A Most Spirited Contest~September 1859~the 1st to 12th

A Most Spirited Contest ~Peter Zinn.

In the fall of 1864, many could look back to the fall of 1859 when peace and prosperity reigned, North and South. Yet the signs of trouble were there. Lincoln was rising in popularity in the North as Republicans looked for a winning candidate for 1860 while his successful law practice continued. Democrats looked to Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois as a likely candidate. The escape of slaves to Canada continued, much to the disgust of slave-holders. Abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison held Daniel Webster in scorn for his support of the Compromise of 1850. Nature herself gave signs and portents in the heavens. Mexico and Italy were in turmoil. Meanwhile many people who would assume important roles in the struggle yet to come lived their lives unaware of the challenges to come.

fugitive slaves headed north

fugitive slaves headed north

September 1– Thursday– Columbus, Ohio– “I enclose herewith a notice that appeared in our Statesman this morning by which you see that Douglas is posted for two meetings in Ohio. Now, we desire to head off the little gentleman, and in behalf of the Republican State Central Committee I invite you to visit our State, to make a few Speeches, say 3, or 4, at such prominent points as we may select. We would prefer the time, Say the 13 14, 15 [or] 16, & 17, September, or if preferable to you from the 27th, to October 1st . . . . Our State Fair occupies the week of the 20th &c. We will be happy to pay your expenses & use you well. If you can come, telegraph me when & how long, also write me. We want to make our victory complete this year.” ~ Letter from William T. Bascom to Abraham Lincoln.

September 1– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– The first Pullman sleeping car is completed by George Pullman’s company.

September 1– Thursday– Montreal, Quebec Province, Canada– “It is with extreme pleasure that I set down to enclose you a few lines to let you know that I am well & I hope when these few lines come to hand they may find you & your family in good health and prosperity. I left your house November 3rd, 1857, for Canada. I Received a letter here from James Carter in Petersburg, saving that my wife would leave there about the 28th [of August] or the first September and that he would send her on by way of Philadelphia to you to send on to Montreal if she come on you be please to send her on and as there is so many boats coming here all times a day I may not know what time she will [arrive]. So you be please to give her this direction, she can get a cab and go to the Donegana Hotel and Edmund Turner is there [and] he will take you where I lives and if he is not there cabman take you to Mr Taylor’s on Durham St. nearly opposite to the Methodist Church. Nothing more at present but Remain your well wisher.” ~ Letter from escaped slave John Scott to William Still.

William Still, conductor on the underground railroad

William Still, conductor on the underground railroad

September 2– Friday– Hartford, Connecticut– Delia Salter Bacon, age 48, dies in the Retreat for the Insane. Well-educated, a friend of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Delia Bacon in the period from 1845 to 1858 (prior to being institutionalized) argued and attempted to prove that the plays of William Shakespeare had really been written by a coterie of radicals under the leadership of Francis Bacon. Delia had also been swept up in a nasty social and church conflict in 1847 when her brother Leonard, a minister, brought charges of misconduct against Alexander MacWhorter, a theological student ten years Delia’s junior whom Leonard believed had trifled with his sister’s affections, among other things.

September 2– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “A Temperance Convention was hold in Athol, Worcester County, last week. There was a large attendance from all the towns in North Worcester County. . . . The following resolutions, offered by Mr. Hoyt, were discussed, and finally adopted. It will be Seen that the letter of Wendell Phillips to Chief Justice [Lemuel] Shaw and President [James] Walker [of Harvard] was unequivocally endorsed . . . . Resolved, That the recent letter of prominent friend and advocate of the cause, to the Chief Justice of Massachusetts and the President of Harvard University, challenges the admiration of the people, and has the hearty sanction of all who care to see a proper administration of the laws of the Commonwealth, a pure example set before the youth of her educational institutions. Resolved, That the new organization of the friends of temperance into a ‘State Alliance’ meets our approval, and we bid it a hearty ‘God-speed’ in the work. The Convention was spirited and successful.” ~ The Liberator. [Wendell Phillips, 1811–1884, known as the Golden Trumpet of abolition for his eloquence and powerful speaking voice, is like his friend William Lloyd Garrison a supporter of temperance and women’s rights as well as abolition.]

Wendell Phillips, eloquent reformer

Wendell Phillips, eloquent reformer

September 2– Friday– Cincinnati, Ohio– “The announcement of [Senator] Stephen A. Douglas to address the Democracy of Ohio at Columbus and Cincinnati, has suggested your appearance in Cincinnati on behalf of the Opposition. Allow me to explain, that in Hamilton county, in which Cincinnati is located, the opponents of modern political democracy united in 1858, and after a most spirited contest, carried the county – before that time considered impossible – and it is now contemplated to do the same thing this fall; and to do it well. I am requested by several of our friends to ascertain whether you would be willing to address the opposition, and if so, at what time. Our Election is on the 11th October, and we would desire to have you here as soon after Judge Douglas as may be convenient. He speaks in Cincinnati, on the 8th instant. I am authorized to say your expenses would be paid. Should you visit Cincinnati, and circumstances permit, I have no doubt your aid will be sought from other sections of Ohio, if it has not been done already. I am a member of the Republican State Central Committee, and shall immediately write to our secretary at Columbus the purport of this letter. The political contest in Ohio promises to be very spirited. Both sections– all factions – of the modern Democracy act together; and they are making a desperate fight. Please reply without unnecessary delay.” ~ Letter from Peter Zinn to Abraham Lincoln.

Stephen A Douglas

Stephen A Douglas

September 2– Friday– Springfield, Illinois– Attorney Abraham Lincoln and Attorney Stephen Logan are in the third day of representing Quinn Harrison, accused of the murder of Greek Crafton, Sangamon County ne’er-do-well. They call as a defense witness Peter Cartwright, famous Methodist circuit-riding preacher and grandfather of defendant, who gives spectacular testimony for the defense.

Abraham Lincoln, attorney-at-law

Abraham Lincoln, attorney-at-law

September 2– Friday– London, England– One of the most spectacular magnetic storms of the century which has been raging since August 28th, reaches its most intense point during the first two days of September. Magnetic compasses are rendered useless, arcing in telegraph wires disrupts communications and causes numerous fires in Europe and the United States. The Northern Lights from the Arctic are seen as far south as Rome and Hawaii.

September 3– Saturday– Springfield, Illinois– Attorney Lincoln makes the concluding defense argument in the trial of Quinn Harrison, doing so by “examining the evidence with great skill and clearness, discussing the law and replying to the positions assumed by the prosecution with a subtle and resistless logic, and frequent illustrations of singular fitness” as a newspaper account records. The jury returns a verdict of not guilty.

September 3– Saturday– the Carribean Sea around the West Indies– In its second day a hurricane passes over St. Kitts and later St. Croix, with high winds and large downpours of rain.

September 3– Saturday– Castres, Languedoc, France– Birth of August Marie Joseph Jean Jaur s to middle class parents. [He will become the leading French social democrat, the head of the French Socialist Party, and one of the most famous European progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He will vehemently oppose the outbreak of European war in 1914 and will die by the hand of an ultra-nationalist assassin in Paris on July 31, 1914.]

August Jean Jaures, French socialist leader, 1904

August Jean Jaures, French socialist leader, 1904

September 4– Sunday– New York City– “Arrest of a Missouri Judge. Judge John Watson was recently arrested at Keytersville, Chariton county, on the charge of having been one of the party that broke open the county safe, about a year and a half ago, and robbed it of some $5,000. The Grand Jury of that county indicted him for grand larceny and burglary, and he was required to give bail to the amount of $3,000. This case attracts a great deal of public attention, partly from the fact that the accused is a man of considerable wealth, and at the time the crime was committed was one of the judges of the county court.” ~ New York Herald.

September 4– St Louis, Missouri– Edward Bates, lawyer and politician, observes his 66th birthday. [Next year he will be one of the challengers to Lincoln for the Republican nomination for president. He will serve as Attorney General in Lincoln’s Cabinet. He dies March 25, 1869.]

Edward Bates

Edward Bates

September 5– Monday– Dessau, Saxony, Germany– W Friedrich Olivier, landscape painter, dies at 68 years of age.

September 6– Tuesday– New York City– “Northern Mexico. By an arrival of New Orleans, of which telegraphic advices have already been received, we have dates from the Rio Grande to August 11. General Miguel Blanco left Monterrey on the 2nd of July for the interior, with 450 riflemen, well mounted and armed, most of them with six shooters. Also left for the seat of war, on the 2nd instant, Chief of Division Guerra, with a battery and munitions, guarded by a company of riflemen. How many pieces were in the battery is not stated. The official paper of Zacatecas says that in consideration of the Anti-Catholic conduct of D. Pedro Espinosa. Bishop of Guadalajara, the Governor has instructed the Commissioners to the United States to bring with them Catholic priests of the country who can perform their duties without meddling with politics. This is only in case the curates now in town abandon their posts, as the Bishop has commanded; for the Government, Christian above all things, can never permit the people whom it governs to need spiritual aid. . . . The State of Zacatecas has decreed, in imitation of the Federal Government, that civil marriages performed by the political chiefs of partidos, or presidents of municipalities (answering to our chief justices of counties and mayors of cities,) shall henceforth be considered valid. In the same State, a considerable sum of money has been appropriate to the support of the clergy, who are forbid to charge for baptism, marriages and other similar offices.” ~ New York Times.

September 6– Tuesday– Springfield, Illinois– “Yours of the 2nd in relation to my appearing at Cincinnati in behalf of the Opposition is received. I already had a similar letter from Mr. W. T. Bascom, Secretary of the Republican State central committee at Columbus, which I answer to-day. You are in correspondence with him, and will learn all from him. I shall try to speak at Columbus and Cincinnati; but can not do more.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Peter Zinn.

September 7– Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– Attorney Abraham Lincoln deposits $50 in his bank account, and writes a check for $1.75 to D. J. Boynton, furnace and stove dealer. [The deposit would equal $1450 today and the check would equal $50.60, using the Consumer Price Index.]

September 8– Thursday– Brunswick, Maine– At Bowdoin College, Professor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain turns 31 today. [Chamberlain will gain fame as commanding officer of the 20th Maine Regiment and earn the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic service at the battle of Gettysburg in 1863. Before his death on March 24, 1914, he will serve as governor of Maine and president of Bowdoin College.]

Professor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin serving as a Union officer

Professor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin serving as a Union officer

September 8– Thursday– Boston, Massachusetts– Grover & Baker sewing machines are available at $40 each. The manufacturer claims that this model is “the best low-priced one now before the public. It is truly a family machine, and will perform more work in one hour than the best seamstress is one day, and do it better.” [The price would equal $1160 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

September 9– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The Webster Statue, in front of the State House, will be inaugurated on the afternoon of the17th of September. Reverend Dr. Lethrop will offer the prayer, Professor Felton will deliver the statue into the hands of Mayor [Frederic W] Lincoln [a Republican but no relation to Abraham], representing the city, and His Honor will immediately place it in the custody of the State, Governor Banks receiving it. Brief addresses will be delivered, and Mr. Everett will then pronounce his oration on Webster. So reads the announcement in the daily papers. Many centuries ago, a certain ‘herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath setup.’ The object in the erection of the Webster statue is essentially the same as Nebuchadnezzar had in view in the erection of his image– namely, contempt for ‘the higher law,’ repudiation of the one living and true God, and the triumph of despotic power; but there are some features in these two cases which are dissimilar. Webster’s image is of iron; that of Nebuchadnezzar was of gold. These who refused to bow down and worship the letter, were to be cast into a burning fiery furnace: those who shall refuse to do homage to the former are not to be subjected to any legal penalties. But the reason which led to the rejection of the one, are quite as imperative in demanding the condemnation and removal of the other. The grant of a portion of the State House grounds for the erection of this status, by the last Legislature, was an outrageous abuse of trust, and an insult to the moral and human feelings of the people of this Commonwealth. It was adroitly obtained at the heel of the session, without debate, in a thin House, through Boston pro-slavery management and the connivance of Governor Banks, who, since his elevation to the Chair of State, has evidently sought to conciliate the ‘cottonocracy,’ and to adulterate the little Republicanism he ever possessed, hoping thereby to promote his elevation to a still higher position. There is no reason to doubt that it was his private influence that prevented the passage of a law a the last Legislature, forbidding the arrest or trial of any one claimed as a fugitive slave within the limits of Massachusetts. . . . In spite of the grant that has been made by the Legislature, in spite of the display that will be made in carrying the grant into execution, the Webster statue must be removed. This must be the special business of the next Legislature, coupled with that of making Massachusetts free to every hunted slave who seeks an asylum upon her soil; and in order to effect this, let the people send in their petitions, and especially see to it that no Senator or Representative is elected who is not ready to discharge this duty.” ~ The Liberator.

William Lloyd Garrison, radical abolitionist & founding editor of The Liberator

William Lloyd Garrison, radical abolitionist & founding editor of The Liberator

September 9– Friday– New Orleans, Louisiana– “Friday morning last, the morning of the last auroral borealis, the operators of the National Telegraph office in Washington City found, on going to their business, a series of electrical currents, entirely independent of the batteries, in possession of the wires. These currents seem to have been manageable, for the operators actually went to work and sent messages from New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, correctly without the use of a particle of galvanic battery, using this independent electricity of the air in the place of that supplied by the ordinary batteries.” ~New Orleans Daily Picayune.

September 10– Saturday– Chicago, Illinois– “I send you [Stephen A.] Douglas’ late speech in Columbus Ohio. You will see the new grounds he takes and the new coloring he gives to his old dogmas I observe that you are invited to make speeches in Columbus & Cincinnati. You will draw big crowds and be well received. I know the Buckeyes well – being raised in that state. Do not consider me presumptuous for offering a suggestion or two, viz: As you are not a candidate you can talk out as boldly as you please. There is no Egypt in Ohio Any doctrine you can teach in Bloomington will take in Columbus. Cincinnati is nearly as radical as Chicago. They are willing to obey the Fugitive law but want it repealed or modified and have so declared in their platform. Don’t act on the defensive, but pitch hot shot into the back of doughface [Northerners who supported slavery] and pro slavery democracy. Rake down the swindling pretension of Douglas that his Kansas Nebraska bill guarantees or permits popular sovereignty. We have made a leading article on that subject in our today’s paper. If you will lay bare the fraud, delusion and sham of squatter sovereignty, you will do our cause in Ohio much service, as it will break the back of the Democratic pretense. You made some strong points in your Chicago speech a year ago on the drift and tendency of the principles of the Democracy, and the duty of patriots to resist the aggressions of the oligarchy. Your peroration to the spirit of Liberty was capital. Look over that speech again. Do not fail to get off some of your ‘anecdotes & hits’ – no people relish such things more than the Buckeyes. I have only one word more of advice to offer viz: Go in boldly, strike straight from the shoulder, — hit below the belt as well as above, and kick like thunder.” ~ Letter from Joseph Meharry Medill to Abraham Lincoln.

September 11– Sunday– Palma, Campania, Italy– Following the upheaval in Italy of the war between Piedmont-Sardinia and France against the Austrian Empire, the National Assembly of Palma and Piacenta vote unanimously to expel the Bourbon dynasty from the state. [The following day, the Assembly will vote again, also unanimously, inviting Palma and Piacena’s annexation by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia.]

September 12– Monday– Buffalo, New York– “Several gentlemen of this City expressed to me this evening an anxiety to have you visit this City. They informed me they had written Governor Chase to that effect, and at their request I wish to say that I desire to second their efforts to get you here I have no doubt you will do them much good I hope you will come without fail.” ~ Letter from Joshua Reed Giddings to Abraham Lincoln.

Joshua Reed Giddings

Joshua Reed Giddings

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