Christmas Gift for President Lincoln ~ December 1864 ~ the 22nd to 24th

Christmas Gift for President Lincoln

Sherman presents the city of Savannah to the President and issues orders for the occupation. A Canadian urges support for the Union cause. French forces suffer a defeat in Mexico. The coming year holds the promise of action on an amendment to ban slavery. War time shortages and problems abound. The world goes on.

Fort McAllister outside Savannah

Fort McAllister outside Savannah

December 22– Thursday– Savannah, Georgia– Having accepted a citizen’s offer to use his luxurious house as headquarters, Union General Sherman there meets with a U.S. Treasury agent, who requests that the Treasury Department be allowed to claim all cotton, rice, and public buildings in the city. General Sherman agrees to turn over what his soldiers do not need. The agent mentions that a ship is about to depart Savannah for Fort Monroe and asks if Sherman wants to send a Christmas message to President Lincoln. Quickly, Sherman grabs a piece of paper and writes as follows: “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”

December 22– Thursday– Montreal, Quebec Province, Canada– “We have no desire to quarrel with the Free States of the North. They are our neighbors and natural friends, bound to us, as we to them, by the reciprocal ties of amicable commercial intercourse. With them, as with us free labour is respected, and the honest tiller of the soil has the status of a man and a citizen. With them, and with us, the word liberty has the same meaning, involving the right of poor and rich, black and white alike, to the disposal of their own persons, of their personal ability and exertion, and of the fruits thereof. In the vocabulary of the Slave States, when they cry for liberty and independence, we know that they mean only license to hold the poor in bondage, and rob the tiller of their soil of his first rights as a man. The traditions and policy of our mother country have been steadily on the side of personal liberty. And this, which is one of her most glorious distinctions, has been a cause of constant hostility towards her by statesmen and people of the Slave States.” ~ Public address by Reverend John Cordner.

December 22– Thursday– San Pedro, Mexico– Mexican forces defeat the French and their aristocratic Mexican allies.

Henry Clarke Wright, radical abolitionist

Henry Clarke Wright, radical abolitionist

December 23– Friday– Barnstable, Massachusetts– “Notice is hereby given, that the bill providing for the prohibition of slavery by an amendment of the Constitution will be taken up January 6th.Should the amendment be adopted, and sent to the people, and by them ratified, in the course of the spring, as I doubt not it would be, if it is adopted by Congress, then, so far as the Federal Government is concerned, slavery has no legal existence in the United States; the black spot on our national character is wiped out, so far as legislative enactments can wipe it out. Slavery is not only legally abolished, but also forever prohibited within the limits of the Republic. Slavery being legally abolished, and forever prohibited so far as it can be by the Constitution and by statute, law, what more have we to do as Abolitionists? Our great work, the abolition of chattel slavery, is done. No power will exist in any State to perpetuate or to establish it. No new State can come in, and no old State can remain in, with a slave. So far as organic and statute law can do it, this sum of all villainy,’ this consummation of all meanness, theft, robbery and piracy, is at an end in this nation. Only the debris of that temple of blood and tears remains to be removed. Its removal will be a colossal work. To educate and elevate the redeemed slaves will require the energies of philanthropy for years to come. In this work hundreds of thousands will join with us, who have not only taken no part in the abolition of slavery, but who have strenuously and persistently opposed it, by whatever ecclesiastical, political, social, commercial or literary power they possessed. With these we can unite our efforts to secure to the emancipated their domestic, social, political, educational and industrial rights. Equality as to natural rights, without regard to color, country or condition! This must be the watchword of the Nation’s future. To remove all obstructions which the churches, the State Governments, and the mean and base prejudices of society throw in the way of the intellectual, social and moral elevation and happiness of the Negro will require great integrity and firmness of purpose, and great wisdom and energy of action. . . . Equality of Natural Rights must be written on every pulpit, on every ballot-box, over the door of every school-house and college, home and nursery. On the practical recognition of this self-evident truth must the Republic exist, or it cannot long exist at all. . . . Would to God that our great work could have been finished without the shedding of any blood but our own! But it was not so to be. On whom rests the responsibility of these rivers of blood shed to destroy slavery, the Future will ask of those who, twenty-five years ago, had the power to abolish it without bloodshed, but who would not and did not use it. . . . Let all do what they can to back up and urge on Congress and the President to do this great work. Slavery is not dead. Any State may, if it choose, establish slavery. In God’s name, let as have the Constitutional Prohibition! Then, in all coating time, not a slave shall clank a chain, nor shed a tear, on our broad domain.” ~ Letter from Henry Clarke Wright to William Lloyd Garrison.

December 23– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln, freeing three millions of bondmen, will rank as one of the great edicts of history. It therefore eminently deserves the attention of artistic genius, and we are gratified to know that a competent hand has put on canvass the scene when the remarkable document was first brought to light. Carpenter’s picture of ‘The Emancipation Proclamation before the Cabinet,’ now on exhibition at Williams & Everett’s, 234 Washington Street, is an admirable representation of the meeting at which President Lincoln had his proclamation before the members of the Cabinet. The President and his constitutional advisers are grouped around the council board in thoughtful, yet unconstrained attitudes, and the large size of the figures gives to them a life-like appearance otherwise unattainable. The likenesses are excellent. The features of the President. Secretary Seward, Chase, Stanton, Blair, Welles, Bales and Smith are delineated with great clearness, and their individuality is unmistakable. The accessories of the picture are literal, it having been painted in the Cabinet room of the White House, and the furniture represented is that introduced in Jackson’s time, and now familiar to all visitors to the national ‘sanctum sanctorum.’ The picture is well worth seeing, not only as the representation of a great event, but as a work of art.” ~ The Liberator.

Emancipation Proclamation painting by Carpenter

Emancipation Proclamation painting by Carpenter

December 23– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Miss Annie Murphy, one of the female prisoners committed to the Atheneum a couple of weeks ago, died yesterday morning of typhoid fever. The deceased formerly resided in Braxton county and was arrested upon the charge of tearing down government telegraph poles and acting as a spy for the enemy. . . . The jail of this city which has got to be quite an important institution since it has been converted into a state penitentiary, has lately been improved and rendered more safe than heretofore. A large massive iron door has lately been placed at the entrance of the building on Fifth street, at the expense of Adams’ Express company, in order more thoroughly to secure the safety of Risley, Marks, and Meredith, the three men charged with robbing the company’s office at Grafton not long since. With the late improvement the jailor has no doubt of his ability to keep his pets until called for by the courts. ” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.


December 23– Friday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The military order fixing the price of milk is likely to deprive us of this important article entirely, unless our dairymen are allowed to receive at least as much for their milk as will enable them to pay expenses. We respectfully submit the following facts given us by one of our leading dairymen, to the consideration of General Miller and the Military Board. Before the war, the price of milk was forty cents a gallon, the price of feed being from $3 to $15 per ton. The price fixed by the Military Board, is 60 cents per gallon, while the price of bran per ton is $60, oats and hay scarcely to be had at any price. The dairyman alluded to above has thirty cows, which at this season of the year yield less than twenty gallons of milk per day, the actual product of last week being $70, while the actual cost of feeding amounted to $85 to say nothing of labor, board of hands, wear and tear of materials, etc. Unless the Board make some change, we are informed that dairymen will be compelled to sell out their stock, and retire from the business until feed can be procured at more reasonable prices.” ~ Nashville Dispatch.

December 23– Friday– Covington, Georgia– “Just before night Mrs. Robert Rakestraw and Miss Mary drove up to spend the night with me. They had started down into Jasper County, hoping to get back their buggy, having heard that several buggies were left at Mr. Whitfield’s by the Yankees. Nothing new! It is confidently believed that Savannah has been evacuated. I hear nothing from my boys. Poor fellows, how I miss them!”~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

December 23– Friday– Savannah, Georgia– “Savannah, being now is our possession, and the river partially cleared out, and measures have been taken to remove all obstructions, will at once be made a grand depot for future operations. 1. The chief-quartermaster, General Easton, will, after giving the necessary orders touching the transports in Ogeechee River and Ossabaw Sound, come in person to Savannah, and take possession of all public buildings, all vacant store-rooms, warehouses, &c., that may be now or hereafter needed for any department of the army. No rents will be paid by the Government of the United States during the war, and all buildings must be distributed according to the accustomed rules of the quartermaster’s department, as though they were public property. 2. The chief commissary of subsistence, Colonel A. Beckwith, will transfer the grand depot of the army to the city of Savannah, secure possession of the needful buildings and offices, and give the necessary orders, to the end that the army may be supplied abundantly and well. 3. The chief engineer, Captain Poe, will at once direct which of the enemy’s forts are to be retained for our use and which dismantled and destroyed; and the chief ordnance officer, Captain Baylor, will, in like manner, take possession of all property pertaining to his department captured from the enemy and cause the same to be collected and carried to points of security. All the heavy sea-coast guns will be dismounted and carried to Fort Pulaski. 4. The troops, for the present, will be grouped about the city of Savannah, looking to convenience of camps . . . . 5. General Howard will keep a small guard at Forts Rosedale, Beaulieu, Wimberly, Thunderbolt, and Bonaventura, and he will cause that shore and Skidaway Island to be examined very closely, with a view to finding many and convenient points for the embarkation of troops and wagons on sea-going vessels.” ~ Orders from General William Tecumseh Sherman.

James Bronterre O'Brien

James Bronterre O’Brien

December 23– Friday– London, England– James Bronterre O’Brien, Irish Chartist leader, reformer and journalist dies at age 59 after a long illness.

Princess Zorka

Princess Zorka

December 23– Friday– Cetinje, Montenegro– Birth of Princess Zorka, eldest child of the reigning monarch, Nicholas. [She will marry the heir to the throne of Serbia and die on March 16, 1890, giving birth to her fifth child in six years.]

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