free. You have been despoiled and robbed, and basely insulted. Every indignity that a brutal, unprincipled and a vindictive foe could invent, has been heaped upon you. Bear your persecutions, as did your fathers before you, and nerve your hearts for the coming hour. Our people are flocking to the army in every direction, and when the spring campaign opens, half a million of gallant Confederate soldiers will strike for Liberty and Independence. Citizens of New Orleans! Be true to yourselves, and your State will be true to you. . . . Ladies of New Orleans, God Almighty bless you, and sustain you in all your trials ! May Heaven guard you and protect you! When spring time comes, gentle ladies, you will see the ‘Grey Coats’ again, and then you shall welcome back to New Orleans the sons aud daughters of Louisiana. You are the treasures of the caste. Oh! be not weary in well doing. Cheer up the desponding. Be kind to our prisoners who are languishing in the wretched cells of the enemy. You will receive the undying gratitude of your country, and in Heaven above, you will be crowned among the Angels of the Living God.” ~ Address to the citizens of New Orleans from Henry Watkins Allen, newly installed Confederate governor of Louisiana. Allen, 43 years old, a lawyer, politician and wounded Confederate officer, was inaugurated five days ago. [He will die in poor health in Mexico on April 22, 1866.]

Henry Watkins Allen

Henry Watkins Allen

January 30– Saturday– Dublin, Ireland– National Gallery of Ireland opens to the public in a building designed by Francis Fowke.

January 31– Sunday– General Lee’s winter quarters, Virginia– “The quiet of our encampment has been somewhat disturbed for the last day or two, by reports that the enemy was moving his forces seemingly, preparatory to an advance; but I believe the excitement has all subsided and we again once more at rest.. . . . I do sincerely hope that the weather may grow worse and worse until we get furloughs; for with pleasant weather all our hopes are blasted. We know too well what the spring campaign will be. Still we doubt not our success. . . . . The prospect of the war lasting two years longer is truly a sad thought; but we all know that Submission is death, consequently we are all resolved, if fall we must, to fall nobly when duty calls us.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his sweetheart.

January 31– Sunday– Jefferson City, Missouri– Hamilton R Gamble, the loyal governor of the state, dies from an infection at age 65. Gamble, a lawyer, judge and politician, had been chief justice of the state supreme court in 1852 and written a dissenting opinion in the case of the slave Dred Scott, declaring that “a master who takes his slave to reside in a State or Territory where slavery is prohibited, thereby emancipates his slave.” From 1861 to the day of his death he has served as the pro-Union governor of the state, denounced by the secessionists for his loyalty and supported by Federal troops and the Lincoln Administration. [For his role in the famous litigation, see The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics by Don Fehrenbacher (paperback edition, 2001) at pp 262-265, 287, 570.]

Hamilton Gamble

Hamilton Gamble

January 31– Sunday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– “In my former letters I have answered all your questions save one, and that relates to the treatment of inhabitants known or suspected to be hostile or ‘Secesh.’ This is in truth the most difficult business of our army as it advances and occupies the Southern country. It is almost impossible to lay down rules, and I invariably leave the whole subject to the local commanders, but am willing to give them the benefit of my acquired knowledge and experience. . . . . We of the North are beyond all question right in our cause, but we are not bound to ignore the fact that the people of the South have prejudices which form a part of their nature, and which they cannot throw off without an effort of reason or the slower process of natural change. . . . . I know the slave owners, finding themselves in possession of a species of property in opposition to the growing sentiment of the whole civilized world, conceived their property to be in danger and foolishly appealed to war, and that by skillful political handling they involved with themselves the whole South on this result of error and prejudice. I believe that some of the rich and slave-holding are prejudiced to an extent that nothing but death and ruin will ever extinguish . . . . Three years ago, by a little reflection and patience, they could have had a hundred years of peace and prosperity, but they preferred war. Last year they could have saved their slaves, but now it is too late, all the powers of earth cannot restore to them their slaves any more than their dead grandfathers.” ~ Letter from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to Major E M Sawyer.


The State of the Union~2014

The State of the Union~2014

Tonight we shall observe the federal Constitution in action as President Obama delivers the State of the Union message. This is mandated by the Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution which declares: “He [the president] shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Note the language–”from time to time” it says. Can the president do it more than once a year? Yes. Can the president do it less than once a year? Yes. The president must do it from time to time. Why then do we see it happen once a year and why at this time of year?

Like organized religions, American politics are strong on tradition. President George Washington delivered the first state of the union in January of 1790 as the Congress met in New York City. He then delivered the second one that same year, in December of 1790. After that Washington did it only once a year as did his successor, John Adams. Thus began the tradition of once a year, deemed sufficient to satisfy the Constitutional mandate of “from time to time.”

Washington and Adams delivered their addresses in person as speeches to the Congress. However, Thomas Jefferson, the third president, wrote out his State of the Union message and sent it over to be read aloud to the Congress. While Jefferson wrote eloquently, he was a bit bashful and hated public speaking. Hence, from Jefferson’s administration until 1913, the presidents, even eloquent speakers like Abraham Lincoln, sent their State of the Union messages in writing to the Congress. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson caused a minor storm of controversy when he returned to the Washington-Adams tradition of a personal appearance before a joint session of Congress. Since 1913, every president has delivered the State of the Union message in a personal appearance before Congress, with only a few exceptions of an occasional written message.

Withe the exception of Washington’s first State of the Union, early presidents gave these messages in the fall, anytime between October and December until by President Andrew Jackson’s administration December became the customary month for delivery of the State of the Union message. This continued to 1934, when the change mandated by the ratification of the 20th Amendment in January of 1933 moved the opening of Congress from early March to early January. Since 1934, the State of the Union address has been delivered to Congress in January or February. The 20th Amendment declares in the first two articles as follows:

“1. The terms of the President and the Vice-President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3rd day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3rd day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.”

This amendment moved presidential inauguration from March to January as well. Thus in 1937 President Franklin D Roosevelt became the first one to take the oath of office in January instead of March. Other changes which gave us the format for the State of the Union to which we have become accustomed were President Calvin Coolidge’s 1923 message which was the first to be broadcast on radio, President Harry S. Truman’s 1947 message, the first to be broadcast on television and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s in 1965, the first to be delivered in the evening.

Some critics complain that the State of the Union messages are too “political.” For good or ill, such content is also included in the Constitutional mandate. Article II requires the president “to recommend to their [Congress’] Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” So especially in an election year we can expect what sounds like a party platform.

However much contemporary critics say that the State of the Union speeches are too long, when compared to several presidents in the 19th and early 20th centuries, modern presidents, even those with reputations as fine orators, are abstemious with their words.


President Taft

President Taft

The most verbose president was William Howard Taft whose State of the Union messages from 1909 through 1912 averaged 22,614 words each. In second place is Theodore Roosevelt whose messages from 1901 through 1908 averaged 19,656 words each. Third place goes to William McKinley who averaged 18,578 words in his presentations from 1897 through 1900. Fourth in length is James Polk whose messages from 1845 through 1848 averaged 18,014 words. In a distant fifth place we find James Buchanan who averaged 14,097 words in his State of the Union messages between 1857 and 1860.

President Theodore Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt


So far President Obama averages 7,004 words. Ronald Reagan averaged 4,596 words and Franklin Roosevelt averaged only 3,563 words each time.

We Shall Be Far Better Organized for 1860~January 1859~15th to 31st

We Shall Be Far Better Organized for 1860 ~ Abraham Lincoln

Things appear calm enough but next year’s election is in the minds of many including a prominent lawyer from Illinois.

January 15– Saturday– Wonewoc, Wisconsin– Birth of Elmore Yocum Sarles. He will become a banker, businessman and politician who will serve as governor of North Dakota from 1905 to 1907. [Dies on February 14, 1929].

January 15– Saturday– London, England– Originally chartered in December, 1856, the National Portrait Gallery first opens to the public in its temporary building on Great George Street in London. George Scharf serves as its first curator. [The Gallery will move to South Kensington in March 1870 and then in 1896 to its current site in St. Martin’s Place.]


National Portrait Gallery in London at its current location

National Portrait Gallery in London at its current location

January 16– Sunday– Massachusetts– “P. M.– to Walden and thence via Cassandra Ponds to Fair Haven and down river. There is still a good deal of ice on the north sides of woods and in and about the sheltered swamps. As we go southwestward through the Cassandra hollows toward the declining sun, they look successively, both by their form and color, like burnished silvery shields in the midst of which we walked, looking toward the sun. The whole surface of the snow the country over, and of the ice, as yesterday, is rough, as if composed of hailstones half melted together. This being the case, I noticed yesterday, when walking on the river, that where there was little or no snow and this rough surface was accordingly dark, you might have thought that the ice was covered with cinders, from the innumerable black points reflecting the dark water.” ~ Diary of Henry David Thoreau.


Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

January 17– Monday– Bucharest, the Balkans– Wallachia and Moldavia are united by Alexander John Cuza, age 39, under the name Romania.

January 18– Tuesday– Indianapolis, Indiana– The Indiana State Temperance Convention drafts a petition to the state legislature for an amendment to the state constitution which would ban the sale of liquor.

January 19– Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– In the Illinois Supreme Court, Attorney Abraham Lincoln represents the Illinois Central Railroad in six suits in which railroad is the defendant.

January 19– Wednesday– Toronto, Ontario, Canada– Birth of Alice Eastwood, one of the three children of Colin and Eliza Jane Gowdey Eastwood. She will become an educator and botanist, authoring several books, including A Handbook of the Trees of California (1905), and over 300 articles. [She will die in San Francisco on October 30, 1953.]

January 20– Thursday– New York City– “According to the newspapers, there are symptoms premonitory of a European muss. The majesty of France has personally snubbed the Austrian Ambassador, and the pent-up elements of trouble in Padua and Milan and Italy in general seem simmering with special energy.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

January 20– Thursday– Mossy Creek, Virginia– “Unless circumstances or some clever woman turns my course I expect . . . to set off for Kentucky in a week or ten days, for the purpose of making a final tour among old grand mama’s Eve’s fair descendants, to ascertain whether or not indeed this individual can gather up the scattered fragments of his heart’s affections so as to concentrate them upon some one whose charms & attractions ((personal & social)) shall be sufficient to lead me right up to Hymen’s altar!! The truth is every day’s experience like the atmosphere around is pressing me with the conviction that it is not good & never was designed to be, for man to be alone!! that his living is but a mere animal existence floating upon the surface of things . . . . I have just lingered on the borders of single-wretchedness long enough to discover that there is not in her wide [unclear] one single oasis on which my eyes or my hopes might rest, and therefore I announce to you, to all the world & the rest of mankind, but rather more of woman kind, that ere long I design to shake the very dust of celibacy off my understandings & take up my line of march gladly & joyously for ‘That land of mixed delight///Where Bachelors nowhere tarry///Where Hymen’s says dispel the night///And lead me on to marry!!!!’” ~ Letter from B. Estill to his friend John McCue.

January 20– Thursday– Berlin, Prussia– Bettina Brentano, novelist, composer, arts patron and social activist, dies at age 73. She bore seven children to her late husband, Achim von Armin (1781– 1831).

January 21– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– In the Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison defends Theodore Parker and Henry Ward Beecher who have recently been assailed in the conservative press for their stands on reform issues, particularly speaking against slavery. Parker had been called an “infidel” and Beecher accused of being “unorthodox” by pro-slavery journalists. Garrison also reports that a memorial signed by William Cooper Nell, had been brought before the state legislature, asking for the vindication and protection of the rights of colored citizens. Representative Spofford, of Newburyport rose to protest the consideration of the petition. “I rise to protest, at this early stage of the session, against the introduction of this agitating question of slavery . . . there is nothing to be gained by the petition; nothing whatever is asked.” He moved that a vote be taken by yeas and nays, “in order that the people of the Commonwealth may know who the Representatives are who are disposed to continue, throughout the session, constant and useless agitation of the slavery question.” [Nell, a free born black man, age 42, is an abolitionist activist, conductor on the Underground Railroad, journalist and historian.]

January 21– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “I have this day transmitted to the Senate a digest of the statistics of manufactures, according to the returns of the Seventh Census [1850], prepared under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior in accordance with a provision contained in the first section of an act of Congress approved June 12, 1858, entitled ‘An act making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the Government for the year ending the 30th of June, 1859.’ The magnitude of the work has prevented the preparation of another copy.” ~ Special message of President Buchanan to the House of Representatives.

January 21– Friday– Coshocton Ohio– About ten o’clock at night, several armed men overpower the County Treasurer who was working late in his office. They tie him up, open the safe and successfully escape with approximately $20,000, about $4000 of it in gold. [The $4000 in gold would have been about 211 troy ounces which would be worth about $331,000 in today’s market. The $16,000 in cash would equal $456,000 today, calculated on the Consumer Price Index.] 

January 22– Saturday– Hanover, the German States– At the piano himself, Johannes Brahms, age 25, performs his First Piano Concerto in D Minor, Opus 15. The audience is polite but obviously not enthusiastic.

Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms


January 23– Sunday– Memphis, Tennessee– “The President . . . does not approve of the Pension Bill which recently passed the House [of Representatives] , but believes that the admission of the principle it involves would open the door to such unlimited claims as to bankrupt the Government. It is hardly likely that the bill will pass the Senate.” ~ Memphis Appeal.

January 23– Sunday– Port-au-Prince, Haiti– After a successful insurrection against Faustin Elie Souloque, the self-styled Emperor Faustin I, who has ruled since 1849, Nicholas Fabre Geffrard is sworn in as president of Haiti. [He will rule until being sent into exile in 1867.]

January 23– Sunday– Hawaiian Islands– A significant volcanic eruption begins on the big island of Hawaii with a spectacular spray of lava from the north top of Mount Mauna Loa. There is no accompanying earthquake and no casualties reported but the lava spurts to a height of 300 feet. [This continues for several days and the lava flows for several weeks.]

January 24– Monday– New York City– The New York Times reports that the ship Laurens, seized by Federal officers last Thursday at New London, Connecticut, had clearly been refitted for use in the African slave trade while under the guise of being a whaling ship.

January 25– Tuesday– London, England– The Caledonia Society holds a banquet to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. Festivals are held in every Scottish town and Scots around the world host dinners and special celebrations. All the festivities end with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.”

January 25– Tuesday– Springfield, Illinois– In the evening, the Concert Hall is the scene of a celebration marking the 100th birthday of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. The organizers had promoted the event as an evening of “toasts, sentiments and songs.” A newspaper report declares that the “supper was splendid and abundant, and was well attended. The toasts offered on this occasion were most appropriate, and were responded to by some of the most talented men of the state, among whom were, Abraham Lincoln . . . and others.”

January 26– Wednesday– Asuncion, Paraguay– United States Commissioner James B. Bowlin presents his credentials to President Carlos Antonio Lopez in preparation for negotiations on a treaty of friendship and commerce between the two countries.

January 27– Thursday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society convenes for its twenty-seventh annual meeting at the Mercantile Hall. Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison are among the key speakers.

January 27– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– In Congress, Speaker of the House James Orr, age36, of South Carolina and Congressman James Hughes, age 35, of Indiana, both Democrats and both retiring from Congress after this session, argue on the floor of the House, exchanging language that a reporter calls “racy, vigorous, and original.” In a burst of anger, Orr challenges Hughes to meet outside to settle their differences. However colleagues with cooler heads prevail and apologies are exchanged. This is the latest in a series of acrimonious exchanges that have occurred between members of the Thirty-Fifth Congress. [During the Civil War, Orr will serve as a senator in the Confederate government and will become a Republican after the war. Hughes will change political parties in 1860.]

January 27– Thursday– Berlin, Prussia– At three o’clock in the afternoon Princess Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain and wife of Prince Frederick William of Prussia, gives birth to her first child, William. [The boy will become the Crown Prince in 1861 and eventually reign as Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany from 1888 till 1918.]


Victoria, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria

Victoria, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria

January 28– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– William Hickling Prescott, age 62, one of America’s most famous historians, dies two hours after suffering a stroke in the library at his Beacon Hill home. Almost blind since his college years at Harvard, he has produced remarkable works on the history and literature of Spain, especially as they concerned the New World at the time of Ferdinand and Isabella. His three-volume Conquest of Mexico gained him great fame and prestige. [The town of Prescott, Arizona will be named for him.]


January 28– Friday– along the coast of Virginia– The steamer North Carolina on its way from Norfolk to Baltimore, Maryland, catches fire and completely burns. Two people are killed. Everyone else escapes harm.


January 28– Friday– Olympia, Washington Territory– The city is incorporated.


January 29– Saturday– Springfield, Illinois– “When you can find leisure, write me your present impressions of Douglas’ movements. Our friends here from different parts of the State, in and out of the Legislature, are united, resolute, and determined; and I think it is almost certain that we shall be far better organized for 1860 than ever before.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull.


January 29– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit a report from the Secretary of War, with the accompanying documents, recommending the repayment to [British colonial] Governor [Sir James] Douglas, of Vancouver Island, of the sum of $7,000, advanced by him to Governor [Isaac Ingalls] Stevens, of Washington Territory, which was applied to the purchase of ammunition and subsistence stores for the forces of the United States in time of need and at a critical period of the late Indian war in that Territory. As this advance was made by Governor Douglas out of his own private means and from friendly motives toward the United States, I recommend that an appropriation may be made for its immediate payment, with interest.” ~ Message to Congress from President Buchanan. [That $7000 loaned by a British official out of his own pocket would equal $199,000 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index. The purchasing power would buy the about the same as $2.52 million today.]


January 29– Saturday– Lynchburg, Virginia– “It strikes me . . . that is a wealthy section of country, and that a paper could succeed well there. If we succeed in getting the subscribers, I am in hopes we will be able to remunerate you in some way for your kindness in taking such an interest in the enterprise. If you say so, I will send my son-in-law there next Court-day, and get you and your friends to make a strong pull and we will have an office there, and I believe your citizens will support it liberally. Of course your Clerks, Lawyers, Merchants &C., would do all they could to keep it up. 500 subscribers to begin with would establish the paper on a firm footing. I have all the material, and all of it paid for. I think a neutral paper would succeed better than a political one, but

I am Whig to the core.” ~ Letter from A. Waddill to J. H. McCue regarding the development of a new newspaper.


January 30– Sunday– Island of Hawaii– Lava from the volcanic eruption of a week ago reaches the Pacific Ocean, forty miles from the mountain.


January 30– Sunday– Turin, Italy– Prince Napoleon Joseph Charles, age 37, a cousin of French Emperor Napoleon III, marries Princess Maria Clotilde of Savoy, age 15, daughter of King Victor Emmanuel II of Peidmont-Sardinia. Many people comment that this union further signals the growing alliance between France and the Italians who favor a united Italy. [The couple will have three children but will separate in 1870.]

January 31– Monday– “John Cloud has been arrested as concerned in the robbery of the Coshocton Treasury [on Friday, January 21st]. We have spoken of the arrest of George Bell at Columbus, and the telegraph notices the arrest of a man at Dayton and one at Eaton.” ~ Cleveland Herald .

The Progress of Events~January 1864~24th to 28th

The Progress of Events ~ Reverend D Paul

A Northern preacher exhorts his congregation to support the war and the total abolition of slavery, which he describes as “a giant, God-dishonoring crime.” A Southern newspaper mocks Mr Lincoln and claims that he wants to place “the Negro . . . astride of the white man.” A strange situation occurs at a Southern college for women named after an English abolitionist.” Scattered fighting continues. Scarcity and other problems plague the Confederacy and the broader world continues to turn.


January 24– Sunday– Mansfield, Ohio– “Now, my dear friends permit me, simply as your pastor, to say, with all earnestness, that I have no sympathy with political preachers, and no disposition to drag mere party politics into the pulpit. But when a moral question becomes a question at issue between political parties, that fact does not, and shall not close my mouth. If in opposing what I believe to be a giant, God-dishonoring crime, I oppose a political party, so be it. If any political party shall array itself against the principles which I have vowed to maintain, and which I believe to be in accordance with the word of God, I will pay my vow to God, even if I should stand accused of political preaching. If in so doing I should be compelled to part with those whose friendship I value, and whose kindness I have experienced I shall be filled with grief, but not torn with remorse. But need there be any parting ? Are there any here who would prefer a political party to the church of God ? If you forsake the communion of this church on account of its opposition to slavery, in all this free north where will you find a more congenial home? Would you cling to an institution whose death doom God has written in letters of fire and blood ? Would you re-fasten the shackles on limbs from which they have been broken by the fortunes of war ? Would you hurl back to chains and slavery those who, side by side with the nation’s nobles, have met in the shock of battle, and driven back, the traitorous foe? Would you, if you could, arrest the progress of events which promise, though with toil and suffering now, to leave to coming generations a constitution and a union, without that institution which had risen in power and influence, and the audacity of crime, until, like a spire tipped tower it pierced the clouds of Jehovah’s wrath, calling down their scathing lightening on the heritage our fathers left us? We are persuaded better things of you!” ~ A sermon preached in the United Presbyterian church by the pastor, Reverend D Paul.

January 24– Sunday– Paris, France– Birth of Marguerite Durand [dies March 16, 1936], actress, journalist, suffrage activist, labor organizer and feminist leader. [In 1897 she will found the feminist daily La Fronde, staffed completely by women. “Feminism owes a great deal to my blonde hair” she will write in 1903.]

Marguerite Durand

Marguerite Durand

January 25– Monday– La Grange, Tennessee; Mount Pleasant, Mississippi; Bainbridge Ferry, Alabama; Sulphur Springs, Arkansas; Bayou Grand, Florida– Skirmishes, ambushes, fire fights and mayhem.

January 25– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The municipal regulations failing to keep the city effectually policed, it is hereby ordered, for the preservation of the health and lives of the citizens, and of the troops on duty at this place, that the occupant of every house daily sweep or scrape clean the pavement or sidewalk in front of his building. This will be done daily before 9 o’clock A. M. On stated days, hereafter to be announced, each occupant will clean to the middle of the street in front of his premises, collecting the sweepings into piles, to be carried away by Government wagons. For any neglect of this regulation, a fine double that enforced by the municipal ordinance will be imposed by the Provost Marshal; and if not paid at his office within one week from notice, will be levied by sale at public auction of goods sufficient to realize the sum.” ~ Order issued by Union General R. S. Granger.

January 25– Monday– Pozega, Slavonia– Birth of Julije Kempf (dies June 6, 1934), Croatian historian and author.

January 26– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The supervisors of the several counties of the State are hereby authorized, from time to time during the war, to borrow money in their corporate names, for such time and on such terms as may be agreed upon, for the purpose of providing for the support and relief of the families of living and deceased soldiers of their respective counties.” ~ Enactment of the state legislature.

January 26– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “[Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton tells some curious matters of Jeff Davis, derived from Davis’s servant, who escaped from Richmond. The servant was a slave, born on Davis’ plantation. Mrs. Davis struck him three times in the face, and took him by the hair to beat his head against the wall. At night the slave fled and after some difficulty got within our lines. He is, Stanton says, very intelligent for a slave and gives an interesting inside view of Rebel trials and suffering. It should be taken, perhaps, with some allowance.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

January 26– Tuesday– Camden County, Georgia– “Mr Fisher and myself went to see Mrs. Alberti . . . . We stayed over night . . . had a cup of real coffee and tea with sugar and milk, and biscuit and butter. Our ride was about 23 miles and all the way through pine woods. Now and then a house to cheer the sight. We were upset once by the breaking of a rein, the buggy was turned completely over and left in the gutter. We fortunately were near a house where we procured help. The spinning wheel was going briskly– the women were hard at work trying to clothe the family while the men were in the army. They were indifferent as to the termination of the war if it would only end that they might be kept from starvation. We stopped at Dr. Mitchell’s. Mrs. Mitchell put on an old cloak to hide her rags and says they are experiencing great destitution. We have frequent applications from people far and near for clothing. So far as we can ascertain people seem certain that the confederacy is short lived; that this year must terminate the war. Confederate money is almost valueless. Worth only five cents on the dollar. Dr. Mitchell prepared for me a bottle of cough mixture and a few powders– charged $8.00. Sent in Sybil’s bill, a little short of $300 for eight or nine visits– and refuses confederate money. Julia writes that she will soon visit us and bring some necessary articles.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

January 26– Tuesday– Mellby, Sweden– Otto Lindblad, musician and composer of Sweden’s royal anthem, dies at 55 years of age.

Otoo Lindblad

Otoo Lindblad

January 27– Wednesday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Henry Dana, Jr, and Professor J. Peter Lesley (prominent geologist and educator) are elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

January 27– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln instructs Union General Frederick Steele in Arkansas that the state’s civil authorities could be allowed to remain in charge of state government without the appointment of an interim military governor. However, the new government must maintain the abolition of slavery.

January 27– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Oh! what a grand, what a successful hit was made for Puritanism in polities and religion, and for the whole tribe of shoddy when the Negro got astride of the white man, what a grand thing it was that the people were so easily gulled by those tricksters, those gamblers in human life, who are now riding roughshod over the prostrate form of popular freedom, sweeping away the bulwarks raised by the great men of the revolution around the Temple of Liberty. But we have already dwelt too long on this last decide of the American Autocrat, and must hasten to a conclusion . . . . The amnesty which is offered to the Confederates under a certain rank . . . is too absurd to be worthy of even a passing notice. . . . . The Southern people are fighting in a just cause, as they are fighting against usurpation, and confiscation, and for freedom and State rights. They are fighting to preserve their land against the fate of Ireland and Poland. They are fighting against a power that has trampled every principle of law and constitutional authority under foot. They are fighting for their homes, for their dearest rights. They are now fighting the battles of the Revolution over again; and if they fail, then the history of Ireland will be repeated on their own soil . . . . there is no man possessing a sense of justice, and who is not impelled to silence by the dread of a penalty which has fallen upon many for exercising the right of free speech, who will not acknowledge that the cause of the South is to-day the cause of Liberty against Despotism. If any man wants a proof of this, he will find it in the last message of the Washington Autocrat.” ~ Richmond Dispatch criticizes President Lincoln’s offer of amnesty.


January 27– Wednesday– Fair Garden, Tennessee– In a fight that lasts most of the day, Federal troops beat a Confederate force. However, the Federals are forced to withdraw at nightfall as they are fatigued and low on ammunition. Total Union casualties– dead, wounded, missing– are 100 and 165 for the Confederates.

January 27– Wednesday– Columbia, Tennessee– James Andrews, the mayor, is arrested for killing a Federal soldier and mortally wounding another during a confrontation at his place of business.

January 27– Wednesday– Munich, Germany– Leo von Klenze, prominent neoclassicist architect as well as a painter and writer, dies, weeks away from his 80th birthday.

Mary Sharp College

Mary Sharp College

January 28– Thursday– Winchester, Tennessee– “I addressed you yesterday by Telegraph informing you that a Negro man by name of Marcus Combs now living in Nashville came to my house yesterday accompanied by some soldiers who belong to the command of Colonel James S. Selfridgeof the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteers and demanded a Negro girl belonging to me, aged 13 years. This Negro Marcus Combs claims to be the father of the girl. This Negro man Marcus formerly belong to me and the community demanded of me to sell him out of the place for theft & other misconduct which would have put a free man into our penitentiary. Such is the character of the Negro. Now he brings a verbal order from you to the Colonel Selfridge commanding the post at Dechard Depot (so the Colonel informs me that the girl is to be delivered up to him) and I assure you, that I am a good loyal Citizen of Tennessee, having taken the oath of allegiance at the earliest day possible for me, and received a Guarantee of Protection signed by yourself & Major General Rosecrans, for all my property both real & personal. Now with this statement of facts before you I would most respectfully petition you to inform me either by mail or Telegraph immediately (for the case is very urgent) whether the Negro girl is protected by the papers I hold? Whether Colonel Selfridge has a right to take the property from me without given me a voucher for the same as he is commanded to do by yourself & General Rosecrans in the protection papers given to me at the time I took the oath of allegiance?” ~ Letter from Zuinglius C. Graves, President of Mary Sharp College to Andrew Johnson, military governor of Tennessee.[Graves (1816 – 1902) was born in Vermont and licensed as a Baptist preacher around 1833 or 1834. He became the first president of Mary Sharp College in 1850. Ironically the school was named after a niece of the British abolitionist Granville Sharp (1735 – 1813). Mary Sharp herself was an ardent abolitionist, active in campaigns to abolish the Atlantic slave trade. Graves, a supporter of the system of slavery, envisioned a college and created a curriculum designed to provide for women the “same knowledge, literary, scientific and classical, that had been for so many generations the peculiar and cherished heritage of the other sex; that the sister should be placed on an equality with the brother, for the development and unfolding of all the qualities of her mind, thus making her what she was designed to be by her Creator, a thinking, reflecting, reasoning being, capable of comparing and judging for herself, and dependent upon none other for her free, unbiased opinion.” The college will close in 1896 due to financial problems.]

The Pot is Not Yet on the Boil~January 1859~1st to 14th

The Pot is Not Yet on the Boil

January 1– Saturday– Worcester, Massachusetts– A gas leak in a two story engine-house on Pleasant Street causes a massive explosion, completely destroying the building and badly damaging adjacent buildings, including a school-house. However no deaths or injuries are reported.

January 1– Saturday– Kansas City, Missouri–Moritz Pinner (1828– 1911), a Jewish immigrant from Prussia who came to the United States in 1851, begins printing The Kansas Post, an abolitionist paper. Slave owners threaten to use force to close the paper.

January 1– Saturday– Paris, France– In a speech delivered to the assembled foreign ambassadors at the Tuileries Palace, Emperor Napoleon III strongly indicates that all is not well between France and Austria over events in Italy. In a personal aside to the Austrian minister he says loud enough to be heard by all, “I regret that our relations with your government are not so good as they were; but I request you to tell the Emperor that my personal feelings for him have not changed.” The speech excites rumors of war across Europe for weeks to come.


Erastus Beadle

Erastus Beadle

January 2– Sunday– New York City– Erastus Flavel Beadle (1821– 1894), publishes one of his first ten-cent offerings, a book on etiquette. Beadle’s Dime Book of Practical Etiquette runs to 72 pages and is his contribution to the current enthusiasm for instruction on the best behavior in polite society. [His company, Beadle & Adams, has been publishing several magazines, song books, joke books and letter-writing guides. Beginning next year he will start his famous dime novels which will become extremely popular during the Civil War and continue thereafter, so much so that when he retires in 1889, he will have a substantial fortune. An 1859 dime would equal $2.85 in today’s money, using the Consumer Price Index. However, the income value would equal a purchase today of an item at $36.00.]

January 3– Monday– New York City– “First of all, God watch over and defend my three through this coming year as hitherto. . . . At John Sherwood’s I had a pleasant talk with his handsome and buxom sister-in-law, Miss Charlotte Wilson, and at Mrs William B Astor’s with her very intelligent granddaughter, Miss Ward.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

 January 3– Monday– Montreal, Canada– A fire, apparently originating in the heating system, almost completely destroys Saint James Cathedral, the recently built Roman Catholic church on St. Dennis Street.

January 4– Tuesday– New York City– A snowstorm which began yesterday afternoon and continued overnight leaves fourteen inches of snow in the city. Similar amounts fell in much of New England. Railroad traffic throughout the region is paralyzed.

January 4– Tuesday– Brooklyn, New York– “The annual renting of the pews in Plymouth Church, (the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher’s congregation), Brooklyn, took place last evening, and drew a full house. The premium for the first choice was $160. The entire sum realized for the rents of the pews for one year was $24,642.50, being over $8000 more than the sum paid for the same seats for the year 1858. Many were unable to obtain pews. The sale closed at about 11 o’clock P.M., every seat being let.” ~ New York Times. [The $24,642.50 would equal $702,000 in today’s money, based on the Consumer Price Index. The social prestige of that amount would be like a church today bringing in $8.86 million, based upon the per capita Gross Domestic Product. Founded in 1847 with Beecher as its first pastor, the church at the time [1859] seats 2800, which means that it cost each person an average of $8.80 in period dollars or $251 in today’s dollars to have a place to sit on Sunday.]

January 4– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Vice-President John Breckinridge leads the Senate in procession to its new hall in the recently added north wing of the Capitol Building. [The United States Senate had met since 1810 in the Old Senate Chamber on the second floor of the north section of the U.S. Capitol. The Senate has met in this “new” chamber ever since 1859. Breckinridge, age 38, a Kentuckian, who will run for president in 1860, will become a general in the Confederate army and after the Civil War will practice law and make money in a railroad. He will die on May 17, 1875.]

January 4– Tuesday– Vienna, Austria– In response to Emperor Napoleon III’s speech in Paris on New Year’s Day, Emperor Franz-Joseph summons the French ambassador and tells him that he has the profoundest personal esteem for the French Emperor, “notwithstanding the dissidence occasioned by political necessities.” This only adds to rumors of possible war.

January 5– Wednesday– Lowell, Massachusetts– “South Carolina boldly takes disunion ground on very slight sentences . . . . The latest outbreak of disunion sentiment was in a debate in the Legislature of South Carolina on the question of aiding to build a monument to the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, in Independence Square in Philadelphia. All the thirteen original States except South Carolina have contributed toward this truly national work. . . . . The bill to contribute was postponed indefinitely.” ~ Lowell Citizen & News.

January 5– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit herewith to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to ratification, a convention between the United States and the Republic of Chile, signed by the plenipotentiaries of the parties on the 10th day of November last, providing for the reference to an arbiter of the questions which have long been in controversy between the two Governments relative to a sum of money, the proceeds of the cargo of the brig Macedonia, alleged to have belonged to citizens of the United States, which was seized in the Valley of Sitaria, in Peru, by orders of an officer in the service of the Republic of Chile.” ~ Message from President Buchanan to the United States Senate.


President Buchanan

President Buchanan

January 6– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “Re-election of Senator Douglas. Mr. Douglas was re-elected yesterday as Senator from Illinois for the term of six years from March 4th, 1859. The vote in Joint Convention stood, 54 for Douglas: 46 for Lincoln. The Democracy [i.e., the Democratic Party] made as much fuss over it as though the event had been dubious and unexpected. Mr. D can now finish his wanderings, take his seat and uncork his vials of wrath.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune [This was before the U S Constitution was amended to provide for the direct election senators as is done now. The Constitution originally provided that “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.” It is a sign of Lincoln’s growing popularity and the rise of the Republican Party in the North that the vote was as close as this.]

January 6– Thursday– near Americus, Georgia– Birth of Duncan Upshaw Fletcher, first of the four children of Thomas Jefferson and Rebecca Ellen McCowen Fletcher. He will become a lawyer and politician, serving as United States senator from Florida from 1909 until his death on June 17, 1936. He will be one of the two co-authors of the legislation to create the Securities and Exchange Commission.

January 6– Thursday– Sydney, New South Wales, Australia– Birth of Samuel Alexander, son of Samuel and Eliza Sloman Alexander. He will become a philosopher, author and educator, the first Jew to become a fellow at an Oxbridge college in England. [Dies September 13, 1938.]

January 7– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “I did not approve this joint resolution: First, because it was presented to me at so late a period that I had not the time necessary on the day of the adjournment of the last session for an investigation of the subject. Besides, no injury could result to the public, as the Postmaster-General already possessed the discretionary power under existing laws to increase the speed upon this as well as all other mail routes. Second. Because the Postmaster-General, at the moment in the Capitol, informed me that the contractors themselves had offered to increase the speed on this route to thirty instead of thirty-eight days at a less cost than that authorized by the joint resolution. Upon subsequent examination it has been ascertained at the Post-Office Department that their bid, which is still depending, proposes to perform this service for a sum less by $49,000 than that authorized by the resolution.” ~ Veto Message to Congress from President James Buchanan, vetoing a measure passed by Congress regarding mail delivery west of the Mississippi River.


Abraham Lincoln, Esq.

Abraham Lincoln, Esq.

January 8– Saturday– Springfield, Illinois– “All dallying with [Stephen A] Douglas by Republicans, who are such at heart, is, at the very least, time, and labor lost; and all such, who so dally with him, will yet bite their lips in vexation for their own folly.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to W. H. Wells.

January 8– Saturday– Louisville, Kentucky– At its annual convention, the state Democratic Party passes their platform which endorses the Dred Scott decision, advocates the purchase of Cuba from Spain, and generally supports the policies of the Buchanan Administration, particularly regarding the admission of Kansas as a slave state.

January 8– Saturday– Yela, an island of Papua New Guinea– A rescue party arrives, looking for the 327 men, women, and children passengers– Chinese workers headed for the gold fields of Australia– from a ship which wrecked three months ago. The rescuers find only one man left alive who claims that local inhabitants of the island had methodically captured, killed and eaten all the others.

January 9– Sunday– Ripon, Wisconsin– Birth of Carrie Clinton Lane Chapman Catt, the second child of three and the only daughter born to Lucius and Maria Clinton Lane. Out-living two husbands, Mrs Catt will spend decades in the cause of woman suffrage and international peace. [Dies March 9, 1947.]


Carrie Chapman Catt

Carrie Chapman Catt

January 9– Sunday– Charleston, South Carolina– In the western part of the city a mill and warehouse catch fire and are completely destroyed, along with 80,000 bushels of rice.

January 9– Sunday– Colon, Panama– Rowdy sailors from the U.S.S. Roanoke brawl with local citizens and the police.

January 10– Monday– New York City– Temperatures of nine below zero are reported, said to be the coldest in seventy years. The sudden onset of freezing temperatures strikes the entire north-eastern United States beginning on this day.

January 10– Monday– Washington, D.C.–Following President Buchanan’s suggestion in his State of the Union message several weeks ago, Senator John Slidell, Democrat of Louisiana, introduces a bill in the Senate to appropriate $30,000,000 as a down payment on a purchase of the island Cuba from Spain. [Despite Republican opposition from Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts and others, who see the proposal as a bold Southern attempt to increase the slave power, the bill will be passed by the Foreign Relations Committee next month but will die when Congress adjourns without taking further action.]

January 10– Monday– Charleston, South Carolina– “Presidential Aspirants. A correspondent of the Southern Monitor says the following figures will be the ages of the persons named in the year 1860: Crittenden will be 77, McLean 76, Rives 71, Bell 72, Com. Stewart 82, Seward 70, Choate 69, Cushing 68, Hunter 67, Hammond 70, Breckinridge [38?], Bigler 69, Dix 67, Dickinson 70, Cass [81?], A. V. Brown 70, Wise 51, Slidell 71, Douglas 49.” ~ Charleston Mercury [No mention is made of the lawyer in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, who will be 51 in 1860.]January 11– Tuesday– Chicago, Illinois– “A Washington letter writer says: Notwithstanding all the preparations to receive Senator Douglas, less than two hundred persons, and those mostly Irishmen, honored his arrival at home. He made a short speech from his doorsteps, the substance of which was his customary slang about sectionalism and fanaticism.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

January 11– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “In reply to the resolution of the Senate passed on the 16th ultimo, requesting me to communicate, if in my opinion not incompatible with the public interest, any information in my possession in relation to the landing of the bark Wanderer on the coast of Georgia with a cargo of slaves, I herewith communicate the report made to me by the Attorney-General, to whom the resolution was referred. From that report it will appear that the offense referred to in the resolution has been committed and that effective measures have been taken to see the laws faithfully executed. I concur with the Attorney-General in the opinion that it would be incompatible with the public interest at this time to communicate the correspondence with the officers of the Government at Savannah or the instructions which they have received. In the meantime every practicable effort has been made, and will be continued, to discover all the guilty parties and to bring them to justice.” ~ Message from President Buchanan to the Senate.

 January 11– Tuesday– Osawatomie, Kansas– “I have but a moment in which to tell you that I am in middling health ; but have not been able to tell you as yet where to write me. This I hope will be different soon. I suppose you get Kansas news generally through the papers. May God ever bless you all!” ~ Letter from John Brown to his wife and children.


John Brown

John Brown

January 11– Tuesday– Kedleston, England– Birth of George Nathaniel Curzon, eldest son and second of the 11 children of Alfred and Blanche Senhouse Curzon. He will become a prominent Conservative statesman and serve as Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905. [Dies March 20, 1925.]


January 12– Wednesday– London, England– Charles Beslay, a 64 year old French engineer, receives a patent for “coating or covering iron or steel with tin, zinc or lead or alloys of those metals by electrical deposit.”

January 13– Thursday– New Haven, Connecticut– The Republicans of the state meet in their party’s one day convention. August Brandagee of New London presides. The meeting nominates Governor William Alfred Buckingham for another term and reaffirms its support for the principles of the party in both state and national matters. [Buckingham, age54,will go on to serve as Connecticut’s governor during the Civil War, rallying over 54,000 volunteers from the state to the Federal armed forces and will be reelected seven consecutive times. He is active in the Congregational church as well as the temperance cause and is a benefactor of the Yale Divinity School.]

January 13– Thursday– New York City– The New York Times reports that in the area near Louisville, Kentucky, a planter had fathered a daughter by his favorite slave woman. As the slave was dying the man swore never to sell the girl. However, as the girl grew into a beautiful young woman and the man felt a need for money, he determined to sell his daughter. A young white lawyer loved the young woman and learning of her father’s plan, took her away to the safety of Toronto, Canada, much to the consternation of the father and the man who had agreed to buy the woman.

January 14– Friday– New York City– “We see that the Police Commissioners have rewarded some two hundred tried and faithful political adherents with places in the force. Now that they have increased the number of men to the highest limit, perhaps they will endeavor to improve the Department, by keeping all the officers and men to the strict line of their duties, and simplifying the circumlocutory manner of doing business at the central office. With all the faults of the old force, it was much more efficient than the Metropolitan, and that with one-third less numerical force, and a proportionate reduction in expense. If we leave out some of the tremendous efforts of the brilliant detectives, we never should know we had a police out of the hotels and theatres, until our tax bills come in.” ~ New York Herald.

Inevitable? A Short Essay & Introduction

Clio, the Muse of History

Clio, the Muse of History

Was the Civil War Inevitable?

A few weeks ago after watching the 1993 film “Gettysburg” with a friend, she asked me if I thought that the Civil War was inevitable. It is a question which has sparked debate among scholars even since the war itself was raging. In fact, before the shooting starting in the spring of 1861, some said aloud or wrote passionately that the conflict was inevitable. I believe that the academic discipline of history is an art form, not an exact or statistical science so that, in my mind, history should provoke discussion, reflection, soul-searching, and meditation, just as the plays of Shakespeare, the poetry of Milton or Blake, the art of DaVinci or Picasso, or the music of Bach or Beethoven.

As I have pondered this particular question for myself, I have come to believe that the series of events between 1850 and 1860 constituted a crooked, contorted path which with each step made the Civil War increasingly inevitable. As early as the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the elderly Thomas Jefferson bemoaned that the contentious debate scared him as “a fire-bell in the night.” At the same time he wrote that maintaining slavery “as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” Yet things calmed on the American scene and the whole country gained from Southern cotton, tobacco and sugar.

However, in my mind, the Compromise of 1850, which included the powerful Fugitive Slave Law, the publication of Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), the case of Anthony Burns in Boston (1854), the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the bloodbath in Kansas (from 1854 through 1860–for all practical purposes a dress rehearsal for the Civil War), the assault on Senator Charles Sumner in the Senate chamber by a Southern Congressman (1856), the Dred Scott decision of 1857, the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue of 1858 (students and faculty snatched a fugitive slave from arresting officers and spirited him away), John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry in 1859 and the election of Lincoln in 1860 indeed made the outbreak of war inevitable in 1861. These events aroused passionate responses on many sides and heightened the determination of many to resolve the questions by force if necessary.

By 1864 many people could back to 1859, only five years past, and see it as the last year of peace. The election of 1860 polarized the American people and by the end of that year secession had begun. So I’m beginning an overview of 1859, particularly looking for signposts of the coming war. Consider for yourselves, gentle readers, whether or not the war was “inevitable” by 1859.

Treating Me Worse & Worse Every Day~January 1864~19th to 23rd

Treating Me Worse and Worse Every Day~Ann Valentine

A slave woman sends a letter to her husband who is serving in the Union army. Problems abound in the Confederacy. Soldiers write about the weather, their love life and life in camp. Many wish for an end to the war.


January 19– Tuesday– Paris, Missouri– “I received your letter dated Jan 9th also one dated Jan 1st but have got no one till now to write for me. You do not know how bad I am treated. They are treating me worse and worse every day. Our child cries for you. Send me some money as soon as you can for me and my child are almost naked. . . . . Do not send any of your letters to Hogsett especially those having money in them as Hogsett will keep the money. . . . Do the best you can and do not fret too much for me for it wont be long before I will be free and then all we make will be ours.” Postscript: “Andy if you send me any more letters for your wife do not send them in the care of any one. Just direct them plainly to [me] James A Carney, Paris Monroe County Missouri. Do not write too often Once a month will be plenty and when you write do not write as though you had recd any letters for if you do your wife will not be so apt to get them. Hogsett has forbid her coming to my house so we cannot read them to her privately. If you send any money I will give that to her myself.” ~ Letter from an illiterate slave woman, Ann Valentine, to her husband, Andrew Valentine, a Union soldier serving in the 2nd Missouri Colored Infantry, written for her and with a cautionary postscript by Mr Carney.

January 20– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “In accordance with a letter addressed by the Secretary of State, with my approval, to the Hon. Joseph A. Wright, of Indiana, that patriotic and distinguished gentleman repaired to Europe and attended the International Agricultural Exhibition, held at Hamburg last year, and has since his return made a report to me, which, it is believed, can not fail to be of general interest, and especially so to the agricultural community. I transmit for your consideration copies of the letters and report. While it appears by the letter that no reimbursement of expenses or compensation was promised him, I submit whether reasonable allowance should not be made him for them.” ~ Message to Congress from President Lincoln.

January 20– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “General Gilmer, Chief of the Engineer Bureau, writes that the time has arrived when no more iron should be used by the Navy Department; that no iron-clads have effected any good, or are likely to effect any; and that all the iron should be used to repair the roads, else we shall soon be fatally deficient in the means of transportation. And Colonel Northrop, Commissary-General, says he has been trying to concentrate a reserve supply of grain in Richmond, for eight months; and such has been the deficiency in means of transportation, that the effort has failed.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

Confederate warship

Confederate warship

January 20– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “We have been astonished at the unblushing manner in which young boys acknowledge to their own complicity in burglaries, robberies, and other rascalities. Yesterday morning four boys appeared as witnesses, whose confession alone would entitle them to an apprenticeship in a house of correction until arriving at years of maturity. And there are dozens like these children of honest and industrious parents who are on the broad road to ruin, with the penitentiary or the gallows before them. Unfortunately, we have no house of correction for such boys, and therefore the greater necessity for parents to keep a vigilant watch over their boys, many of whom are absent from their homes the greater part of the time, night and day. Perhaps the closing of the Public Schools has much to do with the demoralization of our youth, but this will not excuse parents for their neglect of their children’s morals, and especially in allowing them to roam about the city at all hours of the night. We trust the Police will continue their endeavors to break up these juvenile bands, until the evil complained of is removed.” ~ Nashville Dispatch.

January 21– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The loyal people of West Virginia are being injured by the annoying and oppressive restrictions placed upon trade and commerce, under the regulations of the Treasury Department, now in force in said State . . . it is the deliberate opinion and conviction of the people of the State, as well as the military authorities . . . that such regulations are not calculated to obtain their only legitimate object, namely the prevention of supplies to districts within the control of the enemy: Therefore be it Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia, That our Senators in Congress be instructed, and our Representatives be requested to represent these facts to the proper authorities at Washington ; and to use their most earnest efforts to secure such modification of the trade regulation referred to, as will relieve the loyal people of the state from the grievances set forth in these resolutions.” ~ Resolutions from the West Virginia legislature.

January 21– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– Regarding a number of canon in a fortification near the James River, about four miles from the city, a newspaper notes: “At the time of the Stoneman raid [in the spring of 1863], it was related that an old gentleman living near the city, finding one of the batteries deserted, and fearing the guns would be spiked, got another man to aid him, and stood guard over the guns all night. Reporting the fact the next morning to the proper officer, he was requested to repeat the favor the next night. There was some excuse for this request, as our troops were called off in pursuit of the Yankee raiders. But the guns ought now to be guarded and inspected daily. We hope they are.” ~ Richmond Whig


raiders riding in bad weather

raiders riding in bad weather

January 21– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Last night an attempt was made (by his servants, it is supposed) to burn the President’s mansion. It was discovered that fire had been kindled in the wood-pile in the basement. The smoke led to the discovery, else the family might have been consumed with the house. One or two of the servants have absconded.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

January 21– Thursday– Camp Randolph, Virginia– “You ask me if my Kate would prove faithless towards me could I forgive her. Dear Kate you know that I have a forgiving heart If you should learn to love another man better than me; or that you could enjoy your future happiness better with your first lover than with boor W. I would be heartless not to free you & forgive you; though I could never forget or cease to love you. To harbor such thoughts as I have alluded to above make me feel miserable: To think that my first love should be wrecked or thrown away on one fair to good for me, one that is good pure & virtuous who made vows unto me while her first love seemed to be dying away, Then after a long time she again meets him: & her old love is rekindled for him, & she to good and kind to hide it from me has opened her hold heart to me. And asks me what she ought to do under such circumstances. Dear Kate what kind of an answer can I give but pray Almighty God to help you to prove true to who ever you love best; I am resigned to the will of providence. Dear Kate if you should ever learn to forget me I pray thee to never boast of having fooled me, thereby adding pain to a true but wounded heart, if you should cease to love I would have nothing to live for in this world; I don’t see that I should desire to live out this war But would be wiling to throw my self in danger of the missiles of death that I might quit this frail world & be at rest. I will change this, to me, painful subject. . . . . You will please never show this to any one.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier William F. Brand to his sweetheart Amanda C. “Kate” Armentrout.

January 21– Thursday– Bay of Plenty, New Zealand– British forces begin a six month campaign against the Maori.

January 22– Friday– New York City– “The rebellion is not yet suppressed, by any manner of means, and we have yet much hard work to do. God prosper it!” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

January 22– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Very little done at the Cabinet. . . . . Last night the President gave a dinner to the members of the Cabinet, judges of the Supreme Court, and a few others, with their wives. It was pleasant. A little stiff and awkward on the part of some of the guests, but passed off very well.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

January 22– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “About ten o’clock on Tuesday night, some unknown scoundrel attempted to set fire to the President’s Mansion, the attempt being frustrated by a timely discovery by some of the family. A quantity of combustible matter had been placed in one of the basement rooms and then set on fire. The quantity of smoke which issued from the basement room caused an alarm. The fire was extinguished before much damage was done; the incendiary, however, took the occasion to help himself to a quantity of groceries.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

January 22– Friday– near Harrisonburg, Virginia– “My health is only tolerable good. I am worsted with our tramp, but I hope we will get to rest awhile now. I wrote you on the morning of the 18th. The next morning we started and arrived here on the evening of the 20th. We are four miles east of Harrisonburg, and 29 miles north of Staunton. . . . . I thought we were coming up here to put up winter quarters, but the order is to not build huts, as it is uncertain about our remaining here long. . . . . We have tents enough for all to sleep under by crowding a little and are doing pretty well. The snow is melted off but it is cold.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda

January 23– Saturday– New Hope, West Virginia– “Resolved, That to the officers and men of the 116th Ohio Regiment stationed at Sleepy Creek, we tender our sincere thanks and trust that their sojourn here at Union soldiers will be ever linked with pleasing reminiscences. /// Resolved, That we deeply sympathize with the relatives and friends of those brave sons . . . who have laid down their lives in defense of those dearest rights of freeman bequeathed us by revolutionary sires—in their bereavements, yet rejoice to know that their heroic deeds will cause grateful generations to ever reverence their memories. /// Resolved, That however trying the ordeal we may be called to pass through we will ever stand firmly to our beloved and bleeding country and cling to the Constitution and Union as the mariner when shipwrecked out in the broad ocean clings to the last plank when the night and the tempest close around him.” ~ Several of a number of resolutions passed at a meeting of loyal Union citizens.

January 23– Saturday– near Manassas Junction, Virginia– “During the past few days we have been having very mild & pleasant weather. It has been very comfortable either in the house beside a fire, or outside in shirt sleeves. The delightful weather is the only redeeming quality I have seen in all Virginia. Will forward an application for leave of absence, latter part of next week – no intervening Providence. Will, probably, hear from it about the latter part of the week following.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Bob Taggart to his brother John.

Federal forces on the move

Federal forces on the move

January 23– Saturday– Brandy Station, Virginia– “Lieutenant John Turner has a [Sunday school] class of contrabands [escaped slaves], mostly servants to the officers. We hope to do much good in the Regiments and that God will bless our labors. . . . . Several ladies are now living in camp. Mrs Henry Jencks, wife of Major Jencks, Mrs Edward Russell, wife of Captain Russell, and Mrs Amos Bowen, wife of Lieutenant Bowen. This gives an air of civilization to our Headquarters.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

January 23– Saturday– Newport, Tennessee; Woodville, Alabama; Cowskin Bottom, Indian Territory [Oklahoma]; Rolling Prairie, Arkansas– Skirmishes and fire fights.

Well Worn Out~January 1864~13th to 19th

Well Worn Out~a Confederate soldier

Cold weather, snow and rain bother soldiers and civilians. The Confederacy suffers from shortages and inflation. Skirmishing continues and new reports tell of women in uniform, fighting beside their menfolk. Another threat of war looms in Europe. And the world continues to turn.


January 13– Wednesday– camp in the southern Shenandoah Valley, Virginia– “I am well worn out. . . . . We started through the snow, wagons and all, and took it by foot across the mountains. . . . . We had a good place to camp the first night, built a big fire, raked away the snow, and fared pretty well. . . . . we crossed the mountains. The road was covered with snow and ice, and it was hard work getting the wagons over. . . . . Early the next morning we come up with the Brigade, coming from Winchester on their way to this place. That was yesterday. We camped two miles from here last night. We got to a place where there was no snow hardly, built a large fire, lay down around it and slept soundly.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

January 13– Wednesday– Camden County, Georgia– “Rain– rain. There has been almost constant rain since the month came in. All have colds. We curl over the fire, eat heartily of hog and hominy three times a day. We have become so disgusted with the black muddy corn juice that is called coffee that we have resumed tea again. It is rather a bitter dose but has proved such a tonic for me that my allowance of food scarcely satisfies me. Fred is still dissatisfied with the lack of variety, but I think the lack of quantity is most to be feared. . . . . Mr. Linn has got a part of the machinery out of the new mill, it looks melancholy to see it taken down, before it has had time to run. It was raised at a great expense and just ready for operation when the war put a stop to all business here. We are now beginning to plant the garden hoping to have something in the way of vegetables. We had very little last year, but fruit was unusually abundant. Every tree and bush being full–peaches and plums in the garden. Berries in profusion for miles around us. They afforded us good living for several weeks.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher 

January 13– Wednesday– Graffken, Province of Prussia [now Primorsk, Russia]– Birth of Wilhelm Wien, educator and physicist who will win the Nobel Prize for physics in 1911.

January 14– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Captain Warner says it is believed there will be a riot, perhaps, when Colonel Northrop, the Commissary-General, may be immolated by the mob. Flour sold to-day at $200 per barrel; butter, $8 per pound; and meat from $2 to $4. This cannot continue long without a remedy.” ~ Diary of John Jones. [Using the Consumer Price Index, that barrel of flour would equal $3,020 in today’s dollars and the pound of butter would sell for $121 in current money. And as Confederate money was declining in value by the start of 1864, the difference would be greater still.]

January 14– Thursday– Cosby Creek, Tennessee– Federal forces capture 52 Confederate cavalry soldiers, including Confederate General Robert Vance, the older brother of Governor Zebulon Vance, governor of North Carolina.

Confederate General Robert Vance

Confederate General Robert Vance

January 14– Thursday– Dandridge, Tennessee; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Bollinger, Mississippi; Middleton, Tennessee; Baldwin’s Ferry, Mississippi– Skirmishing, scouting, probing, brawling.

January 15– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The New Year came into Norfolk in a high gale. ‘Did you hear the wind turning over the new leaf, at one o’clock this morning?’ said the daughter of John Brown, of Ossawatomie, as she sat at my elbow. And as we looked on, whole the day wrote on the new leaf its strange history. With music, and banners, and triumphal marching, the colored citizens . . . proclaimed anew through the streets of Norfolk the triumph of the President’s Proclamation of Emancipation. . . . . General Wild joined them, with his brigade of Negro soldiers. . . . The banners thanked God for Freedom; called Abraham Lincoln ‘Our Moses;’ made a pictured red coffin bear the ‘Remains of Slavery’ . . . . If [anyone] had taken a peep at the new order of things on New Year’s day, he would have seen sable skins– a mighty host– standing erect as God commanded them to do, and thanking him for having made them men and brothers. Thanking Abraham Lincoln, too, for letting them be what God made them to be . . . . Norfolk is now the humble servant of the vitalized principle of liberty and fraternity. . . . wives [of white men] gave the side-walk to the soldiers, and frowned upon Northerners as only ladies with Southern manners can frown; while their children, of larger as well as of smaller growth, thrust their vain little obstacles between the eager, knowledge-craving Negro and every one who sought to meet his wants.” ~ The Commonwealth carries a letter from Lucy Chase, a white Quaker who is teaching and assisting black people in Norfolk, Virginia.

January 15– Friday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– At its first meeting of the new year, the secretary reports that as of December 31, 1863, the American Philosophical Society had 267 members in the United States and 148 foreign members.

January 15– Friday– near Stephensville, Virginia– “Hoping that when these few lines reach home they may find you all enjoying good health and happiness and a strong faith that this wicked rebellion must soon close. It can not last long if the men of the North only pull together as they ought and show the South that they will tramp slavery down and are determined to have a free county and a free government. . . . . I would simply say that such persons . . . that are trying to slip the draft, I say they are worse then the Southern rebs . . . . The Army is no place to be. Therefore it should be every honest man’s duty to do what he could if men would view this the way I do they would better have no home as to have no county. Let all turn out that could come. This rebellion would soon be terminated. My opinion is this that we will have a tremendous battle in the Spring or when the weather settles. So that the artillery can move. If the men of the North would come out as they should. No doubt this rebellious would end without a battle.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Franklin Rosenbery to his father John.

January 16– Saturday– New York City– “At Gettysburg, Lee used the cupola of the seminary, while his hospital flag was flying from it, to reconnoiter the field . . . . Such is chivalry. Lee would not have done this five years ago. Bad company has degraded him. No gentleman can fight two years to sustain the right of men to flog women, without damage to his moral sense.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

January 16– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “A few days ago eight or ten Confederate prisoners were captured by General Sullivan’s men and brought to Harper’s Ferry. They were placed in the guard house, and nothing more was thought about them until Wednesday last, when a guard gave it as his opinion that one of the inmates of the guard house [was] a female. The story proved to be correct, and the gay young Miss was removed from the prison. She was given a complete outfit of ladies’ clothing and released, when she appeared in the streets as the belle of the town. She is about sixteen or eighteen years of age, and of rather prepossessing appearance. Upon inquiry it was ascertained that her parents lived but, two or three miles from Harper’s Ferry and were quite wealthy. Soon after the war began her lover joined the Confederates and left for Dixie. This was too much for her to endure, and she resolved to follow him. She stole through the lines, singled the regiment, and joined the same company in which her dearest friend had enlisted. So well had she disguised herself that he did not recognize her, and they drilled together several days before she made herself known. She was persuaded to leave the army and return home, but soon went back to the regiment again. For the past year the love sick girl has been going to and fro, until she was finally captured, as above stated. She refused to take the oath [of allegiance to the United States] as she is determined to return again.” ~ Wheeling Daily Register.

January 16– Saturday– Washington, D.C.–The Austrian Minister reports to his government that his recent conversation with Senator Sumner makes him believe that the United States will not grant diplomatic recognition to Maximilian in Mexico.

January 16– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– Between 12 o’clock Thursday night and yesterday morning, eighteen Yankee deserters, confined in the prison on Cary street, opposite Castle Thunder, effected their escape by cutting through the wall into the commissary storehouse adjoining, from which egress into the street was easy. This jail delivery is attributable to want of vigilance on the part of the prison guards.” ~ Richmond Whig.

January 16– Saturday– Copenhagen, Denmark– Denmark rejects a Prussian and Austrian ultimatum calling for the repeal of the Danish Constitution.

January 16– Saturday– Frankfurt am Main, Germany– Anton Felix Schindler, biographer of Beethoven, dies at 68 years of age.

Anton Schindler

Anton Schindler

January 17– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “There is nothing new to-day. The weather is pleasant for the season, the snow being all gone. Custis has succeeded in getting ten pupils for his night-school, and this will add $100 per month to our income– if they pay him. . . . Captain Warner (I suppose in return for some writing which Custis did for him) sent us yesterday two bushels of potatoes, and, afterwards, a turkey! This is the first turkey we have had during our housekeeping in Richmond.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

January 17– Sunday– Dandridge, Tennessee– From 4 o’clock in the afternoon until nightfall, Confederate troops attack an entrenched Federal position. The Union soldiers fall back but the Confederates are unable to pursue them. Total Federal losses are 150; Confederate casualties are unknown.

January 17– Sunday– Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Alabama– “I am anxious to know if your monitors, at least two of them, are not completed and ready for service; and, if so, can you spare them to assist us? If I had them, I should not hesitate to become the assailant instead of awaiting the attack. I must have ironclads enough to lie in the bay to hold the gunboats and rams in check in the shoal water.” ~ Letter from Union Admiral David Farragut to Admiral David D Porter


Union Admiral Farragut

Union Admiral Farragut

January 18– Monday– about 25 miles from Harrisonburg, Virginia– “We have marching orders and expect to start in a few minutes. It is reported that we are going about 25 miles from here near Harrisonburg and go into winter quarters. I hope it is true. . . . Yesterday was Sunday. I went to church at the Baptist Church at 11 o’clock and at night. . . . I must quit and be ready to start. I will write again soon. Write soon and write me a long letter. May God bless you and my noble boy. Pray for me.” ~ Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick’s letter to his wife Amanda.

January 19– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “The first weekly reception at the Executive Mansion will take place to-night. If the weather proves favorable there will be a large attendance of visitors.” ~ Richmond Whig.

January 19– Tuesday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Sally Park, a young woman currently reported to be no better than she should be, was escorted by a gentlemanly policeman to the presence of the recorder yesterday morning, and there required to answer to the charge of keeping a disorderly house. We leave you to imagine what the term ‘disorderly house’ signifies, and proceed with the story. She failed to convince his honor that the charge was abase and groundless slander so he accepted a loan on behalf of the city of $10 and costs and permitted her to go her way in peace.” ~ Memphis Bulletin.

No Good Resolutions~January 1864~the 9th to 13th

No Good Resolutions~Lucy Virginia French

January 9– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Information having been received that Caleb B. Smith, late Secretary of the Interior, has departed this life at his residence in Indiana, it is ordered that the executive buildings at the seat of the Government be draped in mourning for the period of fourteen days in honor of his memory as a prudent and loyal counselor and a faithful and effective coadjutor of the Administration in a time of public difficulty and peril.” ~ Executive Order from President Lincoln.

Caleb B Smith

Caleb B Smith

January 9– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Beef was held at $2.50 per pound in market to-day– and I got none; but I bought 25 pounds of rice at 40 cents, which, with the meal and potatoes, will keep us alive a month at least. The rich rogues and rascals, however, in the city, are living sumptuously, and spending Confederate States notes as if they supposed they would soon be valueless.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

Proud Confederate women

January 9– Saturday– Knoxville, Tennessee– “It is a well known fact, that there are, in this city a class of most hateful and disgusting rebel women-traitors to the Government, and as mean as the men of the same faith. There are two classes of them, however-one class is prudent, quiet and lady like-and these, like angel visits, are few and far between. The other class, more numerous, are as brazen as the Devil, full of impudence, with but little sense, and less prudence, flirting about, meddling in everybody’s affairs, and seeking notoriety by acting and talking as a well raised lady would be ashamed to act or talk. These women, without any regard to their positions, or associations, should be sent South and made to stay there during the war. . . . . We hope to see the authorities here, deal out even handed justice to these female rebel women,, and that can only be done by sending out of the country.” ~ Brownlow’s Whig and Independent Journal and Rebel Ventilator.

January 9– Saturday– Nizhny Novgorod, Russia– Birth of Vladimir Steklov, mathematician, physicist, educator and author [dies May 30, 1926].

Vladimir Steklov

Vladimir Steklov

January 10– Sunday– near Stephensville, Virginia.– “It snowed nearly all day on the 4th of this month as we are South as they call it. It still snows here and the snow is cold here too. Tuesday we were sent out on three day picket. On Wednesday night it snowed nearly all night. You may guess how it goes to be out in the snow, 2 hours at a time without fire and when you are off of post and want to lay down to sleep you can lay down and let it snow on you. I tried it but the snow tickled my face too much to sleep.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Franklin Rosenbery to his father John.

January 10– Sunday– Warren County, Tennessee–”This is my first date for the New Year; because ever since the day before New Year I have been sick—have had two of my raging headaches, lasting for days, and leaving me utterly prostrated. I am only now partially recovered from the last attack—yet today I am up—heard the children’s lessons, and got through my duties with much satisfaction. This is the first New Year since I can remember in which I have made no ‘good resolutions.’ I shall not make any either, I shall try to do ‘the duty nearest me’ hoping fervently that ‘all the rest will follow’ . . . . As yet in the New Year I have done nothing. The weather has been—and is, intensely cold, reminding me of winters spent in old Pennsylvania and Virginia. I have seen nothing like it since I came to Tennessee. On New Year’s morning the thermometer stood at Zero . . . here it was 6 degrees. Since that time we have had snow and the trees, etc. covered thickly with frost, the mountains were beautiful . . . . For three days the whole mount-top was like a fairyland to look at, but so dead cold that no fairy could live in it; I did not even see a snow-bird. Today it is somewhat more moderate, the mercury went up to 28 degrees. Yesterday morning it was at zero. The cold weather is not good for me,—yesterday I suffered intensely with headache. How ardently I long to be in ‘some bright isle that gem the oriental seas.’ A few days ago Dr. Paine examined me critically and he asserts positively that I am ‘perfectly sounds,’ that I have no local disease, only debility and those prostrating headaches which (he says) must be stopped. ‘Mountain Rumors’ are all that we hear in the way, of news, and very meager and absurd they are indeed. One that there is shortly to be an armistice—another that both armies are falling back, Grant to Murfreesboro and Bragg to Atlanta! So we go-we hear but very little here, and we believe nothing. I am so anxious, so very anxious.” ~ Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

January 10– Sunday– Mossy Creek, Tennessee; Loudoun Heights, Virginia; Petersburg, West Virginia; King’s River, Arkansas– The Sabbath Day does not make much difference to the skirmishers.

January 10– Sunday– Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland– Nicholas Callan, a Catholic priest and a scientist who worked in electricity and magnetism, dies at 64 years of age.

January 10– Sunday– St Petersburg, Russia– Birth of Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich [dies in exile, January 17, 1931], son of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, grandson of the reactionary Tsar Nicholas I, and a nephew of Tsar Alexander II, the current ruler.

January 11– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Senator John Brooks Henderson of Missouri introduces a resolution for a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. This will become the Thirteenth Amendment. [Henderson (1826 – 1913), a lawyer and career politician, at this time is 37 and the second youngest member of the Senate. He believes that a constitutional amendment is necessary to abolish slavery permanently and throughout the country and that the proposal from a border state senator will insure passage, even at the risk of his own career. As he foresaw, he will lose his bid for re-election after the war but will remain active in Republican politics and encourage his friend General William Tecumseh Sherman to run for president. In 1868 he will marry Mary Newton Foote, 16 years his junior, daughter of a prominent judge and herself a business executive, cookbook author and supporter of suffrage and temperance. She will outlive her husband by 18 years.]

Senator John Brooks Henderson

Senator John Brooks Henderson

January 11– Monday– Washington, D. C.– President Lincoln sends money to his son Robert, a student at Harvard; holds a conference with William Dennison, former governor of Ohio and Postmaster General Montgomery Blair to sound them out about the presidential election coming up this year; and receives tickets from the First Presbyterian Church in the city to a lecture by the temperance advocate John B Gough. [Born in England, Gough (1817-1886) was sent to the United States at age 12. In 1842 he signed a temperance pledge and determined to devote his life to lecturing on behalf of the reform. Gifted with remarkable powers of oratory and persuasion, he became successful immediately, and is soon known throughout the entire country. His passionate appeals, direct and highly emotional, evoke extraordinary responses. His crusades draw audiences of many hundreds. He will continue his work until the end of his life, finally suffering a stroke while speaking. The temperance reform has many facets in the nineteenth century, ranging from careful moderation to “cold water” crusaders, to total abstinence, to prohibition of manufacture and sale of alcohol. Many women, impoverished by drunken husbands or fathers, involve themselves in the movement.]

January 11– Monday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Since I made application for the building known as the Union Hospital (now vacated), I am informed by the quartermaster (Captain Eddy) that a portion of the lower part of the building is leased to private parties. This, however, will not interfere with its use for a soldiers’ home, provided one of the large rooms on the ground floor, together with the wing on Court street and the upper part of the main building, can be obtained. If this building cannot be turned over, I am informed by the rental agent there are others soon to be vacated, which will answer the purpose, although not quite so centrally and conveniently located. The building we now occupy is situated distant from the steam-boat landing about 1 1/4 miles. Only 100 men can be comfortably quartered; we frequently have from 200 to 300, and often compelled to send men away. Owing to the distance from the river the Sanitary Commission found it necessary to build a temporary lodge near the landing to accommodate those who stop over only for a few hours. By having the home nearer the river this additional expense will be saved, and the number of soldiers detailed in this service. The home has now been in existence eleven months, during which time we have entertained over 16,000 soldiers, furnished nearly 40,000 meals, and13,000 lodgings. It gives me great pleasure to mention that during that time, with but one instance, soldiers have conducted themselves in a most respectful and gentlemanly manner. We require no guard; soldiers come and go as quietly as if they were entertained at a hotel, never remaining longer than to obtain orders, transportation, or attend to such business as brings them to the city. I have trespassed upon your time, trusting, however, that the few simple facts may be interesting to you.” ~ Request for more suitable space made to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman by Mr O E Waters.

January 11– Monday– London, England– Charing Cross railway station opens.

January 12– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “To Washington . . . by the usual railroad. . . . . near us sat a lady with two children, both lovely, and I established a sentimental intimacy with the elder, a perfect little gem of a roley-poley, blue-eyed, curly-wigged creature some six years old, and we got on famously. Willard’s [Hotel] absolutely worse than ever; crowded, dirty, and insufferable.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

January 12– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “All persons to whom money is due for servants hired at this Hospital for the year 1863, are requested to call immediately for payment.” ~ Richmond Dispatch. [Slave owners often made money by hiring out their “servants” out to others. Slaves were not only field hands or domestic help. The Southern economy also depended upon slaves who performed such jobs as bakers, barbers, carpenters, brew masters, blacksmiths, harness makers, nurses, coachmen, livery workers, coopers, leather workers, masons, millers, potters, tin smiths and wheelwrights. These skilled slaves often drew high prices in the slave markets.]

January 12– Tuesday– Elk River, Tennessee– “You speak in your letter of the Alabama and Tennessee ladies. Ha, ha, I wish you could see the Alabama and Tennessee girls! (We do not call them ladies, there is such a contrast between them and our Northern women.) They all chew snuff and tobacco and smoke the pipe and cigars when they can get them. Chewing snuff is the filthiest of all habits and many refined women form the habit here. It is disgusting to me to see fine looking young women with snuff sticks in their mouths and the snuff or tobacco juice running from each corner. Had I not been reared in a country where women are all ladies I should almost hate them.” ~ Letter from Union officer Robert Cruikshank to his wife Mary.

January 12– Tuesday– Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico– A squadron of French warships completes three days of periodic shelling of the town. Most of the people have fled and three Mexican forts are rendered inoperable.

January 12– Tuesday– Liverpool, England– Birth of Annie Russell [dies January 16, 1936], the first child of Joseph and Jane Mount Russell. She will become a star of the stage in Canada, the United States and Great Britain and finish her career by teaching theater arts at Rollins College in Florida. [In the decade before the First World War, she will be one of the highest paid women performing on the stage, earning $500 per week, equal to $12,000 in today’s dollars using the Consumer Price Index.]

Annie Russell

Annie Russell

January 12–Tuesday– Paris, France–A major newspaper compares Russian domination in Poland to the desire of American northerners to dominate the South.

January 13– Wednesday– New York City– Stephen Foster, musician and composer, dies at age 37 in the charity ward of Bellevue Hospital. Suffering from a fever, he had fallen in his room three days ago and gashed his head. His ragged wallet contains a scrap of paper that says simply, “Dear friends and gentle hearts,” and 38 cents in Civil War scrip and three pennies. [One of his most beloved songs, “Beautiful Dreamer”, will be published in two more months.]

Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

The State of the Union~January 8th~1790 & 1964

The State of the Union~1790 and 1964

President Washington

President Washington

“Nor am I less persuaded that you will agree with me in opinion that there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours it is proportionably essential. To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways – by convincing those who are intrusted with the public administration that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people, and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness – cherishing the first, avoiding the last – and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws. Whether this desirable object will be best promoted by affording aids to seminaries of learning already established, by the institution of a national university, or by any other expedients will be well worthy of a place in the deliberations of the legislature.” ~ in the first ever State of the Union message, delivered January 8, 1790, President George Washington urges consideration of federal aid to education.

President Johnson

President Johnson

“Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope– some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity. This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in that effort. It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime. Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level and must be supported and directed by State and local efforts. For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House. The program I shall propose will emphasize this cooperative approach to help that one-fifth of all American families with incomes too small to even meet their basic needs. Our chief weapons in a more pinpointed attack will be better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities to help more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them. Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children. But whatever the cause, our joint Federal– local effort must pursue poverty, pursue it wherever it exists– in city slums and small towns, in sharecropper shacks or in migrant worker camps, on Indian Reservations, among whites as well as Negroes, among the young as well as the aged, in the boom towns and in the depressed areas. Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it. No single piece of legislation, however, is going to suffice.” ~ in the State of the Union message delivered on January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson urges a national struggle against poverty