Tag Archives: antebellum politics

August ~ Election Year 1860

1860 campaign -2D1BE8D4

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

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

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


Frederick Douglass


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

brit warship 1860url

a British warship 1860


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

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

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


Annie Oakley


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


the Prince of Wales at his wedding, 1863


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


August ~ Election Year 1856


The new Republican Party, in its first presidential bid with the candidacy of John Fremont, finds active participation by Attorney Abraham Lincoln. The incumbent president, Franklin Pierce, finds little cooperation from Congress and his hands full with diplomatic relations. The first American diplomat arrives in Japan. The slavery issue remains heated. The British press stands aghast at the assault on Senator Charles Sumner.

August 1– Friday– Springfield, Illinois– Abraham Lincoln, joined by Mr Yates, Mr Herndon, and Mr Jayne, sign a note to John M. Palmer, encouraging him to be patient. “It is our judgment that whether you do or do not finally stand as a candidate for Congress, it is better for you to not to publicly decline for a while. It is a long time till the election; and what may turn up no one can tell.”

lawyer Abraham_Lincoln_

Lawyer Lincoln


August 2– Saturday– Keene New Hampshire– Birth of Eliza White, author of 29 books for children as well as 9 novels for adults. [Dies January 23, 1947.]

August 4– Monday– New York City– “Our brethren of the South are surely mad. . . . Mr Ruggles told me that ‘if Fremont were elected, he would never be permitted to reach Washington.’ Their brag and bluster can’t well be paralleled, . . . . There are germs of insurrection among the ‘poor trash,’ the plebeians who don’t own Negroes. Such a movement once formed and recognized must triumph sooner or later, and Negro emancipation and the downfall of the . . . aristocracy of those states must follow.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

August 4– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I herewith lay before the House of Representatives a report of the Secretary of War, in reply to a resolution of the House requesting information in regard to the construction of the Capitol and Post-Office extensions.” ~ Message from President Pierce to the House of Representatives.

August 6– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “In compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 28th ultimo, requesting the President to inform the Senate in relation to any application by the governor of the State of California to maintain the laws and peace of the said State against the usurped authority of an organization calling itself the committee of vigilance in the city and county of San Francisco, and also to lay before the Senate whatever information he may have in respect to the proceedings of the said committee of vigilance, I transmit the accompanying reports from the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Navy.” ~ Message from President Pierce to the Senate.


President Pierce


August 7– Thursday– Grand View, Illinois– Abraham Lincoln is one of the speakers at a Republican rally to support John Fremont.

August 8– Friday– Charleston, Illinois– About 6,000 people attend a Fremont rally and hear a speech from Mr Lincoln, among others. A reporter notes that the crowd gives him “marked attention and approbation.”

August 9– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to ratification, a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, and for the surrender of fugitive criminals, between the United States and the Republic of Venezuela, signed at Caracas on the 10th of July last.” ~ Message from President Pierce to the Senate.

August 11– Monday– Washington, D. C.– “I return herewith to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, a bill entitled ‘An act for continuing the improvement of the Des Moines Rapids, in the Mississippi River,’ and submit it for reconsideration, because it is, in my judgment, liable to the objections to the prosecution of internal improvements by the General Government set forth at length in a communication addressed by me to the two Houses of Congress on the 30th day of December, 1854, and in other subsequent messages upon the same subject, to which on this occasion I respectfully refer.” ~ Veto message from President Pierce.


August 12– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit a report from the Secretary of State, with accompanying papers, in answer to the resolution of the Senate of yesterday.” ~ Message from President Pierce to the Senate. [These documents are relating to The declaration concerning maritime law, adopted by the diplomats of Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia, and Turkey at Paris April 16, 1856.]

August 13– Wednesday– Oberlin, Ohio– “The Bible represents Satan as ruling the hearts of men at his will, just as the men who wield the slave power of the South rule the dough faces of the North at their will, dictating the choice of our Presidents and the entire legislation of the Federal Government. So Satan ruled Eve in the garden, so he now ‘works in the children of disobedience.’”~ Reverend Charles G Finney in the Oberlin Evangelist.


Reverend Charles G Finney


August 14– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “I return herewith to the Senate, in which it originated, a bill entitled ‘An act for the improvement of the navigation of the Patapsco River and to render the port of Baltimore accessible to the war steamers of the United States,’ and submit it for reconsideration, because it is, in my judgment, liable to the objections to the prosecution of internal improvements by the General Government set forth at length in a communication addressed by me to the two Houses of Congress on the 30th day of December, 1854, and other subsequent messages upon the same subject, to which on this occasion I respectfully refer.” ~ Veto message from President Pierce.

August 15– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The Fourteenth annual meeting of the Western Anti-Slavery Society will be held in Salem, Ohio, commencing on Saturday, the 30th of August, at 10o’clock, A.M., and continue three days. There probably was never a time when the Anti-slavery cause required of its friends a more stern and faithful advocacy than the present. As their principles have been proclaimed amid scorn, and continually without concealment, so should they be proclaimed amid the strife of political elements, and the allurements of party interest, without compromise. While they may congratulate themselves upon the increasing favor with which their doctrines are received by the popular mind, they should not for a moment cease to inculcate the duty and necessity of demanding, not he restoration of a pro-slavery compromise of former days, not the more limitation of chattelism to State boundaries, but that every friend of human rights should cease to support, by speech or vote, by influence direct or indirect, the system of American Slavery. The infamous Slave Law of 1850, the Border foray upon Kansas, the recent cowardly and murderess attack in the Senate Chamber upon a member of the upper House [attack upon Senator Charles Sumner], are so many evidences of the utter hopelessness of abolitionists effectually laboring to promote the downfall of’ the peculiar institution, except they practically adopt the motto of ‘No Union with Slave-holders.’ All who hate slavery, and seek its extinction, are invited to assemble with us for inquiry, for counsel, and for aid. It is expected that Parker Pillsbury will be present on the occasion, and again greet his Western friends; Charles L. Remond and A. T. Foss have also given us encouragement to hope they will be with us, as well as some others whom we cannot now announce.” ~ The Liberator.


August 16– Saturday– Oregon, Illinois– A large crowd gathers at the public square, and “then moved to a beautiful grove on the banks of Rock River. After partaking of a repast prepared by the ladies of Ogle County . . . the people listened to most excellent speeches from Honorable Abraham Lincoln, and Honorable John Wentworth” in support of Republican candidates, according to a man who was present.

August 17– Sunday– Hadlyme, Connecticut– Birth of Martha Hillard MacLeish, educator, church leader, community worker and mother of poet Archibald Macleish. [Dies December 19, 1947.]

August 18– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas whilst hostilities exist with various Indian tribes on the remote frontiers of the United States, and whilst in other respects the public peace is seriously threatened, Congress has adjourned without granting necessary supplies for the Army, depriving the Executive of the power to perform his duty in relation to the common defense and security, and an extraordinary occasion has thus arisen for assembling the two Houses of Congress, I do therefore by this my proclamation convene the said Houses to meet in the Capitol, at the city of Washington, on Thursday, the 21st day of August instant, hereby requiring the respective Senators and Representatives then and there to assemble to consult and determine on such measures as the state of the Union may seem to require.” ~ President Pierce calls Congress into special session.


August 21– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “To refuse supplies to the Army, therefore, is to compel the complete cessation of all its operations and its practical disbandment, and thus to invite hordes of predatory savages from the Western plains and the Rocky Mountains to spread devastation along a frontier of more than 4,000 miles in extent and to deliver up the sparse population of a vast tract of country to rapine and murder. Such, in substance, would be the direct and immediate effects of the refusal of Congress, for the first time in the history of the Government, to grant supplies for the maintenance of the Army– the inevitable waste of millions of public treasure; the infliction of extreme wrong upon all persons connected with the military establishment by service, employment, or contracts; the recall of our forces from the field; the fearful sacrifice of life and incalculable destruction of property on the remote frontiers; the striking of our national flag on the battlements of the fortresses which defend our maritime cities against foreign invasion; the violation of the public honor and good faith, and the discredit of the United States in the eyes of the civilized world. I confidently trust that these considerations, and others appertaining to the domestic peace of the country which can not fail to suggest themselves to every patriotic mind, will on reflection be duly appreciated by both Houses of Congress and induce the enactment of the requisite provisions of law for the support of the Army of the United States.” ~ Message from President Pierce to Congress concerning the business of the special session.


Townsend Harris


August 21– Thursday– Shimoda, Japan– America’s first diplomat to Japan, Townsend Harris, arrives. [Harris, age 52, born in New York, a merchant, politician and diplomat, works hard and successfully to build trust and friendship with the Japanese. Widely read and mostly self-educated, he speaks French, Spanish and Italian. In 1847 he founded what became the City College of New York. He will return to the United States in 1861 and dies February 25, 1878. On his life and work, see: Harris of Japan (1939) by Carl Crow; Townsend Harris, First American Envoy in Japan (1895) by William Elliot Griffis; The Complete Journal of Townsend Harris (1959); Behind the Silken Curtain; the Story of Townsend Harris (1961) by Israel E Levine.

August 22– Friday–Boston, Massachusetts– “I am moving about in this sad Lancaster fulfilling my appointments, and endeavoring to all, both Jews and Greeks, the more excellent [ways] of securing the triumphs of freedom and the overthrow of slavery, than by rushing into any political party, and withdrawing their energies from every other point, in order to concentrate all on the election of Colonel Fremont. The Fremont enthusiasm is very great here, exceeding any thing I have seen in New England. I frankly admit to them, that all the political anti-slavery there is, is embodied in the Republican party; but I argue to them, that it is wholly inadequate to the purposes of Freedom, and to saving us from the toils of the Slave Power. Some of the Fremont people are very earnest in laboring with me, to induce me to omit all discussion of the United States Constitution, and of Disunion, and Non-Voting. They speak at my meetings and they call on me is private.” ~ Letter from Reverend Samuel J May in today’s issue of The Liberator. May writes from his speaking tour in eastern Pennsylvania.


Reverend Samuel J May


August 27– Wednesday– Kalamazoo, Michigan– “We are a great empire. We are eighty years old. We stand at once the wonder and admiration of the whole world, and we must enquire what it is that has given us so much prosperity, and we shall understand that to give up that one thing, would be to give up all future prosperity. This cause is that every man can make himself. It has been said that such a race of prosperity has been run nowhere else. We find a people on the North-east, who have a different government from ours, being ruled by a Queen. Turning to the South, we see a people who, while they boast of being free, keep their fellow beings in bondage. Compare our Free States with either, shall we say here that we have no interest in keeping that principle alive? Shall we say– ‘Let it be?’ No– we have an interest in the maintenance of the principles of the Government, and without this interest, it is worth nothing. I have noticed in Southern newspapers, particularly the Richmond Enquirer, the Southern view of the Free States. They insist that slavery has a right to spread. They defend it upon principle. They insist that their slaves are far better off than Northern freemen. What a mistaken view do these men have of Northern laborers! They think that men are always to remain laborers here– but there is no such class. The man who labored for another last year, this year labors for himself, and next year he will hire others to labor for him. These men don’t understand when they think in this manner of Northern free labor. When these reasons can be introduced, tell me not that we have no interest in keeping the Territories free for the settlement of free laborers.” ~ Speech by Abraham Lincoln in support of Fremont.

August 29– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Among the most shocking– to our notions, at least– was the assault recently committed by the representative of South Carolina, Mr. Brooks, on Mr. Sumner, Senator of Massachusetts. The provocation was a speech delivered in the Senate by the latter on the side of the abolitionists. The speech was elaborately strong, but not stronger than many delivered within the walls of our own Parliament during the discussion on the Reform and Emancipation Bills. But it was strong enough to excite Mr. Brooks, a member of the lower House, to the commission of a what we should call a monstrous outrage. He assaulted Mr. Sumner while seated writing at a table in the Senate, struck him severely with a cane over the head, and left him insensible. . . . It is this conduct which strikes us with astonishment. We can understand that in the hot conflict of passions and interest between the abolitionists and the slaveholders, one legislator might be so far carried away by his impetuosity as to strike another. But we cannot figure to ourselves a legislator deliberately and premeditatedly watching his opportunity to assail a man sitting at his desk in another House of Legislation, striking him before he could rise, beating him in the presence of his colleagues, and finally justifying this sacrilege against the national dignity to the assembled delegates of the people. Where this can be done so coolly as it seems to have been done by Mr. Brooks, we are inclined to fear that the license of action and immunity from control among the members of the American Congress are tending towards that line which separates extreme liberty from reactionary and vindictive despotism. Mr. Brooks in his speech entirely ignores the principle that Congress has a national and collective character. In his eyes it is only a fortuitous conglomeration of individual atoms, each as good as its neighbor, and the whole not a bit better than any one. Its right to regulate the conduct of members within its walls, to maintain order, to suppress violence, he says he, ‘believe that the spirit of American freedom would tolerate slander in high places, and permit a member of Congress to publish and circulate a libel on another, and then call upon either House to protect him against the personal responsibilities which he had thus incurred.’ That is to say, nobody had any right to say anything against slavery without being prepared to fight or be caned on the spot. A rational and effectual inducement to free discussion this.~ Article from the Times of London reprinted in today’s issue of The Liberator.


assault on Senator Sumner


August 30– Saturday– New York City– “Saw George Curtis, wholly wrapt up in the Fremont campaign, wherein he does good and active service, speaking almost every night with great approval and with much more ability than I gave him credit for. . . . Fillmore seems rather to lose ground. Fremont rather gains. His enemies help him by the bitter malignity of their personal attacks, which will surely decide some thousands to vote in his favor.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

Regardless of the Impending Crisis~October 1859

Regardless of the Impending Crisis ~ October 1859

With John Brown in prison, newspapers and individuals debate the whys and wherefores of what happened. Some point to the problems of the Fugitive Slave Law, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott case and Southern desires to legally reopen the African slave trade, which while officially at an end since 1808 has gone on illicitly through slave markets in Cuba and Brazil. Others point to the relentless agitation by abolitionists, especially radicals such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. Some speak openly of disunion. Democrats attack the moderate ant-slavery position of some Republicans. Strong memories and unwilling reminders must have brought the painful discussion back to soldiers and politicians in the fall of 1864. Federal soldiers will be singing “John Brown’s Body” as they march through Georgia to the sea.

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October 22– Saturday– Chicago, Illinois– “The late insurrection in Virginia, which has meant shivers of fear to the inmost fibre of every white man, woman and child in that State, and which will produce a panic throughout all slaveholding communities, is probably but the beginning of a series of like endeavors, which will horrify the country, if the present policy of the bogus Democratic party is pursued for another ten or twenty years. With the madness and recklessness of men bent upon their certain destruction, those engaged in promoting the slaveholding interest are filling the land with their clamor for more Negroes, are weakening the defenses of the institution by spreading it over an indefinite area, and are opposing with deadly bitterness every attempt of the humane and philanthropic to ward off the dangers which they are accumulating upon their heads. In all this they are assisted by the bogus Democratic party. Utterly blind to or regardless of the impending crisis, they have, by their repeated outrages upon the rights and sensibilities of the North, by their breaches of solemn compacts, in the Kansas-Nebraska bill, by their mode of enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law, by their Kansas policy, by their Dred Scot decisions, and by their attempted revival of the infamous Slave- Trade, alienated their most powerful friends of the North, and have put to work bands of reckless and bloody men, like Brown and his confederates, who will shrink at nothing, stop at nothing in the gratification of their instincts of fanaticism and revenge. . . . . The Democratic policy is exploded. It is the policy of propagandism, which can have but one end, and that will be the bloodiest succession of tragedies that the world ever knew. The rights of humanity cannot always be disregarded. It is time for this nation to begin its preparations for retribution. Permit the Democracy to rule, and this Harper’s Ferry blood is but the few falling drops which presage the burst.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune

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October 22– Saturday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Our telegraphic reports for the last two or three days have contained little else than accounts of the riots at Harper’s Ferry. The Washington and Baltimore papers are also full of the same subject, but as their accounts are vague, contradictory and unsatisfactory, we are unable to give our readers any information in addition to what our dispatches have already conveyed. The public mind is too intensely excited now to ascertain the true state of affairs. We can only say that a fearful riot has occurred, blood has been shed, lives have been lost, and property destroyed. The causes of the riot, it is impossible now to determine. . . . We shall have to wait for the excitement to subside before we can get at the truth of the matter. We will offer no comments nor attempt any explanation until we obtain something more reliable and consistent than any account of the affair we have yet seen.” ~ Republican Banner and Nashville Whig.

October 22– Saturday– Madrid, Spain– The government begins military operations against Morocco to quell alleged activity by pirates.

October 22– Saturday– Kasssel, the German states– Louis Spohr, composer, violinist and conductor, dies at 75 years of age.

October 23– Sunday– Concord, Massachusetts– “I have elected Ticknor & Fields as my publishers . . . . I finished the ‘Song of Nature,’stimulated by your favorable opinion, by writing six more quatrains, & sent it to Lowell, who has it, he says, already in print. It shall be mended, I hope, when the proof comes to me. We are all very well, in spite of the sad Harpers Ferry business, which interests us all who had Brown for our guest twice. And the story of ‘bushels of letters’ naturally alarmed some of his friends in Boston. He is a true hero, but lost his head there.” ~ Letter from Ralph Waldo Emerson to his cousin William Emerson.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1857

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1857

October 24– Monday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The panic Mr. Brown with his handful of deluded followers created in Maryland and Virginia was not at all creditable to the people or authorities of the vicinity. They showed the ‘white feather’ [mark of cowardice] in a manner to plainly reveal the inherent weakness of society where slavery is tolerated and free labor regarded as degrading. The fact almost exceeds belief, that seventeen white men and five blacks – only twenty-two persons in all – should not only be able to take possession of the Armory of the United States, but retain it for hours, and not be driven therefrom until the arrival of the military from abroad. . . . . five resolute men could have dislodged ‘the revolutionists’ in five minutes. But terror seems to have seized upon all classes of persons in the immediate vicinity, and the population behaved as madly and wildly as the residents of the interior of New England, where a great fire does not occur more than once in half a century, do, when a large conflagration occurs. To use the word ‘chivalry’ in connection with such cowardice as the Virginians displayed, is to be guilty of the severest sarcasm.” ~ Boston Daily Evening Transcript.

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October 24– Monday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– The Museum of Comparative Zoology opens with a generous gift from the Swiss-born scientist Louis Agassiz who donates his extensive personal collection in zoology he had gathered for more than a decade. Agassiz, now age 52, had emigrated to the United States in 1846 and has been teaching at Harvard since 1847. [Dies December 14, 1873.]

Louis Agassiz

Louis Agassiz

October 24– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The outbreak at Harper’s Ferry must exert no small influence upon political movements. It is a mark upon the Republicans, & must make them more pliable, yielding and conciliatory;– less audacious, confident & exacting. In this state of things it seems to me that boldness, decision & prompt action on our part, is the dictate of sound policy. Timidity & hesitation always invite aggression and encourage assumption. I should be glad to have your views on this subject. . . . What I rather fear is, that your [Republican] convention, excited by the late scenes & outrages, will adopt some resolution, or give expression to some sentiment not calculated to ‘turn away wrath,’ but to invite by ‘touching the raw’ of the North. I hope, however, you will be able to prevent this. . . . It seems to be generally concluded that the Harpers Ferry transactions have laid Seward on the shelf, as well as Chase, Banks & all others belonging to the ‘irrepressible conflict’ section of the Republican party.” ~ Letter from N. Sargent to Alexander H. H. Stuart.

October 24– Monday– Frankfort, Kentucky– “We are pleased to observe that the Northern press, without the distinction of party, express the most unqualified condemnation of the wicked and insane projects of Brown and his hair-brained associates. The great mass of the Northern people, including the most inveterate Republicans, regard such schemes with as much abhorrence as they do any other conspiracy to murder by wholesale, and it is not going too far to assert that in case there had been any necessity for their aid, thousands of true men in the North would have promptly taken up arms in behalf of the Southern slaveholder against the brutality and of the slave. Throughout the entire North but few such desperate and incendiary wretches as Brown . . . can be found, and when they are they certainly meet with little encouragement from the Northern people. Their acts have been emphatically repudiated by every Republican paper we have yet seen, and we doubt if even [William] Lloyd Garrison, who is himself rejected by the Republicans as a political teacher, will justify it.” ~ Frankfort Commonwealth.

October 24– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– “This attempt to excite an insurrection among the slaves is one of the natural results of the agitation of the slavery question, originated and so persistently kept up by designing politicians, both of the North and the South for partisan purposes. It can be traced to no other cause, and unless the people of both sections rise in the majesty of their strength and put an end at once to this mischievous agitation, the page that records the bloody events of the last two days, will be but a preface to the history of a civil war in which the same scenes will be re-enacted on a larger scale, and end in the dissolution of our glorious Union. . . . The folly of the Southern people in their incessant demand for more slavery legislation is exhibited in a strong light by this view of the subject, and should convince them of the impolicy of further agitation. By ceasing the agitation in the South, an end will be put to the discussion of this subject in the North. As long as we agitate the North will do the same, and though only seventeen men of the entire North were engaged in the conspiracy, there is no telling how many may engage in the next plot unless the subject of slavery ceases to be a matter of discussion among demagogues. The people have the means in their hands of putting an end to this evil, by resolutely refusing to elevate men to political office who seek to ride into power by incendiary appeals to sectional prejudices.” ~ Republican Banner and Nashville Whig.

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October 25– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “The voice of the Southern people has not been heard, and may never be heard. The shallow waters murmur, but the deep are dumb; and such is the state of public feeling at this moment from the Potomac to the Gulf. Let not the people of the North mistake this silence for indifference. There exists a horror and indignation which neither press nor public meeting can express, a feeling that has weakened the foundations of the Union, and which may at any moment rase the superstructure. Will not the people of New York, from the polls, speak some word of encouragement, and, if possible, re-instate the Union sentiments disturbed by their own people? The Harper’s Ferry invasion has advanced the cause of Disunion, more than any other event that has happened since the formation of the Government; it has rallied to that standard men who formerly looked upon it with horror; it has revived, with ten fold strength the desire of a Southern Confederacy.” ~ Richmond Enquirer.

October 25– Tuesday– Charles Town, Virginia– The trial of John Brown and his accomplices opens. Brown refuses to be represented by a lawyer. His wounds remain quite noticeable. The court appoints lawyers to represent him.

October 25– Tuesday– New Orleans, Louisiana– “Now this is the very serious question, which the men of the North who are not incurably touched with the same madness – and these constitute, we believe, a large numerical majority – will be apt to put to themselves and to each other, when they read of such things as have transpired at Harper’s Ferry. These wanton disturbances of the peace of a great community, fearfully aggravated by the uncertainties which thicken with unimagined terrors, about a subject in which so many of tenderest interests of life are concerned; these scenes of disorder suddenly provoked, and crushed out with such stern necessity of bloodshed; these cruel seductions of the victims of the false philanthropy into suffering and punishment for the guilty, and increased rigors for the whole race; the incitement, the cause, and the consequences, are but the legitimate growth of the ultraisms which have been permitted to gain such an ascendancy over the minds of the Northern people, and have been made more powerful and more dangerous by being used as the means by which aspiring politicians and selfish demagogues seek to ride into power and office. The fools that became the criminals and have perished in their folly, as all such will do when they fling themselves against the ramparts with which the South can protect itself against this incendiarism, are themselves victims of those false teachers, who are themselves morally guilty of the very offences they will repudiate entirely, and responsible for the consequences they may affect to deplore. They are guilty of all the mischief done by the firebrands with which they have armed the heedless and the wicked.” ~ Times-Picayune.

October 25– Tuesday– Amsterdam, Netherlands– Birth of Stephanie Helene Swarth, a poet. [Dies June 20, 1941]

Stephanie Helene Swarth

Stephanie Helene Swarth

Irrepressible Conflict Draws Near~October, 1859

Irrepressible Conflict Draws Near ~ October, 1859

Even as John Brown and his companions are taken into custody and Robert E Lee makes his official report, the newspapers grow nigh unto hysterical, mixing fact and fiction, and trying to pin the blame on someone, somewhere. Radical abolitionists and moderate anti-slavery folk blame slavery and those who maintain the system of slave labor. Southern sympathizers emphasize Brown’s involvement in the atrocities of “Bleeding Kansas” and blame abolitionists and the newly emerging Republican Party. All the while the wide world continues to turn.

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October 18– Tuesday– Staunton, Virginia– “Rumors reached this place last night, about 8 o’clock, by telegraph, of a Negro insurrection at Harper’s Ferry. The dispatch was from the operator at Richmond, and stated that the Negroes, under the lead of white men, had taken possession of the arsenal, and sent wagon loads of muskets and rifles to slaves in the surrounding country, and that large numbers had been killed. They had cut and destroyed the telegraph wires. It is further stated that Governor Wise had left Richmond with several miliary companies, and that two companies from Washington with three twelve pounders [canon] had gone from that city with orders to take the bridge at all hazards by midnight. Troops from Old Point Comfort had also been ordered out, and companies from Baltimore had also repaired to Harper’s Ferry. The payhouse is said to have been robbed of a large sum of money. These rumors may be exaggerated in some particulars, but there seems to be no doubt, from what we learn of Mr. Baskin, the operator at this place, of the fact of the insurrection. We think it probable, however, that a rebellion among the white operatives at the Armory has been mistaken for slave insurrection; though it is probable that some Negroes may have been induced to join them.” ~ Staunton Spectator.

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October 18– Tuesday– Paris, France– Birth of Henri Bergson, philosopher, who will win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927. [Dies January 4, 1941.]

October 19– Wednesday– New York City– “Harper’s Ferry was full of soldiers and militia men yesterday, and more are constantly pouring in. Never before was such an uproar raised by twenty men as by Old Brown and his confederates in this deplorable affair. There will be enough to heap execration on the memory of these mistaken men. we leave this work to the fit hands and tongues of those who regard the fundamental axioms of the Declaration of Independence as ‘glittering generalities.’ Believing that the way to Universal Emancipation lies not through insurrection, civil war and bloodshed, but through discussion, and the quick diffusion of sentiments of humanity and justice, we deeply regret this outbreak; but remembering that, if their fault was grievous, grievously have they answered it, we will not, by one reproachful word, disturb the bloody shrouds wherein John Brown and his compatriots are sleeping. They dared and died for what they felt to be the right, though in a manner which seems to us fatally wrong. Let their epitaphs remain unwritten until the not distant day when no slave shall clank his chains in the shades of Monticello or by the graves of Mount Vernon.” ~ New York Tribune.

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October 19– Wednesday– Cincinnati, Ohio– “The leader . . . was so-called ‘Ossawatomie Brown,’ one of the abolitionists who figured . . . in the murderous forays in Kansas. Men may well be surprised at the reckless boldness and daring of this operation. He must have taken courage from the late elections in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and supposed that he would have not only the moral, but the physical backing of these two great states in stirring up a servile war in the two states of Maryland and Virginia. The ‘irrepressible conflict’ of the free and slave states, which is preached by the Republican leaders as an orthodox doctrine, is well calculated to lead to such results. This affair at Harper’s Ferry is but the ‘cloud in the distance no bigger than a man’s hand,’ but it is the presage of the future storm, that shall desolate the whole land, if the people give this Abolition doctrine their approval. It necessarily tends to servile insurrection, civil war and disunion. Brown and his followers are but the advance column of the partisan disciples of Seward and Chase, who are burning to make a practical application of the irrepressible conflict doctrine. They stand ready to deluge the land in blood to carry out their fanatical views; and the momentous question is, do the majority of the people of the free states sympathize with them? The danger of having a Republican-Abolition President can now be readily appreciated. Such a President, having his sympathies with the insurrectionists, would be slow to move in arresting their outrages.” ~ Cincinnati Enquirer.

October 19– Wednesday– Harpers Ferry, Virginia– “The summons, as I had anticipated, was rejected. At the concerted signal the storming party moved quickly to the door and commenced the attack. The fire-engines within the house had been placed by the besieged close to the doors. The doors were fastened by ropes, the spring of which prevented their being broken by the blows of the hammers. The men were therefore ordered to drop the hammers, and, with a portion of the reserve, to use as a battering-ram a heavy ladder, with which they dashed in a part of the door and gave admittance to the storming party. The fire of the insurgents up to this time had been harmless. At the threshold one marine fell mortally wounded. The rest, led by Lieutenant Green and Major Russell, quickly ended the contest. The insurgents that resisted were bayoneted. Their leader, John Brown, was cut down by the sword of Lieutenant Green, and our citizens were protected by both officers and men. The whole was over in a few minutes. . . . From the information derived from the papers found upon the persons and among the baggage of the insurgents, and the statement of those now in custody, it appears that the party consisted of nineteen men– fourteen white and five black. That they were headed by John Brown, of some notoriety in Kansas, who in June last located himself in Maryland, at the Kennedy farm, where he has been engaged in preparing to capture the United States works at Harper’s Ferry. He avows that his object was the liberation of the slaves of Virginia, and of the whole South; and acknowledges that he has been disappointed in his expectations of aid from the black as well as white population, both in the Southern and Northern States. The blacks, whom he forced from their homes in this neighborhood, as far as I could learn, gave him no voluntary assistance . . . . those carried to Maryland returned to their homes as soon as released. The result proves that the plan was the attempt of a fanatic or mad-man, who could only end in failure; and its temporary success, was owing to the panic and confusion he succeeded in creating by magnifying his numbers. . . . I will now, in obedience to your dispatch of this date, direct the detachment of marines to return to the navy-yard at Washington in the train that passes here at 1 am to-night, and will myself take advantage of the same train to report to you in person at the War Department.” ~ Report of Robert E Lee to General Cooper at the War Department in Washington, D. C.

Robert E Lee, 1851

Robert E Lee, 1851

October 19– Wednesday– Hanover County, Virginia– “The papers bring news of remarkable events, for our usually quiet & calm population in Virginia. An insurrection occurred at Harper’s Ferry, on the night following last Sunday. The insurgents overawed the people of the village, compelled them to remain within their houses, if not made prisoners, took forcible possession of the U.S. Armory, & public property, killed & wounded some of the functionaries, stopped the railroad trains, cut the telegraph wires, & made prisoners (as if for hostages,) of respectable neighbors, on their farms, several miles off. They were enlisting or forcing others, both white & black, into their ranks. The insurgents were reported to be 250 or 300 — greatly exaggerated, I suppose. Who they were, or what their object, was only guessed at. Armed forces were ordered to move, as soon as the outbreak was heard of, by both the governor of Virginia, & the President of U.S. . . . . But of all yet known of those engaged, their number & their means were as contemptible, as the effort was remarkable for boldness & temerity. And incredible as it seemed at first naming, by rumor, it really seems now most probable that the outbreak was planned & instigated by northern abolitionists, & with the expectation of thus starting a general slave insurrection. I earnestly hope that such may be the truth of the case. Such a practical exercise of that of abolition principles is needed to stir the sluggish blood of the south. Wrote some additional items of statistics for my before-published article on ‘Slavery & Free Labor, defined & compared,’ in case there should be another publication.” ~ Diary of Edmund Ruffin.

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October 19– Wednesday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The telegraph has informed us that this bloody outbreak is, by confession of its northern ringleaders, a concerted movement of abolitionists and their black victims in southern States, and has its ramifications in Washington, Alexandria, and in Baltimore. It is stated that apprehension and excitement exist. We are satisfied there is exaggeration. While we can see no cause for present alarm, none can blind their eyes to the audacity of the attempt, or fail to regard it as a pregnant sign of the times– a prelude to what must and will recur again and again, as the progress of sectional hate and Black Republican success advances to their consummation. . . . . The march of events is onwards. Let the signs of the times be read and interpreted aright.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

October 20– Thursday– Burlington, Vermont– Birth of John Dewey, philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer. [Dies June 1, 1952.]

John Dewey, 1902

John Dewey, 1902

October 20–Thursday– Rochester, New York–Fearful of being arrested as an accomplice of John Brown, Frederick Douglass leaves for Canada.

October 20– Thursday– Carlisle, Pennsylvania– “NEGRO INSURRECTION! All Public Offices seized by the Mob – Troops Ordered Out – The Bridges and Thoroughfares in possession of the Insurgents – The Citizens Arrested and Imprisoned – Railroad Travel Interrupted – Great Excitement. A Negro insurrection has occurred at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. About 700 Negroes and whites are under arms – many have been killed – the military have been ordered to the scene of the insurrection – and serious fears are entertained that many more lives will be lost before peace is restored.” ~ American Volunteer.

October 20– Thursday– Cincinnati, Ohio– “It will be seen from the telegraphic dispatches that the Northern Abolitionists are implicated and are at the bottom of the Harper’s Ferry conspiracy. They raised large sums of money to carry it forward to a successful termination. Gerrit Smith gave one hundred dollars, and Frederick Douglas ten dollars. Doubtless other leading Abolitionists were concerned in it. A letter had been received from Cincinnati disclosing the whole plot, and warning the people against it before its consummation. It is very possible that [Joshua] Giddings and the prominent Republicans of the Western Reserve knew what was going on, if they were not active participants in it. A large number of Sharpe’s rifles were found with the conspirators, probably sent on by the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society, and the Beechers and Sillimans of New England.” ~ Cincinnati Enquirer.

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October 20– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “The attempt of the Chicago Times to place the responsibility of the Harper’s Ferry affair upon the Republican party, is a resort to the rogue’s trick of crying ‘stop thief, stop thief,’ for the purpose of diverting attention from the really guilty party. Holding to the doctrines of the Revolutionary fathers and the earlier statesmen of this country on the subject of slavery – that it is a moral, social and political evil; that it is a creature of local law, to be controlled exclusively by the States, in which it exists, and that its area ought not to be extended, for its accompanying evils be fastened upon our new frontier communities – the Republican party depreciates, no less than these worthies would have done, everything looking towards violent measures for the enfranchisement of the slaves of the South. The opposition to slavery is based upon moral and economic considerations, and the only action it proposes or that it would countenance, with respect to the institution, is to confine it to its present limits, leaving the problem of ‘what will they do with it?’ to the solution of the people of the slaveholding States. The Democratic party, however proposes to increase the chances for insurrection, bloodshed and all the horrors of servile war, by extending the area of slavery indefinitely and by re-opening the African slave trade. It would have the bloody scenes of Harper’s Ferry re-enacted in the new States to be carved out of our territories, and it would transmit to generations yet unborn the unspeakable dread arising from constant exposure to midnight carnage and the accompanying nameless horrors of insurrection. As respects the attempt of an insane old man and his handful of confederates to excite a Negro insurrection in Virginia and Maryland, it is easy to determine where the responsibility really belongs. That act is but a part of the legitimate fruit of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.


October 20– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “I see you have been guilty of another speech. If it embodies the ideas which you forbid us using, why will you not write it out and send it hither for publication? If not, why will you not make another and give the party the benefit your facts? We are damnably exercised here about the effect of Old Brown’s wretched fiasco in Virginia, upon the moral health of the Republican party! The old idiot– The quicker they hang and get him out of, The way, The better. You see how we treat it. – I hope we occupy the right ground. Do you know that you are strongly talked of for the Presidency – for the Vice Presidency at least. Let us hear from you.” ~ Letter from Charles H. Ray to Abraham Lincoln.

October 20– Thursday– Saigon, Vietnam– With resistance by Imperial Vietnamese forces continuing, the French commander of the previous year’s invasion, Admiral Charles Rigault de Genouilly, asks to be relieved.

October 21– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “It does me good to find such a . . . woman as Matilda Goddard and Dorothea Dix of America, and Florence Nightingale and Mary Carpenter of England. I thank God, and take courage. . . . better times are coming– that is, good men and women are making better times– and even bad men help the work, while they mean no such thing. Thus the Fugitive Slave Bill turns out an Anti-Slavery measure, moving the North as nothing before had done: so does the Kansas-Nebraska Bill; so the Dred Scott decision. The revival of the slave trade, which has already taken place, will create an open anti-slavery political party in the South, which, like the Republican party, will go through changes like a caterpillar, and come out winged and handsome as a butterfly at the end. ‘Nothing by leaps,’ everything goes step by step, and we slope up to the tallest heights. It is curious that progress is never in a straight line, for any length of time; there are windings and windings, and curving backward, but still the general course is on and up!” ~ Letter from Theodore Parker in The Liberator.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

October 21– Friday– Wilmington, Delaware– Just before eleven o’clock this morning the first of a series of explosions takes place at the Du Pont Powder Works on the banks of the Brandywine River, causing heavy damage, demolishing several buildings and instantly killing seven workers.

October 21– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina– “From the accounts given of the Harper’s Ferry business, it would seem that it was concocted two months since at the Ohio State Fair, by Brown and other confederates, and that its object was to raise the slaves in that country, kill all persons interfering or in the way, and carry them off to freedom north of the Mason and Dixon’s line. The number of whites directly concerned– only twenty-three– is small for the great preparations made in arms and ammunition. It is stated that recruits from the North were expected, but did not arrive in time, Brown having been precipitate in his movement. Three of the whites are said to have escaped with four hundred Negroes. As we anticipated, the affair, in its magnitude, was quite exaggerated; but it fully establishes the fact that there are at the North men ready to engage in adventures upon the peace and security of the southern people, however heinously and recklessly, and capable of planning and keeping secret their infernal designs. It is a warning profoundly symptomatic of the future of the Union with our sectional enemies.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

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October 21– Friday– Frankfort, Kentucky– “The details by Telegraph of the insurrection at Harper’s Ferry take up so much space as to prevent their publication in our paper. It appears, however, that the insurgents were lead on by the notorious Abolitionist Brown, who was so conspicuous in the Kansas difficulties; his two sons; and a school teacher named Cook. The developments indicate a conspiracy on the part of a few Abolitionists to revolutionize the entire South by inciting an insurrection among the slaves, which conspiracy, however, we cannot but believe existed chiefly upon paper, and in the minds of a few zealots, whose acts prove them to have been stark mad. In fact, derangement alone can account for their preposterous attempt to effect a revolution in the slave States with only 50 men, with the illusory hope, it is true, that the unarmed and undisciplined slaves would rise and successfully strike for their liberation. The slaves were evidently unprepared for such a step, and those who were implicated at all appear to have been coerced into the ranks. The mob has been promptly quelled and routed and peace restored. For the prisoners, a Lunatic Asylum would be a more proper punishment than the gallows. . . . . A bushel of letters were discovered from all parts of the country; one from Geritt Smith informs Brown of money being deposited in a bank in New York to the credit of J. Smith & Son, and appears to be one of many informing him from time to time as the money was raised.” ~ Frankfort Commonwealth.

His Truth Is Marching On~October, 1859

His Truth Is Marching On

In the fall of 1864 as fighting around Petersburg, Virginia, and in the Shenandoah Valley showed no signs of letting up and Sherman marched toward the sea, creating havoc in Georgia, soldiers, politicians, journalists and many others might have thought back to five years before when the threat of civil insurrection caused many to think that the Union was about to dissolve in a sea of blood.

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October– Rochester, New York– “Religion is fast becoming the Devil’s favorite weapon. He uses it on all great occasions, When no other weapon could serve him. In minor offenses against truth and goodness, he is content to refer to human weakness, and the influence of bad surroundings; but when some monstrous outrage against the just rights of man– such as slavery– is called in question, the Devil at once betakes himself to the Bible. Standing up in the name of Moses and the prophets, and bulwarking himself by the throne of the God of Israel, he is almost safe from attack, and may hold his place in repose. With one well chosen text he can confound and overwhelm all evangelical Christendom. No system of wrong ever more fully enjoyed this advantage than American slavery. The Bible has been ransacked for passages to sustain the relation of master and slave. Doctors of Divinity, North and South, both before and since the passage of the Fugitive Slave Bill, have been busy in thus defending the foul and haggard curse of human bondage from the assaults made upon it in the name of reason and humanity. Would that their labors had been less successful! For the slave’s sake, and the Bible’s sake, this religious support given to slavery is a sad calamity. Not only is the slave blasted and ruined by it, but the recognized foundations of religion, order and justice are all damaged. How shall mercy go to the Bible for succor, when cruelty and robbery, and every nameable and un-nameable villainy goes to the same Bible for protection, and finds there its amplest defense.” ~ Douglass’ Monthly.

October– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “There is also another very injurious practice, not so extensively among our female adults since wearing the hair plain came into fashion, but sufficiently so among children, to call for animadversion, as being highly detrimental to its future growth and beauty. The use of tongs, curling and crimping irons, will prove most destructive agents to the nourishing property of hair. We all know that the application of a certain degree of heat destroys the animal nature of the hair, causing an offensive effluvia to escape, peculiar to hair when burnt; this arises from the action of the heat, in setting free the volatile oil, which has now become converted into a gas, while the living texture of the hair itself contracts and loses its identity if the heat be sufficiently great. It will be admitted that the proper use of the curling instruments has never done this when the heat has been regulated; but the objection is, nevertheless, still a powerful one. . . . We may as reasonably drink a cup of boiling tea without fear or danger of its injuring the coats of the stomach, as apply hot irons to the hair and not expect injury to follow. The least harmless mode of curling hair is to moisten it, with a solution of gum Senegal in water, turning it round paper squibs, and, after letting it so remain for a few hours, dressing the hair as usual, by which means it is kept in a perfectly natural condition.” ~ Godey’s Lady’s Book.

October 5– Wednesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– “Farewell. Whenever this solemn word must be pronounced, it carries with it sorrow and pain. Sometimes, and under one class of circumstances, the grief can scarcely be assuaged which arises from the cause that requires this word to be uttered. At other times the bitter cup is so well mingled with sweets that the paroxysm of grief is of short duration. It never can fall from the lips of parents upon a daughter about to leave the home of her childhood, without being attended with heartfelt anguish. No matter how good a match she may have made; no matter how happy may be the prospect before their loved one, she is lost to them– a vacant place is made at the family table. Sometimes a Father, Mother, Sisters and Brothers are called upon to part with one whose voice has ever been gentle and kind in their midst– who has never been long absent at any one time– and whose place they all know can never be filled. Such was the case last Saturday morning when Mr. John L. Cooper, of Santa Cruz, California, left this place, with his young wife, the youngest daughter of our townsman, Mr. W. W. Paxton. She, the tender, beloved, amiable Alice, departed for her new home in the far off golden State with the husband of her confiding heart’s choice. The separation was too tender for the eye of the public; we will draw a veil over it. The happy couple are to set sail this afternoon, from the port of New York, for their home on the Pacific coast.” ~ The Repository and Transcript.

October 6– Thursday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– At the annual meeting of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions there is a protracted and at times heated debate about submitting a petition to Congress against the slave trade and calling for stricter enforcement of the ban against such trade.

October 7– Friday– West Chester, Pennsylvania– The two day annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society concludes with the members passing a series of resolutions which include, among others, “That the first political duty of Pennsylvanians– a duty which they owe alike to their country and their kind– is to rock, by all reasonable means, the delivery of their State from its guilty complicity with slavery; and that, in order to this, they should oppose the election to office of any man not favorable to such deliverance, should, with tireless importunity, besiege the Legislature of this State with petitions to this effect” and “That so long as the Constitution of the United States requires the rendition of the fugitive slave, so long will a promise of allegiance to the Constitution be a great moral wrong, which finds no excuse or palliation in the fact that it is necessary to the use of the elective franchise, or that it is the first step in the paths of professional usefulness or political power.”

October 9– Sunday– Mulhouse, Alsace– Alfred Dreyfus, the youngest of nine children, is born to Raphael and Jeannette Dreyfus. Raphael Dreyfus is a self-made and quite prosperous Jewish textile manufacturer (At this time, Alsace is still French Territory. At the close of the century, the treason trial of Alfred Dreyfus, French military officer, will cause an international scandal).

October 10– Monday– Boston, Massachusetts– A public meeting, attended by hundreds of women and men, is held in Faneuil Hall to consider the condition and needs of “our Frontier Indians, and their claims for protection.” Encouraged by the eloquent abolitionist Wendell Phillips and other speakers the body passes a series of resolutions which includes, among others, “That a committee of seven be appointed by this meeting whose duty it shall be to use the necessary moans to promote a thorough interest in their condition. It shall be authorized to send agents to the distant tribes, to assure the Indians of friendship, and to gain correct information of their needs; to issue suitable publications, and to aid in getting up a service of mass meetings in various cities, and soon as practicable, convene a national Convention, which shall discuss the details for an improved Indian Department, to be presented for the section of Congress during the coming session.”

Harper's Ferry

Harper’s Ferry

October 11– Tuesday– Franklin County, Pennsylvania– “Many applications have been made to me for pecuniary aid to newspapers and for their editors, since my name has been officiated with the high office you connect with it. I have given but one answer and that is, that I can not with my sense of propriety give any money to aid my own political advancement. I have always had a strong sympathy with young men of talent and energy starting in the business to which I belonged in early life, and have very often aided them with my counsel and my money, and so I hope to do again, but not while any one considers me a candidate for the Presidency. If that high honor ever comes to me, it will come, as a free will offering from the people.” ~ Letter from Simon Cameron to a young newspaper editor.

October 14– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Marius R. Robinson, of Ohio, is an Agent of the American Anti-Slavery, and as such is commended to all friends of Society, and of uncompromising anti-slavery. As editor of the (Ohio) Anti-Slavery Bugle, and as a clear, earnest and impressive speaker, his services have been of the greatest value to the cause, and have entitled him to the fullest confidence and respect of its friends. In full apprehensions of the principles of Anti-Slavery, in faithful application of them, and in a fair and courteous spirit to opponents, he is surpassed by no one.” ~ The Liberator.


October 14– Friday– Staunton, Virginia– “The great political ball of 1860 is fairly opened, and the cauldron commenced its seething with more than ordinary virulence and intensity. Probably not since the inauguration of our system of government have the press and politicians of the country at large been more earnestly, if not wisely, engaged in the discussion of the claims of the various aspirants for the Presidency, and the issues which may enter into that momentous struggle. That freedom of thought and expression, which is one of the legitimate offsprings of our popular institutions, is being exercised with a liberality that might well institute an inquiry as to its propriety, and the various schemes and claims of politicians urged with a tenacity, which, to the unobservant, might savor of anything but harmony and oneness of action by the friends of individuals in each of the party organizations. But, while at this early day the elements of discord and contention seem prevalent, we have the history of the Democratic party as a satisfying assurance that the authorized action of its representatives at Charleston will calm the troubled waters, and present the country another evidence of that unity of sentiment which follows an abiding faith in the conservative cardinal principles which lie at the foundation of our organization. A simple reference to the agitation which preceded the contest of 1856, and the fears that loomed up in the minds of the timid, will justify the prediction that temporary breaks will be healed, the column closed, and the organization so consolidated, as to defy the enemy, and achieve another triumph as significant and glorious as that which crowned our efforts in the memorable conflict which elevated the present Chief Magistrate to the position he now occupies.” ~ Staunton Vindicator.

October 14– Friday– Lynchburg, Virginia– “On Sunday last, a crowd of not less than one thousand Negroes assembled on the basin to take leave of the Negroes belonging to the estate of the late Mrs. Frances B. Shackleford, of Amherst county, who, in accordance with the will of the deceased, were about to depart by way of the canal, for a free State. The whole number set free was forty-four men women and children, but only thirty-seven left, the balance preferring to remain in servitude in Old Virginia rather than enjoy their freedom elsewhere. Some of these who did leave, were thrown on the boat by main force, so much opposed were they to leaving, and many expressed their determination of returning to Virginia as soon as an opportunity offered. Many were the well wishes tendered the departing Negroes by the crowd assembled, and when the boats started from their wharves, the freed Negroes struck up ‘Carry me back to Old Virginny, which was joined in by one and all, and in a tone which indicated plainly that if left to their own free will, they would gladly spend the remainder of their days in servitude in the home of their birth.” ~ Lynchburg Republican.

brown raid -03images

October 16– Sunday– Harpers Ferry, Virginia–Leaving three men behind at the Kennedy Farmhouse, 4 miles north of town, the militant abolitionist John Brown and 17 men enter the town. He sends one group to capture Colonel Lewis Washington, great grandnephew of George Washington at his nearby estate and to seize some relics of George Washington. Brown and the others capture several watchmen and townspeople. They cut the telegraph wire and stop a Baltimore & Ohio train passing through. An African-American baggage handler on the train, a freed slave named Hayward Shepherd, confronts Brown’s men and they shoot and kill him. Brown then lets the train continue. The conductor alerts authorities. Brown and his men seize the federal armory but some of the townspeople begin to fight back. As word of the attack circulates in the immediate area, no slaves rise in revolt.

October 17–Monday– Harpers Ferry, Virginia– Local militia, farmers and shopkeepers surround the armory and capture the bridge across the Potomac River, cutting off Brown’s escape route. Brown takes his men and nine hostages and moves into the smaller engine house. In periodic exchanges of gunfire with the militia and townsfolk, 3 of Brown’s men are killed and one wounded and captured. About 3:30 in the afternoon, President Buchanan orders a detachment of eighty-eight U.S. Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E Lee of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry to march on Harpers Ferry “to suppress insurrection.”

brown defenders-images

October 18– Tuesday– New York City– “News from Harpers Ferry of a strange transaction. Some sort of insurrection, an armed gang getting possession of the United States Armory; railroad trains stopped, x+y hundred fugitive slaves under arms, government troops, marines, and other forces sent on. Seems to have been a fight this morning (and the rebellion quashed, of course), but the whole transaction is as yet most obscure, and our reports probably much exaggerated.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

October 18– Tuesday– New York City– “A most extraordinary telegraphic bulletin startled the whole country yesterday – one importing that an Insurrection had just broken out at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, and that it was the work of Negroes and Abolitionists! That some sort of a disturbance has taken place in that locality is manifest; for it seems that the telegraphic wires are broken at that point, and the running of the trains on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad interrupted; but, as Negroes are not abundant in that part of Virginia, while no Abolitionists were ever known to peep in that quarter, we believe the nature of the affair must be grossly misapprehended. . . . If any such party has made a stand at that point, they will of course be crushed out at once; as a large force went down by train from Baltimore yesterday afternoon, while President Buchanan and Governor Wise are both preparing to hurl their thunders at the rebels. We suspect, however, that the nature of the trouble is misapprehended and its importance at the same time exaggerated.” ~ New York Tribune.

brown raid-05-images

October 18– Tuesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Frederick Douglass delivers a lecture on “Self-made Men” to a large audience of both black and white listeners. In a letter written afterwards a listener says, “Mr. Douglass occupied the stand until past the hour of 10 o’clock. He referred to many men who were self-made, and among them was Benjamin Banneker. He read a letter which was sent to Thomas Jefferson by Banneker, and was very eloquent in his allusions to both those personages. Near the close of his lecture Mr. Douglass alluded to the transactions at Harper’s Ferry as being the legitimate fruits of slavery, which, to my surprise, elicited deafening applause from the audience. It was a splendid effort of oratory, and it will no doubt be long remembered by those who heard it.”

October 18– Tuesday– Harpers Ferry, Virginia–Surrounded by the Marines, Brown refuses Robert E Lee’s call to surrender. In a quick assault, Brown and six others are captured. In an interview later in the day with several politicians, reporters and law officers, Brown declares, “Upon the Golden Rule. I pity the poor in bondage that have none to help them: that is why I am here; not to gratify any personal animosity, revenge, or vindictive spirit. It is my sympathy with the oppressed and the wronged that are as good as you and as precious in the sight of God.”

storming brown's position-images

Contrasting the Trials, Discomforts & Fears~Sptember 1859~22nd to 30th

Contrasting the Trials, Discomforts, and Fears

Soldiers in Virginia, in Georgia, in Tennessee, in Missouri during the fall of 1864 might well be contrasting their trials, discomforts and fears with those of five years previous. Questions about immigration and emigration. Strange stormy weather. A tree-hugging dissident praises the powers of nature. Debates about advertising, nuisance businesses and clergy conduct. Labor unrest. Mexican bandits. International sports competitions. Brawls and accidents. And politics, everywhere politics. [What’s that gentle reader? You say it sounds like today’s news? Why, yes it does. ‘A page of history is worth a volume of logic.”]

March of The Mystic Brotherhood arranged for Godey's Lady's Book

March of The Mystic Brotherhood arranged for Godey’s Lady’s Book

September 22– Thursday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Heavy rains bring flash flooding in eastern Pennsylvania, especially around Philadelphia on the Schuykill and Delaware Rivers and on the Lehigh River near the city of Easton. Railway lines are damaged and several people are swept away and drowned before the flooding recedes as quickly as it has risen.

September 22– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “It is stated that the Colonial Government of Jamaica is about to appoint an agent in Canada, under the immigration act of 1848, to encourage the immigration of colored laborers to that island. Provision will be made to pay the passage of emigrants, with whom contracts will be made for three years, at a stipulated sum per month. It is estimated that there are in Canada 40,000 colored persons, the great majority being male adults. Many of them have become possessed of considerable property, and would make excellent citizens of Jamaica. We observe that the project of immigration finds considerable favor in Canada, and it is probable that Jamaica, will receive quite an accession to her productive industry. . . . The idea of compulsory labor for a term of years seems to be inseparable from every English scheme of inducing immigration into her West India colonies. Why is this? Can it be pretended that the expense of emigration is so great as to require such a sacrifice of independence on the part of the immigrant? If labor is half as much wanted in those colonies as is pretended, the authorities can well afford to pay the fare of immigrants without making any conditions. They mistake the spirit of the free black men of America, if they suppose them ready to enter a state of servitude, even for a term of three years. All such projects deserve to fail.” ~ National Era.

September 22– Thursday– London, England– H.M.S. Fox, a British naval vessel sent to the Arctic sixteen months ago to discover the fate of the Franklin Expedition which disappeared without trace in 1848, arrived off the coast yesterday with detailed and definitive information. Today, Captain Francis L Mc Clintock of the Fox reports that Sir John Franklin, searching for a north-west passage around Canada to the Pacific, and all of his crews in two ships, had been trapped in the ice in late 1847 and that by late spring of 1848 all had apparently died of starvation and exposure while attempting to reach civilization on foot. Mc Clintock’s searchers found one skeleton believed to be from the Franklin expedition and paperwork from May,1847, and April, 1848. [Searching will continue throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.]

Sir John Franklin

Sir John Franklin

September 22– Thursday– Dusseldorf, Germany– Astronomer Robert Luther discovers a minor planet which he calls Mnesosyne, after the Greek goddess of memory. [Modern astronomy will determine that it is a large main belt asteroid, measuring around 112 kilometers in diameter.]

September 23– Friday– Chicago, Illinois– “We respectfully call the attention of the Mayor, City Marshal, City Attorney, and whomever else may have authorities and duties in the premises, to the ordinance prohibiting the posting of obscene handbills in the streets. Almost every corner in the city has been covered with the abominable things for weeks, and a fresh layer was plastered on last night. The nuisance has become intolerable. We believe there are not more than two newspapers in the city which admit the pestiferous advertisements in their columns. Since the public are not likely to see them in these channels, the advertisers have adopted the expedient of thrusting them impudently in the face of every man, woman and child who sets foot on the sidewalk – sticking them even on the fence posts of churches on Wabash Avenue and other elegant thoroughfares. In close juxtaposition with every theatre program or dry goods poster, are from one to six handbills, setting forth the excellence of this or that ‘Old Lock Hospital,’ whose attending physician ought long ago to have been employed behind the best lock which the city furnishes to the keeper of the Bridewell [a famous hospital and prison in London].” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

crochet patterns~ Godey's Lady's Book ~ 1859

crochet patterns~ Godey’s Lady’s Book ~ 1859

September 24– Saturday– Montreal, Quebec, Canada– The touring team made up of the best cricket players in England begin their tour of North America as they take on the Canadian select team before a large and enthusiastic international crowd. The English play with eleven players and the Canadians with twenty-two but the result is never in doubt as the English visitors handily defeat their Canadian hosts. [The tour will move on to New York City, where a similar result will play out against the best of the cricketers of the United States.]

September 25– Sunday– Concord, Massachusetts– “As when Antaeus touched the earth, so when the mountaineer scents the fern, he bounds up like a camois, or mountain goat, with renewed strength. There is no French perfumery about it. It has not been tampered with by any perfumer to their majesties. It is the fragrance of those plants whose impressions we see on our coal. Beware of the cultivation that eradicates it.” ~ Journal of Henry David Thoreau.

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

September 26– Monday– near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– A riot breaks out when striking miners from the Corry and Company Coal Company attack miners who had settled with the company and returned to work. The strike had been underway for some time and the company had induced enough workers to return for mining to be resumed. As those working leave the mine for the day they are set upon by strikers. Several men on both sides are severely injured but none are reported killed.

September 26– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– “Judge Witherell, of Detroit, has granted an injunction against a bowling alley in that city, on the complaint of Mr. Chas. Taylor, alleging that defendant’s saloon and bowling alley were a nuisance to the complainant, and the neighborhood, and endangering the life of complainant’s wife, who was very sick, and interfered with the hope of her recovery. Complainant’s counsel argued that a bowling alley was a nuisance at common law; that it was more clearly a nuisance, as was also this saloon, because they are prohibited by the penal laws of the State; that the answer did not deny the equities of the bill, inasmuch as it did not deny the illegality of the defendant’s business, or the injury to complainant; that the possibility of the defendant’s having a license could avail him nothing unless he actually had such license, which he does not pretend; that the license of the Common Council could not give the defendant the right to inflict a private injury or irreparable damage upon the complainant; and that the argument that the complainant has come to the defendant’s nuisance cannot avail, for the reason that it has been abundantly decided that the growth of population and the progress of civilization are not to be retarded by the pre-occupancy of the ground by noxious trades, or other nuisances.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

September 26– Monday– Staunton, Virginia– “I received your letter of the 12th only one day before I left for Charlotte to join my wife who accompanied her mother home about the 1st instant on a visit to her family, and to attend to some matters she had left unfinished when we came away in June. This accounts for my delay in replying to it. . . . You ask me whether it is true that old Billy and Jeff Kinney are drinking hard. Such is the belief here. I don’t believe that they or old Nick will live through another year. I like you, feel great pity for old Nick. He has always borne himself towards me as a gentleman, and I think he is a good hearted, and a good man. Jeff is if possible more vindictive than ever. He can hardly walk. His house in town is locked up. All the family have gone out to his farm to live. . . . I hope in a few years to be pretty comfortable. I have brought 4 young and handsome Negroes over from Charlotte, and have the offer of any others we may wish. Mary & I don’t think we will take but one more, possibly two at Christmas. This will save me a good deal in Negro hire. I am truly gratified to hear of your continued good prospects, and hope your brightest anticipations may be fully realized. Why don’t you come over here. I am sure no man ever left Staunton, who would be more cordially greeted on his return than you. Your old friends very, very often speak most affectionately of you. You must come over to the Circuit Court. Bring Liz along, and come right to my house. We have room in our house & hearts for you and all your family.” ~ Letter from J. D. Imboden to his friend John McCue.

Autumn bonnets~ 1859

Autumn bonnets~ 1859

September 26– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Mary Eunice Harlan, a daughter of Iowa Senator James Harlan, celebrates her 13th birthday. [On September 24, 1868, she will marry Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln. She dies March 31, 1937.]

September 27– Tuesday– Staunton, Virginia– “An affray took place on Saturday last about three miles from Staunton between William Farrar and Michael Vance, which resulted in the death of the latter, his neck having been broken by blows which he received. We understand that Farrar alleges that his wife had been maltreated by Vance. A coroner’s jury held an inquest upon the dead body of Vance and returned a verdict that he came to his death from the effect of blows inflicted by Farrar, who was arrested, and on Monday last was fully committed by Justice Bickle.” ~ Staunton Spectator

September 28– Wednesday– Albion, New York– At the county fair a tightrope walker is performing on a rope slung between two buildings on either side of the Erie Canal that runs through the town. More than five hundred people have gathered on the nearby Main Street Canal Bridge to watch. Suddenly the bridge collapses, throwing scores of people into the canal. Eighteen men, women, and children are drowned or crushed under falling masonry.

September 28– Wednesday– New York City– After a five month journey that took him to Kansas, Colorado, an interview with Brigham Young in Utah, a tour through the Yosemite Valley in California, and a return trip by ship via Panama, editor Horace Greeley arrives home. His travels have been reported in his letters to newspaper, the New York Tribune. [He will soon write a book on his travels.]

Horace Greeley

Horace Greeley

September 28– Wednesday– Brownsville, Texas– Juan Nepomucino Cortina, the head of a large gang of bandits and who sees himself as the protector of Mexicans living near the border, occupies the town with a large force, opens the city jail and kills five men. [Mexican military authorities from Matamoras, just across the border, will persuade him and his band to camp outside the town, and will move Mexican army troops into Brownsville to protect its citizens until American forces can arrive from San Antonio.]

September 29– Thursday– New York City– The Commissioners for Immigration announce that new arrivals for the year so far are down from last year. [However, by the end of the reporting year, the total decrease will be only 01.29% of the preceding year. Immigration in 1860 will significantly increase and then decrease in 1861 and 1862 as the nation is rent by Civil War.]

September 29– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “The Douglas bids for the support of the North have aroused so much opposition to him and his heresies among the Democrats of the South, that his friends now fear that, if nominated, his defeat in the States where he is supposed to be strongest, would be certain. In the event that he is put on the track, the opposition in the South would nominate some ‘National’ man, say Bell of Tennessee, and by assuming high pro-slavery ground, draw to themselves the dissatisfied Democrats of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, and Louisiana, and carry all those States. It is admitted that Mr. Douglas cannot lose these and win; and it is also admitted that [to] him their loss would be certain. This is a contingency upon which his friends here made no calculation; they have cracked their whips over the heads of their Southern brethren with as much assurance as if there was nothing left for them but submission to the lash. They just begin to see their mistake, and to wonder how they will undo the mischief that they have wrought.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

Stephen A Douglas

Stephen A Douglas

September 29– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “Mr. [Stephen A.] Douglas has taken some pains to proclaim his hostility to the slave trade; but it is a singular fact that nearly every newspaper and politician in the Gulf States favorable to him as a Presidential candidate is also favorable to the revival of the slave trade. . . . We cannot doubt that, in the event of Mr. Douglas’s election to the Presidency, he will act on this non-intervention policy with respect to the slave trade. It will be in harmony with his policy during the last ten years. He repealed the Missouri restriction on Slavery in the Territories under circumstances precisely similar to those which surround the slave-trade question. He had declared the Missouri Compromise a compact between the North and the South, scarcely less sacred than the Constitution itself. He has declared the clause in the Constitution which empowers Congress to prohibit the slave trade as ‘one of its compromises.’ He afterwards repealed the Missouri Compromise in obedience to his then newly-discovered principles of a ‘popular sovereignty’ and ‘non-intervention with the affairs of the States and Territories.’ He professed not to be in favor of the extension of Slavery into the new Territories, as he now professes to be opposed to the revival of the slave trade; but, as in the first instance, with regard to the Missouri restriction, his only object was ‘to leave the people of the Territories perfectly free to form and regulate their institutions in their own way,’ so in the latter, when as President he shall recommend the repeal of the laws which prohibit and punish the slave trade as piracy, he will not be moved by considerations favorable to the slave trade, oh no! but simply and solely by his reverence for the constitutional rights of the States to regulate a matter purely local, in their own way. Can it be that Messrs. Stephens, Toombs, and Forsyth, understand that this will be the policy of Mr. Douglas, and hence demand him as the candidate of the [Democratic] party for President?” ~ National Era.

September 30– Friday– New York City– By a vote of 222 to 65, the New York Episcopal Convention votes to restore suspended bishop Benjamin T. Onderdonk to office. [In the winter of 1844-45, Onderdonk, born July 15, 1791, faced charges of “immorality and impurity” brought by three Southern bishops and was suspended from the ministry by an ecclesiastical court. The General Theological Seminary where he taught church history for several decades refused to remove him from his professorship. As sectional tensions have increased Northern churchmen have argued more and more often that Onderdonk’s suspension came from Southern preferences for “Low Church” forms of worship as opposed to “High Church” worship particularly favored in many Northern sections of the church. The National Convention will take no action on the New York petition. Onderdonk’s death on April 30, 1861 and the outbreak of the Civil War prevent any further action.]

Benjamin T Onderdonk

Benjamin T Onderdonk

September 30– Friday– Milwaukee, Wisconsin– Attorney Abraham Lincoln delivers a speech at the Wisconsin State Fair and is well-received.

September 30– Friday– San Francisco, California– “Never before did the rooms of the California Pioneers behold so brilliant and pleasing a scene as that which graced them on last evening, when, for the first time, the exclusive dominion of bearded males was broken in upon, and the ladies were invited to participate in a social reunion of the enterprising Pioneers and their families. The rooms had been tastefully arranged for the occasion – one as a drawing room, another for the use of those who chose to dance, and others as refreshment rooms. In the former of these, the founders of San Francisco mingled in groups, and talked over the days of ’49 and ’50, contrasting the trials, discomforts, and fears and hopes of that period with the present, and the grand results ten years of praiseworthy effort have accomplished. Here, too, they cultivated better acquaintance with each other, and those kindly relations of cordial good will which eminently befit co-laborers in so glorious a work as was that of establishing a great State upon the Pacific coast – the healthful germ, perhaps, of a future Republic. The music was very fine, and all the arrangements in most excellent taste. The company seemed to enjoy the occasion exceedingly well, and the festivities were continued until a late hour.” ~ San Francisco Evening Bulletin.


Inflict Retaliatory Vengeance~September 1859~12th to 21st

Inflict Retaliatory Vengeance ~ Franklin Repository.

A Pennsylvania newspaper comments on Southern fears of a slave insurrection, unaware that on a Maryland farm, not far from Harpers Ferry, Virginia, a radical and militant abolitionist named John Brown is preparing to foment just such a bloody revolt. Lincoln criticizes Stephan Douglas in a series of speeches. The slavery question creates literally dueling politicians in California. Many other politicians busily make speeches. A mentally unbalanced man proclaims himself Emperor of the United States. Life moves on– fairs, storms, births, deaths. How many soldiers, wearing blue or grey in the fall of 1864, might wish to return to the quieter times before the events at Harpers Ferry?

ladies autumn bonnets for the fall of 1859

ladies autumn bonnets for the fall of 1859

September 12– Monday– Syracuse, New York– Reverend Samuel J May, Unitarian minister, radical abolitionist, advocate of women’s rights and uncle of Louisa May Alcott, turns 62 years of age. [Dies July 1, 1871.]

September 12– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania–Birth of Florence Kelley, labor reformer and advocate of child welfare and consumer rights. [Dies February 17, 1932. See, Impatient Crusader: Florence Kelley’s Life Story by Josephine Goldmark (1953) and Florence Kelley: the Making of a Social Pioneer by Rose Blumberg (1966).]

Florence Kelley

Florence Kelley

September 12– Monday– the Atlantic Ocean– A ship near 40°N latitude, 50°W longitude, reports strong winds. At least four ships sustain structural damage or take on water. The Bell Flower loses her captain and a crew member to the sea. The severity of the weather encountered by the ships suggests a storm of modest hurricane intensity, the second of the month and the fourth of this year’s hurricane season.

September12– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The National Agricultural Society’s annual fair opens today and runs through September 17th.

September 13– Tuesday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– “Would it be convenient for you, before your return home, to visit Pittsburgh and give us a speech? Mr. Douglas was here, with his stereotyped speech, and it would much gratify us if you could follow him up. Please write me and let me know if you can come, and when; we will make ample arrangements, and give you as large an audience as you can wish.” ~ Letter from Russell Errett to Abraham Lincoln.

September 13– Tuesday– San Francisco, California– Kentucky-born David S. Terry, recently defeated for re-election as Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, fights a duel with fellow Democrat, U.S. Senator David C. Broderick, just outside the city. Terry had argued with Broderick, who had opposed him in the election due to Terry’s views on extending slavery to California. The exchanges had escalated into the challenge to settle the matter by a duel. The gunfire leaves Broderick mortally wounded, shot through the right lung. [Terry will serve in the Confederate army during the Civil War.]

September 14– Wednesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– “We have often stated that the tendency of extending the area of slavery is to eradicate the white population in the old Southern States. This is fast becoming verified in the very strong-hold of the peculiar institution. The authorities in South Carolina have instituted measures for taking the census of that State, which produces such an abundance of fire-eaters. The returns from seventeen parishes alone, show a decrease of more than 5000 in the white population, in the last four years, (a similar census-taking having occurred in 1855,) whilst the blacks have increased very largely in numbers, in the same time, in those parishes. At this rate the blood-and-thunder State will soon become sufficiently Africanized to suit the tastes of the greatest Negro-lovers in the land. Is it not astonishing that the simpletons who urge so strongly the propriety of repealing the laws of Congress which pronounce the Slave-trade piracy, cannot see that they are preparing for themselves the most horrible doom imaginable? The slave-holders of the South are now almost afraid to go to bed without a revolver under their pillows for fear their darkeys will rise in the night and inflict retaliatory vengeance upon their self constituted owners– their unfeeling task-masters. Then why do they insist upon increasing the danger? They had better be upon their guard, and prevent this iniquity, while they have the strength, lest an opening of the Slave trade should result in so completely Africanizing the Southern States as that the tables might be turned– the whites becomes the slaves while the blacks bear rule. The only way slavery is upheld now, or ever was, is by brute force– the law of might. If, therefore, the weak of to-day become the strong of to-morrow, there is nothing in the world which can prevent their enslaving the weaker portion of society– from whom they have learned the inhuman lessons.” ~ Franklin Repository.

September 14– Wednesday– Chicago, Illinois– “The Republicans of Cincinnati, at one of their meetings on Monday evening last, appointed a committee consisting of two hundred and ten gentlemen to receive Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, who will address the people of that city in reply to Senator Douglas, on Saturday evening next. Well done, Cincinnati! You are paying merited respect to an honest man!” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

September 14– Wednesday– Beloit, Wisconsin– “Seeing by our papers that you have accepted an invitation to deliver the address at our State fair at Milwaukee, the last of this month – Our City Republican Club have instructed me to write and see if you would stop at our place on your return home from the fair, and address the Citizens of old Rock County, on the great political issues which now absorbs the public mind in the Northwest. It is their desire that you should open the Campaign here, if your engagements would permit – You can come from Milwaukee to our place by Rail Road and from here to Freeport or Belvidere by R. R.” ~ Letter from M. A. Northrop to Abraham Lincoln.

September 14– Wednesday– Constantinople, Turkey– Fire which began on the 10th and destroyed over a thousand structures is finally brought under control.

September 15– Thursday– Elizabethtown, New Jersey– In its third day today, the New Jersey State Fair draws a record crowd of around 30,000 people. Programs and displays include equestrian races, a ploughing contest, horse taming, quilting, baking, leather working and other crafts.

September 15– Thursday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The D. R. Duffield & Co advertises the most fashionable hoop skirts for ladies. For example, skirts with 22 hoops and a bustle for $4.50, skirts with 16 hoops and a bustle for $3.00, skirts with 13 hoops and a bustle for $2.50 and skirts with 11 hoops and a bustle for $2.95. [The price range in today’s dollars would run from $130 to $72.30, using the Consumer Price Index.]

evening dress-Godeys' Ladies Book, September, 1859

evening dress-Godeys’ Ladies Book, September, 1859

September 15– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The Honorable Gerrit Smith has issued a circular letter . . . . He takes the occasion to set forth at some length his views of the [political] parties of the day, and to declare that he has no faith in any of them. He seems to look upon the Republican party as being but little better than those which openly profess to uphold Slavery; and he sees no prospect of emancipation except in insurrection, and he regards insurrection as ‘a terrible remedy for a terrible wrong.’” ~ National Era. [Gerrit Smith, 1797–1874, is a wealthy New Yorker, an outspoken radical abolitionist, social reformer and philanthropist.]

September 15– Thursday– Mobile, Alabama– The region is struck by the fifth hurricane of the season, the third one in this month.

September 15– Thursday– London, England– Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an engineer, dies at age 53, ten days after he suffered a stroke. [The most famous engineer of his day, he revolutionized the digging of tunnels, pioneering the machinery used to this day; built a hundred bridges over the most daunting obstacles; laid a thousand miles of railway track; and brought ship-building into the modern era with his all-metal, propeller-driven, steam ships, the Great Britain and the Great Eastern.]

Isamfard Brunel, engineer extraordinaire

Isambard Brunel, engineer extraordinaire

September 16– Friday– Columbus, Ohio– “The chief danger to this purpose of the Republican party is not just now the revival of the African slave trade, or the passage of a Congressional slave code, or the declaring of a second Dred Scott decision, making slavery lawful in all the States. These are not pressing us just now. They are not quite ready yet. The authors of these measures know that we are too strong for them; but they will be upon us in due time, and we will be grappling with them hand to hand, if they are not now headed off. They are not now the chief danger to the purpose of the Republican organization; but the most imminent danger that now threatens that purpose is that insidious Douglas Popular Sovereignty. This is the miner and sapper. While it does not propose to revive the African slave trade, nor to pass a slave code, nor to make a second Dred Scott decision, it is preparing us for the onslaught and charge of these ultimate enemies when they shall be ready to come on and the word of command for them to advance shall be given. I say this Douglas Popular Sovereignty– for there is a broad distinction, as I now understand it, between that article and a genuine popular sovereignty.” ~ Speech by Abraham Lincoln

September 16– Friday– San Francisco, California– Senator David C. Broderick, age 39, dies of his wound received in his duel with David S. Terry. [The hot-headed Terry will die by gunfire on August 14, 1889, when he attacks U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field at a California railway station over a court case and is killed by the U.S. Marshal serving as Field’s bodyguard.]

David C Broderick

David C Broderick

September 16– Friday– the East African rift– British explorer, missionary and anti-slavery activist Dr. David Livingstone, age 46, becomes the first known European to see Lake Nyasa, also called Lake Malawi.

September 17– Saturday– Boston, Massachusetts– With great and imposing ceremonies that include an oration from Edward Everett, the new bronze statue of Daniel Webster (1782–1852) is dedicated on the grounds of the state capitol, facing Beacon Hill. The sculptor, Hiram Powers, age 54, receives $10,000 for his work. [His fee would equal $289,000 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

Statue of Daniel Webster despised by abolitionists

Statue of Daniel Webster despised by abolitionists

September 17– Saturday– Buffalo, New York– “A Convention of self-styled reformers has been sitting in this city for two days past, comprising the leading abolitionists, spiritualists, free-lovers, infidels, fanatics, and women’s rights men and women’s rights men and women of the country. The Convention closes its session to-morrow (Sunday) and the public generally will experience a feeling of relief when the city is rid of these reformers.” ~ A reporter’s article for the New York Times.

September 17– Saturday– San Francisco, California– “At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, andthereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.” ~ Proclamation issued by Joshua Norton, a man approximately 39 years old, a bankrupt merchant, apparently mentally unstable, claiming to Norton the First, Emperor of the United States. [Norton will become a popular figure in the city, not only tolerated but encouraged in his eccentric dress and conduct. When he dies on January 8, 1880, about 10,000 people will pay their respects. See, the Emperor of the United States and Other Magnificent British Eccentrics by Catherine Caufield (1981); Emperor Norton, Life and Experiences of a Notable Character in San Francisco, 1849–1880 by Albert Dressler (1927); A Rush of Dreamers: Being the Remarkable Story of Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico by John Cech (1997).]

Joshua Norton, self-proclaimed emperor

Joshua Norton, self-proclaimed emperor

September 17– Saturday– Montreal, Quebec, Canada– Birth of Frank Dawson Adams, geologist and educator. [Dies December 26, 1942.]

September 18– Sunday– Easton, Massachusetts– Birth of John L. Bates, governor of Massachusetts from 1903 to 1905. [Dies June 8, 1946.]

September 18– Sunday– Indiana, Pennsylvania– Birth of Lincoln Loy McCandless, industrialist, politician and rancher. [Dies October 5, 1940.]

September 19– Monday– Somerville, Massachusetts– Birth of John Franklin Jameson, historian. [Dies September 28, 1937.]

September 19– Monday– Indianapolis, Indiana– Attorney Abraham Lincoln addresses an evening meeting at Masonic Hall.

September 20– Tuesday– Lowell, Massachusetts– “Honorable Galusha A. Grow and Honorable Schuyler Colfax are in Minnesota. They were the principal speakers at a mass meeting in St Paul last evening, in the theatre. Just as Mr Colfax was drawing his remarks to a close, and while yet the theatre was densely crowded, there was an alarm of fire. The cry was at once taken up, and soon the words ‘the theatre is on fire!’ went up from all parts of the house. A smoke was seen issuing from the rear part of the stage and immediately there was a hurrying for the door. The words, however, that there was ‘no danger,’ ‘plenty of time,’&c., &c., prevented any confusion, but the audience moved hurriedly and safely out of the door. A few of the more fearful, however, took the short cut and jumped out of the windows. The flames burst up through the rear end of the stage floor and ignited the scenery, and very soon the Thespian temple was all a blaze. In ten minutes from the time the fire was discovered, the whole building was in ruins. How the fire originated is involved in mystery, but from the fact that it was first discovered in the extreme rear end of the building, under the stage, where no fire could accidentally have been dropped, is clear proof that it was the work of an incendiary.” ~ Lowell Citizen & News.

September 20– Tuesday– New York City– The elderly General Winfield Scott, age 73, hero of the war with Mexico a decade ago, leaves on a steamer bound for the northwest Pacific coastal island of San Juan. President Buchanan has charged him with representing the United States in a territorial dispute with the British, known as the ‘Pig War’ from its advent in an argument between Canadians and Americans over a pig, that had threatened to escalate into a unwanted military clash. [The impetuous Captain George Pickett, age 34, of the U S Army had almost provoked a shooting war some weeks ago. Cooler heads such as General Scott will eventually prevail and the area will finally be partitioned between Great Britain and the United States in the 1871 Treaty of Washington.]

General Winfield Scott

General Winfield Scott

September 20– Tuesday– Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory– Captain John F Reynolds observes his 39th birthday. [Reynolds will quickly advance once the Civil War begins and become a general in the Union army. He will be killed in the fighting at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.]

September 21– Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– “This is my first opportunity to express to you my great regret at not meeting you personally while in Ohio. However, you were at work in the cause, and that, after all, was better. It is useless for me to say to you (and yet I cannot refrain from saying it) that you must not let your approaching election in Ohio so result as to give encouragement to Douglasism. That ism is all which now stands in the way of an early and complete success of Republicanism; and nothing would help it or hurt us so much as for Ohio to go over or falter just now. You must, one and all, put yours souls into the effort.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Salmon P Chase.

September 21– Wednesday– Chicago, Illinois– “We commend to any of our readers who have been bitten by the absurd notion that Mr. Douglas has any concern for the extension and perpetuation of free institutions, the perusal of that portion of Mr. Lincoln’s Cincinnati speech which we publish to-day. If it does not cure them of the heresy into which they have fallen there is no hope for the relief of stupidity like theirs. The gods would war against it in vain.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

It was the Best of Times; It was the Worst of Times~April 1859~22nd to 30th

It Was the Best of Times; it Was the Worst of Times

Charles Dickens begins the publication, in serial form, of his Tale of Two Cities. Congressman Sickles literally gets away with murder. The Fugitive Slave Law keeps aggravating tensions between North and South. The threat of war in Europe among Catholic countries concerns the Pope. Travel on ocean or river can be fraught with danger.

April 22– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “What a humiliating spectacle is presented to the world in the trials now going on at Cleveland of your humane and Christian citizens. . . . What a work of moral regeneration yet remains to be done in Ohio, in Massachusetts, throughout the North, in opposition to slavery and slave-hunting! But this very prosecution will give a fresh impetus to our noble cause.” ~ Letter from William Lloyd Garrison to Professor James Monroe of Oberlin College about the trials of the Oberlin-Wellington rescuers.

Willim Lloyd Garrison

Willim Lloyd Garrison

April 23– Saturday– Ripley, Ohio– “The colored colony of Upper Canada have recently made a commendable movement, which promises to open for them a better prospect for the future. A convention, held at Chatham, has appointed a commission of five of its members to proceed to Africa immediately, with instructions to select a suitable site for the establishment of a new Industrial Colony, to which is proposed to remove the great body of the colored colony of Canada, as rapidly as possible.” ~ Ripley Bee.

April 23– Saturday– Paris, France– French troops begin to depart for Piedmont in anticipation of war with Austria.

April 23– Saturday– Milan, Lombardy, Italy– Austrian General Franz Gyulai, who commands the Austrian troops in this province, delivers an emphatic demand to Turin that the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia disarm within three days or face attack.

April 24– Sunday– near Island Sixty, the Mississippi River– The steamboat St. Nicholas, on its way from St. Louis, Missouri to New Orleans, Louisiana is passing about ten o’clock in the evening when its boilers explode and the vessel catches fire. About forty people are killed and many more are injured or burned and the steamboat is completely destroyed.

April 25– Monday– Washington, D. C.– After deliberating for seventy minutes, the jury in the Daniel Sickles’ murder trial announce their verdict of “not guilty” to cheers in the courtroom. [After a twenty-day trial, the popular Sickles is acquitted in what is generally regarded as the first temporary insanity defense in U.S. legal history.]

April 25– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The Chicago City Railway Company opens its first line of horse-drawn trolley service, running from State Street as far as Twelfth Street.

April 25– Monday– near Louisville, Kentucky– Seven foot nine inch tall James D. Porter, known popularly as “the Kentucky Giant,” dies in his sleep at age 49. [Porter had been born in Portsmouth, Ohio but had lived most of his life in Kentucky. He had been of normal size as a child but shot up to his remarkable height after his seventeenth birthday. He opened and ran a coffee-house near Louisville on the Portland Canal. He became famous when Charles Dickens, during his visit to the United States, saw and wrote about him. He turned down all following offers of employment on the stage, including with P.T. Barnum, and dies quietly in his sleep at his home near his business.

April 25–Monday– near what will become the city of Port Said, Egypt–The French-owned Suez Canal Company breaks ground for construction of the canal to link the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

Suez Canal, 1881 drawing

Suez Canal, 1881 drawing

April 27– Wednesday– Newark, Ohio– “It is not generally known that, since the first day of the present month, it is a criminal offense, in Ohio, to carry concealed weapons, yet such is the fact. A law was passed by the Legislature, on the 29th of March, to take effect on the 1st of the present April, which provides ‘That whoever shall carry a weapon or weapons concealed on or about his person– such as a pistol, Bowie-knife, dirk, or any other dangerous weapon– shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction for the first offense, shall be fined not exceeding $200, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than thirty days; and for the second offense not exceeding $500, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than three months, or both, at the discretion of the court.” ~ Newark Advocate.

April 27– Wednesday– Rome, Italy– As war looms between Piedmont, Austria, and France, and with nationalist street demonstrations taking place all over Italy, Pope Pius IX issues an encyclical calling for public prayers for peace between Roman Catholic nations. “And so We exhort you [Catholic bishops], to stir the faithful committed to your vigilance in view of your outstanding piety, to turn to God in prayer, so that He might grant His deeply desired peace to all. For the same reason We have ordered that public prayers be offered by all within the Papal Territories to the most kind Father of Mercies. Following the illustrious example of Our predecessors, We have decided to have recourse to your prayers and those of the whole Church. And so We ask that you order public prayers in your dioceses as soon as possible. Having implored the patronage of Mary, may your faithful strenuously beseech our merciful God to turn his wrath from us and banish war to the very ends of the earth. By doing this, he may illuminate all minds by His divine grace and inflame all hearts with the love of Christian peace. He may insure that all may be rooted in faith and love. These then would diligently keep His holy Commandments and humbly beseech His forgiveness for their sins. Turning aside from evil and doing good, they would walk in the ways of justice, exercise mutual charity among themselves and obtain salutary peace with God, with themselves, and with all men.”

Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX

April 28– Thursday– Milwaukee, Wisconsin– “The Oberlin Women– God Bless Them. It is not perhaps generally known that a number of the wives of the indicted are sharing prison life with their husbands, refusing to accept private hospitality, but constantly cheering the inner walls of that frowning judicial fortress with their smiles and their words of cheer. . . . The jail room of Bushnell was guarded by bailiffs yesterday and last night, though the Marshal had had the test of every possible assurance that Mr. Bushnell had no desire to escape. Mrs. B. is permitted to share his imprisonment, which she does with a true woman’s devotion to one who is persecuted for no other crime but obeying the Golden Rule, of doing unto others as ye would that they should do unto you. Mrs. Peck, Mrs. Fitch, Mrs. Plumb, and other noble women of Oberlin, also cheer, by their presence, the prison life of the husbands, fathers and brothers, on whom the officials of the Federal Government are thus wreaking the vengeance of the ‘sum of all villainies.’”~ Milwaukee Sentinel, reporting on the status of the Oberlin-Wellington rescuers imprisoned in Cleveland, Ohio.

April 28– Thursday– New York City– “The President having found that it will be impossible for him to discharge his public duties in a satisfactory manner, unless he can devote to them a few hours in each day without interruption, we are therefore authorized to state that he will not receive visitors on any day until 1 o’clock P.M. After that hour he will be happy to see his fellow-citizen as usual.” ~ New York Times, reprinting a notice from the Washington Constitution.

April 28– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Senor Jose Marta Mata presents his credentials as ambassador from the Juarez Government of Mexico to President Buchanan.

April 28– Thursday– St Louis, Missouri– “A strike among the laborers in some of the brick yards, which has been in progress for several days, assumed a riotous character yesterday, and a considerable amount of property was destroyed. The police were called out, and after a slight skirmish, resulting in the wounding of several laborers and two policemen, the rioters were dispersed. This morning the men assembled again in large force, and assumed such a threatening attitude that the Mayor gave orders to the military to preserve the peace.” ~ report to the New York Times.

April 28– Thursday– seven miles off the coast near Ballyconigar, Ireland– The 1500 ton American ship Pomona, headed for New York in bad weather with a crew of 37 and 372 emigrants, hits the Blackwater Bank, a sand bank and becomes stuck fast. As the storm intensifies, all attempts to launch small boats fail. The severely damaged ship slips off the sand bank and sinks, killing 386 people. Twenty crewmen and three passengers survive when one boat manages to pull clear from the wreck. The captain and first mate go down with the ship.

figurehead of the Pomona

figurehead of the Pomona

April 29– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– In The Liberator William Lloyd Garrison takes note that during 1858, in Boston, there were nine colored men married to white women, the same number as in 1857. “There is not an instance reported of the marriage of a white man with a black woman.”

April 29– Friday– Brooklyn, New York– After five years of planning and construction, the city’s ambitious scheme of reservoirs, pipes, and water mains nears completion and the city organizes a big civic celebration.

April 29– Friday– Vienna, Austria– The Austrian Emperor Franz Josef publishes a declaration of war against the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia and thereby unknowingly walks into a trap set by the secret arrangements between the French Emperor Napoleon III and Piedmont Prime Minister Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour.

April 30– Saturday– New York City– “The Southern journals are just beginning to realize the difficulty of enforcing a law which is directly contrary to the sentiment of the community in which it is to be executed. They have all along insisted upon enforcing the Fugitive Slave law in Northern States, and imposing Slavery upon the Territories without regard to the will of their inhabitants. They now find, however, that they can carry on the Slave-trade and rely upon their own juries for impunity; they are quite reconciled, therefore, to the embarrassments they labor under in the other matters. Interest weights more than argument in practical affairs.” ~ New York Times.

April 30– Saturday– Staunton, Virginia– “Your two letters came in my absence from home & since my return I have been so disturbed by this calamity which has befallen Stuart that I have had no thoughts of anything else. You have no doubt seen from the papers that Baldwin Stuart is dreadfully if not fatally injured by the Steamboat explosion near Memphis. He lives there now & his mother & father have by this time reached him. Our accounts of his condition are very meager but they are such as to excite the worst apprehensions, of hideous disfigurement or of death.” ~ Letter from John B. Baldwin to John H. McCue.

April 30– Saturday– Springfield, Illinois– “Allow me also to thank you as being one of the very few distinguished men, whose sympathy we in Illinois did receive last year, of all those whose sympathy we thought we had reason to expect. Of course I would have preferred success; but failing in that, I have no regrets for having rejected all advice to the contrary, and resolutely made the struggle. Had we thrown ourselves into the arms of Douglas, as re-electing him by our votes would have done, the Republican cause would have been annihilated in Illinois, and, as I think, demoralized, and prostrated everywhere for years, if not forever. As it is, in the language of Benton ‘we are clean’ and the Republican star gradually rises higher everywhere.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Salmon P Chase.

Charles Dickens, 1858

Charles Dickens, 1858

April 30– Saturday– London, England– Charles Dickens publishes the first chapter of The Tale of Two Cities in today’s edition of the London weekly magazine, All the Year Round, a new journal he has founded and controls. [The weekly installments will continue until November 26, 1859, when the great story of the French Revolution will conclude.]

Talk with You on Political Matters~April 1859~13th to 21st

Talk with You on Political Matters~ Thomas Pickett to Abraham Lincoln

Many people are looking ahead to the 1860 election. The trials of the Oberlin-Wellington rescuers continues. Public attention is focused on the Sickles case. A popular Frenchman dies. George Peabody makes a large donation. In India the English take a final measure of vengeance for the Indian mutiny.

The Sickles crime

The Sickles crime

April 13– Wednesday– Rock Island, Illinois– “At the request of several citizens of this place, I write to request that you will deliver your lecture on ‘Inventions’ in this city at such time as may suit your convenience. We think a full house would greet you. Please write and let me know whether it will be within your power to come. I would like to have a ‘talk’ with you on political matters – as to the policy of announcing your name for the Presidency – while you are in our city. My partner (C. W. Waite) and myself are about addressing the Republican editors of the State on the subject of a simultaneous announcement of your name for the Presidency.” ~ Letter from Thomas J. Pickett to Abraham Lincoln. [Lincoln holds a patent awarded in 1849 for an invention to lift boats and barges over shoals and obstructions in rivers and streams. As a lawyer representing railroads he constantly manifested great interest in technological advances. He remains the only U S President to hold a patent.]

April 14– Thursday– Mexico City, Mexico– The Conservative Government, locked in conflict with the Constitutional Government, led by Benito Juarez, in the ‘War of Reform,’ retaliates for the recognition extended by the United States to the Juarez government. The Conservative leaders, Felix Zuloaga and Miguel Miramon, order that all United States consulates in areas under their control be closed and they expel the American consul here.

April 14– Thursday– Woodstock, England– Don Antonio Arrom de Ayala, the Spanish consul to Australia, commits suicide in the Duke of Marlborough’s Blenheim Park. On his body investigators find a long letter addressed to the Duke apologizing for the intrusion. He wrote, “It may be a childish feeling but one cannot blow one’s brains out in a common road. . . . So I have not found another proper place to die decently than your handsome park, and you must bear the inconvenience of a dead man in your grounds. I mean no offense.”

April 15– Friday– Cleveland, Ohio– The ten day trial of Simeon Bushnell in federal court for his part in Oberlin-Wellington rescue ends today with a guilty verdict. The judge sentences him to sixty days in prison.

April 15– Friday– Shivpuri, India– The British military authorities begin the court-martial of Tatya Tope, one of the remaining leaders of the Indian Rebellion, whom they captured a week ago.

April 16– Saturday– Ripley, Ohio– “The signal discomfiture of Governor [Henry Alexander] Wise [of Virginia], in his efforts to supplant Mr. Hunter as United States Senator, was anything but a favorable augury of his Presidential prospects. But the desperation of the Black Democracy, and the utter hopelessness of the cause for 1860, with a Lecomptonite at their head, has gradually undermined their pride, and prepared them to overlook Mr. Wise’s past errors, for the sake of his supposed ‘availability.’ We have remarked numerous signs of Mr. Wise’s improving prospects, which he owes entirely to his opposition to the Lecompton fraud concocted by his own party friends. His star for the present at least, is in the ascendant, and we shall not be surprised if he should become the candidate of the party for the Presidency. The Southern wing of the party demand that the South shall have the next Presidential nomination, and Mr. Wise is the only prominent Anti Lecomptonite of the party south of Mason and Dixon’s line. Hence the necessity of forgiving his past [eccentricity], since that eccentricity can alone secure a Southern President.” ~ Ripley Bee. [Wise, a lawyer, age 52, has been governor since 1856. While an outspoken defender of slavery, he is seen as moderate on other issues, particularly religious toleration and, unlike some Southerners, opposes re-opening international slave trade. He will serve as a Confederate officer during the Civil War and will die September 12, 1876.]

George Peabody

George Peabody

April 16– Saturday– Baltimore, Maryland– George Peabody (1795-1869), an American businessman and financier, living in London, had made a gift of $1.5 million to found a music institute for his home city in 1857. The Peabody Institute was incorporated on March 9th, five weeks ago. Today the cornerstone is officially laid at the corner of Charles and Monument Streets in the city. [The building will not be completed until after the Civil War and will finally be dedicated on October 25, 1866. His gift would equal $41.3 million in today’s dollars using the Consumer Price Index.]

April 16– Saturday– Cannes, France– Alexis de Tocqueville, French historian and political analyst, dies of tuberculosis at age 53. In the United States the 1851 reprint of his Democracy in America remains popular in the North.

Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville

April 17– Sunday– New York City– “The Sickles Case. The second week of this very important trial is over, and there is still no immediate prospect of its conclusion. When the cause was commenced there was a general impression that its hearing would be concluded in a week or ten days, and that it was pre-judged to a great extent. But we find, on the contrary, that every step is closely contested by counsel on both sides. Indeed, so strong is the personal feeling, that counsel of proverbial coolness have lost their tempers and engaged in bitter wordy wars, hardly suited, as the Court remarked, to the dignity of the profession. It must be remembered, however, that the case is rather a remarkable one in its personal aspect. A new District Attorney is trying a lawyer for killing another lawyer, and he the predecessor of the prosecutor. The Washington lawyers are straining every nerve to justify the memory of their former confrere; while the New York lawyers are the intimate personal friends of the prisoner at the bar. So, for the last three or four days, the trial has been one of skill between the lawyers, while the Court, jury, prisoner, and, indeed, the country at large, look on the proceedings as the audience in a gymnasium might regard a lengthened contest between eminent masters of the fence. From the questions of law and fact already raised the case has assumed an aspect of the deepest importance. It is so regarded throughout the Union, and both lawyers and layman are deeply interested in the precedents which it will establish. We should not be surprised to see new evidence introduced and new issues raised; so that the trial might last two weeks longer.” ~ New York Herald.

April 17– Sunday– Panama City, [then part of Columbia, now] Panama– In the midst of Palm Sunday celebrations an argument between white and black youths escalates into a full scale riot with troops called out. An exchange of gunfire kills the commander of the soldiers and the situation becomes tense. The U.S. consul, concerned about American property and civilians in transit across the Isthmus of Panama, signals U.S. Navy vessels in the harbor and eight hundred sailors and marines are speedily dispatched to the port. The rioting dissipates and the sailors and marines are back on their ships before midnight.

April 18– Monday– Cleveland, Ohio– The trial of Charles Langston, a black man, begins in federal court for his part in the Oberlin-Wellington rescue, in violation of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Attorneys Rufus Spalding and Albert Riddle prevail in demanding the selection of a new jury rather than use of the same jury as in Bushnell’s trial. Jury selection is completed by only by 4 o’clock in the afternoon. This is part of the defense strategy to drag out the proceedings and increase coats to the government. In the meantime Anderson Jennings and Richard Mitchell, the Kentucky men who claimed ownership of the fugitive slave, continue to be held in protective custody to keep them safe from the wrath of abolitionists who appear to be shadowing them and from the sheriff of Lorain County, Ohio, who has warrants for their arrest on kidnaping charges under Ohio law.


the Oberlin Rescuers in front of the jail, Cleveland, Ohio, April 1859

the Oberlin Rescuers in front of the jail, Cleveland, Ohio, April 1859

April 18– Monday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The Texas papers give particulars of the proceedings of several meetings recently held . . . for the purpose of taking measures to expel members of the Methodist Church North, who are accused of being abolitionists. At one meeting a committee of fifty was appointed to wait on Bishop Jayne with a warning. They performed their duty on a Sunday, while the Bishop was engaged in the morning service in the church. It was also resolved that the Methodist Church North could not be tolerated in Texas, and that it must be put down if necessary. A committee was appointed to draft other resolutions to be acted upon at an adjourned meeting.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

April 19– Wednesday– Shivpuri, India– The British military authorities hang Tatya Tope, one of the last leaders of the Indian Rebellion, whom they captured on the 8th April.

April 20– Wednesday– New York City– Bayard Taylor, age 34, whose name is a household word in the United States thanks to his six volumes of accounts of his travels in Africa, the Middle and Far East, and the American West, today announces that he will now write for the weekly New York Sunday Mercury, which has gained fame for its regular coverage of the sport of baseball since 1853. The news creates a sensation in the press across the country and is an impressive advertising coup for both the circulation of the Mercury and the sale of Taylor’s book sales. [Taylor will continue to gain in reputation, publish several novels and more books of travel and poetry, translate Goethe’s Faust into English, teach at Cornell and serve the Union cause in various ways during the Civil War. He dies December 19, 1878.]


Bayard Taylor

Bayard Taylor

April 20– Wednesday– New York City– “Some of the regular democratic organs are questioning Judge Douglas, Chevalier Forney and their anti-Lecompton ‘popular sovereignty’ newspapers, whether they do or do not intend to abide by the nomination and the platform of the Charleston Convention? All such questions, we presume, will be answered in the Convention, and not before. We suspect, too, that the upshot of the Convention will be the final dispersion of the democracy,

and two or three scrub tickets; for it is manifest that the fixed policy of every prominent clique of the party jugglers for the succession is rule or ruin.” ~ New York Herald on the upcoming 1860 national convention of the Democratic Party in Charleston, South Carolina, and whether debate about Kansas as a free or a slave state will divide the party.

April 21– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “The New York Tribune, in publishing letters from prominent Republicans who replied to invitations to attend the Jefferson Birthday Celebration in Boston, omits the letter of Honorable Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois. Whether the Republicanism to which that gentleman gives utterance is unsuited to the appetite of that disorganizing sheet, or whether it disliked to contrast his sentiments with its recent support of Douglas, we do not care to inquire. Sufficient for us is the omission– a part and parcel of which the Tribune has pursued toward one of the ablest and purest Republicans in the Union, since he dared to oppose the nominee of that sheet for United States Senator from Illinois. We state the fact only; we do not complain.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune. [Horace Greeley, founding editor of the New York Tribune, had backed Senator Douglas for re-election in order to split the Democratic Party by pitting Douglas against the Southern wing of the party and weaken it in the upcoming 1860 presidential election.]

A Rebuke to Reappearing Tyranny~April 1859~1st to 12th

A Rebuke to Reappearing Tyranny ~ Abraham Lincoln

Attorney Lincoln, his eyes on the 1860 presidential election, sends his regrets to Boston for not attending the Jefferson Day dinner. Other signs of the issues dividing the nation appear like spring flowers. Radical John Brown is raising funds. An alleged fugitive slave is arrested in Pennsylvania and found not to have been a slave, much to the disgust of Southerners. In Ohio the first of the Oberlin-Wellington rescuers goes on trial. Some Northern newspapers lambast Southern dominance of the Democratic Party. War brews in Europe. The United States extends diplomatic recognition to liberal reformers in Mexico. British forces capture a rebel leader in India. The world turns.

April1– Friday– Concord, Massachusetts– John Brown gives a public speech in the Town Hall as part of his campaign to raise financial support for his antislavery work but gives no public hint of his plans to start a slave revolt.

John Brown

John Brown

April 1– Friday– Frederick, Maryland– “As for yourself Dear Edward let me say, that before you enter upon the public service of your country, I long to see you enlisted in the service of Him, by ‘whom Kings reign & princes rule.’ This is the best preparation for such a trying, responsible work. A letter from Lizzie just after yours, told us of your visit to them, & how much gratified they were. I am very sorry you had so much trouble to find them.” ~ Letter from a female friend to Edward McPherson of Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

April 1– Friday– southeastern coast of Spain– The Count de Montemolin, a claimant to the Spanish throne of Queen Isabella II, lands with 3,600 soldiers and begins a march toward the city of Valencia. [Unfortunately for the Count, neither he nor any of his staff had told the soldiers of their mission and when they discover its purpose they will immediately declare themselves loyal subjects of the Queen and arrest their leaders, including the Count. Isabella, age 28, will show mercy and deport her cousin, the Count.]

April 1– Friday– South Indian Ocean– The Indian Ocean, an Australian clipper ship carrying gold and passengers from Melbourne, Australia, to Liverpool, England, hits an iceberg, losing two of her masts. The captain and a dozen members of the crew abandon ship and take to the lifeboats but the second officer and the remainder of the crew refuse to give up the ship. [More than five weeks later, the vessel, the second officer, his loyal crew, his forty passengers and 25,070 ounces of gold will arrive safely at the port of Valparaiso, Chile. The men who took to the boats will never be seen or heard of again and presumed lost at sea.]

April 2– Saturday– Harrisburg, Pennsylvania– At the Saturday morning market a U.S. Marshal arrests Daniel Dangerfield, claiming that he is a fugitive slave escaped from the ownership of Elizabeth Simpson of Athensville, Virginia. News of the arrest spreads quickly through the town and marshals send him to Philadelphia this evening to avoid demonstrations or attempts to free him. In Philadelphia he immediately appears before the Fugitive Slave Commissioner who holds the case over until Monday.

April 4– Monday– New York City– In the finale of their performance at Mechanics Hall Bryant’s Minstrels, a group of white singers who perform in blackface, debut a song called “Dixie” by Daniel Emmett (1815-1904), a Northerner, born in Ohio. [He had written the song some weeks earlier. It becomes an instant hit and Emmett will soon sell the rights to the song for $500, which would equal $14,500 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

Daniel Emmett performing in blackface, c.1860

Daniel Emmett performing in blackface, c.1860


April 4– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Proceedings begin in the matter of the alleged fugitive slave Daniel Dangerfield. A crowd numbering in the thousands gathers outside the court. In the courtroom, spectators include Lucretia Mott and Passmore Williamson. George Earle and J Miller McKim defend Dangerfield, arguing that this is a case of mistaken identity.

April 4– Monday– Washington D.C.– The trial of New York Congressman Daniel Sickles for the murder of District Attorney Philip Barton Key opens in the Washington court of Judge T. H. Crawford. Sickles’ defense team includes Attorney James T. Brady of New York and Attorney Edwin Stanton, originally from Ohio, who has practiced in Washington since 1856. [Brady, age 44, is an extremely successful lawyer who in criminal cases has won acquittals for over 40 clients and had only 1 convicted. Stanton, age 44, will serve as Lincoln’s Secretary of War.]

April 5– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– The state legislature passes a law requiring milk inspections throughout the state by appointed milk inspectors to enforce the nation’s first such action.

April 5– Tuesday– Cleveland, Ohio– The trial of Simeon Bushnell, a white man, opens in federal court. He is on trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 by helping escaped slave John Price escape from his captors in Wellington, Ohio the previous September. [Price, also known as Little John, was being returned to slavery in Kentucky but a group of students and faculty from Oberlin College, together with local citizens, had acted before he could be put on the train at Wellington. Price was freed, hidden, and helped in his successful flight to Canada. A federal grand jury indicted 37 people for breaches of the Fugitive Slave Law, including John Mercer Langston, and his brother Charles, both black graduates of Oberlin. All the defendants have refused to post bail, thus imposing expense and inconvenience on the United States and generating increasing public sympathy. Also, Bushnell and Langston have managed to have kidnaping charges filed in an Ohio court against the four men who snatched John Price. See, History of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue by Jacob R Shipherd (1859; reprint 1969) and The Town That Started the Civil War by Nat Brandt (1990).]

the Oberlin Rescuers in front of the jail, Cleveland, Ohio, April 1859

the Oberlin Rescuers in front of the jail, Cleveland, Ohio, April 1859

April 6– Wednesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Fugitive Slave Commissioner finds that Daniel Dangerfield is not an escaped slave and releases him to return to Harrisburg. Before he leaves a jubilant anti-slavery crowd parades Dangerfield around the city in triumph, much to the disgust of Southern observers and newspapers.

April 6– Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– “Your kind note inviting me to attend a festival in Boston, on the 28th instant, in honor of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, was duly received. My engagements are such that I cannot attend. Bearing in mind that about seventy years ago two great political parties were first formed in this country, that Thomas Jefferson was the head of one of them and Boston the headquarters of the other, it is both curious and interesting that those supposed to descend politically from the party opposed to Jefferson should now be celebrating his birthday in their own original seat of empire, while those claiming political descent from him have nearly ceased to breathe his name everywhere. Remembering, too, that the Jefferson party was formed upon its supposed superior devotion to the personal rights of men, holding the rights of property to be secondary only, and greatly inferior, and assuming that the so-called Democracy of to-day are the Jefferson, and their opponents the anti-Jefferson, party, it will be equally interesting to note how completely the two have changed hands as to the principle upon which they were originally supposed to be divided. The Democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing, when in conflict with another man’s right of property; Republicans, on the contrary, are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar. I remember being once much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engaged in a fight with their great-coats on, which fight, after a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself out of his own coat and into that of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they have performed the same feat as the two drunken men. . . . All honor to Jefferson to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a mere revolutionary document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there that to-day and in all coming days it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to H. L. Pierce and others.

Abraham Lincoln, attorney-at-law

Abraham Lincoln, attorney-at-law

April 6– Wednesday– near Neath, South Wales, Great Britain– At the Mair Colliery, the working of a new shaft breaches a wall that releases into the mine several hundred thousand gallons of water accumulated from old workings over the years. With the whole mine flooding rapidly, frantic efforts are made to bring the eighty-one workers and their pit-ponies to the surface. Fifty-five men and two ponies escape; however, twenty-six other men and all the other animals drown.

April 7– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “The proverb which says that It never Rains but it Pours, was never more strikingly illustrated than on Monday and Tuesday last, when the Republican victories in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Springfield, and the State of Connecticut, came crowding each other over the wires. The example of New Hampshire seems to have infected the whole country. . . . The whole hocus pocus of the Democratic platform has come down in a heap– Popular Sovereignty, Dred Scott, Cuba Stealing, Slave Trade, and the whole fabric of fraud and falsehood. To every sagacious observer of political events and the current popular opinion, it must be evident that nothing but the grossest incapacity and mismanagement can prevent a Republican triumph in the nation in 1860. The campaign has in one sense already begun. Each general election is looked upon as indicative of the result of the great battle next year, and the contestants everywhere make their appeals on the basis of that strife. To this point in the latter half of Mr. Buchanan’s term, the success of the Republican cause has been complete and uninterrupted. Whatever may be predicted upon present majorities, coupled with thorough organization and a righteous cause, may be set down to the account of Republicanism in the approaching Presidential contest. Who does not say that Freedom shall achieve a conclusive triumph in 1860?” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

April 7– Thursday– Vera Cruz, Mexico– Robert Milligan McLane presents his credentials to Benito Juarez thereby conferring United States recognition upon the Liberal government, much to the chagrin of the Conservatives under General Miramon.

April 8– Friday– Probnitz, Moravia– Birth of Edmund Husserl, philosopher and founder of the school of philosophy known as phenomenology. [Dies April 27, 1938.]

Edmund Husserl, in 1900

Edmund Husserl, in 1900

April 8– Friday– Paron forest, north central India– After more than a year of effort and aided by an informer turncoat, the British capture Tatya Tope. [Ram Chandra Pandurang Tope, age 45, better known to his enemies as Tatya Tope, or Tantia Topee, was a civilian adviser to Nana Sahib, one of the early leaders of the Indian Rebellion which began in May, 1857. As the fighting progressed Tope developed into a brilliant guerrilla leader, always one step ahead of his British pursuers and with a powerful capacity to rebound after defeat. He was active for twenty-three months, long after all other resistance was quelled. See generally, Indian Uprising of 1857-8: Prisons, Prisoners and Rebellion by Clare Anderson (2007); The Indian Mutiny by John Harris (2001); The Indian Mutiny of 1857– Military History from Primary Sources by G B Malleson & B Carruthers (2013).]

April 9– Saturday– Vienna, Austria– The Austrian Empire mobilizes in response to the war preparations of Piedmont-Sardinia.

April 12– Tuesday– Detroit, Michigan– Michael Phelan of New York defeats John Seereiter of Detroit in a billiards match billed as the world championship and wins a prize of $50,000. [The prize would equal $1,450,000 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

April 12– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Lord Lyons, Her Britannic Majesty’s new Minister to the United States, presents his credentials to President Buchanan. Lord Lyons, a/k/a Richard Bickerton Pernell, arrived in Washington to replace the retiring Lord Napier. [At age 41, the career diplomat is undertaking his first major assignment in what be in total fifty years of service to the British Foreign Office. He will leave Washington in the spring of 1865 and will later spend twenty years as minister to Paris.]