Tag Archives: education

Women’s History~Myrtilla Miner


Myrtilla Miner


Myrtilla Miner, educator, feminist and abolitionist, was born near Brookfield, New York on March 4, 1815. Active in the struggle against slavery, she was a friend of Frederick Douglass, William Henry Channing, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher. In December of 1851 she opened a school in Washington, D.C., for young black women in order to train them as teachers. The school closed in 1860 as the Civil War approached and she died in Washington on December 17, 1864. Douglass described her as “slender, wiry, pale . . . [and] singularly motivated.

m.miner's grave014476

For details on her life and work, see: Myrtilla Miner: a Memoir (1885) by Ellen M O’Connor; Three Who Dared: Prudence Crandall, Margaret Douglass, Myrtilla Miner– Champions of Antebellum Black Education (1984) by Philip S Foner and Josephine F Pacheco.

The Political Caldron Is Seething~August 1864~the 6th to 8th

The Political Caldron Is Seething ~ George Templeton Strong.

Lincoln’s reelection seems to be in trouble. On a personal level he must deal with a troublesome sister-in-law. A Southern soldier faces black troops in combat and gives voice to his prejudice. Death, destruction and disruption increase in Georgia. A Confederate soldier discovers that one of his brothers is also a prisoner of the Federals. A long-serving Union officer notes how many times he has crossed the Potomac River in the course of his service. The Times takes note of German support for the Union cause. Another newspaper suggests that Havana cigars have that special something because of opium.

Battle of the Crater

Battle of the Crater

August 6– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “Since I last wrote, again has the two opposing armies in Virginia, met in deadly strife. On the morning of the 30th July, the enemy sprung one of their mines in front of our lines, charging simultaneously with the explosion and succeeded in capturing a portion of our lines. About sunrise three brigades of our division were ordered from the right of our lines to the point at which the explosion occurred. Immediately upon their arrival, a charge was ordered. The works were carried & the enemy driven back to their old position. Upon the arrival of our troops at the breastworks, they found to be filled with real sure enough n****** crying ‘no quarter! no quarter!’ As they were the first colored troops our troops had ever seen, you may rest assured ‘no quarter’ was shown. An indiscriminate butchery commenced, and hardly a Negro remained to tell the story. Our loss was heavy indeed. We have to mourn many dear friends, whose lives have been sacrificed to their country. Nearly every regimental commander was killed. Just think of our brave men being murdered by cruel heartless Negroes. Isn’t it enough to render the Yankees more despicable, if possible, than ever? Oh how I do long for this cruel war to end & such barbarities with it. Since the 4th of May, our arms have been signally victorious. Almost everywhere except in Georgia, we’ve met with unprecedented success. It seems as if that department has been & is now our only drawback. I believe we would long since have had peace if that army could have equaled the successes of the Army of Northern Virginia. The people of Yankeedom seem to be somewhat enraged & frightened at the destruction of part of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. I wonder if they ever think of how many Southern homes have been made desolate, by their ruthless raiders. They, when their homes are burned, are very quick to cry out against such warfare; proclaiming it barbarous and inhumane. They are a wonderfully consistent people. Everything they do is right. Tis to be devoutly wished they may soon meet their just rewards. ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

August 6– Saturday– Columbus, Georgia– “Now I have a painful duty to record in my diary. On the 28th of July, the enemy was pressing us at Atlanta. The brigade of my son (Captain Willis D Banks) was ordered to take the breastworks of the enemy near Atlanta, skirmishing for a time, going on. The order was impracticable. General Johnston had been relieved for retreating so often and General Hood succeeded him. Hood felt that it would not do for him to retreat under such circumstances. Willis at all times ready to make a charge when ordered. In the effort to carry out the order was badly wounded, shot in the breast with a Minie ball and taken out of the way. . . . Several ministers call to see him and had full and free conversation with him of his future prospects. He seemed willing and desirous to talk with them upon the subject. He said that long ago he had had the matter under consideration and felt a change and a determination to do right for the future, that he had not done wrong since that time that he knew of. That he was prepared to die and did not fear death. The Rev. Mr. Wynn was with him and wrote me fully of his interview with him, which was to him satisfactory, and that he had full confidence of his prospects for Heaven. Willis lived from Thursday till 2 o’clock Monday, A.M. and died giving all who conversed with him upon his future prospect, full confidence that he was gone to Heaven.” ~ Diary of John Banks.


August 6– Saturday– Mobile, Alabama– Finding that the Confederates have evacuated Fort Powell, Farragut’s ships proceed to bombard Fort Gaines.

August 6– Saturday– Utoy Creek, Georgia; Indian Village, Louisiana; Plaquemine, Louisiana– Hard fighting and heavy skirmishing.

August 7– Sunday– Westerly, Rhode, Island– Birth of Ellen Fitz Pendleton, the youngest of the nine children of Enoch and Mary Chapman Pendleton. She will become an educator and serve as president of Wellesley College from 1911 to 1936, increasing the college’s endowment from $1.2 million to over $9.7 million. [Dies July 26, 1936]

Dr Ellen Fitz Pendleton

Dr Ellen Fitz Pendleton

August 7– Sunday– New York City– “Our correspondent said that the pains taken by our efficient Consul-General at Frankfort (Mr Murphy) ‘to keep the German public well-informed on the progress of events in the United States, has contributed powerfully to this popularity of American stocks at the leading German Exchange, and we are taught by his efforts how easy it is, with a little well-directed and truthful publicity, to keep public opinion in the right track.’ This compliment we believe to be justly paid; but the popularity of our stocks among the middle-class people of Germany, is also due in a great measure, we fancy, to the favorable representations of the strength and resources of the United States sent from this country by the patriotic and true-hearted Germans who have a residence and a home among us. While such a noble confidence in the future of this republic and its financial honor is exhibited in Germany, we are almost ashamed to think of the lack of manly faith exhibited by American-born people in our own midst.” ~ New York Times.

August 7– Sunday– Johnson’s Island, Sandusky, Ohio– “I have received your letter of the 28th and was truly glad to hear from you. It has been long since your handwriting greeted my eye. You are fortunate in your wound and at the same time unfortunate. Wounds in the foot usually heal slowly. You must exercise patience, be in no hurry to leave [the] hospital if your wishes are consulted. Are you supplied with clothing? Let me know precisely. If you have money now or receive it hereafter, be sparing in the use of it whilst in the hospital. You will need it more in prison. Write home whenever you can and to me. Tell me the home news. Write one page only.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry McDaniel, a prisoner, to his brother Ira, wounded and now also a prisoner.

August 7– Sunday– Harpers Ferry, West Virginia– “This made twenty-five times that I have crossed the Potomac since I entered the Army. We are now in camp with our Brigade. Major General Philip H. Sheridan has arrived and has taken command of this Department.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

August 7– Sunday– Memphis, Tennessee– “It is generally known that the best Havana cigars are made from tobacco dipped in a solution of opium. Natural leaf tobacco never has that peculiar effect, as will be noticed upon smoking the best oaken leaf in a pipe. It is the opium in a first-rate cigar, and not the tobacco, which smokers get enslaved with, and cannot do without. In some of the Havana establishments, twenty thousand dollars of opium per year in used.” ~ Memphis Bulletin.

August 7– Sunday– Cobb County, Georgia– “The Chaplain commenced his services, under the trees in the Yard. I sat in the Room Window and attended his services, not 1/3 of the men attended & but few of the officers; those who attended were very attentive; the services were short, the whole occupying less time than an hour. The sermon was from 1 Romans, a plain good discourse, but not exhibited the spiritual unction I had expected. . . . In the afternoon the Chaplain had other services, I did not attend but went to visit some of the neighbors, his services at night I attended, he had a larger audience, but much noise & disturbance around. The officers do not seem to feel much interest in the services, neither attending themselves nor using their influence to preserve order.” ~ Diary of William King.

soldiers at a religious service

soldiers at a religious service

August 7– Sunday– Atlanta, Georgia– “We have been to church this morning for the first time in three weeks. Reverend Atticus Haygood preached to us in the Methodist church. Our cruel foe has the grace to cease from shelling us on the Sabbath, at least he has not done so yet. Last Wednesday night the horrid missiles of destruction whizzed past our house and discomposed us considerably. Heretofore they had fallen short, but now we cannot tell at what moment they may strike us. A gentleman and his little girl, ten years of age, were both killed in bed by the same shell last week, and several others have lost their lives.” ~ Diary of an Atlanta resident.

August 7– Sunday– Huntsville, Missouri; Enterprise, Missouri; along the Tallahatchie River, Mississippi; near Moorefield, West Virginia; Grand Bayou, Florida; Union County, Tennessee– Bitter exchanges and plenty of skirmishing.

August 7– Sunday– Kranj, Slovenia– Janez Puhar, priest, poet, painter and pioneer photographer, dies two and a half weeks before his 50th birthday.

Janez Puhar

Janez Puhar

August 8– Monday– New York City– “Than as if this were not enough, the Political Caldron is seething as if it were much nitric acid in contact with boundless copper filings. There is fearful evolution of irritating offensive gas and Heaven only knows what compound will be generated by the furious reaction of which we now see only the beginning. Peace Democrats and McClellanites are blatant. McClellan, it’s said, will accept no nomination except on a war platform.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

August 8– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Last December Mrs. Emily T. Helm, half-sister of Mrs. Lincoln, and widow of the rebel general, Ben Hardin Helm, stopped here on her way from Georgia to Kentucky, and I gave her a paper, as I remember, to protect her against the mere fact of her being General Helm’s widow. I hear a rumor to-day that you recently sought to arrest her, but were prevented by her presenting the paper from me. I do not intend to protect her against the consequences of disloyal words or acts, spoken or done by her since her return to Kentucky, and if the paper given her by me can be construed to give her protection for such words and acts, it is hereby revoked pro tanto. Deal with her for current conduct just as you would with any other.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Union General Burbridge, in Lexington, Kentucky.

August 8– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Going into the War Department yesterday morning . . . I found the President with General Grant, Stanton, and General Halleck in the Secretary’s room. I proposed leaving on making the single inquiry, provided they were in secret council, but the President and General Grant declared they were not . . . . General Grant has been to Frederick and placed Sheridan in command of the forces on the upper Potomac instead of Hunter, which is a good change, for H., though violently earnest, is not exactly the man for that command. . . . The President, in a conversation with Blair and myself on the Wade and Davis protest, remarked that he had not, and probably should not read it. From what was said of it he had no desire to, could himself take no part in such a controversy as they seemed to wish to provoke. Perhaps he is right, provided he has some judicious friend to state to him what there is really substantial in the protest entitled to consideration without the vituperative asperity. The whole subject of what is called reconstruction is beset with difficulty, and while the executive has indicated one course and Congress another, a better and different one than either may be ultimately pursued. I think the President would have done well to advise with his whole Cabinet in the measures he has adopted, not only as to reconstruction or reestablishing the Union, but as to this particular bill and the proclamation he has issued in regard to it. When the Rebellion shall have been effectually suppressed, the Union government will be itself again, ‘re-union will speedily follow in the natural course of events,’ but there are those who do not wish or intend reunion on the principle of political equality of the States. Unless they can furnish the mode and terms, and for fear they may not be successful, various schemes are projected.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

I Find It Worse Than I Calculated~June 1864~11th to 14th

I Find it Worse than I Calculated~ Walt Whitman

Whitman feels so ill that he stops his hospital visitations for a period of time. Black soldiers garrison key posts but the army finds it difficult to recruit doctors for black units. Fighting and hard times go on and on. Some Southerners hope that Lincoln will be defeated and peace will come. The abolition of slavery by constitutional amendment becomes an increasingly political issue.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

June 11– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “There is very little from the army that is decisive or satisfactory. Constant fighting is going on, killing without any battle. The bodies of our brave men, slain or mutilated, are brought daily to Washington by hundreds. Some repulse we have had beyond what is spoken of, I have no doubt. But our army holds on with firmness, and persistency, and courage– being constantly reinforced.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 11– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “We have heard to-day that Lincoln was nominated for re-election at Baltimore on the 7th instant, and gold rose to $1 96. Fremont is now pledged to run also, thus dividing the Republican party, and giving an opportunity for the Democrats to elect a President. If we can only subsist till then, we may have peace, and must have independence at all events. But there is discontent, in the Army of the West, with General Johnston, and in the East with Bragg, and among the croakers with the President.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

June 11– Saturday– Lexington, Virginia–Federal troops vandalize and burn much of the Virginia Military Institute.

Virginia Military Institute, 1863

Virginia Military Institute, 1863

June 11– Saturday– somewhere north of Marietta, Georgia– “Although we have had orders to be ready to march every morning for the last three days, and we are ready, always ready, we have not yet moved. Part of our army has moved forward, but not far. . . . It is . . . raining, raining, one continual pour. It commenced on the 2nd of June, and every day since we have had showers. The roads have become so heavy, our supply train can hardly move. We have to be very economical of our supplies of rations; the railroad however has been fully repaired; we heard the whistle of the locomotive yesterday, and suppose Alley will run trains of provisions through to Acworth at once. The enemy is in position not far from us, but while this weather continues, it will be impossible to do much.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife.

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

CSS Alabama

CSS Alabama

June 11– Saturday– Munich, Germany– Birth of Richard Strauss, composer and conductor. [Dies September 8, 1949].

Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss

June 12– Sunday– Camden County, Georgia– “Have been suffering the past week from a strain in my side. No letter yet from the North and no passport. The prospect is that we must stay another year.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

June 13– Monday– Arcade, New York– Birth of Dwight B. Waldo, educator, historian and first president of Western Michigan University. [Dies October 29, 1939.]

Dwight B Waldo

Dwight B Waldo

June 13– Monday– Poughkeepsie, New York– A young wife and mother kills her little girls, ages 7 and 2, then takes her own life.

 June 13– Monday– New York City– “Among the most gratifying developments of the Baltimore Convention was the unanimity exhibited in favor of a Constitutional amendment making a universal and perpetual end of Slavery. There was a time when such a proposition could not have been pressed without a great risk of making serious, if not fatal, discord in the Union party. We ourselves deprecated its premature agitation. Always recognizing that the unity of the Union party is the prime necessity, we have always been disposed to keep in the background all questions of minor concern calculated to breed strife. The progress of events was far more potent to settle them than any controversy could be. Experience has long since demonstrated that public opinion is shaped mainly by the inaudible and invisible teachings of the war, rather than by any appeals, however urgent, or by any arguments, however forcible. So far as regards this subject of Slavery, it has been plain enough from the outset that the public mind was detaching itself from its old moorings, and yielding more and more to the Anti-slavery current. This, in fact, was a moral necessity. The rebellion sprang so directly from Slavery, and was so closely connected with Slavery in all of its objects and policies, that it was not possible to make war against the rebellion with a whole heart, and yet remain well affected toward Slavery.” ~ New York Times.

 June 13– Monday– New York City– “It’s a blessed sign that Richmond papers seem in a special fit or orgasm of rage, fury, spite, brag and insolent indecency just now. The extracts we get from Southern newspapers seldom fail to be significant. They illustrate or indicate the mental and moral tone that slave-holding has given to our Southern aristocracy, falsely so-called.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

 June 13– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit herewith, for consideration with a view to ratification, a convention between the United States of America and the United Colombian States, signed by the plenipotentiaries of the contracting powers on the 10th February last, providing for a revival of the joint commission on claims under the convention of 10th September, 1857, with New Granada.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate.

June 13– Monday– Richmond, Virginia— “Parties having letters, or small packages of clothing or refreshments for the Tredegar or Departmental battalions, can have them sent out to camp by leaving them at the residence of Major William E. Tanner, on 3rd street, between Canal and Byrd streets, this morning by twelve o’clock.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

black soldiers on garrison duty in the South

black soldiers on garrison duty in the South

June 14– Tuesday– New York City– “The forts erected at the important points on the river are nearly all garrisoned by blacks – artillery regiments raised for the purpose, say at Paducah and Columbus, Kentucky, Memphis, Tennessee, Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi, and most of the works around New-Orleans. Experience proves that they manage heavy guns very well. Their fighting qualities have also been fully tested a number of times, and I am yet to hear of the first case where they did not fully stand up to their work. I passed over the ground where the First Louisiana made the gallant charge at Port Hudson, by far the stronger part of the rebel works. The wonder is that so many made their escape at Milliken’s Bend, where I had three incomplete regiments, one without arms until the day previous to the attack, greatly superior numbers of rebels charged furiously up to the very breast-works. The Negroes met the enemy on the ramparts, and both sides freely used the bayonet – a most rare occurrence in warfare, as one or the other party gives way before coming in contact with steel. The rebels were defeated with heavy loss. The bridge at Moscow, on the line of railroad from Memphis to Corinth, was defended by one small regiment of blacks. A cavalry attack of three times their number was made, the blacks defeating them in the three charges made by the rebels. They fought them three hours, till our cavalry came up, when the defeat was made complete, many of the rebel dead being left on the field. A cavalry force of three hundred and fifty attacked three hundred rebel cavalry near the Big Black, with signal success, a number of prisoners being taken and marched to Vicksburg.” ~ Letter from Union General Lorenzo Thomas to the War Department, published in the New York Times.

June14– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– “I am not feeling very well these days– the doctors have told me not to come inside the hospitals for the present. I send there by a friend every day, I send things & aid to some cases I know, & hear from there also, but I do not go myself at present– it is probable that the hospital poison has affected my system, & I find it worse than I calculated. I have spells of faintness & very bad feeling in my head, fullness & pain & besides sore throat; my boarding place, 502 Pennsylvania avenue, is a miserable place, very bad air. But I shall feel better soon, I know– the doctors say it will pass over– they have long told me I was going in too strong– some days I think it has all gone & I feel well again, but in a few hours I have a spell again.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

June14– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– The Surgeon General’s Office advises Secretary of War Stanton that they cannot find enough doctors and orderlies to serve black regiments.

June 14– Tuesday– Staunton, Virginia– “I am as you will see at Staunton receiving a slight wound on last Saturday in our big cavalry fight at Trevillian an account of which you have probably seen in the papers. I rec’d the wound during a charge from some of the blue rascals who had dismounted in the woods on the left of the road down which we were pursuing the running cowards as fast as our horses could go. As we passed, these fellows dismounted on the left of the road, they fired a volley into us and a ball grazed my right shoulder making a sore little wound a half inch wide & two inches long. I can’t write any more now my darling Mother as it is my right shoulder & I feel badly having had headache all day.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Barrington King to his mother.

June 14– Tuesday– Henrico County, Virginia– “We are near the memorable spot of Malvern Hill, the first spot where I ever seen an enemy in battle array. Here lies the remains of departed heroes with nothing to cover their bones from the heavens above. Many a loving and affectionate husband, father, or brother’s bones lie exposed and trodden under foot, here too lies the skeletons of our enemies, thousands upon thousands, all over the fields and woods side by side enemy lie. When we behold these things we are constrained to say, Oh, God is man that thou are mindful of him or the son of men that there visited him, man in his animal estate is worst than the best of the field. I have been quite unwell with dysentery for more than a week but have not quit the field. I feel much better this morning. We have had fighting every day more or less since I last wrote you though we have no heavy engagement. The enemy is moving and several days may pass ere we meet again. It is thought they are going to the south side of James River. That will be southeast of Richmond. I think the war must have an end this year, one way or another. God grant that it may come and our independence with it.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W.A. Stilwell to his wife.

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?

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

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

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

The Sickles crime

The Sickles crime

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Peabody

George Peabody

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

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

Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Bayard Taylor

Bayard Taylor

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

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

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

For Further Study

After my post on January 22nd about whether or not the Civil War was inevitable, a friend asked me about how much a factor the abolitionist agitation was. I believe it was one of the core factors in bringing about the war. However, gentle reader, please feel free to make up your own mind. For those who may be interested here is a short and useful– Bibliography on Abolition:

Bacon, Margaret. Valient Friend: the Life of Lucretia Mott. New York. 1980.

Ballou, Adin. Autobiography of Adin Ballou 1803– 1890. William S Heywood, ed. Lowell, Massachusetts. 1896.

Barnes, Gilbert H and Dwight L Dumond, eds. Letters of Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimke Weld and Sarah Grimke, 1822– 1844. 2 volumes. New York. 1934.

Clarke, James Freeman. Anti-Slavery Days: a Sketch of the Struggle Which Ended in the Abolition of Slavery in the United States. 1883. Reprint. New York. 1970.

Douglass, Frederick. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass; Volume Two: Pre-Civil War Decade, 1850– 1860. Philip S Foner, ed. New York. 1975.

Duberman, Martin, ed. The Antislavery Vanguard: New Essays on the Abolitionists. Princeton, New Jersey. 1965.

Filler, Louis. The Crusade Against Slavery, 1830 – 1860. New York. 1960.

Finkelman, Paul. Slavery in the Courtroom: an Annotated Bibliography of American Cases. Washington, D. C. 1985.

Fladeland, Betty. Men and Brothers: Anglo-American Antislavery Cooperation. Urbana, Illinois. 1972.

Garrison, Wendell Phillips and Francis Jackson Garrison. William Lloyd Garrison: the Story of His Life Told by His Children. 4 volumes. New York. 1885.

Gifford, Zerbanoo. Thomas Clarkson and the Campaign Against Slavery. London, England. 1996.

Halbersleben, Karen. Women’s Participation in the British Antislavery Movement, 1824– 1865. Lewiston, New York.

Hersh, Blanche. The Slavery of Sex. Urbana, Illinois. 1978.

Hochschild, Adam. Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves. New York. 2005.

Jacobs, Donald M. Courage and Conscience: Black and White Abolitionists in Boston. Bloomington, Indiana. 1993.

Jones, Howard. Mutiny on the Amistad: the Saga of a Slave Revolt and its Impact on American Abolition, Law, and Diplomacy. New York. 1987.

Lerner, Gerda. The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina: Pioneers for Woman’s Rights and Abolition. New York. 1967.

Lutz, Alma. Crusade for Freedom: Women of the Antislavery Movement. Boston, Massachusetts. 1968.

May, Samuel J. Some Recollections of Our Anti-slavery Conflict. Boston, Massachusetts. 1869.

Mayer, Henry. All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery. New York. 1998.

Midgley, Clare. Women Against Slavery: the British Campaigns, 1780– 1870. London, England. 1992.

Miller, William Lee. Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress. New York. 1998.

Mordell, Walter. Quaker Militant, John Greenleaf Whittier. New York. 1933.

Nye, Russel B. Fettered Freedom: Civil Liberties and the Slavery Controversy, 1830– 1860. East Lansing, Michigan. 1949.

Pease, Jane H and William H Pease. Bound with Them in Chains: a Biographical History of the Antislavery Movement. Westport, Connecticut. 1972.

Perry, Lewis. Radical Abolitionism, Anarchy and the Government of God in Antislavery Thought. Ithaca, New York. 1973.

Pillsbury, Parker. Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles. Concord, New Hampshire. 1883.

Quarles, Benjamin. Black Abolitionists. New York. 1969.

Sherwin, Oscar. Prophet of Liberty: the Life and Times of Wendell Phillips. New York. 1958.

Shipherd, Jacob R. History of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue. 1859. Reprint. New York. 1972.

Sterling, Dorothy. Ahead of Her Time: Abby Kelly and the Politics of Anti-slavery. New York. 1991.

Stewart, James Brewer. Holy Warriors: the Abolitionists and American Society. New York. 1976.

Stewart, James Brewer. Joshua R Giddings and the Tactics of Radical Politics. Cleveland, Ohio. 1970.

Turley, David. The Culture of English Antislavery, 1780– 1860. London, England. 1991.

Von Frank, Albert. The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson’s Boston. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1999.

Wheeler, Leslie, ed. Loving Warriors: Selected Letters of Lucy Stone and Henry B Blackwell, 1853– 1893. New York. 1981.

Not Patriots but Party Demagogues~February, 1864~10th to 14th

Not Patriots but Party Demagogues~Gideon Welles

In language that could well be written today, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles comments upon the political situation. The president has a birthday. Famous actor John Wilkes Booth performs Shakespeare in Nashville. The New York Times objects to a constitutional amendment banning slavery. Many in the Confederacy experience hard times.

February 10– Wednesday– in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia– “I am glad you made some money. I think six dollars is a big pile for you to make in one month and do your other business too. I have made a little money lately. I had $6.50 when I got back to New Market on our tramp here, and now I have $15.50 cents and two plugs of tobacco some paper and envelopes extra. I made it buying tobacco and apples and selling them again. It is my first speculation. I do not like the business and should not have done it if I had not been scarce of cash. I also made a dollar today, sewing. I made a haversack for a fellow. It was his own proposition to give me a dollar for it. I have some sewing of my own to do. I want to patch my old pants and wear them while we stay here and save my new ones. I give away my old shirts and drawers. They were almost gone under sure. I am highly pleased with all you sent me. I will sell about half my soap for fear of having to march and it is too much to pack. I can get $3.00 or half of it. It is pretty cold now but is clear.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

Fitzpatrick memorial

Fitzpatrick memorial

February 10– Wednesday– Cleveland, Tennessee– “The Federals hoisted their flag this morning. It now floats over Cleveland. Sad emblem of what once was. Once happy and beloved United States, never will liberty and freedom be perched on the banner as it was when thousands of patriots poured out their life’s blood under the sacred folds. Grant how soon, God, that our gallant stars and bars supplant that now deserted flag.” ~ Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman.

February 10– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– Union General Thomas orders the recruitment of black soldiers to form a regiment of heavy artillery.

February 11– Thursday– New York City– “Look back at July, 1861, and then look where Maryland, Mississippi, and Arkansas stand in 1864; at West Virginia, and at the Mississippi relieved from rebel strangulation. Our progress has been beyond what we had any right to hope for three years ago, in spite of the blunders . . . [of] McClellan, Scott, Halleck, and others.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 11– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Resolved, That this meeting of Legislators and citizens of West Virginia, endorse the principles and plans of the U. S. Sanitary Commission, and hereby recommend it to the hearty co-operation of the people of our State and country. Resolved, That we regard the great Federal idea of the Commission by which all soldiers of the loyal States, without reference to the States in which they may have been enlisted, are proper subjects for the equal sympathy and support of the people of the country. Resolved, That all soldiers fighting, and falling by disease or wounds in defense of Constitutional liberty, are United States soldiers, and that all donations and supplies furnished to them either in field or in hospital should be given as U. S. supplies for U. S. soldiers fighting for the prosperity of the U. S. Government. The Sanitary Commission came into existence soon after the commencement of the war. It was asked for by the Medical Bureau, approved by the Secretary of War and the President, and has acted in co-operation with them since that time. Its agents visit the whole army, and supplement the country in its various distributions, to sick and disabled soldiers in every branch of the service.” ~ Resolutions passed by West Virginia legislature this evening.

February 11– Thursday– Virginia– “I delayed writing to you on last Sunday contrary to my previous determination, on account of circumstances wholly beyond my control. The enemy crossed the Rapid Ann at Moreton’s ford, on our extreme right, and at Barnett’s ford on our extreme left, at both of which places there was a short but spirited engagement; our brigade, for a wonder, was not engaged. About twelve o’clock Saturday night, we received orders to be ready to march at daylight. Accordingly at the first appearance of dawn, we started off in the rain to go somewhere, we knew not where. After marching nearly all day we arrived in camp, completely broken down. I was never in my life so tired. I could hardly sleep for pain. we are now once more quietly ensconced in our cosy little shanty, and hope to remain so, for some time yet to come. I think it was the intention of the enemy to make a raid on Gordonsville; but I’m happy to say they were handsomely foiled at every point.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee.

February 12– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The Board of Directors for the Western Virginia Hospital for the Insane, situated at Weston, Lewis county, which has been in session in this city for the past two or three days, has decided to call upon the Legislature for an appropriation to place the hospital in a condition to receive patients.” ~ Wheeling Daily Register.

February 12– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Abraham Lincoln turns 55 years of age.


February 12– Friday– Culpepper, Virginia– “I am still stopping down in this region. I am a good deal of the time down within half a mile of our picket lines, so that you see I can indeed call myself in the front. . . . . I have no difficulty at all in making myself at home among the soldiers, teamsters, or any. I most always find they like to have me very much, it seems to do them good, no doubt they soon feel that my heart & sympathies are truly with them, & it is both a novelty & pleases them & touches their feelings, & so doubtless does them good & I am sure it does that to me. There is more fun around here than you would think– I told you about the theatre the 14th Brooklyn has got up, they have songs & burlesques &c, some of the performers real good. As I write this I have heard in one direction or another two or three good bands playing & hear one tooting away some gay tunes now, though it is quite late at night.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

February 12– Friday– Nashville, Tennessee– The distinguished tragedian, J. Wilkes Booth, takes his farewell benefit tonight, his engagement closing the following evening. The entertainment will commence with Shakespeare’s tragedy, ‘the Merchant of Venice,’ and close with ‘Catherine and Petruchio’ [Taming of the Shrew] a Shakespearean comedy. In the former, Mr.Booth appears as Shylock; in the latter as Petruchio. . . . . Mr. Booth came amongst us a stranger, his reputation as a rising star having preceded him, creating a general desire amongst our playgoers to get a taste of his quality. . . . . Nobly did he fulfill expectations, and establish himself as a favorite. . . . . We expect to see the house literally overflowing to-night. Gentlemen with ladies should make it a point to go early to be sure of seats.” ~ Nashville Daily Union.

John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth

February 13– Saturday– New York City– “Attempts are vigorously kept up in some quarters to force upon the public mind Mr Sumner’s project of amending the Constitution so as to bury Slavery forever. . . . . We say that not only true loyalty, but consistent Anti-Slavery itself, forbids this unseasonable introduction of a new political Anti-Slavery issue. It is absolutely certain that the anxiety of Northern abolitionists to kill Slavery can never be gratified unless this war against the rebellion succeeds. If the ‘Confederacy’ acquires its independence, Slavery there will be as secure from their hostility as Slavery in Cuba or in Brazil. They, of all men, are the most bound in consistency to devote themselves with the most absolute concentration of purpose to the reinforcement of our armies and the most effective prosecution of the war. And yet Mr Sumner, ever since this war began, has had ten thoughts and ten thousand words against Slavery, while he has had one for the war. This is not true patriotism. It is not true Anti-Slaveryism. The war should be the all-engrossing thought. Without it the country cannot live. Without it, Slavery will not die. The Union cannot be resolved into new life, nor constitutionalized into new life; it has got to be conquered into new life. So, too, Slavery cannot be resolved to death, nor constitutionalized to death; fighting only can reach it, and through victory alone will it perish.” ~ New York Times.

February 13– Saturday– Franklin County, Pennsylvania– “Still pleasant and warm to-day. We hung our pork up to Smoke. Ben brought their pork up to Smoke. We baked Sponge cakes and ginger pies– Becca went to John Fickes to Stay all night.” ~ Diary of Anna Mellinger.

February 13– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Congress appropriates $12,000 to replace the White House stable. [The appropriation would equal $181,000 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

February 13– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “This pitiful Senator [Senator Hale] is devoting his time and that of his committee in a miserable attempt to bring reproach upon the Navy Department, to make points against it, to pervert facts, and to defame men of the strictest integrity. A viler prostitution of Senatorial position and place I have never witnessed. The primary object is to secure a re-election for himself, and a love of defamation attends it. Had a pleasant half-hour with Preston King, who made a special call to see me. Few men in Congress are his equal for sagacity, comprehensiveness, sound judgment, and fearlessness of purpose. Such statesmen do honor to their State and country. . . . . Speaking of Fernando Wood, we each expressed a common and general sentiment of surprise and disgust that any district could elect such a Representative. But the whole city of New York is alike leprous and rotten. . . . . if men of property and character will prostitute themselves to vote for them and consent to have their city misgoverned and themselves misrepresented, let them take the consequences. The evil will correct itself. . . . . men like Wood and Brooks, who are not patriots but party demagogues, who have no fixed purpose or principle, should not by their votes, control and overpower the virtuous and good. Yet they do. Some permanent element is wanting in our system. We need more stability and character. In our municipalities there needs some modification for good government.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 13– Saturday– Rathfarnham, County Dublin, Ireland– Birth of Stephen Gwynn, journalist, author, poet, soldier and politician. [He dies June 11, 1950.]

February 14– Sunday– Harveyville, Pennsylvania– Birth of Robert Ezra Park, the elder of two surviving sons of Hiram and Theodosia Warner Park. [He will become a journalist and prominent sociologist and will teach at the University of Chicago, at Tuskegee Institute and at Fisk University. He will author significant articles, monographs and books about race relations, immigration, social movements and assimilation and will serve as president of the American Sociological Association from 1925 to 1926. He will die February 7, 1944.]


Robert Ezra Park

Robert Ezra Park

February 14– Sunday– Beaufort, South Carolina– “May I venture to call your attention to the great and cruel injustice which is impending over the brave men of this regiment? They have been in military service for more than a year, having volunteered, every man, without a cent of bounty, on the written pledge of the War Department, that they should receive the same pay and rations with white soldiers. . . . . Among my black soldiers, with half pay and no bounty, not a family receives any aid. Is there to be no limit, no end, to the injustice we heap upon this unfortunate people? Cannot even the fact of their being in arms for the nation, liable to die any day in its defense, secure them ordinary justice? Is the nation so poor, and to utterly demoralized by its pauperism, that after it has had the lives of these men, it must turn round to filch six dollars of the monthly pay which the Secretary of War promised to their widows?” ~ Letter to the editor of the New York Times from Union Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, commanding the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, calling on Congress to equalize the pay and benefits of black soldiers.


1st South Carolina Volunteers on parade

1st South Carolina Volunteers on parade

February 14– Sunday– Meridian, Mississippi–Federal troops occupy the town.


The Progress of Events~January 1864~24th to 28th

The Progress of Events ~ Reverend D Paul

A Northern preacher exhorts his congregation to support the war and the total abolition of slavery, which he describes as “a giant, God-dishonoring crime.” A Southern newspaper mocks Mr Lincoln and claims that he wants to place “the Negro . . . astride of the white man.” A strange situation occurs at a Southern college for women named after an English abolitionist.” Scattered fighting continues. Scarcity and other problems plague the Confederacy and the broader world continues to turn.


January 24– Sunday– Mansfield, Ohio– “Now, my dear friends permit me, simply as your pastor, to say, with all earnestness, that I have no sympathy with political preachers, and no disposition to drag mere party politics into the pulpit. But when a moral question becomes a question at issue between political parties, that fact does not, and shall not close my mouth. If in opposing what I believe to be a giant, God-dishonoring crime, I oppose a political party, so be it. If any political party shall array itself against the principles which I have vowed to maintain, and which I believe to be in accordance with the word of God, I will pay my vow to God, even if I should stand accused of political preaching. If in so doing I should be compelled to part with those whose friendship I value, and whose kindness I have experienced I shall be filled with grief, but not torn with remorse. But need there be any parting ? Are there any here who would prefer a political party to the church of God ? If you forsake the communion of this church on account of its opposition to slavery, in all this free north where will you find a more congenial home? Would you cling to an institution whose death doom God has written in letters of fire and blood ? Would you re-fasten the shackles on limbs from which they have been broken by the fortunes of war ? Would you hurl back to chains and slavery those who, side by side with the nation’s nobles, have met in the shock of battle, and driven back, the traitorous foe? Would you, if you could, arrest the progress of events which promise, though with toil and suffering now, to leave to coming generations a constitution and a union, without that institution which had risen in power and influence, and the audacity of crime, until, like a spire tipped tower it pierced the clouds of Jehovah’s wrath, calling down their scathing lightening on the heritage our fathers left us? We are persuaded better things of you!” ~ A sermon preached in the United Presbyterian church by the pastor, Reverend D Paul.

January 24– Sunday– Paris, France– Birth of Marguerite Durand [dies March 16, 1936], actress, journalist, suffrage activist, labor organizer and feminist leader. [In 1897 she will found the feminist daily La Fronde, staffed completely by women. “Feminism owes a great deal to my blonde hair” she will write in 1903.]

Marguerite Durand

Marguerite Durand

January 25– Monday– La Grange, Tennessee; Mount Pleasant, Mississippi; Bainbridge Ferry, Alabama; Sulphur Springs, Arkansas; Bayou Grand, Florida– Skirmishes, ambushes, fire fights and mayhem.

January 25– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The municipal regulations failing to keep the city effectually policed, it is hereby ordered, for the preservation of the health and lives of the citizens, and of the troops on duty at this place, that the occupant of every house daily sweep or scrape clean the pavement or sidewalk in front of his building. This will be done daily before 9 o’clock A. M. On stated days, hereafter to be announced, each occupant will clean to the middle of the street in front of his premises, collecting the sweepings into piles, to be carried away by Government wagons. For any neglect of this regulation, a fine double that enforced by the municipal ordinance will be imposed by the Provost Marshal; and if not paid at his office within one week from notice, will be levied by sale at public auction of goods sufficient to realize the sum.” ~ Order issued by Union General R. S. Granger.

January 25– Monday– Pozega, Slavonia– Birth of Julije Kempf (dies June 6, 1934), Croatian historian and author.

January 26– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The supervisors of the several counties of the State are hereby authorized, from time to time during the war, to borrow money in their corporate names, for such time and on such terms as may be agreed upon, for the purpose of providing for the support and relief of the families of living and deceased soldiers of their respective counties.” ~ Enactment of the state legislature.

January 26– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “[Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton tells some curious matters of Jeff Davis, derived from Davis’s servant, who escaped from Richmond. The servant was a slave, born on Davis’ plantation. Mrs. Davis struck him three times in the face, and took him by the hair to beat his head against the wall. At night the slave fled and after some difficulty got within our lines. He is, Stanton says, very intelligent for a slave and gives an interesting inside view of Rebel trials and suffering. It should be taken, perhaps, with some allowance.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

January 26– Tuesday– Camden County, Georgia– “Mr Fisher and myself went to see Mrs. Alberti . . . . We stayed over night . . . had a cup of real coffee and tea with sugar and milk, and biscuit and butter. Our ride was about 23 miles and all the way through pine woods. Now and then a house to cheer the sight. We were upset once by the breaking of a rein, the buggy was turned completely over and left in the gutter. We fortunately were near a house where we procured help. The spinning wheel was going briskly– the women were hard at work trying to clothe the family while the men were in the army. They were indifferent as to the termination of the war if it would only end that they might be kept from starvation. We stopped at Dr. Mitchell’s. Mrs. Mitchell put on an old cloak to hide her rags and says they are experiencing great destitution. We have frequent applications from people far and near for clothing. So far as we can ascertain people seem certain that the confederacy is short lived; that this year must terminate the war. Confederate money is almost valueless. Worth only five cents on the dollar. Dr. Mitchell prepared for me a bottle of cough mixture and a few powders– charged $8.00. Sent in Sybil’s bill, a little short of $300 for eight or nine visits– and refuses confederate money. Julia writes that she will soon visit us and bring some necessary articles.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

January 26– Tuesday– Mellby, Sweden– Otto Lindblad, musician and composer of Sweden’s royal anthem, dies at 55 years of age.

Otoo Lindblad

Otoo Lindblad

January 27– Wednesday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Henry Dana, Jr, and Professor J. Peter Lesley (prominent geologist and educator) are elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

January 27– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln instructs Union General Frederick Steele in Arkansas that the state’s civil authorities could be allowed to remain in charge of state government without the appointment of an interim military governor. However, the new government must maintain the abolition of slavery.

January 27– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Oh! what a grand, what a successful hit was made for Puritanism in polities and religion, and for the whole tribe of shoddy when the Negro got astride of the white man, what a grand thing it was that the people were so easily gulled by those tricksters, those gamblers in human life, who are now riding roughshod over the prostrate form of popular freedom, sweeping away the bulwarks raised by the great men of the revolution around the Temple of Liberty. But we have already dwelt too long on this last decide of the American Autocrat, and must hasten to a conclusion . . . . The amnesty which is offered to the Confederates under a certain rank . . . is too absurd to be worthy of even a passing notice. . . . . The Southern people are fighting in a just cause, as they are fighting against usurpation, and confiscation, and for freedom and State rights. They are fighting to preserve their land against the fate of Ireland and Poland. They are fighting against a power that has trampled every principle of law and constitutional authority under foot. They are fighting for their homes, for their dearest rights. They are now fighting the battles of the Revolution over again; and if they fail, then the history of Ireland will be repeated on their own soil . . . . there is no man possessing a sense of justice, and who is not impelled to silence by the dread of a penalty which has fallen upon many for exercising the right of free speech, who will not acknowledge that the cause of the South is to-day the cause of Liberty against Despotism. If any man wants a proof of this, he will find it in the last message of the Washington Autocrat.” ~ Richmond Dispatch criticizes President Lincoln’s offer of amnesty.


January 27– Wednesday– Fair Garden, Tennessee– In a fight that lasts most of the day, Federal troops beat a Confederate force. However, the Federals are forced to withdraw at nightfall as they are fatigued and low on ammunition. Total Union casualties– dead, wounded, missing– are 100 and 165 for the Confederates.

January 27– Wednesday– Columbia, Tennessee– James Andrews, the mayor, is arrested for killing a Federal soldier and mortally wounding another during a confrontation at his place of business.

January 27– Wednesday– Munich, Germany– Leo von Klenze, prominent neoclassicist architect as well as a painter and writer, dies, weeks away from his 80th birthday.

Mary Sharp College

Mary Sharp College

January 28– Thursday– Winchester, Tennessee– “I addressed you yesterday by Telegraph informing you that a Negro man by name of Marcus Combs now living in Nashville came to my house yesterday accompanied by some soldiers who belong to the command of Colonel James S. Selfridgeof the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteers and demanded a Negro girl belonging to me, aged 13 years. This Negro Marcus Combs claims to be the father of the girl. This Negro man Marcus formerly belong to me and the community demanded of me to sell him out of the place for theft & other misconduct which would have put a free man into our penitentiary. Such is the character of the Negro. Now he brings a verbal order from you to the Colonel Selfridge commanding the post at Dechard Depot (so the Colonel informs me that the girl is to be delivered up to him) and I assure you, that I am a good loyal Citizen of Tennessee, having taken the oath of allegiance at the earliest day possible for me, and received a Guarantee of Protection signed by yourself & Major General Rosecrans, for all my property both real & personal. Now with this statement of facts before you I would most respectfully petition you to inform me either by mail or Telegraph immediately (for the case is very urgent) whether the Negro girl is protected by the papers I hold? Whether Colonel Selfridge has a right to take the property from me without given me a voucher for the same as he is commanded to do by yourself & General Rosecrans in the protection papers given to me at the time I took the oath of allegiance?” ~ Letter from Zuinglius C. Graves, President of Mary Sharp College to Andrew Johnson, military governor of Tennessee.[Graves (1816 – 1902) was born in Vermont and licensed as a Baptist preacher around 1833 or 1834. He became the first president of Mary Sharp College in 1850. Ironically the school was named after a niece of the British abolitionist Granville Sharp (1735 – 1813). Mary Sharp herself was an ardent abolitionist, active in campaigns to abolish the Atlantic slave trade. Graves, a supporter of the system of slavery, envisioned a college and created a curriculum designed to provide for women the “same knowledge, literary, scientific and classical, that had been for so many generations the peculiar and cherished heritage of the other sex; that the sister should be placed on an equality with the brother, for the development and unfolding of all the qualities of her mind, thus making her what she was designed to be by her Creator, a thinking, reflecting, reasoning being, capable of comparing and judging for herself, and dependent upon none other for her free, unbiased opinion.” The college will close in 1896 due to financial problems.]

The State of the Union~January 8th~1790 & 1964

The State of the Union~1790 and 1964

President Washington

President Washington

“Nor am I less persuaded that you will agree with me in opinion that there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours it is proportionably essential. To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways – by convincing those who are intrusted with the public administration that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people, and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness – cherishing the first, avoiding the last – and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws. Whether this desirable object will be best promoted by affording aids to seminaries of learning already established, by the institution of a national university, or by any other expedients will be well worthy of a place in the deliberations of the legislature.” ~ in the first ever State of the Union message, delivered January 8, 1790, President George Washington urges consideration of federal aid to education.

President Johnson

President Johnson

“Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope– some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity. This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in that effort. It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime. Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level and must be supported and directed by State and local efforts. For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House. The program I shall propose will emphasize this cooperative approach to help that one-fifth of all American families with incomes too small to even meet their basic needs. Our chief weapons in a more pinpointed attack will be better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities to help more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them. Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children. But whatever the cause, our joint Federal– local effort must pursue poverty, pursue it wherever it exists– in city slums and small towns, in sharecropper shacks or in migrant worker camps, on Indian Reservations, among whites as well as Negroes, among the young as well as the aged, in the boom towns and in the depressed areas. Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it. No single piece of legislation, however, is going to suffice.” ~ in the State of the Union message delivered on January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson urges a national struggle against poverty




The Act of Secession is Legally Nothing~November 1863~8th to 12th

The Act of Secession Is Legally Nothing ~ President Lincoln

President Lincoln denies the legality of the secession acts passed by southern states. He allows tobacco shipments to European powers who paid for it before the war began. Russian naval officers arrive in Washington. Soldiers write about fighting, wounds, furloughs, food, warm clothes of the lack of such things. Reverend Finney honors the wife of his predecessor. Slaves keep escaping. Labor unrest occurs in the coal fields of Pennsylvania. And the world continues to turn.

November 8– Sunday– Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria– Birth of Jean Raphael Adrien Rene Viviani, politician, who will briefly serve as Prime Minister of France from June, 1914 to October, 1915.

Viviani in 1914

Viviani in 1914

November 8–Sunday– St Petersburg, Russia– The U S Minister advises Washington that the Tsar views the reception given by Americans to the Russian navy as United States’ support for Russia against Britain, France and Austria.

November 9– Monday– Oberlin, Ohio– Reverend Charles G Finney writes to the editor of the Lorraine County News. “The enclosed notice of the life and death of our Christian sister, Mrs. President Mahan, I cut from the Adrian [Michigan] Daily Expositor, of Oct. 28. It will much gratify the numerous friends of President and Mrs. Mahan in this place, to see it in your paper. All who knew Mrs. M. can testify to the truthfulness of this notice. We, who have best known her, can bear the fullest testimony to her many excellent traits of character. She was indeed a most judicious wife and mother, and as a Christian lady she was always exemplary. All who knew them in this community, sympathize deeply with the President and his family in view of their irreparable loss. I must not indulge my feelings in dwelling upon the excellencies of Mrs. M.; nor, on the other hand, upon the great loss her family has sustained. . . . . I have received two letters from the President in regard to the death of his wife. He is, as we should all expect, greatly sustained by the grace of our Lord Jesus. His inward consolation abounds under his outward sore bereavement. God bless him and his bereaved children.” [Asa Mahan served as the first president of Oberlin College and resigned in a dispute with the faculty in the summer of 1850. Finney was selected as president in Mahan’s place. Mary Hartwell Dix Mahan married Asa in 1828 and bore him seven children. Their son Theodore was mortally wounded at the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December of 1862.]

Asa Mahan

Asa Mahan

November 9– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I have always thought the act of secession is legally nothing, and needs no repealing. Turn the thought over in your mind, and see if in your own judgment, you can make any thing of it.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Benjamin Flanders, a special agent of the U S Treasury Department in New Orleans, concerning whether or not a vote is officially needed to repeal Louisiana’s act of secession from January, 1861.

November 9– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Received and entertained fifty Russian officers, the Cabinet, foreign ministers, and the officers of our own Navy who were in Washington, and all professed to be, and I think were, gratified. It was a question whether some of the legations would attend, but I believe all were present at our party.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

November 9– Monday– Union Headquarters along the Rappahannock River, Virginia– “It was now late on this Sunday afternoon and the troops were massing, to bivouac. There seemed really no end of them; though but part of the army was there; yet I never saw it look so big, which is accounted for by the fact that the country is very open and rolling and we could see the whole of it quite swarming with blue coats. . . . We recrossed the Rappahannock at the railroad, and saw the fresh graves of the poor fellows who fell in the assault of the redoubt. The Rebel officers said it was the most gallant thing they had seen. Two regiments, the 6th Maine and 7th Wisconsin, just at sundown, as the light was fading, charged up a long, naked slope, in face of the fire of a brigade and of four cannon, and carried the works at the point of the bayonet. . . . . I think it no small praise to General Meade to say that his plans were so well laid out that our loss in all is but about 400. No useless slaughter, you see, though there was plenty of room for a blunder, as you would have known had you seen the lines of breastworks the fellows had; but we took part of them and scared them out of the rest.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his family.

November 10– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “In consideration of the peculiar circumstances and pursuant to the comity deemed to be due to friendly powers, any tobacco in the United States belonging to the government either of France, Austria, or any other state with which this country is at peace, and which tobacco was purchased and paid for by such government prior to the 4th day of March, 1861, may be exported from any port of the United States under the supervision and upon the responsibility of naval officers of such governments and in conformity to such regulations as may be presented by the Secretary of State of the United States, and not otherwise.” ~ Executive Order issued by President Lincoln.

Lincoln depicted in a patriotic political cartoon

Lincoln depicted in a patriotic political cartoon

November 10– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I do not know that I told you that both of my parents were dead but it is true and now Walt you will be a second Father to me wont you, for my love for you is hardly less than my love for my natural parent. I have never before met with a man that I could love as I do you still there is nothing strange about it for ‘to know you is to love you’ and how any person could know you and not love you is a wonder to me. Your letter found me still here and not yet ready to start home my Papers have not yet returned from headquarters. . . . I suppose you have heard that we received some 90 wounded men Sunday night a number of which were Rebels. Among the wounded were the Col and the Maj. of the 6th Wisconsin Regt. and quite a number of privates a great many of them were very badly wounded, more so than any lot I have seen come in, eight of them died while on the way. And now Dear Comrade I must bid you good by hoping you will enjoy your visit and when you return have a pleasant and safe journey be assured you will meet with a warm welcome from many in Armory Square. You will yet be rewarded for your kindness to the Soldiers.” ~ Letter from Elijah Douglass Fox to Walt Whitman. Whitman is at home in Brooklyn, New York, visiting his family. [For information about Whitman’s difficult family circumstances at the time, see The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War by Roy Morris, pp 154 to 159.]

November 10– Tuesday– near Knoxville, Tennessee– “Molly, I notice that since I wrote you that I thought I would get a furlough this winter that you have been writing every time for me to come home. Now you must stop that as it is only makes me feel bad and I cannot get one now. I will get one as soon as I can. There is no one that wants a furlough worse than I do. I have not tried to write to John and it is so cold that I am trembling now.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier William Stilwell to his wife Molly.

November 11– Wednesday– near Morton’s Ford, Orange County, Virginia– “The Colonel was wounded through the right lung. He seemed to know that there was no chance for him to live. Our forces fell back that night after he was wounded so they had to move him to Gordonsville where he lived until last Thursday. . . . . I did not hear of the Colonel’s death until last night. Our Regiment is very sad about his death and besides we lost a good many others. The [loss] in our Regt is over hundred and fifty, most of them is taken prisoner. I hope God will give Miss Fannie and yourself strength to [bear] this sad news. For if we loved him who was no kin to him how much more must those that was so near to him. I shall have his Horse taken care of– you had better send Ransome [the Colonel’s slave] back after him and let him take him thru the country. The Colonel thought a good deal of his horse.” ~ Letter from Confederate Captain Gary Williams to Fannie Holmes’s husband, Dr. Allmond Holmes, describing the circumstances of Colonel William Sillers’ death. Fannie is the sister of William Sillers.

November 11– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Ran away from the subscriber, on the night of the 5th of this month, (November) near Charlotte Court House, Virginia, my three men Pompey, Miles, and George– Pompey is a black, fat, stout, short man, 27 years old, and was my cook. Miles is a slender and rather dedicate gingerbread-looking man, 38 years old, and if made to hold out his hand is very tremulous, and was my carriage driver. George is a stout, slouchy walking gingerbread looking fellow, 25 years old, and is a pretty good blacksmith and carpenter. As these Negroes ran off without any provocation whatever, it is presumed their object is to make their way to the Yankees. They were raised at Weston, on James river, and no doubt will endeavor to make their escape in that direction. I will pay a reward of $100 each for the apprehension and imprisonment of these Negroes so that I get them again, or will pay $100 each and their expenses if delivered to me at Charlotte C H, Virginia. John A Selden.” ~ Richmond Dispatch.


runaway slaves

runaway slaves

November 11– Wednesday– outside Chattanooga, Tennessee– “Food &clothing are both pretty scarce with the Army now, & I fear we shall suffer for both before very long. In fact, we do to a limited extent now. We can buy nothing at all to eat, & all are very scarce of clothing, especially shoes, socks & blankets. There are a good many men in the Army now without the sign of a shoe on their feet, & I know of but few who can say they sleep warm; & if things do not get better, I know a great many will desert this winter, & some are now deserting. . . . . We have not drawn any meat of any kind since day before yesterday, & Sam is cooking some peas without any grease for dinner or supper, just as you choose to call it, for we only eat twice a day. I am nearly barefooted both for shoes & socks, but I think I will get shoes before long &, as for socks, I have no idea when I will get any, & I only have one pair, which are cotton & full of holes & heels & toes all gone.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier John Farris to his wife Mary.

November 11– Wednesday– Paris, France– Birth of Paul Signac, neo-Impressionist painter and political anarchist.

Paul Signac

Paul Signac

November 12– Thursday– New York City– “In the coal region of Pennsylvania the strike is combined with organized resistence to the draft and has attained serious dimensions. . . . . in fact, a Copperhead insurrection that holds two or three counties. The insurgent strikers are mostly lewd fellows of the baser sort . . . committing all manner of murderous brutality.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

coal miners meeting

coal miners meeting

November 12– Thursday– Liberty, Virginia– “I get a plenty to eat. I do not eat all the rations I draw. We draw hard bread, pork, beef, beans, sugar, coffee, sometimes molasses and potatoes. There is no danger of anyone starving on that living. I have not drawed [sic] an over coat yet. I am in want of one very much. I expect to have one soon. I have a good warm blanket and a piece of tent, so I get along pretty well, only when I am on guard. Then I need an over coat. I think we shall soon be paid off, then you will get 60 dollars. I shall get enough to pay my passage home out of the 18 dollars. If you sell the wagon, don’t sell it less than 30 dollars. It is worth that if it is worth anything. I would like to keep it, but if you are short of money you better sell it.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Henry Butler to his wife Mary. [The $30 for the wagon would equal $566 in current dollars. However, the economic value of the wagon would equal about $6770 in today’s economy.]