Monthly Archives: February 2014

A Patriot and a Statesman~February 1864~the 28th & 29th

A Patriot and a Statesman

The month finishes with plenty of politicking. Lincoln is endorsed by the New Jersey legislature and the New York Times while the President himself deals in a gentlemanly fashion with a potential rival from his own Cabinet. Lincoln makes a choice which will change the war as he nominates Ulysses Grant for the rank of lieutenant-general. A Federal cavalry raid begins a thrust at Richmond, a raid which will lead to disaster and scandal. Confederate soldiers and Union sympathizers experience hard times.

Lincoln & his two secretaries

Lincoln & his two secretaries


February 28– Sunday– New York City– “And we now wish to place upon record our sense of the country’s obligation to you as a patriot and a statesman. When you entered upon the duties of your high office – and its fearful responsibilities might have appalled any heart – we relied upon your discretion, your honesty of purpose and your patriotism. Nor were we deceived. After three years of war we find Delaware and Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri firmly inside the Union lines. Arkansas and Louisiana are gained to us and lost to the Confederacy. . . . . With feelings akin to affection we regard the patience with which you have endured the anxieties and burdens of your position; the courage where has always risen with every danger that threatened us. We admire the fidelity with which you have sustained and proclaimed those principles when underlie every free Government, and which alone can make this nation again what it was hut now – the admiration of man and the wonder of the world. Without any disparagement of the true men who surround you, and whose counsel you have shared, believing bar yon are the choice of the people whoso servants and firmly sat shed that they desire and intend to give you four years for a policy of peace, we present your name as the man for President of the American people in 1864.” ~ Open letter signed by Republican members of the New Jersey Legislature, printed in today’s New York Times.

February 28– Sunday– Rapidan River, Virginia– A force of 3500 Federal cavalry troopers under the command of Judson Kilpatrick cross the river and begin an attempt to raid Richmond.

February 28– Sunday– in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia– “My health is fine at this time and I am living just well enough, but it will not be so long, for we have orders to start back to Orange [County] day after tomorrow morning. It will get me all over for I am nearly barefooted and there is no chance to draw any shoes. . . . . You say I must get a furlough. There is no chance for me now and no trying to do unless I could furnish a recruit, and I see no chance for that. There are six or seven to go yet before it starts around the second time and then all will draw together I learn so any chance is a long ways off yet.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

February 29– Monday– New York City– “No war news, except that our unlucky Army of the Potomac is said to be executing a movement. . . . . I fear that army is paralyzed by the McClellanism impressed on it when it was organized two years ago.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

February 29– Monday– New York City– “President Lincoln has the same popular hold upon it everywhere. New-Hampshire and Connecticut in the extreme East declare for his renomination with the same emphasis that Iowa and California do in the extreme West. The conservative Unionism of New-Jersey has spoken as strongly for him as the radical Unionism of Kansas. Border-State Maryland, with its tens of thousands of slaves, has delivered itself with the same earnestness as Minnesota, where a slave has never breathed. It is impossible to perceive any difference, throughout the length and breadth of the loyal States, in the heartiness of this popular desire for Mr. Lincoln’s reelection. . . . . It is not difficult to understand this decided purpose of the people. It comes from two causes – confidence in the man and a regard to the necessities of the situation. Mr. Lincoln is preeminently a man of the people. His humble origin, his plain habits, his unaffected manners, his Saxon speech, his transparency of character, his thorough devotion to duty, his sterling sense, his sagacity in apprehending the necessities of the situation and in adapting means to ends, his singular combination of boldness with prudence . . . . Very few public men in American history have possessed it in an equal degree with Abraham Lincoln. . . . . The American people, in a time of danger, are not only able to manage their affairs with the same good sense, but it would be impossible for them to do otherwise, without undoing their entire nature. They are too practical to give up a certainty for an uncertainty; to exchange, in a great juncture, proved ability and fidelity for qualities, however promising, that have never been tested. . . . The concern of the people is not whether their President has been, here or there, a little too conservative, or a little too radical, but whether he is fulfilling his tremendous task of putting down the rebellion. They see that this is done, and, therefore, they stand firmly by him.” ~ New York Times.

February 29– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I nominate Ulysses S. Grant, now a major-general in the military service, to be lieutenant-general in the Army of the United States.” ~ Special message from President Lincoln the Senate. [Before Grant, only George Washington and Winfield Scott had ever held this highest rank in the U S Army.]

General Grant

General Grant

February 29– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I communicate to the Senate herewith for its constitutional action thereon, the articles of agreement and convention made and concluded at the city of Washington on the 25th day of the present month by and between William P. Dole, as commissioner on the part of the United States, and the duly authorized delegates of the Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas and the Munsees or Christian Indians in Kansas.” ~ Message from President Lincoln, seeking ratification of agreements made with several groups of Native Americans.

February 29– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I would have taken time to answer yours of the 22nd instant sooner, only that I did not suppose any evil could result from the delay, especially as, by a note, I promptly acknowledged the receipt of yours, and promised a fuller answer. Now, on consideration I find there is really very little to say. My knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy’s letter having been made public came to me only the day you wrote; but I had, in spite of myself, known of its existence several days before. I have not yet read it, and I think I shall not. I was not shocked or surprised by the appearance of the letter, because I had had knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy’s committee, and of secret issues which, I supposed, came from it, and of secret agents who, I supposed, were sent out by it for several weeks. I have known just as little a these things as my friends have allowed me to know. They bring the documents to me, but I do not read them; they tell me what they think fit to tell me, but I do not inquire for more. I fully concur with you that neither of us can justly be held responsible for what our respective friends may do without our instigation or countenance and I assure you, as you have assured me, that no assault has been made upon you by my instigation, or with my countenance. Whether you shall remain at the head of the Treasury Department is a question which I will not allow myself to consider from any standpoint other than my judgment of the public service, and, in that view, I do not perceive occasion for a change.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Treasury Secretary Salmon P Chase.


February 29– Monday– Cleveland, Tennessee– “I was detailed, by the General commanding, to open an office in this place to receive and examine applications, and endeavor partially to relieve the universal want from our meager supply of army stores. As the wants of the army had to be the first consideration, it left but little to relieve the wants of destitute citizens, but we have been giving them what little could be spared. This country has been so completely ravaged by the rebels that those who were in good circumstances have nothing left with which to aid their needy neighbors—all are destitute. Most of those who have been applicants for aid are females, and nearly all of them have husbands, sons or brothers in the Union army, either in Nashville or Knoxville, or in the vicinity of those places. . . . If the little supply we are giving them is cut off, as it probably must be, very soon, I see nothing but starvation before many of these poor people. They cannot long live here . . . . Let me say that the Unionism of these people has been proved in the fire.” ~ Report from Reverend W. G. Kephart, Chaplain 10th Iowa Infantry.

The Chaff & Stubble of Secession, Disunion & Anarchy~February 1864~23rd to 27th

The Chaff and Stubble of Secession, Disunion and Anarchy ~ Wheeling Daily Register

Hard times due to the war envelop people from West Virginia to Georgia. Blockade runners are captured. The prison camp opens at Andersonville, Georgia with none yet aware of the dreadfulness which will unfold there. Election year politics are in the newspapers and people’s diaries. Mexican forces stun the French invaders. The world turns.


February 23– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– An American merchant ship arrives with news that British authorities at Simon’s Bay near Cape Town, South Africa, on December 26th seized the Confederate ship Tuscaloosa “which having been brought into an English port in violation of the neutrality laws, must accordingly be detained.”

February 23– Tuesday– New York City– “A dispatch from Washington says that the Republican of that city declares this circular, published in yesterday morning’s Herald, to be a hoax. We are inclined to think that the Republican is mistaken. It is very generally known that a small number of persons, with Senator Pomeroy at their head, have been for some weeks in perpetual session in Washington, devising ways and means to prevent the renomination of President Lincoln. They have compiled and printed a pamphlet on the subject, made up in part of extracts from newspapers hostile to Mr. Lincoln, and designed primarily to injure him, both personally and politically, as an essential preliminary to the introduction of a new candidate. This pamphlet has been circulated only to a limited extent, and with considerable precaution as to the character of the hands in which it should fall. It is altogether probable that it would be accompanied or promptly followed by such a circular as the one given above. It will be observed that Senator Pomeroy and his associates, who have in their public action thus far professed to be friends of the Administration, do not hesitate in this secret circular, to declare themselves its opponents. We presume that Secretary Chase, whom they present as their candidate, would scarcely consent to be placed in this category.” ~ New York Times.

February 23– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Yesterday, the anniversary of the birth of Washington, was observed in our city by the display of flags, the reading of his Farewell Address at the Capitol, the suspension of our schools, a parade by some of the military &c. We are glad to believe that the memory of Washington still lingers, with love and veneration, in the hearts of the great mass of American people. . . . . The time will come when the memory of Washington and his compeers, and the recollection of their glorious achievements, will revive in the hearts of thousands who have been led astray by the fanaticism and madness of the hour, an ardent desire for the return of the Union, prosperity and happiness we once enjoyed, and a stern determination that these inestimable blessings shall be ours. Factious leaders may triumph for a season, but the spirit that glowed in the bosom of Washington and his compatriots, still lives and burns in American hearts, and will yet consume, as a fire, the chaff and stubble of faction, revolution, secession, disunion and anarchy.” ~ Wheeling Daily Register.

George Washington

George Washington

February 24– Wednesday– New York City– “They have got up a little retail war of their own, on the other side of the Atlantic, about the two-penny Holstein-Schleswig controversy . . . . Denmark has the worst of it so far. She is likely to be overwhelmed by Austria and Prussia unless some other great power intervene on her side. . . . . Political cauldron begins to bubble. Lincoln will not be renominated unanimously. . . . I should bet on Uncle Abe. It may result in a triangular duel between Chase, ‘radical’; Lincoln, ‘moderate’; and McClellan or some other extinct fossil ‘conservative.’ . . . . Public opinion is ‘a-marching on’ with seven-league boots, and the politicians observe its progress with lively personal interest. . . . . The change of opinion on this slavery question since 1860 is a great historical fact . . . . Who could have predicted it, even when the news came that Sumter had fallen, or even a year and a quarter afterwards, when [General] Pope was falling back on Washington, routed and disorganized? I think this great and blessed revolution is due, in no small degree, to A Lincoln’s sagacious policy.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 24–Wednesday– Washington, D.C.–At Lincoln’s request, Congress passes a draft law. It includes provisions for a man to buy a substitute and a recognition of conscientious objectors from traditional peace churches.

February 24– Wednesday– near Harrisonburg, Virginia–”My health is excellent at this time. We are still here . . . but it is rumored that we will return to Orange [County Courthouse] soon, but I hope it is not true. I had rather stay here in the Valley now for the remainder of the winter. We are living high now. . . . . we draw plenty of good pork and flour, and have some fine eating sure. We have baked a great many pies with our fruits and we sell what we do not want to eat. I have made $8.00 selling pies. . . . . I have been making a little money recently by sewing, patching pants, coats, &c. They come to me and offer me high pay to do it. I hate to charge for it but it takes time and thread and to make a little to buy tobacco, &c., I accept of the pay. . . . There is some law passed about the Confederate money so I hear, but I do not understand it. If you have any on hand that you do not use immediately, get advice how to work it.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

February 25– Thursday– North Bend, Indiana– Anna Symmes Harrison, widow of President William Henry Harrison, dies at age 88 on the farm of her son John. She has outlived her husband by almost 23 years.

Anna Symmes Harrison

Anna Symmes Harrison

February 25– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Mr. Young said that Huntersville, the present county seat, . . . was situated in a wilderness. There were only five or six houses in the place, and not another habitation for miles in any direction. . . . Huntersville, he said, was always a drunken, dirty town, the rallying hole of treason, and in the country around it there was nothing but huckleberry bushes and pitch pine woods, ground that would not fetch buckwheat, barren wastes and precipices inhabited by panthers. The Union soldiers burned part of the town containing rebel stores in 1861, and the rebels afterwards burned the Court House. The wealthy men of Pocahontas [County] have generally cast their fortunes with the rebellion. They have sowed the wind and will reap the border of this State are in a similar condition to that described by the Senator.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 25– Thursday– Camden County, Georgia– “A letter from Esther telling that the homestead is sold. We have no longer a father, mother or home. I did not expect to see this day, nor such a time for our Country. Julia wrote us from the station that she was obliged to sleep in a Negro house in the care of Negroes one night, and that some of the wounded soldiers had come on the [railroad] cars terribly mangled. . . . . Our peach and plum trees are in bloom but are injured by the severe frosts. We have had an unusually cold winter.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

February 25–Thursday– Off the Florida coast–U S warships seize a British merchant ship attempting to run the blockade.

February 26– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The President directs that the sentences of all deserters who have been condemned by court-martial to death, and that have not been otherwise acted upon by him, be mitigated to imprisonment during the war at the Dry Tortugas, Florida, where they will be sent under suitable guards by orders from army commanders. The commanding generals, who have power to act on proceedings of courts-martial in such cases, are authorized in special cases to restore to duty deserters under sentence, when in their judgment the service will be thereby benefitted.” ~ Executive order from President Lincoln, continuing his general policy to spare the lives of court-martialed soldiers.

February 26– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Cool, bright, but windy and dusty. . . . . General Lee is here in consultation with the President. They decided that over 1000 men be transferred from the army to the navy– so that something may be soon heard from our iron-clads. Pork is selling at $3 per pound to-day. Writings upon the walls of the houses at the corners of the streets were observed this morning, indicating a riot, if there be no amelioration of the famine.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 26– Friday– Montreal, Quebec, Canada– Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, prominent politician, dies at 56 years of age.

Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine

Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine

February 27– Saturday– Shelby County, Tennessee– “Annie Nelson and myself went to Memphis this morning– very warm, dusty and disagreeable. Accomplished all I went for – did not go near any of the [Yankee] Officials, was fortunate to meet a kind friend, Lucie Harris, who gave me her pass– ’tis a risk, yet we can accomplish nothing without great risk at times, I returned the favor by bringing a letter to forward to her husband, Army of Mobile. I sat up until 8 o’clock last night, arranging poor Green’s mail to forward to the different command. It was a difficult job, yet a great pleasure to know I had it in my power to rejoice the hearts of our brave Southern Soldiers– most were Kentucky letters for Breckenridge’s command– the rest were Missouri letters for Johnston’s, Polk’s, and Maury’s commands. God grant them a safe and speedy trip. We have glorious news from Dixie– [Confederate General Nathan Bedford] Forrest has completely routed Smith and Grierson at Okolona– God grant my Brother Eddie may be safe– we hear his Colonel Jeff Forrest was killed. The Yanks are perfectly demoralized, all that escaped have arrived in Memphis. I never witnessed such a sight as the stolen Negroes, poor deluded wretches– Praise God for this Victory.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

February 27– Saturday– near Greenville, Tennessee– “Write soon and often for the present, give my love to all inquiring friends. Tell Cousin Puss howdy and kiss all the children. God grant that this war may soon close and let us all meet again, to enjoy the comforts of home and friends as in days past and gone forever, gone. Those were happy days when at setting sun to meet the loving smiles of an affectionate wife. It is delightful to think of those days. Oh, God, will the sun ever shine again?” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W R Stilwell to his wife Molly.

February 27– Saturday– Andersonville, Georgia– Federal prisoners-of-war begin arriving at Camp Sumter, which is still under construction and does not have sufficient housing for these prisoners.


Andersonville Prison

Andersonville Prison

February 27–Saturday– Off the Florida coast–U S warships seize a British merchant ship attempting to run the blockade.

February 27– Madisonville, Mississippi; Catoosa Station, Georgia; Sequatchie Valley, Tennessee; Sharon, Mississippi; Poplar Bluff, Missouri; Pinos Altos, Arizona Territory; St Marks, Florida– Raids, fire fights and skirmishes.

February 27– Saturday– San Juan Bautista, Mexico– Mexican forces retake control of the city which the French captured in the spring of 1863. The Republican forces consist of militia from the surrounding area, only half of whom are equipped with firearms while the others fought with machetes.

More Dangerous In Its Recoil~February 1864~19th to 22nd

More Dangerous in its Recoil ~ Gideon Welles

Politics get sticky! A secret memorandum becomes public, revealing that within the Republican Party there are those plotting against the President. The election year promises to be hard and bitter. Northen Democrats, Southern rebels and even some within Lincoln’s own party are seeking his defeat and replacement.


The fighting grows more atrocious. Confederate need increases. In Canada a former slave who did well dies at an advanced age. In Europe it seems like most of the nobility have ties by blood or marriage to the British royal family. A middle-aged painter makes an unwise choice. The world continues to turn.

February 19– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “As I went into the Cabinet-meeting a fair, plump lady pressed forward and insisted she must see the President, ‘only for a moment,’ wanted nothing. I made her request known to the President, who directed that she should be admitted. She said her name was Holmes, that she belonged in Dubuque, Iowa, was passing East and came from Baltimore expressly to have a look at President Lincoln. ‘Well, in the matter of looking at one another,’ said the President, laughing, ‘I have altogether the advantage.’ She wished his autograph, and was a special admirer and enthusiastic.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 19– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Justus H Rathbone (1839– 1889) establishes the fraternal service organization the Knights of Pythias.

Justus Rathbone

Justus Rathbone

February 20– Saturday– Greeneville, Tennessee– “This is Saturday evening and I feel very lonesome. Oh, how anxious I am to hear from you and to hear how you are getting along. I have written to you since I got back but have not had time for an answer yet. . . . Everything is still here now, no fighting and no prospect of it soon. I have a good tent and chimney and can keep warm. Oh, but it is not like lying with my arms around you, the dearest of the dear.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W R Stilwell to his wife Molly.

February 20– Saturday– Olustee, Florida– In a hard-fought battle which lasts from early afternoon until dusk, Confederate forces defeat a Federal force which consists of three black and six white regiments. As the Federals retreat, Confederates shoot or club to death about 50 wounded black soldiers. Two black units– the 54th Massachusetts and the 8th U S Colored Troops– fight a rear-guard action, thereby preventing Confederate cavalry from cutting off the Federal withdrawal into Jacksonville. Total Union casualties– killed, wounded and missing– come to1861; total Confederate casualties amount to 946.

Olustee battle

Olustee battle

February 20– Saturday– Andersonville, Georgia– Confederate Captain Richard B Winder urgently requests beef and other rations as the arrival of the first Federal prisoners is set for the following week.

February 20–Saturday– Meridian, Mississippi–Federal troops complete six days of destroying buildings, supplies and railroad equipment, including 20 locomotives and about 115 miles of track in the area.

February 20– Saturday– Knoxville, Tennessee; Strawberry Plains, Tennessee; West Point, Mississippi; Upperville, Virginia; Front Royal, Virginia; Hurricane Bridge, West Virginia; Pease Creek, Florida– Skirmishes, fire fights and melees.

February 20– Saturday– Anapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada– Rose Fortune, a black entrepreneur, dies, three weeks away from her 90th birthday. Born a slave in Virginia, she and her family, who were loyal to the British, left for Canada with the last British troops in 1784. As a young woman she established her own successful carting business, hauling to and from the waterfront. By tradition, she served as Canada’s first female police officer, patrolling the wharves to maintain the peace.

Rose Fortune

Rose Fortune

February 20– Saturday– London, England– Painter George Frederic Watts marries his 16-year-old model, the actress Ellen Terry, 30 years his junior. [She will run off with another man less than a year from now.]

February 21– Sunday– New York City– The New York Times picks up a piece from a London newspaper which takes note of the royal complexities of the war between Denmark and Germany. “Without prejudging the question how far the action of our Government with reference to foreign States is, or can be, influenced by the family ties of the sovereign, we may point out some of those connections, some of which are less known than others. The Prince of Wales . . . is married to the daughter of the King of Denmark, one of the parties to this German contest. His eldest sister, the Princess Royal, is married to the Prince Royal of Prussia, one of the parties opposed to the King of Denmark. His second sister, the Princess Alice, is married to the Prince Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt, whose mother is a Princes of Prussia, and whose brother is an officer in the Prussian army. These are direct relationships; but there are others scarcely less so with which the public are not so well acquainted. Prince Frederick of Augustenburg . . . is a very close connection of our royal family, and is much better known to the court than to the people of these realms. . . . The half sister of the Queen, the Princess Anne Feodorovna of Leiningen, married in 1828 Ernest Prince of Hohenlohe Langenburg. He died in 1860, leaving a widow and five children, the latter nephews and nieces of the Queen. . . . . Princess Adelaide Victoria of Hohenlohe (born 1835,) married Frederick Christian Augustus, . . . the Pretender to the sovereignty of the imaginary State of Schleswig Holstein, who is by his marriage the Queen’s nephew. Besides these relationships of our royal family with the contending parties there are others less immediate. The King Leopold of Belgium is the Queen’s uncle. His eldest son and heir, the Duke De Brabant, is married to an Archduchess of Austria, and his daughter, the Princess Charlotte, is married to the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, brother of the Emperor of Austria, another party to the contest. Besides these connections the Duchess of Cambridge, who was a Princes of Hesse Cassel, is an aunt of the Queen of Denmark, who was also a Princess of Hesse Cassel. Every party to the Dano-Germanic contest may, therefore, be said to be more or less immediately connected with the royal family of Great Britain.”

Queen Victoria, her husband & their 9 children

Queen Victoria, her husband & their 9 children

February 21– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “Cold, clear, and calm, but moderating. . . . I know my ribs stick out, being covered by skin only, for the want of sufficient food; and this is the case with many thousands of non-producers, while there is enough for all, if it were equally distributed. The Secretary of War has nothing new from General Polk; and Sherman is supposed to be still at Meridian.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 21– Sunday– near Stephensburg, Virginia– “Well, I was very glad to hear that you were all well. And about the cold weather I thought it awful cold for the last week back. But today it is very pleasant again. I am well at this time– hoping that these few lines may find you all enjoying good health. Tell Father when he sends my watch to send me a good watch key along. I have nothing particular to write at this time. We expect to be paid by the 10th of March again. Then I will send father 20 dollars. I can’t spare many more at this time. You will write as soon as you get this. Give my respects to all enquiring friends. So farewell for this time. If I never more see any of you on earth, By the Grace of God I will meet you in heaven-when I die.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Franklin Rosenbery to his mother Elemina.

February 21– Sunday– Camden County, Georgia– “The battle is over– nobody hurt. The enemy came up the river for Mrs. Albert’s lumber and shelled all day to keep our pickets off. A lavish expedition for their government. Julia has started for home with Adam. Sybil has gone as far as Mrs. Lang’s with her. We shall miss her much, she is so full of life and talk. She has taken a baked chicken and eggs to stop at Dr. Mitchell’s over night. Yesterday had a letter from Autie Chappelle manifesting great anxiety to get North. Provisions are so high they are troubled to live.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

February 22– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The First West Virginia Infantry and a battalion of the 4th Cavalry, arrived yesterday afternoon and were received by a large number of citizens at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Depot. A lunch of sandwiches, hot coffee, apples and crackers had been prepared and eat out upon the platform of the freight depot. . . . . the boys, having appeased their appetites, marched to the Atheneum . . . . We were glad to see so large a number of citizens present to receive the brave men who have been fighting our battles, and we doubt not it was exceedingly gratifying to the soldiers.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 22– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “To-day being the 22nd of February, is the anniversary of the birth of George Washington, the Father of his Country,— ‘First in peace, first in war///First in heart and first in fame///Once Columbia’s guiding star///Now her dearest name.’ The different military companies in our city, together with the veterans troops, will have a parade during the day. At night the several fire companies of the city will have a grand torch light procession. The Farewell Address will be read in the Legislature at ten o’clock this morning. From present indications, we conclude that the celebration of the day will be more general than it has been for many years. So might it be.” ~ Wheeling Daily Register

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

February 22– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “A circular, ‘strictly private,’ signed by Senator [Samuel] Pomeroy [of Kansas] and in favor of Mr. Chase for President, has been detected and published. It will be more dangerous in its recoil than its projectile. That is, it will damage Chase more than Lincoln. The effect on the two men themselves will not be serious. Both of them desire the position, which is not surprising; it certainly is not in the President, who would be gratified with an indorsement. . . . The National Committee appointed at Chicago met to-day. As Connecticut had sent forward no one as a substitute in my place, I was for a brief time with the committee. I judge that four fifths are for the reelection of the President. The proceedings were harmonious, and will, I think, be satisfactory. I do not like this machinery and wish it could be dispensed with.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Senator Pomeroy

Senator Pomeroy

February 22– Monday– Washington, D.C.– The Pomeroy Circular, leaked to the press and signed by Senator Pomeroy, concludes by saying, “A central organization has been effected, which already has its connections in all the States, and the object of which is to enable his friends everywhere most effectually to promote his elevation to the Presidency. We wish the hearty cooperation of all those in favor of the speedy restoration of the Union upon the basis of universal freedom, and who desire an administration of the Government during the first period of its new life which shall, to the fullest extent, develop the capacity of free institutions, enlarge the resources of the country, diminish the burdens of taxation, elevate the standard of public and private morality, vindicate the honor of the Republic before the world, and in all things make our American nationality the fairest example for imitation which human progress has ever achieved. If these objects meet your approval, you can render efficient aid by exerting yourself at once to organize your section of the country, and by corresponding with the Chairman of the National Executive Committee, for the purpose either of receiving or imparting information.”

February 22– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Treasury Secretary Salmon P Chase offers his resignation to President Lincoln in light of the “Pomeroy Circular.” Chase claims that he knew nothing about it. “I do not wish to administer the Treasury Department one day without your entire confidence.”

February 22– Monday– Greenville, Tennessee– “General Longstreet has intrusted to me the pleasing duty of thanking you for the promptness and extent of the effort made by you in clothing and sheltering the brave Georgians in his army. The privations uncomplainingly borne by them during the last campaign, and their gallant and distinguished services throughout the war, rendered them fully worthy of the grateful attention and fostering care of their noble State, which in no way more exhibits her greatest than in the bountiful manner in which she provides for her faithful soldiers.” ~ Letter from Confederate Colonel Sorrell, on General Longstreet’s staff, to the Office of the Quartermaster of Georgia, thanking him for 3,000 new uniforms.

February 22– Monday– Luna Landing, Arkansas; Calfkiller Creek, Tennessee; Lexington, Missouri; Indianola, Texas; Whitemarsh Island, Georgia; Mulberry Gap, Tennessee; Warrensburg, Missouri; Gibson’s mill, Virginia; Powell’s Bridge, Tennessee; Mayfield, Kentucky– Raids, fire fights, and various sharp exchanges of gunfire.

February 22– Monday– Okolona, Mississippi– Confederate forces turn back Federal forces in a hard fight. Confederate dead include Jeffrey Forrest, brother of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Confederate dead, wounded and missing total 110 while Union losses amount to 388.

February 22– Monday– Killeshandra, County Cavan, Ireland– Birth of Michael Donohoe. He will emigrate to the United States in 1886, settle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and serve as U.S. Representative in Congress from 1911 to 1915. [Dies January 17, 1958.]

Michael Donohoe

Michael Donohoe

Bright Visions of Happiness Have Departed~February 1864~14th to 19th

Bright Visions of Happiness Have Departed ~Julia Johnson Fisher

Worry and sickness in many places during a bitter winter. Fighting in Georgia and Florida. The new prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville, Georgia, is not yet ready to open. None yet know that it will become a place of infamy. Political activity goes on in Washington. One of the sons of William Lloyd Garrison is engaged to marry. A veteran in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, kills a man on the street for having an affair with the soldier’s wife.

February 14– Sunday– Camden County, Georgia– “Julia is with us. We are enjoying much. She and Sybil have gone to visit the graves of their husbands. Mr. Fisher is writing to Augustus. Yesterday Kate Lang came over in their double carriage to call on Julia. She brought me a letter from Mary– What joy to get a letter! . . . . How I long to see them all. So many changes sadden me. . . . . I long to go to my family, but where can I go? Now we begin to feel separations and fearful changes. My heart is heavy and lonely. We are continually wondering what is best for us to do. Every gleam of sunshine is beclouded. Our bright visions of happiness have departed. Julia makes many plans for us but we are too short sighted to know which way to turn.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

February 15– Monday– New York City– “Cold weather. Dyspeptic and atrabilious. Busy day, nonetheless. Columbia College Committee on School of Mines at Bett’s office. Prospects good. [Thomas] Egleston may prove a great acquisition. He seems full of energy, enterprise, fire, and snap. . . . . Rebellion can hardly survive another Gettysburg or Lookout Mountain. Guerrillas and rapparees would continue to steal cows and hang Negroes for a season but it would not be long.” ~Diary of George Templeton Strong.

Salmon P Chase, potential rival to President Lincoln

Salmon P Chase, potential rival to President Lincoln

February 15– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The movements of parties and partisans are becoming distinct. I think there are indications that Chase intends to press his pretensions as a candidate, and much of the Treasury machinery and the special agencies have that end in view. This is to be regretted. The whole effort is a forced one and can result in no good to himself, but may embarrass the Administration. The extreme radicals are turning their attention to him and also to Fremont. As between the two. Chase is incomparably the most capable and best, and yet I think less of his financial ability and the soundness of his political principles than I did.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 15– Monday– Baldwin, Florida– A local white woman cautions John W Appleton, a white Federal officer, “Do you know you are in a terrible position, young man? . . . Because you expect to fight here and if you are taken prisoner, you will surely be hung because you command n***** troops.”

black Union soldiers in Florida

black Union soldiers in Florida

February 15– Monday– Arran, Bruce County, Ontario, Canada– Birth of William Howard Hearst, politician who will become the 7th Premier of Ontario, serving from 1914 to 1919. [He will die September 29, 1941.]

February 15– Monday– Rotterdam, Netherlands– Fire severely damages the Museum Boymans and destroys valuable pieces of Dutch art.

February 17– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Went this a.m. to [Matthew] Brady’s rooms with Mr [Francis Bicknell] Carpenter, an artist, to have a photograph taken. Mr. C is to paint an historical picture of the President and Cabinet at the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Gideon Welles, portrait

Gideon Welles, portrait

February 17– Wednesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “A Bill converting the Ohio county jail into a State Penitentiary was passed by the House of Delegates yesterday. The act authorizes the Governor to convey to the jail all persons convicted of felonies, and there confine them until otherwise provided by law.” ~ Wheeling Daily Register.

February 17– Wednesday– near Orange, New South Wales, Australia– Birth of Andrew Barton Paterson, poet, composer and journalist who will write under the nom de plume of “Banjo.” [His most famous composition is Waltzing Matilda. He will die February 5, 1941.]

February 18– Thursday– New York City– “John L Burns, of Gettysburg, the old hero, who alone of all the inhabitants there and thereabouts, shouldered his gun and went forth to fight the enemy, is in town. He paid a visit to the Times Office yesterday. Mr Burns is a hale-looking old gentleman, and bears on his face the indications of courage. He has recovered from his wounds. The Government have taken steps to properly provide for him by giving him a pension.” ~ New York Times. [Last July, Burns, 69 years old and a veteran of the War of 1812, took his musket and joined the Federal forces to fight.]

February 18– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln partially lifts the Federal blockade of the port of Brownsville, Texas, but declares foreign ships entering the port must prove to the satisfaction of the U S Navy that they are not carrying arms, ammunition or in “conveyance of persons in or intending to enter the service of the insurgents, or of things or information intended for their use or for their aid or comfort . . . . Any violations of said conditions will involve the forfeiture and condemnation of the vessel and cargo and the exclusion of all parties concerned from any further privilege of entering the United States during the war for any purpose whatever.”

February 18– Thursday– headquarters of the Army of Northern Virginia, Virginia– “I have been quite sick for four or five days, and am quite feeble yet. I rested well last night, and eat some breakfast this morning, the first that I have ate for three days that would stay on my stomach. My digestive organs seem to be entirely deranged. . . . [we] are now camped at an excellent place, wood and water both convenient and plentiful. The springs we get water from our medicinal and said to be very healthy and were once resorted to largely by the rich and invalid. The weather is extremely cold and disagreeable now. A good many have put chimneys to their tents and are very comfortable.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to Amanda, his wife.

February 18– Thursday– Andersonville, Georgia– At the prison, even before any prisoners have arrived, there are problems. Today civilian employees complain that they have not been paid in six weeks. Captain Richard Winder, in charge of preparations, reports that at least one hundred of the men hired as guards do not have rifles.

February 18– Thursday– Camden County, Georgia– “A day of great anxiety. Rapid firing in the region of King’s ferry, from sunrise until dark. Our boys are both probably engaged in the fray. Major Bailey sent word yesterday to Julia that she had better remain a while longer as it could be hardly safe to travel. We are in great anxiety. The weather very cold. Sleet and rain freezing as fast as it falls–a tedious night for the poor wounded soldiers. Julia and Sybil talk of going with the mule and buggy tomorrow to Dr. Mitchell’s hoping to gather intelligence. Dianah is sick in bed and everything looks gloomy. The people generally are in a state of alarm. The pickets have all been called in and we are entirely unprotected– hope to hear the result of the battle tomorrow.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

February 19– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “William has very agreeably surprised me by the announcement that an ‘engagement’ has been entered into between you and him, whereby mutual love has been plighted, and whereof a matrimonial alliance may be expected to follow in due time. Though my personal acquaintance with you is comparatively slight, yet, from what I have seen and from all I hear of you, I have no doubt he has made a very fortunate choice. May yours prove equally fortunate!” ~ Letter from William Lloyd Garrison to Ellen Wright, upon announcement of her engagement to his son William Lloyd Garrison, Jr.


William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

February 19– Friday– Johnstown, Pennsylvania– Mr Joseph Moore, a recently returned Union veteran, accosts Mr Jordan Marbourg on the street. Accusing Marbourg of having had an affair with Mrs Moore while he was away fighting, Moore draws his pistol and fires four bullets into Marbourg, killing him instantly. Moore then surrenders to the local magistrate. A newspaper report declares, “The deceased man leaves a most estimable wife and eight or nine children – the eldest, a son, about twenty years old. The murderer has a wife and one child. He was personally popular with all classes, a perfect gentleman in his dress and manners, and was not without influence in the community. The deceased was a prominent citizen, a merchant of Johnstown for thirty years, and had accumulated a large fortune. Both of them were members of a church. Mrs. Moore . . . is a woman not wanting in personal charms. Of late years her husband, although attentive to business, has not been pecuniarily a well-doer, and it may be that the desire for more money than her husband could furnish her, coupled with the charms alluded to, has been the cause of her fall, if fallen she has. Mrs. Marbourg, who is a most accomplished woman, is a native of Philadelphia.”


For Further Study

After my post on January 22nd about whether or not the Civil War was inevitable, a friend asked me about how much a factor the abolitionist agitation was. I believe it was one of the core factors in bringing about the war. However, gentle reader, please feel free to make up your own mind. For those who may be interested here is a short and useful– Bibliography on Abolition:

Bacon, Margaret. Valient Friend: the Life of Lucretia Mott. New York. 1980.

Ballou, Adin. Autobiography of Adin Ballou 1803– 1890. William S Heywood, ed. Lowell, Massachusetts. 1896.

Barnes, Gilbert H and Dwight L Dumond, eds. Letters of Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimke Weld and Sarah Grimke, 1822– 1844. 2 volumes. New York. 1934.

Clarke, James Freeman. Anti-Slavery Days: a Sketch of the Struggle Which Ended in the Abolition of Slavery in the United States. 1883. Reprint. New York. 1970.

Douglass, Frederick. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass; Volume Two: Pre-Civil War Decade, 1850– 1860. Philip S Foner, ed. New York. 1975.

Duberman, Martin, ed. The Antislavery Vanguard: New Essays on the Abolitionists. Princeton, New Jersey. 1965.

Filler, Louis. The Crusade Against Slavery, 1830 – 1860. New York. 1960.

Finkelman, Paul. Slavery in the Courtroom: an Annotated Bibliography of American Cases. Washington, D. C. 1985.

Fladeland, Betty. Men and Brothers: Anglo-American Antislavery Cooperation. Urbana, Illinois. 1972.

Garrison, Wendell Phillips and Francis Jackson Garrison. William Lloyd Garrison: the Story of His Life Told by His Children. 4 volumes. New York. 1885.

Gifford, Zerbanoo. Thomas Clarkson and the Campaign Against Slavery. London, England. 1996.

Halbersleben, Karen. Women’s Participation in the British Antislavery Movement, 1824– 1865. Lewiston, New York.

Hersh, Blanche. The Slavery of Sex. Urbana, Illinois. 1978.

Hochschild, Adam. Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves. New York. 2005.

Jacobs, Donald M. Courage and Conscience: Black and White Abolitionists in Boston. Bloomington, Indiana. 1993.

Jones, Howard. Mutiny on the Amistad: the Saga of a Slave Revolt and its Impact on American Abolition, Law, and Diplomacy. New York. 1987.

Lerner, Gerda. The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina: Pioneers for Woman’s Rights and Abolition. New York. 1967.

Lutz, Alma. Crusade for Freedom: Women of the Antislavery Movement. Boston, Massachusetts. 1968.

May, Samuel J. Some Recollections of Our Anti-slavery Conflict. Boston, Massachusetts. 1869.

Mayer, Henry. All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery. New York. 1998.

Midgley, Clare. Women Against Slavery: the British Campaigns, 1780– 1870. London, England. 1992.

Miller, William Lee. Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress. New York. 1998.

Mordell, Walter. Quaker Militant, John Greenleaf Whittier. New York. 1933.

Nye, Russel B. Fettered Freedom: Civil Liberties and the Slavery Controversy, 1830– 1860. East Lansing, Michigan. 1949.

Pease, Jane H and William H Pease. Bound with Them in Chains: a Biographical History of the Antislavery Movement. Westport, Connecticut. 1972.

Perry, Lewis. Radical Abolitionism, Anarchy and the Government of God in Antislavery Thought. Ithaca, New York. 1973.

Pillsbury, Parker. Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles. Concord, New Hampshire. 1883.

Quarles, Benjamin. Black Abolitionists. New York. 1969.

Sherwin, Oscar. Prophet of Liberty: the Life and Times of Wendell Phillips. New York. 1958.

Shipherd, Jacob R. History of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue. 1859. Reprint. New York. 1972.

Sterling, Dorothy. Ahead of Her Time: Abby Kelly and the Politics of Anti-slavery. New York. 1991.

Stewart, James Brewer. Holy Warriors: the Abolitionists and American Society. New York. 1976.

Stewart, James Brewer. Joshua R Giddings and the Tactics of Radical Politics. Cleveland, Ohio. 1970.

Turley, David. The Culture of English Antislavery, 1780– 1860. London, England. 1991.

Von Frank, Albert. The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson’s Boston. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1999.

Wheeler, Leslie, ed. Loving Warriors: Selected Letters of Lucy Stone and Henry B Blackwell, 1853– 1893. New York. 1981.

Inclined at Various Angles~February 1859~13th to 28th

Inclined at Various Angles ~ H. D. Thoreau

Thoreau admires winter’s wonders. American politics grow increasingly confrontational. Economic issues, including slavery, are ever more divisive. A member of Congress kills his wife’s lover; the murder and legal proceedings will make news for weeks to come. Politics are boiling in Mexico and in Britain. French imperialism reaches southeast Asia. A chess prodigy reaches fame. A book of translations of old poetry does not initially sell well.

February 13– Sunday– New York City– “The Charleston Mercury, upon the question of a protective tariff, says: ‘We trust that the members of Congress from the South will stand firm, and will rule out of all political or party association every man and any wing which may join the black republicans in this flagrant device of sectional plunder.’ The same warning authority further remarks that, ‘already Southern Presidential aspirants, with their retainers and followers, have sought to sustain and keep in affiliation the traitor [Senator Stephen] Douglas and his Northern clan,’ but that, protective tariff men included, ‘we trust the State Rights men in Congress will repudiate such allies, and purge the party of their corrupting presence and association.’ This demand for mere ‘purging’ when the party has already been purged to the verge of the grave, is a very severe one. The party wants a tonic. [The acquisition of] Cuba will do; and even an incidental protective revenue tariff may strengthen the backbone of the party. In default of these specifics, it must be turned over to the undertaker. We agree with our Charleston contemporary however, upon the main point ‘that when the party has ceased to be true to its principles, whatever they may be, it were better that it ceased to exist.’” ~ New York Herald.

February 13– Sunday– Hampstead, England– Eliza Acton, poet and one of the foremost women to publish cookbooks in the 19th century, dies eight weeks before her 60th birthday. Her most famous book is Modern Cookery for Private Families, first published in 1845.

February 14–Monday– Washington, D.C.– Oregon joins the Union as the 33rd state and a free state. However, while the state constitution bans slavery, it also limits citizenship to white people and bans free black people from settling.

February 14– Monday– near Galesburg, Illinois– Birth of George Washington Ferris, son of George Washington and Martha Hyde Ferris. [He will graduate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and have a successful career as an engineer, achieving fame for inventing the amusement ride, the Ferris Wheel. He will die of typhoid fever on November 22, 1896.]

George Washington Ferris

George Washington Ferris

February 14– Monday– London, England– Birth of Henry Valentine Knaggs. He will become a prominent physician, advocate of “nature cure methods” and author of 37 books about healthy living. [Dies July 11, 1954.]

February 15– Tuesday– Indianapolis, Indiana– “A collision occurred in the Senate this morning between Senators Gooding and Heffron, in consequence of some personal remarks made by both in the Senate some days ago. During the fight a brother of Gooding interfered and struck Heffron on the head with a cane, wounding him severely. Otherwise little damage was done to either party. Both were armed, but had no opportunity to use their weapons. The excitement in the Senate during the difficulty was intense.” ~ report from a correspondent of the New York Times.

February 15– Tuesday– London, England– The bookseller Bernard Quarich [1819 – 1899] first publishes the translation of the poetry of an eleventh century Persian writer under the title The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam of Naishapur [1048 –1131], translated by the British poet Edward Fitzgerald [1809 – 1883]. Quarich prints two hundred copies, priced at five shillings each. However, sales are so poor that he ends up selling them on the stall outside his Leicester Square shop for a penny a piece. [Five shillings equaled $4.90 U S in 1859 and 1 British penny equaled 2cents U S at the time.]

Edward FitzGerald

Edward FitzGerald

February 16– Wednesday– Centre County, Pennsylvania– The Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania formally opens its doors. [Under Lincoln’s program to establish land grant colleges, it will become Penn State University.]

February 17– Thursday– New York City– “[Francis] Lieber’s address tonight . . . was the best of the four. Embodied much thought and clever illustration. Unlike the others, it was not delivered from manuscript.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong. [German-born Francis Lieber (1800 – 1872) is a jurist, political scientist, educator and author. In 1857, with the aid of Strong and others, Lieber acquired a teaching position at Columbia. He will serve as a legal consultant to the Lincoln Administration during the Civil War.]

Francis Lieber

Francis Lieber

February 17– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– In one of the most glamorous social events of the season, high society hosts a grand ball at Willard’s Hotel in honor of Lord Francis and Lady Anne Jane Napier, the retiring British ambassador and his wife. The presence of many from the Buchanan Administration, the Congress and the military constitutes a sure sign of the general American satisfaction with the service of the popular Napier. A career diplomat, age 39 at this time, Napier has served here only since 1857 and leaves to take a post as Her Majesty’s minister to the Netherlands. In his short stay he has charmed Americans and is considered the best British envoy since American independence.

Francis Napier, Her Majesty's Minister to the United States

Francis Napier, Her Majesty’s Minister to the United States

February 17– Thursday– Rome, Italy– The premiere of Guiseppe Verdi’s opera The Masked Ball takes place at the Teatro Apollo. The story of assassination and intrigue was originally set in Stockholm, Sweden, but Italian nervousness over political murder prompts the opera’s setting to be described as seventeenth century Boston, Massachusetts.

February 17– Thursday– Saigon, Vietnam– With the stated aim of protecting Vietnamese adherents to the Catholic faith, French army and naval forces, supported by some Spanish troops, capture the city.

February 18– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Oregon, with its tyrannical constitution, outlawing all free colored persons, was admitted to the Union on Saturday last, by a vote of 114 to 103 in the House of Representatives– Comins and Thayer, of this State, voting in the affirmative!” ~ The Liberator

February 18– Friday– New York City– “The bark Ottawa sailed yesterday [from Mobile, Alabama], ostensibly for St. Thomas, but it is believed that her destination is the southern coast of Africa [to engage in illegal international slave trade].” ~ New York Times.

February 18– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Buchanan seeks authority from Congress to send U.S. ground and naval units to protect the transit of American citizens and trade across the isthmus of Panama. Since the discovery of gold in California a decade ago, this area has become increasingly important as a short-cut to the west coast ports of California.

February 19– Saturday– Wik Castle, Sweden– Birth of Svante August Arrhenius, who will win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903. [Dies October 2, 1927.]

February 20– Sunday– outside Havana, Cuba– “On the plantations the slaves of both sexes wear hardly clothes enough to make them appear decently. The intense heat of the summer to those exposed to field labor is the excuse given for this, and all the clothing a . . . congo Negro desires to wear in the field is a broad palm leaf hat.” ~ Diary of American businessman Joseph Dimock.

February 21– Monday– New York City– “The general feeling among the best informed is, that the Liberal cause is lost forever, and the supremacy of France and England established in Mexico, unless the Government of the United States acts immediately. Nineteen-twentieths of the people are with the Liberals, but they are without the capital, and have no arms and ammunition to make their power effectual. It is believed fully that a recognition by the United States would give the Liberal Government moral support, such as would lead England immediately to abandon her intervention for the Church Party. In the even that Liberals would have little difficulty in disposing of Miramon, and the only remaining trouble would be in shaking off the influences of France and Spain.” ~ New York Times.

February 22– Tuesday– Hannibal, Missouri– The 207-mile Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad providing service to the western part of the state at St. Joseph commences operations today. It is the first railroad completed in the state.

February 22– Tuesday– Paris, France– Americans host a ball in honor of the birthday of George Washington.

February 23– Wednesday– Concord, Massachusetts– “Walk to Quinsigamond Pond, where was good skating yesterday, but this very pleasant and warm day it is suddenly quite too soft. I was just saying to Blake that I should look for hard ice in the shade, or [on the] north side, of some wooded hill close to the shore, though skating was out of the question elsewhere, when, looking up, I saw a gentleman and lady very gracefully gyrating and, as it were, curtseying to each other in a small bay under such a hill on the opposite shore of the pond. Intervening bushes and shore concealed the ice, so that their swift and graceful motions, their bodies inclined at various angles as they gyrated forward and backward about a small space, looking as if they would hit each other, reminded me of the circling of two winged insects in the air, or hawks receding and approaching.” ~ Journal of H. D. Thoreau.

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

February 24– Thursday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The American Sunday School Union, founded in1824, concludes its three-day convention with several hundred Sunday school teachers from around the country in attendance.

February 24– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President James Buchanan vetoes a bill passed by Congress which provided for “donating public lands to the several States and Territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanical arts.” Buchanan questions the constitutionality of the measure as well as the effect of such a transfer of public land on future development within the states. [A similar act will be passed and signed into law during the Lincoln administration.]

February 25– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–Today’s Liberator carries a letter from Susan B Anthony urging readers to petition their state legislatures to enact protection for fugitive slaves. She calls upon them to remember that “one half of the slave victims are women.”

Susan B Anthony

Susan B Anthony

February 25– Friday– Keokuk County, Iowa– Birth of John Burke, who will serve as governor of North Dakota (1907 to 1913) and U S Treasury Secretary (1913 to 1921). [He will die May 14, 1937.]

February 25– Friday– San Francisco, California– “The lamentable frequency of Senatorial brawls and Representative street-fights in these days is a matter worthy of the serious attention of the people of the United States. My thoughts are led in this direction by the account, taken from an Eastern paper, in the Bulletin of 23rd February, of the recent misunderstanding in the Senate between Mr. [Stephen A] Douglas [of Illinois] on the one side, and Messrs [Graham] Fitch [of Indiana] and [Jefferson] Davis [of Mississippi] on the other. The very words of the article which I speak of are sufficiently indicative of the indifference with which these things have come to be regarded by the people at large. Mr. Douglas, a Senator of the United States, in the hall of that formerly dignified body, is represented as ‘pitching into’ the Postmasters of Illinois, and Senator Fitch as giving the lie direct to his assertions, while Mr. Davis uses language for which he afterwards deems fit to apologize. Such things are beneath the dignity of men anywhere, to say nothing of Senators in the Senate Chamber. The members of the House are not a whit behind their leaders in the display of their unmanly jealousies, and in their ardent attempts at imitation, are in imminent danger of cutting their throats, like the monkey in the fable when he tried to shave. The worst of it is, that now these disgraceful scenes have become so common, they attract no attention, not even contempt. But notwithstanding our indifference, nothing is looked upon with greater satisfaction in Europe than such unworthy exhibitions of our belligerent propensities.” ~ editorial comment in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin.

February 26– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I, James Buchanan, President of the United States, do issue this my proclamation, declaring that an extraordinary occasion requires the Senate of the United States to convene for the transaction of business at the Capitol, in the city of Washington, on the 4th day of next month, at 12 o’clock at noon of that day, of which all who shall then be entitled to act as members of that body are hereby required to take notice.”

February 26– Saturday– Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada– Birth of Basil King. After a career as a clergyman, he will turn to writing novels and books, publishing 24 volumes between 1900 and 1927. [Dies June 22, 1928.]

February 26– Saturday– London, England– American Paul Morphy, age 21, begins a chess match against Augustus Mongredien, age 52, an English merchant and chess master. The first game is a draw. Morphy wins the next seven in a row. [Morphy emerged as a child chess prodigy at age 12. He speaks French, Spanish and German as well as English. However, after 1864 he will play less and less often and not all after 1869. He will live quietly and unmarried in New Orleans, enjoying his family’s wealth, until his own death at age 47 in July, 1884.]

February 27– Sunday– Washington, D.C.–In Lafayette Park, Congressman Daniel Sickles of New York shoots and kills Philip Barton Key, the well-liked district attorney for the District of Columbia and son of Francis Scott Key, for having an affair with his wife. [Sickles, age 33 at this time, is a lawyer and politician. His attractive wife Theresa is 23. He accused her of having an affair with Key, a 40 year old widower and popular with fashionable women. Sickles himself had an affair with a prostitute whom he took to Europe while Theresa was pregnant. Sickles will be found not guilty of Key’s murder by reason of temporary insanity. He will lose his right leg at the battle of Gettysburg in 1863 and will live until May 3, 1914.]

Sickles murders Key

Sickles murders Key

February 27– Sunday– Memphis, Tennessee– “We have received the Santa Fe Gazette of the 29th ult., from which we take the following items: ‘We are proud to announce that the House of Representatives of the Territorial Legislature of New Mexico yesterday passed, with but one dissenting voice, a very stringent bill providing for the protection of property in slaves in the Territory, which was sent to the Senate, where it will pass by a like very large majority.’ Let the statesmen and politicians of the Union, North and South, stick a pin there!”~ Memphis Appeal

February 27– Sunday– Mississippi River below Baton Rouge, Louisiana– The fully loaded steamboat Princess had just left the city, headed downstream to New Orleans, when its boilers blow up and the vessel quickly sinks. Nearby steamboats and other craft pick up survivors but approximately seventy passengers are killed, drowned, or will later die of their injuries.

February 28– Monday– Little Rock, Arkansas– The state legislature passes a measure requiring that all free black people in the state choose between enslavement or exile. The law requires that free black people either leave the state or if they still remain after the stated period of grace, they will be subject to arrest and will be sold at a slave auction. Slaves constitute 25% of the state’s total population while “free people of color” total less than 1% of the total population.

February 28– Monday– London, England– In the House of Commons, 54 year old Benjamin Disraeli introduces plans for the moderate reform of the parliamentary franchise in Britain. The bill would extend the right to vote and redistribute seats in parliament, largely in favor of the Conservatives. [However, the measure is doomed to failure as Conservatives themselves are divided on the measure and opposition Liberals and Radicals remain too strong for such a partisan bill to prevail. When it ultimately is voted down, the Conservative Government will resign. A modest expansion of the franchise will come in 1867.]

February 28– Monday– Thusis, Switzerland– Birth of Florian Cajori, historian of mathematics. [Dies August 15, 1930.]

Not Patriots but Party Demagogues~February, 1864~10th to 14th

Not Patriots but Party Demagogues~Gideon Welles

In language that could well be written today, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles comments upon the political situation. The president has a birthday. Famous actor John Wilkes Booth performs Shakespeare in Nashville. The New York Times objects to a constitutional amendment banning slavery. Many in the Confederacy experience hard times.

February 10– Wednesday– in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia– “I am glad you made some money. I think six dollars is a big pile for you to make in one month and do your other business too. I have made a little money lately. I had $6.50 when I got back to New Market on our tramp here, and now I have $15.50 cents and two plugs of tobacco some paper and envelopes extra. I made it buying tobacco and apples and selling them again. It is my first speculation. I do not like the business and should not have done it if I had not been scarce of cash. I also made a dollar today, sewing. I made a haversack for a fellow. It was his own proposition to give me a dollar for it. I have some sewing of my own to do. I want to patch my old pants and wear them while we stay here and save my new ones. I give away my old shirts and drawers. They were almost gone under sure. I am highly pleased with all you sent me. I will sell about half my soap for fear of having to march and it is too much to pack. I can get $3.00 or half of it. It is pretty cold now but is clear.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

Fitzpatrick memorial

Fitzpatrick memorial

February 10– Wednesday– Cleveland, Tennessee– “The Federals hoisted their flag this morning. It now floats over Cleveland. Sad emblem of what once was. Once happy and beloved United States, never will liberty and freedom be perched on the banner as it was when thousands of patriots poured out their life’s blood under the sacred folds. Grant how soon, God, that our gallant stars and bars supplant that now deserted flag.” ~ Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman.

February 10– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– Union General Thomas orders the recruitment of black soldiers to form a regiment of heavy artillery.

February 11– Thursday– New York City– “Look back at July, 1861, and then look where Maryland, Mississippi, and Arkansas stand in 1864; at West Virginia, and at the Mississippi relieved from rebel strangulation. Our progress has been beyond what we had any right to hope for three years ago, in spite of the blunders . . . [of] McClellan, Scott, Halleck, and others.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 11– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Resolved, That this meeting of Legislators and citizens of West Virginia, endorse the principles and plans of the U. S. Sanitary Commission, and hereby recommend it to the hearty co-operation of the people of our State and country. Resolved, That we regard the great Federal idea of the Commission by which all soldiers of the loyal States, without reference to the States in which they may have been enlisted, are proper subjects for the equal sympathy and support of the people of the country. Resolved, That all soldiers fighting, and falling by disease or wounds in defense of Constitutional liberty, are United States soldiers, and that all donations and supplies furnished to them either in field or in hospital should be given as U. S. supplies for U. S. soldiers fighting for the prosperity of the U. S. Government. The Sanitary Commission came into existence soon after the commencement of the war. It was asked for by the Medical Bureau, approved by the Secretary of War and the President, and has acted in co-operation with them since that time. Its agents visit the whole army, and supplement the country in its various distributions, to sick and disabled soldiers in every branch of the service.” ~ Resolutions passed by West Virginia legislature this evening.

February 11– Thursday– Virginia– “I delayed writing to you on last Sunday contrary to my previous determination, on account of circumstances wholly beyond my control. The enemy crossed the Rapid Ann at Moreton’s ford, on our extreme right, and at Barnett’s ford on our extreme left, at both of which places there was a short but spirited engagement; our brigade, for a wonder, was not engaged. About twelve o’clock Saturday night, we received orders to be ready to march at daylight. Accordingly at the first appearance of dawn, we started off in the rain to go somewhere, we knew not where. After marching nearly all day we arrived in camp, completely broken down. I was never in my life so tired. I could hardly sleep for pain. we are now once more quietly ensconced in our cosy little shanty, and hope to remain so, for some time yet to come. I think it was the intention of the enemy to make a raid on Gordonsville; but I’m happy to say they were handsomely foiled at every point.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee.

February 12– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The Board of Directors for the Western Virginia Hospital for the Insane, situated at Weston, Lewis county, which has been in session in this city for the past two or three days, has decided to call upon the Legislature for an appropriation to place the hospital in a condition to receive patients.” ~ Wheeling Daily Register.

February 12– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Abraham Lincoln turns 55 years of age.


February 12– Friday– Culpepper, Virginia– “I am still stopping down in this region. I am a good deal of the time down within half a mile of our picket lines, so that you see I can indeed call myself in the front. . . . . I have no difficulty at all in making myself at home among the soldiers, teamsters, or any. I most always find they like to have me very much, it seems to do them good, no doubt they soon feel that my heart & sympathies are truly with them, & it is both a novelty & pleases them & touches their feelings, & so doubtless does them good & I am sure it does that to me. There is more fun around here than you would think– I told you about the theatre the 14th Brooklyn has got up, they have songs & burlesques &c, some of the performers real good. As I write this I have heard in one direction or another two or three good bands playing & hear one tooting away some gay tunes now, though it is quite late at night.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

February 12– Friday– Nashville, Tennessee– The distinguished tragedian, J. Wilkes Booth, takes his farewell benefit tonight, his engagement closing the following evening. The entertainment will commence with Shakespeare’s tragedy, ‘the Merchant of Venice,’ and close with ‘Catherine and Petruchio’ [Taming of the Shrew] a Shakespearean comedy. In the former, Mr.Booth appears as Shylock; in the latter as Petruchio. . . . . Mr. Booth came amongst us a stranger, his reputation as a rising star having preceded him, creating a general desire amongst our playgoers to get a taste of his quality. . . . . Nobly did he fulfill expectations, and establish himself as a favorite. . . . . We expect to see the house literally overflowing to-night. Gentlemen with ladies should make it a point to go early to be sure of seats.” ~ Nashville Daily Union.

John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth

February 13– Saturday– New York City– “Attempts are vigorously kept up in some quarters to force upon the public mind Mr Sumner’s project of amending the Constitution so as to bury Slavery forever. . . . . We say that not only true loyalty, but consistent Anti-Slavery itself, forbids this unseasonable introduction of a new political Anti-Slavery issue. It is absolutely certain that the anxiety of Northern abolitionists to kill Slavery can never be gratified unless this war against the rebellion succeeds. If the ‘Confederacy’ acquires its independence, Slavery there will be as secure from their hostility as Slavery in Cuba or in Brazil. They, of all men, are the most bound in consistency to devote themselves with the most absolute concentration of purpose to the reinforcement of our armies and the most effective prosecution of the war. And yet Mr Sumner, ever since this war began, has had ten thoughts and ten thousand words against Slavery, while he has had one for the war. This is not true patriotism. It is not true Anti-Slaveryism. The war should be the all-engrossing thought. Without it the country cannot live. Without it, Slavery will not die. The Union cannot be resolved into new life, nor constitutionalized into new life; it has got to be conquered into new life. So, too, Slavery cannot be resolved to death, nor constitutionalized to death; fighting only can reach it, and through victory alone will it perish.” ~ New York Times.

February 13– Saturday– Franklin County, Pennsylvania– “Still pleasant and warm to-day. We hung our pork up to Smoke. Ben brought their pork up to Smoke. We baked Sponge cakes and ginger pies– Becca went to John Fickes to Stay all night.” ~ Diary of Anna Mellinger.

February 13– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Congress appropriates $12,000 to replace the White House stable. [The appropriation would equal $181,000 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

February 13– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “This pitiful Senator [Senator Hale] is devoting his time and that of his committee in a miserable attempt to bring reproach upon the Navy Department, to make points against it, to pervert facts, and to defame men of the strictest integrity. A viler prostitution of Senatorial position and place I have never witnessed. The primary object is to secure a re-election for himself, and a love of defamation attends it. Had a pleasant half-hour with Preston King, who made a special call to see me. Few men in Congress are his equal for sagacity, comprehensiveness, sound judgment, and fearlessness of purpose. Such statesmen do honor to their State and country. . . . . Speaking of Fernando Wood, we each expressed a common and general sentiment of surprise and disgust that any district could elect such a Representative. But the whole city of New York is alike leprous and rotten. . . . . if men of property and character will prostitute themselves to vote for them and consent to have their city misgoverned and themselves misrepresented, let them take the consequences. The evil will correct itself. . . . . men like Wood and Brooks, who are not patriots but party demagogues, who have no fixed purpose or principle, should not by their votes, control and overpower the virtuous and good. Yet they do. Some permanent element is wanting in our system. We need more stability and character. In our municipalities there needs some modification for good government.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 13– Saturday– Rathfarnham, County Dublin, Ireland– Birth of Stephen Gwynn, journalist, author, poet, soldier and politician. [He dies June 11, 1950.]

February 14– Sunday– Harveyville, Pennsylvania– Birth of Robert Ezra Park, the elder of two surviving sons of Hiram and Theodosia Warner Park. [He will become a journalist and prominent sociologist and will teach at the University of Chicago, at Tuskegee Institute and at Fisk University. He will author significant articles, monographs and books about race relations, immigration, social movements and assimilation and will serve as president of the American Sociological Association from 1925 to 1926. He will die February 7, 1944.]


Robert Ezra Park

Robert Ezra Park

February 14– Sunday– Beaufort, South Carolina– “May I venture to call your attention to the great and cruel injustice which is impending over the brave men of this regiment? They have been in military service for more than a year, having volunteered, every man, without a cent of bounty, on the written pledge of the War Department, that they should receive the same pay and rations with white soldiers. . . . . Among my black soldiers, with half pay and no bounty, not a family receives any aid. Is there to be no limit, no end, to the injustice we heap upon this unfortunate people? Cannot even the fact of their being in arms for the nation, liable to die any day in its defense, secure them ordinary justice? Is the nation so poor, and to utterly demoralized by its pauperism, that after it has had the lives of these men, it must turn round to filch six dollars of the monthly pay which the Secretary of War promised to their widows?” ~ Letter to the editor of the New York Times from Union Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, commanding the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, calling on Congress to equalize the pay and benefits of black soldiers.


1st South Carolina Volunteers on parade

1st South Carolina Volunteers on parade

February 14– Sunday– Meridian, Mississippi–Federal troops occupy the town.


Down Among the Worst of It~February, 1864~5th to 10th

Down Among the Worst of It ~Walt Whitman

Whitman gets up close and personal with the war’s devastation. A soldier’s wife takes her own life. Fire kills horses on the White House grounds. French forces continue activity in Mexico. The Italian revolutionary Garibaldi calls for liberty. A radical English abolitionist visits the United States.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

February 5– Friday– New York City– “Coroner Wildey yesterday held an inquest on the body of Mrs Ann Wood, a young woman, aged about 27 years, and a native of Staten Island. The husband of deceased has been for some time connected with the Union army, first as a private in the Forty-seventh Regiment New-York Volunteers, but more recently as First-Lieutenant in the Third South Carolina regiment (colored.) He returned to this City a few days since, his term of enlistment having expired. A day or two ago he informed his wife that it was his intention to reenlist. This information so affected the spirits of his wife that she became very melancholy, and about 1 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon she went up to the sixth floor of the house in which she had resided . . . and threw herself from the sixth-story window to the pavement below. . . . . The only motive for the commission of the rash act, which any of the witnesses could assign, was the proposed reenlistment of her husband.” ~ New York Times.

February 5– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “I am going down in front, in the midst of the Army, to-morrow morning, to be gone for about a week so I thought I would write you a few lines now, to let you know. Mother, I suppose you got my letter written last Tuesday. I have not got any from home now for a number of days. I am well & hearty . . . . I am sorry to leave [the] sick & downhearted & lonesome, they think so much of a friend, & I get so attached to them too but I want to go down in camp once more very much & I think I shall be back in a week. I shall spend most of my time among the sick & wounded in the Camp hospitals– if I had means I should stop with them, poor boys, or go down among them periodically, dispensing what I had, as long as the war lasts, down among the worst of it (although what are collected here in hospital, seem to me about as severe and needy cases as any after all).” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

February 5– Friday– Old Columbus, Jackson County, Tennessee– Federal troops burn the town.

February 5– Friday– Paris, France– “We have got up to fever-heat at last on the subject of war. Two of the old nations of Europe are at war, and France has no hand in it. The thing, is monstrous. Even the Emperor, with his loud talk about neutrality and indifference, appears like a fish out of water. For the great dominant military power to remain idle under such circumstances is abnormal, and provokes the national demangeaison for military glory. . . . . At any rate you may be sure that while France is remaining neutral she is getting ready for-war. That is the program. And then when the occasion presents she too, will step into the ring, and poor Germany will wish she had never crossed the Eider, or any other stream, with a doubtful future. . . . . At last it is settled that Maximilian is to go to Mexico. The Moniteur, of this morning, announces the fact. The late successes in Mexico have made this final decision possible, by giving to the Prince the guarantee he always asked – the free vote of seven-tenths of the country in his favor. The Moniteur does not inform us how these votes were obtained: it only says that a second deputation is on its way from Mexico to the residence of the Prince to offer him their guarantee, and then the Moniteur adds an extract from a letter of the Prince to General Almonte, in which it is declared that the moment the guarantee referred to above arrives, he will start on the voyage to his new Empire. The Prince will, therefore, soon arrive at Paris, where he is to have a grand ball at the expense of the city. The entire army of occupation in Mexico will be left for some months in that country after the new Emperor’s arrival, in order to render security to the throne, and to give time for the organization of a local army, devoted to the new order of things and to organize, also, the administration of the country. Then the French troops will commence to retire, and will continue until they have all left the country.” ~ Dispatch a reporter is sending off to the New York Times.



February 6– Saturday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Some two weeks ago we gave a list of ladies who left town in charge of some officers, to go beyond the lines. To-day we have the pleasing duty of chronicling their safe arrival. When they reached the extreme outposts of the Federal army, a flag of truce was sent into the Confederate lines, giving notice of the presence of the ladies, and requesting that means of conveyance be sent them. An ambulance, accompanied by several Confederate soldiers, returned with the flag, and after a pleasant exchange of courtesies between the blue and grey coats, and a shower of thanks from the ladies upon the soldiers of the escort who had seen them safely into the hands of their friends, the party proceeded to Dixie.” ~ Nashville Dispatch.

February 7– Sunday– Jacksonville, Florida– Federal troops, spear-headed by three companies of the 54th Massachusetts, begin to land. On the double-quick the black soldiers chase away Confederate pickets and snipers.

February 8– Monday– New York City– “Events press: if the year 1863 has left behind it shameful traces of egotism and discords, the new is inaugurated by other promises. In the agitation of oppressed peoples; in the fears of despotism which feigns to bow to right; in the Titanic struggles of Poland, . . . in the embarrassment even of diplomacy; on every side, in fact, arise the presages of coming events. I am convinced that they will decide the safety of Italy, and will supply the occasion so long desired of realizing its wishes, if the liberal element is not content with invoking the morrow, In the inert expectation of something bettor, but is ready and united. Italian democracy, which includes in itself all the militant patriotism for the contested unity, ought to see that it is not sufficient to be numerous, young, confident, but it must above all be organized and disciplined. I have not found a better way of supplying this want than by choosing a phalanx of elite friends. And with them I have instituted a Central Unity Committee. The name defines the object. To receive pecuniary aid, to dispose men’s minds to the accord of sacrifice and duty, all this with the holy end of the national deliverance, and of fraternal assistance to the enslaved provinces on the longed-for day of battles, such is its mandate; it has no other. . . . . Consequently I invite . . . all the Italians who disdain to remain passive spectators of the great drama which decides their existence and their rights, to group around this one centre, to recognize its authority, and to regard as mine the instructions emanating from this committee, or from its delegates.” ~ Manifesto issued by Garibaldi from the Island of Caprera, Italy, in January and printed in today’s New York Times.

Garibaldi, c 1866

Garibaldi, c 1866

February 8– Monday– Culpepper, Virginia– “I ought to have written to you before, acknowledging the good package of books, duly received by express, & actively used since, changing them around in places where most needed among the soldiers– (I found a small hospital of U. S. teamsters, entirely without reading, I go there considerable, & have given them largely of your reading contribution). I am down here pretty well toward the extreme front of the Army, eight or ten miles south of headquarters, (Brandy Station) . . . . I talked with the men– how good, how cheerful, how full of manliness & good nature our American young men are. I staid last night at the house of a real secesh woman, Mrs. Ashby– her husband (dead) a near relation of the famous reb General Ashby– she gave me a good supper & bed. There was quite a squad of our officers there– she & her sister paid me the compliment of talking friendlily [sic] & nearly altogether exclusively with me– she was dressed in very faded clothes but her manners were fine, seems to be a traveled educated woman– quite melancholy– said she had remained through fearful troubles & changes here on account of her children– she is a handsome middle-aged woman– poor lady, how I pitied her, compelled to live as one may say on chance & charity, with her high spirit.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to John Townsend Trowbridge.

February 8– Monday– Ten Mile Run, Florida; Coldwater Ferry, Mississippi; Barboursville, Kentucky; Ringgold, Georgia; Senatobia, Mississippi; Maryville, Tennessee; Donaldson, Louisiana– Skirmishes and fire fights.

February 9– Tuesday– New York City– “George Thompson the famous English Abolitionist, whose oratorical displays against Slavery excited such commotion in our large cities thirty years ago, is about to revisit this country. He will undoubtedly be made the object of a good deal of glorification by the old-line Anti-Slavery men of the Garrisonian stamp. This is well enough for them, for he was once their fellow-laborer and fellow-sufferer. But is he entitled to any such welcome from our people generally? Do the Anti-Slavery Union men of the North owe him any special tribute of respect and honor for what he once here said and did? We don’t ask this with any reference to the fact that he is an Englishman. Allow, if need be, that he was no intruder here, that he had precisely the same right to deliver himself against American Slavery that any American had, our inquiry yet is, whether he is now entitled to American laudation? In other words, we give the question the broad scope whether the Garrisonians’ school, with which he was identified, deserve well of the Republic? We all rejoice in the downfall of Slavery; – are we indebted for it to them? We say emphatically, No! The work was not theirs. It was not theirs either in method or in result. It was not theirs either directly or indirectly, proximately or remotely as a condition or as a final cause. Precisely the contrary. Had their principles been adopted, and their plans acted upon, Slavery at this day would be stronger than ever, and more secure of an indefinite perpetuation. There is no refuting this fact.” ~ New York Times.

George Thompson

George Thompson

February 9– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.–Senator Charles Sumner introduces a petition, signed by over 65,000 women, requesting a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery.

February 9–Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia–A group of 109 Union officers led by Colonel Thomas Rose escape from Libby Prison on the banks of the James River. Subsequently, 59 of them reach Union lines.

February 9– Tuesday– Camden County, Georgia– “One feels that they are truly passing a wilderness life in Camden County and we are exiles indeed. A half barrel of syrup and small bucket of sugar holding 30 lbs came to Sybil yesterday for which she pays $174.00. We are glad to have something for a luxury when Julia comes. We have only flour enough for three or four meals. The pork is nearly gone too, we must kill the only passable hog we have before she comes. Potatoes are getting low. Until the vegetables come in from the garden, we see nothing in prospect but corn and rice. That will go very well with syrup. What if famine stalks throughout the land? It is impossible to submit to Lincoln rule– ‘They must fight while life lasts.’” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

February 9– Tuesday– Paris, France– “The speech of the Emperor to the Committee of the Corps Legislatif . . . has put a stop to all discussion in favor of liberal measures. His Majesty declared in effect in that speech that he was the Government, that to him belonged the initiative in the adoption of measures of the nature referred to, and that when the time came to adopt them he was to be the judge of their opportunity. . . . . Miss Adelina Patti continues to be the star of the operatic world at Paris. She is supported by Mario and Della-Sede, and the theatre is nightly filled, although all the seats in the lower part of the house have been put up to 14 and 15 francs each. Miss Carlotta Patti, who spent the month of January at Paris, and who only sang during that time in private, returns here in March to give a series of grand concerts. She sang at the houses of both Rossini and Meyeebeer at Paris.” ~ Dispatch by a correspondent of the New York Times.

February 10– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– The stable at the White House catches fire and burns down, killing six horses and ponies. A newspaper account says, “[Mr.] Cooper, the President’s private coachman, left the stable to get his supper about 8 o’clock, and he was first notified of the fire by the President himself, who discovered the smoke . . . . One of these ponies was all the more highly prized, in consequence of having once been the property of Willie, the deceased son of Mr. and Mrs. President Lincoln.”

February 10– Wednesday– Brandy Station, Virginia– “Hurrah! We start for home today. . . . . We are to have thirty-five days leave of absence.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes. [This furlough is a reward to Rhodes and other men of his regiment who have re-enlisted. Due to the intervention of Senator William Sprague, their leave will be extended to April 6th. Sprague, age 33, former governor of Rhode Island, is serving his first term as U S Senator from Rhode Island.]

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Indications of Presidential Aspirations~February, 1864~1st to 4th

Indications of Presidential Aspirations ~ Gideon Welles

It’s an election year and politics are increasing on the minds of people. Lincoln issues a new draft call, orders provision for the return of disillusioned black emigres and sends condolences to a king. A radical abolitionist draws a lecture hall crowd. The debate about a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery begins to stir in the press. Devastation and shooting scraps abound in the South. War erupts in Europe as two big powers pick on a little country.


February– Boston, Massachusetts– The February issue of Atlantic Monthly contains, among other things, “My Brother and I” by John Townsend Trowbridge, “House and Home Papers” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The Convulsionists of St. Medard” by Robert Dale Owen, “Presence” by Alice Cary, “Glacial Period” by Professor Louis Agassiz, “The Last Charge” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr and “Northern Invasions” by Edward Everett Hale.

February 1– Monday– New York City– “The Metropolitan Fair becomes interesting. Its administration brings up a great ethical question: is raffling sinful? The Standing Committee of the Sanitary Commission discussed it fully ten days ago and decided to advise the managers of the Fair to exclude and prohibit raffling. I acquiesced, not very heartily, for it seemed to me that there was more fuss about the matter than it deserved.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 1–Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Ordered, That a draft for 500,000 men, to serve for three years or during the war, be made on the 10th day of March next for the military service of the United States, crediting and deducting therefrom so many as may have been enlisted or drafted into the service prior to the 1st day of March and not heretofore credited.” ~ Executive order by President Lincoln.

February 1–Monday– Washington, D.C.– “You are directed to have a transport (either a steam or sailing vessel, as may be deemed proper by the Quartermaster-General) sent to the colored colony established by the United States at the island of Vache, on the coast of San Domingo, to bring back to this country such of the colonists there as desire to return. You will have the transport furnished with suitable supplies for that purpose, and detail an officer of the Quartermaster’s Department, who, under special instructions to be given, shall have charge of the business. The colonists will be brought to Washington, unless otherwise hereafter directed, and be employed and provided for at the camps for colored persons around that city. Those only will be brought from the island who desire to return, and their effects will be brought with them.” ~ Executive order from President Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

February 1– Monday– Havana, Cuba– A correspondent for the New York Times notes that “The harbor . . . was enlivened, last week, by the presence of several foreign war vessels, in addition to the Spanish ones that are stationed here, and a deal of powder has been consequently wasted in the Interchange of the usual naval salutes.” The visiting warships were Russian and British.

February 1– Monday– Eider River, Denmark– An army of 57,000 Austrian and Prussian troops cross into Danish territory, beginning war with Denmark.

Austrian forces attack the Danes

Austrian forces attack the Danes

February 1– Monday– Grahamstown, South Africa– David Hume, an explorer and big-game hunter born in Scotland, dies at the age of 66.

February 2– Tuesday– New York City– “We trust that no amendments whatever will be made to the Constitution, and that nothing like a general movement will be made in favor of any. We do not believe that any are needed, or that the great object of all constitutions and of all laws – good government– would be promoted by any that could be made or devised. We know no subject of practical importance to the well-being of the American people that is not embraced in the provisions of the Constitution, or that is not treated more wisely than it would probably be treated by the men of this generation. All that we need is that the authority of the Constitution shall be maintained, and that the spirit which pervades it shall continue to animate and control the great body of the people whose welfare it is intended to promote. We do not believe the people desire or will consent to any change, either in its substance or its language.” ~ New York Times responds to various discussions and proposals about amending the Constitution, particularly an amendment to ban slavery.

February 2– Tuesday– New York City– Miss Anna Dickinson lectures at Cooper Union to an overflow crowd. A reporter describes the event: “Miss Dickinson was simply and neatly dressed in black. She came forward with merely a small slip of paper in her hand with the head-notes of her lecture upon it, and referred to it, very seldom. The lecture was nearly the same as that delivered in Washington. At the end of a remark asserting for the utter removal of Slavery, she said: ‘You can afford to cheer that, for Mr. Lincoln cheered it at Washington,’ a remark which called out great laughter. The last portion of her lecture was made up to a great extent, of allegorical comparisons and illustrations from incidents in the war and in history, in favor of her. In her appeal to young men to enlist, she recited the story of the Roman youth who saved Rome by leaping into the yawning chasm. Miss Dickinson retired amid applause.” [Dickinson, age 21, born in Philadelphia, befriended by Lucretia Mott and William Lloyd Garrison, is an out-spoken abolitionist and brilliant speaker who has already gone on record in support of Mr Lincoln’s re-election.]


Anna Dickinson

Anna Dickinson

February 2– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I have read with feelings of profound sorrow your Majesty’s letter of the 5th December last announcing the death on the 30th of the preceding month, of His Majesty, your Brother, Kamehameha IV, and conveying also the pleasing intelligence of your Majesty’s constitutional succession to the Throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom. . . . It is gratifying to know that His Majesty’s place on the Throne and in the hearts of the Hawaiian people is occupied by one who was allied to him by the closest ties of blood, and by a long participation in the affairs of the Kingdom. . . . Your Majesty may ever firmly rely upon my sincere sympathy and cordial support and upon the abiding friendship of the people of the United States in the execution of the lofty mission entrusted to you by Providence. Commending your Majesty, and the bereaved Widow and People of the late King to the Fatherly protection and comfort of the Almighty, I remain Your Majesty’s Good Friend.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to King Kamehameha V, the new ruler of the Hawaiian Islands.

the new King of Hawaii

the new King of Hawaii

February 2– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I suppose you got a letter from me Saturday last. I am well as usual there has been several hundred sick soldiers brought in here yesterday. I have been around among them to-day all day– it is enough to make one heart-sick, the old times over again– they are many of them mere wrecks, though young men (sickness is worse in some respects than wounds) one boy about 16, from Portland, Maine, only came from home a month ago, a recruit, he is here now, very sick & downhearted, poor child, he is a real country boy, I think has consumption he was only a week with his regiment. I sat with him a long time. I saw [it] did him great good. I have been feeding some their dinners– it makes me feel quite proud, I find so frequently I can do with the men what no one else at all can, getting them to eat, (some that will not touch their food otherwise, nor for any body else)– it is sometimes quite affecting I can tell you. I found such a case to-day, a soldier with throat disease, very bad. I fed him quite a dinner– the men, his comrades around, just stared in wonder, & one of them told me afterwards that he (the sick man) had not eat so much at a meal, in three months. Mother, I shall have my hands pretty full now for a while– write all about things home. “~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

February 2– Tuesday– Gale’s Creek, North Carolina; La Grange, Tennessee; Whitesburg, Alabama; Strasburg, Virginia, Halcolm Island, Missouri– Skirmishes and fire fights.

February 2– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– Union warships destroy a British ship which refuses to stop and attempts to run the blockade into the harbor.

February 2– Tuesday– Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, South Africa– Johannes Henricus Brand, lawyer and politician, age 40, is inaugurated as the fourth president.

the new President of the Orange Free State

the new President of the Orange Free State

February 3– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Almost daily we have some indications of Presidential aspirations and incipient operations for the campaign. The President does not conceal the interest he takes, and yet I perceive nothing unfair or intrusive. He is sometimes, but not often, deceived by heartless intriguers who impose upon him. Some appointments have been secured by mischievous men, which would never have been made had he known the facts. In some respects he is a singular man and not fully understood. He has great sagacity and shrewdness, but sometimes his assertion or management is astray. When he relies on his own right intentions and good common sense, he is strongest.” ~ Gideon Welles in his diary evaluates President Lincoln.

February 4– Thursday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The fences are all burned down; the apple, the pear and the plum trees burned in ashes long ago, the torch applied to thousands of splendid mansions, the walls of which alone remain, and even this is seldom so, and where it is, their smooth plaster is covered with vulgar epithets and immoral diatribes. John Smith and Jo Doe, Federate and Confederate warriors, have left jack knife stereotyping on the doors and casings, where these, in their fewness, are preserved. The rickets and the railings—where are they? Where are the rose bushes and the violets? But above all, and beyond all, and dearer and more than all else—where, or where, are the once happy and contented people fled who lived and breathed and had their being here? Where are the rosy cheeked cherubs and blue eyed maidens gone? Where are the gallant young men? Where are all—where are any of them? But where are they gone—this once happy and contented people? The young men are sleeping in their graves at Shiloh, at Corinth, at Fort Donelson, and other fields of so-called glory. The young women have died of grief or are broken hearted; the children are orphans. Poor little things, I pity them from my heart as look at them—black and white—for they seem to have shared a common fate, and like dying in a common destiny. Their lives—I mean the master and slave, and their offspring—seem to have been inseparably blended. In many cases I found two or three white children, whose parents were dead, left to the mercies of the faithful slaves; and again, I have seen a large number of little Negro children, whose parents were likewise dead, nestled in the bosom of some white families, who, by a miracle, were saved from the vandalism of war.” ~ In the Traveler a visitor describes what he saw on his recent journey through Tennessee.

February 4– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 26th ultimo, requesting ‘a copy of all the correspondence between the authorities of the United States and the rebel authorities on the exchange of prisoners, and the different propositions connected with that subject,’ I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of War and the papers with which it is accompanied.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate.

February 4– Thursday– Brandy Station, Virginia– “Reverend J Wheaton Smith . . . of Philadelphia . . . . lectured on his travels to the Holy Land. The men were delighted with the new departure. The religious interest still continues and we hope for good results from our labors.” ~ Diary of Union officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 4– Thursday– Liverpool Heights, Mississippi; Moorefield, West Virginia; Mountain Fork, Arkansas; La Grange, Tennessee; Bolton Depot, Mississippi; Columbia, Louisiana; Champion’s Hill, Mississippi; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Edward’s Ferry, Mississippi; Rolling Prairie, Arkansas– Ambushes, fire fights, skirmishes and armed brawls.

Signs of Stress~February 1859~the 1st to 12th

There are some signs of stress in the fabric of the Union.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

February– Rochester, New York– In this month’s issue of Douglass’ Monthly, Frederick Douglass writes firmly against plans and attempts to force free black people to go to Africa. “When in slavery we were liable to perpetual sales, transfers and removals; now that we are free, we are doomed to be constantly harassed with schemes to get us out of the country. We are quite tired of all this, and wish no more of it.”

February 1– Tuesday– Cleveland, Ohio– “A friend sends us from New Orleans the auctioneer’s advertisement of a sale of ‘choice slaves,’ which took place January 18th , and the prices at which these human cattle were struck off. There were nineteen of them that were guaranteed, and a lot of refuse stuff which went off at almost any price. There was Frances, a girl about 14 years, very likely and intelligent, speaks French and English– she brought $1000. Celeste, another girl of 15 years, likely and intelligent, speaks English and French– she brought $1310. Charity with a baby of three years, was knocked down at $1220. Patsey ‘a No. 1 cook’ brought $1180. Bella, with two children, 7 and 4 years, brought $1400. Clarissa, aged 19, very likely, went at $1350. Rachel ‘a field hand’ was struck off at $1000. Julia ‘a Creole’ brought $1000. Anna Maria, aged 17 years ‘very nice’ went at $1190. Griffin, a fine looking fellow, was sold for $1100. Hiiby ‘a first rate carpenter’ sold for $1800. A number of boys ‘all described as orphans’ averaged about $1000 each. It was evident the young women were the most saleable, but all went off at brisk prices.” ~ Cleveland Herald. [As used at this time “likely” meant suitable or promising. To understand the value of the slaves mentioned, $1,000 of 1859 would equal $28,500 today, using the Consumer Price Index. To understand the value of slave labor, a $1,000 would match about $175,000 worth of work performed today.]

February 1– Tuesday– Flint, Michigan– Birth of Lydia Maria Adams De Witt, second daughter and second of three children 0f Oscar and Elizabeth Walton Adams. She will earn an MD from the University of Michigan and become an experimental pathologist and well-known for her work in the pioneer studies in the chemotherapy of tuberculosis. She will die March 10, 1928.

February 1– Tuesday– London, England– Mary Anne Evans, a/k/a George Eliot, age 39, releases her new three volume first novel, Adam Bede, with an initial print run of 2100 copies. [These will be sold out within weeks and the novel will go on to become her most popular and best-selling work during her lifetime, with more than 30,000 copies sold.]

George Eliot

George Eliot

February 1– Tuesday– Dublin, Ireland– Birth of Victor Herbert, musician, composer and conductor. [Dies May 26, 1924.]

February 2– Wednesday– Albany, New York– On the second day of its two day meeting the New York State Anti-Slavery Committee hears speeches from Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, and several others. The meeting debates and passes resolutions advocating the dissolution of the federal Union and terming the Union “a covenant with Death” that ought to be annulled because of the constitutional protections of slavery. The New York Times reporter writes that “all the speeches made were of an extreme character.” Garrison, now 53, has been advocating such a radical measure for much of the last decade. Phillips, age 47, a Harvard graduate, endowed with a good personal income, known as the “golden trumpet” of abolition, has spent the last 22 years in the forefront of the radical abolitionists.

February 2– Wednesday– San Antonio, Texas– German immigrant William Menger opens his three story hotel. He had built a home in 1855 that he expanded with a boarding-house and a brewery, all on the southwest corner of Alamo Plaza, near the famous mission in San Antonio. His hotel will became one of the most famous and luxurious hostelries in Texas.

William Still, abolitionist & underground railroad conductor

William Still, abolitionist & underground railroad conductor

February 2– Wednesday– Toronto, Ontario, Canada– “It have [sic] been two years since I was at your house, at that time I was on my way to Canada, and I told you that I had a wife and had to leave her behind, and you promised me that you would help me to get her if I ever heard from her, and I think my dear friend, that the time is come for me to strike the blow, will you help me, according to your promise. I received a letter from a friend in Washington last night and he says that my wife is in the city of Baltimore, and she will come away if she can find a friend to help her, so I thought I would write to you as you are acquainted with folks there to whom you can trust with such matters . . . if we can do any thing it must be done now, as she will leave there in the spring, and if you will take the matter in hand, you must write me on to reception of this letter, whether you will or not.” ~ Letter from escaped slave Lewis Burrell to William Still in Philadelphia. Still, 37 years old, a free-born black man, has been a conductor on the underground railroad since 1844, aiding about 95% of the fugitives passing through Philadelphia.

February 2– Wednesday– Croydon, England– Birth of Henry Havelock Ellis, physician and author who will write extensively about sexuality and gender. [His most influential work will be Studies in the Psychology of Sex, published between 1897 and 1928. He will die July 8, 1939.]

Havelock Ellis

Havelock Ellis

February 3– Thursday– Rheydt, Rhine Province, Prussia– Birth of Hugo Junkers, engineer and aircraft designer. [Dies February 3, 1935].

February 4– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–The Liberator quotes Reverend Parker Pillsbury on the increasing tensions about the issue of slavery. Pillsbury declares that unless action is soon take, even the streets of Boston will “run with blood from Beacon Hill to . . . Broad Street.” Today’s issue also reprints the following from the Erie (Pennsylvania) True American, an abolitionist paper: “Now that the wheels of Legislation are again in motion at Harrisburg, we wish to urge upon our Senators and Representatives there, the necessity of enacting a Personal Liberty Law for this Commonwealth– a law securing to every man within the limits of the State, a right to his person and his liberty. We ask that hunting for men with a view to enslave them be forever prohibited in this State. We ask that the homes and the hearths of the old Keystone, be protected by law from the ravages of the kidnapper, and the plunderings of the manhunter. We perceive that movements toward urging such beneficent and needed legislation are being made in another section. A large and influential Anti-Slavery Convention was recently held in Philadelphia, at which strong resolutions were passed upon the subject.” [Since the Fugitive Slave act of 1850, a number of Northern states have passed “Personal Liberty Laws” which defy the federal law, prohibit state and local law enforcement from assisting in the capture of fugitive slaves and prevent Southern slave catchers from operating in these states. Southern slave-holders despise these laws. Pillsbury, age 50, is a Congregational minister and outspoken abolitionist.]

February 4– Friday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– “Only this I will say, that I am honestly delighted with ‘The Minister’s Wooing;’ that reading it has been one of my few editorial pleasures; that no one appreciates your genius more highly than I, or hopes more fervently that you will let yourself go without regard to this, that, or t’other. Don’t read any criticisms on your story: believe that you know better than any of us, and be sure that everybody likes it. That I know. There is not, and never was, anybody so competent to write a true New England poem as yourself, and have no doubt that you are doing it. The native sod sends up the best inspiration to the brain, and you are as sure of immortality as we all are of dying, if you only go on with entire faith in yourself.” ~ Letter from James Russell Lowell to Harriet Beecher Stowe. [Lowell, age 40, is serving as editor of the Atlantic Monthly and began two months ago to run in serial form Beecher’s new novel, The Minister’s Wooing. Stowe, 47 at this time, has written this story with as strong an anti-slavery flavor as Uncle Tom’s Cabin but also with a critical look at some aspects of Calvinist theology for which she has drawn criticism from some quarters. A fine recent evaluation of Beecher’s struggles with Calvinism can be found at David Reynold’s Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America (2011), pp 1-42, 81, 157, 169.]

February 4– Friday– Asuncion, Paraguay– After barely a week of negotiations between United States Commissioner James Bowlin and Paraguayan officials the parties sign a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation. [Paraguay will ratify the treaty a week later and the United States Senate will ratify it on February 27, 1860.]

February 4– Friday– Smolensk, Russia– Birth of Timofei Mikhailov. He will join a group of revolutionaries and become one of the plotters in the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in March of 1881, for which he will be hanged on April 3, 1881.

February 4– Friday– Mt Sinai, Egypt– The German biblical scholar Constantin Tischendorf discovers the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest known complete version of the Bible, dating from the middle of the fourth century, written in Greek on 346 parchments, in the ancient Greek Orthodox monastery of Saint Catherine. Tischendorf, age 44, a graduate of the University of Leipzig, is determined to make the most authentic translation of the Christian scriptures. He has undertaken this trip under the auspices of the Russian Tsar Alexander II. [Tischendorf, a friend of Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelson, will publish his Critical Edition of the New Testament in 1869 and 1872 and die of overwork and exhaustion in December, 1874. The manuscript will eventually make its way to Imperial Russia and in 1933 the Soviet government will sell it to the British Museum for £100,000.]

Constantin Tischendorf

Constantin Tischendorf

February 5– Saturday– Boston, Massachusetts– The new Russell’s Mechanical Steam Bakery on Commercial Street is completely destroyed by a fire that breaks out at eleven o’clock at night. The recently completed and furnished six-story brick bakery extended the length of a city block and went back 120 feet from the street. Several injuries occur when walls crumble into neighboring homes but no deaths take place, although police barely have time to push back a crowd of about 500 people that had gathered before the whole stone front of the building collapses into the street. The losses estimated to the bakery alone are about $100,000. [ The loss would amount to $2,850,000 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

February 6– Sunday– Huron County, Ontario, Canada– Elias Disney is born to Irish immigrants. [He and his family will moved to Kansas in 1884. His own fourth son, Walter Elias Disney, a/k/a Walt Disney, will become the famous entertainer, animator and entrepreneur.]

February 7– Monday– New York City– “There seems to be a very active and formidable rebellion on foot in Virginia against the National Administration. Both the leading organs of the Democratic Party at Richmond denounce the policy of the President with great vehemence. His Pacific Railroad scheme– his general extravagance, and the thirty million scheme have found scarcely any favor among the Democrats of the Old Dominion. And now the Enquirer is out against the whole project of acquiring Cuba, and submits some very forcible arguments in support of this view.” ~ New York Times.

February 7– Monday– west of El Passo, Texas– Soldiers from Fort Bliss engage in a fire fight with a group of Mescalero Apaches. The Army loses 3 killed and 7 wounded out of their 22 soldier unit. They estimate that the Apache casualties total 9 but the soldiers retreat as they are outnumbered.

February 8– Tuesday– Williamsburg, Virginia– William and Mary College suffers the disastrous loss of its main building in a fire that erupts around one in the morning, probably in the science laboratory. All students sleeping in their rooms are awakened in time to escape and no injuries are reported. With the help of a crowd of townspeople, the college records and the college seal are saved, along with some historical paintings and antique furniture, but all the college library books and all of the scientific apparatus are destroyed along with the building.

February 9– Wednesday– New York City– “The Mobile Mercury of the 1st instant publishes an extremely interesting account of the reception of General [William] Walker, of filibustering notoriety, into the fold of the Roman Catholic Church. It is gratifying to know that the General has become a member of any church; but it is possible that there may be some people uncharitable enough to imagine that his change of religion is only a prelude to another foray upon Central America, and that he is preparing to render himself acceptable to the people of that distracted country by embracing their religion. The Mercury has no doubt that General Walker was induced to enter the fold of the Catholic Church from ‘overwhelming conviction,’ and we have no doubt such was the case. The great filibuster, to do him no more than strict justice, appears to have always been influenced by an overwhelming conviction in all his escapades.” ~ New York Times. [Walker, age 34, is an adventurer and soldier of fortune who tried in 1856 to overthrow the government of Nicaragua and establish his own government which would restore slavery to the country. His efforts were stopped in May, 1857 but at this time he is secretly preparing another attempt which will cost him his life in September, 1860.]

William Walker, soldier of fortune

William Walker, soldier of fortune

February 10– Thursday– New York City– “May a Negro go to college? This question was decided in the negative, a few days ago, at Schenectady. . . . . This was at the North, in the Free State of New-York. The community where it occurred no doubt hold stock in the under-ground railroad. They would lend their sympathy;, if not more active aid, in thwarting the odious Fugitive Slave law. But they would not suffer a man of Negro blood to study in Union College. We refer to the case as a curious illustration of the relations between the white and the blacks in the Free States. The course pursued towards the man in question, whose desire it was to fit himself for usefulness by means of public institution of learning, shows how much easier it is to utter sentiment in behalf of black ‘men and brothers’ than to extend practical sympathy. We neither judge nor censure the people of Union College. They but participate in a pervading sentiment or prejudice. Many others have their full share of that feeling whose professions might lead to contrary conclusions. It is proper to say that the applicant referred to was eventually admitted, the vote of exclusion being reconsidered and rescinded upon proof that he was a half-breed Indian, without a particle of African blood in his veins.” ~ New York Times

February 11– Friday– Jacksonville, Illinois– Attorney Abraham Lincoln lectures on “Discoveries and Inventions” at the Congregational Church. The address is sponsored by Phi Alpha Society of Illinois College, which has elected Mr Lincoln an honorary member. After the lecture Lincoln is the guest of honor at tea party given by Dr Owen M. Long at his home. A newspaper says of the lecture, “It was received with repeated and hearty bursts of applause.”

February 12– Saturday– Springfield, Illinois– Abraham Lincoln turns 50 years of age.

February 12– Saturday– Atchison, Kansas– “Several publications have recently been made in the papers of the Territory in relation to some of the citizens of Atchison turning out to aid in arresting old John Brown. To set right the minds of any who might be misled by these paragraphs, we would state that if any one supposes there is any feeling or excitement here in regard to the matter, he is mistaken; or if any one imagines there was anything political connected with this affair, they are deceived. The whole matter is simply this: The Marshal sent a written summons to Atchison, for help to arrest Old Brown. The message arrived on Sunday, and on the spur of the moment several turned out, and went solely with the view of assisting the Marshal in executing any process he might have. The expedition did not turn out very profitable to the Atchison boys, and they and some others who were there think the Marshall was not the man to send on such an expedition. The above is the whole story, and there is nothing political or excitable about it. Peace and good will prevail here, and there are no hard feelings or bickering among our citizens. We discuss political and other questions cooly and calmly, and our citizens are determined, let others do as they may, to have peace. We hope our neighboring towns will not become jealous of our peace and prosperity, and attempt to throw fire brands among us. We are too busy building up our town to quarrel among ourselves.” ~ Atchison Freedom’s Champion


Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

February 12– Saturday– Moor Park, England– A sickly Charles Darwin celebrates his fiftieth birthday by “taking the waters” as he finishes preparation of his manuscript on the origin of the species. [It will be published this coming November and promptly sell out.]