Category Archives: Journalism

This Election Year

Woman making American Flag

Of the political writing abounding right now, this is among the very best which I have seen:

TRUMP, THE WORST OF AMERICA

By Charles M Blow

New York Times, October 17, 2016

Donald Trump has virtually stopped trying to win this election by any conventional metric and is instead stacking logs of grievance on the funeral pyre with the great anticipation of setting it ablaze if current polls turn out to be predictive.

There is something calamitous in the air that surrounds the campaign, a hostile fatalism that bespeaks a man convinced that the end is near and aiming his anger at all within reach.

As his path to victory grows narrower, his desperation grows more pronounced.

Last week a steady stream of women stepped forward to accuse Trump of some form of sexual assault, abuse or inappropriate behavior. Trump’s response has been marked by a stunning lack of grace and dignity, let alone contrition or empathy, a response much like the man himself.

Instead, he is doubling down on sexism.

On Thursday, Trump said of the People magazine reporter who accused him of forcibly kissing her: “Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

He said on Friday of the woman accusing him of groping her on an airplane: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.

He also said of Clinton, “When she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.”

His response to these charges has been surprisingly — and perhaps, revealingly — callow. He has mocked, whined, chided, bemoaned and belittled. It’s as if the man is on a mission to demonstrate to voters the staggering magnitude of his social vulgarity and emotional ineptitude. He has dispensed with all semblances of wanting to appear presidential and embraced what seems to be most natural to him: acting like a pig.

Furthermore, everything is rigged against him, from the media to the election itself. He’s threatening to sue The New York Times. He says he and Clinton should take a drug test before the next debate.

These are the ravings of a lunatic.

Trump is back to carelessly shooting off his mouth and recklessly shooting himself in the foot.

It is sad, really, but for him I have no sympathy. He has spent this entire election attacking anyone and everyone whom he felt it would be politically advantageous to attack. Trump, now that you’re under attack, you want to cry woe-is-me and have people commiserate. Slim chance, big guy.

The coarseness of your character has been put on full display, and now the electorate has come to cash the check you wrote.

 

Trump now looks like a madman from Mad Men, a throwback to when his particular privileges had more perks and were considered less repugnant. He looks pathetic.

He is a ball of contradictions that together form a bully, a man who has built a menacing wall around the hollow of his self. He is brash to mask his fragility.

But in a way, Trump was authentically made in America.

America has a habit of romanticizing the playboy as much as the cowboy, but there is often something untoward about the playboy, unseemly, predatory and broken

For years, Trump built a reputation on shuffling through women, treating his exploits with jocularity and having too much of America smiling in amusement at the bad boy antics.

But he’s not a kid; he’s a cad.

And he seems constitutionally incapable of processing the idea that wealth is not completely immunizing, that some rules are universally applicable, that common decency is required of more than just “common” folks. He seems genuinely offended that he should be held to the same standards of truth, decorum and even law as those less well off.

Trump is in fact the logical extension of toxic masculinity and ambient misogyny. He is the logical extension of rampant racism. He is the logical extension of wealth worship. He is the logical extension of pervasive anti-intellectualism.

Trump is the logical extension of the worst of America.

With him you get a man who believes himself superior in every way: through the gift of fortune and the happenstance of chromosomes. He believes the rules simply don’t apply. Not rules that govern the sovereignty of another’s body, not rules that dictate decorousness.

And the Republican Party was just the right place for him to park himself.

When you have a political party that takes as its mission to prevent government from working instead of to make government work, a party that conflates the ill effects of a changing economy with the changing complexion of the country and is still struck by fever over the election of President Obama, Trump is a natural, predictable endpoint.

Furthermore, Trump is what happens when you wear your Christian conservative values like a cardigan to conveniently slip off when the heat rises.

Trump is fundamentally altering American politics — coarsening them, corrupting them, cratering them. And America, particularly conservative America, has only itself to blame.

Republicans sowed intolerance and in its shadow, Trump sprang up like toxic fungi.

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August ~ Election Year 1860

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As the country staggers toward disunion and civil war, the Republican candidate feels new confidence in his ability to win. Slavery remains the hot issue. Abolitionists attack the churches for their support of the slave system. Around the world, there are problems in Syria and Lebanon, in Central America, in Italy and with the continuing and illegal international slave trade. The heir to England’s throne is visiting Canada.

August 1– Wednesday– New York City–Today’s edition of the New York Herald quotes the mayor of Chicago as saying that Southerners are busy playing “the old game of scaring and bullying the North into submission to Southern demands and Southern tyranny.”

August 1–Wednesday– Rochester, New York–In a speech in honor of the twenty-sixth anniversary of the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire, Frederick Douglass praises Senator Sumner of Massachusetts, calling Sumner “the Wilberforce of America.” Douglass goes on to say that he hopes that the Republican party will avoid “acts of discrimination against the free colored people of the United States. I certainly look to that party for a nobler policy than that avowed by some connected with the Republican organization.”

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Frederick Douglass

 

August 3– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–Today’s Liberator reports that two abolitionists have been hung in Texas for allegedly distributing arms and inciting slaves to rebel.

August 3– Friday– Paris, France–Representatives from France, Great Britain, the Austrian Empire, Prussia, and the Ottoman Empire met to discuss the religious violence in Lebanon and Syria and the massacre at Damascus last month.

August 4– Saturday– Springfield, Illinois– “When you wrote, you had not learned of the doings of the democratic convention at Baltimore; but you will be in possession of it all long before this reaches you. I hesitate to say it, but it really appears now, as if the success of the Republican ticket is inevitable. We have no reason to doubt any of the states which voted for Fremont. Add to these, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New-Jersey, and the thing is done. Minnesota is as sure as such a thing can be; while the democracy are so divided between Douglas and Breckenridge in Penn. & N.J. that they are scarcely less sure. Our friends are also confident in Indiana and Illinois. I should expect the same division would give us a fair chance in Oregon. Write me what you think on that point.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Simeon Francis.

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August 5– Sunday– New York City–”There is a great trouble among the republicans in this State. They have their trials and misfortunes as well as the democrats. There is a tremendous quarrel going on about the Governorship, in which Greeley is mixed up. The object is to kill him off before the Presidential election, so as to destroy his political influences and cheat him out of his fair share of the spoils of office. One section of the republicans desire the renomination of Morgan. But the Seward party are determined to defeat him because he was lukewarm to their chief. If the Sewardites can, they will never let Greeley get that postmastership for which he covenanted with Blair and Bates and Lincoln. The usual contest between the republican leaders of this city and those of Albany and Western New York is now embittered by a new element of strife – the personal quarrel between the philosopher of the Tribune and the apostle of the ‘higher law.’” ~ New York Herald.

August 6–Monday– Trujillo, Honduras–William Walker, an American soldier of fortune, lands with an armed group of mercenaries in an attempt to seize the country.

August 7– Tuesday– New York City–Today’s Times quotes a Southern writer who favors Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington “paved ten fathoms deep with mangled bodies” rather than see Lincoln become president.

August 8–Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois–Lincoln appears at a campaign rally to a tumultuous response. He declines to give a long speech but limits himself to a few impromptu remarks. “I am gratified, because it is a tribute such as can be paid to no man as a man. It is the evidence that four years from this time you will give a like manifestation to the next man who is the representative of the truth on the questions that now agitate the public. And it is because you will then fight for this cause as you do now, or with even greater ardor than now, though I be dead and gone. I most profoundly and sincerely thank you.”

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August 8–Wednesday– Off the coast of West Africa–A U S warship captures the slaver Storm King with a cargo of 619 slaves.

August 9– Thursday– Winsboro, South Carolina–Congressman William W. Boyce had earlier pressed co-operation in the sectional crisis but today at a mass election meeting, he speaks in favor of secession if needed. He concludes that “if Lincoln be elected, I think that the Southern States should withdraw from the Union. All, but if not all, as many as will, and if no other, South Carolina alone, in the promptest manner and by the most direct means.”

August 10– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The American Missionary Association (established by men who despaired of the reform of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions)is a thoroughly Anti-Slavery body; its organ also, the American Missionary, bears a vigorous and active testimony against our country’s great sin; and yet its concern for the credit of the church is so strong, its alliance with the church exerts upon it such a restraining influence, that it cannot bear to recognize the fact either that the American Church is the great bulwark of slavery, or that the Southern Church is as actively and heartily engaged in the support of that sin as the slave-trader, foreign or domestic, himself. It says, in its August number– ‘The evidences are accumulating that the mass of the Southern churches are drifting toward the unconditional support of slavery as it is.’ Instead of drifting towards the support of slavery, the Southern churches are, and have been for the last fifty years, anchored and fortified in the actual and efficient support of it. The evidence, to be sure, is, accumulating; but at no time for the last fifty years has it fallen short of absolute demonstration. The position of the Southern churches towards slavery remains precisely where it has been throughout the lives of all of us, as shown by its practice. They buy, sell, hold, flog and breed slaves, exactly as they have always done. It is only their position towards anti-slavery that is changed, and the change is from hypocrisy to impudence.” ~ The Liberator.

August 10–Friday– Off the coast of Mozambique–The HMS Brisk pursues and captures the American-built slave ship Sunny South with several hundred slaves aboard.

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a British warship 1860

 

August 11–Saturday– Washington, D.C.–President Buchanan sends a private letter to a journalist in which he denies that he is firing supporters of Senator Douglas from their government jobs.

August 12– Sunday– New York City– “A laughable incident occurred at the Douglas celebration in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. While the procession was crossing Division street bridge, over Fond du Lac river, it gave way under such an unwonted load of democracy as had gathered upon it, and let the crowd into the water below. Fortunately the mud was much deeper than the water, and no other serious consequences ensured than the fright, and the thick envelope of slough material brought up by those whom the bridge refused to transport in safety over this peril in the line of march. Several ladies took the unwelcome descent, and when rescued appeared in a much deeper shade of mourning than is a usual style of dress at a gala celebration. The light of torches changed to a scene of merriment among a crowd of fun loving boys what might otherwise have been a serious accident.” ~ New York Herald.

August 13–Monday– Willowdell, Ohio–Birth of Phoebe Orlando Ann Mosey who will become famous as the sharpshooter Annie Oakley. [Dies November 3, 1926.]

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Annie Oakley

 

August 14–Tuesday– Memphis, Tennessee–The Memphis Daily Appeal quotes Stephen A Douglas as favoring the acquisition of Cuba and other territories in the Caribbean and in Central America.

August 15– Wednesday– Marion, Ohio– Birth of Florence Kling Harding, who will become the wife of Warren G Harding, elected president of the United States in 1920. [Most likely she will know of her husband’s extramarital affairs and will be morally stronger than her weak-willed spouse. After his death she will systematically destroy his correspondence. She dies November 21, 1924, fifteen months after Mr Harding.]

August 16– Thursday– New York City– Birth of Helen Hartley Jenkins, philanthropist. Inheriting her father’s substantial fortune upon his death in 1902, she will give generously to Columbia University, Barnard College, nursing programs, aid to Serbian immigrants, improved housing for the poor, prison reform, political reform in New York City and other social welfare programs. [Dies April 24, 1934.]

August 17– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Slavery wants to be let alone. It must not be let alone. The slaveholder wants to be recognized as a gentleman and a Christian; to be treated as ‘a man of honor,’ in spite of a character stained with the height of meanness and the depth of baseness. The proper treatment for this insolent assumption is to him . . . to refuse . . . to take his blood-stained hand; to make him feel, whenever he chances to be in the company of gentlemen, or Christians, that the robbery which he systematically practices, and by which he lives, is every moment present to their minds as the prominent feature in his character. Let the people of any free country, to which he goes, speak to him of slavery when they speak to him at all, and let the same treatment be applied to his allies and defenders. If they take refuge in a meeting of the Statistical Society, let the statistics of slavery be made the order of the day. And let the demeanor of all Englishmen speak to plainly their detestation of the crime in question, that an openly pro-slavery man shall feel itself scorched with contempt whenever he appears among them, either on public business or for private pleasure. And above all, let this treatment be applied in England, to American clergyman who are known as the defenders of slavery. To treat such persons as men of honor, as gentlemen, or as Christians, is to take part against the slave.” ~ The Liberator.

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August 17–Friday– Chicago, Illinois–The Press and Tribune reports that “The opposition to Old Abe is played out. Without an union among the different parties who compose it, he will gallop over the course, not pushed to wet a hair or draw a long breath. . . . the Republicans will, at one haul, take one hundred thousand voters out of the Douglas ranks and enroll them under the free soil banner.”

August 17–Friday– Omaha, Nebraska Territory–The Democratic Territorial Convention opens with the nationwide split much in evidence. The Breckinridge forces manage to overwhelm the Douglas supporters on most issues. The gathering does manage to unanimously nominate a candidate for territorial delegate to Congress after only four ballots.

August 18– Saturday– Quebec, Canada– The Prince of Wales arrives for a four day visit as part of his continuing North American tour. He will visit the governing Assembly where he confers the first knighthood invested in Canada on Narcisse Belleau, the Speaker of the Legislative Council.

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the Prince of Wales at his wedding, 1863

 

August 20– Monday– Damascus, Syria– In order to impress the European powers that they are able to protect Christians and punish the perpetrators of the recent widespread massacres in Syria, Turkish authorities publicly execute scores said to be implicated in the mass killings of Christians the previous month. In all,170 are shot, 56 hanged, and around 400 others exiled. Western observers generally see this as a design to shelter those actually responsible.

August 22–Wednesday– Assisted by the British Navy, the troops of Giuseppe Garibaldi cross from Sicily to the Italian mainland.

August 23– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “The active attempts made yesterday by the Douglas leaders to induce the Breckinridge men to withdraw their ticket, and unite in a Bell-Breckinridge-Douglas coalition in this State, had not succeeded at the date of our latest advances from the conference. As we understand the offer, it is to withdraw all tickets now in the field, and make a new combination for electors, which shall include B. S. Morris, L. D. Boone, and Alfred Dutch, on the part of the Know Nothings; Isaac Cook and John Dougherty, as the representatives of the slave code; and any six squatter sovereigns whom the party may select. This is the last and most desperate expedient of the Times and Herald to secure the vote of this State for Douglas, that Breckinridge’s chances may be increased. If it works – who cares?” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

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August 24– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “An adjourned meeting of the Political Anti-slavery Convention, which met in the city of Boston, on the 29th day of May last, will be held in the city of Worcester, on Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th and 20th days of September next, at 10 o’clock, A.M. The object of this Convention is to consider the propriety of organizing a Political Party upon an Anti-Slavery interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, with the avowed purpose of abolishing slavery in the States, as well as Territories of the Union. At itsf ormer meeting, resolutions setting forth the great principles of liberty and equality which must underlie and permeate a political movement, to entitle it to the confidence and support of the friends of freedom, were introduced and discussed, but without taking action upon them, the Convention adjourned to meet in the city of Worcester, at the call of the President and Chairman of the Business Committee. In discharging the duty thus devolved upon us, we now make an appeal to you, fellow-citizens, lovers of freedom of both sexes, in behalf of four millions of enslaved countrymen, who, in the name of justice and a common brotherhood, demand their liberty at your hands.Nearly an entire generation has passed away since the commencement of the present Anti-Slavery agitation, and yet slavery is still triumphant over our whole land! There is not yet a single foot of soil, inall this broad Republic, on which the escaping slave can stand, and feel that he is free! There is not yet in existence a political party . . . which does not shamelessly avow the purpose to wield the National sword in defense of the bloody slave system, wherever it exists under State jurisdiction! The Church it still in league with the tyrant, with both her heels upon the necks of his helpless victims! We have had discussions upon the character of slavery and the sources of its power, till the whole subject is thoroughly understood by all who have any disposition to investigate. What now remains for us, therefore, is ACTION. Our only hope of success is in translating our sentiments into statutes, and coining our words into deeds!” ~ Notice in today’s issue of The Liberator.

August 24–Friday– Montreal, Canada– On his continuing North American tour, the Prince of Wales and his party arrive here, the largest and richest city in Canada, for six days of parades, balls, and touring as well as necessary meetings with Canadian political and religious leaders.

August 25– Saturday– Montreal, Canada–The Prince of Wales presides over the opening ceremonies for the Victoria Railway Bridge.

August 26– Sunday– Springfield, Illinois– “I hardly know how to express the strength of my personal regard for Mr. Lincoln. I never saw a man for whom I so soon formed an attachment. I like him much, and agree with him in all things but his politics. He is kind and very sociable; immensely popular among the people of Springfield. . . . There are so many hard lines in his face that it becomes a mask of the inner man. His true character only shines out when in an animated conversation, or when telling an amusing tale, of which he is very fond. He is said to be a homely man; I do not think so.” ~ Diary entry of J Henry Brown upon seeing Lincoln at church today.

August 27–Monday– New York City–The Herald quotes Stephan A Douglas as saying, “I am for putting down the Northen abolitionists, but am also for putting down the Southern secessionists, and that too by the exercise of the same constitutional power. I believe that the peace, harmony, and safety of the country depend upon destroying both factions.”

August 28– Tuesday– Petersburg, Virginia– Continuing his unconventional personal campaigning and his swing through Virginia, Stephen Douglas speaks to more than 3000 people at the Phoenix Hall in Petersburg on a rainy evening after spending all day receiving well-wishers at Jarrat’s Hotel. In his speech, he attacks all his opponents as endangering the Union which he strongly defends.

August 30– Thursday– Springfield, Illinois– “Yours of the 27th was received last evening; as also was one only a few days before. Neither of these bears quite so hopeful a tone as your former letters. When you say you are organizing every election district, do you mean to include the idea that you are ‘canvassing’ – ‘counting noses?’” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to A J McClure.

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August 31–Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–Today The Liberator carries a report of French honors to John Brown. “We are glad to lay before our readers the following generous and hearty tribute to John Brown from the Free-Masons of France. This is all the more magnanimous as Brown was not a member of the Order. This and Victor Hugo’s touching appeals show how keenly alive France is to the cause of Justice and Liberty the world over. The words here were translated from the Monde Maconnique, Paris.”

August 31–Friday– Newark, Ohio–This day’s issue of the Newark Advocate in an article entitled “Is Lincoln an Abolitionist?” argues that since Lincoln declared that the nation cannot exist indefinitely half-slave and half-free and opposes the expansion of slavery into the western territories, he therefore must be an abolitionist.

August 31– Friday– Ottawa, Canada–On a rainy day the Prince of Wales arrives here in the recently selected capital city for the Dominion. The next three days will be full of receptions, parades, balls and other festivities.

August ~ Election Year 1852

Woman making American Flag

Women involved in abolition move ahead on other issues. [For an excellent study of these women, see, The Slavery of Sex: Feminist-Abolitionists in America (1978) by Blanche Glassman Hersh.] The struggle against slavery takes place on many fronts, including the Senate and the campaign of the Free Soil Party.

August 1– Sunday– Seneca Falls, New York– “I was introduced by Mrs. M. A. W. Johnson, who traveled with me from Massillon [Ohio] to Philadelphia, into the family of James and Lucretia Mott, who gave me a sister’s welcome to their home. This excellent couple are well known to the world, and need no word of praise from me; but I want to add my mite, and so I will. If all fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, church members and citizens of this our republic were as good as James and Lucretia Mott, we reformers would have nothing to do beyond the dooryard gate. The world would be good enough, plenty. There would be no war, no slavery, no intemperance, no licentiousness, no crime, no wrong. Ha! what a world it would be!” ~ Letter from Frances D Gage to The Lily.

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Francis D Gage

 

August 2– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 23rd ultimo, requesting information in regard to the fisheries on the coasts of the British possessions in North America, I transmit a report from the Acting Secretary of State and the documents by which it was accompanied. Commodore M. C. Perry, with the United States steam frigate Mississippi under his command, has been dispatched to that quarter for the purpose of protecting the rights of American fishermen under the convention of 1818.” ~ Message from President Fillmore to the Senate.

August 4– Wednesday– Brunswick, New Jersey– Harriet Beecher Stowe sends $20 to Betsy Cowles at Oberlin, Ohio, to provide scholarship assistance to Mary and Emily Edmundson, born in slavery and whose freedom was purchased by Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, so they can attend school at Oberlin College. [Her gift would equal $633 today using the Consumer Price Index.]

August 5– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “Free Democracy in New Jersey. A friend in New Jersey writes to the Boston Commonwealth thus: ‘I am convinced, from a residence in various parts of this State, that if the principles of the Free Democratic party were thoroughly known here, we should ere long have a Free Soil organization at General Scott’s own door, that would bury both the old parties in oblivion. But most of the people know nothing about the Free Soil party, or believe it to be hostile to the Union, as they are taught by their selfish editors and politicians.’” ~ The National Era

August 6– Friday–Boston, Massachusetts– “The time has come not only for the examination and discussion of Women’s social, civil and religious rights, but also for a thorough and efficient organization—a well-digested plan of operation, whereby these social rights, for which our fathers fought, bled and died, may be scoured, and enjoyed by us. Let woman no longer supinely endure the evils she may escape, but with her own right hand carve out for herself a higher, nobler destiny thus has heretofore been here. In as much as through the folly and of woman, the race is what it is, dwarfed in mind and body, and as, through her alone, it can yet be redeemed, all are equally interested in the objects of this Convention.” ~ The Liberator carries an announcement of the upcoming woman’s right convention to be held September 8th through 10th.

August 9– Monday– Springfield, Illinois– Attorney Abraham Lincoln declines the opportunity to be a candidate of the Whig Party for the state legislature.

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August 11– Wednesday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– The Free Soil Party opens its convention. One of the most powerful speakers is Frederick Douglass, present as part of the New York state delegation.

August 12– Thursday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– The Free Soil Party adopts its platform which declares: “Having assembled in national convention as the Free Democracy of the United States, united by a common resolve to maintain right against wrong, and freedom against slavery; confiding in the intelligence, patriotism, and discriminating justice of the American people; putting our trust in God for the triumph of our cause, and invoking his guidance in our endeavors to advance it, we now submit to the candid judgment of all men, the following declaration of principles and measures: . . . . That the Constitution of the United States, ordained to form a more perfect Union, to establish justice, and secure the blessings of liberty, expressly denies to the general government all power to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; and therefore the Government, having no more power to make a slave than to make a king, and no more power to establish slavery than to establish a monarchy, should at once proceed to relieve itself from all responsibility for the existence of slavery, wherever it possesses constitutional Power to legislate for its extinction. . . . That slavery is a sin against God and a crime against man, which no human enactment nor usage can make right; and that Christianity, humanity, and patriotism alike demand Its abolition. . . . That the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 is repugnant to the Constitution, to the principles of the common law, to the spirit of Christianity, and to the sentiments of the civilized World. We therefore deny its binding force on the American people, and demand its immediate and total repeal. . . . . That the acts of Congress renown as the ‘compromise’ measures of 1850 . . . are proved to be inconsistent with all the principles and maxims of Democracy, and wholly inadequate to the settlement of the questions of which they are claimed to be an adjustment. . . . That no permanent settlement of the slavery question can be looked for except in the practical recognition of the truth that slavery is sectional and freedom national; by the total separation of the general government from slavery, and the exercise of its legitimate and constitutional influence on the side of freedom; and by leaving to the states the whole subject of slavery and the extradition of fugitives from service. . . . That the public lands of the United States belong to the people, and should not be sold to individuals, nor granted to corporations, but should be held as a sacred trust for the benefit of the people, and should be granted in limited quantities, free of cost, to landless settlers. . . . That emigrants and exiles from the Old World should find a cordial welcome to homes of and fields of enterprise in the New; and every attempt to abridge their privilege of becoming citizens and owners of soil among us ought to be resisted with inflexible determination. . . . That the independence of Hayti ought to be recognized by our government, and our commercial relations with it placed on the footing of the most favored nations. . . . [our] party is not organized to aid either the Whig or Democratic wing of the great slave compromise party of the nation, but to defeat them both; and that, repudiating and renouncing both as hopelessly corrupt and utterly unworthy of confidence, the purpose of the Free Democracy is to take possession of the federal government and administer it for the better protection of the rights and Interests of the whole people. . . . That we inscribe on our banner Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor, and Free Men, and under it will fight on and fight ever until a triumphant victory shall reward our exertions.” They nominate John P Hale of New Hampshire for President and George W Julian of Indiana for Vice-President. [Hale, age 46, a native of New Hampshire and graduate of Bowdoin college, is a lawyer, politician and abolitionist. Dies November 19, 1873. On his life, see: John P Hale and the Politics of Abolition (1965) by Richard H Sewell. On the Free Soil Party, see: The Free Soilers; Third Party Politics, 1848-54 (1973) by Frederick J Blue; Liberty Power: Antislavery Third Parties and the Transformation of American Politics (2016); Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: the Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (1995) by Eric Foner.

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John P Hale

 

August 12– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– “Our friends of the Evening Post seem to be acquainted with no New York Democrats who do not support Pierce and King. Will they allow us to introduce them to Minthrone Tompkins, a most worthy son of the late Governor Tompkins; Hiram Barney, law partner of Mr. Butler; Bradford R. Wood, of Albany, not altogether unknown as a man or a Democrat; Jabez D. Hammond, author of the Political History of New York; Judge Hiram Gardner, and Judge A.B. Brown, of Niagara, always Democrats; and Alfred Babcock, of Orleans, formerly member of Congress from that district? None of these gentlemen, we believe, find themselves able to reconcile the professions of the New York Democracy with acquiescence in the new Baltimore tests, or to perceive the consistency of rejecting the platform, and at the same time supporting candidates who fully represent it. The Post will not, we think, dispute their standing as influential Democrats.” ~ The National Era.

August 13– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”I know brother Jones to be a man of noble spirit and pure character. He officiated, for one year, with entire acceptance, to the Wesleyan Church in Salem, [Massachusetts] and was just engaged to preach for them another year, when he was compelled to flee from this republic to the British monarchy, because he had once been a slave, and had dared to run away and assert his manhood. Friends in Concord gave him some $25 to help him get away to a place of safety. We will try to help him a little more, in his present effort to redeem his child from slavery. Will not some one who reads this appeal from the poor fugitive slave parents, send on a trifle to R.F. Wallcut, 21 Cornhill, Boston, in answer thereto?” ~ Letter from Daniel Foster to William Lloyd Garrison published in The Liberator in an effort to help Thomas Jones, a fugitive slave now in Canada to raise money to buy his child’s freedom.

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August 14– Saturday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Writing about the Free Soil Party convention, the Daily Pennsylvanian describes the participants as traitors and declares, “In other countries better men have been executed as traitors to their country who did not half so much deserve the name.”

August 14– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I have received a resolution from your honorable body of the 6th instant, appearing to have been adopted in open legislative session, requesting me ‘to inform the Senate, if not incompatible with the public interests, whether any propositions have been made by the King of the Sandwich Islands [Hawaii] to transfer the sovereignty of these islands to the United States, and to communicate to the Senate all the official information on that subject in my possession;’ in reply to which I have to state that on or about the 12th day of June last I received a similar resolution from the Senate adopted in executive or secret session, to which I returned an answer stating that in my opinion a communication of the information requested at that juncture would not comport with the public interest. Nothing has since transpired to change my views on that subject, and I therefore feel constrained again to decline giving the information asked.” ~ Message from President Fillmore to the Senate. [The United States will acquire Hawaii in 1898 after supporting a coup against the monarchy in 1893.]

August 14– Saturday– East Pascagoula, Mississippi– Margaret Smith Taylor, widow of former President Zachary Taylor, dies at 63 years of age.

Margaret_Taylor

Margaret Taylor

 

August 19– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “It will be seen by the proceedings of the Pittsburgh Convention held on the 11th instant, that Honorable John P. Hale, of New Hampshire, was nominated for President, and Honorable George W. Julian, of Indiana, for Vice President. This is a good ticket – a sound, reliable ticket, eminently worthy of the support of the Independent Democracy throughout the country. Mr. Hale, during his Senatorial career, has made himself widely and favorably known as a stanch and sturdy Reformer. To him, probably more than to any one man, is the country indebted for the abolition of the lash from [the U. S.]Navy. He was the early and untiring advocate of that beneficent measure. He was not the first choice of the Editor of the Era, and it is uncertain whether he will accept the honor thus tendered him as a free-will offering, though we hope he will.” ~ The National Era.

August 20– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Justice for the wronged and liberty for all’ is ‘immediate abolitionism.’ The abolitionists have never asked for more, never desired more. And the means by which they have proposed that this shall be done is, that every master shall himself give immediate freedom to those whom he has claimed as slaves, without waiting for their liberation by the harsher process of insurrection, which is always impending over them, or of disunion, which the abolitionists propose as the best means of abolishing slavery.” ~ The Liberator.

August 20– Friday– Lake Erie, off of Long Point, Ontario, Canada– The passenger steamer Atlantic is struck by the steamer Ogdenburg. The Atlantic begins to fill with water and gradually sinks, killing at least 262 people.

August 26–Thursday– Washington, D. C.–Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts delivers a three hour speech against the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and calls for its repeal.

August 27– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Fillmore sends to the Senate for ratification a treaty with the Netherlands regarding commerce and navigation.

August 30– Monday– London, England– The eccentric John Camden Nield dies at age 72, leaving his fortune to Queen Victoria.

August 31– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Fillmore updates the Senate on discussions regarding international postage.

June ~ Election Year 1860

Woman making American Flag

The Democratic Party is fracturing along regional lines, North versus South. Senator Douglas of Illinois is selected by northern and western party members to run against Republican Lincoln. The debate about slavery continues to heat up to an even higher degree. While the United States slips toward dissolution, Italy moves toward unification under Garibaldi.

June 1– Friday– Annapolis, Maryland– Maryland’s new law banning all types of manumission of slaves takes effect today. This law completely bans the practice of manumission by deed or by the will of a deceased slave owner. In keeping with the state’s desire to reduce its free black population, the statute also contains a provision to allow free black persons to petition state courts to renounce their freedom and to choose a master for themselves.

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slaves prepare to escape

 

June 1–Friday– Waterdown, Ontario, Canada– Birth of Margaret Mick, who while serving as a prison guard, will become the first Canadian woman to be killed in the line of duty as a peace officer. She will be slain by three female prisoners in an escape from a prison farm on May 25, 1925.

June 2– Saturday– New York City– “I learn that the Government has received information that the fishermen off the coast of Florida and South Carolina are in the habit of running over to Cuba, on the pretense of disposing of their fish, and returning with two or three native Africans, bought there at a low figure, which they dispose of, at a great advance, to parties who meet them on the coast, purchase the Negroes, and take them into the interior. This gross and notorious violation of law has been going on for some time, and it remains to be seen whether any steps will be taken to arrest it.” ~ National Anti Slavery Standard

June 4–Monday– Washington, D.C.–In the Senate, Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, age 49, delivers a long, blistering speech called “The Barbarism of Slavery” in which he severely criticizes the slave system and the whole of Southern culture. In it he declares “It is in the Character of Slavery itself that we are to find the Character of Slave-masters; but I need not go back to the golden lips of Chrysostom, to learn that ‘Slavery is the fruit of covetousness, of extravagance, of insatiable greediness;’ for we have already seen that this five-fold enormity is inspired by the single idea of compelling men to work without wages. This spirit must naturally appear in the Slave-master. But the eloquent Christian Saint did not disclose the whole truth. Slavery is founded on violence, as we have already too clearly seen; of course it can be sustained only by kindred violence, sometimes against the defenseless slave, sometimes against the freeman whose indignation is aroused at the outrage. It is founded on brutal and vulgar pretensions, as we have already too dearly seen; of course it can be sustained only by kindred brutality and vulgarity. The denial of all rights in the slave can be sustained only by a disregard of other rights, common to the whole community, whether of the person, of the press, or of speech.”

In response, Senator James Chesnut of South Carolina, age 45, attacks the adulation given to Sumner in the North and in Britain as modern idolatry. “In Egypt, also, we know they deified beasts and reptiles; but even that bestial people worshiped their idols on account of some supposed virtue. It has been left for this day, for this country, for the Abolitionists of Massachusetts, to deify the incarnation of malice, mendacity, and cowardice. Sir, we not intend to be guilty of aiding in the apotheosis of pusillanimity and meanness.”

Charles_Sumner_-_Brady-Handy

Senator Sumner

 

June 4–Monday– Buffalo, New York–Having been in session since Tuesday, May 1st, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church concludes when the conference can no longer produce a quorum. Hundreds of delegates from all over the country have been in attendance; however, bitter debate about slavery and some other issues caused some to leave in anger, others to return home out of exhaustion.

June 4–Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Buchanan extends an official invitation to Queen Victoria that should the Prince of Wales, 18 year old Albert Edward, the Queen’s oldest son (who will succeed her as King Edward VII in 1901), wish to extend his upcoming visit to Canada with a visit to the United States, he would receive an enthusiastic welcome.

June 5–Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts–Josiah Quincy, former president of Harvard and now 88 years old, sends a letter of praise to Senator Sumner. “I have read enough to approve, and rejoice that you have been permitted, thus truly, fully, and faithfully to expose the ‘Barbarism’ of Slavery on that very floor on which you were so cruelly and brutally stricken down by the spirit of that Barbarism.” [Quincy, 1772– 1864, is a municipal reformer, politician, educator, orator, college president and life-long critic of the Southern slave power. For more on his life and work, see: Josiah Quincy, 1772-1864; the Last Federalist (1974) by Robert A McCaughey; The Magic of the Many: Josiah Quincy and the Rise of Mass Politics in Boston, 1800-1830 (1999) by Matthew H Crocker.]

Josiah_Quincy

Josiah Quincy

 

June 6–Wednesday– Elmira, New York–John W Jones, a conductor on the underground railroad writes to William Still in Philadelphia. Still, a black man, is considered “the Father of the Underground Railroad” and has been helping about sixty fugitives a month for the last few years. Jones reports. “All six came safe to this place. . . . the two men went this morning, and the four went this evening. ‘O old master don’t cry for me, For I am going to Canada where colored men are free.’”

June 7–Thursday– Boston, Massachusetts–Today’s Boston Herald reports that “Yesterday forenoon, a smart, active, and intelligent looking man, about 23 years of age, called at the mayor’s office and asked for something to eat. He represented that he ran away from his master in North Carolina . . . and arrived in Boston yesterday morning, leaving immediately for this city, on his way to Canada. . . . He was furnished with a good meal of victuals, and left shortly after on the underground railroad for her majesty’s dominions.”

June 8–Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–The current issue of the Liberator reports that at the recent annual meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, Mary Ann Day Brown, the widow of John Brown, was in attendance. Garrison called her a “truly noble woman” and as he recognized her presence the participants expressed a spontaneous and genuine deep sympathy for her and her children.

June 9–Saturday– Washington, D.C.–Senator Stephen A. Douglas writes to Follett Foster & Company with complaints about their reprint of his 1858 debates with Mr Lincoln. “I find that Mr Lincoln’s speeches have been revised, corrected and improved since their publication in the newspapers of Illinois, while mine have been mutilated, and in some instances, the meaning changed by the omission of interrogatories and expressions of approbation and disapprobation by persons in the crowd to which my remarks were made responsive, but by the omission of which my replies seemed ambiguous, incoherent or unintelligible. . . . In short, I regard your publication as partial and unfair and designed to do me injustice by placing me in a false position.”

Giuseppe Garibaldi on Caprera

 Giuseppe Garibaldi

 

June 9–Saturday– Genoa, Italy– Around 2,400 men along with their equipment, reinforcements for Giuseppe Garibaldi’s ongoing campaign against the Bourbon forces in Sicily, leave the port aboard three American registered ships, the Washington, the Oregon, and the Franklin, all clearly flying the U.S. flag. Garibaldi, age 53, for the last two months has been leading armed struggle to unite Italy and make it a free country. [For a biography and analysis, see: Cavour and Garibaldi, 1860: a Study in Political Conflict (1954) by D Mack Smith; Garibaldi and the Making of Italy, June– November, 1860 (1982– reprint of 1928 edition) by George Macaulay Trevelyan; Giuseppe Garibaldi: a Biography of the Father of Modern Italy (1998) by Benedict S LiPira.

June 11– Monday– Buffalo, New York– Birth of May Jane Rathbun, marine zoologist, educator, researcher and author. [Dies April 4, 1943.]

Mary_Jane_Rathbun_(1860-1943)

Mary Jane Rathbun

 

June 11–Monday– Milwaukee, Wisconsin–The Milwaukee Sentinel evaluates Democratic response to the Republican convention. “The Chicago Convention accomplished one thing very effectually. It opened the eyes of the Democratic journals to the shining qualities and eminent public services of Senator Seward. Heretofore the Democratic papers have been accustomed to speak in disparaging and denunciatory terms of Mr. Seward, his doctrines and public career. Now all that is changed, and they have no language but praises, for the great statesman of New York.”

June 15– Friday– Baden, Germany–The French Emperor Napoleon III begins two days of meetings with the Prince Regent of Prussia and the Kings of Bavaria, Hanover, and Saxony, and a number of other German royalty, to build goodwill and calm fears in Germany over France’s opposition to Italian unification and possible renewed tension with Austria.

June 16– Saturday– New York City– “The conduct of the Republicans towards Mr. Sumner’s admirable speech is not one of the least observable signs of their times. It was ‘ill-timed’ and injudicious, forsooth! And that because the slaveholders may, peradventure, make it the pretense of voting against the admission of Kansas. As if the slave-masters were ever moved by anything men or angels could say from the line of their deliberate policy! Whoever else may give up the substance for the shadow at the bidding of their passions, they never do. If they have fully made up their minds that it is better for their interest to keep Kansas out, it is possible they may make Mr. Sumner’s speech the stalking-horse from behind which they may aim at her life. But it would be a mere pretense, and the same thing would have been done if he had never opened his lips. If, on the other hand, they think that this would be giving the Republicans the very cry they need in order to elect Lincoln, and that they had better toss this tub to the Western whale, they will do it, though Mr. Sumner should make a speech ten times worse every day for the rest of the session. The real objection they have to it lies in its substantial anti-slavery merits, and in the hold it will give their enemies to make them out worse (or better) than they are.” ~ National Anti Slavery Standard.

June 16– Saturday– New York City– William Cullen Bryant, editor of the New York Evening Post, writes a private letter to congratulate Lincoln upon his nomination. Bryant advises the nominee on how to wage a successful campaign. “Make no speeches, write no letters as a candidate, enter into no pledges, make no promises, nor even give any of those kind words which men are apt to interpret into promises. Several of our Presidents have had a great deal of trouble from this cause.”\

William_bryant

William Cullen Bryant

 

June 17– Sunday– Castellamare, Sicily–The reinforcements for Garibaldi arrive on the three American ships.

June 18– Monday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Democrats convene again at the Front Street Theater. A dispute over credentials and the delegates who walked out at Charleston splits the party yet again.

June 18–Monday– Springfield, Illinois–Lincoln writes to Carl Schurz, German immigrant “Forty-eighter” and actively involved in Republican politics. “I beg you to be assured that your having supported Governor Seward, in preference to myself in the convention, is not even remembered by me for any practical purpose, or the slightest unpleasant feeling. I go not back of the convention, to make distinctions among its members; and, to the extent of our limited acquaintance, no man stands nearer my heart than yourself.” [Schurz, now 31 years old, was active in the failed revolution of 1848, fleeing first to England, then to the United States in 1852. He will campaign for Lincoln, giving speeches in German to immigrants, serve as Lincoln’s minister to Spain, become a general in the Union Army, serve in the Senate, become a cabinet member in Rutherford Hayes administration, be an advocate for African Americans, support anti-imperialism, be an editor, journalist and historian before his death on May 14, 1906.]

Carl-Schurz

Carl Schurz

 

June 22– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–In the abolitionist Liberator, a report mocks Senator Mason. “The ponderous Senator Mason has made a long report from the Committee on the Harpers Ferry Investigation, but the labor of the mountain has produced only a ridiculous mouse. A more flagrant failure, after so sounding a manifesto, never before occurred, and if the haughty Virginian had a proper sense of his ludicrous position, he would have been ashamed to make any report.”

June 22–Friday– Washington, D.C.–Congress passes a Homestead Bill which President Buchanan vetoes, because, the President asserts, the government can not give land to individual citizens.

June 23–Saturday– Baltimore, Maryland–The national convention of the Democratic Party adjourns, having nominated Stephen A Douglas of Illinois, age 47, for president and Herschel Johnson of Georgia for vice-president. Their adopted platform calls for a decision by the Supreme Court on slavery in the territories, building a transcontinental railroad, acquiring Cuba, and an end to Northern resistance to enforcement of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. [On Douglas, see: Stephen Douglas; the Last Years, 1857-1861 (1971) by Damon Wells.]

Stephen_A_Douglas_by_Vannerson,_1859

Stephen A Douglas

 

June 27–Wednesday– Off the coast of West Africa–A U S warship captures the slaver Thomas Achorn.

June 28–Thursday–Richmond, Virginia–The break-away Southern Democrats finish a three day convention in Richmond where they select John C. Breckinridge as their nominee for president. They adopt a platform which affirms the right to expand slavery into the western territories as settlers may decide, favors “the acquisition of the Island of Cuba, on such terms as shall be honorable to ourselves and just to Spain, at the earliest practicable moment,” stringent enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, supports “the duty of this Government to protect the naturalized citizen in all his rights, whether at home or in foreign lands, to the same extent as its native-born citizens,” and to secure the passage of some bill, to the extent of the constitutional authority of Congress, for the construction of a Pacific Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, at the earliest practicable moment.”

May~Election Year 1876

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President Ulysses Grant would like to serve another term but his administration is wracked with scandal and the economy still suffers from the depression of 1873. Politicians debate about changes to the currency while workers look for help in emerging labor unions and third party movements. Neither major party seems to have a “big name” candidate in contention and critics find little differences between the two parties. The country begins the national celebration of one hundred years of independence as the Centennial Exposition opens in Philadelphia. The U S 7th Cavalry sets out upon a meeting with destiny

May 6– Saturday– New York City– “The schemers of the Republican Party take small heed of innoxious and ineffectual reformers in whose bosoms a deep-rooted prejudice against the Democratic opposition is stronger than the hatred of Republican corruption. The attitude in which these Republican protestants have placed themselves is of commanding significance only as a sign of the evil times upon which we have fallen. Whether they shall have strength and wisdom enough to rise to the height of the political emergencies thrust upon the country, will remain to be seen in the results of their deliberations.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

May 6– Saturday– Batak, Bulgaria– Irregular Ottoman soldiers complete several days of pillaging, burning and massacring local Christians, killing about 4100 or more people.

May 7– Sunday– Flushing, New York– Reverend William Buell Sprague, Presbyterian clergyman and author of the 9 volume Annals of the American Pulpit, dies at 80 years of age.

caroline_chapman

Caroline Chapman

 

May 8– Monday– San Francisco, California– Caroline Chapman, a prominent stage actress during the 1840’s and 1850’s, dies at 58 years of age.

May 9– Tuesday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– An editorial in today’s Pittsburgh Press declares that “The Molly McGuires [sic] represented the spirit of French Communism . . . [they desired] to dictate the operation of labor.” [The Molly Maguires functioned as a secret or semi-secret fraternal organization and labor union among Irish coal miners in eastern Pennsylvania. The extent of their violence against mine owners, mine management and local authorities remains in dispute as Pinkerton detectives hired by the mine owners infiltrated the group and most likely fabricated some evidence against them. The last trial of the alleged ring leaders concluded a month ago (April, 1876) and next spring six of these men will hang. On the debated history, see: The Molly Maguires (1932) by Anthony Bimba; Labor Disturbances in Pennsylvania, 1850-1880 (1936) by J Walter Coleman; From the Molly Maguires to the United Mine Workers; the Social Ecology of an Industrial Union, 1869-1897 (1971) by Harold W Aurand; The Labor Wars: from the Molly Maguires to the Sitdowns (1973) by Sidney Lens; Making Sense of the Molly Maguires (1998) by Kevin Kenny; A Molly Maguire on Trial– the Thomas Munley Story (2002) by H T Crown; The Sons of Molly Maguire: the Irish Roots of America’s First Labor War (2015) by Mark Bulik.

May 10– Wednesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Centennial Exposition, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the United States, opens today. [It will run until November 10, 1876 and draw 9,910,966 visitors.] [For more information, see, Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exhibition (2005) by Linda P Gross and Theresa R Snyder and Culture as Curriculum: Education and the International Expositions– 1876-1904 (2012) by Eugene F Provenzo, Jr.]

Centennial_Exhibition,_Opening_Day

Opening Day of the Centennial Exposition

 

May 13– Saturday– New York City– “The scheme now before Congress to drive out the gold coins and replace them with silver dollars proposes a more important change in the money of the country than has been made since the issue of the legal-tender notes. There are so many conclusive objections to this rapacious and dishonest project, that we cannot even enumerate them here. It may be said, in the first place, that there is no good reason for any legislation at all on the subject of silver at this time. It is true that the inflationists on one side and the impracticable hard-money men on the other are clamoring for something to be done with the currency, but it is impossible to find any half-dozen men of either faction who agree as to the precise things they would do if they could have things their own way. The conclusion at which we arrived long ago was, that in the present state of business and of popular intelligence on the currency question the only safety consisted in letting things alone. Not that a statesmanlike measure could not be devised for assisting the nation out of its troubles, but that with Congress constituted as it is, such a measure was not to be hoped for. We think this silver-dollar scheme, which is not at all unlikely to become a law, fully justifies us in having advocated a policy of inaction.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

May 16– Tuesday– Indianapolis, Indiana– The National Convention of the Greenback Party opens with 239 delegates from 17 states in attendance.

May 16–Tuesday– Matamoros, Mexico–American sailors and marines land to protect American interests.

May 17– Wednesday– Indianapolis, Indiana– The National Convention of the Greenback Party concludes. The party’s platform declares “It is the paramount duty of the government, in all its legislation, to keep in view the full development of all legitimate business– agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and commercial. . . . We most earnestly protest against any further issue of gold bonds for sale in foreign markets, by which we would be made for a long period ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ to foreigners, especially as the American people would gladly and promptly take at par all bonds the government may need to sell, providing they are made payable at the option of the holder, and bearing interest at 3.65 per cent per annum, or even a lower rate. . . . We further protest against the sale of government bonds for the purpose of purchasing silver to be used as a substitute for our more convenient and less fractional currency, which, although well calculated to enrich owners of silver mines, yet in operation it will still further oppress, in taxation, an already overburdened people.”

May 17– Wednesday– Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory [now North Dakota]– Elements of the 7th U S Cavalry leave the fort headed for General Alfred Terry’s command along the Powder River with the aim of forcing the Lakota and Cheyenne people back onto reservations.

soldiers of 7th cavalry

soldiers of the 7th Cavalry

 

May 20– Saturday– New York City– “The event to which the whole nation has been looking forward with eager expectation passed off with all the éclat and splendor that the most ardent lover of his country could desire. For the last few days the busy hum of preparation has been heard from early morning until late at night, and so much remained to be done, that only by dint of superhuman exertion could the buildings be put in any suitable order for the inaugural ceremonies. The exhibitors, aided by the Commissioners, showed themselves equal to the occasion, and by nine o’clock on the 10th of May everything was in as great a state of forwardness as was witnessed on the first day in Paris or Vienna. Long before the hour appointed for the opening the entrances were besieged by a crowd of people who were prepared to pay the exact charge required for admission, and who were anxious to secure good positions for witnessing the ceremonies, and for gazing at the distinguished guests who were to occupy the seats of honor on the platform. The multitude was free to march through the Park, but the buildings were closed to them until the Exhibition had been declared open by the President of the United States.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

MainBuilding

Main Building of the Exposition

 

May 20– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Grant orders that “the several Departments of the Government will be closed on Tuesday, the 30th instant, to enable the employees to participate in the decoration of the graves of the soldiers who fell during the rebellion.”

May 27– Saturday– New York City– “Happily, the Centennial Exhibition comes just in the right time to mitigate the ferocity of our Presidential contest this year, as there is no knowing what might happen if there were no sideshow to divide the exasperation and energies of journalistic writers and political spouters. The Centennial serves as a tub for the whale. There is no lack of good, strong political objurgations, it must be confessed, but it must also be admitted that, in the general skirmishing preliminary to the great work of making the nominations for the Presidency, there is less bitterness of feeling exhibited than has ever been known before. This is not wholly owing to the diversion of popular sympathies and attention by the Centennial, but a good deal is owing to this cause beyond a question, and this is an additional reason for entertaining a jubilant feeling in this year of our great jubilee. The chief cause, however, of the moderate tone of the contest between the two great contending parties is that there is really so little difference between them, so far as any essential principle is involved, the contest being narrowed down to a choice of men rather than to an assertion of principles. And even in the choice of men there is so little to contend for that there is a widespread opinion entertained that the two leaders under whose banners the fight is to be conducted are both Great Unknowns; and there will hardly be time, after the nominations shall have been made, to get up much enthusiasm on either side. Certainly neither of the distinguished citizens whose names are now publicly discussed in connection with the nominations to be made are men calculated to create much popular enthusiasm.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

Machinery hall

Machinery Hall at the Exposition

 

May 28– Sunday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Birth of Katharine Blunt, educator, home economist, nutritionist and author who will serve as president of Connecticut College from 1929 to 1943. [Dies July 29, 1954.]

May 29– Monday– Somerville, Massachusetts– Birth of Helen Woodard, home economist, researcher, author, and journal editor who will serve in the U S Department of Agriculture from 1909 to 1923 as well as on a number of committees relating to food, health, children and women. [Dies June 26, 1947.]

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Helen Woodard

 

May 30– Tuesday– Constantinople, Turkey– Sultan Abdulaziz, age 46, ruler of the Ottoman Empire since June, 1861, is deposed by a group of his ministers.

May~Election Year 1932

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The United States keeps falling into the Great Depression and citizens look to the federal government to do something. Violence and political troubles shake Germany, France, New Zealand, Peru, Japan, India, Austria and Cuba.

May 2– Washington, D.C.– In the case of Nixon v Condon, the Supreme Court by a 5 to 4 decision holds the Democratic Party’s primary election system in Texas which excludes black people is unconstitutional. Justice Benjamin Cardozo writes the majority opinion while Justice James McReynolds writes for the four dissenters. Cardozo, age 62, is the newest member of the Court, appointed by the president on March 2nd.

Benjamin_Cardozo

Benjamin Cardozo

 

May 3– Tuesday– New York City– Columbia University announces the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes who include five reporters from the Detroit Free Press, one from the St Louis Post-Dispatch, one from the New York Times, and a cartoonist from the Chicago Tribune. Book awards go to Henry F Pringle for his biography Theodore Roosevelt, Pearl Buck for The Good Earth and retired General John J Pershing for My Experiences in the World War.

May 3– Tuesday– Sacramento, California– John Nance Garner, age 63, a lawyer and politician from Texas, wins the Democratic primary.

May 4– Wednesday– Moscow, Russia– The Soviet union and Estonia sign a non-aggression pact.

May 5– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The imperative need of the nation today is a definite and conclusive program for balancing the budget. Uncertainty is disastrous. It must be in every sense a national program. Sectional, partisan, group, or class considerations can have no place in it. Ours is a government of all the people, created to protect and promote the common good, and when the claims of any group or class are inconsistent with the welfare of all, they must give way.” ~ Message from President Herbert Hoover to Congress.

May 6– Friday– Paris, France– President Paul Doumer, age 75, is shot and mortally wounded by a Russian emigre named Paul Gorguloff at a book fair.

May 7– Saturday– Paris, France– President Paul Doumer dies of his wound.

May 9– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Hoover vetoes a bill which have allowed civilians who served in the Quartermaster Corps to be cared for in old soldiers’ home.

May 10– Tuesday– Paris, France– Albert Francois Lebrun becomes the new President of France.

May 10– Tuesday– Wellington, New Zealand– A riot ensues when the government refuses to respond to the demands of 4,000 relief workers.

May 12– Thursday– Hopewell Township, New Jersey– The body of Charles Lindbergh, Jr, the 20 month old son Charles Lindbergh, is found two months after his kidnaping.

May 12– Thursday– Berlin, Germany– Wilhelm Groener, Defense Minister, resigns from his post. The Reichstag is shut down after violence by four Nazi members.

May 13– Friday– Marseilles, France– Former king Alfonso XIII of Spain is assaulted by a Spanish citizen.

May 14– Saturday– Mexico City, Mexico– The government breaks diplomatic relations with Peru after that country accused Mexican diplomats of plotting to stir up public disorder.

May 15– Sunday– Tokyo, Japan– A group of naval officers and army cadets assassinate Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi in a failed coup attempt.

May 17– Tuesday– Bombay, India– British troops end four days of rioting between Hindus and Muslims by opening fire on the rival crowds.

May 18– Wednesday– Havana, Cuba– Police arrest several hundred people on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

May 19– Dublin, Ireland– By a vote of 77 to 69, the lower house of the Irish Free State parliament passes a bill to abolish the oath of allegiance to the English king which was mandated of all legislators by the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 which had concluded the Irish War for Independence.

May 20– Friday– Vienna, Austria– Engelbert Dollfuss becomes Chancellor of Austria.

Earhart

Amelia Earhart

 

May 21–Saturday– Culmore, Northern Ireland–Amelia Earhart, age 34, arrives from Newfoundland, becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Engine trouble prevents her from going on to Paris as Charles Lindbergh had done.

May 22–Sunday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania–The Pittsburgh Courier, an African American newspaper, criticizes the Hoover administration for providing only segregated facilities for black Gold Star Mothers going to visit the graves of their sons in Europe.

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Robert L Vann, founding editor of Pittsburgh Courier

 

May 22– Sunday– County Galway, Ireland– Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory, folklorist, poet, dramatist and key figure in the Irish literary revival, dies of breast cancer at 80 years of age.

May 22– Sunday– Tokyo, Japan– The Emperor appoints Saito Makoto as the new Prime Minister.

May 23– Monday– Geneva, Switzerland– The scientist Albert Einstein, age 53, issues a call for pacifists worldwide to demand total disarmament to take place within the next five years. “War can’t be humanized. It can only be abolished,” he asserts.

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Albert Einstein, circa 1921

 

May 25– Wednesday– Rome, Italy– Italy and Turkey renew their non-aggression treaty of 1928 for another five years and agree to improved trade relations.

May 26– Thursday– Hamburg, Germany– The shortage of food leads to a riot in which two people are killed.

May 27– Friday– Washington, D.C.– At his press conference President Hoover explains his opposition to a pending bill in Congress. “A total of over 3,500 projects of various kinds are proposed in this bill, scattered into every quarter of the United States. Many of these projects have heretofore been discredited by Congress because of useless extravagance involved. Many were originally authorized as justified only in the long-distant future. I do not believe that 20 percent could be brought to the stage of employment for a year. I am advised by the engineers that the amount of labor required to complete a group of $400 million of these works would amount to only 100,000 men for 1 year because they are in large degree mechanized jobs. This is not unemployment relief. It is the most gigantic pork barrel ever proposed to the American Congress. It is an unexampled raid on the Public Treasury. Detailed lists of these projects have been broadcast to every part of the country during the past 24 hours, to the cities, towns, villages, and sections who would receive a portion of this pork barrel. It is apparently expected that the cupidity of these towns and sections will demand that their Congressmen and Senators vote for this bill or threaten to penalize them if they fail to join in this squandering of money. I just do not believe that such lack of intelligence or cupidity exists amongst the people of the United States.”

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President Herbert Hoover

 

May 30– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I have received Your Majesty’s gracious message. The tribute which you and the Belgian people are paying on Decoration Day to the memory of those American soldiers and sailors who gave their lives for the cause of justice and whose bodies rest in Belgium, echoes and resounds in every American heart with gratitude and affection for their Belgian comrades and friends. I and my fellow country men in dedicating this day to our own dead will be keenly mindful of your own country’s great sacrifice and will bend our heads in silent prayer for Belgium’s heroic dead.” ~ Message from President Hoover to King Albert of Belgium, in response to the king’s memorial day message of friendship.

May ~ Election Year 1864

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Certainly before this time, no American president had faced re-election in the midst of a difficult war, compounded by problems at home and abroad. Union military operations seemed stalled– Grant unable to reach Richmond, Sherman not yet at Atlanta. Casualties keep mounting higher and higher. A bogus proclamation appears in several New York newspapers. Black soldiers had been massacred. Radical Republicans break from the party and nominate their own candidate. A European power is meddling in the affairs of Mexico. Many fear that Lincoln cannot win again.

May 1– Sunday– New York City– “In another column we give copious extracts from our files of English journals, together with translations of notable passages from our French files, to illustrate the popular feeling abroad regarding the progress of events in Mexico. The supercilious, insulting tone in which reference is made to the disability of our Government to interfere at present with the erection of a monarchy upon the ruins of the Mexican Republic might, and perhaps would, excite our indignation, were it not for the ludicrous perplexity in which both the English and French journalists appear to be regarding what has actually been accomplished by Napoleon, and the fears which seem to haunt them unless the would-be Emperor may not after all find his path to the Mexican capital strewn with roses.” ~ New York Times

May 2– Monday– Washington, D.C.– A group of 73 women, most of them the wives of senators, congressmen, judges, clergy or military officers, form a “Ladies National Covenant” and agree to help the war effort by refraining from purchasing European goods. “For the good of our country and the honor of our sex, let us redeem ourselves from this reproach of wanton extravagance.” They agree to encourage women across the country to make the same pledge.

May 2– Monday– St Louis, Missouri– Birth of Alice Bertha Kroeger, first daughter and second child of Adolph and Eliza Curren Kroeger. She will become a librarian, author, lecturerer, advocate for suffrage, organizer and first director of the school of library science at Drexel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [Dies October 31, 1909]

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Gideon Welles

 

May 3– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “At the Cabinet-meeting the President requested each member to give him an opinion as to what course the Government should pursue in relation to the recent massacre at Fort Pillow. The committee from Congress who have visited the scene returned yesterday and will soon report. All the reported horrors are said to be verified. The President wishes to be prepared to act as soon as the subject is brought to his notice officially, and hence Cabinet advice in advance. The subject is one of great responsibility and great embarrassment, especially before we are in possession of the facts and evidence of the committee. There must be something in these terrible reports, but I distrust Congressional committees. They exaggerate.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 5– Thursday– Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania– Birth of Elizabeth Jane Cochran, a/k/a Nellie Bly, journalist, author and inventor. [Dies January 27, 1922.]

May 5– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “I have written a letter to the President in relation to the Fort Pillow massacre, but it is not satisfactory to me, nor can I make it so without the evidence of what was done, nor am I certain that even then I could come to a conclusion on so grave and important a question. The idea of retaliation,– killing man for man,– which is the popular noisy demand, is barbarous, and I cannot assent to or advise it. . . . The whole subject is beset with difficulties. I cannot yield to any inhuman scheme of retaliation. Must wait the publication of the testimony.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 6– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Between Mr. Bates and Mr. Blair a suggestion came out that met my views better than anything that had previously been offered. It is that the President should by proclamation declare the officers who had command at the massacre outlaws, and require any of our officers who may capture them, to detain them in custody and not exchange them, but hold them to punishment. . . . I expressed myself favorable to this new suggestion, which relieved the subject of much of the difficulty. It avoids communication with the Rebel authorities. Takes the matter in our own hands. We get rid of the barbarity of retaliation. Stanton fell in with my suggestion, so far as to propose that, should Forrest, or Chalmers, or any officer conspicuous in this butchery be captured, he should be turned over for trial for the murders at Fort Pillow. I sat beside Chase and mentioned to him some of the advantages of this course, and he said it made a favorable impression. I urged him to say so, for it appeared to me that the President and Seward did not appreciate it. We get no tidings from the front. There is an impression that we are on the eve of a great battle and that it may already have commenced.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 7– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Some fragmentary intelligence comes to us of a conflict of the two great armies. A two days’ fight is said to have taken place. The President came into my room about 1 p.m., and told me he had slept none last night. He lay down for a short time on the sofa in my room and detailed all the news he had gathered.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

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May 9– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “To the Friends of the Union and Liberty: Enough is known of the army operations within the last five days to claim our especial gratitude to God, while what remains undone demands our most sincere prayers to and reliance upon Him, without whom all human efforts are in vain. I recommend that all patriots, at their homes, in their places of public worship, and wherever they may be, unite in common thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God.” ~ Proclamation by President Lincoln.

May 13– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The army news is interesting and as well received as the great loss of life will permit. Hancock has made a successful onset and captured Edward Johnson and two other generals, with about fifty other officers and four thousand prisoners, thirty pieces of cannon, etc. General Sheridan, with his cavalry, has got in rear of Lee and destroyed about ten miles of railroad, captured two trains, and destroyed the depot of Rebel supplies at Beaver Dam. Our troops are in good heart and everything looks auspicious for the republic. Many valuable lives have been offered up for the Union, and many a Rebel has fallen.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 13– Friday– Morris Island, South Carolina– “We have been fighting as brave as ever there was any soldiers fought. I know if every regiment that are out and have been out would have done as well as we have the war would be over. I do really think that it’s God’s will that this war Shall not end till the Colored people get their rights. It goes very hard for the White people to think of it But by God’s will and power they will have their rights. Us that are living now may not live to see it. I shall die a trying for our rights so that other that are born hereafter may live and enjoy a happy life.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Jacob Christy, a black man, to his sister Mary Jane Demus.

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May 16– Monday– near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia– “We have had the best of the fighting so far and its my opinion that General Grant has got Lee in a pretty tight spot. We had a severe fight here on the 12th and the loss was heavy on both sides . . . . The Army is in first rate spirits and everyone seems confident and hopeful.”~ Letter from Union soldier George Whitman to his mother Louisa.

May 18– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Mr. Seward informed me that a forged proclamation had been published by sundry papers in New York, among others by the World and Journal of Commerce, imposing a fast on account of the failures of Grant and calling for a draft of 300,000 men. Seward said he at once sent on contradicting it . . . . He then had called on Stanton to know whether such a document had passed over the regular telegraph. Stanton said there had not. . . . Seward then asked if the World and Journal of Commerce had been shut up. Stanton said he knew of their course only a minute before. Seward said the papers had been published a minute too long; and Stanton said if he and the President directed, they should be suspended. Seward thought there should be no delay. Gold, under the excitement, has gone up ten per cent . . . . It seems to have been a cunningly devised scheme– probably by the Rebels and the gold speculators, as they are called, who are in sympathy with them.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 18– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas there has been wickedly and traitorously printed and published this morning in the New York World and New York Journal of Commerce, newspapers printed and published in the city of New York, a false and spurious proclamation purporting to be signed by the President and to be countersigned by the Secretary of State, which publication is of a treasonable nature, designed to give aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States and to the rebels now at war against the Government and their aiders and abettors, you are therefore hereby commanded forthwith to arrest and imprison in any fort or military prison in your command the editors, proprietors, and publishers of the aforesaid newspapers, and all such persons as, after public notice has been given of the falsehood of said publication, print and publish the same with intent to give aid and comfort to the enemy; and you will hold the persons so arrested in close custody until they can be brought to trial before a military commission for their offense. You will also take possession by military force of the printing establishments of the New York World and Journal of Commerce, and hold the same until further orders, and prohibit any further publication therefrom.” ~ Executive order from President Lincoln to General John Adams Dix.

May 18– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Mother, I see such awful things– I expect one of these days, if I live, I shall have awful thoughts & dreams– but it is such a great thing to be able to do some real good, assuage these horrible pains & wounds, & save life even– that’s the only thing that keeps a fellow up,” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

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Walt Whitman

 

May 19– Thursday– New York City– “The undersigned, editors and publishers of a portion of the daily press of the city of New York, respectfully represent that the leading journals of this city sustain very extended telegraphic news arrangements, under an organization established in 1848 and known as the New York Associated Press, which is controlled by its members, acting through an executive committee, a general agent in this city, and assistant agents immediately responsible to the association at every important news center throughout this country and Europe. Under the above-named organization the rule has always been to transmit by telegraph all intelligence to the office of the general agent in this city, and by him the same is properly prepared for publication, and then written out by manifold process on tissue paper, and a copy of the same is sent simultaneously in sealed envelopes to each of the editors who are entitled to receive the same. From foregoing statement of facts Your Excellency will readily perceive that an ingenious rogue, knowing the manner in which the editors were supplied with much of their telegraphic news, could, by selecting his time and opportunity, easily impose upon editors or compositors the most wicked and fraudulent reports. . . . . the suspension by Your Excellency’s orders of the two papers last evening has had the effect to awaken editors and publishers and news agents, telegraph companies, &c., to the propriety of increased vigilance in their several duties, the undersigned respectfully request that Your Excellency will be pleased to rescind the order under which The World and the Journal of Commerce were suppressed.” ~ Message from Sidney Howard Gay of the New York Tribune, Erastus Brooks, of the New York Express, Frederick Hudson for James G. Bennett, of the New York Herald and Moses Sperry Beach, of the New York Sun to President Lincoln. [The four of them together represent a spectrum of both journalistic approaches and political views.]

May 19– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The bogus proclamation has been the principal topic to-day. The knowledge that it is a forgery has not quieted the public mind.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 21– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln decides to lift publication ban on New York newspapers World and Journal of Commerce.

May 23– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The author of the forged proclamation has been detected. His name is Howard, and he has been long connected with the New York press, but especially with the Times. . . . He is of a pestiferous class of reckless sensation-writers for an unscrupulous set of journalists who misinform the public mind. Scarcely one of them has regard for truth, and nearly all make use of their positions to subserve selfish, mercenary ends. This forger and falsifier Howard is a specimen of the miserable tribe. The seizure of the office of the World and Journal of Commerce for publishing this forgery was hasty, rash, inconsiderate, and wrong, and cannot be defended. They are mischievous and pernicious, working assiduously against the Union and the Government and giving countenance and encouragement to the Rebellion, but were in this instance the dupes, perhaps the willing dupes, of a knave and wretch.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 28–Saturday– Veracruz, Mexico– The nobles Maximilian, age 32, and his wife Charlotte, age 24, arrive from Europe. Maximilian has claimed the throne of Mexico at urging of and with the military support of French Emperor Napoleon III. [Maximilian will be captured by the Mexicans and executed June 19, 1867. Charlotte will flee to Europe before her husband’s capture and will eventually die in seclusion in Belgium on January 19, 1927.]

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Emperor Maximilian

 

May 30– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The army movements have been interesting for the last few days, though not sensational. Grant has not obtained a victory but performed another remarkably successful flank movement. Sherman is progressing in Georgia.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 31–Tuesday– Cleveland, Ohio–A convention of 350 Radical Republicans nominates John C Fremont for president and John Cochran of New York for vice-president. Their platform calls for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, no compromise with the Confederacy, a one term limit for the office of president, direct election of president and vice-president, a policy of reconstruction for the defeated South to be set by Congress and not the president, the plantations of Southern rebels to be given to Union veterans and no toleration of “the establishment of any anti-republican government on this continent by any foreign power.”

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John C Fremont

 

May 31–Tuesday– Washington, D.C.–The House of Representatives defeats a resolution for a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery [which will eventually become the Thirteenth Amendment] by a vote of 55 in favor but 75 opposed.

May ~ Election Year 1856

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If there was any doubt, it becomes even more clear that slavery is a political and religious issue diving the country. Increased violence in Kansas provides a preview of what will come in 1861. And the attack upon Massachusetts Senator Sumner in the Senate chamber adds fuel to an increasing fire.

May 2– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “It is in no spirit of pride or fancied superiority that we make our appeal, but rather in a spirit of self-humiliation, remembering that we also (by being a part of the nation) are implemented in upholding slavery, and partakers (in a measure) of this very great iniquity. Therefore do we the more earnestly, but respectfully, appeal to you to do all in your power for the immediate, entire and unqualified emancipation of all the slaves throughout our land; and, so far as rights are concerned, place them, together with the free blacks, on an equality with the whites. Especially do we appeal to you, on the ground of justice and legality, to permit no slavery in the Territories, to do away with the domestic slave traffic between the States, and slavery in the District of Columbia. Congress having exclusive jurisdiction over these, we consider you have not even a legal, much less a just excuse for permitting or continuing slavery in them. And, in case of non-performance, we conceive the very great responsibility will attach to you of endangering the peace and the welfare of this great nation, for the best antagonistic in principle, cannot dwell together without eventually destroying the peace and unity, which should bind together, in the arms of justice and love, all nations. Under a sense of this great evil, we entreat you to labor untiringly for the establishing in the nation the standard of right. Delays are dangerous: the present time only is available for the performance of duty.” ~ Petition to the U S Congress from a quarterly meeting of the Society of Friends [Quakers], held at Easton, New York, reprinted in The Liberator.

May 5– Monday– Boscawen, New Hampshire– Birth of Lucy Jane Ames a/k/a Lucia True Ames Mead, pacifist, internationalist, suffragist, author, lecturer and an activist in the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Peace Society, the National Council for the Prevention of War and the League for Permanent Peace. [Dies November 1, 1936.]

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Lucia True Ames Mead

 

May 6– Tuesday– Freiberg, Moravia, in the Austrian Empire [now part of the Czech Republic]– Birth of Sigmund Freud, neurologist and father of psychoanalysis. [Dies September 23, 1939.]

May 7– Wednesday– New York City– “We may now end this crime against humanity by ballots; wait a little and only with sword and blood can this deep and widening blot of shame be scoured out from the Continent. No election since that first and unopposed of Washington has been so important to America as this now before us. Once the nation chose between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson. When the choice is between slavery and freedom, will the North choose wrong? Any railroad company may, by accident, elect a knave for President, but when he has been convicted for squandering their substance on himself, and blowing up their engines, nay, destroying their sons and daughters, will the stockholders choose the swindler forever? I think we shall put slavery down. I have small doubt of that. But shall we do it now and without tumult, or by and by with a dreadful revolution, . . . massacres and the ghastly work of war? Shall America decide for wickedness, extend the dark places of the earth, filled up fuller with the habitations of cruelty? Then our ruin is certain—is also just. The power of self-rule, which we were not fit for, will pass from our hands, and the halter of vengeance will grip our neck, and America will lie there on the shore of the sea, one other victim who fell as the fool dieth. What a ruin it would be! Come away– I cannot look even in fancy on so foul a sight!” ~ Speech of Theodore Parker at the annual meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society.

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Theodore Parker

 

May 9– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Are these the ‘Evangelical Christians’ whom the officers of the Tract Society dare not offend? These men, who sell their brother-believers, because they are poor, to ‘support the Gospel’ for themselves and their children – who make the family a farce, and build their churches by such horrible co-partnership with the dealers in human souls– are they the ones whose resistance is to still the voice of American Christendom on those questions of our times which are a thousand-fold more deep and urgent than any other? Is it the men whose hands are dripping with this bloody sweat, wrung from the anguished souls whom God created in his own image, and whom the Savior died to redeem, whose anticipated remonstrance is more powerful at the Tract House than all the impulses of Humanity and Religion? Fellow-Christians at the North—Fellow-CHRISTIANS at the South, if there are those there, as we believe, to whom such horrible wickedness as this is just as abhorrent as it is to us – shall these things be, without dissent, and be for ever! Then there is one inspired utterance of the great and fervent Apostle to the Gentiles which flashes into the memory like a very bolt of light from the mind of God himself: ‘Ye Cannot Drink the Cup of The Lord, and the Cup of Devils !’” ~ The Liberator

May 11– Sunday– Monterey, California– Thee Mexicans along with one Native American, all awaiting trial, are snatched from the jail and lynched by a mob.

May 14– Wednesday– Salamanca, New York– Birth of Julia Dempsey, who in 1878 will enter an order of Catholic nuns, taking the name of Sister Mary Joseph and will become a hospital administrator and surgical assistant to Dr William J Mayo at St Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. [Dies March 29, 1939.]

May 16– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “It is [the] Democratic [Party] now to break faith plighted between the States, in compacts made to preserve the Union and its peace. It is [the] Democratic [Party] now to break faith with the constitution, and violate the representative principle on which our republics are all founded. It is [the] Democratic [Party] now to disobey the instructions of constituent bodies, and exert the force of the Government to defeat the efforts of the people to redress the wrong committed by one set of representatives, by turning them out and choosing another. It is [the] Democratic [Party] now, after nullifying the clause authorizing Congress to make rules and regulations for the Territories, and all the compromises regulating their mode of settlement, and Interpolating the new principle of non-intervention as the substitute, to connive at the use of armed force to defeat the new law—to drive the settlers from the polls where they were invited to decide the question of Slavery—to introduce voters from a slave State to impose Slavery on the Territory against the w of the rightful voters, the actual settlers—and to elect a Legislature representing the slaveholders of the invading State—to usurp the Government of the Territory—repeal the organic act of Congress, and destroy the rights guaranteed under it. It is [the] Democratic [Party] now to defend the establishment of test oaths, requiring all settlers opposed to slavery to swear allegiance to a law they hold to be unconstitutional, to entitle them to suffrage, and enabling these not entitled to vote as settlers, to avoid taking the oath of residence, on which the right of suffrage depends, by paying a dollar as a substitute for all other qualifications. It is [the] Democratic [Party] now to expel, as aliens, citizens invited by the act of Congress to settle the Territory, and to intimidate emigrants opposed to slavery from entering, by examples of Lynch law which would disgrace barbarians. It is [the] Democratic [Party] now to put sedition laws, prohibiting discussion and the denial of slave-ownership where slavery was not authorized, denouncing the penalty of death against that as a crime which the organic law required as a duty to be performed by the people. It is [the] Democratic [Party] now in a President to see his reign of terror established by force of arms, and a usurpation made to triumph over the laws of the United States, by a series of invasions publicly prepared, announced in advance, and occupying more than a year in accomplishing their object, and yet not to raise a finger to avert the wrong; but after its consummation, to proclaim that he would use all the force of the Union, of the army and the militia, if necessary, to maintain it.” ~ The Liberator.

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May 17– Saturday–New York City– “The Legislature of Ohio has adjourned without doing anything towards extending the privileges of the elective franchise to those who are deprived of it by constitutional provision. Memorials for this purpose were addressed to the Legislature in behalf of the disfranchised women and colored people. Some of the petitions embracing both classes, others one of them. The colored people themselves sent in a memorial, in regard to their case, which was referred to a special committee. So far as we are informed, that committee never reported at all on the subject. A joint committee of both Houses was appointed to report amendments to the Constitution. They reported several clauses for amendment. But no redress was proposed for the disfranchised. The Presidential election was too near at hand, for a majority of Republicans to jeopardize their prospect of success, by advocating or granting equal rights to all.” ~ National Anti-Slavery Standard.

May 20– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– In the Senate, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts delivers a passionate verbal attack upon slavery, the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the senators who support both.

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Senator Sumner

 

May 20– Tuesday– Edinburgh, Scotland– Birth of Helen Hopekirk, composer, concert performer and educator. [Dies November 19, 1945.]

May 21– Wednesday– New York City– Birth of Grace Hoadley Dodge, social welfare worker, educator, author, advocate for working women and philanthropist. [Dies December 27, 1914.]

May 21– Wednesday– Lawrence, Kansas– Pro-slavery forces attack and burn much of the town.

May 22– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– In the Senate chamber Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina viciously attacks Senator Charles Sumner with a stout wooden cane and so seriously injures him that Sumner will be unable to return to the Senate until 1859. [On Sumner and the attack, see: Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War (1960) by David Herbert Donald; The Caning of Charles Sumner (2003) by Lloyd Benson; The Caning: the Assault That Drove America to Civil War (2012) by Stephen Puleo.

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May 23– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Friend Garrison, That devoted and efficient worker in the field of anti-slavery labor, Sallie Holley, spoke in Florence last Thursday evening, and twice in this village on Sunday, the 18th, in the Town Hall. This is her first visit to Northampton, and I think her lectures have been quite useful to the cause. She spoke earnestly and impassioned. Her meetings were not large, but composed of attentive and thoughtful listeners. This, you know, is a church-going town, and so full of piety that there is no room for the practical religion of anti-slavery. The eulogizers of Daniel Webster can have the highest pulpit in the place, while the Christ-like defender of the outraged and down-trodden slave would be deemed a sacrilegious and Sabbath-breaking intruder. Still, there are progressive spirits here and if the so-called religion teachers would go into the kingdom themselves, or suffer them that are entering to go in, the town might be thoroughly abolitionized; and so of every other place.” ~ Letter to Garrison from Seth Nuni, appearing in today’s issue of The Liberator. [On the life and work of Sallie Holley (1818–1893), see A Life for Liberty: Anti-slavery and Other Letters of Sallie Holley (1899) by John White Chadwick.]

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Sallie Holley

 

May 24– Saturday– New York City– “The Anti-Slavery cause has at length, after a quarter of a century of labors, taken possession, in one form or another, of almost every mind in our American community. To men of great sympathies, it has shown the sufferings of the slave; to men of a profound sense of right, it has shown his wrongs; to men whose hope is in another life, it has shown him deprived of Bibles, and Sabbaths, and sanctuary privileges; to men whose hope is in this life, it has shown him deprived of education and the means of self-improvement and success. To patriots, it has shown their country’s shame and danger. To politicians, it has shown one most selfish and accursed interest devouring every true one. To Christians, it has shown their Redeemer crucified afresh in the persons of these the least of his brethren. To philanthropists, it has shown human nature degraded and ruined in the person of both master and slave, by the outrages of the one against the liberty of the other.” ~ The National Anti-Slavery Standard.

May 24– Saturday– Dutch Henry’s Crossing, Kansas Territory– Militant abolitionist John Brown and his followers kill 25 pro-slavery settlers.

May 26– Monday– Wilmington, North Carolina–What we have to say with regard to this affair shall be brief. We think Sumner deserved what he got, but we do not approve the conduct of Brooks. Sumner had not insulted him, and he was not called upon to resent an indignity offered to Senator Butler, even though the latter was his relative and absent. Again, he attacked Sumner under very reprehensible circumstances. He caned him in the Senate chamber, and took him, moreover, at an advantage – while sitting in his chair. The Senate Chamber is not the arena for exhibitions of this character. It is disgraceful that scenes of violence like these should be permitted to occur within it. – If Congress is to be leveled to a mere ring for bullying and fighting, we had best amend the Constitution and abolish the Congress. We should at least preserve more respectability at home and abroad.” ~ Wilmington Daily Herald

May 29– Thursday– Charleston, South Carolina– Reverend Thomas Smith (1808– 1873), a Presbyterian minister, sells about half of the 20,000 books in his personal library to Columbia [South Carolina] Theological Seminary for $14,400. [This would equal $415,000 in today’s dollars using the Consumer Price Index.]

May 30– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– In today’s issue of The Liberator, Garrison provides detailed information about the “attempt to murder” Senator Charles Sumner and on the destruction of Lawrence, Kansas.

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damage to Lawrence, Kansas

 

May 31– Saturday– Washington, D. C.– “The Senate, last Thursday, was crowded with spectators, anxious to know what course that body would pursue in relation to the outrage on Mr. Sumner, and in vindication of its privileges. After the brief, unimpassioned statement made by Senator Wilson, . . . there was a pause, it being expected that some member of the majority would move in the matter, but, as it was soon evident that no motion would come from that quarter, Mr. Seward moved the appointment of a Committee. Then the majority spoke through Senator Mason, who, unwilling to trust the appointment of the Committee to the Chair, suggested that it be elected by the Senate. The motion having been amended accordingly, it was passed unanimously, and the Senate then elected Messrs. Cass, Allen, Dodge, Pearce, and Geyer– all political opponents of Mr. Sumner, the majority taking special care to allow on the Committee not a single political friend! Such is Senatorial magnanimity. Had any other deliberating body done likewise, we might have been surprised. However, we are content. It is well that the majority have assumed the responsibility of determining what are the rights and privileges of the Senate, what protection is due to its members. Let them look at it. Their own rights are involved in the decision they may make. Their action now must furnish a precedent for proceedings hereafter, should one of their own number become a victim to lawless violence. Majorities in this country are changing – the minority in that Senate is destined to become the majority, and rules now established it will then have the benefit of. In the House, as usual, an attempt was made to prevent any action in the premises, and at one time the Southern members seemed disposed, by a resort to factious motions and calls for the yeas and nays, to hold the majority at bay- but this policy was soon abandoned.” ~ The National Era.

Womens History~ Helen Hunt Jackson

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Helen Hunt Jackson

 

Helen Fiske Hunt Jackson, poet, author, social researcher and advocate for Native Americans, was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on October 15, 1830. By the time she was 18, she and her sister were orphans. However, their father had provided for their education. On October 28, 1852, she married Lieutenant Edward Hunt, a brother of New York’s Governor Washington Hunt. She bore two sons to Hunt, both of whom died as children. Hunt himself died in an accident in October of 1863. Ms Hunt began her writing career after the death of her husband. She was a life-long friend of the poet Emily Dickinson and became a friend of Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Ralph Waldo Emerson. While traveling in Colorado for her health she met William Jackson, a wealthy Quaker, whom she married on October 22, 1875. With the advantages of her husband’s wealth, Ms Jackson was free to pursue her social and political interests as well as her poetry and fiction writing. A fiery and prolific writer, Ms Jackson engaged in heated exchanges with federal officials over the injustices committed against Native American tribes. Among her special targets was the Secretary of Interior, Carl Schurz, whom she once labeled “the most adroit liar I ever knew,” as she exposed the government’s violation of numerous treaties with the tribes. She documented the corruption and misdealings of Indian agents, military officers, and white settlers stole reserved native lands. Ms Jackson won the support of several newspaper editors who published her reports, including editor William Hayes Ward of the New York Independent, Richard Watson Gilder of the Century Magazine, and publisher Whitelaw Reid of the New York Daily Tribune. Her dramatic and well-documented expose, Century of Dishonor, appeared in 1881 and her romantic novel about the same issues, Ramona, was published in 1884. Helen Hunt Jackson died of cancer on August 12, 1885 in San Francisco, California.

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Century of Dishonor continues to be in print and her novels and poems remain available to interested readers. For information about her life, See: Lives of Girls Who Became Famous (1886) by Sarah K Bolton; Report of Mrs Helen Hunt Jackson and Abbot Kinney on the Mission Indians in 1883 (1887); Helen Hunt Jackson (1939) by Ruth Odell; Helen Hunt Jackson (1987) by Rosemary Whitaker; Westward to a High Mountain: the Colorado Writings of Helen Hunt Jackson (1994) edited by Mark I West; She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (1997) edited by Janet Gray; Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Policy (1997) by Valerie Sherer Mathes; The Indian Reform Letters of Helen Hunt Jackson, 1879-1885 (1998) edited by Valerie Sherer Mathes.

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Women’s History Month~Mary Ann Shadd Cary

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Mary Ann Shadd Cary was an African American abolitionist, suffragist, educator, journalist, editor, lecturer and late in life a lawyer. During the Civil War she helped to recruit black soldiers for the Union Army. Because she was frank and outspoken all her life, opponents described her as “unladylike”– a common criticism made against “uppity” nineteenth century women. She was born on October 9, 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware, and died on June 5,1893 in Washington, D.C.

MaryAnnShadd

Mary Ann Shadd Cary

 

To learn more about her, see: Traveling Economies: American Women’s Travel Writing (2007) by Jennifer Bernhardt Steadman; I Dare Not Fail: Notable African American Educators (2004) by Mary Wilds; Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century (1988) edited by August Meier and Leon Litwack; Shadd: the Life and Times of Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1977) by Jim Bearden and Linda Jean Butler; The Blacks in Canada: a History (1971) by R. W. Winks; Black Utopia: Negro Communal Experiments in America (1963) by William H Pease and Jane H Pease; Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction (1926) by Hallie Q Brown; The Rising Son (1874) by William Wells Brown