A Rebuke to Reappearing Tyranny~April 1859~1st to 12th

A Rebuke to Reappearing Tyranny ~ Abraham Lincoln

Attorney Lincoln, his eyes on the 1860 presidential election, sends his regrets to Boston for not attending the Jefferson Day dinner. Other signs of the issues dividing the nation appear like spring flowers. Radical John Brown is raising funds. An alleged fugitive slave is arrested in Pennsylvania and found not to have been a slave, much to the disgust of Southerners. In Ohio the first of the Oberlin-Wellington rescuers goes on trial. Some Northern newspapers lambast Southern dominance of the Democratic Party. War brews in Europe. The United States extends diplomatic recognition to liberal reformers in Mexico. British forces capture a rebel leader in India. The world turns.

April1– Friday– Concord, Massachusetts– John Brown gives a public speech in the Town Hall as part of his campaign to raise financial support for his antislavery work but gives no public hint of his plans to start a slave revolt.

John Brown

John Brown

April 1– Friday– Frederick, Maryland– “As for yourself Dear Edward let me say, that before you enter upon the public service of your country, I long to see you enlisted in the service of Him, by ‘whom Kings reign & princes rule.’ This is the best preparation for such a trying, responsible work. A letter from Lizzie just after yours, told us of your visit to them, & how much gratified they were. I am very sorry you had so much trouble to find them.” ~ Letter from a female friend to Edward McPherson of Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

April 1– Friday– southeastern coast of Spain– The Count de Montemolin, a claimant to the Spanish throne of Queen Isabella II, lands with 3,600 soldiers and begins a march toward the city of Valencia. [Unfortunately for the Count, neither he nor any of his staff had told the soldiers of their mission and when they discover its purpose they will immediately declare themselves loyal subjects of the Queen and arrest their leaders, including the Count. Isabella, age 28, will show mercy and deport her cousin, the Count.]

April 1– Friday– South Indian Ocean– The Indian Ocean, an Australian clipper ship carrying gold and passengers from Melbourne, Australia, to Liverpool, England, hits an iceberg, losing two of her masts. The captain and a dozen members of the crew abandon ship and take to the lifeboats but the second officer and the remainder of the crew refuse to give up the ship. [More than five weeks later, the vessel, the second officer, his loyal crew, his forty passengers and 25,070 ounces of gold will arrive safely at the port of Valparaiso, Chile. The men who took to the boats will never be seen or heard of again and presumed lost at sea.]

April 2– Saturday– Harrisburg, Pennsylvania– At the Saturday morning market a U.S. Marshal arrests Daniel Dangerfield, claiming that he is a fugitive slave escaped from the ownership of Elizabeth Simpson of Athensville, Virginia. News of the arrest spreads quickly through the town and marshals send him to Philadelphia this evening to avoid demonstrations or attempts to free him. In Philadelphia he immediately appears before the Fugitive Slave Commissioner who holds the case over until Monday.

April 4– Monday– New York City– In the finale of their performance at Mechanics Hall Bryant’s Minstrels, a group of white singers who perform in blackface, debut a song called “Dixie” by Daniel Emmett (1815-1904), a Northerner, born in Ohio. [He had written the song some weeks earlier. It becomes an instant hit and Emmett will soon sell the rights to the song for $500, which would equal $14,500 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

Daniel Emmett performing in blackface, c.1860

Daniel Emmett performing in blackface, c.1860


April 4– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Proceedings begin in the matter of the alleged fugitive slave Daniel Dangerfield. A crowd numbering in the thousands gathers outside the court. In the courtroom, spectators include Lucretia Mott and Passmore Williamson. George Earle and J Miller McKim defend Dangerfield, arguing that this is a case of mistaken identity.

April 4– Monday– Washington D.C.– The trial of New York Congressman Daniel Sickles for the murder of District Attorney Philip Barton Key opens in the Washington court of Judge T. H. Crawford. Sickles’ defense team includes Attorney James T. Brady of New York and Attorney Edwin Stanton, originally from Ohio, who has practiced in Washington since 1856. [Brady, age 44, is an extremely successful lawyer who in criminal cases has won acquittals for over 40 clients and had only 1 convicted. Stanton, age 44, will serve as Lincoln’s Secretary of War.]

April 5– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– The state legislature passes a law requiring milk inspections throughout the state by appointed milk inspectors to enforce the nation’s first such action.

April 5– Tuesday– Cleveland, Ohio– The trial of Simeon Bushnell, a white man, opens in federal court. He is on trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 by helping escaped slave John Price escape from his captors in Wellington, Ohio the previous September. [Price, also known as Little John, was being returned to slavery in Kentucky but a group of students and faculty from Oberlin College, together with local citizens, had acted before he could be put on the train at Wellington. Price was freed, hidden, and helped in his successful flight to Canada. A federal grand jury indicted 37 people for breaches of the Fugitive Slave Law, including John Mercer Langston, and his brother Charles, both black graduates of Oberlin. All the defendants have refused to post bail, thus imposing expense and inconvenience on the United States and generating increasing public sympathy. Also, Bushnell and Langston have managed to have kidnaping charges filed in an Ohio court against the four men who snatched John Price. See, History of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue by Jacob R Shipherd (1859; reprint 1969) and The Town That Started the Civil War by Nat Brandt (1990).]

the Oberlin Rescuers in front of the jail, Cleveland, Ohio, April 1859

the Oberlin Rescuers in front of the jail, Cleveland, Ohio, April 1859

April 6– Wednesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Fugitive Slave Commissioner finds that Daniel Dangerfield is not an escaped slave and releases him to return to Harrisburg. Before he leaves a jubilant anti-slavery crowd parades Dangerfield around the city in triumph, much to the disgust of Southern observers and newspapers.

April 6– Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– “Your kind note inviting me to attend a festival in Boston, on the 28th instant, in honor of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, was duly received. My engagements are such that I cannot attend. Bearing in mind that about seventy years ago two great political parties were first formed in this country, that Thomas Jefferson was the head of one of them and Boston the headquarters of the other, it is both curious and interesting that those supposed to descend politically from the party opposed to Jefferson should now be celebrating his birthday in their own original seat of empire, while those claiming political descent from him have nearly ceased to breathe his name everywhere. Remembering, too, that the Jefferson party was formed upon its supposed superior devotion to the personal rights of men, holding the rights of property to be secondary only, and greatly inferior, and assuming that the so-called Democracy of to-day are the Jefferson, and their opponents the anti-Jefferson, party, it will be equally interesting to note how completely the two have changed hands as to the principle upon which they were originally supposed to be divided. The Democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing, when in conflict with another man’s right of property; Republicans, on the contrary, are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar. I remember being once much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engaged in a fight with their great-coats on, which fight, after a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself out of his own coat and into that of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they have performed the same feat as the two drunken men. . . . All honor to Jefferson to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a mere revolutionary document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there that to-day and in all coming days it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to H. L. Pierce and others.

Abraham Lincoln, attorney-at-law

Abraham Lincoln, attorney-at-law

April 6– Wednesday– near Neath, South Wales, Great Britain– At the Mair Colliery, the working of a new shaft breaches a wall that releases into the mine several hundred thousand gallons of water accumulated from old workings over the years. With the whole mine flooding rapidly, frantic efforts are made to bring the eighty-one workers and their pit-ponies to the surface. Fifty-five men and two ponies escape; however, twenty-six other men and all the other animals drown.

April 7– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “The proverb which says that It never Rains but it Pours, was never more strikingly illustrated than on Monday and Tuesday last, when the Republican victories in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Springfield, and the State of Connecticut, came crowding each other over the wires. The example of New Hampshire seems to have infected the whole country. . . . The whole hocus pocus of the Democratic platform has come down in a heap– Popular Sovereignty, Dred Scott, Cuba Stealing, Slave Trade, and the whole fabric of fraud and falsehood. To every sagacious observer of political events and the current popular opinion, it must be evident that nothing but the grossest incapacity and mismanagement can prevent a Republican triumph in the nation in 1860. The campaign has in one sense already begun. Each general election is looked upon as indicative of the result of the great battle next year, and the contestants everywhere make their appeals on the basis of that strife. To this point in the latter half of Mr. Buchanan’s term, the success of the Republican cause has been complete and uninterrupted. Whatever may be predicted upon present majorities, coupled with thorough organization and a righteous cause, may be set down to the account of Republicanism in the approaching Presidential contest. Who does not say that Freedom shall achieve a conclusive triumph in 1860?” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

April 7– Thursday– Vera Cruz, Mexico– Robert Milligan McLane presents his credentials to Benito Juarez thereby conferring United States recognition upon the Liberal government, much to the chagrin of the Conservatives under General Miramon.

April 8– Friday– Probnitz, Moravia– Birth of Edmund Husserl, philosopher and founder of the school of philosophy known as phenomenology. [Dies April 27, 1938.]

Edmund Husserl, in 1900

Edmund Husserl, in 1900

April 8– Friday– Paron forest, north central India– After more than a year of effort and aided by an informer turncoat, the British capture Tatya Tope. [Ram Chandra Pandurang Tope, age 45, better known to his enemies as Tatya Tope, or Tantia Topee, was a civilian adviser to Nana Sahib, one of the early leaders of the Indian Rebellion which began in May, 1857. As the fighting progressed Tope developed into a brilliant guerrilla leader, always one step ahead of his British pursuers and with a powerful capacity to rebound after defeat. He was active for twenty-three months, long after all other resistance was quelled. See generally, Indian Uprising of 1857-8: Prisons, Prisoners and Rebellion by Clare Anderson (2007); The Indian Mutiny by John Harris (2001); The Indian Mutiny of 1857– Military History from Primary Sources by G B Malleson & B Carruthers (2013).]

April 9– Saturday– Vienna, Austria– The Austrian Empire mobilizes in response to the war preparations of Piedmont-Sardinia.

April 12– Tuesday– Detroit, Michigan– Michael Phelan of New York defeats John Seereiter of Detroit in a billiards match billed as the world championship and wins a prize of $50,000. [The prize would equal $1,450,000 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

April 12– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Lord Lyons, Her Britannic Majesty’s new Minister to the United States, presents his credentials to President Buchanan. Lord Lyons, a/k/a Richard Bickerton Pernell, arrived in Washington to replace the retiring Lord Napier. [At age 41, the career diplomat is undertaking his first major assignment in what be in total fifty years of service to the British Foreign Office. He will leave Washington in the spring of 1865 and will later spend twenty years as minister to Paris.]

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