Category Archives: Arts & Artists

Election Year 1852~April


Not one convention has taken place but the issues are coming into focus and candidates appearing. Issues include the expansion of slavery, enforcement of the Compromise of 1850, particularly the Fugitive Slave Act, the novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, religious tolerance. And women are making an unusual amount of agitation.

April 1– Thursday– New York City– “Too many of those who are engaged in the present reform, seem to suppose that the great work we have to do, is to look to our fathers and brothers for help, and accept it when they grant it. True, we need their aid. To work efficiently and harmoniously, we must work together; but on woman rests the responsibility of elevating woman. . . . The law of progress is proclaimed by every page of human history, and whether we aid or retard the work, it still goes on, and they only are losers who oppose its progress. Let woman appeal to Legislative and Ecclesiastical bodies, as well as to Medical Colleges, setting forth the injury inflicted on humanity by the present laws and rules. Let her go herself before those public bodies, and set forth the difficulties under which she labors, the disabilities which are imposed upon her, the injustice of taxation without representation, and of not permitting her to be tried by a jury of her peers. It is objected to this last innovation, that if women sat as jurors, the sentences on woman would be less lenient than they now are. I shall not dispute this; time only can settle it. But admitting that it is so– that the sexes are more merciful to each other than to themselves, then so much greater the reason for woman to share the toil and the responsibility of jurorship. Let there be an interchange of good offices, that men may experience from them the mercy they have failed to find in man. Woman has a deep, intuitive, divine sense of justice, and she has a power of endurance, of quiet fortitude in bearing fatigue, hunger, thirst and sleeplessness, at least equal to man. Or if she has not, a superior education, by giving her habits of close attention and continued concentration of mind, will qualify her for the responsibility of jurorship. Of this I am very certain, if woman is not capable of fulfilling the duties of that post, she will not be elevated to it, or, if elevated, will soon vacate it. Character and ability, like water, will find their level as a general fact; and this accounts for the present position of woman. She is just beginning to realize her wealth of mind, and moral power.” ~ Letter from Sarah Grimke in The Lily. [On Sarah Grimke and her sister Angelina, see the excellent biography The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina: Pioneers for Woman’s Rights and Abolition (1967) by Gerda Lerner.]


April 2– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– In The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison criticizes Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois as a strong supporter of the South and southern interests.

April 5– Monday– New York City– Reverend W S Balch delivers a lengthy lecture to a large audience in which he argues that no one can be a good republican while claiming allegiance to the pope and the Roman Catholic Church.

April 5–Monday– Washington, D. C.–Congress passes a resolution affirming support of the Compromise of 1850 and mandating full enforcement of all its provisions.

April 8– Thursday– Rochester, New York– “My labors, since the last issue, have quite assured me of returning strength. I have delivered five anti-slavery lectures; two at Hemlock Lake, Livingston County, two at Honeoye, Ontario County, and one in the Congregational Church, St. Paul Street, Rochester: and from these labors, I have experienced no other inconvenience, save that necessarily involved in absence from my post. . . . In a word, I found them as clear as light, in respect to all important points connected with the anti-slavery question; and as strong as steel, in their adhesion to them. I speak this, however, as especially applying to the members of the Independent Congregational Church of Honeoye, for I doubt not, that outside of it there might easily be found many that would not answer his description. This being my first visit to Honeoye, the friends of the slave thought that it would be well for me to narrate my experience in slavery. – This I did, in my second lecture, and it was most gratifying to observe the evidence of sympathy, in old and young, as they listened to my simple story. At the close of my lecture, several came forward and subscribed for my paper, and otherwise rendered me “material aid.” The result of my lecturing tour, is, that I am cheered and strengthened; having had abundant evidence that there are yet “ears to hear,” and hearts to feel. Oh! that the means could be had to send anti-slavery lecturers into every section of the State. – The people must have “line upon line,” and “precept upon precept,” if they are ever confirmed in the great principles of human liberty, upon which the anti-slavery movement is founded.” ~ Frederick Douglass in his Frederick Douglass’ Paper.


April 9– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Mr. [Parker] Pillsbury took up the subject of the identity of the interests of the working classes with the anti-slavery cause, and showed, as far as words have power to show, that the laboring classes of the North cannot hope for better things until slavery is abolished at the South. He proved that the Northern and Southern slaveholder were banded together by the of interest and trade; that the Church was blessing and sanctifying the unholy union; and unless some change came to the relief of the toiling even of the North, they would, in the progress of a very few years, be at starving point– be literally crushed by this triple and relentless power. Yet his burning eloquence and cogent arguments reached only a very few ears. The people are being led by the priests and politicians like lambs to the slaughter. They assist robbers to rob their own pockets, and then pay the priesthood to reconcile the deed with Divine justice, and themselves to their condition. Father, forgive them all, lo! they know not what they do!” ~Letter from Alonzo J. Grover to The Liberator. [On the life and work of Parker Pillsbury, 1809-1898, see: American Chivalry (1913) by Lillie Buffum Chace Wyman; Parker Pillsbury: Radical Abolitionist, Male Feminist (2007) by Stacey M Robertson.]


Parker Pillsbury


April 10– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times asserts that there is “a party, more or less complete, in different sections of the South, whose sole bond of union is the conservation of Southern rights as dependent upon the institution of slavery and its perpetuity.”

April 11–Sunday– Boston, Massachusetts–At the request of Reverend Theodore Parker, peace activist Adin Ballou preaches a sermon on peace and non-resistence at Parker’s large church. [On the life and work of Adin Ballou, 1803- 1890, see: Autobiography of Adin Ballou, Containing an Elaborate Record and Narrative of His Life from Infancy to Old Age; with Appendixes (1896) compiled and edited by William S Heywood.]

April 13– Tuesday– Rodman, New York– Birth of Frank Winfield Woolworth, American businessman. [Dies April 8 1919. At his death his personal worth is $76,500,000 and his chain of stores numbers over 1,000.]

April 15– Thursday– New York City– The New York Times denounces “Southern Fanaticism” and efforts to expand slave territory and to reopen international slave trade. “There will be no . . . triumphant achievement by means of Quixotic advocacy of the system of African Slavery, or through any schemes, of agitation or coalition, for its extension.”

April 16– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”The General’s Position Defined. A Washington correspondent of the Nashville Banner recently had an interview with General [Winfield] Scott, who it is said is indignant at the charge made in some of the newspaper, that his position in regard to some, of the Compromise measures is ambiguous. According to the writer, Scott, in his conversation with him, said: ‘How can any one doubt my past or present earnest support of the Compromise measures? Did I not, at the first meeting of the friends of the Union, held in Castle Garden, New York, publicly proclaim my approval of them; at a period, too, when but few in that city advocated the propriety of their adoption? Immediately after my perusal of Mr. Clay’s first great speech in their defense, made in the Senate of the United States, I wrote to him . . . [to express support].’” ~ The Liberator.


April 19– Monday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Whig Party members in the area hold a convention and debate whether or not to support General Winfield Scott as the party’s nominee for president, his supporters noting that he is a Southern man, born near Petersburg, Virginia, and a supporter of the Compromise of 1850.

April 20– Tuesday– Rochester, New York– Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony, Amelia Bloomer, Ann Fitzhugh Smith and Abigail Smith Delavan, among others, establish a Woman’s Temperance Society.

April 20– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– The Whig Party caucus ends up bitterly divided along sectional lines.

April 22– Thursday– Rochester, New York– “We take it for granted that the Free Soilers of New York, if they possess any of the sympathies which their name implies, will shudder at the thought of being instrumental to the election of any of those men whose names we have mentioned. Setting aside General Scott, all those men have been mainly instrumental in enacting those terrible laws which have so much shocked our sensibilities, and made our legal code the abhorrence of the civilized world. It is needless to detail the atrocities which they have enacted, and the ferocious and bloody tyranny with which they have sought and are still seeking to enforce them. The ‘compromise’ which they have made, and which they all rely on for the presidency, and which each argues himself as most anxious and able to enforce, for cruelty and injustice, is not surpassed by any other criminal act in the political history of mankind.” ~ Frederick Douglass’ Paper.


Harriet Beecher Stowe


April 22– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “This beautiful new evangel of freedom– for so the book seems to us– does not suddenly flash the intolerable light of God’s truth upon souls benighted in error, but softly drops veil after veil till they stand in mid-day brightness, wondering and remorseful. . . . . We have undertaken nothing like a critique of this book; but we must be allowed to say, even in this circumscribed notice, that the work to us gives evidence of greater power, of deeper and more various resources, than any other novel of the time. It displays rare dramatic genius, its characters are strongly drawn, refreshingly peculiar and original, yet wondrously true to nature and to many a reader’s experience of life. It abounds alike with quaint, delicious humor, and the most heart-searching pathos; with the vividest word-painting, in the way of description, with argument, philosophy, eloquence, and poetry. And straight and pure through all– through characterization, conversation, description, and narrative, sweeps the continuous moral– the one deep thought, flowing ceaselessly from the soul of the writer, and fed by ‘under-springs of silent deity.’So great and good a thing has Mrs. Stowe here accomplished for humanity, for freedom, for God, that we cannot refrain from applying to her sacred words, and exclaiming, ‘Blessed art thou among women!’” ~ The National Era reviews Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or Life Among the Lowly which ran in this newspaper in serialized form beginning in June of 1851 and just appeared in a 2 volume book form on March 20th. [In its first sixteen months it will sell 1,200,000 copies.]


April 23– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “In the midst of all this stir about men’s rights, on indefatigable Friend, Anne Knight, is pursuing her course with the patience of a martyr. She writes letters . . . and publishes them by hundreds. She is admitted to all classes of society, and whether you find her at the soirees of the nobility, or among the humble builders on the great walls of time, there you hear her untiring plea for the equal political rights of women. A few evenings since, I saw her in close with a brilliant wit and beauty connected with the court circle. Anne had on her Quaker cap with a black net over it, a black satin dress with a large black shawl thrown over her shoulders to conceal a large satchel that she always carries about her filled with papers. The other wore a white dress, with a opera cloak, trimmed with ermine. ‘Night and day personified,’ quoth the gentleman at my left hand. I could not but smile at the appropriateness; but, after all her meek face had in it much of the serenity of midsummer moonlight, and I could not but admire its earnestness and purity.” ~ Letter from Mrs. H.M. T reprinted in The Liberator. [Anne Knight, 1786– 1862, an English Quaker, spent her adult life as a feminist and abolitionist activist.]

April 23–Friday– New York City–David Low Dodge, merchant and peace activist, founder of the New York Peace Society and the New York Bible Society, dies at age 77. [For information about his life and work, see: Pacifism in the United States from the Colonial Era to the First World War (1968) by Peter Brock, pp 450-463, 466-471, 478-482.]



April 24– Saturday– Peoria, Illinois– Birth of Annis Bertha Ford Eastman, Congregational minister, feminist and scholar who will mother Crystal Eastman and Max Eastman. [Dies October 22, 1910.]

April 27– Cincinnati, Ohio– An anti-slavery convention opens today. Prominent participants include Frederick Douglass, George Washington Julian, Charles Calistus Burleigh and Reverend John G Fee.

April 29– Thursday– Rochester, New York– “Again, what but an approaching presidential election could have wrought a universal pledge of the Whig and Democratic parties to the policy, sanctity, and perpetuity of the Fugitive Slave Law and its kindred measures of compromise? Were there no such election at hand, who believes the people could have been induced to set forward candidates professedly for no other purpose but their fitness to sustain and continue those unconstitutional and infernal measures? At this moment the only issue between the Democratic and Whig parties, is, whether [Winfield] Scott, or [Daniel] Webster, or Fillmore, is a more suitable man than Cass, or [Stephen A] Douglas, or Marcy, or [James] Buchanan, &c., to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law upon the people of the North. The issue is not whether that like measures shall be continued, whether they are politic, just and wise, but which of the parties can furnish a president of the greatest ability to compel the people of the North to submit to them and obey them. We have no hesitation to say that this is the only issue between these great parties. They are both agreed to enforce these most humiliating and diabolical measures, and disagree only as to be the intellectual and physical force of their infernal materials. What has become of the Tariff question, the Bank question, the Land Distribution question, and all those questions which once agitated the country? All gone– gone forever; and the parties are rushing into the campaign for a popular vote on the question which is best qualified and disposed to pollute and oppress the North with pro-slavery sentiments and measures.” ~ Frederick Douglass’ Paper

April 30– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– Parker Pillsbury writes that “we have just closed a fatiguing and every way trying [anti-slavery] campaign in Maine. In Portland we had meetings of a truly cheering character. . . . we had some disturbance, though slight compared with what we often encounter. In Bath we good meetings, and found a few excellent and good friends.” ~ The Liberator.


Women’s History~ Mary C Wheelwright

Young Mary wheelwright-web

Mary C Wheelwright, c.1905


Mary Cabot Wheelwright, anthropologist, philanthropist and museum founder, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 2, 1878. She was her parents’ only child, born when her father Andrew was 51 and her mother Sarah was 42. Mary’s mother Sarah was a close friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and raised Mary in the religious liberalism of the Transcendentalists and the Unitarian Church. The family had substantial wealth from its Yankee trading origins. Although Andrew and Sarah took their daughter traveling through Europe, Egypt, and California, they were extremely protective. Mary had little formal education but read widely in things which interested her, including music and history. Although obliged to “knuckle under and do just what she was told,” she developed and held to her own strong opinions. She involved herself in social projects such as helping to develop a music school at a Boston settlement house. Her father died in 1908 and her mother in 1917, leaving Mary a small fortune in trust and the freedom to live the life she chose. In 1918, shortly before her 40th birthday, Mary Wheelwright arrived in the town of Alcalde, New Mexico, with her cousin, Evelyn Sears. Soon she was an enthusiastic Westerner, devoted to trail riding, camping, and convincing cowboys “that it was possible to be a good sport and also drink tea.” After becoming friends with Hasteen Klah, an esteemed Navaho “singer”, that is a traditional healer, she committed herself to the preservation of New Mexico’s historic and cultural Navaho legacies. In addition to founding the Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art in 1936-37 (now the Wheelwright Museum), Mary Wheelwright made significant contributions to the Indian Arts Fund, the New Mexico Historical Society, and the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. She bought a cottage on Sutton’s Island where she lived when not traveling in Europe, India or the western United States. When a book of ballads collected in Maine was about to be published without the tunes, she brought a musicologist to gather the music and thereby enriched the publication at her own expense. Becoming friends with Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, she helped to fund Ms Eckstorm’s work in the preservation of history and culture of Native American people in Maine. Ms Wheelwright died at Sutton’s Island on July 19, 1958.


Wheelwright Museum


For more information about her, see: Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement Six, 1956– 1960 (1980) pp 687-88; her own incomplete draft of an autobiography entitled “Journey Towards Understanding” can be found in A Quilt of Words: Letters & Original Accounts of Life in the Southwest, 1860– 1960 (1988) compiled by Sharon Niederman. No book length biography has yet been written. Her papers can be found at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

wheelwright historical marker--0fe7_l

The Buzz~January, 1860


January 1–Sunday– Troy, New York– Local vigilance members, including several black women, gather at the federal commissioner’s office and lead a crowd against the officers holding Charles Nalle, a fugitive slave from Virginia, and spirit him away to safety.

January 2–Monday– Ellington, New York–Mrs Brooks of the local Anti-slavery Society writes to William Still of Philadelphia. “Enclosed are $2.00, to pay freightage on the box of bedding, wearing apparel, etc., that has been sent to your address. It has been thought best to send you a schedule of the contents of said box. Trusting it will be acceptable, and be the means of assisting the poor fugitive on his perilous way, you have the prayers of our Society, that you may be prospered in your work of mercy, and you surely will meet with your reward according to your merciful acts.” [Today her $2 gift would equal $54.10.]


William Still


January 2–Monday– Columbus, Ohio– In his annual message to the state legislature, Governor Salmon P Chase [1808– 1873], in his second term in office, responds to Virginia Governor Henry Wise’s [1806– 1876] condemnation of northern encouragement of slave revolts. Chase denounces any incitement to violence but lays most of the blame for disturbances in the slave states, following John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry, on southerners themselves, and Chase goes on to condemn the southern arrests of strangers and organized demonstrations against northern neighbors. [Chase will become a member of Lincoln’s Cabinet and later Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court; Wise will become a general in the Confederate army.]

January 2–Monday– Sacramento, California– The state legislature convenes with a narrow Democratic majority. The pro-southern wing of the California Democratic Party has done well in the election. However, even as the new session begins the Democrats are showing signs of a developing split among themselves over the question of slavery.

January 4–Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– The state Democratic Party Convention meets to select delegates for the upcoming national convention in Charleston, South Carolina. They charge those selected to make sure the Party’s platform resists all federal regulations concerning slavery in the western territories and to support Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois as the official Democratic Party nominee.

January 4–Wednesday– Chicago, Illinois– Abolitionist John Hossack and seven other residents of Ottawa, Illinois are indicted under the Fugitive Slave Law for assisting the escape of a Missouri fugitive on October 29, 1859.

January 5–Thursday– Paris, France– Emperor Napoleon III orders a series of free trade reforms in France with the immediate removal of custom’s duties on wool and cottons and a gradual reduction in other items, including sugar.

January 6– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “We have asserted, on another occasion, that, morally speaking, the South is one vast Bedlam on the subject of slavery, and the slaveholders lunatics. In demonstration of the truthfulness of this charge, read Governor Wise’s harangue to the squad of medical students who recently left Philadelphia in great dudgeon because freedom of speech was protected by the city authorities, and whose presence has always been a curse and a poisonous contagion to that city. Did Bedlam ever exhibit any thing more ludicrous or more incoherent: Such a person as Governor Wise, in Massachusetts, would be deemed a fit candidate for the asylum at Worcester.” ~ The Liberator.

January 6–Friday– Vienna, Austria– Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary issues the first of a series of edicts lifting restrictions against Jews throughout the Empire.

January 8– Sunday– Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky– Birth of Nancy Jones, African American missionary for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). She will graduate from Fisk University and become the first unmarried black woman commissioned by the ABCFM, serving in Mozambique from 1888 to 1893 and later in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) from 1893 to 1897. [Her death date is unknown.]

January 8–Sunday– London, England– Birth of Emma Booth, the fourth child and second daughter of William and Catherine Booth, who will soon found the Salvation Army. She will become one of her father’s key advisors and will lead operations in the United States for several years. [Dies October 28, 1903.]


Emma Booth


January 9–Monday– Frankfort, Kentucky– The state Democratic Party convention opens today with generally moderate discussion. Participants voice support for slavery and remaining loyal to the Union. The delegates elected to the national convention are committed to native son James Guthrie, who supports the Dred Scott decision, states’ rights, and adherence to the Union.

January 10–Tuesday– Lawrence, Massachusetts–Due to faulty construction, the Pemberton Mill building collapses, killing or injuring 270 workers, mostly women and young girls. As rescue workers try to free the trapped workers, fire erupts in the debris, adding to the number of dead.

January 11– Wednesday–Albany, New York–Workers form the Iron Molders Union of America.

January 11–Wednesday– New York City–George Templeton Strong writes in his diary about yesterday’s industrial accident in Lawrence, Massachusetts. “Of course, nobody will be hanged. Somebody has murdered about two hundred people, many of them with hideous torture, in order to save money, but society has no avenging gibbet for the respectable millionaire and homicide. Of course not.”

January 11–Wednesday– Montgomery, Alabama– The state Democratic Convention opens its four day meeting controlled by advocates of states’ rights. William L Yancey, one of the Southern fire-eaters, gives an important speech. The meeting will end by endorsing a series of resolutions that defend slavery in the western territories, affirm the Dred Scott decision, and threaten a withdrawal from the national convention should these demands not be met.

January 13– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “A public meting of the citizen of Marlborough (Massachusetts) was convened in the town hall on Friday evening, Dec. 2, to express their sentiments respecting the execution of John Brown, and their sympathy with his affected family. The meeting was called to order by O. W. Albee, principal of [the old Gates Academy] High School Mr. Howe was chosen Chairman, and Wm. F. Brigham, Secretary. Mr. Howe a made a few remarks on the event that had called the people together, and then called on Mr. Albee to address the meeting. Mr. A. responded by referring to the tragic event of to-day, and then passed to a review of the aggression of the Slave Power, and their affect on such minds as his who bad that day passed to heaven from a Virginia gallows. John Brown could not have been true to his convictions of right and duty, and have done or suffered less. He said he (Brown) was a believer in the Old Testament as well as in the New, and believed in gunpowder as well as in prayer; and, acting up to this standard, he inevitably must meet such an end. Mr. A. would not argue that all his actions were judicious; but, viewed from Brown’s standpoint, he saw a heroism and an unselfishness rarely equaled, and never surpassed, in history. Charles Brigham expressed his deep sorrow for so painful an event, and expressed a determination to be more devoted to the cause of freedom than he had heretofore been. Rev. Mr. Wakefield, of Feltonville, was the next speaker; and for more than thirty minutes he spoke with a fervor and eloquence rarely surpassed– portraying the wrongs of the slave, the outrages inflicted upon Kansas, the stirring scenes through which Brown and his compeers had passed, and the terrible destiny that awaits this guilty nation, and the certainty that disunion and bloodshed must be the final result. . . . . A collection was taken for the family of Brown, and the meeting closed.” ~ The Liberator.

January 14–Saturday–Sacramento, California– Democrat Milton Latham [1827– 1882]resigns as governor after only taking office five days ago. He leaves the governorship to take the unexpired U S Senate seat of David Broderick. Broderick died September 16, 1859, from a gunshot received in a duel with the former chief justice of the California supreme court. [John Downey (1827– 1894) takes over the office of governor; Latham will serve one term in the Senate.]

January 15– Sunday– Springfield, Illinois– Abraham Lincoln writes to a colleague about the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. “I said . . . in substance, and have often said, I think Congress has constitutional power to enact a Fugitive slave law; that the law of 1850 appears to me objectionable in some of its provisions; but whether it is unconstitutional in any of it’s provisions, I do not remember that I have ever undertaken to decide. I should be glad to see you, and to talk with you more fully than I can write.”

January 15–Sunday–Buffalo, New York– Birth of Katherine Bement Davis, social reformer and penologist. [Dies December 10, 1935.]


January15–Sunday– New Orleans, Louisiana–In response to an invitation from Fabre Nicholas Geffrard, President of Haiti, eighty-one free black persons set sail for a new life in Haiti as immigrants.

January 16– Monday– Washington, D.C.–The forty-third annual meeting of the American Colonization Society, founded by slave-holders in 1816 to encourage free black people to move to West Africa, opens at the Smithsonian Institution under its president, John Latrobe, age 56, a lawyer, engineer, inventor, author and artist from Baltimore, Maryland. The membership hears reports on the current state of Liberia and a variety of speeches. A Mr N. G. Taylor of Tennessee notes that the recent efforts in some states to expel free black people means that the society should redouble its efforts by providing a safe haven in Liberia.

January 17– Tuesday– Baton Rouge, Louisiana– In a farewell message, former governor Robert Wickliffe [1819– 1895] denounces Northern anti-slavery criticism and calls for Southern economic self-defense. The North, he says, is a “dependent” economy and “if the cotton crop of the South were to fail, for a single year, there would not be a solvent bank capitalist, manufacturer, or ship owner in the entire North.”

January 17– Tuesday– Castlerea, County Roscommon, Ireland– Birth of Douglas Hyde, educator and Gaelic scholar who will serve as the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945. [Dies July 12, 1949.]


Douglas Hyde


January 18–Wednesday– Meriden, Connecticut– About 300 businessmen attending the state Convention of Manufacturers divide into Republican and Democratic factions in heated debate about the upcoming elections. Eventually the Democrats walk out and hold their meeting in another location.

January 18–Wednesday– San Francisco, California–Today’s edition of the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin complains about the laxity of the eight-year-old San Quentin prison and the way the prison staff allows “trusty” prisoners freedom to roam. “Grand Juries have repeatedly presented this defiance of the statute on the part of the prison authorities, by allowing certain trusty inmates to go at large before the expiration of the time of the sentence. It is time to stop the practice. Otherwise abolish the State Prison, and the expensive luxury of convicting culprits who are to range the streets at will and make conviction popular among rogues.”

January 19–Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “We are gratified to announce that the Council or Senate of Nebraska Territory has retraced its steps, and has passed an act for the exclusion of slavery from that Territory. Some weeks ago, the Council rejected a bill from the House of Representatives having the same object in view; but subsequently a Democratic member reconsidered the matter, and a new bill was brought in and adopted. It was immediately sent to the House, and met the approbation of that body; so that if it is approved by the Federal Governor, Mr. Black, who was appointed from Pennsylvania by Mr. Buchanan, it will become a law. But a veto, we are sorry to learn, is expected. This act of abolishing slavery by a Territorial Government is perhaps the first assertion of ‘popular sovereignty’ against the wishes of the President and the decision of the Dred Scott case. The moral effect of the victory will enure to the Republicans, to whom it belongs, since they introduced the subject, and pressed it upon the attention of the Legislature. It is true that the Legislature is Democratic in both its branches, but the party drill was compelled to give way before the moral pressure. . . . . The squatter [pro-slavery] sovereigns have a right to do right, but not a right to do wrong. All honor to Nebraska. In two years, if not sooner, she will be knocking at the doors of Congress for admission into the Union as a free Republican State.” ~ The National Era.

January 19–Thursday– Springfield, Illinois–Abraham Lincoln answers a letter from recently retired Congressman Alexander Stephens of Georgia. Lincoln details his own position on slavery and his understanding of states rights and the federal constitution. There is, Lincoln asserts, “no loop hole left for nullification, and none for secession– because the right of peaceable assembly and of petition and by article Fifth of the Constitution, the right of amendment, is the Constitutional substitute for revolution. Here is our Magna Carta not wrested by Barons from King John, but the free gift of states to the nation they create and in the very amendments harped upon by states rights men are proposed by the Federal congress and approved by Presidents, to make the liberties of the Republic of the West forever sure. All of the States’ Rights which they wished to retain are now and forever retained in the Union, including slavery; and so I have sworn loyalty to this constitutional union, and for it let me live or let me die. But you say that slavery is the corner stone of the south and if separated, would be that of a new Republic; God forbid. When a boy I went to New Orleans on a flat boat and there I saw slavery and slave markets as I have never seen them in Kentucky . . . . I hoped and prayed that the gradual emancipation plan . . .might lead to its extinction in the United States.”

January 20–Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “I called at 24 Portland Place, the office of the American Minister, Hon. Mr. Dallas, with my passport which I had obtained before leaving the United States. I asked to have it vised for the purpose of going to Paris. The Secretary said I was not a citizen of the United States, and he could not sign it. I informed him that I was a citizen of Salem in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts, acknowledged my citizenship and the fact of my having the passport was a proof of my citizenship. The Secretary still refused to sign it, and said I ought to be satisfied with his refusal. During the conversation, I turned to my sister and said, ‘Thank God we are in a country where our rights are respected, and I have no doubt we can obtain passports which will take us to France.’ This remark called froth from the gentlemanly Secretary this reply, ‘If you do not cease this conversation, I will have you put out of this house.’ Most earnestly would I ask all who read this letter to judge what the spirit of a country is that will allow such treatment to its citizens, the spirit which enslaves four million of men and women, and insults the free colored population of the United States? You may read the facts, but no words can express the mental suffering we are obliged to bear because we happen to have a dark complexion. No language can give one an idea of the spirit of prejudice which exists in the States.” ~ a letter from Sarah Parker Remond, age 44, African American abolitionist agent working in London, England, printed in today’s issue of The Liberator. [The American Minister she had to deal with was George Mifflin Dallas, (1792– 1864) a career diplomat and lawyer, conservative, pro-slavery, defender of illegal international slave trade, vehemently anti-abolitionist. Lincoln will replace him with Charles Francis Adams.]


Sarah Parker Remond


January 21– Saturday– Klara, Sweden– Birth of Karl Staaff, lawyer, liberal politician, advocate of universal suffrage who will serve as Sweden’s Prime Minister from 1905 to 1906 and again from 1911 to 1914. [Dies October 4, 1915.]

January 23–Monday– Paris, France– Great Britain and France sign the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty, which substantially liberalizes trade between the two countries. The treaty is less popular in France than in Britain and weakens the popularity of Napoleon III.

January 26– Thursday– Brookline, Massachusetts– Eliza Lee Cabot Follen, abolitionist, author and editor, dies at 73 years of age from typhus fever.

January 26–Thursday– Coburg, Germany– Wilhelmine Schroeder-Devrient, opera soprano who was known for her dramatic intensity, dies at age 55. She participated in the Revolutions of 1848 and spent some time in prison for her activism. She had three short-lived marriages. In 1872 Richard Wagner will dedicate his essay “On Actors and Singers” to her memory.

January 27– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “No one who knows me, or who has read my writings, Can be doubtful for a moment as to my position– Utter abhorrence of war, and of slavery as in itself a State of war, where the violence is all on one side. The pledge which we gave to the world at Philadelphia, twenty-six years ago, when we signed the Declaration of Sentiments, fresh from thy pen, that We would reject ourselves, and entreat the oppressed To reject the use of all carnal weapons for deliverance From bondage; that we admitted the sovereignty of the State over the subject of slavery within their limits; and that we were under high moral obligations to use, for the promotion of our cause, moral and political action as prescribed in the Constitution of the United States, we have since reiterated in a thousand forms, and on as many occasions. I have seen no reason to doubt the wisdom of that pledge. Slavery was just what it is now, neither better nor Worse, when we made it. If it is right and proper Now to use forcible means in behalf of the slave, it was right and proper then. If it be said that Old Testament Christians are not bound by our pledges, and that we are at liberty to applauded them in appeals To the sword, I can only say that I dare not encourage others who have not my scruples to do what I regard as morally wrong. . . . . I am painfully sensible of many errors of feeling and judgment, but my conscience bears me witness that I have, at least, honestly striven to be faithful alike to Freedom and Peace. That this is thy own earnest Desire I have as little doubt.” ~ letter from the Quaker poet, pacifist and abolitionist, John Greenleaf Whittier to his old friend William Lloyd Garrison, in their on-going discussion about John Brown’s resort to violence to free slaves, printed in today’s issue of The Liberator.


John Greenleaf Whittier


January 27–Friday– Washington–Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts writes to his friend, John Greenleaf Whittier, that tensions are so high in the city that foreign “diplomats cannot give a dinner without studying their lists as a protocol.” They are obliged to invite American guests by the section of the country from which they come.

January 29–Sunday– Paris, France– Emperor Napoleon III issues an imperial decree closing The Univers, a Catholic newspaper which supported the Pope in the increasing conflict between the French government and the Papacy.

January 29–Sunday– Nice, France–Stephanie Louise Adrienne de Beauharnais dies at age 70. From 1811 to 1818, she was the consort of Karl, Grand Duke of Baden, during which time she bore him five children. After the Duke’s death, she remained a widow. For many years her salon in Mannheim was important to and popular with artists and intellectuals.

January 29– Sunday– Rome, Italy– Pope Pius IX visits the newly opened Pontifical North American College which began only December 8, 1859, to train American men for ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood.

January 30– Monday– Savannah, Georgia– The Savannah News claims that there really has been violence in Canada between black people and white people, despite abolitionist denials. “It is easier to believe that vagabond free Negroes and the equally mean white people who harbor them, would fall to fighting each other, than to believe a respectable newspaper capable of fabricating such wholesale falsehood.”

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.

In the swamp in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary the thrush,
The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat,
Death’s outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
If thou wast not granted to sing thou wouldst surely die.)

Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep’d
from the ground, spotting the gray debris,
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the
endless grass,
Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the
dark-brown fields uprisen,
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards,
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.

Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop’d flags with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves as of crape-veil’d women standing,
With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the
unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong
and solemn,
With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour’d around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—where amid these
you journey,
With the tolling tolling bells’ perpetual clang,
Here, coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac.

(Nor for you, for one alone,
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring,
For fresh as the morning, thus would I chant a song for you O sane
and sacred death.

All over bouquets of roses,
O death, I cover you over with roses and early lilies,
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes,
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you and the coffins all of you O death.)

O western orb sailing the heaven,
Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk’d,
As I walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,
As you droop’d from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the
other stars all look’d on,)
As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something I know not
what kept me from sleep,)
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you
were of woe,
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night,
As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black
of the night,
As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.

Sing on there in the swamp,
O singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear your call,
I hear, I come presently, I understand you,
But a moment I linger, for the lustrous star has detain’d me,
The star my departing comrade holds and detains me.

O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love?

Sea-winds blown from east and west,
Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till
there on the prairies meeting,
These and with these and the breath of my chant,
I’ll perfume the grave of him I love.

O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,
To adorn the burial-house of him I love?
Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes,
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright,
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking
sun, burning, expanding the air,
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves
of the trees prolific,
In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a
wind-dapple here and there,
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky,
and shadows,
And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys,
And all the scenes of life and the workshops, and the workmen
homeward returning.

Lo, body and soul—this land,
My own Manhattan with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides,
and the ships,
The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light,
Ohio’s shores and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies cover’d with grass and corn.

Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty,
The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes,
The gentle soft-born measureless light,
The miracle spreading bathing all, the fulfill’d noon,
The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.

Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird,
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes,
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.

Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.

O liquid and free and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul—O wondrous singer!
You only I hear—yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,)
Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.

Now while I sat in the day and look’d forth,
In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring, and
the farmers preparing their crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb’d winds and the storms,)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the
voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sail’d,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy
with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with
its meals and minutia of daily usages,
And the streets how their throbbings throbb’d, and the cities pent—
lo, then and there,
Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping me with the rest,
Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail,
And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.

Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding the hands of
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not,
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars and ghostly pines so still.

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv’d me,
The gray-brown bird I know receiv’d us comrades three,
And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love.

From deep secluded recesses,
From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still,
Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol rapt me,
As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night,
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.

Come lovely and soothing death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later delicate death.

Prais’d be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,
And for love, sweet love—but praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.

Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.

Approach strong deliveress,
When it is so, when thou hast taken them I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss O death.

From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feastings for thee,
And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread shy are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night in silence under many a star,
The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know,
And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil’d death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

Over the tree-tops I float thee a song,
Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the
prairies wide,
Over the dense-pack’d cities all and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee O death.

To the tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night.

Loud in the pines and cedars dim,
Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume,
And I with my comrades there in the night.

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,
As to long panoramas of visions.

And I saw askant the armies,
I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags,
Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierc’d with missiles I saw them,
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody,
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in silence,)
And the staffs all splinter’d and broken.

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,
I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war,
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not,
The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d,
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d,
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.

Passing the visions, passing the night,
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands,
Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul,
Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling,
flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again
bursting with joy,
Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,
Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring.

I cease from my song for thee,
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.

Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe,
With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep, for
the dead I loved so well,
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands—and this for
his dear sake,
Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.


This poem is one of several that Walt Whitman wrote in honor President Lincoln after the President’s murder. it was published in 1865. It is my personal favorite and I think it one of Whitman’s best poems.

Fight For Charleston! ~ January 1865 ~ 21st to 24th

Fight for Charleston!

Dozens of women in Charleston, South Carolina, call on their men to fight the Yankees to the death. An exchanged Confederate prisoner reports that morale is high among rebel soldiers in Northen prison camps. Yet another soldier writes to his wife that desertions from the Confederate ranks are increasing and morale is low. A Tennessee woman notes that the war is demoralizing every body. Like other Northerners, George Templeton Strong sees the end of slavery as necessary to re-establishment of the Union. Whitman has a job in Washington.

slave auction

slave auction

January 21– Saturday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “It has been a long time since I have seen or heard from you, and I suppose that you have nearly forgotten me, but if you will think back you will remember a man by my name, whom you met in Carver Hospital Washington D. C. where we met then the first time. I never expected to be able to write you a line in the year 1865, but I have been spared for some other purpose I suppose. And now you will please accept my thanks for all the favors that you have shown me while lying then unable to help myself. Lieutenant Babcock has this morning recd a letter from Lieutenant Caldwell. Caldwell and all the rest of our officers are in Danville Military Prison Virginia, he mentions Major Wright, Captain Whitman . . . [and others] they are all doing well, & all they ask for is for something to eat, Hard Bread and Pork, or anything that can be sent them, and as it is impossible for us to get them anything how I hope some of you good people at home will try and do something for them. Lieutenant Babcock has shown me a memorial of the Old 51st and if you could possibly send me a few copies I would be very much obliged to you for your trouble. Once more allow me to thank you for your kindness toward me while in Hospital.” ~ Letter from Union officer Aaron Smith to Walt Whitman with news of Whitman’s brother George.

January 21– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– According to an article in today’s Richmond Times Dispatch the state of Georgia had16,000 slaves in 1776 and 381,682 slaves in 1850.

January 21– Saturday– Charleston, South Carolina– “From Colonel M. L. Woods, of the 46th Alabama regiment, who has just returned from imprisonment in the North, in which he remained for twenty months, we learn that there are now in the prison camp on Johnson Island, three thousand Confederate officers and two hundred private soldiers. For the first six or eight months after Colonel Weeds reached Johnson island, the prisoners were treated well. . . . What is most important, however, concerning our prisoners, is the spirit which animates them. They were never more enthusiastic in their patriotism, and were never more determined to fight through the war than now. They authorized Colonel Woods to say to the President and the Confederate Congress that, in the reorganization of the army, which they anticipated, any claims which they might have as officers should be entirely disregarded. They are perfectly willing to shoulder their muskets and march in the ranks of the army. The general spirit of Confederate prisoners – privates as well as officers – throughout the North, was undaunted and determined; and whilst a large number of soldiers are reported to have taken the oath of allegiance to the United States, Colonel Woods knows that the number is not only grossly exaggerated, but that a large number who do take the oath only do so to enable them to get out of the clutches of their keepers and return to the Confederacy.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

johnson island index01

January 21– Saturday– somewhere in southeast South Carolina– “I see the citizens of Savannah has held a Union meeting and passed resolutions in favor of going back into the Union. They say they are going to send one copy to the Mayor of Augusta, one to the Mayor of Atlanta, one to Macon, one to Columbus and one to the President of the United States. I suppose they treat them very well in Savannah! I had the chance of [a] lieutenant position the other day and would not accept it. All I want is to get out of this war. Sallie, when you write me let me know the people’s notions at home about the war. Let me know what your notions are. I will tell you what mine are: I am whipped. Sallie, we are a ruined people. There is no chance for us. Good many of our regiments are deserting. They are in low spirits. Tom Sanders from our county has deserted, but I don’t think I will ever desert. I will stay with them until the war ends or they kill me. I think the best thing we can do is to go back into the Union. The Negroes are certain to be set free. Sallie, we have done all that we can. That’s my notion, Sallie. Remember me in this dark hour of trial.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife Sallie.

Federal ambulances

Federal ambulances

January 21– Saturday– Albany, Georgia– “I never in all my life knew such furious rains as we had last night; it seemed as if the heavens themselves were falling upon us. In addition to the uproar among the elements, my slumbers were disturbed by frightful dreams about Garnett. Twice during the night I dreamed that he was dead and in a state of corruption, and I couldn’t get anybody to bury him. Colonel Avery and Captain Mackall were somehow mixed up in the horrid vision, trying to help me, but powerless to do so. In the morning, when we waked, I found that Metta also had dreamed of Garnett’s death. I am not superstitious, but I can’t help feeling more anxious than usual to hear news of my darling brother. The rain held up about dinner time and Mrs. Sims determined to return to Albany, in spite of high waters and the threatening aspect of the sky. We went five miles out of our way to find a place where we could ford Wright’s Creek, and even there the water was almost swimming. Mett and I were frightened out of our wits, but Mrs. Sims told us to shut our eyes and trust to Providence, and Providence and Uncle Aby between them brought us through in safety. At some places in the woods, sheets of water full half a mile wide and from one to two feet deep were running across the road, on their way to swell the flood in Flint River. Sister sent a Negro before us on a mule to see if the water-courses were passable. We had several bad scares, but reached town in safety a little after dark.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

January 21 – Saturday– Paris, France– Joseph Xavier Boniface Saintine, novelist and dramatist, dies at age 66.


January 21– Saturday– Helsinki, Finland– The painter Johan Erik Lindh dies at 71 years of age.

January 22– Sunday– New York City– “I have faith in Uncle Abe’s sagacity and honesty and in Stanton’s vindictiveness. They favor no pacification that leaves the sources of this war still open and the Slaveocracy in existence to recover its strength and rebel a second time. They know that peace and union cannot be secured without utterly squelching slavery and slaveholders.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

January 22– Sunday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “The war seems to be demoralizing every body. . . . Some of the very nicest girls of this county are throwing themselves, their honor and good name away, losing control over fiendish passions, ruining themselves forever in the eyes of the world. Oh will people never be brought to their senses!” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.

January 22– Sunday– Albany, Georgia– “The rains returned with double fury in the night and continued all day. If ‘the stars in their courses fought against Sisera,’ it looks as if the heavens were doing as much for us against Kilpatrick and his raiders. There was no service at St. Paul’s, so Mrs. Sims kept Metta and me in the line of duty by reading aloud High Church books to us. They were very dull, so I didn’t hurt myself listening. After dinner we read the Church service and sang hymns until relieved by a call from our old friend, Captain Hobbs.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

January 22– Sunday– Schwerin, Germany– Birth of Friedrich Paschen, educator and physicist. [Dies February 25, 1947.]

Friedrich Paschen

Friedrich Paschen

January 23– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia, That our senators in congress be instructed, and our representatives requested, to cast their votes in favor of the proposed amendment to the constitution of the United States for the abolishment of slavery.” ~ Resolution passed by the state legislature.

January 23– Monday– Paris, France– The painter Joseph Desire Court dies at 67 years of age.

woman on a couch by Joseph Desire Court

woman on a couch by Joseph Desire Court

January 24– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Several members of the Cabinet, with myself, considered the question, to-day, as to the time of your coming on here. While we fully appreciate your wish to remain in Tennessee until her State government shall be completely re-inaugurated, it is our unanimous conclusion that it is unsafe for you to not be here on the 4th of March. Be sure to reach here by that time.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to Andrew Johnson.

January 24– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “You are hereby appointed to a Clerkship of the first class in the Office of Indian Affairs, of this Department, the salary of which is $1200 per annum, to commence when you have subscribed the enclosed oath, and entered upon duty.” ~ Letter from William T. Otto to Walt Whitman.

January 24– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– “We beg, through your columns, to address, the General commanding South Carolina, and the Governor of this State. We, women of Charleston, not enthusiastic girls, but women whose hair has whitened through the anguish of this awful war, whose husbands, sons, brothers, have died for South Carolina and Charleston, entreat to be heard. We would say that we have listened, with grief and horror inexpressible, to the hints of abandoning to our foes, without a struggle, the city of our love. We urge, by all our titles to regard; we implore, as the greatest boon, fight for Charleston! Fight at every point – fight for every inch, and if our men must die, let them die amid the blazing ruins of our homes, their souls rising upward on the flames which save our city from the pollution of our enemy. Send out the women and children yet in the city. Thousands of Charleston women scattered through the land will share with them their all. They shall not starve. But let them be no excuse for deserting the sacred homes of us and our ancestors. . . . By the rain of blood and tears, which has fallen upon our hearts, never quenching, but brightening the flame of patriotism there, do not utterly crush those true hearts by this blow. We know, each of us, our husbands, our brothers, our sons, are not shrinking now. They are chafing at this fatal policy of retreat. They who have won their fame from the Savannah river to Charleston harbor, they ask but leave to fight on as they have fought. Do you but lead them on, not keep them back. We call upon the Commanding General to stand by us, to fight with us, heart and soul. We call upon our Governor, sworn to defend Carolina and her honor, to defend it here. Let the mantle of the dictator fall upon him, and if Charleston, defended to the hour, must then fall amidst her burning edifices and her homes – either to the sound of guns of our forts, as they send out their last defiance to the baffled foe.” ~ Letter signed by dozens of women to the editor of the Charleston Mercury.

Confederate women

Confederate women

January 24– Tuesday– Albany, Georgia– “Mr. and Mrs. Welsh spent the evening with us. Jim Chiles came last night and sat until the chickens crowed for day. Although I like Jimmy and enjoy his budget of news, I would enjoy his visits more if he knew when to go away. I never was so tired and sleepy in my life, and cold, too, for we had let the fire go out as a hint. When at last we went to our room I nearly died laughing at the way Metta had maneuvered to save time. She had loosened every button and string that she could get at without being seen, while sitting in the parlor, and had now only to give herself a good shake and she was ready for bed. We spent the morning making calls with Mrs. Sims, and found among the refugees from South Carolina a charming old lady, Mrs. Brisbane. Though past fifty, she is prettier than many a woman of half her years, and her manners would grace a court. Her father was an artist of note, and she showed us some beautiful pictures painted by him. After dinner we enjoyed some Florida oranges sent by Clinton Spenser, and they tasted very good, in the absence of West India fruit.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Worst Specimens of These Wretched Politicians~August 1864~13th & 14th

Worst Specimens of These Wretched Politicians ~ Gideon Welles.

Lincoln’s reelection looks doubtful to many. His Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, rails against wretched politicians, especially those opposed to the President. In response to the recent burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Lincoln encourages Grant to negotiate with Lee to end such destruction of civilian properties. A popular actress raises money for the Sanitary Commission. A friend writes to Walt Whitman, expressing worry about the military and the political situations. Soldiers write of their concerns. Citizens in Georgia are fretful. Things in Haiti seem to be improved while trouble continues in Mexico.

Charlotte Cushman

Charlotte Cushman

August 13– Saturday– New York City– “Will you call the attention of your readers generally, and of the friends of Miss Charlotte Cushman particularly, to the testimonial of appreciation of her worth, remarkable genius and patriotic liberality, which is about to be sent from our shores to her in her distant home at Rome. Some of the leading artists of New York, Boston and Philadelphia, united in furnishing sketches for an album, containing in all about fifty paintings in oil and water, which was contributed by them to the great Central Fair, recently held in the latter city for the Sanitary Commission, with the understanding that the volume, valued at $1,500, should be subscribed for by the friends of Miss Cushman in these three cities and be presented to her through the Fair. About $700 were raised in Philadelphia, about $500 in Boston; but as yet only $100 has been received from NewYork. A check for $100 from San Francisco was sufficient to pay the expenses incurred in binding, which work was beautifully executed in green, gold and ivory – a very gem of art. We think that it cannot be generally known to the friends of Miss Cushman in New York that the subscription book which contains the autograph names of subscribers, is at the rooms of the Sanitary Commission, No. 10 Cooper Union; or the delay in filling up the amount would not have been so great.” ~ New York Times ~ letter from Henry W. Bellows, President of the United States Sanitary Commission. [Charlotte Cushman, a famous actress between 1836 and 1852, age 48 at this time, achieved great fame in England as well as in the United States, performing a variety of roles, including assuming more than 30 male roles and giving a performance before Queen Victoria and the Royal Family in 1848. Her success enabled her to amass a fortune, stop performing in 1852 and divide her time between London and Rome. Since 1857 the sculptor Emma Stebbins has been her close companion. She came out of semi-retirement in 1863 to raise money for the Sanitary Commission. Cushman dies February 18, 1876.]

Charlotte Cushman as Romeo

Charlotte Cushman as Romeo

August 13– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Had some talk with Senator Lot Morrill, who is a good deal excited, not to say alarmed. The slow progress of our armies, the mismanagement of military affairs exemplified in the recent raids, the factious and discontented spirit manifested by Wade, Winter Davis, and others, have generated a feeling of despondency in which he participates. Others express to me similar feelings. There is no doubt a wide discouragement prevails, from the causes adverted to, and others which have contributed. A want of homogeneity exists among the old Whigs, who are distrustful and complaining. It is much more natural for them to denounce than to approve, to pull down than to build up. Their leaders and their followers, to a considerable extent, have little confidence in themselves or their cause, and hence it is a ceaseless labor with them to assail the Administration of which they are professed supporters. The worst specimens of these wretched politicians are in New York City and State, though they are to be found everywhere. There is not an honest, fair-dealing Administration journal in New York City. A majority of them profess to be Administration, and yet it is without sincerity.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles. [Senator Morrill, age 52, former governor of Maine, has served in the Senate since 1861. He favors freeing all slaves and supports Lincoln’s moderation for dealing with the South after the war.]

Senator Lot Morrill

Senator Lot Morrill

August 13– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I am enraged and ashamed of myself to have never sent you a word responsive to your letters of July 5th and 24th.Believe that I have thought of you much, however, and for the last fortnight I have talked of you incredibly, saying superb things all the time, to Mr. Channing whom you know, and to Miss Griffith whom perhaps you have not heard of. She is a handsome and heroic Kentucky girl, who several years ago impoverished herself by liberating her slaves (seven of them, I think) and then came North to live, the South being hateful to her on account of slavery. She lives in New York, but has come on here for a time and is staying with her sister in Georgetown. She had heard much of you and was anxious to hear about you from me, whom she likes (of course!!!). So I told her much, painting you as the gigantesque angel of valor, compassion and poetry that you are, and reciting moreover all the splendid passages from your book that I could remember; besides numerous excerpts from your forthcoming volume! This, you see, involved considerable conversation about you and you must admit that I have kept you well in mind. . . . The heat of the last fortnight has been fearful, but tonight, thank goodness, there has been a rattling thunderstorm, flash and crash, with a deluge of rain, and the moon now shines through broken clouds on an earth drenched and cool. It was such rain as we have often seen here from my windows, only this time I saw it all alone. . . . Alas, Walt! There is no hope of Richmond. The campaign has proved a failure. Everything shows that Grant is coming back and the next fighting will probably be in the Shenandoah Valley if not in Ohio or Pennsylvania. It is sad to think of the eighty thousand men, veteran, lost so fruitlessly. I think Mr. Lincoln’s chances for the next presidency are very small. Victory at Atlanta is possible and may save him, but the signs are that the party will withdraw him and run some other man. I see New York had one of her oceanic meetings for McClellan lately. I fear he will be our next President.” ~ Letter from William D. O’Connor to Walt Whitman.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

August 13– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “My health continues good and we are still here at the same place, getting along about as usual with the exception that our beef rations have stopped which hurts pretty bad. The weather is very warm and dry and there is a good deal of sickness. Ed Jordan is very sick, I fear dangerously sick. I think he has the typhoid fever. He is not in his right mind half his time. He is at the Brigade Hospital back in the woods about a mile from here. I went to see him yesterday. I think his wife ought to come or send somebody to see about him. There is no war news atall scarcely stirring here. They still shell and skirmish in front of Petersburg and there was some shelling on our left this morning.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

August 13– Saturday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Soldiers just riding up with their Horses loaded with bundles of corn Stalks all in tassels, a daily sight, and a sad one to see the corn crops almost ripe cut down and destroyed, to leave the poor farmers in want another year, but the Horses must have provender. Our Army did the same in cutting the Oat, Wheat & Corn crops– Famine or Want the attendant of an Army.” ~ Diary of William King.

cavalry raid typical of both sides

cavalry raid typical of both sides

August 13– Saturday– Andersonville, Georgia– A new source of fresh water for the prisoners in the camp unexpectedly gushes from the ground inside the stockade near the recently washed away portion of the west wall. This water will most likely save hundreds of lives and is believed by many of the prisoners to be an act of Divine Providence; thus the name given by the inmates– “Providence Spring.”

August 13– Saturday– Hurricane Creek, Mississippi; Palatka, Florida; near Fort Barrancas, Florida; along the north bank of the James River, east of Richmond, Virginia; Berryville, Virginia; near Strasburg, Virginia– Serious fighting, hard-hitting raids and bloody skirmishes.

August 13– Saturday– Port-au-Prince, Haiti– “The Haitian Senate has presented to President Geffrard a full statement of the condition of the Republic, showing a vast improvement in the moral and physical condition of its people, and containing, among other significant passages, the following: ‘It is evident that the happy results of the agricultural measures of 1863, the constantly increasing culture of cotton, and the activity of commercial affairs during the same year, prove that remunerative labor is increasing in our country, and that this state of things is the consequence of your (President Geffrard’s) administration. We learn with equal satisfaction that the financial situation is prosperous, and that the foreign debt is met with regularity. The Senate observes with satisfaction that the number of crimes has notably diminished, which proves, evidently, an amelioration of the manners of the people.’” ~ Dispatch from a journalist to the New York Times.

August 13– Saturday– Mexico City, Mexico– Reports from here say that Emperor Maximilian has arranged that in the event of his death the Empress Charlotte is to rule in his place.

Empress Charlotte of Mexico

Empress Charlotte of Mexico

August 13– Saturday– London, England–The first fish and chips shop opens.

August 14– Sunday– Johnson’s Island, Sandusky, Ohio– “Ira recently wrote me from West’s Building Hospital, Baltimore. His wound was doing well. Sanders was buried on the field at Monocacy Junction, his grave being carefully marked. I have not yet succeeded in tracing Egbert. Friends here and at Baltimore have written to the various prisons and hospitals of prisoners of war in the East and we will soon find him. The fact of his having sent me no letter or message should not be considered conclusive that he was wounded. He had no money, no stationery, no stamps, and may have met no person writing to friends at this place. It would be a crushing calamity should harm befall you in the army. I pray God may shield my father! I endeavor to look at our calamities in an unmurmuring spirit.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry Mc Daniel, in a Federal prison camp, to his father in Georgia.

Johnson's Island prison camp

Johnson’s Island prison camp

August 14– Monday– Anapolis, Maryland– As part of a limited prisoner exchange, 500 Union soldiers, mostly wounded and many of them officers, arrive from the South.

August 14– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “The Secretary of War and I concur that you had better confer with General Lee, and stipulate for a mutual discontinuance of house-burning and other destruction of private property. The time and manner of conference and particulars of stipulation we leave, on our part, to your convenience and judgment.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to Union General Grant.

General Robert E Lee

General Robert E Lee

August 14– Sunday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “We are getting Paid off to day. I draw . . . one hundred 20 dollars 10 cents. I’ll [send by] express 1 hundred 10 dollars and maybe fifteen dollars. I don’t want to keep so much money here. I send it to you and if you want to make use of it . . . you may get the Children what ever they want that is in the eating line . . . but you must be A little saving. I don’t know when we will be paid off again. I must stop now and go and get my money. It is a big pile but you shall have it all but five or six dollars and when that is all [spent] I’ll write for some more so I must go.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Jacob Middows to his mother Elizabeth.

August 14– Sunday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Another Sabbath has come, how rapidly time is passing away & now how it rejoices my often depressed spirits to know that if we all live & I get permission, after 9 more Sabbaths shall have been numbered with the past, I will be in the enjoyment of the society of my family & friends, God grant that I may then find them all alive & well and if we can only then be in the enjoyment of the Blessings of Peace in our afflicted country. The day is very pleasant, but still I have to remain at Home. This morning my young friend Evans again called & spent an hour with me. At 10 o’clock the Chaplain Mr. Griffith had services, his congregation did not exceed 150 attending– his services were short not even an hour– his sermon a good one on the necessity of the Reformation of our natural lives & dependence for the atonement of Christ for Salvation. I was surprised to see the small number attending the services, the most of the men on the outskirts– how little do men think of their duties to God and of the condition of their souls on the final day of accountability. Death & the great exposure to death, tend it seems to render men more thoughtless.” ~ Diary of William King.

To Honor Heroes~Lest We Forget


from “All Things Considered” on National Public Radio, broadcast on Thursday, July 18, 2013


The Shaw Memorial, by American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, stands11 feet by 14 feet, like a giant bronze diorama, on the corner of Boston Common.In it, 40 or so black soldiers march to war alongside their white colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, on horseback.The statue memorializes the firstAfrican-American volunteer infantry unit of the Civil War, the 54thMassachusetts Regiment, which was crushed 150 years ago Thursday in a battle atFort Wagner in South Carolina.”It shows in their stance, in their eyes, theirpride, and it shows them marching out of Boston for what they know is going to be a sea change in the history of their generation,” says Beverly Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African-American History in Boston.

In the 1989 film Glory, Massachusetts Gov. John Andrew,abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Shaw’s father introduce the watershed idea of a regiment of black soldiers. The Shaw Memorial is also cinematic it hasthe kind of movement you’d expect to see in the frame of a movie, says HenryDuffy, curator of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, N.H.,where the 19th century artist lived and worked. Another mammoth Shaw Memorial rises up from the estate’s well-groomed grounds. In the front, the procession is led by a drummer, but half the drum is outside the frame of the picture. In the back, the last soldier’s legs are cut off. It gives you a sense that there’s more happening both in front and behind. The meticulous Saint-Gaudens trained inParis. He was already world famous when a committee in Boston commissioned him to make a monument in 1883.”He was originally focusing just on Col. Shaw,” Duffy says, “and it was Shaw’s parents who told him, ‘No, if you’re going to do a monument to our son, you have to include his men, because he was dedicated to his men and the men have to be part of it.’ “A Haunting SacrificeRecruiting black soldiers was strategic and symbolic during the Civil War. The carnage was far worse than expected, and the Union needed more men. President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect in January 1863, enabled newly freed slaves to join. Shaw, the son of a wealthy Boston abolitionist, chose to fight with the 54th at Fort Wagner rather than command from the sidelines. Six hundred men stormed the fort; 272 died. Shaw, just 25 years old, was the first to fall, making him a hero to his surviving men and the rest of the Union. Duffy says he thinks the colonel’s sacrifice inspired Saint-Gaudens to the point of obsession. He was supposed to complete his commission in six months — instead he took 14 years.”It haunted him,” Duffy says. “I think he just couldn’t get it out of his mind.”


Even after installing the first sculpture in Boston, the artist continued to tinker with other versions for three more years. Finally, he stopped with the one at his home in New Hampshire.”I think, like Shaw himself, Saint-Gaudens had his eyes opened,” Duffy says. “He had never had much to do with black people, just like Shaw, so that when he had to do this he was faced with having to, for the first time in his life, I think, look at people and not stereotypes.”Saint-Gaudens sat for hours with black models in his studio. The realistic faces he captured have stirred people from the moment the Boston memorial was dedicated in 1897, including writer Henry James, poet Robert Lowell and composer Charles Ives.”[The] Shaw Memorial is the first time black Americans were ever portrayed in a work of sculpture as heroic,” says historian and Bostonian David McCullough, “otherwise they were background. But here they are the heroes who would, many of them, paythe ultimate price.”That’s one reason the Boston’s Black Heritage Trail walkingtour starts at Saint-Gauden’s memorial.




editorial notes:

>Period accounts make clear that Colonel Shaw was NOT the first man nor even the first officer to fall

Robert Gould Shaw~"Blue-eyed Child of Fortune"

Robert Gould Shaw~”Blue-eyed Child of Fortune”

>Shaw’s style of leading fron the front was common which was why so many high rabking officers died in the Civil War

>the 54th had more free-born Northen black soldiers than fugitive Southern slaves

the fight at Fort Wagner

the fight at Fort Wagner