Tag Archives: atrocities

June ~ Election Year 1916

Woman making American Flag

Bloody warfare continues to envelop much of Europe, bringing with it a variety of political crises. The Arabs rise in revolt against the Turks. The Germans violate the rules of warfare. Both major political parties in the United States adopt political platforms which disappoint the hopes of women for a constitutional amendment establishing woman suffrage across the country. Intervention in Mexico creates an international incident.

June 1– Thursday–North Sea, near the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark– The second and final day of the naval battle finds that Britain lost 6,096 killed, 510 wounded and 14 ships sunk. Germany lost 2,551 killed, 507 wounded and 11 ships sunk. While a German victory, German submarines had withdrawn a day too soon. Britain retains control of the seas and the blockade of German ports will continue unabated.

June 2– Friday– Packard, Iowa– A passenger train derails at a bridge, killing at least 5 persons, injuring 20 others and initially leaving 15 others missing and presumed dead.


June 3– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– The National Defense Act of 1916 goes into effect. The act includes an expansion of the Army to 175,000 soldiers and the National Guard to 450,000 members, the creation of an Officers’ and an Enlisted Reserve Corps, and the creation of a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. The President receives expanded authority to federalize the National Guard, with changes to the duration and the circumstances under which he can call it up. The Army can begin the creation of an aviation branch, and the federal government can ensure the immediate availability of wartime weapons and equipment by contracting in advance for production of gunpowder and other materiel.

June 3– Saturday– Danville, Illinois– The north bound Florida-Chicago Limited strikes an automobile, killing the driver and injuring the train’s engineer and fireman.

June 5– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– Louis Brandeis is sworn in as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. Brandeis, age 59, graduate of Harvard Law School, is a liberal lawyer who has made a name for himself in advocacy for women, industrial workers and other public interest causes. He is the first Jew to sit on the court. [Dies October 5, 1941.]


Justice Brandeis


June 5– Sunday– Chicago, Illinois– The National Woman’s Party opens its convention at the Blackstone Theater. Maud Younger chairs the convention.

June 5– Monday– North Sea, near the Orkney Islands, Scotland– The HMS Hampshire strikes a German mine and sinks in 15 minutes, taking the lives of 643 of her crew along with British Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener and the six members of his staff. Kitchener, age 65, a famous military leader and colonial administrator, was on his way to a meeting with Russian military leaders.

June 5– Monday– Styr River east of Lutsk, Ukraine, the Russian Empire– Russian troops break through the Austrian lines, taking several thousand Austrian soldiers as prisoners and routing the Austrian troops.

June 6– Tuesday– Little Rock, Arkansas– In a period of less than 36 hours, beginning yesterday, twenty-four tornadoes sweep through the state, killing at least 76people, injuring hundreds of others and doing considerable damage.

June 7– Wednesday– Chicago, Illinois– The Republican National Convention opens at the Coliseum with 987 voting delegates in attendance.

June 7– Wednesday– Chicago, Illinois– The National Woman’s Party Convention closes having adopted a platform with only one plank: immediate passage of a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women.

June 7– Wednesday– Verdun, France– After bitter fighting the Germans take Fort Vaux. In the last week the Germans sustained 2700 casualties in this attack upon a position defended by less than 100 French soldiers.

June 7– Wednesday– Lutsk, Ukraine, the Russian Empire– Hard-pressed by attacking Russian forces, the Austrians abandon the city and retreat beyond the Styr River. The Russians have taken more than 30,000 Austrian prisoners and captured large amounts of ammunition, supplies and military vehicles.

June 7– Wednesday– Mecca, Arabia– Sherif Hussein Ibn Ali, Amir of Mecca and Keeper of the Holy Places of Islam, encouraged by the British, proclaims the independence of the Hejaz region of Arabia.


Sherif Hussein


June 8– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– The Republican National Convention adopts a platform which favors the establishment of a world court, maintaining neutrality with regard to the war in Europe, maintaining the Monroe Doctrine, restoration of peace in Mexico, continuation of the colonial status of the Philippines, protection of naturalized American citizens if they return to their country of origin for visitation or business, raising tariff rates, strengthening the army and the navy, federal control of the transportation system, an economical federal budget, conservation of natural resources, civil service reform, workplace protection of laborers and while favoring “the extension of the suffrage to women . . . recognizes the right of each state to settle this question for itself.” This dashes the hopes of women who favor a constitutional amendment. The platform blames the Wilson administration for all American problems.

June 9– Friday– Mecca, Arabia– Forces loyal to Sherif Hussein attack the Turkish garrison.

June 10– Saturday– Chicago, Illinois– The Republican Nantional Convention closes, having nominated Charles Evans Hughes for president and Charles W Fairbanks for vice-president. It took three rounds of balloting to select Hughes who on the third ballot received 949.5 votes. Fairbanks easily won the vice-presidential position on the first ballot, receiving 863 votes. Hughes, age 54, native New Yorker, a lawyer, was governor of the State of New York from 1907 to 1910, and has served as an associate justice of the U S Supreme Court since October 10, 1910. He resigns his position on the court to run for president.

June 11– Sunday– New York City– Jean Webster, author of Daddy-Long-Legs (1912) and eight other novels, dies in childbirth at 39 years of age. Her baby daughter survives.


Jean Webster


June 11– Sunday– Rome, Italy– Facing mounting criticism because of ever increasing casualties, Prime Minister Antonio Salandra, age 62, resigns and Paolo Boselli, age 78, takes office.

June 13– Tuesday– Mecca, Arabia– The main Turkish garrison surrenders to the Arabs yet the Turks control two small forts on the city’s outskirts.

June 14– Wednesday– St. Louis, Missouri– The Democratic National Convention opens at the St. Louis Coliseum with 1,092 voting delegates in attendance.

June 15– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– President Wilson signs a bill incorporating the Boy Scouts of America.

June 15– Thursday– St Louis, Missouri– The Democratic National Convention adopts a platform which favors reasonably lower tariffs, “economic freedom” for “man of all ranks and advantages,” an army and navy prepared to deal with “any danger of hostile action which may unexpectedly arise,” the conduct of foreign affairs “to secure the peace of the world and the maintenance of national and individual rights,” intervention in Mexico until “the restoration of law and order,” conservation of natural resources, efforts “to render agriculture more profitable and country life more healthful,” a living wage for workers, the eight hour day, workers compensation, child labor laws, pensions for elderly and disabled workers, increasing to powers and functions of the Federal Bureau of Mines, “the elimination of loathsome disease” by federal efforts, changes in the rules of the U S Senate to “permit the prompt transaction of the Nation’s legislative business,” enforcement of civil service laws, self-government for the Philippines, reform of the federal prison system, and development of flood control of American waterways. The platform favors woman suffrage but, like that of the Republicans, leaves the matter to the states. It attacks the Republican party as “the refuge of the money trust.”

June 16– Friday– St. Louis, Missouri– The Democratic National Convention closes, having renominated President Wilson to run for a second term. Wilson is now age 59. His wife Ellen died in August, 1914, and in December, 1915, he married Edith Bolling Galt, 43 years of age.


Wilson campaign button


June 16– Friday– Paris, France– The Chamber of Deputies meets in secret session to discuss the on-going battle at Verdun which has raged since late February and cost a great number of French casualties. [Most likely French total casualties– dead, wounded, missing– are in excess of 180,000 by this time. However, neither France nor Germany have ever fully acknowledged the true extent of their losses in this battle which will continue until December 20, 1916.]

June 16– Friday– Jeddah, Arabia– Besieged by Arab forces and bombed by British airplanes and warships, the Turkish garrison of 1500 soldiers surrenders.

June 17– Saturday– the Italian Alps, Trentino Region– The Austrian offensive begun early in the year comes to halt as Austrian divisions are sent to fight the Russians. The campaign has cost the Austrians 5,000 dead, 23,00 wounded and 2,000 captured by the Italians. The Italians have suffered 12,000 killed and wounded and 40,000 captured by the Austrians.

June 18– Sunday– Arras, France– The first German ace, Max Immelmann, age 25, is shot down and killed by a British fighter plane. Immelmann had scored 15 kills.

June 21– Wednesday–Carrizal, Mexico– Attempting to push past 250 Mexican soldiers, a force of 100 American cavalry troopers become involved in a fire fight with the Mexicans. Among the Americans, 12 are killed, 11 wounded and 24 taken prisoners. The Mexicans lose about 35 killed and approximately 45 wounded.


June 21– Wednesday– Athens, Greece– In response to demands by Britain and France that Greece demobilize, dismiss police officials hostile to the Allies, and hold new elections, Prime Minister Skouloudis, age 77, resigns and his replacement, Alexander Zaimis, age 60, agrees to demobilization and replacement of certain police officials. Britain and France lift the naval blockade of Greek ports.

June 22– Thursday– Verdun, France– In clear violation of the 1899 and 1907 Hague international agreements, the Germans unleash phosgene gas against French positions.

June 22– Thursday– Karlsruhe, Germany– French airplanes bomb the city, killing 120 civilians and wounding 150 others.

June 23– Friday–near Verdun-sur-Meuse, France– Victor Chapman, age 26, the son of the author John Jay Chapman and a graduate of Harvard, flying with the Lafayette Escadrille becomes the first U.S. airman to be killed in action, shot down by a German fighter.


Victor Chapman


June 24– Saturday– Makunda, German East Africa [now Botswana]– British troops defeat a force of German troops and their African auxiliaries.

June 25– Sunday– St Petersburg, Russia– Tsar Nicholas II orders the drafting of 250,000 Muslims from Kazakhstan, Kirghiz and other provinces of the Russian Empire in central Asia, to serve as a labor force, despite the 1886 law established by his father Tsar Alexander III exempting these people from military service.

June 26– Monday– Washington, D.C.– A report prepared by Captain Lewis S Morey for General John Pershing demonstrating that the American commanding officer at Carrizal provoked the incident with the Mexican soldiers appears in newspapers here and around the country.

June 26– Monday– London, England– Roger Casement, age 51, Irish nationalist, poet, human rights investigator, and diplomat in Britain’s foreign service, goes on trial for treason for his role in the Easter Uprising. He has been stripped of his knighthood and other honors.


June 28– Wednesday– Mexico City, Mexico– General Venustiano Carranza orders the release of the American soldiers captured at Carrizal.

June 30– Friday– New York City– President Wilson addresses the New York Press Club.


June ~ Election Year 1912

Woman making American Flag

The Monroe Doctrine is alive and well as the United States intervenes in Cuba and exploits Mexico. Natural disasters and man-made accidents take lives and do damage. The Republicans spurn former president Roosevelt and nominate Taft for re-election. At the end of the month, the Democratic National Convention remains in session, looking like Speaker of the House Clark will win the nomination instead of Governor Wilson. Both parties go on record in oppopsition to corporate donations to political campaigns.The issues of working people draw attention. Law and politics make news around the world.

June 1– Saturday– New York City– Waiters from 17 major restaurants are on strike, demanding regular wages in place of tips from patrons. The strike was organized by Joseph James Ettor and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn of the Industrial Workers of the World, both key helpers to the textile workers who went out on strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, back in January of the year.


Elizabeth Gurley Flynn on the podium


June 1– Saturday– near Lake Opinicon, Ontario, Canada– Premature detonation of dynamite kills 18 men working on construction of the Canadian Northern road.

June 1– Saturday– Heidelberg, Germany– Daniel Hudson Burnham, age 65, American pioneer urban planner and architect, designer of Chicago’s Montauk Building [at 10 stories high it was the city’s first distinctly tall building] and the chief planner of the buildings for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, dies while traveling in Europe with his sons.

June 1– Saturday– Fez, Morocco– French troops open fire with artillery, killing 600 Moroccan lightly armed tribesmen who had marched to protest French presence in the country.

June 2– Sunday– Brussels, Belgium– General elections result in a victory for the Catholic Party, led by Charles de Broqueville (age 51), which wins 101 of the 186 seats in the Chamber of Representatives and 54 of the 93 seats in the Senate. [The Catholic Party gained majority control of the government in 1884 and will hold its majority until 1918.]

June 3– Monday– South Orange, New Jersey– Margaret Elizabeth Munson Sangster, author and magazine editor, dies from a cerebral thrombosis at age 74.


Margaret Elizabeth Sangster


June 3– Monday– Hampton Roads, Virginia– President Taft welcomes a visit by German warships, led by the battle cruiser SMS Moltke.

June 4– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– The state becomes the first in the United States to pass a law authorizing a guaranteed minimum wage. The law will take effect on July 1, 1913, applies only to women and children, and provides that a state commission will issue regulations and the penalties for its violation are light.

June 5– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– George S. Nixon, age 52, Republican U.S. Senator for Nevada since 1905, dies from an infection following surgery.

June 5– Wednesday– Mexico City, Mexico– President Francisco I. Madero and the Standard Oil Company agreed to “one of the most one-sided business concessions imaginable” with Standard Oil being allowed to operate in Mexico tax free for ten years, and the rights to eminent domain over any private or public property it wished to obtain to support its oil fields in four Mexican states.

June 5–Wednesday– Havana, Cuba–American Marines, 570 in number, land in order to protect American interests.

U S Marines ~1912

U S Marines 1912


June 6– Thursday– Kodiak Island Borough, Alaska– The Mount Katmai volcano erupts, dumping a foot of ashes at Kodiak and killing hundreds of people, wiping out the populations of seven villages.

June 7–Friday– Gulf of Mexico– The first hurricane of the season forms. It will make landfall near Intracoastal City, Louisiana, causing minimal damage.

June 7– Friday– Rome, Italy– Pope Pius X issues an encyclical to the Catholic bishops of South America calling upon them to stop exploitation of the Indian peoples, which includes slave trade, by people motivated by “the lust of lucre”.

June 8– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– At the unveiling of a monument to Christopher Columbus President Taft eulogizes Columbus as “the greatest mariner in history” as he addresses an audience of 100,000 people, many of them members of the Knights of Columbus.

June 10– Monday– East Walpole, Massachusetts– Birth of Mary Lavin, American-born Irish novelist, short-story writer and feminist. [Dies March 25, 1996.]


Mary Lavin


June 10– Monday– New Orleans, Louisiana– Sophie Wright, educator and welfare worker, dies from heart disease at 46 years of age.

June 10– Monday– Havana, Cuba– The cruiser USS Washington and the battleship USS Rhode Island arrive to support the Marines protecting American interests.

June 10– Monday– St Petersburg, Russia– Tsar Nicholas II of Russia pardons Kate Malecka, on condition that she leave the country forever. Malecka, of Polish and British parentage, had been sentenced to four years imprisonment for aiding secessionists in Poland. The British public and elements of the British government have pressed for her release.

June 11– Tuesday– Bar Harbor, Maine– Elizabeth Kimball Hobson, philanthropist, welfare worker and advocate of educational reform, dies at 80 years of age.

June 11– Tuesday– London, England– For the first time in the Parliamentary debates over the Irish Home Rule question, the proposal is made by MP Thomas Agar-Robartes to treat northeast Ireland differently from the rest of the island. He offers an amendment to exclude the predominantly Protestant counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down and Londonderry from Home Rule.

June 12– Wednesday– Dalton, Georgia– Three people are killed and 30 others injured in the wreck of a passenger train.

June 12– Wednesday– Neuilly-sur-Seine, France– Frederic Passy, economist, author, educator, peace advocate, and co-winner, with Henry Dunant, of the first Nobel Peace Prize in1901, dies at 90 years of age.


Frederic Passy


June 15– Saturday– Kansas City, Missouri– A tornado sweeps through Bates, Johnson and Henry Counties, killing 26 people and injuring more than 50 others.

June 17– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Taft vetoes the Army appropriation bill that had been passed by Congress with cuts to defense spending. The President says, “The army of the United States is far too vital an institution to the people of this country to be made the victim of hasty or imperfect theories of legislation.” It is reported that Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson had threatened to resign if the bill was not vetoed.

June 17– Monday– Ottawa, Ontario, Canada– The Supreme Court of Canada holds that Parliament could not pass a national law governing marriage, and that mixed marriages of persons from different religious faiths solemnized by Protestant clergy can not be outlawed.

June 18– Tuesday– Chicago, Illinois– The Republican National Convention opens with incumbent President Taft having 454 ½ committed delegates, former President Theodore Roosevelt having 469 ½ committed delegates and 239 claimed by both sides. With a simple majority (513 of 1026) required to win the nomination, the awarding of the contested delegates is critical to the nomination. The Republican National Committee, controlled by Taft’s supporters, resolves the matter by finding 6 in favor of Roosevelt, and the other 233 in favor of Taft.

June 18– Tuesday– Hastings, Colorado– An explosion at the Victor-American Fuel Company mine kills twelve coal miners.


Mine explosion


June 19– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Taft signed into law a provision that workers on U.S. government contracts are limited to an eight-hour day.

June 20– Thursday– St Petersburg, Russia– The State Duma votes in favor of a £50,000,000 program to increase the size of the Russian Navy over the next five years.

June 20– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– Voltairine de Cleyre, age 45, anarchist, feminist, orator and prolific writer, dies of meningitis.

June 21– Friday– Chicago, Illinois– The Republican Party finalizes its platform which favors “all measures for the establishment and protection of the peace of the world”, an international court of justice, establishment of the Federal Trade Commission, strong enforcement of laws against monopoly, continuation of tariff protections against foreign goods and foods, support of “a prompt scientific inquiry into the causes” of the high cost of living, “a sound currency and . . . safe banking methods” along with the establishment of organizations to loan money to farmers, enforcement of civil service laws and regulations, the establishment of pensions for elderly and disabled civil service workers, prohibition of corporations making campaign contributions, conservation of natural resources, establishment of a parcel post system, construction of additional warships for the Navy, improvement of rivers and harbors, an end to “the constantly growing evil of induced or undesirable immigration”, and greater efficiency in the financial affairs of government.

June 22– Saturday– Chicago, Illinois– President William Howard Taft receives the Republican Party nomination, by a vote of 561 to 107, after 344 of the delegates refused, out of protest, to participate in the vote. The aggrieved delegates are primarily supporters of former President Theodore Roosevelt. Robert M. LaFollette received 41votes and Albert B. Cummins received17. Roosevelt has left the convention and proposes to form a new Progressive Party. Hiram Johnson, Governor of California and also a progressive Republican, voices support for Roosevelt’s third party movement.

June 23– Sunday– Grand Island, New York– Over 100 people fall into the swiftly moving waters of the Niagara River when a dock collapses. Thirty-nine drown or are hurled over Niagra Falls several miles away. Three of the dead are children under 10 years of age.


victims of the dock collapse


June 24– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Taft implements the first specific regulations governing the proportions and design of the flag of the United States, with the signing of an Executive Order. The President accepted the recommendation of a committee, chaired by former Admiral George Dewey, hero of the war with Spain and now 74 years old, for the new, 48 star flag, to be arranged in six rows of eight stars each.

June 24– Monday– Paris, France– Julia Richman, American educator, author, school principal and administrator, dies at 56 years of age during a visit to Europe.

June 25–Tuesday– Baltimore, Maryland–The Democratic National Convention opens at the Fifth Regiment Armory with 1,095 voting delegates present. The main contenders are House Speaker Champ Clark of Missouri and Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey. Both Speaker Clark and Governor Wilson have won a number of primaries. Although Clark enters the convention with more pledged delegates than does Wilson, he lacks the two thirds vote necessary to win the nomination.

June 26– Wednesday– Southampton, England– The R M S Olympic, a sister ship to the Titanic, sets sail for the United States with 397 passengers on board. In response to the Titanic disaster, Olympic carries additional lifeboats.

June 27– Thursday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Democratic Party’s platform favors tariff reform, enforcement of anti-trust laws, states’ rights, prohibiting corporate contributions to political campaigns, “efficient supervision and rate regulation of railroads, express companies, telegraph and telephone lines engaged in interstate commerce”, federal appropriations for vocational education in agriculture, construction of post roads, extension of rural mail delivery, the right of workers to organize, creation of a department of labor, the development of workers’ compensation laws, conservation of natural resources, strengthening of pure food and public health laws, and rigid enforcement of civil service laws while opposing Republican high tariffs which have created excessive prices in common goods and “imperialism and colonial exploitation in the Phillippines or elsewhere.”

June 27– Thursday– Miraca, Cuba– Soldiers of the Cuban Army kill Evaristo Estenoz, leader of the uprising of Afro-Cuban rebels, in battle. His death brings an end to the uprising, which had caused the killing of 3,000 black Cubans.

June 28– Friday– Baltimore, Maryland– On the first ballot at the Democratic Party convention, former House Speaker Champ Clark received 440 ½ votes, New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson 324, Judson Harmon 148, Oscar Underwood 117 ½ and Thomas R. Marshall 31.


Champ Clark 1912


June 29– Saturday– Baltimore, Maryland– Champ Clark moves closer to the Democratic nomination for President, when a shift of votes from the New York delegation gives him 556 votes, more than all of the other candidates combined, but still short of the two-thirds (730) needed to win. However, the New York support has come through the machinations of Tammany Hall Democrats from New York City. This infuriates William Jennings Bryan who remains a leader of the progressive wing of the party. Bryan introduces a motion which says “As proof of our fidelity to the people, we hereby declare ourselves opposed to the nomination of any candidate for President who is the representative of or under any obligation to J. Pierpont Morgan, Thomas F. Ryan, August Belmont, or any other member of the privilege-hunting and favor-seeking class.” Bryan switches his support to Woodrow Wilson.

June 29– Saturday– La Crosse, Wisconsin– Birth of John Toland, historian, [Dies January 4, 2004.]

June 30– Sunday– Baltimore, Maryland– On the 30th ballot, Woodrow Wilson edges slightly ahead of Champ Clark for the first time, with 460 votes to 455 for Clark, as the Iowa delegation swings its support to Wilson.


Regina YMCA destroyed


June 30– Sunday– Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada– At about 4:50 in the afternoon green funnel clouds form and touch down south of the city, tearing a swath through the residential area between Wascana Lake and Victoria Avenue and the downtown business district. The twister kills 28 people, injures several hundreds, and leaves about 2500 people homeless. Approximately 500 buildings are destroyed or damaged. Property damage totals $1.2 million Canadian. [It remains the deadliest tornado in Canadian history.]

May ~ Election Year 1896


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

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


the Shah of Persia


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

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


Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark


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

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

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

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


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


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

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


Kate Field


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

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

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

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

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

coronaTION OF TSar_Nikolai_II_anagoria

Coronation of Tsar Nicholas II


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

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


Charles Bentley


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

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


the crowd at Khodynka Field before the panic began



May ~ Election Year 1856


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

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

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


Lucia True Ames Mead


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

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


Theodore Parker


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

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

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

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


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

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


Senator Sumner


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

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

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

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


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

sallie holley

Sallie Holley


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

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

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

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

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


damage to Lawrence, Kansas


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

Election Year 1892 ~ April


There exist some tensions and rivalries in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Corporations increase in number and wealth. Women battling for their civil rights see little progress in the fight for the vote. Striking miners provide a foretaste of the labor struggles yet coming this year. Black people and Native Americans continue to be exploited. Germany is selling arms in Africa. Anarchists stir the pot as they can. And the incumbent president will replace a deceased Supreme Court justice in an election year without blind resistance from the opposition party.

April 1–Friday– Idaho–Mine owners across the state begin a lockout against 3,000 striking miners.

April 5–Tuesday– Lithonia, Georgia–A white mob lynches five black men.

April 7– Thursday– New York City– “Not all the men who were brought to the front in politics by the popular revolution of 1890 have justified the expectations of their supporters; some, indeed, who were elevated to important positions have proved miserable failures, and will very speedily be relegated to the obscurity out of which they were lifted. But there are some among the new men who were projected into Congress by that upheaval who have demonstrated genuine capacity, and are likely to impress themselves upon the legislation and policy of their time. Among these is Hon. William J. Bryan [1860–1925], of Nebraska, who was elected to Congress on the platform of tariff reform by a phenomenal majority in a strong Republican district, and has since attained, by a single speech, a commanding position in the House. Mr. Bryan, who is thirty-two years of age, is a man of fine appearance, of indomitable purpose and solid intellectual qualities, which make him a dangerous antagonist. He is a lawyer by profession, and is assisted in the preparation of cases by his young wife, who studied law and was admitted to the Bar in order that she might make herself more truly his helpmeet.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly [Mary Elizabeth Baird Bryan is a year younger than her husband whom she married in 1884. Encouraged by her husband, she studied law at the Union College of Law in Chicago, Illinois, and was admitted to practice in November, 1888. Dies January 21, 1930.]


Mary Pickford


April 8– Friday– Toronto, Ontario, Canada– Birth of Gladys Louise Smith a/k/a Mary Pickford who will appear in more than 175 films and become one of the co-founders of United Artists. [Dies May 29, 1979.]

April11– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Now, therefore, I, Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States, do hereby declare and make known that all of the lands embraced in said reservation, saving and excepting the lands reserved for and allotted to said Indians and the lands reserved for other purposes in pursuance of the provisions of said agreement and the said act of Congress ratifying the same and other the laws relating thereto, will, at and after the hour of 12 o’clock noon (central standard time)on the 15th day of April, A. D. 1892, and not before, be opened to settlement under the terms of and subject to all the terms and conditions, limitations, reservations, and restrictions contained in said agreements, the statutes above specified, and the laws of the United States applicable thereto.” ~ Presidential proclamation opening lands taken by treaty from the Sioux to settlers.

April 11– Monday– Florence Italy– Birth of Francesca Bertini [born Elena Seracini Vitiello] who will become the premiere actress in Italian silent films. [Dies October 13, 1985.]


President Benjamin Harrison


April 12– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Now, therefore, I, Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested by the statutes hereinbefore mentioned, also an act of Congress entitled ‘An act making appropriations for the current and contingent expenses of the Indian Department and for fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes for the year ending June 30, 1892, and for other purposes,’ approved March 3, 1891, and by other of the laws of the United States, and by said agreement, do hereby declare and make known that all of said lands hereinbefore described acquired from the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians by the agreement aforesaid, saving and excepting the lands allotted to the Indians as in said agreement provided, excepting also the lands hereinbefore described as occupied and claimed by the Wichita and affiliated bands of Indians, or otherwise reserved in pursuance of the provisions of said agreement and the said act of Congress ratifying the same, and other the laws relating thereto, will at the hour of 12 o’clock noon (central standard time), Tuesday, the 19th day of the present month of April, and not before, be opened to settlement under the terms of and subject to all the conditions, limitations, reservations, and restrictions contained in said agreement, the statutes above specified, and the laws of the United States applicable thereto.” ~ Presidential proclamation opening other Indian lands to settlers.

April 14– Thursday– New York City– “There can be no doubt at all that Senator Hill has injured his Presidential chances by his recent Southern tour. All the influential newspapers of that section agree in saying that his speeches were disappointing to the people, revealing the low and artful partisan rather than the enlightened statesman, and that very many Democrats who were at first disposed to give him their support are now convinced that success under his leadership would be impossible. They had expected to hear an intelligent discussion of principles and policies, but were treated to the drivel of the pot-house politician. They had expected to meet a man with strong and positive convictions, but their visitor evaded every important issue, and if he had convictions, obscured or concealed them by artifices of speech. . . . . No one who has been at all familiar with Senator Hill’s methods and has closely studied the man will be surprised at this result. The truth is that David B. Hill does not possess a single quality of genuine statesmanship. He has never, as to any question or measure, displayed that breadth and loftiness of spirit which characterizes the true publicist. He is a machine politician, pure and simple. He has made his way so far by what a contemporary aptly describes as a ‘comprehending sympathy with the heeler, ballot-box stuffer, the manipulator of returns, the vote-buyer, and all who are adepts in the dodges of the criminal side of politics.’ It is the cold truth that ‘every potency and agency for good, political, religious, and moral, in his State, abhors him as a man without principle or conscience.’ . . . . Thoughtful Democrats . . . are unwilling that the party standard should be committed to a man who has nothing to recommend him but the fact that he is an expert in political crime. So overwhelming is this growing sentiment that even in this State, if the question of his candidacy could be submitted to the Democratic voters for an expression of the real wishes of the party, without pressure or intimidation of any sort, he would, as we believe, be beaten two to one.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly [Hill (1843– 1910) was a lawyer and career politician who served as governor of New York State from 1885 to 1891 and in the U S Senate from 1892 to 1897. At this point he has been vigorously seeking the Democratic nomination.]


Senator David B Hill


April 15– Friday– Schenectady, New York– The General Electric Company is established through the merger of the Thomson-Houston Company and the Edison General Electric Company.

April 15– Friday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Reliable sources indicate that Republican delegates to the national convention from this city will go to the convention as uncommitted.

April 15– Friday– Indianapolis, Indiana– It appears that all of the delegates from Indiana to the Democratic convention will support Grover Cleveland rather than Isaac P Gray, the former governor of the state. [Gray, 1828–1895, served in the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1876, upset by corruption in the administration of President Ulysses S Grant, Gray switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party.]

April 16– Saturday– Rochester, New York– A reporter asks Susan B Anthony what she thinks about the woman suffrage bill slowly making its way through the state legislature in Albany. She replies, “I am highly pleased, and I hope it will fare well . . . but I am not very enthusiastic. The cup has been brought to my lips so often and then dashed away that I have learned no to be too confident.” [Women will not gain the vote in New York until 1917.]

April 17– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– Dr Gardner, the physician taking care of First Lady Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison, reports that she is feeling a little better, despite her hard cough and her fever. [She will struggle with illness throughout the coming months and will die on October 25th, 24 days after her 60th birthday.]


First Lady Caroline Harrison


April 17– Sunday– Paris, France– Britain and France are discussing ways to prevent arms sales to Africans, noting that partisans in Upper Niger and in Dahomey are armed with modern German-made rifles.

April 19– Tuesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– In a move which speculators and dealers will describe as “a coal war”, the Pennsylvania Railroad announces a drastic cut in the rate it charges to haul coal, an effort to lure business away from other railroads.

April 20–Wednesday– Denmark–In national elections for the Folketing (literally, “the people’s thing”), the parliament, 63.8% of eligible voters cast ballots. The conservatives win 34.8% of the vote, taking 31 of 102 available seats. The center-right party captures 30 seats, the moderates 39 seats and the socialists only 2 seats.

April 21– Thursday– New York City– “The expressions of the newspaper press and of all the [state] political conventions which have recently been held go to show that there is practically no opposition to the renomination of President Harrison. There are a few political leaders who, out of disappointment at their failure to use the President for their own purposes, would be very glad to rally a more or less formidable opposition to him, but so far they have not succeeded in finding any candidate who is likely to commend himself at all to the national convention. Senator Cullom, who was at one time named as a candidate, has formally withdrawn from the field. Senator Allison will probably be presented by Iowa, but he has explicitly stated that he does not desire the nomination. . . . Taking the field as a whole, all the conditions are favorable to the practically unanimous renomination of the present executive. In proof of this statement we could fill our columns with extracts from the leading independent and Republican papers of the country.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly

April 22– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Democratic leaders here assert that Indiana supporters of former governor Isaac P Gray are “indulging in . . . the sheerest nonsense” and the overwhelming majority of Democrats favor Grover Cleveland.

April 22– Friday– Louisville, Kentucky– At a meeting local Democrats express support for Grover Cleveland. “We believe him to possess the confidence of the masses to a greater extent than any other living American and that his nomination will carry the country by storm.”

April 23– Saturday– Buffalo, New York– Many prominent Republicans in the western part of the state favor Chauncey M Depew, age 58, a lawyer and president of the New York Central Railroad, instead of President Benjamin Harrison.

April 23– Saturday– London, England– The funeral of Mary Mowbray, wife of the labor organizer and anarchist Charles W Mowbray, takes place. The ceremony, with no religious component, provides an opportunity for anarchists and socialists to demonstrate. Some carry signs saying “Remember Chicago”, referring to the Haymarket bombing incident of 1886 after which 8 anarchist were arrested, put through a show trial in front of a biased judge and sentenced to death. Four were hanged and one committed suicide. Three remain in prison, two serving life sentences, one a sentence of 15 years. [Next year Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld will pardon those three and release them from prison. On the Haymarket affair, see: The Haymarket Tragedy (1984) by Paul Avrich; The History of the Haymarket Affair; a Study in the American Social-revolutionary and Labor Movements (1936) by Henry David; and on Governor Altgeld, see: Eagle Forgotten: the Life of John Peter Altgeld (1938) by Harry Barnard.]


Memorial to the Haymarket Martyrs


April 27– Wednesday– Bangor, Maine– Republicans select delegates committed to James G Blaine to represent the state at the Republican national convention.

April 27– Wednesday– London, England– In Parliament, the House of Commons defeats a woman suffrage bill with 175 votes against it and 152 in favor. Suffrage leaders are pleased that the vote is that close.

April 28– Thursday– New York City– “There is an indication that the President is finding some difficulty in securing a successor to Justice [Joseph] Bradley, of the Supreme Court, owing to the meager salary paid these officials. One gentleman who is alleged to be eminently equipped for the Supreme Court bench is said to have declined the appointment on the ground that he cannot afford to accept it, being now in receipt of an income from his practice some ten times greater than the salary paid to judges. Of course the consideration of salary does not as a rule enter into the question of acceptance of this high position, but it would not diminish the dignity of the office if that salary should be more in proportion to the responsibility and excellent character of the services required of its incumbent.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly [Bradley was a Republican from New York who died January 22, 1892 at age 78. President Harrison will nominate George Shiras, a Republican from Pennsylvania, age 60, to take his place. The Senate will confirm Shiras on July 26th– there will be no debate about whether or not the incumbent president could or should fill the vacancy on the court.]


the late Justice Bradley


April 29– Friday– Washington, D.C.– From the states of New York, Maine and Colorado there seems to be increasing opposition among some Republicans to the renomination of President Harrison.

April 30– Saturday– London, England– Rumors declare that the recent visit by U S warships to Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a veiled attempt to forge an anti-British alliance between the United States and Argentina. American officials strongly deny the allegations.

Murder Most Foul ~ April 14 and 15, 1865

Murder Most Foul!


As I have studied over the course of almost three decades the roots and causes of the Civil War, the people and events of that fratricidal conflict, and the people and events of the decades after the war, I am more and more convinced that the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was the most evil and heinous crime in American history. By killing the President, John Wilkes Booth did grievous harm to the United States as a whole and the South in particular. Had Lincoln lived to complete his second term he would have led the country on a far better path, as outlined in his passionate Second Inaugural, than Andrew Johnson did. His absence hurt the reconciliation between North and South and left open the door to many wrongs against African Americans. In my mind Booth is far and away the worst criminal in American history. If Dante’s Inferno exists, Booth would be one of history’s greatest traitors being chewed eternally in the mouth of Satan. Herein follows a description from an eye witness to the tragedy.

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

From the diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

“‘I had,’ the President remarked, ‘this strange dream again last night, and we shall, judging from the past, have great news very soon. I think it must be from Sherman. My thoughts are in that direction, as are most of yours.”

I write this conversation three days after it occurred, in consequence of what took place Friday night, and but for which the mention of this dream would probably have never been noted. Great events did, indeed, follow, for within a few hours the good and gentle, as well as truly great, man who narrated his dream closed forever his earthly career.

I had retired to bed about half past-ten on the evening of the 14th of April, and was just getting asleep when Mrs. Welles, my wife, said some one was at our door. Sitting up in bed, I heard a voice twice call to John, my son, whose sleeping-room was on the second floor directly over the front entrance. I arose at once and raised a window, when my messenger, James Smith, called to me that Mr. Lincoln, the President, had been shot, and said Secretary Seward and his son, Assistant Secretary Frederick Seward, were assassinated. James was much alarmed and excited. I told him his story was very incoherent and improbable, that he was associating men who were not together and liable to attack at the same time. ‘Where,’I inquired, ‘was the President when shot?’ James said he was at Ford’s Theatre on 10th Street. ‘Well,’ said I, ‘Secretary Seward is an invalid in bed in his house yonder on 15th Street.’ James said he had been there, stopped in at the house to make inquiry before alarming me.

Lincoln's rocking chair in which he sat at the theater

Lincoln’s rocking chair in which he sat at the theater

I immediately dressed myself, and, against the earnest remonstrance and appeals of my wife, went directly to Mr. Seward’s, whose residence was on the east side of the square, mine being on the north. James accompanied me. As we were crossing 15th Street, I saw four or five men in earnest consultation, standing under the lamp on the corner by St. John’s Church. Before I had got half across the street, the lamp was suddenly extinguished and the knot of persons rapidly dispersed. For a moment and but a moment I was disconcerted to find myself in darkness, but, recollecting that it was late and about time for the moon to rise, I proceeded on, not having lost five steps, merely making a pause without stopping. Hurrying forward into 15th Street, I found it pretty full of people, especially so near the residence of Secretary Seward, where there were many soldiers as well as citizens already gathered. Entering the house, I found the lower hall and office full of persons, and among them most of the foreign legations, all anxiously inquiring what truth there was in the horrible rumors afloat. I replied that my object was to ascertain the facts. Proceeding through the hall to the stairs, I found one, and I think two, of the servants there holding the crowd in check. The servants were frightened and appeared relieved to see me. I hastily asked what truth there was in the story that an assassin or assassins had entered the house and assaulted the Secretary. They said it was true, and that Mr. Frederick was also badly injured. They wished me to go up, but no others. At the head of the first stairs I met the elder Mrs. Seward, who was scarcely able to speak but desired me to proceed up to Mr. Seward’s room. I met Mrs. Frederick Seward on the third story, who, although in extreme distress, was, under the circumstances, exceedingly composed. I asked for the Secretary’s room, which she pointed out, the southwest room. As I entered, I met Miss Fanny Seward, with whom I exchanged a single word, and proceeded to the foot of the bed. Dr. Verdi and, I think, two others were there. The bed was saturated with blood. The Secretary was lying on his back, the upper part of his head covered by a cloth, which extended down over his eyes. His mouth was open, the lower jaw dropping down. I exchanged a few whispered words with Dr. Verdi. Secretary Stanton, who came after but almost simultaneously with me, made inquiries in a louder tone till admonished by a word from one of the physicians. We almost immediately withdrew and went into the adjoining front room, where lay Frederick Seward. His eyes were open but he did not move them, nor a limb, nor did he speak. Doctor White, who was in attendance, told me he was unconscious and more dangerously injured than his father.

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War

As we descended the stairs, I asked Stanton what he had heard in regard to the President that was reliable. He said the President was shot at Ford’s Theatre, that he had seen a man who was present and witnessed the occurrence. I said I would go immediately to the White House. Stanton told me the President was not there but was at the theatre. ‘Then,’ said I, ‘let us go immediately there.’He said that was his intention, and asked me, if I had not a carriage, to go with him. In the lower hall we met General Meigs,  whom he requested to take charge of the house, and to clear out all who did not belong there. General Meigs begged Stanton not to go down to 10th Street; others also remonstrated against our going. Stanton, I thought, hesitated. Hurrying forward, I remarked that I should go immediately, and I thought it his duty also. He said he should certainly go, but the remonstrants increased and gathered round him. I said we were wasting time, and, pressing through the crowd, entered the carriage and urged Stanton, who was detained by others after he had placed his foot on the step. I was impatient. Stanton, as soon as he had seated himself, turned round, rose partly, and said the carriage was not his. I said that was no objection. He invited Meigs to go with us, and Judge Cartter of the Supreme Court mounted with the driver. At this moment Major Eckert rode up on horseback beside the carriage and protested vehemently against Stanton’s going to 10th Street; said he had just come from there, that there were thousands of people of all sorts there, and he considered it very unsafe for the Secretary of War to expose himself. I replied that I knew not where he would be more safe, and that the duty of both of us was to attend the President immediately. Stanton concurred. Meigs called to some soldiers to go with us, and there was one on each side of the carriage. The streets were full of people. Not only the sidewalk but the carriage-way was to some extent occupied, all or nearly all hurrying towards 10th Street. When we entered that street we found it pretty closely packed.

The President had been carried across the street from the theatre, to the house of a Mr. Peterson. We entered by ascending a flight of steps above the basement and passing through a long hall to the rear, where the President lay extended on a bed, breathing heavily. Several surgeons were present, at least six, I should think more. Among them I was glad to observe Dr. Hall, who, however, soon left. I inquired of Dr. Hall, as I entered, the true condition of the President. He replied the President was dead to all intents, although he might live three hours or perhaps longer.

Lincoln on his death bed

Lincoln on his death bed

The giant sufferer lay extended diagonally across the bed, which was not long enough for him. He had been stripped of his clothes. His large arms, which were occasionally exposed, were of a size which one would scarce have expected from his spare appearance. His slow, full respiration lifted the clothes with each breath that he took. His features were calm and striking. I had never seen them appear to better advantage than for the first hour, perhaps, that I was there. After that, his right eye began to swell and that part of his face became discolored.

Senator Sumner was there, I think, when I entered. If not he came in soon after, as did Speaker Colfax, Mr. Secretary McCulloch, and the other members of the Cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Seward. A double guard was stationed at the door and on the sidewalk, to repress the crowd, which was of course highly excited and anxious. The room was small and overcrowded. The surgeons and members of the Cabinet were as many as should have been in the room, but there were many more, and the hall and other rooms in the front or main house were full. One of these rooms was occupied by Mrs. Lincoln and her attendants, with Miss Harris. Mrs. Dixon and Mrs. Kinney came to her about twelve o’clock. About once an hour Mrs. Lincoln would repair to the bedside of her dying husband and with lamentation and tears remain until overcome by emotion.

[April 15.] A door which opened upon a porch or gallery, and also the windows, were kept open for fresh air. The night was dark, cloudy, and damp, and about six it began to rain. I remained in the room until then without sitting or leaving it, when, there being a vacant chair which some one left at the foot of the bed, I occupied it for nearly two hours, listening to the heavy groans, and witnessing the wasting life of the good and great man who was expiring before me.

About 6 a.m. I experienced a feeling of faintness and for the first time after entering the room, a little past eleven, I left it and the house, and took a short walk in the open air. It was a dark and gloomy morning, and rain set in before I returned to the house, some fifteen minutes [later]. Large groups of people were gathered every few rods, all anxious and solicitous. Some one or more from each group stepped forward as I passed, to inquire into the condition of the President, and to ask if there was no hope. Intense grief was on every countenance when I replied that the President could survive but a short time. The colored people especially – and there were at this time more of them, perhaps, than of whites – were overwhelmed with grief.

Ford's Theater draped in black the next day

Ford’s Theater draped in black the next day

Returning to the house, I seated myself in the back parlor, where the Attorney-General and others had been engaged in taking evidence concerning the assassination. Stanton, and Speed, and Usher were there, the latter asleep on the bed. There were three or four others also in the room. While I did not feel inclined to sleep, as many did, I was somewhat indisposed. I had been so for several days. The excitement and bad atmosphere from the crowded rooms oppressed me physically.

A little before seven, I went into the room where the dying President was rapidly drawing near the closing moments. His wife soon after made her last visit to him. The death-struggle had begun. Robert, his son, stood with several others at the head of the bed. He bore himself well, but on two occasions gave way to overpowering grief and sobbed aloud, turning his head and leaning on the shoulder of Senator Sumner. The respiration of the President became suspended at intervals, and at last entirely ceased at twenty-two minutes past seven.

A prayer followed from Dr. Gurley; and the Cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Seward and Mr. McCulloch, immediately thereafter assembled in the back parlor, from which all other persons were excluded, and there signed a letter which was prepared by Attorney-General Speed to the Vice-President, informing him of the event, and that the government devolved upon him.”

President Andrew Johnson

President Andrew Johnson

Prayer for Our Poor Country ~ March 1865 ~ 9th to 10th

Prayer for Our Poor Country

slave market

slave market

Southerners keep a day of prayer and fasting for the sake of the Confederacy. Georgia seems less and less cooperative with the Confederacy. It seems that desertion has become a major problem for General Lee’s forces. Items from a slave market are displayed in Boston. [The abolitionist and Quaker poet Whittier refers to them as “symbols of the Anti Christ.”]

chains used on slaves

chains used on slaves

March 9– Thursday– Montpelier, Vermont – The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

March 9– Thursday– Amesbury, Massachusetts– “I rejoice heartily to hear of thy arrival in Boston with the relics of the Great Barbarism– the auction-block of the human flesh-market of South Carolina, worn with weary feet and steeped in tears!– the lock of the accursed prison-house!– the letters over its gates of despair! It is as if Dante had torn the dreadful inscription, ‘Hope enters not here!’ from the doors of Hell, and borne it away with him to the upper world. It was well done on thy part. Let these infernal hieroglyphics and symbols of the worship of the Anti Christ be carefully preserved. Lay them side by side with the racks of the Inquisition and the keys of the Bastille. Let them tell the generations to come of that most hideous form of human depravity which, priding Itself on Its evangelical purity, and with the name of Christ on its lips, bought and sold the image of God, and subjected body and soul to the base uses of lust and avarice. Let them be a wonder and a warning to all time. I fear I may not be able to be at the meeting for presentation to morrow. But I know that such men as Governor Andrew and William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips will say the fitting word for Massachusetts and for Freedom on the occasion. Absent I shall rejoice with you, and thank God that I have lived to see the opening of the prison-doors.” ~ Letter from John Greenleaf Whittier to Charles Carleton Coffin. [Coffin, 1823– 1896, Massachusetts-born, has served as a war correspondent since the start of the war. He obtained the referenced items from the slave market in Charleston, South Carolina, after it fell to Federal troops, and brought them to Boston. Whittier is 57 years old at this time, continuing to deal with some health problems.]

Charles Carleton Coffin

Charles Carleton Coffin

March 9– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Rained all night; clearing away this morning. Warm. Nothing positive from Sherman, Grant, or Sheridan. . . . Yesterday the Senate passed the Negro troops bill . . . . The enemy did capture or destroy the tobacco sent to Fredericksburg bythe speculators to exchange for bacon– and 31 [railroad] cars were burned. No one regrets this, so far as the speculators are concerned. Letters from North Carolina state that the country is swarming with deserters . . . . It is stated that there are 800 in Randolph County, committing depredations on the rich farmers, etc.; and that the quartermaster and commissary stores at Greensborough [North Carolina] are threatened.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

bull whip used on slaves

bull whip used on slaves

March 9– Thursday– Macon, Georgia– “Let the Conscript Act be repealed, as you have wisely resolved it should be, let us return to the principles upon which we entered the contest, and let the whole country, with the spirit of freedom, which animated them in 1861, rally around our glorious leaders, Lee, Johnston, and Beauregard, who should be untrammeled by Presidential interference in the management of military campaigns, and we shall again triumph in battle, and roll back the dark cloud of despondency, which has so long darkened our horizon, and blighted our hopes. Georgia has done her whole duty, from the commencement of the struggle. She has furnished more than her quota of troops, clothed them when naked in Confederate service, and provided subsistence for their families at home. Official reports show, that she has lost more men, and paid more tax, than any State in the Confederacy. However much she may be misrepresented, and the motives of those who have conducted her counsels, and administered her Government, may be maligned, by artful and designing politicians, both she, and her public servants, may proudly point to the sacrifices made, and the results achieved, as the highest evidence of loyalty to the cause. I now appeal, doubtless, with your concurrence, to Georgians, at home and in the field, while they demand the correction of abuses, and maintain in sunshine and in shade, the old land marks of State Sovereignty and republican liberty, against foes without and within, never to permit her proud banner to trail in the dust, nor the cause to suffer, on account of their failure to strike, with heroic valor, in the thickest of the fight, till freedom is won and Constitutional liberty firmly established.” ~ Message from Georgia governor Joseph E Brown to the state legislature.

spring outfit 1865

spring outfit 1865

March 9– Thursday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “Mrs. Warren gave a dinner party to which all the people from Gopher Hill and a good many from Albany were invited, but very few attended on account of the weather. It poured down rain all day, and in the afternoon there was a furious storm; but Mrs. Maxwell is always in for a frolic, so we left home at eleven, between showers, and got to the Warrens’ just before the storm burst. General Graves, Mr. Baldwin, Joe Godfrey, Albert Bacon, and Jim Chiles were the only ones there besides Mrs. Maxwell and her guests. There is a fine lake in front of Mr. Warren’s house, but the weather gave us no opportunity for rowing. We dined at six, and it was so dark when we rose from the table that we had to start for home at once. Mrs. Warren insisted on our staying all night, but there was company invited to spend the evening at Gopher Hill, so off we went in the rain. We took a new road to avoid some bad mud holes in the old one, and as a matter of course, lost our way in the numerous blind roads that cross each other in every direction through the pine woods, and which are all just alike except that they lead to different places – or to no place at all. The night was very dark and it rained furiously, though the wind had lulled. The glare of the lightning was blinding and terrific peals of thunder rang through the woods. Every few yards there were trees blown across the road, and the Negro Mr. Warren had sent to guide us would have to grope about in the dark, hunting for some way around them. At last he confessed that he had lost his way, and then I fell back in a corner of the phaeton and began to say my prayers. As there was nothing else to do, we concluded to follow the blind path we were in, hoping it would lead somewhere. It did lead us with a vengeance, through ponds and bogs and dismal swamps where the frogs filled our ears with unearthly noises. But all things have an end, even piney woods byroads, and at last we came out upon a broad smooth highway, which the guide recognized as the one he was looking for. Our troubles were now over, and in a short time we were back at Gopher Hill. Though it was very late, we began to dance and enjoy ourselves in a fashion, but everybody seemed to be more or less out of humor, for before we went to bed, I was made the confidante of four lovers’ quarrels.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 10– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “At the late special meeting of the Massachusetts Historical Society commemorative of Edward Everett, the Rev. R.S. Waterston read the following interesting communication from Mr. Whittier, who, only a few weeks previous, had been associated as colleague with Mr. Everett in the Electoral College of this State. Mr. Waterston introduced the letter with the words of Dr. Channing, who said of Mr. Whittier more than a quarter of a century ago, ‘His poetry bursts from the soul with the fire and energy of an ancient prophet, and his noble simplicity of character is the delight of all who know him.’ . . . ‘When I last met him, as my colleague in the Electoral College of Massachusetts, his look of health and vigor seemed to promise us many years of his wisdom and usefulness. On greeting him I felt impelled to express my admiration and grateful appreciation of his patriotic labors, and I shall never forget how readily and gracefully he turned attention from himself to the great cause in which we had a common interest, and expressed his thankfulness that he had still a country to serve. To keep green the memory of such a man is at once a privilege and a duty. That stainless life of seventy years is a priceless legacy. His hands were pure. The shadow of suspicion never fell on him. If he erred in his opinions (and that he did so, he had the Christian grace and courage to own), no selfish interest weighed in the scale of his judgment against truth.’” ~ The Liberator.

Edward Everett

Edward Everett

March 10– Friday– New York City– “The rebel hosts continue to be seriously drained by desertion. Not less than fifty deserters have taken refuge within Grant’s lines every day for many weeks past, and their average number is probably nearer one hundred than fifty. . . . All tell the same story of compulsory service, hardships, failure of pay and of clothing and of rations, and of general despondency.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

March 10– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining and cold. This is the day appointed by the government for prayer, fasting, etc.; and the departments, shops, etc. are closed. The people, notwithstanding the bad weather, pretty generally proceeded to the churches, which will be open morning, noon, and night, for it is a solemn occasion, and thousands will supplicate Almighty God to be pleased to look upon us with compassion, and aid us, in this hour of extremity, to resist the endeavors of our enemies to reduce us to bondage.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 10– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I have but a few minutes in which to write and I’m writing by a very dim fire light. I don’t expect you can read it but I will write a few lines. I wrote toyou some few days since . . . . I don’t suppose you will ever get them. We are now on the line between the James & the Appomattox rivers. We occupy the position formerly held by Picket’s Division. We are very well situated. Although we can see the Yanks (about a thousand yards off) we do not expect an engagement. We may, however, be subject to a shelling occasionally. I will try and take care of myself. My light is about out so I must close. Love to all.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

March 10– Friday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “What think you we did yesterday? We had a ‘Matinee Musicale,’ at the Chapel of the 50th New York Engineers. Nothing but high-toned amusements, now-a-day, you will perceive. In truth I was very glad to go to it, as good music always gives me pleasure. The band was the noted one of the New Jersey brigade, and consisted of over thirty pieces. . . . There was a large assemblage of the fashion and nobility of the environs of Petersburg, though most of the first families of Virginia were unavoidably detained in the city. We had a batch of ladies, who, by the way, seem suddenly to have gone mad on visiting this army. No petticoat is allowed to stay within our lines, but they run up from City Point and return in the afternoon. Poor little Mrs. Webb accompanied the General to our monkish encampment and tried, in a winning way, to hint to General Meade that she ought to remain a day or two; but the Chief, though of a tender disposition towards the opposite sex, hath a god higher than a hooped skirt, to wit, orders, and his hooked nose became as a polite bit of flint unto any such propositions. And so, poor little Mrs. Webb, afore said, had to bid her Andrew adieu.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his wife Elizabeth.

Theodore Lyman

Theodore Lyman

March 10– Friday– Lincolnton, North Carolina– “Went to church crying to Ellen, ‘It is Lent, we must fast and pray.’ When I came home my good fairy, Colonel Childs, had been here bringing rice and potatoes, and promising flour. He is a trump. He pulled out his pocket-book and offered to be my banker. He stood there on the street, Miss Middleton and Isabella witnessing the generous action, and straight out offered me money. ‘No, put up that,’ said I. ‘I am not a beggar, and I never will be; to die is so much easier.’ Alas, after that flourish of trumpets, when he came with a sack of flour, I accepted it gratefully. I receive things I can not pay for, but money is different. There I draw a line, imaginary perhaps. Once before the same thing happened. Our letters of credit came slowly in 1845, when we went unexpectedly to Europe and our letters [of credit] were to follow us. I was a poor little, inoffensive bride, and a British officer, who guessed our embarrassment, for we did not tell him (he came over with us on the ship), asked my husband to draw on his banker until the letters of credit should arrive. It was a nice thing for a stranger to do.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

March 10– Friday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “To-day was the day appointed by our President [Jefferson Davis] as a day of fasting and prayer. I for one observed it, though perhaps not with the right spirit. All the animosity which formerly existed (but which we had hoped had completely died out) between the Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches seems with the last few days to have been revived. Everybody is talking of the church some think one some the other. Everybody is commenting on a book which the Episcopalian Minister is circulating by the name of ‘A Presbyterian Minister in search of The Church’ which our pastor pronounced (also any good sensed person) a collection of falsehoods to deceive the ignorant. There is a class of young ladies who intend being confirmed, and this book is given preparatory to confirmation. How wrong to cultivate feeling so injurious to the cause of Christ and so unchristian like in their bearing, instead of cultivating feelings of goodwill toward all men in imitation of our gentle Jesus. The apple of discord has now been thrown among us. Father is divided against Son, Mother against daughter, all ties of Christian affection completely and perhaps forever surrendered. . . . Yankees reported in eight miles of town this morning. At LaGrange this evening, also at Salisbury, I believe.” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.

civil-war-fashion-Paris-March 1865

March 10– Friday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “A day of public fasting and prayer for our poor country, but there was little of either done at Gopher Hill. We had a late breakfast after our night’s dissipation, and soon after, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Bacon came over and played cards till dinner-time. After dinner the gentlemen proposed a row on the lake, but Mrs. Maxwell and I were the only ones that had fasted and we wouldn’t indulge in a frolic, and the others said they were afraid they might be drowned for their sins if they ventured on the water, so we drove to the station instead. We were too late to meet the train, but heard plenty of news. A tornado passed over the Flat Pond plantation yesterday, destroying every house on it and killing fifteen Negroes; a schoolhouse was blown down and several children killed; on one plantation all the poultry was drowned, and two calves blown away and never came down again! So much for marvels. But the whole country between Wooten’s and Gopher Hill is really flooded. One bridge that we crossed was entirely under water and seemed ready to give way and go down stream at any moment. Jimmy caught a gopher in the road on our way home, and we saw rows of them sitting on logs in the swamps, as if they were having a prayer-meeting.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 10– Friday– Beijing, China– Birth of Tan Sitong, politician and reformist leader. [Executed by the imperial government September 28, 1898.]

The War Is Certainly Drawing to a Close ~ February 1865 ~ 25th to 26th

The War Is Certainly Drawing to a Close ~ Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

burning south carolina town

North and South, people such as Rhodes believe that the end of the conflict is soon at hand. A reporter describes the sorry condition of Yankee soldiers returning from rebel prison camps. A citizen writes to the governor of Georgia, calling for an immediate end to fighting. A Southern belle loves the singing of slaves but fails to see their humanity, reflecting the racist nature of the slave system.


February 25– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Out of all the recruits that have been enlisted at the office of the Provost Marshal of this district, under the late call, only two or three bounty jumpers have been found, and it is thought that even these may not be purposely keeping out of the way. Heretofore there have been a great many bounty jumpers, and the fact which we have just mentioned speaks louder than anything else for the character of the men lately mustered to the credit of the State.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 25– Saturday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Two days after the storming of Fort Fisher, I went over the scene of that desperate struggle where Southern will yielded, after a seven hours hand-to-hand conflict, to Northern valor. I thought it was one of the saddest sights of war. The storm of Porter’s shell had left scarcely a foot of good untouched. Dead bodies, as they fell, in all the horrid mockery of life, headless trunks, scattered limb, shattered guns, here a Union soldier side by side with his rebel foe in the equality of death, there an artillery officer crushed in a heap beside his gun, a relic-hunter cutting off his confederate buttons, over and about all, riot and desolation, and a sense as if nature’s economies had been insanely wronged, and her thought outraged. But that picture, framed with death and ruin, was not to me so sad or pitiful as the sights I chanced upon yesterday near Aiken’s Landing. At the rude river wharf lay two trim steamers, flying at the foretop Colonel Mulford’s white flag. Across the rebel flag-of-truce boat. A thousand rebels, just down from your sharp Northern air, marched ashore. A motley crew, but all warmly clad, and a hale, supple, robust set of men. They booted, joked and jostled about as they pushed across the fenceless fields towards Cox’s Landing. I knew we might expect every man of them on our front, musket in hand, within a fortnight. I saw but two or three with canes, not a dozen who seemed ill or weak. Why was the long train of ambulances sent down the line waiting? My query was soon answered. Our prisoners turned over, back came a thousand of our boys, among friends again after their terrible captivity. I tell the sober truth– you cannot imagine the sight. It was a better lot than previous ones, the best that had been received lately, I believe. But the appearance was pitiful. Every ambulance was needed now, and hundreds hobbled or dragged themselves along through the drizzly rain treacherous mud, of foot. A thousand hungry, ragged men or wrecks of men. Their faces had a sallow, pinched look that told of a slow starvation, and cumulation of mental and physical suffering. Their clothes were in tatters, in many cases only held together by coarse strings. The pictures you have seen of bony, half-clad, famished men are no exaggeration. There was little cheering as they came under the old flag, but to every passer or spectator the pleadings of hunger. Crackers trampled in the mud, the old shoes and the cast-off clothing of contrabands even, were scrambled for as if they were gold. The wild, passionate greed of those men for food told a fearful story. It was the same story from all of months of shelterless exposure to winter storms, and of systematic starvation. May had been stripped of their own clothing, and had received in exchange the cast off garments of their captors, or nothing. I saw their daily ration, a piece of corn bread which one had hoarded as a relic of those miserable days. It was a cake less than two and a half inches across– a child would eat it at a single lunch, were it palatable. Yet this, with a morsel of meat, not one fourth at large, was all the daily allowance, week in and oat, to grown up, hungry men. It was deliberate, needless starvation; the system, only half supplied with fuel, feeding the life-fires on itself, till so weak that, if disease set in, there was no recuperation. I say needless, for there was no excuse for this cruelty by the rebels. They have always had a plentiful supply of the staples which form the prisoner’s ration– corn meal and bacon. And so, feeble and shivering, these poor men turned their faces home ward. Home! Even that word had little power to kindle dull eyes, and strengthen nerveless limbs. The wrongs of the months past could not be made right so easily. If ever I felt to like hating, cursing a fellow-being before as the authors of such a crime, I thought, as I often had, that any loss less than life were better than to fall into a rebel prison pen.” ~ a reporter for the Cleveland Leader.

Federal troops around Petersburg

Federal troops around Petersburg

February 25– Saturday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “The war is certainly drawing to a close and I am thankful to God for it, for although I love a soldier’s life, yet I love my home better and want peace.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 25– Saturday– Macon, Georgia– “I have never been a politician. You do not know me. I have been introduced to you and we have conversed together as Baptists. I live in the country, and I think I know the minds of the country people better than you do yourself. Many of your friends who live in cities and towns and have daily intercourse with military officers still retain a considerable war spirit, but that spirit is out in the county! I live in a district where there are now about sixty voters. There were than number present at our election lasts month for justices, and there were only four war men in the crowd, all the balance were Union men, ready and anxious to throw down arms on any terms that reconstruction could be obtained. One of the justices elected said that if the country people would all turn out, they could go and drive every government officer and newspaper editor out of Macon, and he pledged himself to raise 300 men in twenty-four hours for that purpose if required. I have suffered more from the war than many others. All of my property has been destroyed. I have had one son killed, and one maimed for life in battle, and I have three more sons now in the Confederate service, and never one of them away from their post without liberty. Yet all of them and myself think if we as a state would throw down our arms now, we would make a far better arrangement with the old government than if we try to hold out longer. Leave the sinking ship! The statement of the President’s hirelings, writing for the papers, all state falsehoods when they say that the armies are anxious still to fight. It is not true. The offices with high [station] and easy situations make these opinions and get up meetings and pass resolutions to that effect, without the knowledge and consent of nine-tenths of the privates in the army. And it is not the feeling of the people generally through the country. You cannot get the people to fight any more. They are going home as fast as they can get there. The country is full of deserters and almost every man in the community will feed them and keep them from being arrested. Stop it, my friend, stop it. All the enlightened world is against us, and God himself is against us!” ~ Letter from a local man to Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown.

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia

February 26– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “There is much alarm on the streets. Orders have been given to prepare all the tobacco and cotton, which cannot be removed immediately, for destruction by fire. And it is generally believed that General A. P.Hill’s corps has marched away to North Carolina. This would leave some 25,000 men to defend Richmond and Petersburg, against, probably, 60,000. If Richmond be evacuated, most of the population will remain, not knowing whither to go.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 26– Sunday– Andersonville, Georgia– At the Andersonville prison camp Commander Henry Wirz writes to a Confederate official in Richmond that many of the prisoners are performing valuable duties on the post, but have no shoes. He requests permission to purchase either shoes or the leather to make them, as some of the inmates are cobblers by trade.

hands of an elderly slave

hands of an elderly slave

February 26– Sunday– Albany, Georgia– “Flora and the captain have returned to Gopher Hill, whither Metta, Mecca, and I are invited to follow on Friday, when sister goes up to Macon. Jimmy Callaway and his father have just come from Washington with such glowing accounts of the excitement and gaiety there that I am distracted to go back home. If father don’t write for us to come soon, I think we will go to Chunnenuggee by way of Eufaula and the Chattahoochee, and if Thomas’s raiders catch us over in Alabama, father will wish he had let us come home. After dinner I took Mecca over to the Praise House to hear the Negroes sing. I wish I was an artist so that I could draw a picture of the scene. Alfred, one of the chief singers, is a gigantic creature, more like an ape than a man. I have seen pictures of African savages in books of travel that were just like him. His hands and feet are so huge that it looks as if their weight would crush the heads of the little p***********when he pats them; yet, with all this strength, they say he is a great coward, and one of the most docile Negroes on the plantation. The women, when they get excited with the singing, shut their eyes and rock themselves back and forth, clapping their hands . . . . Old Bob and Jim are the preachers, and very good old darkies they are, in spite of their religion. But the chief personages on the plantation are old Granny Mimey, old Uncle Wally, and Uncle Setley, who are all superannuated and privileged characters. I tell sister that Uncle Wally has nothing to do, and Uncle Setley to help him. The latter is very deaf, and half crazy, but harmless. I am a special favorite of Uncle Wally’s. We have a chat every morning when he passes through the back yard on his way to the cowpen. The other day he said to me: ‘You is de putties lady ever I seed; you looks jes like one er dese here alablaster dolls.’ We walked to the bluff on the river bank, after leaving the quarter, and sat there a long time talking. Spring is here in earnest. The yellow jessamine are bursting into bloom, and the air is fragrant with the wild crab apples.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

interior of a slave cabin

interior of a slave cabin

Invoking the Favor & Guidance of Almighty God ~ February 1865~ 18th to 20th

Invoking the Favor and Guidance of Almighty God ~ Jeff Davis

campaign map-6232

Seeking relief from numerous setbacks, President Davis issues a call for a day of prayer and fasting throughout the Confederacy. General Lee asks Congress to authorize the use of slaves as soldiers in the Confederate army. Even government employees in Richmond worry that it may be too late for survival of the rebellion. In South Carolina, Charleston is occupied and additional damage inflicted upon Columbia. Union General Howard issues orders for his troops to guard and guide the increasing number of escaped slaves who are following the Federal forces and he instructs officers to stop soldiers from looting and vandalism. Canada moves toward the creation of the modern nation we know.


February 18– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Proclamation by the President, appointing a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, with thanksgiving. ‘The Congress of the Confederate States have, by a joint resolution, invited me to appoint a day of public fasting, humiliation and prayer, with thanksgiving to Almighty God. It is our solemn duty, at all times, and more especially in a season of public trial and adversity, to acknowledge our dependence on His mercy, and to bow in humble submission before His footstool confessing our manifold sins, supplicating His gracious pardon imploring His Divine help, and devoutly rendering thanks for the many and great blessings which He has vouchsafed to us. Let the hearts of our people turn contritely and trustfully unto God; let us recognize in His chartering hand the correction of a Father, and submissively pray that the trials and sufferings which have so long borne heavily upon us may be turned away by His merciful love; that His sustaining grace be given to our people, and His divine wisdom imparted to our rulers; that the Lord of Hosts will be with our armies, and fight for us against our enemies; and that He will gratuitously take our cause into His own hand and mercifully establish for us a lasting, just and honorable peace and independence. And let us not forget to render unto His holy name the thanks and praise which are so justly due for His great goodness, and for the many mercies which He has extended to us amid the trials and sufferings of protracted and bloody war. Now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, do issue this my proclamation, appointing Friday, the fifth day of March next, as a day of public fasting, humiliation and prayer, (with thanksgiving,) for invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, and I do earnestly invite all soldiers and citizens to observe the same in a spirit of reverence, penitence and prayer.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

President Jeff Davis

President Jeff Davis

February 18– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “With reference to the employment of Negroes as soldiers, I think the measure not only expedient, but necessary. The enemy will certainly use them against us if he gets possession of them. As his present numerical superiority will enable him to penetrate many parts of the country, I can’t see the wisdom of the policy of holding them to await his arrival, when we may, by timely action and judicious management, use them to arrest his progress. I do not think that our white population can supply the necessities of a long war without overtaxing its capacity, and imposing great suffering on our people; and I believe we should provide for a protracted struggle, not merely for a battle or a campaign. . . . I can only say that, in my opinion, the Negroes, under proper circumstances, will make efficient soldiers. I think we could do at least as well with them as the enemy, who attaches great importance to their assistance. Under good officers and good instructions, I do not see why they should not become soldiers. They possess all the physical qualities, and their habits of obedience constitute good foundation for discipline. They furnish more promising material than many armies of which we read in history, which owe their efficiency to discipline alone. I think those who are employed should be freed. It would be neither just nor wise, in my opinion, to require them to remain as slaves. The course to pursue, it seems to me, would be to call for such as are willing to come, with the consent of their owners. An impressment or draft would not be likely to bring out that class, and this course would make the war more distasteful to them and their owners. I have no doubt that if Congress would authorize their reception into the service, and empower the President to call upon individuals or States for such as are willing to contribute, with the condition of emancipation to all enrolled, a sufficient number would be forthcoming to enable us to try the experiment. If it should prove successful, most of the objections to the measure would disappear; and if individuals still remained unwilling to send their Negroes to the army, the force of public opinion in the States would soon bring about such legislation as would remove all obstructions. I think the matter should be left, as far as possible, to the people and to the States, which alone can legislate as the necessities of this particular service may require. As to the mode of organizing them, it should be left as free from restraint as possible. Experience will suggest the best course. It would be inexpedient to trammel the subject with provisions that might, in the end, prevent the adoption of reforms suggested by actual trial.” ~ Message from Confederate General Robert E Lee to the Confederate Congress.

General Robert E Lee

General Robert E Lee

February 18 – Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Rained last night; but this is as lovely a morning as ever dawned on earth. A gentle southern breeze, a cloudless sky, and a glorious morning sun, whose genial warmth dispels the moisture of the late showers in smoky vapors. But how dark and dismal the aspect of our military affairs! Columbia fallen and Charleston (of course) evacuated. My wife wept, my daughter prayed, upon hearing the news. South Carolina was superior to all the States in the estimation of my wife, and she regarded it as the last stronghold. Now she despairs, and seems reckless of whatever else may happen in Sherman’s career of conquest.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 18– Saturday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The city of Charleston and its defenses came into our possession this morning, with over 200 pieces of good artillery and a supply of fine ammunition. The enemy commenced evacuating all the works last night, and Mayor Macbeth surrendered the city to the troops of General Schimmelfennig at 9 o’clock this morning, at which time it was occupied by our forces.” ~ Message from Union General Quincy Gillmore to the War Department in Washington, D.C.

United States Colored Troops marching through Charleston

United States Colored Troops marching through Charleston

February 19– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– ” Another bright and glorious morning. I hear of no news whatever from the South– although I know that important events are transpiring– and the reticence of the government is construed very unfavorably. Hence if Beauregard has fought a battle, it is to be apprehended that he did not gain the day; and if this be so, South Carolina lies at the conqueror’s feet.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 19– Sunday– Columbia, South Carolina– Before moving on, Sherman’s Federal troops destroy any and all remaining industrial buildings and railroads.

February 19– Sunday– Columbia, South Carolina– “Major [William H.] Reynolds, Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, is hereby assigned to the command of all escaped Union officers and soldiers [who had just been freed from Confederate prison camps in the area], and will also take charge of all refugees [escaping slaves] and their conveyances accompanying the army. These officers and soldiers will move with the refugee train as an escort, and from them will be organized a foraging party. One officer will be selected to act as quartermaster and commissary. The train will be assigned its position in the column from day to day. Major Reynolds will report to these headquarters for instructions.” ~ Order from Union General Oliver O Howard.

Union General Oliver O Howard

Union General Oliver O Howard

February 19– Sunday– Cahaba, Alabama– “It seems a long time since I heard from you or any of my connection. I am very anxious to hear from you all. I am still at Cahaba the same place when you heard from me last. I have not heard from you since last spring. I want to know what has become of you all. I have not heard from home since I was at your house. I have rote and rote and could get any anser. If you have ever heard any thing from my family, please don’t delay to let me know. It seems that I am way here cut off from my family and all my near relatives and can’t hear from them. I think hard and here I expect to have to remain, I can’t tell how long. God only knows. Duty is heavy. I am on guard every other day and night guarding Yankee prisoners. You all must wright [sic] to me. My health has been good ever since I saw you, with the exception of two weeks. I had chills. I will have to close as I have no more room.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to a family member.

February 20 – Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “Another morning of blue skies and glorious sunshine. Sherman is reported to be marching northward, and to have progressed one-third of the way between Columbia and Charlotte, North Carolina . . . . Grant’s campaign seems developed at last. Sherman and Thomas will concentrate on his left, massing 200,000 men between Lee and his supplies, effectually cutting his communications by flanking with superior numbers. It is probable Charleston, Wilmington, and Richmond will fall without a battle; for how can they be held when the enemy stops supplies? and how could the garrisons escape when once cut off from the interior? And yet Congress has done nothing, and does nothing, but waste the precious time. I fear it is too late now!” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 20– Monday– moving north by north east from Columbia, South Carolina– “I desire to call your attention to the fact that some of our soldiers have been committing the most outrageous robberies of watches, jewelry, &c. A case has come to my notice where a watch and several articles of jewelry were stolen by a foraging party under the eye of the commissioned officer in charge. Another, where a brute had violently assaulted a lady by striking her, and had then robbed her of a valuable gold watch. In one instance money was stolen to the amount of $150, and another, where an officer with a foraging party had allowed his men to take rings off the fingers of ladies in his presence. To-day a soldier was found plundering, arrested, placed under the guard of one of General Corse’s orderlies, and was liberated by some of his comrades who had arms in their hands, and who threatened the life of the guard. These outrages must be stopped at all hazards, and the thieves and robbers who commit them be dealt with severely and summarily. I am inclined to think that there is a regularly organized banditti who commit these outrages and who share the spoils. I call upon you and upon all the officers and soldiers under you, who have one spark of honor or respect for the profession which they follow, to help me put down these infamous proceedings and to arrest the perpetrators. Please furnish to every inspector, provost-marshal, and officer in charge of a foraging party a copy of this letter, and enjoin them to be on the watch to stop these infamous proceedings, and to bring to justice the individuals who commit them.” ~ Orders from Union General Oliver O Howard.

February 20– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– Colonel R. D. Mussey of the United States Colored Troops reports to Andrew Johnson that there are 2600 children of former slaves enrolled in 11 schools in Tennessee.


February 20– Monday– Quebec City, Quebec, Canada– The Legislature of the Province of Canada passes a motion in favor of Confederation.

Fight Rather Than Submit to Yankee Rule ~ February 1865 ~ 16th to 17th

Fight Ever Rather than Submit to Yankee Rule ~ Maggie Cone

Federal troops raise the U S flag after occupying Columbia South Carolina

Federal troops raise the U S flag after occupying Columbia South Carolina

A young Georgia woman and her soldier husband-to-be exchange letters on the same day, wondering if the other will receive it. She, much like other Southern women, is filled with worry but wants to fight on. In the Shenandoah Valley, another young women informs a mother about the death of her son. South Carolina trembles as Columbia surrenders and much of the city is devastated by fire while Confederate troops evacuate Charleston, the city where the opening shots of the war were fired in April of 1861. Three more states ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, raising the total to 16 of the 27 necessary for ratification and the constitutional abolition of slavery.

hospital wagon

hospital wagon

February 16– Thursday– Lincolnton, North Carolina– “A change has come o’er the spirit of my dream. Dear old quire of yellow, coarse, Confederate home-made paper, here you are again. An age of anxiety and suffering has passed over my head since last I wrote and wept over your forlorn pages. My ideas of those last days are confused. The Martins left Columbia the Friday before I did, and Mammy, the Negro woman, who had nursed them, refused to go with them. That daunted me. Then Mrs. Mc Cord, who was to send her girls with me, changed her mind. She sent them up-stairs in her house and actually took away the staircase ; that was her plan. . . . We thought that if the Negroes were ever so loyal to us, they could not protect me from an army bent upon sweeping us from the face of the earth, and if they tried to do so, so much the worse would it be for the poor things with their Yankee friends. I then left them to shift for themselves, as they are accustomed to do, and I took the same liberty. My husband does not care a fig for the property question, and never did. Perhaps, if he had ever known poverty, it would be different. He talked beautifully about it, as he always does about everything. . . . I took French leave of Columbia slipped away with out a word to anybody. Isaac Hayne and Mr. Chesnut came down to the Charlotte depot with me. Ellen, my [slave] maid, left her husband and only child, but she was willing to come, and, indeed, was very cheerful in her way of looking at it. . . . A woman, fifty years old at least, and uglier than she was old, sharply rebuked my husband for standing at the [railroad] car window for a last few words with me. She said rudely: ‘Stand aside, sir ! I want air !’ With his hat off, and his grand air, my husband bowed politely, and said: ‘In one moment, madam ; I have something important to say to my wife.’ She talked aloud and introduced herself to every man, claiming his protection. She had never traveled alone before in all her life. Old age and ugliness are protective in some cases. She was ardently patriotic for a while. Then she was joined by her friend, a man as crazy as herself to get out of this. From their talk I gleaned she had been for years in the Treasury Department. They were about to cross the lines. The whole idea was to get away from the trouble to come down here. They were Yankees, but were they not spies? Here I am broken-hearted and an exile. And in such a place! We have bare floors, and for a feather-bed, pine table, and two chairs I pay $30 a day. Such sheets ! But fortunately I have some of my own. . . . The Martins had seen my, to them, well-known traveling case as the hack trotted up Main Street, and they arrived at this juncture out of breath. We embraced and wept. I kept my room. The Fants are refugees here, too; they are Virginians, and have been in exile since the second battle of Manassas. Poor things ; they seem to have been everywhere, and seen and suffered everything. They even tried to go back to their own house, but found one chimney only standing alone ; even that had been taken possession of by a Yankee, who had written his name upon it. The day I left home I had packed a box of flour, sugar, rice, and coffee, but my husband would not let me bring it. He said I was coming to a land of plenty, unexplored North Carolina, where the foot of the Yankee marauder was unknown, and in Columbia they would need food. Now I have written for that box and many other things to be sent me by Lawrence [one of her household slaves], or I shall starve.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

Mary Chesnut

Mary Chesnut

February 16– Thursday– Columbia, South Carolina– Federal troops almost completely encircle the city as Confederate soldiers under General Beauregard retreat after Beauregard notifies General Lee that his outnumbered force is unable to defend the place.

February 16– Thursday– Albany, Georgia– “We started for . . . Mrs. Welsh’s party, soon after breakfast, but were a good deal delayed on the way by having to wait for a train of forty government wagons to pass. We found Mrs. Julia Butler at Mrs. Sims’s, straight from Washington [Georgia], with letters for us, and plenty of news. I feel anxious to get back now, since Washington is going to be such a center of interest. If the Yanks take Augusta, it will become the headquarters of the department. Mrs. Butler says a train of 300 wagons runs between there and Abbeville, and they are surveying a railroad route. Several regiments are stationed there and the town is alive with army officers and government officials. How strange all this seems for dear, quiet little Washington! It must be delightful there, with all those nice army officers. I am going back home as soon as I can decently change my mind. I have been at the rear all during the war, and now that I have a chance, I want to go to the front. I wish I could be here and there, too, at the same time.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Eliza Frances Andrews

Eliza Frances Andrews

February 16– Thursday– Indianapolis, Indiana– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 16– Thursday–Baton Rouge, Louisiana– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 16– Thursday– Carson City, Nevada– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.


February 17– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Yesterday a man . . . having had some difficulty with the wife of his bosom, (who appears to have gently protested against his making a whisky keg of himself,) determined in an act of desperation, to go for a soldier, and started in the direction of the Provost Marshal’s office. The wife, suspecting his design, started in pursuit, accompanied by young persuaders in the shape of as many flaxen haired little pledges of affection. The husband was overtaken on Fourth street. At first he declined to listen to the appeals of his wife, but at last the little ones climbed up his legs and tugged at his coat tails, when he melted and was led off captive as meek as was ever Captain Cuttle, mariner, in the custody of Mrs. Mc Stinger. A committeeman from one of the sub districts of the county said the woman ought to be arrested for discouraging enlistments.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 17– Friday– near Winchester, Virginia– “Yours of October 18th and December 10th only a few days ago were received – how they were smuggled through the lines I am not aware, but sincerely hope I may be able to get this through to you – yours were truly, truly welcome. . . . think not I should not have been so negligent as not to send you some message had I had but one moment of freedom that I could have written & sent the letter through, but you know we are in the thumb of tyrants that the penalty for receiving or sending letter through the lines if known to them is so severe, that no one is willing to risk carrying a letter & I have never had one safe opportunity that I could send you a long letter. . . . as soon as in my power I shall send you full particulars as far as I can of your dear son’s death. In this I will only answer your inquiries. Our Angel – our beloved dead – he died, I am told, in sight of my home, alone in an ambulance, insensible – he must have spoken after wounded, as the driver said he requested to be brought here. Oh! What comfort what consolation to us all had we only heard him speak, seen him breathe. He was I know prepared for the change, four nights before he fell, he was here, left the next day . . . right back into this battle. . . . he seemed in good spirits, cheerful, warning me to trust in God, to be cheerful & happy . . . . I received a few articles, taken from your son’s body, his own testament . . . also have some of his hair, his tobacco bags, pipe, a handkerchief , his money . . . . our great regret is that we were unable to purchase him a good coffin but it was impossible, hundreds of our dear soldiers – Colonels, Captains, officers of all rank – were wrapped in their blankets & placed low. Ma begged our undertaker to make as nice a one as possible, he says . . . were you able to pay me one thousand dollars, I could not make you one I have no material. Ma offered boards he made him a plain pine coffin not such as he deserved, but that was better than none at all, and many others had to sleep calmly in our private lot in the once beautiful home of our dead but oh it pains me so deeply to tell you, even it has been desecrated, almost ruined by our merciless foes that sacred spot was so beautiful. Perhaps someday we can again replace it & it rest undisturbed. . . . God may heal, but memory lives, the grave only can bury this my first deepest the one great sorrow of my life. I never can be perfectly happy again. I may smile, be seemingly happy, as far as the happiness of this world is concerned, for all is dark to be now there is no happiness here . . . . On the 19th I received a letter from Mac, written two hours before he fell, telling me he was near & hoped soon to be with me, at one o’clock his dead body was brought to my home . Had an only brother, an only son been brought in a corpse, the screams, the sorrow of my mother, sisters & all could not have been more terrible that day & night can never be forgotten. . . . your son . . . was buried as decently as was in our power to have him, you cannot regret more than me, that it could not have been otherwise . . . . May God bless, protect, heal your sorrows. Guide you all safely through Life.” ~ Letter from Maggie Heist to Martha Roadcap.

period graveyard

period graveyard

February 17– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas objects of interest to the United States require that the Senate should be convened at twelve o’clock on the Fourth of March next, to receive and act upon such communications as may be made to it on the part of the Executive: Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, have considered it to be my duty to issue this my Proclamation, declaring that an extraordinary occasion requires the Senate of the United States to convene for the transaction of business at the Capitol, in the city of Washington, on the Fourth day of March next, at twelve o’clock at noon on that day, of which all who shall at that time be entitled to act as members of that body, are hereby required to take notice.” ~ Proclamation issued by President Lincoln.

February 17– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia–”The sadness I feel now is inexpressible, and can be equaled only by the heart-rending pangs I suffered when I so recently parted with you in person. Never, except for a very short time, since the commencement of our correspondence, have we been deprived the inestimable privilege of regularly hearing from each other. Others have been debarred this priceless boon, almost during the whole of the present struggle. Now tis probable that we, too, are to be subject to a like fate, it does indeed render me sad and gloomy. Not that I think the separation will be for a great while or that absence and silence will conquer the love of either for the other; but because twill be so painful to be separated for however short a time. I have no hope whatever of receiving letters by soldiers at home on furlough. To surmount this difficulty, will you write me one more long, long letter, and enclose it in a letter to Sister Fannie, requesting her to forward it by some one coming on to the Army of Virginia? I will surely get it. This may be the last opportunity and you know not how anxious I am to hear from you once more. Sherman, contrary to my expectation, seems to be marching to Columbia [South Carolina]. If he is successful, all communication, by any means, will be effectively destroyed, for awhile at least. That he will be successful, I haven’t the least idea.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

February 17– Friday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Today I have been at work in charge of a detail of six hundred men at work on a fort called Fort Fisher which is built across the Weldon Rail Road. It rained all day and we worked in the mud water. This fort will be a strong one and, as it is in sight of the Rebels, we shall have music before it is finished.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 17– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina– Anticipating the arrival of the large Federal force, Confederate troops evacuate the city.

February 17– Friday– Columbia, South Carolina– The city surrenders to Federal troops. In the night much of the city burns, whether deliberately set by Yankees or retreating rebels or freed slaves and prisoners or accidentally set on fire remains unclear. Two-thirds of the city is heavily damaged.

fire damage in Columbia

fire damage in Columbia

February 17– Friday– Dooly County, Georgia– “As I anticipated the detestable Yankees have cut the road at or near Branchville, but however slight may be the probability of your receiving a letter, I will write you. One week has elapsed since the road was interrupted, but I don’t know whether they still hold possession or not, as I haven’t seen a paper in several days, neither have I heard any late news from that point; though I hope the road has been repaired and communication is again open to Virginia. Since our Commissioners have returned and informed the people of the result of their interview with the Federal Commissioners, I hope now the urgent request ‘Send Commissioners to negotiate with the Federal Government’ will cease, and that such a dishonorable proposition for peace, will not have a discouraging effect upon our soldiers and the people at home, but to the contrary, will unite and inspire them with redoubled energy to fight on, fight ever, rather than submit to Yankee rule and oppression. I confess, I did hope some honorable proposition would be made that we could accept of though I didn’t hardly think there would be consequently I was not much disappointed.” ~ Letter from Maggie Cone to her fiancé Alva Benjamin Spencer.