The Business is Constantly Going On~March 1859~the 7th to 21st

The Business Is Constantly Going On ~ Charleston Mercury

The soldiers, both in blue and in grey in 1864, might look back five years and see some previews of what was to come. Radical abolitionist John Brown has made a name for himself in Kansas, although few, if any, foresee the danger he will pose before the year 1859 is over. Slave holders blame abolitionists for “enticing” slaves to escape. Churches divide on the slavery issue. Some, North and South, support colonization, sending free black people to Africa. Ulysses Grant is a struggling business operator. President Buchanan is unpopular. War looms in Europe. Civil strife divides Mexico.

Other 1859 indicia tell of other coming struggles: the fight for woman suffrage– the New York Times declares that women are not fit to vote– a prison riot, floods, Boston debates Bible reading in the public schools and a member of Congress is involved in scandal.

John Brown, c1846

John Brown, c1846


March 7– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– “When old Captain [John] Brown, of Kansas, heard of the President’s instructions to [Territorial] Governor [Samuel] Medary to offer two hundred and fifty dollars for his apprehension and capture, he [Brown] issued a proclamation offering two dollars and fifty cents for Mr. Buchanan’s head.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

March 8– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Aaron Venable Brown of Tennessee, the United States Postmaster-General in the Cabinet of President Buchanan, dies at 63 years of age. [He was a former Governor of Tennessee, law partner of James K. Polk, a Congressman from 1839 to 1845 and had been appointed to the Cabinet in 1852 as reward for his years of loyal service to the Democratic Party. While in Congress he opposed the anti-slavery arguments of John Quincy Adams. In 1850, he went on public record in opposition to Henry Clay’s compromise, arguing that the South ought not to yield anything to the North and suggested an economic boycott of Northern goods.]

March 8– Tuesday– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The Chicago Press and Tribune announces with a shout of exultation, that seventy-five fugitive slaves, from Missouri, passed through Grinnell, Iowa, on the 21st instant, on their way to Canada. They were well provided with weapons to defend themselves against pursuers. The Negros were enticed from Missouri by abolitionists in Kansas, escorted through Nebraska to the Iowa line, and then shipped via the underground railroad to Chicago. The business is constantly going on, many trains of slaves, accompanied by their abolitionist conductors, passing through Iowa without announcement of its arrival. The farmers of Western Missouri feel severely the effect of these depredations, and it is not to be wondered at that they should inflict the most frightful vengeance on their enemies whenever they catch them.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

runaway slaves

runaway slaves

March 8– Tuesday– Provo, Utah– Almost sixteen months after the Mountain Meadows Massacre of a emigrant wagon train, Federal Judge John Cradlebaugh, age 40, convenes a grand jury to pursue indictments against the Mormon men implicated by a federal investigation. [The massacre occurred September 11, 1857 when a group of Mormon militia attacked a wagon train headed for California and killed over 100 people. The ensuing scandal caused a media frenzy. The particulars remain the stuff of on-going historical debate. Ohio-born Cradlebaugh was appointed to the federal bench in June of 1858. The mostly Mormon jurors will refuse to indict any of the accused. Trials of those responsible will not take place until 1875 when a single man, John D Lee, will be convicted and executed.]

March 8– Tuesday– Edinburgh, Scotland– Birth of Kenneth Grahame, author of Wind in the Willows and other children’s literature. [Dies July 6, 1932.]

Kenneth Grahame

Kenneth Grahame

March 9– Wednesday– Springfield, Massachusetts– Birth of Lloyd W Bowers, successful lawyer who will serve as United States Solicitor General under President Taft. [Dies September 9, 1910.]

March 9– Wednesday– Turin, Italy– Anticipating war with Austria, the Kingdom of Piedmont– Sardinia begins to mobilize its army. [In reality, the Piedmont government knows that should Austria invade, France will come to the aid of the Italians. The mobilization is to provoke Austria into taking an aggressive step.]

March 10– Thursday– New York City– Mr John H Latrobe lectures at the Academy of Music on the “Advantages and Necessity of Voluntary Emigration” of free black people to Liberia in West Africa. Latrobe, a wealthy white businessman, age 55, has served as president of the American Colonization Society since 1853. [Founded in 1816, the ACS has raised money, lobbied Congress, helped to found Liberia and generally encouraged free black people to leave the United States. Founding members included James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key, Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. It is vociferously opposed by black leaders such as Frederick Douglass.]

March 11– Friday– New York City– The New York Times argues that if war indeed does erupt in Europe it can only be an economic benefit to the growing commercial power of the United States.

March 12– Saturday– New York City–In the Tribune, Horace Greeley denounces militarism and preparations of war in Europe and the Americas.

March 12– Saturday– New York City– “The religious newspapers all seem to agree about the recent tragedy in Washington. We have heretofore published the opinions of several of them. The following is the verdict of the New York Observer: The daily press is discussing the right and wrong of the affair, some defending one party and others condemning; but the Christian judgment is, that a scoundrel died like a dog by the hand of a murderer. There is no need of mincing the matter, or writing long columns to determine which was the most guilty. The wretch deserved God’s wrath and curse, and has it. It was not the right of man, even of a wronged and ruined man, to inflict the judgment. But it came, swift, terrible and true. Its lesson will be wholesome.” ~ New York Herald.

Sickles murders Key

Sickles murders Key

March 12– Saturday– St Louis, Missouri– “I can hardly tell how the new business I am engaged in, is going to succeed, but I believe it will be something more than a support. If I find an opportunity next week I will send you some of our cards, which, if you will distribute among such persons as may have business to attend to in the city, such as buying or selling property, collecting either rents or other liabilities, it may prove the means of giving us additional commissions.” ~ Letter from Ulysses S Grant to his father Jesse.

March 12– Saturday– Salt Lake City, Utah– Birth Abraham H Cannon, publisher and leader in the Mormon Church. [Dies July 19, 1896.]

March 13– Sunday– Bonham, Texas– The Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church passes several resolutions against what members perceive as the continued anti-slavery influence in the northern conferences of the Methodist Church. The majority consider the continued presence of preachers from northern conferences as an insult to southern values and the southern way of life.

March 14– Monday– Louisville, Kentucky– “Mr. C. S. Spencer of the New York Assembly, in a speech relating to the ‘personal liberty bill’ now before that body, said he had in his hand a list of fugitives who had gone through Albany between June 1st , 1858, and January 1st 1859, on their way from the slave States to freedom. They were 176 in number– one of them was a slave of a U. S. Senator; one of them was the property of a deacon of a Baptist church in Virginia. This is making pretty fair progress, but does not look like the immediate extinction of slavery. Supposing there were but 3,000,000 slaves in the country one year ago, this leaves a balance of 2,900,824 colored passengers to be provided for, making no allowances for natural increase in the meantime.” ~ Louisville Journal.

March 15– Tuesday– New York City– “A letter from Washington represents Mr. Buchanan as denouncing the Democratic Party in unmeasured terms. He accuses them of having deserted him and left him utterly without the means of carrying on the government. The reproach is not wholly undeserved. Judged by the standard of public duty the Democratic Party has not met the responsibility resting upon it. Being in absolute possession of the Government, it was bound to protect the public welfare: and no consideration of party interest, still less any motive of factious discontent, could release it from this obligation. Upon party grounds, however, the matter rests on a different footing. Mr. Buchanan must be aware that he has given his party every possible provocation for leaving him to his own resources. He has evinced, from the moment of his accession the most sovereign disregard of its principles, its traditions and its interests. He has insulted and estranged all its recognized leaders, turned its platform bottom upwards, and devoted himself to the task of building up a personal faction devoted to himself instead of the party. Such a course deserves but one reward and can have but one result. Any party will in self-defense punish such interested treachery, perpetrated by those whom it has raised to power. The misfortune is that this penalty should be imposed at the expense of the country. For the sake of reaching the President, the Democratic majority in Congress has exposed the whole country to the hazards of disgrace and the certainty of very great inconvenience. How these evils are to be averted remains to be seen.” ~ New York Times.

March 16– Wednesday– Chicago, Illinois– “Seventy years ago the Democrats drew a line around the States, and said to the slave trader, ‘Thus far you may go, but no farther.’ This was the Jeffersonian Proviso. Thirty years ago, they rubbed out part of the line and said to him, ‘You may go into lands South, but not into lands North.’ This was the Missouri Compromise. Five years ago, they rubbed out the rest of the line, and said to him, ‘We will leave it to the settlers to decide whether you shall come in or not.’ This was the Nebraska bill. Now they turn humbly to him, hat in hand, and say, ‘Go where you please; the land is all yours; the National Flag shall protect you, and the National Troops shoot down whoever resists you.’ This is the Dred Scott Decision.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

March 16– Wednesday– Krasnoturyinsk, the Russian Empire– Birth of Alexander Stepanovich Popov, physicist and inventor. [Dies January 13, 1906.]

Alexander Stepanovich Popov

Alexander Stepanovich Popov

March 17– Thursday– San Francisco, California– “It is remarkable that there is so much dispute about President Buchanan’s age. He acknowledges only sixty-eight, which is old enough for a bachelor. But his record carries him back further into the last century. He was a practicing attorney in Kentucky, in the years 1804and 1806, as Senator Crittenden and Chancellor Bibb have stated, and well know. Even the record has been searched and found to corroborate the fact. A fair estimate makes him, however, only seventy-seven years old at the present time.” ~ San Francisco Evening Bulletin. [In fact President Buchanan is indeed weeks away from his 68th birthday. In the years mentioned he was in school in Pennsylvania, his home state. He was only admitted to the practice of law in 1812. By this time he is increasingly unpopular. In the election of 1856, he carried California by only 48.4% of the popular vote, the remainder divided between Fremont, the Republican candidate, and Fillmore, the Whig candidate.]

March 18– Friday– along the Hudson River, New York– South-east winds of gale force augment the normally high spring tides on the Hudson River, flooding docks and damaging the railway track that runs along the riverside. Flooding lasts through Saturday.

March 18– Friday– New York City– On the question of woman suffrage in New York State, “of their capacities after proper training, and of their final political destiny we say nothing. We simply assert that women, as they are, are not fit to vote.” ~ New York Times.

March 18– Friday– Vera Cruz, Mexico– Named as the Conservative president of the Republic, General Miguel Miramon leads the forces of the military junta striving to defeat the constitutional Liberal government of Mexico. Today his forces surround the Liberal capital of Vera Cruz on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Anticipating just such a move the Liberals sent their women and children away by ship and are prepared to make a determined stand.

March 19– Saturday– Auburn, New York– A riot occurs in Auburn Prison. While suppressing it, Mr Kirkpatrick, the warden, shoots three men.

March 19– Saturday– along the Great Western Railway between Hamborough and Dundas, Ontario, Canada– Heavy rains had washed out a significant segment of the line where fill had been used to cross a ravine, producing a gap at least 300 feet wide and 50 feet deep. When the night express arrives, the locomotive, tender, baggage car, and the first three passenger cars crash into the ravine, taking the lives of seven people.

March 19– Saturday– Paris, France– The opera Faust by Charles Gounod premiers at the Theatre Lyrique. Set in five acts from the Goethe story, the performance is received with relative indifference. [Later the work will gain world-wide popularity.]

Charles Gounod

Charles Gounod

March 21– Monday– Boston, Massachusetts– The School Committee receives a memorandum from the Roman Catholic bishop stating the objections of Catholic parents to the recitations from the Bible in public schools. After some debate, the committee postpones indefinitely any action on the matter.

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