Taney Must Have Shivered in the Tomb ~ February 1865 ~ the 1st to 2nd

Roger B Taney Must Have Shivered in the Tomb ~ George Templeton Strong

The recently deceased author of the infamous decision in the Dred Scott case is criticized as the constitutional amendment banning slavery goes to the states for ratification. Lincoln’s home state proudly becomes the first to ratify. Sherman begins major operations in South Carolina. Lincoln attempts to negotiate peace.


February– Boston, Massachusetts– “By this record will the world judge Chief Justice Taney. His great familiarity with the special practice; his knowledge of the peculiar jurisdiction of his tribunals . . . after doing service for the day in the mechanical branch of his craft, will soon be all forgotten. But the slavocrats’ revolution of the last two generations, and the Secession war, and the triumph of Liberty, will be the theme of the world; and he, of all who precipitated them, will be most likely, after the traitor leaders, to be held in infamous remembrance; for he did more than any other individual,– more than any President, if not more than all,– more in one hour than the Legislature in thirty years,– to extend the Slave Power. Indeed, he had solemnly decided all and more than all  that President Buchanan, closing his long political life of servility in imbecility, in December, 1860, asked to have adopted as an ‘explanatory amendment’ of the Constitution, to fully satisfy the Slave Power. . . . But those he served themselves with the sword cut the knot he so securely tied; his own State was tearing off the poisoned robe in the very hour in which he was called before the Judge of all. America stood forth once more the same she was when the old man was a boy. The work which he had watched for years and generations, the work of evil to which all the art of man and the power of the State had been subservient, that work which he sought to finish with the fatal decree of his august bench, one cannon-shot shattered forever. He is dead. Slavery is dying. The destiny of the country is in the hand of the Eternal Lord.” ~ Article by Charles M Ellis on the late Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in this month’s issue of the Atlantic Monthly. [Charles M. Ellis, 1818 – 1878, a Boston lawyer and determined abolitionist, was one of the attorneys who represented the fugitive slave Anthony Burns. For a history of the case and more about Ellis, see, The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson’s Boston by Albert J Von Frank (1999), pp. 75-79, 127-128, 131-146, 191-207.]

page from Godey's Lady's Book

page from Godey’s Lady’s Book

February– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “The sending of Valentines is going out of date, but still the custom is somewhat kept up. Our illustration shows a family so anxiously watching the postman going to their neighbors that they do not see the servant bringing in their own letters. It is a very pretty engraving any way, and reflects great credit on the artist, Lauderback, about whom we take this occasion to say, that he is the best engraver on wood in this city. The most sensible Valentine to send a lady is a copy of Godey for one year.” ~ Godey’s Lady’s Book.

February 1– Wednesday–Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs the resolution for the Thirteenth Amendment, sending it to the states for ratification.

February 1– Wednesday– New York City– “The constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery within the United States passed the House yesterday by a vote of 119 to 56, a little more the required two-thirds. . . . The Senate has already passed on it, but three-fourths of the states must endorse the amendment before it can become part of the Constitution. Unless affairs change greatly for the worse within six months, it will be ratified. The current sets steadily that way; witness this vote compared with the last, 95 to 65, when the measure failed for want of a two-thirds majority. No one expected it to prevail in this Congress. Who thought four years ago that John Brown would march so fast? And here has the Supreme Court of the United States just been admitting a colored person one of its attorneys and counsellors, on motion of Charles Sumner. . . . The dust that was Roger B Taney must have shivered in its tomb when the motion was granted.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 1– Wednesday–Washington, D.C.– “Well, mother, how are you getting along? we had a cold week, but the past three days has been much moderated. I am satisfied in the main with my room. I have such a good bed & my stove does very well– it is a little bit out of the way in location. My work as clerk in the Indian office is quite easy. I am through by 4. I find plenty who know me. I received a week’s pay on Monday, came very acceptable. My appetite is not very good, but I feel very well upon the whole. . . . I am very glad I have employment (& pay). I must try to keep it. I send you an envelope, so that you can write me a letter soon as convenient.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

Louisa Whitman

Louisa Whitman

February 1– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “It has been more than a month since the writer left Richmond; he has mingled freely with people of all shades of opinion; with the friends as well as with the opponents of the Administration; and he is painfully convinced that he does not exaggerate when he says that the authorities at Richmond must concede something to popular sentiment – that the press must be more reticent and forbearing, remembering that it is one-thing to criticize the conduct of public men and point out their errors as we would those of a friend, and quite another thing to denounce them and destroy their power for future good – and that the standard of private virtue and public morals must be elevated, and the people called away from the groves and high places where Mammon is worshiped, and where patriotism is bartered away for gold. If something like this be not done; if, in other words, a remedy for existing disorders be not found and speedily applied, those in authority, as well as the press and the people, may live to see the day when they will call upon the rocks and mountains to fall upon them and hide them from the consequences of their own infatuation. People in Richmond, at the time I left the capital, had but a faint idea of the real condition of affairs. The Administration itself did not begin to realize the estimation in which it is held by the country – whether rightfully or wrongfully, I need not now stop to consider. The fact is what I am after, and the fact is as I have stated it to be. Such is the malady. What is the remedy? Patience and firmness on the part of the people; reticence, forbearance and judicious criticism on the part of the press; and conciliation and a generous confidence on the part of the Government, and an energetic administration of military affairs, so that all the resources of the country, whether of men or material, and of men, whether black or white, shall be made available in the struggle for our liberties. A long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together, would secure our independence as surely as to-morrow’s sun will rise and set.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to the editor of the Richmond Times Dispatch.

disabled veterans

disabled veterans

February 1– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and pleasant; subsequently thawing and foggy. General Robert E. Lee has been appointed General-in-Chief by the President, in response to the recent action of Congress and the clamorous demands of the people. It is to be hoped he will, nevertheless, remain in person at the head of the Army of Virginia, else the change may be fraught with disaster, and then his popularity will vanish! He has not been fortunate when not present with the troops under his command, as evidenced by Early’s defeat and Jones’s disaster in the Valley last year. A general must continue to reap successes if he retains his popularity. General Lee has called upon the people everywhere to send in any cavalry arms and equipments in their possession– the importation being stopped.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 1– Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– In the President’s home state of Illinois, the legislature becomes the first state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment as soon as they receive notice by telegraph of Lincoln having signed the resolution.

the Thirteenth Amendment

the Thirteenth Amendment

February 1– Wednesday– across southern South Carolina– Federal forces under General Sherman are moving in force. As in Georgia, Sherman has multiple columns of troops moving at one time in slightly different directions, causing the Confederate forces to wonder if his target is Charleston or some other place.

February 1– Wednesday– Manchester, Indiana– Birth of Henry Luke Bolley, educator, botanist and researcher. [Dies November 10, 1956.]

Henry Luke Bolley

Henry Luke Bolley

February 2– Wednesday– Providence, Rhode Island– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 2– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “An erroneous supposition in regard to the rights of a substitute in the army is very generally prevalent and needs correction. It seems to be understood that a substitute has the right to elect to what regiment he shall be designed. Such is not the case. All substitutes are assigned by squads to different regiments as fast as the War Department has need for them. The mistake perhaps arises from a confusion of the rights accorded to a substitute with those belonging to a representative recruit– a substitute for a person act liable to draft– who enjoys all the privileges of a volunteer. But a substitute for an enrolled person, whether that person has been drafted or merely liable to draft, is not allowed the government bounty, or the right of choosing his own regiment.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The President and Mr. Seward have gone to Hampton Roads to have an interview with the Rebel commissioners– Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell. None of the Cabinet were advised of this move, and without exception, I think, it struck them unfavorably that the Chief Magistrate should have gone on such a mission.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


February 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “In response to a serenade last night, President Lincoln said he supposed the passage through Congress of the Constitutional Amendment for abolishing slavery throughout the United States was the occasion to which be was indebted for the honor of this call. (Applause.) The occasion was one of congratulation to the country, and to the whole world. But there lay a task yet before us, to go forward and consummate by the votes of the States, that which Congress so nobly began yesterday.(Applause, and cries ‘they will do it’). He had the honor to inform those present that Illinois had already to-day done the work. Maryland was about half through, but he felt proud that Illinois was a little ahead. He thought this measure was a very fitting, if not an indispensable adjuncts to the winding up of the present difficulty. (Applause.) He wished the Union of all the States perfected, and so effected to remove ail causes of disturbance in the future; and to obtain this end It was necessary that the original disturbing cause should, if possible, be rooted out. He thought all would bear him witness that he had never shrunk from doing all that he could to eradicate slavery, by issuing an emancipation proclamation. (Applause.) But that proclamation falls far short of what the amendment will be when fully consummated. A question might be raised whether the proclamation was legally valid. It might be said, that it only freed those who came in our lines, and that it was inoperative as to those who did not give themselves up; or that It would have no effect upon children of slaves born hereafter. In fact, it would be urged that it did not meet the evil; but this amendment is a King’s cure for all evils. (Applause.) It winds the whole thing up. He would repeat, that it was the fitting, if not indispensable adjunct to the consummation of the great game we are playing. He could not but congratulate all present, the country, the whole world, and himself, upon this great moral victory.” ~ An abolitionist reporter’s article for The Liberator.

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