Tag Archives: American presidents

The Election of 1852

Woman making American Flag

Election day took place on Tuesday, November 2, 1852. The Democrat Franklin Pierce won the presidency, beating the Whig candidate Winfield Scott and Free Soil candidate John Hale. There were 4,539,713 people registered to vote, accounting for only 18.2% of the total population. Women could not vote, thus excluding almost half of the population. Male slaves and the majority of free black men were also excluded as were most all Native Americans. Many states also required a man to own property in order to register to vote. Of the men eligible to vote, about 69.6% actually did so.

Winfield Scott received 1,386,942 votes, 43.9% of those cast. However, he carried only Kentucky, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Vermont.

Franklin Pierce received 1,607,510 votes, 50.8% of those cast. He carried the 27 other states but by narrow margins in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Ohio. In Ohio he won by only 47.8% of the votes because the Free Soil Party with its anti-slavery platform won 9.0% of the vote, thereby costing Scott the state and its 23 votes in the Electoral College.

John Hale received 155,799 votes. The Free Soil Party did well in Massachusetts (22.2% of the vote), Vermont (19.6%), Wisconsin (13.6%) and New Hampshire (13.0%) with a respectable showing in Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island (all Northern states).

Several smaller third parties won a combined total of 11,480 votes.

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The Democrats called Winfield Scott “Fuss ‘n Feathers,” a prima donna with a penchant for fancy uniforms resulting in a “Reign of Epaulets” and described him as “weak, conceited, foolish, a blustering disciple of gunpowder” and hostile to immigrants.

The Whigs labeled Franklin Pierce “the Fainting General” [like Scott he had commanded troops in war against Mexico, 1846 to 48]. They posed the question “Who is Franklin Pierce?” to suggest he was an unknown with not proven track record of political service. They attacked the Democratic Party as “the do-nothing school of politicians” who were not interested in American free workers, concerned first and foremost with the propertied interests of the South.

Real issues concerned the Compromise of 1850 and enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. These matters in particular helped to make this the last election in which the Whig Party participated as it floundered and dissolved with Southern Whigs joining the pro-slavery Democratic Party and Northern Whigs either joining a third party movement or, like Attorney Abraham Lincoln in Illinois, joining the new Republican Party.

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The publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 2 volume book form in March of the year added fuel to the fiery debate about slavery. Also the year saw the death of two major political figures– Henry Clay of Kentucky on June 29th and Daniel Webster of Massachusetts on October 24th, nine days before the election.

Based on the states carried, Pierce received 254 votes in the Electoral College while Scott received only 42. Additionally, the Democrats won 3 additional seats in the Senate and an additional 19 in the House of Representatives.

The fate of the Whig Party in 1852 and the four following years causes me to wonder if this year and the next four will see a similar dissolution of the Republican Party. Could it be that the current Republican candidate has headed the party of Lincoln into a train wreck?

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September ~ Election Year 1864

Woman making American Flag

General Sherman captures Atlanta and thereby provides a great boost to Lincoln’s campaign. Supporters such as Reverend Finney and George Templeton Strong feel increasingly optimistic about Lincoln’s re-election, the end of slavery and the conclusion of the war. On the international stage, Canada moves toward unification and the First International is formed in London, both events having effect upon the United States well into the twentieth century.

September 1– Thursday– Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada– Twenty-three delegates representing Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada [a union of Upper and Lower Canada created in 1841, now roughly equal to the provinces of Ontario and Quebec] meet to open a conference to consider the first steps toward confederation and the formation of modern Canada.

September 2– Friday– Atlanta, Georgia– Mayor James Calhoun and a small delegation ride out toward Union lines with a white flag to surrender. When they met a contingent of Federal troops Mayor Calhoun hands them a letter for General Sherman which simply says, “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.” By early afternoon, Union troops reach downtown, occupy the city hall and raise the flag of the United States which has not flown there in over three years.

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September 3– Saturday– Lovejoy’s Station, Georgia– “Atlanta is ours and fairly won.” ~ Telegram from General Sherman to President Lincoln and the War Department.

September 3– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “New York City is shouting for McClellan, and there is a forced effort elsewhere to get a favorable response to the almost traitorous proceeding at Chicago. As usual, some timid Union men are alarmed, and there are some . . . who falter, and another set, like Greeley, who have an uneasy, lingering hope that they can yet have an opportunity to make a new candidate. But this will soon be over. The Chicago platform is unpatriotic, almost treasonable to the Union. The issue is made up. It is whether a war shall be made against Lincoln to get peace with Jeff Davis. Those who met at Chicago prefer hostility to Lincoln rather than to Davis. Such is extreme partisanism [sic]. . . This is the demon of party– the days of its worst form– a terrible spirit, which in its excess leads men to rejoice in the calamities of their country and to mourn its triumphs. Strange, and wayward, and unaccountable are men. While the facts are as I have stated, I cannot think these men are destitute of love of country; but they permit party prejudices and party antagonisms to absorb their better natures.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

September 3– Saturday– Stephenson’s Depot, Virginia– “We learn by the late papers that McClellan & Pendleton are the nominees of the Chicago Convention – I have not seen the Platform – but think it must be a peace one – Pendleton is a southern man in principle & it is thought he will be for peace – everything indicates a strong peace movement in the North & they may succeed in electing their candidates.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara.

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September 4– Sunday– New York City– Women working as seamstresses, making garments for Union soldiers, petition the Federal government for a fair wage for their work.

September 5– Monday– Atlanta, Georgia– “I think the military prospect is brightening and Mr. Lincoln will be re-elected, but, even if McClellan should be chosen, unless he repudiates every act and word of his past life, his course cannot be essentially different. It is quite remarkable how diametrically opposed McClellan’s course has been to that advocated by the present peace faction of the Democratic party.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

September 8– Thursday– Orange, New Jersey– “I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, informing me of my nomination by the Democratic National Convention, recently held at Chicago, as their candidate at the next election for President of the United States. It is unnecessary for me to say to you that this nomination comes to me unsought. I am happy to know that when the nomination was made, the record of my public life was kept in view. . . . The existence of more than one Government over the region which once owned our flag is incompatible with the peace, the power, and the happiness of the people. The preservation of our Union was the sole avowed object for which the war was commenced. It should have been conducted for that object only and in accordance with those principles which I took occasion to declare in active service. Thus conducted, the work of reconciliation would have been easy, and we might have reaped the benefits of our many victories on land and sea. . . . A vast majority of our people, whether in the army and navy or at home, would, as I would, hail with unbounded joy the permanent restoration of peace, on the basis of the Union under the Constitution without the effusion of another drop of blood. But no peace can be permanent without union. . . . Believing that the views here expressed are those of the Convention and the people you represent, I accept the nomination. I realize the weight of the responsibility to be borne, should the people ratify your choice. Conscious of my own weakness, I can only seek fervently the guidance of the Ruler of the Universe, and, relying on His all-powerful aid, do my best to restore union and peace to a suffering people, and to establish and guard their liberties and rights.” ~ Letter from George B. McClellan to the Democratic National Committee, accepting the nomination.

September 9– Friday– New York City– “McClellan’s letter of acceptance is in the morning papers. Will it help much? It is made up of platitudes floating in mucilage, without a single plain word against treason and rebellion. It has no ring of true metal, and no suggestion of magnetic power in word, phrase, or thought. . . . Now that Atlanta has fallen, rebel newspapers discover that it was not worth holding and declare that Sherman’s occupation of it is quite a blow top the Federal cause and equivalent to a rebel victory. Nothing is so characteristic of Southerners as brag (self-assertion, tall talking, and loud lying).” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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September 9– Friday– New York City– “I have no doubt but the enemy are exceedingly anxious to hold out until after the Presidential election. They have many hopes from its effects. They hope a counter-revolution. They hope the election of the peace candidate. . . . Our peace friends, if they expect peace from separation, are much mistaken. It would be but the beginning of war, with thousands of Northern men joining the South because of our disgrace in allowing separation. To have ‘peace on any terms,’ the South would demand the restoration of their slaves already freed; they would demand indemnity for losses sustained, and they would demand a treaty which would make the North slave-hunters for the South; they would demand pay for the restoration of every slave escaped to the North.” ~ Letter from Union General Ulysses S Grant to Elihu B Washburne, Republican Congressman from Illinois and a strong supporter of President Lincoln, quoted in today’s New York Times.

September 9– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The success of Sherman at Atlanta, following on that of Farragut at Mobile, has very much discomposed the opposition. They had planned for a great and onward demonstration for their candidate and platform, but our naval and army successes have embarrassed them exceedingly. General McClellan, in his letter of acceptance, has sent out a different and much more creditable and patriotic set of principles than the convention which nominated him; but the two are wholly irreconcilable.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

September 13– Tuesday– New York City– “A great and decisive battle may be fought in Virginia before this week ends. There will be a murder grim and great, for Lee’s hungry cohorts will fight their best. Hundreds or thousands of men, enlisted to maintain and enforce the law of the land, will perish by the violence of masterful rebels. Our Copperheads . . . Peace Democrats and the candidates and leaders, McClellan and George H Pendleton . . . are answerable for the death of every national soldier who dies in his duty.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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September 13– Tuesday– Oberlin, Ohio– ” We are progressing hopefully & I think surely to the total extinction of slavery & to the subjugation of the rebel territory. Our army & navy are victorious & the end can not be far distant. It is a great wheel & at least appears to people abroad to move slowly. But in fact progress has been astonishingly rapid. To us who know what has to be done & what has been accomplished the changes have been unparalleled in the world’s history both in magnitude & in rapidity. We are now once more & I trust for the last time to have a political contest with the sympathies with rebellion at the north. I feel confident that the right will triumph & that in this political triumph that corrupt party [the Democratic] that was so long in league with the slave power had every thing in [the ] wrong way, will be finally used up.” ~ Letter from Reverend Charles G Finney to Robert and Elizabeth Best.

September 15– Thursday– New York City– “It seems impossible for the Democratic party to get rid of the idea that the main and everlasting aim and end of its existence is the defense of Slavery. Don Quixote was not more eager to rush to the aid and risk his life in the defense of forlorn and abused damsels of high degree, than the Democratic party has been at all times, and it seems still is, to rush to the defense of the old hag and harlot of Slavery.” ~ New York Times.

September 17–Saturday–Nahant, Massachusetts–John C Fremont withdraws as a candidate for president.

September 17– Saturday– New York City– “It’s certainly hard to vote for sustaining an Administration of which Stanton is a member. . . . Still it is a plain duty to uphold Lincoln, even with this millstone round his neck, as against the Chicago platform, McClellan and Pendleton.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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September 17– Saturday– Rochester, New York– “I, like many other radical men, freely criticized, in private and in public, the actions and utterances of Mr. Lincoln, and withheld from him my support. That possibility is now no longer conceivable; it is now plain that this country is to be governed or misgoverned during the next four years, either by the Republican Party represented in the person of Abraham Lincoln, or by the (miscalled) Democratic Party, represented by George B. McClellan. With this alternative clearly before us, all hesitation ought to cease, and every man who wishes well to the slave and to the country should at once rally with all the warmth and earnestness of his nature to the support of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and to the utter defeat and political annihilation of McClellan and Pendleton; for the election of the latter, with their well known antecedents, declared sentiments, and the policy avowed in the Chicago platform, would be the heaviest calamity of these years of war and blood, since it would upon the instant sacrifice and wantonly cast away everything valuable, purchased so dearly by the precious blood of our brave sons and brothers on the battlefield for the perfect liberty and permanent peace of a common country.” ~ Letter from Frederick Douglass to William Lloyd Garrison.

September 20– Tuesday– New York City– “Hurrah for Sheridan and Sherman! If Grant can but do as well as his lieutenants have done, the rebellion will be played out before November. The military value of this victory is great but it is worth still more as influencing the political campaign and contributing to the determination of the fearful issue that campaign is to decide: nationality or anarchy.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 21– Wednesday– New York City– “Sheridan seems doing much to help our defense. His victory of the 19th grows bigger and higher as we learn more about it and about his way of following it up. It was a hard-fought battle, decided at last by a heavy cavalry charge.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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September 21– Wednesday– Washington, D. C.– “The victory of Sheridan has a party-political influence. It is not gratifying to the opponents of the Administration. Some who want to rejoice in it feel it difficult to do so, because they are conscious that it strengthens the Administration, to which they are opposed. The partisan feeling begins to show itself strongly among men of whom it was not expected. . . . Some attempt is made by the Richmond papers to help the cause of McClellan by an affectation of dread of his superior military attainments and abilities and his greater zeal for the Union. The effort is so bald, so manifestly intended for their sympathizing friends, that no one can be deceived by it. There was a time when such stuff had a market in the North, but that time has gone by.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

September 23– Friday– Augusta, Georgia–”The doctrine of self government I suppose of course to be right and yet our Southern people do not appear to have learned the art, even if they had the right granted them. Where is there more power exercised than is displayed in the manner in which our Generals are ‘relieved’? But as to the doctrine of slavery altho I have read very few abolition books (Uncle Tom’s Cabin making most impression) nor have I read many pro slavery books, yet the idea has gradually become more and more fixed in my mind that the institution of slavery is not right . . . . During my comparatively short life, spent wholly under Southern skies, I have known of and heard too much of its demoralizing influence to consider the institution a blessing.” ~ Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas.

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September 25– Sunday– McMinnville, Tennessee– “With Sherman’s success in Georgia– Farragut’s at Mobile– Sheridan’s in the Shenandoah Valley—the death of General Morgan and other minor successes of the Federals—it is no wonder we feel gloomy. . . . Well, it grows harder and harder with us, oh! I dread this coming winter. . . . Great Heaven! when shall we have rest and peace? Will it ever come in our day? I am becoming a sad-souled woman– full of secret sorrows– full of heart-burnings, full of longing for the great and good– full of impatience and repining at the chains, the iron chains of everyday circumstance which bind me back from all that my better nature aspires to!” ~ Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

September 28– Wednesday– London, England– A varied assortment of leftists and radicals from England, Ireland, France, Germany, Poland and Italy meet at St Martin’s Hall. They form the International Workingmen’s Association [a/k/a The First International, which will function in various states of turmoil until 1876].

September ~ Election Year 1856

Woman making American Flag

Perhaps with an eye on advancement within the party, Lincoln works quite actively for the the Republican ticket. Radical abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison find no satisfaction with the Republicans or the Democrats or the Whigs, calling for the total and immediate end of slavery. Some fear dissolution of the country by Southern secession.

September 4– Thursday– Atlanta, Illinois– Attorney Abraham Lincoln delivers a speech in support of Fremont to a large crowd.

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September 5– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “If those who are so anxious to know what is our position in regard to the approaching presidential election would but consult a single number of The Liberator,(or, better still, subscribe for the paper for a limited period,) they would need no letters from us to enlighten them in the manner solicited. Our Meadville correspondent is confident that our views are much misrepresented, and he is right in his belief. By pseudo-Democratic journals, we are charged with advocating the election of Fremont; and by the Republican organs, we are held up as the partisans of Buchanan! The falsehood and dishonesty of such representations are well understood by those who put them in circulation. For more than a dozen years, we have uniformly reprobated all political action under the Constitution of the United States, and at all times branded that instrument as ‘a covenant with death and an agreement with hell,’—strenuously and solemnly urging upon the people of the North the duty of dissolving this blood-stained union, by the highest moral and religious considerations,—and, therefore, beseeching every true friend of freedom to stand outside of the government, and labor for its overthrow—thus nobly acting upon the doctrine and advice of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, that ‘when any form of government becomes destructive,’ of the ‘inalienable rights’ set forth in that document, ‘it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it,’ and ‘to provide new guards for their future security.’ Of course, entertaining such sentiments and avocation such a procedure as the test of fidelity to the cause of the oppressed, we are neither for Fremont, nor Buchanan, nor Fillmore, nor any other person to fill the Presidential chair, but for DISUNION as the great and first duty to be performed—as the only issue which can prevail against the Slave Power, and give liberty to the millions in bondage.” ~ William Lloyd Garrison’s editorial in today’s issue of The Liberator.

September 6– Saturday– Jacksonville, Illinois– Lincoln delivers a speech urging support for Fremont and encouraging anti-slavery Democrats not to vote for Buchanan but to support Fremont.

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Lawyer Lincoln

 

September 8– Monday– Springfield, Illinois– “I understand you are a Fillmore man. Let me prove to you that every vote withheld from Fremont, and given to Fillmore, in this state, actually lessens Fillmore’s chance of being President. Suppose Buchanan gets all the slave states, and Pennsylvania, and any other one state besides; then he is elected, no matter who gets all the rest. But suppose Fillmore gets the two slave states of Maryland and Kentucky; then Buchanan is not elected; Fillmore goes into the House of Representatives, and may be made President by a compromise. But suppose again Fillmore’s friends throw away a few thousand votes on him, in Indiana and Illinois, it will inevitably give these states to Buchanan, which will more than compensate him for the loss of Maryland and Kentucky; will elect him, and leave Fillmore no chance in the House of Representatives or out of it. This is as plain as the adding up of the weights of three small hogs. As Mr. Fillmore has no possible chance to carry Illinois for himself, it is plainly his interest to let Fremont take it, and thus keep it out of the hands of Buchanan. Be not deceived. Buchanan is the hard horse to beat in this race. Let him have Illinois, and nothing can beat him; and he will get Illinois, if men persist in throwing away votes upon Mr. Fillmore. Does some one persuade, you that Mr. Fillmore can carry Illinois? Nonsense! There are over seventy newspapers in Illinois opposing Buchanan, only three or four of which support Mr. Fillmore, all the rest going for Fremont. Are not these newspapers a fair index of the proportion of the voters. If not, tell me why. Again, of these three or four Fillmore newspapers, two at least, are supported, in part, by the Buchanan men, as I understand. Do not they know where the shoe pinches? They know the Fillmore movement helps them, and therefore they help it. Do think these things over, and then act according to your judgment.” ~ Form letter from Abraham Lincoln sent to Fillmore supporters.

September 10– Wednesday– New York City– “It’s said a Fremont electoral ticket will be run in several Southern states, including Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia. It probably won’t be permitted by the oligarchy of little barbarous princes to which the white trash of the South is subject.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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George Templeton Strong

 

September 11– Thursday– New York City– “Long discourse with Walter Cutting . . . [who] considers that the South will secede if Fremont’s elected. Which the South won’t, as long as Southern gentlemen can make a little money going to Congress.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 12– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Every Presidential campaign is a time of temptation and peril to these who are sincerely laboring for the abolition of slavery is our land; because there is always same difference in the candidates put in nomination, and in the position of the rival parties, touching the great question at large; and it is scarcely possible to see such a struggle, without wishing success to one side, and hoping for the defect of the other. Where the lines are broadly drawn—where a geographical conflict in going on, (made so by the Slave Power itself in its effort to extend its domains indefinitely,)—as at the present time, the temptation to join the party which is struggling for the right, and to achieve a most desirable victory, become irresistible to many, whose abhorrence of slavery cannot be doubted, but whose moral philosophy is to some extent defective, or who are unable to take broad and comprehensive views of the whole subject, or who are impelled by their feeling rather then by a clear perception of duty. As against Buchanan and Fillmore, it seems to us, the sympathies and best wishes of every enlightened friend of freedom must be on the side of Fremont; so that if there were no moral barrier to our voting, and we had a million votes to bestow, we should cast them all for the Republican candidate. We hail the results of the resent selections in Iowa, Vermont and Mains as cheering proofs of a growing change in public sentiment at the North, favorable to the cause of freedom generally; and so they will be regarded by the slave oligarchy, to a man. Justly open to censure as the Republican party is, on other grounds, it is deserving of commendation for endeavoring to baffle the designs of the Slave Power in regard to our vast territorial possessions at the West. One step in the right direction is better then inaction; how much better than twenty steps (as taken by the Democratic party) in the opposite direction! Nevertheless, it seems as clear to as now, as it did ten years ago, that the best service that can be rendered to the millions who are in bondage at the South—to the territories which are yet to be inhabited—to the cause of freedom every where; nay, that the highest duty that can be performed with references to the present and the future,—is to refuse to continue in alliance with the slaveholding South, and to trample in the dust the iniquitous compact made by our fathers. Indeed, we see so other alternative left to us.” ~ The Liberator.

September 13– Saturday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– Birth of Maria Louise Baldwin, African American educator, lecturer and civic leader. [Dies January 9, 1922.]

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Maria Louise Baldwin

 

September 14– Sunday– Springfield, Illinois– “Your much valued letter of the 7th is received. Could you not be with us here on the 25th of this month, when we expect to have a large mass-meeting? We cannot dispense with your services in this contest; and we ought, in a pecuniary way, to give you some relief in the difficulty of having your house burnt.” ~ Letter from Lincoln to Frederick Hecker. [Hecker, 1811– 1881, was a leader of the 1848 Revolution in Germany who fled to the United States after the revolution failed. At this time he is active in the Republican Party, encouraging German immigrants to vote for Fremont and to stand against slavery.]

September 17– Wednesday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Whig Party National Convention opens and adopts a platform. “Resolved, That the Whigs of the United States are assembled here by reverence for the Constitution, and unalterable attachment to the National Union, and a fixed determination to do all in their power to preserve it for themselves and posterity. They have no new principles to announce—no new platform to establish, but are content broadly to rest where their fathers have rested upon the Constitution of the United States, wishing no safer guide, no higher law. Resolved, That we regard with the deepest anxiety the present disordered condition of our national affairs. A portion of the country being ravaged by civil war and large sections of our population embittered by mutual recriminations, and we distinctly trace these calamities to the culpable neglect of duty by the present National Administration. Resolved, That the Government of these United States was formed by the conjunction in political unity of widespread geographical sections, materially differing not only in climate and products, but in their social and domestic institutions, and that any cause that shall permanently array these sections in political hostility and organized parties, founded only on geographical distinctions must inevitably prove fatal to the continuance of the National Union. Resolved, That the Whigs of the United States have declared as a fundamental article of their political faith, the absolute necessity for avoiding geographical parties; that the danger so clearly discerned by the “Father of his Country,” founded on geographical distinction, has now become fearfully apparent in the agitation convulsing the nation, which must be arrested at once if we would preserve our Constitutional Union from dismemberment, and the name of America from being blotted out from the family of civilized nations. Resolved, That all who revere the Constitution and Union, must look with alarm at the parties in the field in the present Presidential campaign—one claiming only to represent sixteen Northern States, and the other appealing to the passions and prejudices of the Southern States—that the success of either faction must add fuel to the flame which now threatens to wrap our dearest interest in a common ruin. Resolved, That the only remedy for an evil so appalling is to support the candidate pledged to neither geographical section nor arrayed in political antagonism, but holding both in just and equal regard; that we congratulate the friends of the Union that such a candidate exists in Millard Fillmore. Resolved, That, without adopting or referring to the peculiar principles of the party which has already selected Millard Fillmore as their candidate, we look to him as a well-tried and faithful friend of the Constitution and the Union, eminent alike for his wisdom and firmness, for his justice and moderation in foreign relations, for his calm and pacific temperament, well becoming a great and enlightened Government. For his devotion to the Constitution in its true spirit, and his inflexibility in executing the laws; but, beyond all these attributes, of being representative of neither of the two sectional parties now struggling for political supremacy. Resolved, That in the present exigency of political affairs, we are not called upon to discuss subordinate questions of administration in exercising the Constitutional powers of government. It is enough to know that civil war is raging, and the Union is in peril; and proclaim a conviction that the restoration of the Fillmore Presidency will furnish the best if not the only means of restoring peace.”

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September 19– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “But the hour is coming when the strongest will not be strong enough. A harder task will the new revolution of the nineteenth century be, than was the revolution of the eighteenth century. I think the American Revolution bought its glory cheap. If the problem was new, it was simple. If there were few people, they were united, and the enemy3000 miles off. But now, vast property, gigantic interests, family connections, webs of party, cover the land with a net-work that immensely multiples the dangers of war. Fellow citizens, in these times full of the fate of the Republic, I think the towns should hold town meetings, and resolve themselves into Committees of Safety, go into permanent sessions, adjourning from week to week, from month to month. I wish we would send the Sergeant-at-Arms to stop every American who is about to leave the country. Send home every one who is abroad, lest he should find no country to return to. Come home and stay at home, while there is a country to save. When it is lost, it will be time enough then for any who are luckless enough to remain alive, to gather up their clothes and depart to some land where freedom exists.” ~ Speech by Ralph Waldo Emerson given ten days ago and reprinted in today’s issue of The Liberator.

September 21– Sunday– New York City– “The pestilent little state of South Carolina, mad with metaphysics and self-conceit, gasconading itself day by day into greater wrath and keener sense of imaginary wrong, means to secede if the North elect Fremont. . . . If it stand alone, it is easily dealt with; a couple of frigates can blockade its ports, and it will be starved into submission in about two weeks, being as poor and weak as it is insolent and irrational. But should it find aid and comfort from the sympathy of other slave states, which is not an improbable thing, if it put itself forward as champion of ‘Southern rights,’ the situation becomes a grave one and admits of but two probable solutions: a long and fierce civil war, or, what’s worse, dissolution of the Union.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 25– Thursday– New York City– “Politics engross everybody’s thoughts and talk, more and more daily.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 27– Saturday– New York City– “Nothing fresh in politics. George Cornell counts on 50,000 majority for Fremont in the state, allowing 10,000 majority the other way in this city. Dubious.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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September 28– Sunday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Birth of Kate Smith Wiggin, author, educator and advocate of kindergarten education. [Dies August 24, 1923.]

September 30– Tuesday– New York City– “I don’t count on success in this election, but I think it’s time now for everybody at the North to aid, as far as he can, any decent party that aims at putting down the aggressions and assumptions of our Southern friends, and try to bring them to reason.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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.

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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.

July ~ Election Year 1920

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The Democrats nominate a liberal from Ohio. Palestine and Ireland are troublesome for Great Britain. Women seem to be making more gains in places other than the United States.

July 1– Thursday– Baton Rouge, Louisiana– The state legislature rejects the Nineteenth Amendment.

July 1– Thursday– Ottawa, Ontario, Canada– The Dominion Elections Act establishes uniform franchise and the right for women to be elected to parliament is made permanent.

July 1– Thursday– London, England– King George V names Sir Herbert Louis Samuel as the first British High Commissioner of Palestine.

NPG Ax39163; Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel by Walter Stoneman, for  James Russell & Sons

Sir Herbert L Samuel

 

July 3– Saturday–San Francisco, California– The platform of the Democratic Party favors joining the League of Nations, rules in the U S Senate “as will permit the prompt transaction of the nation’s legislative business,” revision of the tax code, reduction of tariffs, quick ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment “in time for all the women of the United States to participate in the fall election,” prohibition of child labor, vocational training in home economics, participation by women and federal and state employment services, larger appropriations for disabled veterans, improvement of roads, the use of motor vehicles to deliver the mail, improvement of inland waterways, acquisition of sources at home and abroad for petroleum and other minerals, self-government for Ireland and for Armenia, independence of the Philippines, statehood for Puerto Rico and prohibition of immigrants from Asia.

July 5– Monday– Franklin, New Hampshire– Birth of Mary Louise Hancock, politician and activist, known as the Queen Bee of the state’s politics.

July 6– Tuesday–San Francisco, California– The Democratic Convention closes after nominating James Cox for President on the 44th ballot. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is nominated by acclamation for Vice President. [Cox, age 50, a native of Ohio, is a journalist, publisher, liberal politician and served as Governor of Ohio from 1913 to 1915 and again from 1917 to 1921. Dies July 15, 1957.]

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James Cox

 

July 9– Friday– Quebec City, Canada– Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, age 53, a lawyer and a member of the Liberal Party, becomes premier of Quebec, replacing Sir Lomer Gouin

July 10– Saturday–Wilmington, North Carolina– Birth of David Brinkley, reporter and television journalist from 1943 to 1997. [Dies June 11, 2003.]

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David Brinkley

 

July 10– Saturday– San Francisco, California– Birth of Owen Chamberlain, physicist and advocate for peace and justice. [Wins the Nobel physics prize in1959. Dies February 28, 2006.]

July 10– Saturday– Ottawa, Ontario, Canada– Arthur Meighen, age 46, a lawyer and member of the Unionist Party, becomes prime minister, replacing Sir Robert Borden.

July 10– Saturday– Madrid, Spain– Donna Maria Eugenie de Montijo, widow of French Emperor Napoleon III, dies at age 94 while visiting family.

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Donna Maria Eugenie de Montijo

 

July 12– Monday– Montpelier, Vermont– Governor Percival Clement, Republican, declines to call a special legislative session to vote on ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.

July 12– Monday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– Birth of Beah Richards, African American actress. [Dies September 14, 2000.]

July 12– Monday– Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada– Pierre Berton, historian and author. [Dies November 30, 2004.]

July 12– Monday– Vilnius, Lithuania– Lithuania and the Soviet Union sign a peace treaty, recognizing Lithuania as an independent republic.

July 13– Tuesday– Jerusalem, Palestine– The Muslim-Christian Associations begin a two-day general strike protesting against the British mandate and the behavior of the British army.

July 14– Wednesday– Chicago, Illinois– The Farmer-Labor Party nominates Parley Christensen, a lawyer, educator and politician, age 51 [dies February 10, 1954] for President and Max Hayes for Vice President.

July 18– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– James M. Cox and Franklin Roosevelt confer with President Wilson at the White House.

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July 20– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– Birth of Elliot L Richardson, diplomat, lawyer and politician who will hold four different cabinet posts under Presidents Nixon and Ford. [Dies December 31, 1999.]

July 21– Wednesday– Dublin, Ireland– Reports abound that Irish Nationalist and Loyalists are engaging in fighting in several cities and towns over the issue of Irish independence from Britain, though the Loyalists are supported by 1500 British Auxiliaries and 5800 British troops.

July 21– Wednesday– Kreminiecz, Ukraine, Soviet Union– Birth of Isaac Stern, violinist and conductor. [Dies September 22, 2001.]

July 22– Thursday– Omaha, Nebraska– Prohibition Party nominates Aaron S. Watkins for president and D. Leigh Colvin for vice-president

July 23– Friday– Indianapolis, Indiana– May Eliza Wright Sewall, educator, school administrator, suffrage activist, lecturer, author and pacifist, dies at age 76 from nephritis.

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July 23– Friday– London, England– British East Africa is renamed Kenya and designated a British crown colony with Major-General Edward Northey named by King George V as the first governor.

July 23– Friday– Belfast, Ireland– Fourteen die and one hundred are injured in fierce rioting.

July 24– Saturday– New York City– Birth of Bella Abzug, lawyer, social activist, feminist and member of Congress. [Dies March 31, 1998.]

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Bella Abzug

 

July 25– Sunday– London, England– Birth of Rosalind Franklin, chemist and molecular biologist. [Dies April 16, 1958.]

July 28– Wednesday– Bristol, England– The first women jury members in England are empaneled at the Bristol Quarter Sessions.

July 30– Friday– off Queenstown, IrelandBritish military detain Irish-born Bishop Daniel Mannix, Archbishop of Melbourne, Australia, onboard the RMS Baltic and prevent him from landing in Ireland.

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June ~ Election Year 1864

Woman making American Flag

The Republican Party splits and a rival faction supports John C Fremont for president while the mainline Republicans nominate Lincoln for re-election and approves a platform which the President likes, including a proposal for a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. Within Lincoln’s cabinet, his Secretary of the Navy comments on the President’s gentle attitude toward the Confederate leaders and the Treasury Secretary resigns. War news from Virginia and from Georgia is not particularly encouraging but at sea the Union Navy wins a major victory. Black soldiers prove their worth while a racist Confederate general denies the atrocity at Fort Pillow.

June 1– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “We have to-day the results of a meeting of strange odds and ends of parties, and factions, and disappointed and aspiring individuals at Cleveland. Fremont is nominated as their candidate for President and John Cochrane for Vice-President. The gathering had the nomination of Fremont in view, though other objects were professed. . . . This war is extraordinary in all its aspects and phases, and no man was prepared to meet them. It is much easier for the censorious and factious to complain than to do right. I have often thought that greater severity might well be exercised, and yet it would tend to barbarism. No traitor has been hung. I doubt if there will be, but an example should be made of some of the leaders, for present and for future good. They may, if taken, be imprisoned or driven into exile, but neither would be lasting. Parties would form for their relief, and ultimately succeed in restoring the worst of them to their homes and the privileges they originally enjoyed. Death is the proper penalty and atonement, and will be enduringly beneficent in its influence. There was, moreover, an aristocratic purpose in this Rebellion. An aristocracy of blood and wealth was to have been established. Consequently a contrary effect would work benignantly. Were a few of the leaders to be stripped of their possessions, and their property confiscated, their families impoverished, the result would be salutary in the future. But I apprehend there will be very gentle measures in closing up the Rebellion. The authors of the enormous evils that have been inflicted will go unpunished, or will be but slightly punished.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 1– Wednesday– Atlanta, Georgia– “A little nearer each day, and each day the cannons are heard more distinctly. Sherman flanks and fortifies, and Johnston falls back. . . . But a short distance from my house the militia are stationed. They are composed mostly of men past the conscript age, who had a right to expect exemption from camp life. Many of them, too, have opposed this war from the beginning and have passed through the fires of treason unscathed in soul.” ~ Diary of Cyrena Stone, a Union sympathizer.

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General Sherman

 

June 2– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– “There is intense anxiety in relation to the Army of the Potomac. Great confidence is felt in Grant, but the immense slaughter of our brave men chills and sickens us all. The hospitals are crowded with the thousands of mutilated and dying heroes who have poured out their blood for the Union cause. Lee has returned to the vicinity of Richmond, overpowered by numbers, beaten but hardly defeated.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Mother, . . . . I do not feel as first rate as usual. . . . I believe I am homesick, something new for me, then I have seen all the horrors of soldier’s life & not been kept up by its excitement– it is awful to see so much, & not be able to relieve it.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

June 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “For several days the delegates to the National Convention have been coming in. Had a call from several. Met a number at the President’s. All favor the President. There is a spirit of discontent among the Members of Congress, stirred up, I think, by the Treasury Department. Chase has his flings and insinuations against the President’s policy, or want of policy. Nothing suits him.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 4– Saturday– New York City– “The moderate tone of all his [Grant’s] despatches is a most favorable sign. It indicates that he is a man of business and work, that he knows the worth of facts and of results accomplished, and the importance of results not yet attained, and that he cares little for talk or telling bulletins. I begin to rate Grant very high.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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General Grant

 

June 4– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “There has been continued fighting, though represented as not very important. Still there is heavy loss, but we are becoming accustomed to the sacrifice. Grant has not great regard for human life.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 7– Tuesday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Republican Party adopts a campaign platform which includes resolutions “to do everything in our power to aid the Government in quelling by force of arms the Rebellion now raging against its authority, and in bringing to the punishment due to their crimes the Rebels and traitors arrayed against it . . . . That as slavery was the cause, and now constitutes the strength of this Rebellion, and as it must be, always and everywhere, hostile to the principles of Republican Government, justice and the National safety demand its utter and complete extirpation from the soil of the Republic; and that, while we uphold and maintain the acts and proclamations by which the Government, in its own defense, has aimed a deathblow at this gigantic evil, we are in favor, furthermore, of such an amendment to the Constitution, to be made by the people in conformity with its provisions, as shall terminate and forever prohibit the existence of Slavery”; benefits for disabled veterans and provision for widows and orphans of deceased soldiers; “that the Government owes to all men employed in its armies, without regard to distinction of color, the full protection of the laws of war—and that any violation of these laws, or of the usages of civilized nations in time of war, by the Rebels now in arms, should be made the subject of prompt and full redress;” to encourage immigration; to encourage speedy construction of a railroad to the Pacific coast and to do all necessary to discourage European efforts to re-establish monarchy in the Americas, a provision aimed at French intervention in Mexico.

June 8– Wednesday– Baltimore, Maryland–In its convention, the Republican Party, on the fourth ballot, nominates President Lincoln for president and Andrew Johnson of Tennessee for vice-president.

June 9– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– “I will neither conceal my gratification nor restrain the expression of my gratitude that the Union people, through their convention, in their continued effort to save and advance the nation, have deemed me not unworthy to remain in my present position.” ~ President Lincoln’s reply to the committee recommending nomination.

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President Lincoln

 

June 10– Friday– Cold Harbor, Virginia– “May God forgive the men who brought about this war. I fear I shall yet hate them.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

June 10– Friday– Atlanta, Georgia– “Fast day again! Stores are closed and all business suspended. . . . From over the hills, the cannons boom, boom, and in the skies above there are mighty thunderings, the rumblings of God’s chariot wheels.”~ Diary of Cyrena Stone, who is a Union sympathizer.

June 11– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “We have heard to-day that Lincoln was nominated for re-election at Baltimore on the 7th instant . . . . Fremont is now pledged to run also, thus dividing the Republican party, and giving an opportunity for the Democrats to elect a President. If we can only subsist till then, we may have peace, and must have independence at all events.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

June 11– Saturday– Cherbourg, France–The Confederate warship Alabama arrives for refitting. The U S vice-counsel protests to the French government for allowing the ship to enter the harbor and sends notice to the U S warship Kearsage in an English port.

June 13– Monday– New York City– “Among the most gratifying developments of the Baltimore Convention was the unanimity exhibited in favor of a Constitutional amendment making a universal and perpetual end of Slavery. . . . The rebellion sprang so directly from Slavery, and was so closely connected with Slavery in all of its objects and policies, that it was not possible to make war against the rebellion with a whole heart, and yet remain well affected toward Slavery.” ~ New York Times.

June 14– Tuesday– Off the coast of Cherbourg, France– The U.S.S. Kearsarge arrives and prepares to engage C. S. S. Alabama as soon as the rebels leave the port and enter international waters.

June 15–Wednesday– Petersburg, Virginia–Black Union soldiers, attacking under heavy fire, overwhelm a Confederate position called Fort Walker, a Confederate artillery position of nine canon with infantry support. During the attack, the Confederates yell taunts at the black soldiers. When the Union force takes the position, they shoot all the Confederates, even those attempting to surrender. The Union men yell “Remember Fort Pillow!” Over 200 Confederate soldiers die.

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African American Union soldiers

 

June 16– Thursday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “War at the best is terrible, and this of ours in its magnitude and duration is one of the most terrible the world has ever known. . . . It has caused mourning among us until the heavens may almost be said to be hung in black. And yet it continues. . . . When is this war to end? I do not wish to name the day when it will end, lest the end should not come at the given time. We accepted this war, and did not begin it. We accepted it for an object, and when that object is accomplished the war will end, and I hope to God that it will never end until that object is accomplished. We are going through with our task, so far as I am concerned, if it takes us three years longer.” ~ Speech by President Lincoln at the Philadelphia Sanitary Fair.

June 17– Friday– Memphis, Tennessee– “From statements that have been made to me by colored soldiers who were eye-witnesses, it would seem that the massacre of Fort Pillow had been reproduced at the late affair at Brice’s Cross-Roads. . . . If true and not disavowed they must lead to consequences hereafter fearful to contemplate. . . . If it is contemplated by the Confederate Government to murder all colored troops that may by the chance of war fall into their hands, as was the case at Fort Pillow, it is but fair that it should be freely and frankly avowed. Within the last six weeks I have on two occasions sent colored troops into the field from this point. In the expectation that the Confederate Government would disavow the action of the commanding general at the Fort Pillow massacre I have forborne to issue any instructions to the colored troops as to the course they should pursue toward Confederate soldiers that might fall into their hands; but seeing no disavowal on the part of the Confederate Government, but on the contrary laudations from the entire Southern press of the perpetrators of the massacre, I may safely presume that indiscriminate slaughter is to be the fate of colored troops that fall into your hands; but I am not willing to leave a matter of such grave import and involving consequences so fearful to inference, and I have therefore thought it proper to address you this, believing that you will be able to indicate the policy that the Confederate Government intends to pursue hereafter on this question. . . . Up to this time no troops have fought more gallantly and none have conducted themselves with greater propriety. They have fully vindicated their right (so long denied) to be treated as men. . . . For the government of the colored troops under my command I would thank you to inform me, with as little delay as possible, if it is your intention or the intention of the Confederate Government to murder colored soldiers that may fall into your hands, or treat them as prisoners of war and subject to be exchanged as other prisoners.” ~ Letter from Union General Cadwaller Colden Washburn to Confederate General Stephen Dill Lee.

June 19– Sunday– near Petersburg, Virginia– “A division of colored soldiers charged . . . but were driven back. They fought well and left many dead on the field. . . . yesterday’s work convinced me that they will fight. So Hurrah for the colored troops.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

June 19– Sunday– Off the coast of Cherbourg, France–During a battle in international waters, the U S. S. Kearsage sinks the C. S. S. Alabama. However, an English yacht, Deerhound, rescues the captain of the Alabama, causing the U S Minister Charles Francis Adams to file a protest with Her Majesty’s Government. A large crowd on the shore watches the hour long battle.

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sinking of the C S S Alabama

 

June 20– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The President in his intense anxiety has made up his mind to visit General Grant at his headquarters, and left this p.m. at five.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 22– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman, feeling totally exhausted and sick, leaves the city to return to Brooklyn, New York, for some rest and recovery.

June 22– Wednesday– near Petersburg, Virginia– “Yesterday President Lincoln paid us a visit. I did not see him, as I was at the front.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

June 23– Thursday– Tupelo, Mississippi– “I regard your letter [of June 17] as discourteous to the commanding officer of this department, and grossly insulting to myself. You seek by implied threats to intimidate him, and assume the privilege of denouncing me as a murderer and as guilty of the wholesale slaughter of the garrison at Fort Pillow, and found your assertions upon the ex parte testimony of your friends, the enemies of myself and country. I shall not enter into the discussion, therefore, of any of the questions involved nor undertake any refutation of the charges made by you against myself; nevertheless, as a matter of personal privilege alone, I unhesitatingly say that they are unfounded and unwarranted by the facts. But whether these charges are true or false, they, with the question you ask as to whether Negro troops when captured will be recognized and treated as prisoners of war, subject to exchange, &c., are matters which the Government of the United States and Confederate States are to decide and adjust, not their subordinate officers. I regard captured Negroes as I do other captured property and not as captured soldiers, but as to how regarded by my Government and the disposition which has been and will hereafter be made of them, I respectfully refer you through the proper channel to the authorities at Richmond. It is not the policy nor the interest of the South to destroy the Negro– on the contrary, to preserve and protect him– and all who have surrendered to us have received kind and humane treatment.” ~ Letter from Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest to Union General Cadwaller Colden Washburn.

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massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow

 

June 24– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The President was in very good spirits at the Cabinet. His journey has done him good, physically, and strengthened him mentally and inspired confidence in the General and army.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 25– Saturday– Brooklyn, New York– “I write just a line to let you know I got home all safe. I do not feel very well yet, but expect to, or begin to, pretty soon. I send my love to you & Nelly & to Charles Eldridge.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend William D. O’Connor in Washington, D.C.

June 26– Sunday– Petersburg, Virginia– “How long this kind of war will continue no one knows, but I hope it will stop soon, a great many of our men are becoming sick and broken down. One side or the other will have to stop pretty soon or each army will be very much reduced.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee, Maggie Cone.

June 27– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Your letter of the 14th instant, formally notifying me that I have been nominated by the convention you represent for the Presidency of the United States for four years from the 4th of March next, has been received. The nomination is gratefully accepted, as the resolutions of the convention, called the platform, are heartily approved. . . . I am especially gratified that the soldier and seaman were not forgotten by the convention, as they forever must and will be remembered by the grateful country for whose salvation they devote their lives.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln formally accepting his nomination.

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Gideon Welles

 

June 30– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “All were surprised to-day with the resignation of Secretary Chase and the nomination of Governor David Tod as his successor. I knew nothing of it till the fact was told me by Senator Doolittle, who came to see and advise with me, supposing I knew something of the circumstances. But I was wholly ignorant. . . . It is given out that a disagreement between himself and the President in relation to the appointment of Assistant Treasurer at New York was the cause of his leaving. I think likely that was the occasion of his tendering his resignation, and I have little doubt he was greatly surprised that it was accepted. He may not admit this, but it is none the less true, I apprehend. Yet there were some circumstances to favor his going– there is a financial gulf ahead.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June ~ Election Year 1856

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

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

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George Templeton Strong

 

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

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

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

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Elizabeth Jarvis Colt & Samuel Colt

 

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

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

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Reverend Samuel J May

 

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

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James Buchanan

 

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

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

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

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Caroline Hazard

 

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

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

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

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Smith & Nixon Hall

 

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

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Musical Fund Hall

 

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

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Elizabeth Marbury

 

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

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

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James C Fremont

 

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

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

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

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violence in Kansas

 

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

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

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

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

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

June ~Election Year 1852

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The two major parties hold their conventions, select their candidates and decide on their platforms. While these parties uphold the status quo on slavery and call for enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, others are deeply concerned about the end of slavery and some consider a third party option. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel continues to deeply rankle the slave-holding South. Agitation by women continues. A giant of American politics dies.

June 1– Tuesday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Democratic National Convention opens at the Maryland Institute.

June 1– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I communicate to the Senate herewith, for its constitutional action thereon, eighteen treaties negotiated with Indian tribes in California, as described in the accompanying letter of the Secretary of the Interior, dated the 22nd ultimo, with a copy of the report of the superintendent of Indian affairs for the State of California and other correspondence in relation thereto.” ~ Message from President Millard Fillmore to the Senate.

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Frederick Douglass

 

June 3– Thursday– Rochester, New York– “The wire-pullers of each of the great political parties are successful in proportion to their accuracy in calculating the amount of villainy which will be tolerated by the good, and the amount of virtue which will be supported by the bad part of society. In selecting a candidate, they aim to present a character in which is blended a sufficient semblance of virtue to win the support of the nominally good, with an amount of wickedness, which will be sure to satisfy the unprincipled, selfish and oppressive part of the community. Thus, the lowest element in the national character, becomes predominant in all our Presidential elections; and so it will forever be until the principles of the Liberty Party shall prevail in this land. That faithful, brave and uncompromising little party will not consent to support any man for civil office who is not for a perfectly just and righteous government. To this platform, all, who would not incur the guilt and shame of prostituting their suffrage to the base and inhuman purposes of tyrants, should rally.” ~ Frederick Douglass’ Paper

June 5– Saturday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Democratic National Convention closes, having nominated Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire for President and William R. King, age 66, of Alabama for Vice President on the 49th round of balloting. Pierce, age 47, is a lawyer and politician who served nine years in Congress, with a reputation of being an ardent nationalist, and pro-slavery with strong sympathy for the South. King, born in North Carolina, is a lawyer, has lived in Alabama since 1818, served in the United States Senate and in the diplomatic corps. He is a close friend of James Buchanan from Pennsylvania and as Buchanan failed to win the nomination for President, party leaders arranged for King to receive the Vice President nomination as a peace-making move to Buchanan. The party’s platform declares in key sections that “the constitution does not confer upon the general government the power to commence and carry on a general system of internal improvements . . . . the liberal principles embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, and sanctioned in the constitution, which make ours the land of liberty and the asylum of the oppressed of every nation, have ever been cardinal principles in the democratic faith; and every attempt to abridge the privilege of becoming citizens and the owners of the soil among us ought to be resisted with the same spirit that swept the Alien and Sedition laws from our statute-books . . . . Congress has no power under the constitution to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several States, and that such States are the sole and proper judges of everything appertaining to their own affairs not prohibited by the constitution; that all efforts of the abolitionists or others made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences; and that all such efforts have an inevitable tendency to diminish the happiness of the people and endanger the stability and permanency of the Union, and ought not to be countenanced by any friend of our political institutions. . . . the foregoing proposition covers, and was intended to embrace, the whole subject of slavery agitation in Congress; and therefore the Democratic Party of the Union, standing on this national platform, will abide by and adhere to a faithful execution of the acts known as the compromise measures settled by the last Congress– ‘the act for reclaiming fugitives from service or labor’ included; which act, being designed to carry out an express provision of the constitution, cannot, with fidelity thereto be repealed nor so changed as to destroy or impair its efficiency. . . . the Democratic Party will resist all attempts at renewing, in congress or out of it, the agitation of the slavery question, under whatever shape or color the attempt may be made. . . . the war with Mexico, upon all the principles of patriotism and the laws of nations was a just and necessary war on our part, in which every American citizen should have shown himself on the side of his country, and neither morally nor physically, by word or deed, have given ‘aid and comfort to the enemy.’” [On the history of the Democratic Party, see: The History of the Democratic Party (2007) by Heather Lehr Wagner; The Democratic Machine, 1850-1854 (1967) by Roy F Nichols; The Young America Movement and the Transformation of the Democratic Party, 1828-1861 (2007) by Yonatan Eyal.]

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Democratic Poster 1852

 

June 7– Monday– New York City– “After some forty-odd labor pains in the shape of balloting, the Democratic Convention has brought forth its candidate: Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire, with William Rufus King for Vice-President. Nobody knows much of Franklin Pierce, except that he is a decent sort of man in private life.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 10– Thursday– Rochester, New York–”Will you give notice that the Free Soil National Convention for nominating candidates for President and Vice President of the United States, will be held at Cleveland, Ohio, on the first Wednesday in August next.The time cannot, under the instructions of a majority of the committee, be fixed before harvest, and it would be doing great wrong to fix a day during the hurry of that season. The day named is, therefore, the earliest, under all circumstances, that could be appointed, and the place designated by the committee is very easy of access, at that season, of the year, since all the delegates can leave home, spend two days at the Convention, and return the same week. The regular call, in full, will be prepared and issued hereafter. We hope editors friendly to the liberty and prosperity of the people and country, will aid in circulating the notice. Samuel Lewis, Chairman.” ~ Frederick Douglass’ Paper

June 11– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “At the session of the Universal Reform Society composed in part of the leading Universalist ministers, the following resolution was offered: ‘Resolved, That we view with deep concern the present attitude of our country on the subject of slavery, believing as we do, that earnest efforts must be made for the overthrow of slavery, or the just judgment of God will descend on our land; and seeing, with great pain, a disposition on the part of those called statesmen to patch up compromises, which Merely hide but cannot cure the evil, we feel called on as Christians to testify against the unrighteousness of slavery, and to request our fellow Christians of every sect, to unite with us in striving to breakdown that loathsome institution.’” ~ The Liberator.

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William Lloyd Garrison

 

June 11– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit to Congress a report from the Secretary of State, on the subject of the disorders on the Rio Grande frontier, and recommend the legislation which it suggests, in order that the duties and obligations of this Government occasioned thereby may be more effectually discharged and the peace and security of the inhabitants of the United States in that quarter more efficiently maintained.” ~ Message to Congress from President Fillmore.

June 12– Saturday– New Orleans, Louisiana– Taking note that a Southern writer is preparing a novel to contrast with Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, “he had better write a history of Uncle Tag, Rag and Bobtail’s Cabin at the North, illustrating it with women fishing out drift wood from the ice of the river for fires; children eating with hogs out of offal barrels; emaciated corpses of fathers and mothers unshrouded, but ready for the grave, with starvation written on their sunken brows; young women, reduced by necessity to crime, leading a life of shame and vice, and giving birth to diseased and suffering children, whose little ray of life quickly expires amid the noxious atmosphere of sin and woe by which they are surrounded. Or all these groups might be placed in one picture, and to complete the whole, a likeness given of Mrs. Stowe, treading gingerly along upon her tiptoes, not noticing one of these most miserable objects at her own doors, but her eyes fixed upon distant ‘Africa,’ and her plaintive voice bemoaning the fate of the stout, fat, healthy Negroes and Negresses of the South, who are not only in an infinitely superior condition to the white poor of the North, but who, we dare say, are quite as well fed and a deal happier than Mrs. Stowe herself.” ~ Daily Picayune.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

 

June 17– Thursday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Whig Party National Convention opens.

June 18– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”The third Woman’s Rights Convention of Ohio has just closed its session. It was . . . numerously attended, there being a fair representation of men as well as women; for though the object of these and similar meetings is to secure woman her rights as an member of the human family, neither speaking nor membership was here confined to the one sex, but all who had sentiments to utter in reference to the object of the Convention—whether for or against it—were invited to speak with freedom, and those who wished to aid the movement to sit as members, without distinction of sex. All honorable classes of society were represented, from the so-called highest to The so-called lowest. The seamstress who works for her twenty-five cents a day, the daughters of the farmer, fresh from the dairy and the kitchen, the wives of the laborer, the physician, the lawyer, the banker, the legislator, and the minister, were all there—all interested in one common cause, and desirous that every right God gave to woman should be fully recognized by the laws and usages of society, that every faculty He has bestowed upon her should have ample room for its proper development. Is this asking too much? And yet this is the sum and substance of the Woman’s Rights Reform—a movement which fools ridicule, and find easier to than meet with argument.” ~ The Liberator.

June 18– Friday–Baltimore, Maryland– On its second day the Whig convention adopts a platform which asserts in its key parts that the Fugitive Slave Act ought to be fully enforced, states’ rights will be protected, citizens must obey the constitution and the laws made under it [a reprimand to those involved anti-slavery activity, particularly those performing acts of civil disobedience], the government must avoid “all entangling alliances with foreign countries”, and the federal government properly has authority to improve and repair harbors and rivers as “such improvements are necessary for the common defense, and . . . the facility of commerce with foreign nations, or among the States.”

June 20– Sunday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Whig National Convention concludes, having nominated General Winfield Scott, age 66, a lawyer and career military man of New Jersey for President and William A Graham, age 48, a lawyer and politician of North Carolina for Vice President on the 53rd round of balloting. After a rather fractious convention, General Scott’s supporters have taken away the hopes of President Fillmore for renomination and dashed the hopes of Massachusetts’ Daniel Webster, now 70 years of age. [On the history of the Whig Party, see: The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (1999) by Michael F Holt; Henry Clay and the Whig Party (1936) by George Rawlings Poage.]

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Whig campaign poster

 

June 22– Tuesday– New York City– “Scott is the nominee at last . . . . His chance of election, I think, is small. . . . The Whigs here receive the nomination coolly. Several have said they won’t vote at all.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 24–Thursday– New York City–In today’s Tribune, Horace Greeley declares that he and his newspaper will not “keep silent about Slavery, nor acquiesce in fugitive slave hunting.”

June 26– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Fillmore requests that the Senate take action to approve a treaty between the United States and Mexico regarding the extradition of fugitives. He notes that the matter has been pending since he took office in March, 1849.

June 27– Sunday– New York City– “Scott is going to run better than I thought at first. The struggle will be close enough to be interesting.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 29– Tuesday– Walden Pond, Massachusetts– “In my experience nothing is so opposed to poetry – not crime – as business. It is a negation of life.” ~ Journal of Henry David Thoreau.

June 29–Tuesday – Washington, D. C–Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky dies at 75 years of age. President Fillmore orders all federal government offices to be closed for the remainder of the day.

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Henry Clay

 

June 29– Tuesday– Springfield, Illinois– Attorney Abraham Lincoln presides a meeting to arrange a tribute to Henry Clay.

May ~ Election Year 1896

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In a case which has been awaiting decision, the Supreme Court legalizes segregation as the law of the land. President Cleveland is not getting along well with Congress, exercising his veto power ten times this month. The Prohibition Party splits along policy lines.The United States executes its first known serial killer. Americans are smuggling guns to Cuban rebels. The Shah of Persia is murdered. The Russian Empire sees the coronation of the newest– and last– Tsar.

May 1– Friday– Tehran, Persia– Naser al-Din, age 64, Shah of Persia who has ruled since 1848, is shot and mortally wounded as he prays at a shrine.

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the Shah of Persia

 

May 2– Saturday– Corinto, Nicaragua– U. S. Marines arrive to protect American business interests.

May 2– Saturday– Athens, Greece– Birth of Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark. [She will become the Queen Mother of Romania and save many Romania Jews from the Nazis during the Second World War. Dies November 28, 1982.]

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Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark

 

May 6– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Grover Cleveland issues an executive order making changes to the Civil Service Rules.

May 7– Thursday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Herman Webster Mudgett, a/k/a H H Holmes, age 34, is hung for murder. He had confessed to 27 murders but may have killed many more. He is the first known American serial killer.

May 11– Monday– Sheridan County, Nebraska– Birth of Mari Susette Sandoz, educator, historian, biographer and author. [Dies March 10, 1966.]

May 18– Monday– Washington, D.C.– The U. S. Supreme Court announces its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. The majority of the court holds: “So far, then, as a conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment is concerned, the case reduces itself to the question whether the statute of Louisiana is a reasonable regulation, and with respect to this there must necessarily be a large discretion on the part of the legislature. In determining the question of reasonableness it is at liberty to act with reference to the established usages, customs and traditions of the people, and with a view to the promotion of their comfort, and the preservation of the public peace and good order. Gauged by this standard, we cannot say that a law which authorizes or even requires the separation of the two races in public conveyances is unreasonable, or more obnoxious to the Fourteenth Amendment than the acts of Congress requiring separate schools for colored children in the District of Columbia, the constitutionality of which does not seem to have been questioned, or the corresponding acts of state legislatures. We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it. The argument necessarily assumes that if, as has been more than once the case, and is not unlikely to be so again, the colored race should become the dominant power in the state legislature, and should enact a law in precisely similar terms, it would thereby relegate the white race to an inferior position. We imagine that the white race, at least, would not acquiesce in this assumption. The argument also assumes that social prejudices may be overcome by legislation, and that equal rights cannot be secured to the negro except by an enforced commingling of the two races. We cannot accept this proposition. If the two races are to meet upon terms of social equality, it must be the result of natural affinities, a mutual appreciation of each other’s merits and a voluntary consent of individuals…Legislation is powerless to eradicate racial instincts or to abolish distinctions based upon physical differences, and the attempt to do so can only result in accentuating the difficulties of the present situation. If the civil and political rights of both races be equal one cannot be inferior to the other civilly or politically. If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane.”

JudgeJMHarlan

Justice John Marshall Harlan, author of the lone dissent in Plessy

 

In a lone dissent Justice Harlan writes: “I am of opinion that the statute of Louisiana is inconsistent with the personal liberty of citizens, white and black, in that State, and hostile to both the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United States. If laws of like character should be enacted in the several States of the Union, the effect would be in the highest degree mischievous. Slavery, as an institution tolerated by law would, it is true, have disappeared from our country, but there would remain a power in the States, by sinister legislation, to interfere with the full enjoyment of the blessings of freedom to regulate civil rights, common to all citizens, upon the basis of race, and to place in a condition of legal inferiority a large body of American citizens now constituting a part of the political community called the People of the United States, for whom and by whom, through representatives, our government is administered. Such a system is inconsistent with the guarantee given by the Constitution to each State of a republican form of government, and may be stricken down by Congressional action, or by the courts in the discharge of their solemn duty to maintain the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. For the reasons stated, I am constrained to withhold my assent from the opinion and judgment of the majority.” [The literature on the case is extensive; good places to start include the following: Color-blind Justice: Albion Tourgee and the Quest for Racial Equality from the Civil War to Plessy V Ferguson (2006) by Mark Elliott; Separate and Unequal: Homer Plessy and the Supreme Court Decision That Legalized Racism (2005) by Harvey Fireside; Simple Justice: the History of Brown V Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality (1976) by Richard Kluger.]

May 19– Tuesday– Honolulu, Hawaii– Kate Field, journalist, lecturer, actress, playwright, literary critic and social commentator, dies of pneumonia at 57 years of age.

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Kate Field

 

May 20– Wednesday– Frankfort, Germany– Clara Wieck Schumann, age 76, musician and composer dies of a stroke.

May 21– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “It can not be denied that the remarriage of this beneficiary terminated her pensionable relation to the Government as completely as if it never existed. The statute which so provides simply declares what is approved by a fair and sensible consideration of pension principles. As a legal proposition, the pensionable status of a soldier’s widow, lost by her remarriage, can not be recovered by the dissolution of the second marriage. Waiving, however, the application of strictly legal principles to the subject, there does not appear to be any sentiment which should restore to the pension rolls as the widow of a deceased soldier a divorced wife who has relinquished the title of soldier’s widow to again become a wife, and who to secure the expected advantages and comforts of a second marriage has been quite willing to forego the provision which was made for her by the Government solely on the grounds of her soldier widowhood.” ~ Veto message from President Cleveland of a bill to restore a pension to a Civil War widow who married and later divorced another man.

May 23– Saturday– along the coast of Cuba– An American privately owned ship, having avoided Spanish warships, arrives with American-made munitions for the use of the Cuban rebels in their on-going fight with the Spanish.

May 26– Tuesday– Campbell, California– James Dunham kills his wife, her brother, her mother, her step-father and two servants. He successfully disappears and is never captured.

May 26– Tuesday– Moscow, Russia– Tsar Nicholas II, age 28, ruling since November 1, 1894, has his official coronation.

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Coronation of Tsar Nicholas II

 

May 27– Wednesday– St Louis, Missouri– A severe tornado sweeps through the area, killing 255 people and doing $144,000,000 in damages. The Republican National Convention is scheduled for the next month in this city but the destruction raises questions about whether the city can now accommodate the gathering. [The dollar amount of damages would equal $4,190,000,000 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

May 28– Thursday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– About 300 delegates representing 27 states secede from the Prohibition Party convention and form a new party which they call The National Party. They nominate Reverend Charles Bentley, age 55, of Nebraska for president and James Southgate, age 36, of North Carolina for vice-president. They adopt the following platform: “recognizing God as the Author of all just power in government, presents the following declaration of principles . . . 1. The suppression of the manufacture and sale, importation, exportation, and transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes. We utterly reject all plans for regulating or compromising with this traffic, whether such plans be called local option, taxation, license, or public control. The sale of liquors for medicinal and other legitimate uses should be conducted by the state, without profit, and with such regulations as will prevent fraud or evasion. 2. No citizen should be denied the right to vote on account of sex. 3. All money should be issued by the general government only, and without the intervention of any private citizen, corporation, or banking institution. . . . . we favor the free and unlimited coinage of both silver and gold, at the ratio 16 to 1, without consulting any other nation. 4. Land is the common heritage of the people and should be preserved from monopoly and speculation. . . . . 5. Railroads, telegraphs, and other natural monopolies should be owned and operated by the government, giving to the people the benefit of service at actual cost. 6. The national Constitution should be so amended as to allow the national revenues to be raised by equitable adjustment of taxation on the properties and incomes of the people, and import duties should be levied as a means of securing equitable commercial relations with other nations.7. The contract convict labor system, through which speculators are enriched at the expense of the state, should be abolished. 8. All citizens should be protected by law in their right to one day of rest in seven, without oppressing any who conscientiously observe any other than the first day of the week. 9. American public schools, taught in the English language, should be maintained, and no public funds should be appropriated for sectarian institutions. 10. The President, Vice-President, and United States senators should be elected by direct vote of the people. 11. Ex-soldiers and sailors of the United States army and navy, their widows and minor children, should receive liberal pensions, granted on disability and term of service, not merely as a debt of gratitude, but for service rendered in the preservation of the Union. 12. Our immigration laws should be so revised as to exclude paupers and criminals. None but citizens of the United States should be allowed to vote in any state, and naturalized citizens should not vote until one year after naturalization papers have been issued. 13. The initiative and referendum, and proportional representation, should be adopted.” [Bently dies September 6, 1905. Southgate dies September 29, 1916.]

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Charles Bentley

 

May 29– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “To the extent that the appropriations contained in this bill are instigated by private interests and promote local or individual projects their allowance can not fail to stimulate a vicious paternalism and encourage a sentiment among our people, already too prevalent, that their attachment to our Government may properly rest upon the hope and expectation of direct and especial favors and that the extent to which they are realized may furnish an estimate of the value of governmental care. I believe no greater danger confronts us as a nation than the unhappy decadence among our people of genuine and trustworthy love and affection for our Government as the embodiment of the highest and best aspirations of humanity, and not as the giver of gifts, and because its mission is the enforcement of exact justice and equality, and not the allowance of unfair favoritism. I hope I may be permitted to suggest, at a time when the issue of Government bonds to maintain the credit and financial standing of the country is a subject of criticism, that the contracts provided for in this bill would create obligations of the United States amounting to $62,000,000 no less binding than its bonds for that sum.” ~ Message to Congress from President Cleveland as he vetoes a bill to improve rivers and harbors throughout the country.

May 30– Saturday– Moscow, Russia– Drawn by offers of free food and beer to honor the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II, thousands of people gather in Khodynka Field. When rumors of a shortage of the proffered food and drink circulate, a panic ensues, killing 1,389 people and injuring about 1,300 others.

Chodynka

the crowd at Khodynka Field before the panic began

 

 

May~Election Year 1940

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The so-called phony war which has raged in Europe since last September turns into a very hot shooting war with parts of the continent overrun by German forces and British and Allied soldiers forced to evacuate. The Olympic Committee cancels the summer games. Churchill becomes Prime Minister of England. The difficulties of the war will add pressure upon President Roosevelt as he weighs seeking an unprecedented third term. The Prohibition Party puts forward a slate of candidates.

May 3– Friday– Atlanta, Georgia– Henry Ossian Flipper, born a slave who became a soldier, engineer, author and the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, dies at 84 years of age.

Henry_Ossian_Flipper_1900

Henry Ossian Flipper, circa 1900

 

May 6– Monday– New York City– Columbia University announces the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes. The public service award goes to the Waterbury Republican-American. Other journalism awards go to a reporter for the New York World-Telegram, a reporter from the New York Times, an editor from the St Louis Post-Dispatch and a cartoonist from the Baltimore Sun. Book awards go to John Steinbeck for The Grapes of Wrath, Carl Sandburg for Abraham Lincoln: the War Years and Ray Stannard Baker for volumes 7 and 8 of Woodrow Wilson, Life and Letters.

May 6– Monday– Lausanne, Switzerland– The International Olympic Committee announces the cancellation of the Summer Olympic Games.

May 10– Friday– Chicago, Illinois– The Prohibition Party nominates Roger W Babson for president and Edgar V Moorman for Vice-President. [Babson, 1875– 1967, was born in Massachusetts and became a successful statistician, business executive and author. Until 1938 he was active in the Republican Party. Moorman is a business executive from Illinois. On this election, see Babson’s own recollections in Our Campaign for the Presidency in 1940; America and the Churches (1941); on the party and its politics, see Ardent Spirits: the Rise and Fall of Prohibition (1993) by John Kobler; Partisan Prophets; a History of the Prohibition Party, 1854-1972 (1972) by Roger C Storms; Women and Gender in the New South: 1865-1945 (2009) by Elizabeth Hayes Turner.

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Roger W Babson, circa 1919

 

May 10– Friday– London, England– Winston Churchill, age 65, becomes Prime Minister as King George VI officially invites him to form a government.

May11– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas a state of war unhappily exists between Germany, on the one hand, and Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands, on the other hand; Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, in order to preserve the neutrality of the United States and of its citizens and of persons within its territory and jurisdiction, and to enforce its laws and treaties, and in order that all persons, being warned of the general tenor of the laws and treaties of the United States in this behalf, and of the law of nations, may thus be prevented from any violation of the same, do hereby declare and proclaim that all of the provisions of my proclamation of September 5, 1939, proclaiming the neutrality of the United States in a war between Germany and France; Poland; and the United Kingdom, India, Australia and New Zealand apply equally in respect to Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands.”

May 12– Sunday– Sedan, France– In a massive thrust, German forces invade France as well as Belgium and the Netherlands.

May 14– Tuesday– Toronto, Ontario, Canada– Emma Goldman, anarchist, feminist, political activist, author and orator, dies of complications from a stroke, six weeks away from her 71st birthday.

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grave of Emma Goldman

 

May 14– Tuesday– London, England– Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, age 59, and her government arrive. [She leads the government in exile until she can return to her home in March, 1945.]

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Queen Wilhelmina, 1942

 

May 15– Wednesday– London, England– Winston Churchill sends a private telegram, the first of many, to President Roosevelt requesting American aid and asking the United States to join the Allied effort.

May 22– Wednesday– Washington, D. C.– “When Reorganization Plan No. IV was submitted to Congress, I did not contemplate the transmittal of any additional plans during the current session. However, the startling sequence of international events which has occurred since then has necessitated a review of the measures required for the nation’s safety. This has revealed a pressing need for the transfer of the immigration and naturalization functions from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice. I had considered such an interdepartmental transfer for some time but did not include it in the previous reorganization plans since much can be said for the retention of these functions in the Department of Labor during normal times. I am convinced, however, that under existing conditions the immigration and naturalization activities can best contribute to the national well-being only if they are closely integrated with the activities of the Department of Justice.” ~ Message from President Roosevelt to Congress.

May 26– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “For more than three centuries we Americans have been building on this continent a free society, a society in which the promise of the human spirit may find fulfillment. Commingled here are the blood and genius of all the peoples of the world who have sought this promise. We have built well. We are continuing our efforts to bring the blessings of a free society, of a free and productive economic system, to every family in the land. This is the promise of America. It is this that we must continue to build—this that we must continue to defend. It is the task of our generation, yours and mine. But we build and defend not for our generation alone. We defend the foundations laid down by our fathers. We build a life for generations yet unborn. We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind. Ours is a high duty, a noble task. Day and night I pray for the restoration of peace in this mad world of ours. It is not necessary that I, the President, ask the American people to pray in behalf of such a cause—for I know you are praying with me. I am certain that out of the heart of every man, woman and child in this land, in every waking minute, a supplication goes up to Almighty God; that all of us beg that suffering and starving, that death and destruction may end—and that peace may return to the world. In common affection for all mankind, your prayers join with mine—that God will heal the wounds and the hearts of humanity.” ~ President Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chat” with the American people via radio.

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Dunkirk evacuation

 

May 26– Sunday– Dunkirk, France– The British begin the evacuation of their own and allied troops.

May 29– Wednesday– New York City– “In various places I have moved about recently, I have been confronted with red poppies. I hurriedly look in my bag to see if I still have the last one to show, but finding it gone each time, I fish out more money and buy a new one. Veterans of the last World War are still in the hospitals and it is fitting that we should make their lot pleasanter by remembering them in this week before Memorial Day and by paying our share to the veterans’ fund. I want to congratulate the Amalgamated Clothing Workers on their silver jubilee, which they have just celebrated. This union has pioneered in many fields. Of course, their primary purpose has been to obtain the best possible wages and working conditions for the workers in the clothing and related industries, but they have undertaken labor banking, cooperative housing, unemployment insurance, life insurance and a real program of cultural activities.” ~ My Day column by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, age55 [written today it will appear in newspapers tomorrow]

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First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt