Tag Archives: civil rights

A 19th Century Investigative Reporter

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830–1885) was a poet, novelist and essayist who became an advocate for Native American rights, fighting for improved treatment of Natives by the US government. She detailed the adverse effects of previous actions taken against Indian tribes in her history A Century of Dishonor (1881). Her novel Ramona dramatized the in Southern California and attracted considerable attention to her cause.

Helen Maria Fiske was born October 18, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, the daughter of Nathan Welby Fiske and Deborah Vinal Fiske, a writer. Nathan Fiske was professor of Language and Philosophy at Amherst College. Helen had a sister Anne and two brothers, both of whom died soon after birth.
Deborah Fiske died of tuberculosis in 1844 when Helen was fourteen. Nathan Fiske died in 1847 in Jerusalem while on a trip to the Holy Land, but he had provided for her education and had arranged for an aunt to care for her.

Helen attended the highly regarded Ipswich Female Seminary and the Abbott Institute, a boarding school run by Reverend J.S.C. Abbott in New York City, receiving an excellent education for the times. At Abbott, Helen was a classmate of one of America’s most distinguished poets Emily Dickinson, also from Amherst. The two remained close and corresponded for the rest of their lives, but few of their letters have survived.

In 1852 at age 22, Helen married Edward Bissell Hunt, a captain in the U.S. Corps of Engineers. For the next 11 years, she and her husband followed the typically mobile life of a career military family. They had two sons, one of whom, Murray Hunt, died as an infant in 1854 of a brain disease.

The Civil War years were not kind to Helen and her family. In 1863 her husband was killed in an accident while experimenting with a one-man submarine he had invented. Her only surviving son, Horsford “Rennie” Hunt, died of diphtheria in 1865 at age nine.

In the winter of 1873-1874 on her doctor’s advice Helen visited Colorado Springs, Colorado in search of a cure for a respiratory ailment when she met a wealthy local banker and railroad executive William Sharpless Jackson. She married Jackson on October 22, 1875 and made Colorado her home. They had no children.

Literary Career
After losing all her family members, Helen took up residence in Newport, Rhode Island, where she and her husband had previously been stationed. After meeting Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a soldier, social reformer and author, Jackson decided to seriously pursue a writing career. With Higginson’s support, her initial literary efforts were devoted to children’s stories, travel sketches, poetry and essays under the pseudonyms “H.H.”

Helen Hunt Jackson became perhaps the most prolific woman writer of her era in the country. Many of her pieces appeared in the New York Independent, Nation, Atlantic and other periodicals. Her early work also included a volume of poetry, Verses (1870). Ralph Waldo Emerson admired her poetry and used several of her poems in his public readings. He included five of them in his anthology Parnassus.

From 1875 to 1877, Jackson published three novels, including Hetty’s Strange History and Mercy Philbrick’s Choice, in which Emily Dickinson was part-model for the heroine. In time, Jackson would produce more than 30 books and hundreds of articles. She most likely would have become better known without the pseudonyms, but popular convention of the time dictated that female writers conceal their true identity.

On a trip back east in 1879 Jackson attended a lecture in Boston by the Ponca Chief Standing Bear, who described the forcible removal of the Ponca Indians from their Nebraska reservation and transfer to the Quapaw Reservation in Indian Territory, where they suffered from disease, climate and poor supplies. This piqued her interest.

Jackson promised to help raise funds for the Ponca People so they could return to their homeland. She wrote a friend, “I have done now, I believe, the last of the things I have said I would never do. I have become what I have said a thousand times was the most odious thing in the world – a woman with a cause.”

Social Reform
Although Jackson continued her other writing, the Native Americans became her primary concern. Upset about the mistreatment of American Indians by government agents, Jackson started investigating and publicizing government misconduct, circulating petitions, raising money for lawsuits and writing letters to the New York Times, attempting to arouse public opinion on behalf of the Indians’ deteriorating condition.

She engaged in heated exchanges with federal officials over the injustices committed against American Indians. Among her special targets was US Secretary of Interior Carl Schurz, whom she once called “the most adroit liar I ever knew.” She exposed the government’s violation of treaties with the Indian tribes and documented the corruption of US Indian agents, military officers and settlers who encroached on and stole Indian lands. The book caused a national sensation.

Jackson’s political activism won the support of several newspaper editors who published her reports about broken treaties, dishonest deals and unfulfilled promises. Among them were William Hayes Ward of the New York Independent, Richard Watson Guilder of the Century Magazine and publisher Whitelaw Reid of the New York Daily Tribune.

In 1881 she wrote what she considered her most important book, A Century of Dishonor. She sent a copy of the book to each member of Congress with a quote from Benjamin Franklin printed in red on the cover: “Look upon your hands: they are stained with the blood of your relations.” The book condemned state and federal Indian policy, detailed the history of broken treaties and called for significant reform in government policy toward Native Americans.

The New York Times later wrote that she:

soon made enemies at Washington by her often unmeasured attacks, and while on general lines she did some good, her case was weakened by her inability, in some cases, to substantiate the charges she had made; hence many who were at first sympathetic fell away.

Jackson went to southern California for rest. Having been interested in the area’s mission and the Mission Indians on an earlier visit, she began an in-depth study. Under its original land grants, the Mexican government provided for resident Indians to continue to occupy the mission lands. After taking control of the territory in 1848, US policies led to their removal from mission lands.

In 1882 President Chester A. Arthur appointed Jackson, along with translator Abbott Kinney, Special Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1882 – the first woman to hold that position. Her assignment was to visit the Mission Indians in Southern California, ascertain the location and condition of various bands, and determine what lands should be purchased for their use.

In 1883 Jackson and Kinney published their 56-page report, which recommended extensive government relief for the Mission Indians, including the purchase of new lands for reservations and the establishment of more Indian schools. Jackson’s call for “some atonement” for past neglect and injustice was not acted upon by government authorities.

Inspired by her friend Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jackson wrote:

I am going to write a novel, in which will be set forth some Indian experiences in a way to move people’s hearts. People will read a novel when they will not read serious books. If I could write a story that would do for the Indian one-hundredth part what Uncle Tom’s Cabin did for the Negro, I would be thankful the rest of my life.

Although Jackson started an outline in California, she began writing the novel in December 1883 in a New York hotel room, and completed it in about three months. Originally titled In The Name of the Law, she published it as Ramona (1884). The story features Ramona, an orphan girl who was half Indian and half Scots and her Indian husband Alessandro, and their struggles for land of their own.

Ramona dramatized the mistreatment of Indians in Southern California, although its popularity was based on its romantic and picturesque qualities rather than its political content. The characters were based on people known by Jackson and incidents which she had encountered. The book achieved rapid success among a wide audience and was popular for generations; it was estimated to have been reprinted 300 times.

A fall at her Colorado Springs home in June 1884 left Jackson with a severely fractured leg. However, she returned to California to visit friends and continue writing. While there, she was diagnosed with cancer, and never returned to Colorado.

Her last letter was written to President Grover Cleveland:

From my death bed I send you a message of heartfelt thanks for what you have already done for the Indians. I ask you to read my Century of Dishonor. I am dying happier for the belief I have that it is your hand that is destined to strike the first steady blow toward lifting this burden of infamy from our country and righting the wrongs of the Indian race.

Helen Hunt Jackson died of stomach cancer on August 12, 1885 in San Francisco, California. Her husband arranged for her burial on a one-acre plot on a high plateau overlooking Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her grave was later moved to Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs. Her estate was valued at $12,642.

One year after her death the North American Review called Ramona “unquestionably the best novel yet produced by an American woman” and named it, along with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, one of two most ethical novels of the 19th century. Sixty years after its publication, 600,000 copies had been sold. There have been over 300 reissues to date and the book has never been out of print.

Helen was described as “the most brilliant, impetuous and thoroughly individual woman in her time.” She rose above personal tragedy and became one of the most successful writers of her day. She included as her friends, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Through her dedication to Indian reform during the last five years of her life, she wrote herself into American history.

Women’s History~ Crystal Bird Fauset


Crystal Bird Fauset


Crystal Bird Fauset, African American educator, public speaker, civil rights activist, internationalist, and Pennsylvania state legislator, was born in Princess Ann, Maryland, on June 27, 1893. She graduated from Teachers College of Columbia University, served as field secretary for the YWCA from 1918 to 1927, in the Interracial Section of the American Friends Service Committee, helped create the Institute of Race Relations at Swarthmore College, was active in the WPA during the 1930s and was elected to Pennsylvania state legislature, the first black woman in Pennsylvania to serve there and most likely the first black woman to so serve in any state legislature. She was a co-founder of what became the World Affairs Council and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 28, 1965.


Fauset with E.R.


There is no biography of her life and work but information can be found in Farewell to the Party of Lincoln: Black Politics in the Age of FDR (1983) by Nancy J Weiss and “The Limits of Persuasion: Race Reformers and the Department Store Campaign in Philadelphia, 1945– 1948.” by Patricia Cooper in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography , volume 126, #1 (January 2002) pp 97– 126.

fauset marker-e3889d8

Reorganize as Protection Societies ~ March 1865 ~ 7th to 8th

Reorganize as Protection Societies

words of a prophet

words of a prophet

Lydia Maria Child, radical reformer, speaks with a prophet’s voice about the future and calls for action. An admirer writes to Whitman. While some citizens worry about another rebel threat from bases in Canada, Lincoln sees the threat diminished. Sherman’s troops push into North Carolina. Some in Canada oppose the idea of Confederation. While Child praises Lincoln’s inaugural address, a rebel clerk mocks it.

youthful Lydia Maria Child

youthful Lydia Maria Child

March 7– Tuesday– Wayland, Massachusetts– “It seems as if the end of this physical warfare was rapidly approaching; but we must all remember that the cessation of military hostilities is but the beginning of the great moral work that is to be accomplished. The disappointed and malignant slaveholders will doubtless enact the part of Cain, as they did in Jamaica. They will do all they possibly can to discourage and harass the emancipated laborers. They will exert all their power and all their cunning to make the system of free labor work badly, and then they will cry exultingly, ‘Behold the effects of emancipation!’ Mattie Griffith, who is now in Georgetown, D.C., writes to me that the colored people are shamefully treated by their former owners. It is well that the anti-slavery societies should disband as soon as their work is completed; but they ought to reorganize as protection societies. The newly-emancipated will need vigilant watchmen on the towers for one generation more, at least. Yet what a wonderful change has been wrought! Though everybody says it, I cannot help repeating, What a wonderful change! If you would measure the progress, read Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural and his last. How concise and significant, how full of wisdom and moral power, is that last brief address to the people! I have found a great deal of fault with President Lincoln, but, I must say, he has continually grown upon my respect and confidence. He is evidently a sensible, an honest, and a kindhearted man. I regard it as one of the best auguries for the American people that they has the good sense to stand by him at this important crisis. . . . How impressive is that portion of the President’s inaugural, where he says that every drop of blood drawn by the lash has been repaid by drops drawn by the sword! During the progress of the war, I have often been struck with the fact, that the same measure we have meted out has been measured unto us. The poor slaves had their children shot down, whipped to death, and torn from them to die afar off, and we heard of it with languid indifference, or has no execrations to bestow, except upon those who told of such deeds. They died by slow starvation, and we heeded it not. They were torn by bloodhounds, and we would not believe that Southern gentlemen could train ferocious brutes for such a purpose. And lo! we learn it all now, in the terrible school of experience. Slavery tears our children from us, to die far away from us; she starves them to skeletons; she tracks their flight with fierce bloodhounds. And, to complete the lesson, the poor, abused Negro, whom we have helped to abuse, hides them, and feeds them, and guides them to their friends. It seems to me that never, in human history, was the Divine Hand so plainly visible.” ~ Letter from Lydia Maria Child to Theodore Tilton. [Massachusetts-born Lydia Maria Francis Child, 1802– 1880, is a force of nature – abolitionist, feminist, author, editor, educator, anti-imperialist and all around reformer. See, The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child by Carolyn L Karcher (1994).]

Lydia Maria Child, c.1870

Lydia Maria Child, c.1870

March 7– Tuesday– Troy, New York– “Your last letter from Washington in the paper lying on my lap. Your book in the hands of my friend Lucy who sits there by the window reading it in the morning sunshine. She looks up suddenly and says ‘I think this is the soul I am waiting for, is Walt Whitman married?’ I cannot answer the question, but will you? I am not interested to know if you are married, but I would like to look in your face. How many years did you live ere you could look into the depths of all hearts. Through what experiences did you learn that lore? Remember, if ever the opportunity comes I will look in your face. It should say all that is in your book and something more. I want that something more.” ~ Letter from Celia M. Burr to Walt Whitman.

March 7– Tuesday– New York City– “The citizens of Oswego [New York] held a meeting yesterday, at which the Mayor presided, for the purpose of adopting measures for the better defense of the city from the anticipated rebel raid from Canada. A sufficient force had been detailed from Fort Ontario to patrol the streets at night.” ~ New York Herald.

March 7– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The meeting at the Cabinet was interesting, the topics miscellaneous. Vice-President Johnson’s infirmity was mentioned. Seward’s tone and opinions were much changed since Saturday. He seems to have given up Johnson now, but no one appears to have been aware of any failing. I trust and am inclined to believe it a temporary ailment, which may, if rightly treated, be overcome.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 7– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and frosty. Yesterday we had no certain accounts of the movements of Sheridan. His force was said to be near Charlottesville– at Keswich. Fitz Lee’s cavalry and Pickett’s infantry were sent in that direction. Not a word has yet appeared in the Richmond papers concerning this movement from the Valley– the papers being read daily in the enemy’s camp below. We hear of no corresponding movement on the part of Grant; and perhaps there was none. Preparations to evacuate the city are still being made with due diligence. If these indications do not suffice to bring the speculators into the ranks to defend their own property (they have no honor, of course), the city and the State are lost; and the property owners will deserve their fate. The extortioners ought to be hung, besides losing their property. This would be a very popular act on the part of the conquerors. . . . The packing up of the archives goes on, with directions to be as quiet as possible, so as ‘not to alarm the people.’ A large per cent of the population would behold the exodus with pleasure!” ~ Diary of John Jones.


March 7– Tuesday– Rockingham, North Carolina– Federal troops enter the state here and at other points, skirmishing with Confederate soldiers. It appears that General Sherman’s forces are headed for Fayetteville.

March 7– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “I have here in arrest two noted rebel women, Mrs. Dolly Battle and Miss Sallie Battle, who reside ten miles from Nashville, but came all the way to Wartrace, on horseback, two days ago, to re-coffin and bury the body of Trummel, alias Van Houghton, who was killed at that place on the night of the 21st ultimo, while engaged, with nine other guerrillas, in robbing the telegraph office and stores. The daguerreotypes of these two she-rebels were found on the body of this robber thief after he was killed, with letters from them showing great intimacy. They boast that they are rebels and have never taken the [loyalty] oath. Their father is an officer in the rebel army; their brother Bob is a guerrilla. This family have been spies and harborers of rebels and guerrillas since the beginning of the war. Their mother, as I was well informed last summer, boasts that they have done more good for the Confederate cause than a regiment of soldiers. I respectfully ask permission to send these two south of our lines.” ~ Letter from Union General Robert Milroy to General George Thomas.

March 7– Tuesday– Fredericton, New Brunswick– The provincial government rejects the proposal for Canadian Confederation.

Lincoln family-ZA9R12VL

March 8– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas, pursuant to the order of the President of the United States, directions were issued from this Department, under date of the 17th of December, 1864, requiring passports from all travelers entering the United States, except immigrant passengers directly entering an American port from a foreign country; but whereas information has recently been received which affords reasonable grounds to expect that Her Britannic Majesty’s Government and the executive and legislative branches of the government of Canada have taken and will continue to take such steps as may be looked for from a friendly neighbor and will be effectual toward preventing hostile incursions from Canadian territory into the United States, the President directs that from and after this date the order above referred to requiring passports shall be modified, and so much thereof as relates to persons entering this country from Canada shall be rescinded, saving and reserving the order in all other respects in full force.” ~ Executive Order from President Lincoln.

March 8– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Damp and foggy. . . . President Lincoln’s short inaugural message, or homily, or sermon, has been received. It is filled with texts from the Bible. He says both sides pray to the same God for aid– one upholding and the other destroying African slavery. If slavery be an offense,– and woe shall fall upon those by whom offenses come,– perhaps not only all the slaves will be lost, but all the accumulated products of their labor be swept away. In short, he ‘quotes Scripture for the deed’ quite as fluently as our President; and since both Presidents resort to religious justification, it may be feared the war is about to assume a more sanguinary aspect and a more cruel nature than ever before. God help us! The history of man, even in the Bible, is but a series of bloody wars. It must be thus to make us appreciate the blessings of peace, and to bow in humble adoration of the great Father of all. The Garden of Eden could not yield contentment to man, nor heaven satisfy all the angels.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 8– Wednesday– Bloomington, Illinois– Birth of Frederic W Goudy, designer of numerous typefaces. [Dies May 11, 1947.]

Frederick W Goudy, circa 1924

Frederick W Goudy, circa 1924

March 8– Wednesday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “Nothing from Lettie [a house slave] yet. Yesterday morning Sister Mary sent her to Mrs. Grey’s, and upon finding at the expiration of three of four hours, she failed to return, sent for her, but she had left there some time before, I suppose for Yankeedom. Joy go with her. Sister and myself cleaned up our rooms this morning alone and before the Negroes had risen. (So much for Southern cruelty). She made the fire. I made up my bed and did various other things as cheerfully as any one. Had the rooms cleaned, breakfast over and baby washed and dressed before nine. When Lettie was here the rooms were generally done about eleven. Ha! Ha! Ha! I’m very glad she’s gone. The rest [of the slaves] will follow her example. The nuisances! Two women, one man and four children, all save one able to work, can’t get ready for business until ten or eleven o’clock in the morning. Isn’t it perfectly ridiculous! O Yankees, Yankees, what mistakes you have made in your attempt at sympathy and kindness.” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.

March 8– Wednesday– Macon, Georgia– “The Senate took up the report of the committee upon the bill to be entitled an act to make an appropriation of two millions of dollars, in addition to the appropriation already made for the support of indigent families of Soldiers, who are in the public service, and for the support of indigent soldiers who have been or may be hereafter disabled by wounds or disease in the Confederate or State service, for the year 1865, and for other purposes.” ~ record of the Georgia state legislature.

chitchat among ladies-EA3C19FA75C61EA882_5730

March 8– Wednesday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “I went up to Americus [Georgia] yesterday, with Flora and Captain Rust, to see Cousin Bolling about my eyes, expecting to return to Gopher Hill on the afternoon train, but Cousin Bessie insisted that we should stay to dinner, and her attempt to have it served early was so unsuccessful that Captain Rust and I got to the station just in time to see the train moving off without us. Flora had another engagement, that caused her to decline Mrs. Pope’s invitation, so she made the train, but the captain and I had nothing for it but to spend the night in Americus and kill the night as best we could. I was repaid for the annoyance of getting left by the favorable report Cousin Bolling gave of my eyes. He says it is nothing but the effects of measles that ails them, and they are almost well. I occupied Flora’s room that night. Cousin Bessie lent me one of her fine embroidered linen nightgowns, and I was so overpowered at having on a decent piece of underclothing after the coarse Macon Mills homespun I have been wearing for the last two years, that I could hardly go to sleep. I stood before the glass and looked at myself after I was undressed just to see how nice it was to have on a respectable undergarment once more. I can stand patched-up dresses, and even take a pride in wearing Confederate homespun, where it is done open and above board, but I can’t help feeling vulgar and common in coarse underclothes. Cousin Bessie has brought quantities of beautiful things from beyond the blockade, that make us poor Rebs look like ragamuffins beside her. She has crossed the lines by special permit, and will be obliged to return to Memphis by the 2nd of April, when her pass will be out. It seems funny for a white woman to have to get a pass to see her husband, just like the Negro men here do when their wives live on another plantation. The times have brought about some strange up-turnings. Cousin Bolling is awfully blue about the war, and it does begin to look as if our poor little Confederacy was about on its last legs, but I am so accustomed to all sorts of vicissitudes that I try not to let thoughts of the inevitable disturb me. The time to be blue was five years ago, before we went into it. . . . Captain Rust was so afraid of being left again that he would not wait for the omnibus, but trotted me off on foot an hour ahead of time, although it was raining. We met Mr. Wheatley and Major Daniel on our way to the depot, and they told us that a dispatch had just been received stating that the Yanks have landed at St. Mark’s [Florida] and are marching on Tallahassee. We first heard they were 4,000 strong, but before we reached the depot, their numbers had swelled to 15,000.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Breaking Barriers~75 Years of Wild Women

This April marks the 75th anniversary of the women’s magazine Glamour. The magazine published a list in its April issue of 75 women they picked as “a highly selective list of bad-ass U.S. barrier-breakers who changed the world for all of us.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

From their list I would select, in no particular order: 1) Hattie McDaniel, 2) Dorothea Lange, 3) Georgia O’Keffee, 4) Margaret Sanger, 5) Billie Holiday, 6) Eleanor Roosevelt, 7) Dolores Huerta, 8) Hedy Lamarr, 9) Flannery O’Connor, 10) Audrey Hepburn, 11) Serena Williams, 12) Rosa Parks, 13) Harper Lee, 14) Wilma Rudolph, 15) Rita Moreno, 16) Rachel Carson, 17) Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, 18) Julia Child, 19) Aretha Franklin, 20) Betty Friedan, 21) Katherine Graham, 22) Carol Burnett, 23) Maya Angelou, 24) Carole King, 25) Shirley Chisholm, 26) Diana Ross, 27) Toni Morrison, 28) Gloria Steinem, 29) Billie Jean King, 30) Sandra Day O’Connor, 31) Maya Lin, 32) Sally Ride, 33) Geraldine Ferraro, 34) Dolly Parton, 35) Oprah Winfrey, 36) Wilma Mankiller, 37) Meryl Streep, 38) Florence Griffith Joyner, 39) Katherine Hepburn, 40) Mary Lou Retton, 41) Anita Hill, 42) Madeleine Albright, 43) Barbara Streisand, 44) Nancy Pelosi, 45) Hillary Clinton, 46) Barbara Walters, and 47) Michelle Obama.

Helen Prejean

Helen Prejean

To round out my own 75 women list of American agitators, trouble-makers and pioneers in the last 75 years, I would add: 48) Dorothy Day, 49) Bernice Johnson Reagon, 50) Barbara Mikulski, 51) Fannie Lou Hamer, 52) Jeanette Rankin, 53) Bella Abzug, 54) Marian Wright Edelman, 55) Frances Perkins, 56) Janis Joplin, 57) Mary Ritter Beard, 58) Zora Neale Hurston, 59) Josephine Baker, 60) Emily Greene Balch, 61) Joan Chittister, 62) Constance Baker Motley, 63) bell hooks, 64) Joan Baez, 65) Helen Prejean, 66) Peace Pilgrim, 67) Gerda Lerner, 68) Margarethe Cammermeyer, 69) Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 70) Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, 71) Jo Carol LaFleur 72) Joan Didion 73) Blanche Wiesen Cook, 74) Lillian Faderman, 75) Mary Beth Tinker.

Anna Julia Cooper

Anna Julia Cooper

And if I took my list to 100 women who shook things up in the last 75 years, I would add 76) Florence Allen, 77) Jessie Daniel Ames, 78) Hannah Arendt, 79) Charlotta Spears Bass, 80) Ella Reeve Bloor, 81) Susan Epperson, 82) Anna Julia Cooper, 83) Lavinia Lloyd Dock, 84) Jessie Redmon Fauset, 85) Alice Hamilton, 86) Dorothy Kenyon, 87) Daisy Lampkin, 88) Gypsy Rose Lee, 89) Lucy Randolph Mason, 90) Dorothy Parker, 91) Jane Hodgson, 92) Ethel Rosenberg, 93) Rose Schneiderman, 94) Vida Scudder, 95) Mary Church Terrell, 96) Barbara Elfbrandt, 97) Alberta Hunter, 98) Odetta, 99) Daisy Bates, 100) Whoopi Goldberg.

Obviously this list is my personal one and could grow much longer. And if I were to include more American history and then add world history, the list might well become unmanageable. I encourage you to try making your own list. What American women within the last 75 years have been game-changers for you?

Left Desolate to Mourn~March, 1864~the 1st to the 4th

Left Desolate to Mourn ~ Sarah Morgan Dawson

Many Southern women experience sadness, mourning, loneliness and deprivations of many kinds. The Federal cavalry raid against Richmond goes terribly wrong and a brilliant young officer dies. The prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia, begins operations with many problems, ill omens of things to come. Senator Sumner agitates for the civil rights of African Americans. President reveals many sides of himself. Whitman misses his family and continues to feel called to his work.

March– Boston Massachusetts– This month’s issue of the Atlantic Monthly contains articles and stories by Edward Everett Hale, Bayard Taylor, Robert Dale Owen, Harriet Beecher Stowe and David Atwood Wasson as well as poems by John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., and Alice Cary.

March 1– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “A poor widow, by the name of Baird, has a son in the army, that for some offence has been sentenced to serve a long time without pay, or at most with very little pay. I do not like this punishment of withholding pay– it falls so very hard upon poor families. After he had been serving in this way for several months, at the tearful appeal of the poor mother, I made a direction that he be allowed to enlist for a new term, on the same condition as others. She now comes, and says she cannot get it acted upon. Please do it.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

March 1– Tuesday– Augusta County, Virginia– “A cold NE rain all day & it froze on the trees. Working & reading. A little Snow.” ~ Diary of Francis McFarland.

March 1– Tuesday– near Richmond, Virginia– The Federal cavalry raid against the Confederate capital falters as troops under Colonel Ulric Dahlgren realize that the force supposed to meet them has pulled back. Dahlgren and his 500 troopers retreat northeastward in a moonless, rainy night.

March 1– Tuesday– near Stephensburg, Virginia– “I further think that till that time this rebellion will be crushed; No doubt it will cost a great many lives. We all have our risk to run but thanks to God He is able to provide and protect all those that place their trust in Him. . . . . If the weather was only favorable we might knock out some of his [Confederate General Robert E Lee] props for I think that the rebellion is like some old house propped up and I think we will soon knock out some of the main props. May God speed the day that peace may again be declared and we can all return home.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Franklin Rosenbery to his father John.

March 1– Tuesday– Andersonville, Georgia– The quartermaster at the prisoner-of-war camp reports that the stockade is nearly finished but supplies are still sorely lacking.

March 1– Tuesday– New Orleans, Louisiana– “Dead! Dead! Both dead! O my brothers [George & Gibbes]! What have we lived for except you? We, who would have so gladly laid down our lives for yours, are left desolate to mourn over all we loved and hoped for, weak and helpless; while you, so strong, noble, and brave, have gone before us without a murmur. God knows best. But it is hard– O so hard! to give them up.” ~ Diary of Sarah Morgan Dawson. [She makes no more entries in her diary until November, 1864.]

Sarah Morgan Dawson

Sarah Morgan Dawson

March 2– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.–The Senate confirms Ulysses S. Grant as Lieutenant General.

March 2– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln, while sitting for Francis B. Carpenter who is doing a painting the President and his Cabinet, recites from memory the soliloquy of the ghost, Hamlet’s father, in Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5.

March 2– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “The report made by Senator [Charles] Sumner [of Massachusetts] to-day, from the Committee on Slavery and Freedmen, in the bill to secure equality before the law in the courts of the United States, reviews the history of our jurisprudence in respect to the exclusion of colored testimony in the courts, and examines the laws in the several States relative to this subject. . . . Senator Sumner having yesterday made a report from the Select Committee on Slavery on the treatment of freedmen, and proposing to repeal all Fugitive Slave Laws, Senator [Charles] Buckalew [of Pennsylvania] to-day, in behalf of himself and Senator [John] Carlile [of Virginia, representing the pro-Union ‘Restored Government’ and himself a slave-owner], presented their views as those of the minority. They take the position that . . . the power to enforce the right of reclamation must exist in the Government of the United States, or it can exist nowhere as against a State. Second, the several decisions of the Supreme Court affirming the law of Congress in relation to fugitives are cited, and the points made in the majority report are reviewed. It is objected to the proposed repeal, that it is against the existing right of many citizens of the United States; that instead of being a measure hostile to the rebellion, its practical effect would fall upon loyal citizens in the Border States, and the tendency of these laws to prevent the passage of Negroes into loyal States is productive of obvious social evils.” ~ Article prepared by a reporter for the New York Times.

Charles Sumner

Charles Sumner

March 2– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Dear mother, I want to see you & Sis, & Mat & all very much– if I can get a chance I think I shall come home for a while. I want to try to bring out a book of poems, a new one to be called ‘Drum Taps’ & I want to come to New York for that purpose too. Mother, I haven’t given up the project of lecturing either but whatever I do, I shall for the main thing devote myself for years to come to these wounded & sick, what little I can.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

March 2– Wednesday– Wessyngton, Tennessee– “Monday morning about twelve o’clock, 4 Federal soldiers and four Negroes,viz., Sam, LeRoy, Mano & Simpson came to the Dortch place with a four mule wagon and took Fanny, Isabella & her child & Sarah Jane and announced that all who wished might go and Allen and Martha Lewis, Austin Harrison, Joe, Merideth, Big John & Tom White (eleven in all) went with them. They took their beds & bedding—got their dinner at the kitchen and took a shoulder of meat. They put up and fed their mules and said as one of theirs was lame, they wanted another and the white men went into the stable and picked out Sampson’s . . . mule Joe, a black mule and hitched him to a wagon and tied their own behind. I sent to Bunch for a guard that night he promptly sent down two men & Mr. Woods coming about 5 o’clock we felt pretty safe. He and Grandville watched nearly all night but there was no one here. I wrote to Dick requesting him to get Bunch to go in pursuit of them as I wished to recover the mule . . . and also wished to have those white men punished for I thought they must be acting without authority, but as I have heard nothing from Springfield today fear they did not accomplish anything. I hope you will approve of all I have done. I acted as I thought was right. . . . . The children are all well and send love to Pa, and I wish I could give you one good squeeze this very minute.” ~ Letter from Jane Washington to her husband.

March 2– Wednesday– Mantapike Hill, Virginia– Federal cavalry troopers under Ulric Dahlgren are ambushed. Dahlgren, a month away from his 22nd birthday, is killed and over 100 of his men are captured.

Ulric Dahlgren

Ulric Dahlgren

March 2– Wednesday– Paris, France– Jean Alaux, a painter whose art depicted scenes from French history and who served as Director of the French Academy in Rome from 1846 to 1852, dies at age 79.

March 2– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Pat Hackett, an employee at the Tredegar Works, was badly crushed on Monday about five o’clock, by the falling of a cannon which he was assisting to put on a carriage. His right arm and leg were broken.” ~ Richmond Whig

March 2– Wednesday– Wilkes County, Georgia– “We left Pine Bluff at eleven o’clock and reached the Blue Spring in time for lunch. Albert Bacon and Jimmy Chiles were there to meet us. Hang a petticoat on a bean pole and carry it where you will, Jimmy will follow. The river is so high that its muddy waters have backed up into the spring and destroyed its beauty, but we enjoyed the glorious flowers that bloom around it, and saw some brilliant birds of a kind that were new to me. Mr. Bacon said he would kill one and give me to trim my hat.” ~ Diary of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 3– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln receives a report that the state of Maine Legislature has adopted resolutions in support of his re-election and to continue the present administration.

March 3– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and frosty. Confused accounts of the raid in the morning papers. During the day it was reported that Colonel Johnson’s forces had been cut up this morning by superior numbers, and that Butler was advancing up the Peninsula with 15,000 men. The tocsin was sounded in the afternoon, and the militia called out; every available man being summoned to the field for the defense of the city. The opinion prevails that the plan to liberate the prisoners and capture Richmond is not fully developed yet, nor abandoned. My only apprehension is that while our troops may be engaged in one direction, a detachment of the enemy may rush in from the opposite quarter. But the attempt must fail. There is much excitement, but no alarm. It is rather eagerness to meet the foe, and a desire that he may come.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 3– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Negroes Captured from the Yankee Riders. Hendley Mitchel, Junius Mangrain and Joe Havley, free Negroes, and James, slave of Mrs. Land, of Hanover, George, slave of Mrs. Emily Shelton, of Goochland, and Renty, slave of Colonel Edmund Fontaine, of Louisa, all of whom were recaptured from the Yankee raiders on the Chickahominy by Major Robins’ battalion, were brought to this city and lodged in Castle Thunder yesterday.” ~ Richmond Whig.

March 3– Thursday– Andersonville, Georgia– With the stockade near Andersonville still unfinished and the post unable to buy heavy equipment, the quartermaster authorizes the sheriff of Lee County to impress four mule driven wagons for use at the prison camp.

March 3– Thursday– Liverpool, Mississippi; Jackson, Louisiana; Petersburg, West Virginia; Brownsville, Mississippi; and near Baton Rouge, Louisiana– Armed contests, struggle, strife and combative affairs.

March 4– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Admiral John Dahlgren, age 53, calls on President Lincoln, seeking information about his son, Colonel Ulric Dahlgren. Neither the President nor the War Department yet knows that the young man is dead.

March 4– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “A pleasant Cabinet-meeting. Chase and Blair both absent. Seward and Stanton had a corner chat and laugh about Chase, whose name occasionally escaped them, and whom they appeared to think in a dilemma, and they were evidently not unwilling we should know the subject of their conversation. I could not avoid hearing some of their remarks, though I changed my position to escape them.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 4– Friday– Louisa County, Virginia– Birth of David W. Taylor. [He will graduate from the Naval Academy at Anapolis, Maryland and become an admiral and naval architect. He will die July 28, 1940.]

David W Taylor

David W Taylor

March 4– Friday– Shelby County, Tennessee– “I do wish Nonconnah [creek] would fall, and let a visitor from Memphis return home, for I am always in an ill humor when she is about. Tate and Helen went over to see Missie Morgan this evening. I have been in Tate’s room all day busy sewing– almost finished my dress– Mr. Hildebrand was here today, brought nothing later from Dixie– nor have we heard anything today. I wish one of the scouts would come, and bring us some news. It has been very cloudy and disagreeable all day, this evening we had quite a storm. I received today another batch of letters from Dixie, to be mailed in Memphis for Yankee land. Decatur told us Gen. Armstrong had been ordered to Miss. he has taken Mariah to Mobile to be confined, poor girl I pity her, no Mother or relation to be with her. Laura as usual nodding, and I feel all alone. Beulah and Tippie Dora also enjoying their nap. I feel real sick tonight oh! I am so lonely– what is to be my fate-oh! God shield me, have I not suffered enough– make my future bright!” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

March 4– Friday– Andersonville, Georgia– Problems with the new prisoner of war camp near Andersonville began early. With the refusal of most local plantation owners to donate slave labor to Camp Sumter, Post Commander Alexander W. Persons orders that prisoners be recruited to finish building the post, and directs officers to provide enough men to bury the dead daily.



Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi~October 2, 1869

“Born of Hindu parents in 1869, Gandhi traveled to London as a young adultto study law. He corresponded with Tolstoy, sending him a copy of IndianHome Rule and seeking Tolstoy’s comments. Tolstoy replied that India andhumanity as a whole needed the practice of passive resistance.”

Gandhi in 1907 in South Africa

Gandhi in 1907 in South Africa

“Gandhi gained employment with a Muslim law firm in South Africa. There,with his dark complexion, he encountered extreme racial prejudice. Reading the Bible, the Koran, and Tolstoy’s Kingdom of God Is Within You, he became increasingly convinced that only nonviolence could heal the wounds of the world, both personal and national. He worked tirelessly on behalf of Indian immigrants’ civil rights, refusing to depart from nonviolence to achieve political purposes. Instead he relied on satyagraha, a term he coined, meaning “holding on to Truth” or “Soul force”. He achieved remarkable changes on behalf of South African Indians during this period.”

Gandhi at age 21

Gandhi at age 21

“Returning to India, Gandhi took up the cause of freedom from British rule. He endured imprisonments without trial, and fasted for weeks on end to purify both his own motives and those of others in the freedom movement whose frustration with setbacks and slow progress often led to violence. He founded the weekly paper Harijan to address the need of “untouchables,” and created two ashrams.

Ultimately the goal of independence for India became a source of great sadness to Gandhi. He refused to attend the independence celebration on August 15, 1947, unwilling to be a party to what he termed “India’s vivisection”: the partitioning off of Pakistan from India. During the civil unrest following independence, Gandhi fasted for communal peace. He personally visited areas beset with riots, to no avail. In January 1948, Gandhi was assassinated as he was on his way to a prayer meeting.

Gandhi’s timeless influence inspired Dr. Martin Luther King and countless other peace activists, and brings light to our world in these dark days.

Recommended readings: Gandhi on Non-Violence, A Selection from the Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, edited and with an introduction by Thomas Merton; and, The Words of Gandhi, selected by Richard Attnborough, Director of the award-winning film “Gandhi” (1982), for which Attenborough prepared through 20 years of study about Gandhi and his life.” — from Gratefulness.org, A Network for Grateful Living.

Kasturba, Gandhi's wife, in 1915

Kasturba, Gandhi’s wife, in 1915


“To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”~ Gandhi

Fifty Years Ago ~ August 28, 1963

I was a high school student and active in the debate club. I listened intently to the coverage of the March on Washington. Many great people in addition to Dr King ought to be remembered, honored and thanked. Here is a story about one of them from National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” program of August 15, 2013.

Bayard Rustin with Dr King

Bayard Rustin with Dr King

The trailblazing strategist behind the 1963 March on Washington will this year be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That’s a long way from the days when civil rights activists counted on Bayard Rustin’s hard work, but tried to push him aside because he was gay. For 60 years, Rustin fought for peace and equal rights–demonstrating, organizing and protesting in the United States and around the world.’Strategic Nonviolence’ In the summer of 1963, he was the main organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. On Aug. 28, speaker after speaker roused a crowd of 250,000, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., with his seminal “I Have A Dream” speech. Rustin had less than two months to organize what was the largest demonstration the country had ever seen.”As we follow this form of mass action and strategic nonviolence,” he said, “we will not only put pressure on the government, but we will put pressure on other groups which ought by their nature to be allied with us.” Washington, D.C.’s Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was a law student in 1963 and a volunteer for the march. Rustin was her boss. “Bayard was one of a kind, and his talent was so enormous,” she says.”The great achievement of the March on Washington is that Rustin had to work from the ground up,” Norton says. “There had been many marches from the South … but calling people from all over the country to come to Washington, the capital of the United States, was unheard of.

Rustin grew up in West Chester, Pa. In college in the 1930s, he joined the Communist Youth League for a few years, attracted by the group’s anti-racist efforts. He later embraced socialism. He was a gay black man, tall, with high cheekbones, and a gifted singer. He played a bit part in a Broadway musical alongside Paul Robeson, and Rustin often sang for his audiences as he toured the country, conducting race-relations workshops. Rustin was considered a master organizer, a political intellectual and a pacifist; he served time in prison for refusing to register for the draft. He created the first Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation on interstate buses. Along with King, Rustin was one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He had two strong mentors. A.J. Muste, the head of the pacifist organization the Fellowship of Reconciliation, hired Rustin as a youth secretary to conduct workshops and demonstrations against war and segregation.

Rustin’s other mentor was A. Philip Randolph, the head of the first predominantly black union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. “What Rustin took away from Randolph, especially, is the recognition that economic issues and racial justice issues are completely intertwined,” says his biographer, John D’Emilio.

Despite his extensive involvement in the civil rights movement, Rustin was content to remain behind the scenes, D’Emilio says.”I think of it as part of the Quaker heritage that he internalized. You don’t push yourself forward,” D’Emilio says. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t get the credit for it. What is important is this notion of speaking truth topower.”

In 1953, Rustin’s homosexuality became a public problem after he was found having sex in a parked car with two men. He was arrested on a morals charge. Later, when he was chosen to organize the 1963 march, some civil rights activists objected. In an effort to discredit the march, segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond took to the Senate floor, where he derided Rustin for being a communist, a draft dodger and a homosexual.

Ironically, author D’Emilo says, it became a rallying point for the civil rights leaders.” Because no one could appear to be on the side of Strom Thurmond,he created, unwittingly, an opportunity for Rustin’s sexuality to stop being an issue,” he says.The march was a success, and at its end, a triumphant Rustin stepped up to the microphone to read the demands that the leaders of the civilrights movement would take to President John F. Kennedy.First on the list: “effective Civil Rights legislation – no compromise, no filibuster – and that it include public accommodations, decent housing, integrated education, [fairemployment], and the right to vote.” Rustin wanted to move the civil rightsagenda from protesting to politics and to work within the system– blacks and whites together– to create jobs and other opportunities. His effort fell flat,stymied by a more militant generation and the dominant issue of the times, the Vietnam War. Rustin said, “It has split the civil rights movement down themiddle. It has caused many white people who were in it to say, ‘That must wait now until we stop Vietnam.’”

Bayard Rustin in 1963

Bayard Rustin in 1963

In his later years, Rustin continued to speak out on a variety of fronts, and his personal life also changed: He met Walter Naegle. Naegle, Rustin’s surviving partner, says that in the final years of his life, Rustin became more involved in gay rights. “He saw this as another challenge, another barrier that had to be broken down a larger struggle for human rights and for individual freedoms,” Neagle says. Or, as Rustin put it:”The barometer for judging the character of people in regards to human rights is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, lesbian. The judgment as to whether you can trust the future, the social advancement, depending on people, will be judged on where they come out on that question.”Activist Mandy Carter says Rustin was a visionary, understanding the parallels in the civil rights struggle and the gay rights movement. Carter is on the leadership council the National Black Justice Coalition, an LGBT civil rights group.”For me and for a lot of us who are black, and gay and lesbian, bi, trans, who see ourselves as social justice advocates as well, to have this person– such an amazing role model,” she says. Carter says there was just no one like him, and she is delighted such a key individual in the civil rights movement is now being recognized with the nation’s highest honor.Rustin died in 1987 in New York. He was 75.

Proper Appreciation of the Vastness of this Country~June 1863~the 1st and 2nd

The curtain rises on two months which will change the American Civil War. President Lincoln looks for a general who can win battles. The Vallandigham affair drags on. Freedom of the press becomes an issue in Chicago. Vicksburg, Mississippi, suffers under siege. Colonel Shaw misses his wife and family. General Bragg resents the number of civilians being sent into the Confederacy and vows to stop the practice. The writer Samuel Clemens admires the breadth of his country. Elections promise change in Canada. The crisis in Poland brews on while American foreign policy supports the Russian Tsar.


 June– Rochester, New York– In this month’s issue of Douglass’ Monthly, Frederick Douglass prints a copy of a lengthy speech which he delivered in the preceding month in New York City at the Church of the Puritan and entitled “The Colored Race in Americas.” He concludes with these words: “We have passed through the furnace and have not been consumed. During more than two centuries and a half, we have survived contact with the white race. We have risen from the small number of twenty to the large number of fiver millions, living and increasing, where other tribes are decreasing and dying. We have illustrated the fact the two most opposite races of men known to ethnological science can live in the same latitudes, longitudes, and altitudes, and that so far as natural causes are concerned there is reason to believe that we may permanently live under the same skies, brave the same climates, and enjoy Liberty, equality and fraternity in a common country.”


Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

June 1– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– A large public meeting condemns the arrest and trial of former Congressman Clement Vallandigham.

 June 1– Monday– New York City– The New York Times reports on political change in Canada. “An ordinary party crisis in Canada would not be likely to disturb the balance of power in either world; and would, perhaps, fail to excite any particular emotion beyond a limited provincial circle. But, we take it, that a careful analysis of the Parliamentary upheavals which have been witnessed in Canada, at intervals during the past twelve months, would show something like a growing conflict of interest and of sympathy between the great dependency and its parent country. . . . In the meantime, we may indicate in a word, what are the probable results. The priest party and the railway interest will jointly carry a majority against the Government in Lower Canada. The very existence of the great railway Corporation is almost involved in the return to power of the Tory leaders, who, in addition to the vast subsidies, they secured for the undertaking from the Provincial Treasury, had secretly, and in defiance of law, advanced it over a million of dollars, a fact which the vigilance of the new Government has only recently brought to light. The electors of Upper Canada, on the other hand, are likely to give the Government a large majority; but it may be doubted if it will be sufficient to counterbalance their want of support in the Lower Province.” [Although not exactly the same as the contemporary provinces, it helps to understand in this period Lower Canada meant Quebec and most of what had been called “New France” until the British conquest, with predominantly French-speaking and Roman Catholic population along with an English-speaking and Protestant minority, Upper Canada meant southern Ontario and the lands bordering Lake Superior and Georgian Bay.]

June 1– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln meets with Senator Charles Sumner about the recruitment of more black soldiers.


Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts

Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts

June 1– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The Chicago Times, under orders from General Burnside, suspends publication for what the General describes as “repeated expression of disloyal and incendiary sentiments.” The mayor and others immediately petition President Lincoln to rescind the order.

June 1– Monday– on the steamer De Molay, off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina– Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, in transit with his men of the 54th Massachusetts, writes to his new wife, Annie. “It is only three months and a half since I got to New York, and Nellie called to you to come down and see me. I hope I shall never forget the happy days we have passed together since then, and that I shall always look back on them with the same pleasure as now. It may be a long time before we find ourselves driving about Berkshire together again; but I do hope that some day we can live over those days at Lenox once more . . . . Truly, I ought to be thankful for all my happiness, and my success in life so far; and if the raising of colored troops prove such a benefit to the country, and to the blacks, as many people think it will, I shall thank God a thousand times that I was led to take my share in it. . . . Did any one tell you that, after bidding you and Mother and the girls good bye so stoically, Harry and I had to retire into the back parlor, and have a regular girl’s cry? It was like putting the last feather on the camel’s back; I had as much as I could carry before. It was a great relief, though.”


detail on the memorial honoring trhe 54th Massaachusetts Regiment

detail on the memorial honoring trhe 54th Massaachusetts Regiment

June 1– Monday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– Union artillery conducts a day-long bombardment of the city. 

June 1– Monday– San Francisco, California– Samuel Clemens, age 27 and, since February of this year, becoming known under the pen name Mark Twain, writes to his mother and sister. “I rode down with a gentleman to the Ocean House, the other day, to see the sea horses, and also to listen to the roar of the surf, and watch the ships drifting about, here, and there, and far away at sea. When I stood on the beach and let the surf wet my feet, I recollected doing the same thing on the shores of the Atlantic– and then I had a proper appreciation of the vastness of this country– for I had traveled from ocean to ocean across it.”


Samuel Clemens a/k/a Mark Twain, c1871

Samuel Clemens a/k/a Mark Twain, c1871

June 1– Monday– St P:etersburg, Russia– While continuing to deal with rebellion in Poland, Tsar Alexander writes to King William of Germany expressing his desire for peace but concerned about the attitudes of Great Britain and France, worries that a large scale European war may come by August if those two powers intervene on behalf of the Poles. He asks if he can count on political and military support from the Germans.

June 2– Tuesday– New York City– In a letter to the editor published in today’s New York Times, an anti-slavery activist evaluates the possibility of restoring the Union by compromising with the South on the question of slavery. “Now, Mr. Editor, I desire thus publicly and from the beginning to announce my emphatic wish to be counted out of any such arrangement. I went into this Anti-Slavery business earnestly, and on the presumption that I was acting with honest men – men who hated Slavery, and who were determined to cast it out, come what might. I find that as to many I have been deceived. I find that these men want power, and care for nothing else; and that for the sake of power they would kill all the white people of the South, or take them to their arms; that they would free all the slaves, or make their bondage still more helpless; or do any other inconsistent or wicked thing. I have no sympathy whatever with such an unhallowed last of dominion. As to the Union. I would not give, a cent for it unless it stood as a guarantee for freedom to every man, woman and child within its entire jurisdiction.” 

June 2– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– President Lincoln meets privately with General John F Reynolds, 42 years old, a graduate of West Point and a career officer. Reynolds and others have been publicly critical of General Hooker and Hooker’s conduct at Chancellorsville a month ago. The President sends a telegram to General Grant, asking, “Are you in communication with General Banks? Is he coming toward you or going farther off? Is there or has there been anything to hinder his coming directly to you by water from Alexandria?”


General John Reynolds

General John Reynolds

June 2– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Navy Secretary Gideon Welles summarizes today’s Cabinet meeting in his diary. “There was some discussion of affairs at Vicksburg. The importance of capturing that stronghold and opening the navigation of the river is appreciated by all, and confidence is expressed in Grant, but it seems that not enough was doing. . . . Stanton does not attend one half of the Cabinet-meetings. When he comes, he communicates little of importance. Not unfrequently he has a private conference with the President in the corner of the room, or with Seward in the library. Chase, Blair, and Bates have each expressed their mortification and chagrin that things were so conducted. To-day, as we came away, Blair joined me, and said he knew not what we were coming to; that he had tried to have things different.”

June 2– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– President Davis, distrustful of Clement Vallandigham, orders the man to be sent to Wilmington, North Carolina, and held as an “alien enemy.”

 June 2– Tuesday– Tullahoma, Tennessee– Angry that Union forces are sending to the Confederate lines many civilians who will not swear allegiance to the United States, Confederate General Braxton Bragg issues the following order: “The enemy has seen fit to expel from his lines and send to our midst not only those supposed to be guilty of crimes, but non-combatants found at their homes in the peaceful pursuits of life. In the perpetration of these outrages on humanity, and these violations of civilized warfare, he has prostituted the flat of truce to the base purpose of protecting the guards who drive forth these exiles. Hereafter that flag will not protect those guards, but they will be seized and sent forward to be treated as spies or prisoners of war, as the circumstances in each case may require.”

June 2– Tuesday– St Petersburg, Russia– American Minister Cassius Marcellus Clay advises Secretary of State Seward that he gave permission to the Russian government to publish Seward’s dispatch of May 11th. “Your position was just, and therefore could not be offensive of right to our powerful rivals, who were acting offensively against Russia. Whatever effect it was calculated to produce on England and France has already been effected. Its publication would aid Russia by our moral support at home and abroad, and that support is needed at once, . . . . and above all, I felt that it was due from us to be grateful for the past conduct of Russia towards us in our troubles, by a like moral support of herself, in defense of the integrity of her empire.”

Introducing Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 17, 1837, one of the two children of Robert Bridges Forten and Mary Virginia Woods Forten, free-born African Americans. Her paternal grandfather, James Forten, was a wealthy sail-maker. When the radical abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison of Boston sought funding to begin publishing his newspaper The Liberator, it was James Forten and John B Vashon of Pittsburgh, the two wealthiest black men in the state, who gave him the necessary money. Most white abolitionists in 1831 were too unwilling to invest in such a dangerous venture. James Forten also provided financial backing to Garrison’s American Anti-Slavery Society.

James Forten, businessman & abolitionist

James Forten, businessman & abolitionist

Mary Forten died in the summer of 1840. Charlotte missed her mother all the rest of her life. Robert Forten would not send his daughter to the segregated schools of Philadelphia so he had her tutored at home. She was bright, friendly and attractive. Charlotte spent a lot of time with her grandparents and her uncle, Robert Purvis. Purvis, a wealthy and college-educated man of mixed race, married Harriet Forten. Charlotte’s grandparents, father, Uncle Robert and Aunt Harriet were politically active in the anti-slavery cause so from a young age Charlotte found herself in the company of Garrison, John Greenleaf Whittier, Harriet Martineau, Lucretia and James Mott, Sarah Mapps Douglass, William Nell, and Charles Remond. At age 16, Charlotte was sent by her father to Salem, Massachusetts to pursue further education. A young woman interested in the cause of abolition and with a flair for writing, Charlotte became active in the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society and Garrison published one of her poems in The Liberator. In addition she began, in 1854, to keep a diary, which she would maintain periodically until 11892. During this time, escaped slave Anthony Burns was returned to slavery by Federal marshals under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. The incident, which frightend both free-born black people and other fugitive slaves who had made lives for themselves in urban areas, prompted Robert Forten to move his family to Canada, but he left Charlotte in Salem with the Remonds in Salem. She graduated from Higginson Grammar School in March, 1855.

Charlotte Forten wrote to her father in Canada for permission to attend the Salem Normal School, where she had already passed the entrance exam. Robert Forten ordered his daughter to return to Philadelphia immediately. The school principal Mary Shepard urged her to write to him again, and Forten eventually agreed to allow Charlotte to attend, but he did not offer to pay her expenses. Ms Shepard loaned her the money to continue her education.

In June, 1856, Ms Forten became a teacher in Salem at the integrated Epes Grammar School but health problems forced her to return to Philadelphia after only one year of work. Her great classroom abilities made her popular with students, parents and colleagues and gave her certainty that she could teach well.

Between June, 1857 and the summer of 1862, Charlotte Forten struggled with recurring health problems, taught school when she was able and had several poems and essays published. On August 9, 1862, she and Mary Shepard visited with the poet and dedicated abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier in his home. Whittier advised the talented teacher to join the teachers at Port Royal, South Carolina who were instructing escaped slaves, children and adults, under the protection of Union soldiers. She applied to the Philadelphia Port Royal Educational Commission, was accepted and headed south on October 27, 1862.

From then until May 1864, she taught school, kept her diary quite faithfully, maintained extensive correspondence and built many friendships, including the white Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson and many of his black soldiers as well as the white Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and a number of his black soldiers. The few Southern whites remaining in the area openly showed their hatred, and Charlotte Forten began to carry a pistol after someone made an attempt to break into her sleeping quarters. She noted in her diary, “The thought of falling into the hands of the Rebels was horrible in the extreme.”

Essays chronicling her experiences, entitled “Life on the Sea Islands,” appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, edited at that time by James Thomas Fields, in the May and June issues of 1864. Under increasing physical and emotional stress, Charlotte Forten became ill once again, experiencing terrible headaches, among other symptoms, and, with deep regret, left St. Helena and returned to Philadelphia.

After the conclusion of the Civil War, Ms Forten worked with the Freedmen’s Relief Association in Boston to help former slaves find jobs and homes. In the late 1860s, she worked for the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, DC recruiting teachers and in 1873 she became a clerk at the Treasury Department.

On December 19 1878, at age 41, Charlotte married Francis Grimke, age 26, the biracial nephew of abolitionists Sarah Grimke and Angelina Grimke Weld.. Francis’ father was Henry Grimke, one of the brothers of Sarah and Angelina, and Francis’ mother was a house slave by the name of Nancy Weston. She bore two other sons by her master as well. [Sarah and Angelina had left the South for Pennsylvania. Their writing and public speaking on behalf of the abolitionist cause severed their relationship with their parents and siblings.]

In 1868, Angelina Grimke Weld took note of Francis and his two brothers, seeing the Grimke name mentioned in an African American newspaper. Angelina and Sarah recognized them as family members and supported Francis and his bother Archibald financially through college until both graduated from Lincoln University in 1870. They further assisted Francis through his studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, from which he graduated. He became ordained as a Presbyterian minister.

Charlotte Forten Grimke helped her husband in his ministry and organized a women’s missionary group. Francis became pastor at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, and Charlotte continued to work for education and equality for African Americans.

15th Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C., c1899

15th Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C., c1899

In her marriage Charlotte Forten Grimke joined two of the most prominent family names of antebellum abolition. Charlotte and Francis Grimke lived in Washington, DC, and their home became a social and intellectual gathering place for friends and associates. Charlotte gave birth to a daughter in June 1880 but the little girl died in infancy. The couple were active in civil rights and Charlotte proudly helped Francis in activism with W. E. B. DuBois in the Niagara Movement and participation in the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

After many years of suffering from poor health, Charlotte Forten Grimke died on July 22, 1914 at her home in Washington, DC, at the age of 77. Francis outlived his beloved wife by more than twenty years, dying on October 11, 1937. He never remarried after her death.






Belated Birthday Wishes to a Presidential Candidate

Yesterday, I posted a piece about Belva Ann Lockwood, an American Portia, on the occasion of her 182nd birthday. However, especially since we are in the final weeks of a presidential campaign I must say a bit about her campaigns for that high office.

Ms Lockwood worked hard from the outset of her legal career to do well and to make a name for herself, even in such areas as criminal law. According to her biographer, Attorney Lockwood managed to do quite well.

“The postbellum emphasis on gentility made the thought of women working in the criminal courts egregious, even loathsome. Society’s morally repugnant dramas played out in criminal court, a place off-bounds to ladies. Lockwood could have refused criminal cases. Yet, despite her religious rectitude and middle-class aspirations, criminal cases and criminal court argument were as acceptable to her as any other kind of legal work. It is not difficult to imagine this no-nonsense woman facing the judge in a room teeming with people, many of them down on their luck, charged with drunkenness or simple assault. Nor is it difficult to contemplate why the poor and the unfortunate had to accept representation by an inexperienced, woman lawyer. But Lockwood cut a sharp figure and was blessed with a quick mind and tongue. By 1875 she had begun to attract clients charged with more serious crimes, representation that brought her before the judges of the criminal division of the D.C. Supreme Court. From 1875 to 1885 Belva represented at least 69 criminal defendants in this court. They were charged with virtually every category of crime from mail fraud and forgery to burglary and murder. She won “not guilty” decisions in 15 jury trials and submitted guilty pleas in 9. Thirty-one of her clients were judged guilty as charged, while five others were found to be guilty of a lesser charge. An entry of nolle prosequi (termination of the proceedings by the prosecutor) ended four cases. She won retrials for several others.”– Jill Norgren, author of Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who would Be President.

the definitive biography of Lockwood

“Lockwood was not content to rest on her personal achievements. She sought not only suffrage, but full political and civil rights for all women. . . . . Explaining why she entered the race, she wrote in a letter to her future running mate, Marietta Stow: “We shall never have equal rights until we take them, nor respect until we command it.” In 1884 and 1888, during her two campaigns as the presidential nominee of the Equal Rights Party, Lockwood drew attention to a range of issues important to Americans, among them, preservation of public lands, reform of family law to make it less unfair to women, and use of tariff revenues to fund benefits for Civil War veterans. No celestial idealist, Lockwood turned to advantage the publicity of the campaign to launch herself onto the paid lecture circuit.”– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

period political cartoon mocking Lockwood’s candidacy

In 1884 the Equal Rights Party nominated Lockwood for president of the United States. She ran on a liberal platform, radical in its day, that included the following:

1. We pledge ourselves, if elected to power, so far as in us lies to do equal and exact justice to every class of our citizens, without distinction of color, sex, or nationality.  

2. We shall recommend that the laws of the several states be so amended that women will be recognized as voters, and their property-rights made equal with that of the male population, to the end that they may become self-supporting rather than a dependent class.  

3. It will be our earnest endeavor to revive the now lagging industries of the country by encouraging and strengthening our commercial relations with other countries, especially with the Central and South American States, . . . encourage exports by an effort to create a demand for our home productions; and to this end we deem that a moderate tariff-sufficient to protect the laboring classes, but not so high as to keep our goods out of the market-as most likely to conserve the best interests of our whole people. That is to say, we shall avoid as much as possible a high protective tariff on the one hand, and free trade on the other. We shall also endeavor, by all laudable means, to increase the wages of laboring man and women. Our protective system will be most earnestly exerted to protect the commonwealth of the country from venality and corruption in high places.  

4. It will be our earnest effort to see that the solemn contract made with the soldiers of the country on enlistment into the United States service-viz.: that if disabled therein they should be pensioned-strictly carried out; and that without unnecessary expense and delay to them . . . .


6. We believe that the only solution of the Indian question is to . . . treat the Indian like a rational human being, as we have the Negro–make him a citizen, amenable to the laws, and let him manage his own private affairs.  


9. We oppose monopoly, the tendency of which is to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer, as opposed to the genius and welfare of republican institutions.  

10. We shall endeavor to aid in every laudable way the work of educating the masses of the people, not only in book knowledge, but in physical, moral, and social culture, in such a manner as will ‘tend to elevate the standard of American manhood and womanhood-that the individual may receive the highest possible development.  

11. We recommend a uniform system of laws for the several states as desirable, as far as practicable; and especially the laws relating to the descent of property, marriage and divorce, and the limitation of contracts.  

12. We will endeavor to maintain the peaceable relations which now exist between the various sections of our vast country, and strive to enter into a compact of peace with the other American as well as the European nations, in order that the peace which we now enjoy may become perpetual. We believe that war is a relic of barbarism belonging to the past, and should only be resorted to in the direst extremity.  

13. That the dangers of a solid South or a solid North shall be averted by a strict regard to the interests of every section of the country, a fair distribution of public offices, and such a distribution of the public funds, for the increase of the facilities of inter-comi-rercial relations, as will restore the South to her former industrial prestige, develop the exhaustless resources of the West, foster the iron, coal, and woolen interests of the Middle States, and revive the manufactures of the East.  

14. We shall foster evil service, believing that a true civil service reform, honestly and candidly administered, will lift us out of the imputation of having become a nation of office seekers, and have a tendency to develop in candidates for office an earnest desire to make themselves worthy and capable of performing the duties of the office that they desire to fill; and, in order to make the reform a permanent one, recommend that it be engrafted into the Constitution of the United States.  

15. It will be the policy of the Equal Rights party to see that the residue of the public domain is parceled out to actual settlers only, that the honest yeomanry of the land, and especially those who have fought to preserve it, shall enjoy its benefits.  

In October, 1884, Belva Lockwood delivered a campaign speech in New York City to an audience of about 1,050 people, mostly women, whom the New York Times dismissively described as “the leading female suffragists of the city . . . a majority of middle-aged virgins, with one or two pretty girls and fashionable young women.” [NYT, October 20, 1884] Candidate Lockwood, tastefully attired in a black silk dress, a societal reminder that she was indeed a widow, spoke “in an even, clear, and pleasant voice that reached the furthest corner of the hall.” [NYT, October 20, 1884]

most likely how Lockwood dressed while campaigning

A skilled speaker and well aware of the society and her audience, the candidate began with a Biblical quotation from II Samuel 23:3 “He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God..” She carefully launched into an explanation of key parts of the party’s platform, pointing out that for 20 years the two major parties governed without much difference in political philosophy and certainly without building peace between capitalist corporate owners and the working masses. Turning to issues near to her heart, Ms Lockwood, knowledgeable in constitutional law, explained that there was no prohibition against a woman being president and though she herself could not vote, nothing prevented men from voting for her. She asserted that males “have been running the Government of the United States on a policy diametrically opposed to the Constitution, for in all of these years a grand aristocracy known as the men of the country have insisted on and have succeeded in distributing all of the public money. [Applause] We are determined to break up this gigantic hide-bound monopoly based on sex which makes of the women of the country paupers and checks and strangles in them at birth inspiration and aspiration, and makes of every male child half a tyrant and half a freeman. This senseless oppression is rapidly deteriorating the mental and physical powers of the race. Only a grand, free woman, with the fresh blood of inspiration flowing through her veins and proud of her motherhood can bear a child fit to govern a republic.”

Sane and sensible platform and challenging campaign speech and still relevant. I wonder if we have in either political party right now enough intelligent minds, hearts of broad vision and will to work for the common good to put into effect such platform provisions.

Ms Lockwood, along Alfred H Love, founded and helped to lead the Universal Peace Union, a peace advocacy group. She supported the establishment of an international court of justice, a parliament of nations and a system of international treaties of arbitration to replace war as an instrument of national policy. On these topics she gave public addresses not only in the United States but in England and on the European continent as well, even being received by the elderly Queen Victoria.

the 1986 postage stamp issued in her honor

Ms Lockwood worked long and hard for woman suffrage. The New York Times in the obituary for Belva Lockwood on May 20, 1917, quoted her as saying, “Suffrage is no longer an issue. It is an accomplished fact. Those states which have denied it to women will come around.”

She died about a month after the United States declared war against Germany. I wonder if that decision to join the Great War saddened unto death her elderly heart so dedicated to peace. Yet she must have died knowing that the first woman elected to Congress, Ms Jeanette Rankin, had put her political career at stake by voting against President Wilson and in keeping with the peace principles which the two women shared. “No one can claim to be called Christian who gives money for the building of warships and arsenals.”– Belva Lockwood

We need more like her.