June ~ Election Year 1856

Woman making American Flag

The Democratic and the Republican parties hold their conventions and adopt their platforms. Talk about the dissolution of the country is heard, debate about slavery continues and civil war rages in Kansas, which worries some Northern women. Black people adopt a wait-and-see attitude about the candidates. New York lawyer and diarist George Templeton Strong is unimpressed by the Democratic candidate but worries that a Republican victory is a decade away. Cotton is key to the American economy.

June 1– Sunday– New York City– “The idea of dissolution and division is intolerable. Union is a necessity. Schism is ruin to both fragments of the nation. Do not our preponderance in material wealth, intelligence, and every element of political power enable us to assert that union must and shall exist, that there shall be no decomposition, that we will maintain the Union against Southern folly?” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

GeorgeTempletonStrong

George Templeton Strong

 

June 2– Monday– Cincinnati, Ohio– The Democratic National Convention opens at the Smith & Nixon Hall.

June 3– Tuesday– New York City– “Nominating convention of the Democracy parturient at Cincinnati and in puerperal convulsion. It may bring forth Pierce, Douglas, Buchanan, or somebody else, as our Southern rulers shall determine, and I doubt if the north be even yet sufficiently irritated to unite in defeating their nominee.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 4– Wednesday– Cincinnati, Ohio– The platform of the Democratic Party, in its key parts, asserts that the Federal government cannot carry on internal improvements, cannot interfere with slavery, should encourage immigration, fully enforce all the provisions of the Compromise of 1850, particularly the Fugitive Slave Act, support “progressive free trade throughout the world” and make every possible effort “to insure our ascendency in the Gulf of Mexico.”

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Elizabeth Jarvis Colt & Samuel Colt

 

June 5– Thursday– Hartford, Connecticut– Inventor and industrialist Samuel Colt, age 41, weds Elizabeth Hart Jarvis, age 29, the daughter of an Episcopal clergyman. Their wedding cake is six feet high and decorated with fondant pistols and rifles. [When her husband dies in early 1862, Elizabeth will run the company until retiring in 1901. Upon her death on August 23, 1905, much of her wealth is bequeathed to various arts and charitable organizations.]

June 6– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”The Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims. This is the title of No. 18 of the series of Anti-Slavery Tracts. It has been prepared with the utmost carefulness and great labor by [Reverend] Samuel May, Jr, the General Agent of the Massachusetts Anti– Slavery Society, a copy of which every one, desirous of knowing what have been the operations of the Fugitive Slave Law, ‘that enactment of hell,’ should posses. It is a terrible record, which the people of this country should never allow to sleep in oblivion, until the disgraceful and bloody system of slavery is swept from our land, and with it, all Compromise Bills, all Constitutional Guarantees to Slavery, all Fugitive Slave Laws. It makes 48 pages, small type, and is sold at cost price– 5 cents single; 50 cents per dozen; $4 per hundred. For sale at the Anti-Slavery Office, 21 Cornhill.” ~ The Liberator. [Samuel J May, age 58, is a Unitarian minister, a graduate of Harvard and of Cambridge, a conductor on the underground railroad to help fugitive slaves escape to freedom, an advocate of peace, woman’s rights, and efficient public education, and pastors a Unitarian congregation in Syracuse, New York since 1845. He is an important influence upon his niece, Louisa May Alcott. On his life and work, see his own Some Recollections of Our Antislavery Conflict (1869) as well as Samuel Joseph May and the Dilemmas of the Liberal Persuasion, 1797-1871 (1991) by Donald Yacovone; The Jerry Rescue: the Fugitive Slave Law, Northern Rights, and the American Sectional Crisis (2016) by Angela F. Murphy.]

Samuel_Joseph_May

Reverend Samuel J May

 

June 6– Friday– Cincinnati, Ohio– The Democratic Convention concludes with James Buchanan the nominee after 17 rounds of balloting, supporters of President Pierce having early thrown their support to Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois. However, Douglas withdraws on the 16th ballot.Buchanan is a native of Pennsylvania, age65, a graduate of Dickinson College, an unmarried lawyer, wealthy with a personal fortune estimated at $300,000 [$8,640,000 in today’s money, using the Consumer Price Index], has served in both houses of Congress as well as in several diplomatic posts, sees the duty of the Federal government to protect the existence of slavery and joins Southerners in believing that abolitionist material may spur a slave insurrection. [On Buchanan, see James Buchanan and the Political Crisis of the 1850s (1996) edited by Michael J. Birkner.]

James_Buchanan

James Buchanan

 

June 8– Sunday– New York City– “It ought to be remembered that slavery, which lies at the bottom of Southern institutions, society, and property, which enables the Southern gentleman to buy comforts for his wife and food for his children, on which Southern girls marry, and families depend, and which is interwoven with and supports the whole fabric of Southern life, is condemned as a wrong and a sin by the whole civilized world. . . . The South has all the culture, civilization, intelligence, and progress of the nineteenth century against it, unanimous in declaring that it lives on oppression and robbery.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 9– Monday– Iowa City, Iowa – About 495 Mormon believers begin their journey heading west for Salt Lake City, Utah, carrying all their possessions in two-wheeled handcarts. They are mostly European immigrants too poor to afford horses or oxen. Twenty will die during this trip but the others arrive safely in Salt Lake City on Friday, September 26.

June 10– Tuesday– Peace Dale, Rhode Island– Birth of Caroline Hazard, author, and president of Wellesley College from 1899 to 1910. [Dies March 19, 1945.]

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Caroline Hazard

 

June 12– Thursday– New York City– The North American Party Convention, composed of delegates who walked out of the American Party National Convention back in February, opens in the Apollo Rooms.

June 13– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The National Democratic Convention, last week, at Cincinnati, on the seventeenth ballot, unanimously agreed upon James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, as the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States. On the third ballot, John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, was selected as the Democratic candidate for the Vice Presidency. The Convention endorsed filibustering and border ruffianism, in full. In spirit and purpose, it was an infernal conclave, and ‘hell from beneath’ was moved to ecstasy at its coming.” ~ The Liberator.

June 14– Saturday– New York City– “Smith and Nixon’s Hall, used by the Democratic Convention, is situated on Fourth street, Cincinnati, in a very central position as regards both the hotels and business of the city, and is placed on the ground floor, some eighty or ninety feet back from the street, (which prevents an exterior view being given,) thus securing great convenience of access, security in case of fire, and freedom from outside ‘noise and confusion.. It is seated with arms-chairs below and pews above, and seats comfortably over two thousand persons.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly

smith & nixon hall

Smith & Nixon Hall

 

June 17– Tuesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Republican National Convention opens in the Musical Fund Hall. This is the first national convention of the new party which was formed only two years ago. About 600 delegates are present, representing primarily the Northern states and the border states of Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky. Virginia is represented but no other Southern states have delegates present.

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Musical Fund Hall

 

June 18– Wednesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Republican Party adopts a platform which declares: “This Convention of Delegates, assembled in pursuance of a call addressed to the people of the United States, without regard to past political differences or divisions, who are opposed to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise; to the policy of the present Administration; to the extension of Slavery into Free Territory; in favor of the admission of Kansas as a Free State; of restoring the action of the Federal Government to the principles of Washington and Jefferson; and for the purpose of presenting candidates for the offices of President and Vice-President, do . . . . Resolve: That . . . we hold it to be a self-evident truth, that all men are endowed with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the primary object and ulterior design of our Federal Government were to secure these rights to all persons under its exclusive jurisdiction; that, as our Republican fathers . . . had abolished Slavery in all our National Territory, . . . it becomes our duty to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it for the purpose of establishing Slavery in the Territories of the United States by positive legislation, prohibiting its existence or extension therein. . . . That the Constitution confers upon Congress sovereign powers over the Territories of the United States for their government; and that in the exercise of this power, it is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism– Polygamy, and Slavery. . . . That . . . the dearest Constitutional rights of the people of Kansas have been fraudulently and violently taken from them. Their Territory has been invaded by an armed force; . . . . the offenders have been allowed to go unpunished; That all these things have been done with the knowledge, sanction, and procurement of the present National Administration . . . . Resolve, That Kansas should be immediately admitted as a state of this Union, with her present Free Constitution . . . . Resolve, That the highwayman’s plea, that ‘might makes right,’ embodied in the Ostend Circular [to seize Cuba by military force], was in every respect unworthy of American diplomacy, and would bring shame and dishonor . . . . Resolve, That a railroad to the Pacific Ocean by the most central and practicable route is imperatively demanded by the interests of the whole country, and that the Federal Government ought to render immediate and efficient aid in its construction . . . . Resolve, That appropriations by Congress for the improvement of rivers and harbors, of a national character, required for the accommodation and security of our existing commerce, are authorized by the Constitution, and justified by the obligation of the Government to protect the lives and property of its citizens. Resolve, That we invite the affiliation and cooperation of the men of all parties, however differing from us in other respects, in support of the principles herein declared; and believing that the spirit of our institutions as well as the Constitution of our country, guarantees liberty of conscience and equality of rights among citizens, we oppose all legislation impairing their security.”

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Elizabeth Marbury

 

June 19– Thursday– New York City– Birth of Elizabeth Marbury, author, theatrical agent and Democratic Party activist. [Dies January 22, 1933.]

June 19– Thursday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Republican National Convention concludes with John C Fremont of California having secured the nomination on the 2nd round of balloting. Fremont, the son of a French emigre, was born in Savannah, Georgia, is 43 years old, has earned a reputation as a soldier and explorer, particularly for his role in seizing California from Mexico during the war of 1846. His marriage in October, 1841, to Jessie Benton, the daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, has given Fremont connections to money and politics. He served as one of the first two U S senators from California when it became a state and he has a reputation as an opponent of slavery. [The literature on Fremont and his wife is extensive; an interested reader can start with the following: John C Fremont, Western Pathfinder (1953) by Sanford Tousey; John C Fremont and the Republican Party (1930) by Ruhl J Bartlett; The Origin and Early History of the Republican Party (1906) by William Barnes; Fremont, the West’s Greatest Adventurer (1928) by Allan Nevins; Recollections of Elizabeth Benton Fremont, Daughter of the Pathfinder General John C Fremont and Jessie Benton Fremont, His Wife (1912) by Elizabeth Benton Fremont.]

JCFrémont

James C Fremont

 

June 20– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “In answer to this call, quite a number of men and women met at 10, this forenoon. A Mrs Hibbard was chosen President, and several women Vice Presidents and Secretaries. Committees were appointed, and the Convention organized by appointing women to perform the work of the Convention. Two men, just escaped from the murderous hands of the Border Ruffians, were present, and addressed the meeting. The President made an interesting introductory address, appealing to the women of the State to come to the help of their outraged brothers and sisters in Kansas, and their two millions outraged sisters in a slavery worse than death. They propose to form a State Society, to aid their husbands, sons, brothers and fathers, in the present struggle. The excitement is deep and powerful all over northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. Three hundred men are now on their way through Iowa to the scene of conflict. A spirit of deep and bitter revenge is rising in the hearts of the people. The fugitives from the bowie-knives and rifles of the BorderRuffians, led on by Pierce and Co., are traversing all over this region, and their appeals sink deep into the heart. The clergy are beginning to see the legitimate and necessary fruits of their bitter and persevering opposition to anti-slavery, and their direct, Bible-support of slavery, But the end is not yet.” ~ Letter to William Lloyd Garrison from Henry C Wight, dated June 10th from Chicago, and printed in today’s issue of The Liberator.

June 20– Friday– New York City– Frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the Republican Party, the North American Party concludes their convention and nominates Fremont for President and Governor William F Johnston of Pennsylvania for Vice President, in expectation that William L Dayton, the Republican candidate, will withdraw in favor of Johnston.

June 21– Saturday– New York City– “The latest accounts from Kansas state that the free State forces had burned the town of Bernard, destroying from twelve to fifteen thousand dollars worth of property. The town of Franklin was captured by the abolitionists on the morning of the 4th instant after a desperate fight, in which three pro-slavery men were killed. Marshal Donaldson and four men were killed at Hickory Point on the 3rd instant. All these reports, however, require confirmation. Governor Shannon issued a proclamation on the 4th instant, ordering all the unauthorized military companies to disperse, and warning outside parties to keep away from the Territory, as he had sufficient force to enforce the laws and protect the citizens. We continue to receive dispatches from Kansas, which, although very contradictory, and evidently exaggerated, prove the existence of civil war there with all its attendant horrors. We await the receipt of our correspondence for an exposition of the true state of affairs.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly

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violence in Kansas

 

June 23– Monday– New York City– “Fremont promises to run pretty well. Fillmore in town; nobody cares much.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong. [Millard Fillmore is the former president who was nominated by the American Party back in February. The Whig Party to which Fillmore belonged at his election in 1848 has basically dissolved.]

June 25– Wednesday– New York City– “Ten years hence there will be some Fremont who can make it worth one’s while to hurrah for him, but you my unknown vociferous friends and fellow-citizens, are premature. You don’t perceive that ‘the Republican party’ is a mere squirm and wriggle of the insulted North, a brief spasm of pain under pressure and nothing more.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 26– Thursday– New York City– “Fremont meeting last night very imposing in character and numbers. The new Republican Party calls out many who have long eschewed politics. It will probably sweep this state and nearly all the Northern states.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 27– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”A large and highly respectable meeting of the colored citizens of Buffalo was held at the East Presbyterian Church, in that city, on Sunday evening, . . . and the following resolutions, after the delivery of several spirited speeches, were unanimously adopted: Resolved, That we the colored citizens of the city of Buffalo, in view of the enormous wrongs and outrages which are continually being heaped upon us, and the continued aggression of the Slave Power upon our rights, feel called upon to unite our efforts for the overthrow of slavery, as far as possible, where it now exists, and also for the purpose of resisting its further spread into Territory now free. Resolved, That we owe allegiance to no party, but now, as heretofore, declare in favor of principle in preference to party, and as such in the coming political campaign we feel bound to support such men as we shall honestly believe to be the exponents of such principles as shall vouchsafe to every man, irrespective of color or condition, his God-given and inalienable rights.” ~ The Liberator.

June 30– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Export records reveal that the last twelve months have established new highs for the exportation of American raw cotton, 1.351 billion pounds valued at $128,000,000 or 9.4 cents per pound. [The value in today’s dollars would be $3,690,000,000 using the Consumer Price Index.]

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