Human Bondage Has No Place~April 1864~4th to 6th

Human Bondage Has No Place ~ Senator Reverdy Johnson

A moderate senator from a border state gives a dramatic speech in support of the constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. President Lincoln responds to supporters, young and old, and carries out diplomacy with the Indian nations. President Davis calls for a national day of prayer and fasting. Soldiers and civilians such as Walt Whitman write home about those things which concern them. Hints of the industrial growth and the labor movement which will dominate much of the next fifty years can be seen by keen observers. Preliminary signs suggest that the New York City Metropolitan Fair for the Sanitary Commission will prosper.

patriotic cartoon depicting Lincoln as saving the Union

patriotic cartoon depicting Lincoln as saving the Union

 April 4– Monday– New York City– The Theatrical Workingmen’s Protective Association gives its first annual fancy dress ball at Irving Hall. The New York Times comments, “Numerous ladies and gentlemen connected with the various Theatres, were present during the evening, and by their presence, not only added to the brilliancy of the occasion, but also gave encouragement to the excellent objects of the Association. The arrangements were perfect, and nothing occurred to mar the pleasure of the evening. The Association is now in a very prosperous condition, its objects are good, and they have by this ball, added a handsome sum to their fund. They are a hard working class of men, never prominently brought to notice, and deserve the good will and support of the public.”

April 4– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I herewith lay before the Senate, for its constitutional action thereon, a treaty concluded June 9, 1863, between C. H. Hale, superintendent of Indian affairs, Charles Hutchins and S. D. Howe, Indian agents, on the part of the United States, and the chiefs, headmen, and delegates of the Nez Perce tribe of Indians in Washington Territory. A report of the Secretary of the Interior of the 1st instant, with a letter from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs of the 2nd ultimo, proposing amendments to the treaty, together with a report of Superintendent Hale on the subject and a synopsis of the proceedings of the council held with the Nez Perce Indians, are herewith transmitted for the consideration of the Senate.” ~ President Lincoln’s message to the Senate.

April 4– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “And now let any Union man who complains of the measure, test himself by writing down in one line that he is for subduing the rebellion by force of arms; and in the next, that he is for taking these hundred and thirty thousand men from the Union side, and placing them where they would be but for the measure he condemns. If he can not face his case so stated, it is only because he can not face the truth. . . . In telling this tale I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation’s condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Albert G Hodges.

April 4– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Heard an excellent discourse yesterday from Bishop Whipple. . . . Had a call from J. P. Hale respecting appointments. This man, so long a Senator, has no comprehensive or statesmanlike views. Would set aside legislative action and law because he thinks it operates hard on a lieutenant whom he knows.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

 

General Phil Sheridan

General Phil Sheridan

April 4– Monday– Washington, D.C.– General Philip Sheridan assumes command of the cavalry in the Union Army of the Potomac. [Sheridan, age 33, only 5′ 5″ tall, is an 1853 graduate of West Point.]

April 4– Monday– Orange County, Virginia– “The weather for the past week has been extremely bad and disagreeable, causing us to remain in our houses the greater part of the time; consequently there remained nothing for us to do, but to think, think of the loved ones far away. Day before yesterday morning, I arose from my feather bed all bustin with straw– to again see everything covered with, to us, the beautiful white of snow. But soon the rains came and it all melted away like beautiful frost work before a summer’s sun. It continued to rain throughout the entire day. Yesterday the sun shone out occasionally; but the broken clouds were flying across the heavens in almost every direction, and the wind blowing a perfect gale. As I anticipated, it is again raining, and I do feel so thankful; for the old proverb ‘more rain more rest’ is certainly true in our situation. So long as it continues bad weather we are sure to remain in our present quarters. I know it will not be long before we have to commence anew our marches; but I want to postpone the evil day as long as possible. We all look forward to the approaching campaign with great interest; for we are confident that if successful, twelve months from today, we can see a termination of hostilities between the North and South. All are confident of success, and await only the approach of Grant to show their renewed determination to be free. Don’t despond; but have a brave heart, and encourage the soldiers all you can, and I believe you will soon see a free and happy people.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee.

April 4– Monday– Jacksonville, Florida– “Joe was wounded a little in the head but he is well again and he is so big and fat you would hardly know him if you would see him. Jake is well and William was killed in the last battle we had . . . on the 20th of February. John Chambers and John Henry Carl was killed in the same battle.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Samuel Christy to his sister Mary Jane Demus.

April 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The petition of persons under eighteen, praying that I would free all slave children, and the heading of which petition it appears you wrote, was handed me a few days since by Senator Sumner. Please tell these little people I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous sympathy, and that, while I have not the power to grant all they ask, I trust they will remember that God has, and that, as it seems, he wills to do it.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Mary Peabody Mann, widow of the educator and reformer Horace Mann.

 

Mary Peabody Mann

Mary Peabody Mann

April 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “That mighty horde which from time to time have gone from the Atlantic imbued with all the principles of human freedom which animated their fathers in running the perils of the mighty deep and seeking Liberty here are now there, and as they have said they will continue to say until time shall be no more. We mean that the Government in future shall be as it has been in the past, an example of human freedom for the light and example of the world, and illustrating in the blessings and the happiness it confers the truth of the principles incorporated into the Declaration of Independence, that life and liberty are man’s inalienable right. . . . it would be a disgrace to the nation if we could suffer those Africans whom we are now calling around our standard, and asking to aid us in restoring the Constitution and the power of the Government to its rightful authority, to be reduced to bondage again. Upon a question like that the heart gives the answer in advance of the intellect. . . . Why are the Holy Scriptures kept from [slave] hovels? Why? Can there be but one answer; that if they knew what knowledge imparts, if they knew what the gospel of our Savior inculcates, they would be freemen, or sooner or later die in the effort to obtain it? . . . I conclude with saying, not a truth which every Senator here does not feel as strongly as I feel, but with saying what is indelibly engraved upon my soul, that we owe it not only to ourselves and to those who are to follow us, but to humanity, to bring, this war to a successful result. All other considerations should, for a time, be forgotten. One single object should ever be before us– the restoration of the Union; and when it shall, be restored, as I trust in Providence it will be, and unquestionably as it can be, if the power of the Government is exerted as it may be, we shall be restored, I trust, with a Government, National and State, in which human bondage has no place, and when we shall be able to say to the world. ‘However late we were in carrying out the principles of our institutions, we have at last accomplished it. The Union is restored, and slavery is terminated.’” ~ Speech in the Senate by Senator Reverdy Johnson of Maryland, speaking in favor of a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. [Johnson, age 67, a lawyer who has served in the Maryland legislature and in Congress and opposed secession as treason, is seen as a moderate and has clashed with the radical Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on numerous issues. His support of the amendment surprises conservatives and other moderates.]

Senator Reverdy Johnson

Senator Reverdy Johnson

 

April 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “We are having awful rainy weather here– it is raining to-day, steady & spiteful enough– the soldiers in camp are having the benefit of it, & the sick, many of them– there is a great deal of rheumatism & also throat diseases, & they are affected by the weather. I have writ to George again . . . . there are many very bad now in hospitals– so many of the soldiers are getting broke down after two years, or two & a half, exposure, & bad diet, pork, hard biscuit, bad water or none at all, &c &c so we have them brought up here. O it is terrible, & getting worse, worse, worse. I thought it was bad to see the wounded, but to see these I sometimes think is more pitiful still. Well, mother, I went to see the great spirit medium Foster, there were some little things some might call curious perhaps, but it is a shallow thing & a humbug– a gentleman who was with me was somewhat impressed, but I could not see any thing in it worth calling supernatural. I wouldn’t turn on my heel to go again & see such things, or twice as much– we had table rapping & lots of nonsense. I will give you particulars when I come home one of these days.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

April 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– George Pullman, age 33, an engineer and industrialist, patents a folding upper berth for a railroad sleeper car.

 

George Pullman

George Pullman

April 5– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Grant is as good a leader as we can find. He has honesty, simplicity of character, singleness of purpose, and no hope or claim to usurp civil power. His character, more than his genius, will reconcile armies and attach the people. Let him alone. Don’t disgust him by flattery or importunity. Let him alone. . . . As our enemy fills his ranks by conscription, ours dwindle by sickness and furloughs. I am laboring hard to put all on the rolls into position, and still harder to put forward the stores on which they must feed as we advance. The country through which we have marched is cleared of all subsistence and forage, and everything must be sent forward by [railroad] cars and wagons. It is estimated that there are now the carcasses of thirty thousand animals in the valley of the Tennessee. Not one cavalry soldier in ten has a horse, and on a recent visit to Schofield, out of forty-one thousand men who should have, I find but seven thousand in line of battle, but the furloughed men are returning and I will see that by May 1st I have on the Tennessee one of the best armies in the world. You may look to the causes of these apparent incongruities not in the army, but among our people. I shall be here about two weeks, and then to the front. Let me hear from you. I care no more for the squabbles about the Presidency than I do for the causes of the Schleswig-Holstein difficulty, and Grant cares still less.” ~ Letter from General William Tecumseh Sherman to his brother Senator John Sherman.

April 5– Tuesday– Elk River, Tennessee– “I must write short letters now as our summer’s work has begun. We are under marching orders and are getting ready as fast as possible, and yet we may not move for a month.” ~ Letter from Union officer Robert Cruikshank to his wife Mary.

 April 5– Tuesday– Milledgeville, Georgia– The Southern Recorder encourages everyone to participate in the “National Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer” on April 8th as requested by President Davis.

April 5– Tuesday– Natchitoches, Louisiana; Marks’ Mills, Arkansas; Quicksand Creek, Kentucky; near New Madrid, Missouri; Blount’s Creek, North Carolina; Whiteley’s Mills, Arkansas– Skirmishes and fire fights.

April 6– Wednesday– New York City– Caroline Matilda Stansbury Kirkland, age 63, dies in her sleep. She was an author, educator, advocate for female convicts and active in the Sanitary Commission. She published 11 books and a number of essays and short stories in her lifetime.

Caroline Kirkland

Caroline Kirkland

 

April 6– Wednesday– New York City– “Had to wait a long while in Fourteenth Street this morning while Ellie, the treasuress, was endorsing the pocketful of checks I carried down to the Bank of America. It was a pretty sight: the throng of well-dressed people, the showy decorations, the stalls or counters loaded with all sorts of things, and especially the shoals of nice women with their graceful, diagonal, broad blue ribbons . . . all working in such deadly earnest. . . . I have estimated the proceeds of the Metropolitan Fair as probably not far from $700,000. But there are bets on a million and a half, and all the indications of the last three days point toward something larger than I anticipated.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

 seal of Sanitary commission

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