Tag Archives: elections

This Election Year

Woman making American Flag

Of the political writing abounding right now, this is among the very best which I have seen:

TRUMP, THE WORST OF AMERICA

By Charles M Blow

New York Times, October 17, 2016

Donald Trump has virtually stopped trying to win this election by any conventional metric and is instead stacking logs of grievance on the funeral pyre with the great anticipation of setting it ablaze if current polls turn out to be predictive.

There is something calamitous in the air that surrounds the campaign, a hostile fatalism that bespeaks a man convinced that the end is near and aiming his anger at all within reach.

As his path to victory grows narrower, his desperation grows more pronounced.

Last week a steady stream of women stepped forward to accuse Trump of some form of sexual assault, abuse or inappropriate behavior. Trump’s response has been marked by a stunning lack of grace and dignity, let alone contrition or empathy, a response much like the man himself.

Instead, he is doubling down on sexism.

On Thursday, Trump said of the People magazine reporter who accused him of forcibly kissing her: “Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

He said on Friday of the woman accusing him of groping her on an airplane: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.

He also said of Clinton, “When she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.”

His response to these charges has been surprisingly — and perhaps, revealingly — callow. He has mocked, whined, chided, bemoaned and belittled. It’s as if the man is on a mission to demonstrate to voters the staggering magnitude of his social vulgarity and emotional ineptitude. He has dispensed with all semblances of wanting to appear presidential and embraced what seems to be most natural to him: acting like a pig.

Furthermore, everything is rigged against him, from the media to the election itself. He’s threatening to sue The New York Times. He says he and Clinton should take a drug test before the next debate.

These are the ravings of a lunatic.

Trump is back to carelessly shooting off his mouth and recklessly shooting himself in the foot.

It is sad, really, but for him I have no sympathy. He has spent this entire election attacking anyone and everyone whom he felt it would be politically advantageous to attack. Trump, now that you’re under attack, you want to cry woe-is-me and have people commiserate. Slim chance, big guy.

The coarseness of your character has been put on full display, and now the electorate has come to cash the check you wrote.

 

Trump now looks like a madman from Mad Men, a throwback to when his particular privileges had more perks and were considered less repugnant. He looks pathetic.

He is a ball of contradictions that together form a bully, a man who has built a menacing wall around the hollow of his self. He is brash to mask his fragility.

But in a way, Trump was authentically made in America.

America has a habit of romanticizing the playboy as much as the cowboy, but there is often something untoward about the playboy, unseemly, predatory and broken

For years, Trump built a reputation on shuffling through women, treating his exploits with jocularity and having too much of America smiling in amusement at the bad boy antics.

But he’s not a kid; he’s a cad.

And he seems constitutionally incapable of processing the idea that wealth is not completely immunizing, that some rules are universally applicable, that common decency is required of more than just “common” folks. He seems genuinely offended that he should be held to the same standards of truth, decorum and even law as those less well off.

Trump is in fact the logical extension of toxic masculinity and ambient misogyny. He is the logical extension of rampant racism. He is the logical extension of wealth worship. He is the logical extension of pervasive anti-intellectualism.

Trump is the logical extension of the worst of America.

With him you get a man who believes himself superior in every way: through the gift of fortune and the happenstance of chromosomes. He believes the rules simply don’t apply. Not rules that govern the sovereignty of another’s body, not rules that dictate decorousness.

And the Republican Party was just the right place for him to park himself.

When you have a political party that takes as its mission to prevent government from working instead of to make government work, a party that conflates the ill effects of a changing economy with the changing complexion of the country and is still struck by fever over the election of President Obama, Trump is a natural, predictable endpoint.

Furthermore, Trump is what happens when you wear your Christian conservative values like a cardigan to conveniently slip off when the heat rises.

Trump is fundamentally altering American politics — coarsening them, corrupting them, cratering them. And America, particularly conservative America, has only itself to blame.

Republicans sowed intolerance and in its shadow, Trump sprang up like toxic fungi.

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August 1 to 17 ~ Election Year 1864

Woman making American Flag

In the midst of his bid for re-election, President Lincoln must deal with divisions within his own party, hostility from those who favor peace, an opposition candidate who is a general in the Union Army, handling diplomacy, encouraging immigration and citizen peace initiatives. Quietly he considers the possibility of losing the election, while encouraging Generals Grant and Sherman and receiving a great victory from the Union Navy.

August 1– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The President went yesterday to Fortress Monroe to meet General Grant, by prior arrangement, which made me distrust final operations at Petersburg, for if such were the fact, he could not well be absent.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 2– Tuesday– New York City– “Clement C. Clay, of Alabama, is one of the very meanest of those mean conspirators who helped Davis, Toombs & Co. to set up their Confederacy of Treason, Slavery and Crime. . . . Such are the actors in the farce, and we see at once, they are none of the common herd, the profanum vulgus, but of the genuine stock of Southern bragadocias; the bloviators of the Confederacy . . . . they have made a great mistake. It is not Mr. Lincoln, but the American people, who reject any terms of compromise whatever. The people and Congress will not allow the Administration to make any other terms than that the rebels shall return unconditionally to an obedience to the laws and Constitution of the United States. It is, therefore, a mere absurdity to be talking about their independence, or their separation intellectual condition, to have set up a rebellion on mere delusion, and think they can end it by proposing impossible terms. . . . The falling leaves of November will find the Confederacy in that decaying state which precedes its final fall and dissolution.” ~ New York Times.

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August 3– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I have received the letter which Your Majesty has been pleased to address to me, conveying the melancholy intelligence of the decease, on the 2nd of April last, of the Archduchess Hildegarde, wife of Your Majesty’s well beloved cousin, the Archduke Albrecht. I deeply sympathize in the grief with which this afflicting event has filled Your Majesty, and I pray Your Majesty to accept for yourself, and for Your Royal Family, my cordial condolence. May God have Your Majesty in his holy keeping.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria. This is one of four to European monarchs which Lincoln sends today.

August 3– Wednesday– Cobb County, Georgia– “All the wicked passions of the people seem to be left without restraint– such are some of the fruits of war. How often have I wished that I had with me all the warm advocates of this War to witness with me from day to day the sad effects of war, sufferings enough to melt the Heart.”~ Diary of William King

August 4– Thursday– New York City– In response to President Lincoln’s request for a day of prayer and fasting, many businesses close and many places of worship hold services. A number of churches take up special collections for the Sanitary Commission.

August 5– Friday– New York City– “A more studied outrage on the legislative authority of the people has never been perpetrated. Congress passed a bill; the President refused to approve it, and then by proclamation puts as much of it in force as he sees fit, and proposes to execute those parts by officers unknown to the laws of the United States and not subject to the confirmation of the Senate! The bill directed the appointment of provisional governors by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The President, after defeating such a law, proposes to appoint without law, and without the advice and consent of the Senate, military governors for the rebel States! He has already exercised this dictatorial usurpation in Louisiana, and he defeated the bill to prevent its limitation. . . .The President has greatly presumed on the forbearance which the supporters of his administration have so long practiced, in view of the arduous conflict in which we are engaged, and the reckless ferocity of our political opponents. But he must understand that our support is of a cause and not of a man; that the authority of Congress is paramount and must be respected; and that the whole body of the Union men of Congress will not submit to be impeached by him of rash and unconstitutional legislation; and if he wishes our support, he must confine himself to his executive duties ‘to obey and execute, not makes the laws’ to suppress by arms armed rebellion, and leave political reorganization to Congress. If the supporters of the government fail to insist on this, they become responsible for the usurpations which they fail to rebuke, and are justly liable to the indignation of the people, whose rights and security, committed to their keeping, they sacrifice. Let them consider the remedy for these usurpations, and, having found it, fearlessly execute it!” ~ an attack upon President Lincoln by Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio and Representative Henry Winter Davis [known as the “Wade-Davis Manifesto”] which appears in today’s New York Tribune, the paper of Horace Greeley.

August 5– Friday– Mobile, Alabama– Union naval vessels under the command of Admiral Farragut storm past the Confederate forts, sink one Confederate warship and capture two others, thus sealing off the port and leaving the city open to land operations by Federal infantry. At the start of the assault when the lead Federal ship sinks, Farragut allegedly yells out to his crew, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

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Battle of Mobile Bay

 

August 6– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I remarked that I had seen the Wade and Winter Davis protest. He [President Lincoln] said, Well, let them wriggle, but it was strange that Greeley, whom they made their organ in publishing the protest, approved his course and therein differed from the protestants. The protest is violent and abusive of the President, who is denounced with malignity for what I deem the prudent and wise omission to sign a law prescribing how and in what way the Union shall be reconstructed. . . . In getting up this law it was as much an object of Mr. Winter Davis and some others to pull down the Administration as to reconstruct the Union. I think they had the former more directly in view than the latter. Davis’s conduct is not surprising, but I should not have expected that Wade, who has a good deal of patriotic feeling, common sense, and a strong, though coarse and vulgar, mind, would have lent himself to such a despicable assault on the President. There is, however, an infinity of party and personal intrigue just at this time. A Presidential election is approaching, and there are many aspirants, not only for Presidential but other honors or positions. H. Winter Davis has a good deal of talent but is rash and uncertain. There is scarcely a more ambitious man, and no one that cannot be more safely trusted. He is impulsive and mad and has been acute and contriving in this whole measure and has drawn Wade, who is ardent, and others into it.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 8– Monday– New York City– “Then 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.– “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

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Gideon Welles

 

August 9– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “You are requested to place to the credit of the Department of State the sum of $25,000 as appropriated in the seventh section of the Act entitled ‘An Act to encourage immigration,’ approved July 4, 1864.” ~ Directive from President Lincoln to the Secretary of the Treasury. [The amount would equal $389,000 in today’s money, using the Consumer Price Index.

August 9– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– “News of Farragut’s having passed Forts Morgan and Gaines was received last night, and sent a thrill of joy through all true hearts. It is not, however, appreciated as it should be by the military.”~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 9– Tuesday– City Point, Virginia– “Your views about showing no despondency, but keeping the enemy, with his last man now in the field, constantly employed, are the same I have often expressed. We must win, if not defeated at home [in the upcoming election]. Every day exhausts the enemy at least a regiment, without any further population to draw from to replace it, exclusive of the losses in battle.” ~ Letter from Union General Ulysses S. Grant to General William Tecumseh Sherman.

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General Ulysses S Grant

 

August 12– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Thurlow Weed meets with President Lincoln and advises him that “reelection is an impossibility” because the President has angered the Radical Republicans who want harsher measures approved against the South for reconstruction after the war as well as conservative members of the party who worry about the increasing cost and increasing death toll.

August 13– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Had some talk with Senator Lot Morrill, who is a good deal excited, not to say alarmed. The slow progress of our armies, the mismanagement of military affairs exemplified in the recent raids, the factious and discontented spirit manifested by Wade, Winter Davis, and others, have generated a feeling of despondency in which he participates. Others express to me similar feelings. There is no doubt a wide discouragement prevails, from the causes adverted to, and others which have contributed. . . . The worst specimens of . . . wretched politicians are in New York City and State, though they are to be found everywhere. There is not an honest, fair-dealing Administration journal in New York City. A majority of them profess to be Administration, and yet it is without sincerity.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 15– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “There have been men base enough to propose to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson and Olustee, and thus win the respect of the masters they fought. Should I do so, I should deserve to be damned in time and eternity. Come what will, I will keep my faith with friend and foe. My enemies pretend I am now carrying on this war for the sole purpose of abolition. So long as I am President, it shall be carried on for the sole purpose of restoring the Union. But no human power can subdue this rebellion without the use of the emancipation policy, and every other policy calculated to weaken the moral and physical forces of the rebellion. Freedom has given us one hundred and fifty thousand [black] men, raised on Southern soil. It will give us more yet. Just so much it has subtracted from the enemy, and, instead of alienating the South, there are now evidences of a fraternal feeling growing up between our men and the rank and file of the rebel soldiers. Let my enemies prove to the country that the destruction of slavery is not necessary to a restoration of the Union. I will abide the issue.” ~ President Lincoln in an interview with John T Mills.

August 15– Monday– Washington, D. C.– “From Mobile Bay the news continues favorable. Had Farragut’s preliminary dispatch of the 5th to-day. Have just written a congratulatory letter to him. ” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 16– Tuesday– New York City– “The great election of next November looks more and more obscure, dubious and muddled every day. Lincoln is drifting to the leeward. So much is certain. There is rumor of a move by our wire-pullers and secret unofficial governors to make him withdraw in favor of Chase, or somebody else, on whom the whole Republican party (if such a thing exists) can heartily unite. Fremont’s nomination is coldly received here, though it may find favor in Missouri.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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August 17– Wednesday– New York City– “Great complaints , even by the most loyal men, of the shortcomings and mistakes of government and the ‘Peace Democrats’ vocal and truculent in threats of vengeance on Black Republicans and Abolitionists and in talk about revolution and repudiation of the war debt– all which will do them no good.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

August 17– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I have seen your despatch expressing your unwillingness to break your hold where you are. Neither am I willing. Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to General Ulysses S Grant.

June ~ Election Year 1864

Woman making American Flag

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

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

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

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General Sherman

 

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

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

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

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

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General Grant

 

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

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

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

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

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President Lincoln

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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African American Union soldiers

 

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

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

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

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

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sinking of the C S S Alabama

 

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

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

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

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

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massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow

 

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

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

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

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

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Gideon Welles

 

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

May~Election Year 1876

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President Ulysses Grant would like to serve another term but his administration is wracked with scandal and the economy still suffers from the depression of 1873. Politicians debate about changes to the currency while workers look for help in emerging labor unions and third party movements. Neither major party seems to have a “big name” candidate in contention and critics find little differences between the two parties. The country begins the national celebration of one hundred years of independence as the Centennial Exposition opens in Philadelphia. The U S 7th Cavalry sets out upon a meeting with destiny

May 6– Saturday– New York City– “The schemers of the Republican Party take small heed of innoxious and ineffectual reformers in whose bosoms a deep-rooted prejudice against the Democratic opposition is stronger than the hatred of Republican corruption. The attitude in which these Republican protestants have placed themselves is of commanding significance only as a sign of the evil times upon which we have fallen. Whether they shall have strength and wisdom enough to rise to the height of the political emergencies thrust upon the country, will remain to be seen in the results of their deliberations.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

May 6– Saturday– Batak, Bulgaria– Irregular Ottoman soldiers complete several days of pillaging, burning and massacring local Christians, killing about 4100 or more people.

May 7– Sunday– Flushing, New York– Reverend William Buell Sprague, Presbyterian clergyman and author of the 9 volume Annals of the American Pulpit, dies at 80 years of age.

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Caroline Chapman

 

May 8– Monday– San Francisco, California– Caroline Chapman, a prominent stage actress during the 1840’s and 1850’s, dies at 58 years of age.

May 9– Tuesday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– An editorial in today’s Pittsburgh Press declares that “The Molly McGuires [sic] represented the spirit of French Communism . . . [they desired] to dictate the operation of labor.” [The Molly Maguires functioned as a secret or semi-secret fraternal organization and labor union among Irish coal miners in eastern Pennsylvania. The extent of their violence against mine owners, mine management and local authorities remains in dispute as Pinkerton detectives hired by the mine owners infiltrated the group and most likely fabricated some evidence against them. The last trial of the alleged ring leaders concluded a month ago (April, 1876) and next spring six of these men will hang. On the debated history, see: The Molly Maguires (1932) by Anthony Bimba; Labor Disturbances in Pennsylvania, 1850-1880 (1936) by J Walter Coleman; From the Molly Maguires to the United Mine Workers; the Social Ecology of an Industrial Union, 1869-1897 (1971) by Harold W Aurand; The Labor Wars: from the Molly Maguires to the Sitdowns (1973) by Sidney Lens; Making Sense of the Molly Maguires (1998) by Kevin Kenny; A Molly Maguire on Trial– the Thomas Munley Story (2002) by H T Crown; The Sons of Molly Maguire: the Irish Roots of America’s First Labor War (2015) by Mark Bulik.

May 10– Wednesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Centennial Exposition, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the United States, opens today. [It will run until November 10, 1876 and draw 9,910,966 visitors.] [For more information, see, Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exhibition (2005) by Linda P Gross and Theresa R Snyder and Culture as Curriculum: Education and the International Expositions– 1876-1904 (2012) by Eugene F Provenzo, Jr.]

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Opening Day of the Centennial Exposition

 

May 13– Saturday– New York City– “The scheme now before Congress to drive out the gold coins and replace them with silver dollars proposes a more important change in the money of the country than has been made since the issue of the legal-tender notes. There are so many conclusive objections to this rapacious and dishonest project, that we cannot even enumerate them here. It may be said, in the first place, that there is no good reason for any legislation at all on the subject of silver at this time. It is true that the inflationists on one side and the impracticable hard-money men on the other are clamoring for something to be done with the currency, but it is impossible to find any half-dozen men of either faction who agree as to the precise things they would do if they could have things their own way. The conclusion at which we arrived long ago was, that in the present state of business and of popular intelligence on the currency question the only safety consisted in letting things alone. Not that a statesmanlike measure could not be devised for assisting the nation out of its troubles, but that with Congress constituted as it is, such a measure was not to be hoped for. We think this silver-dollar scheme, which is not at all unlikely to become a law, fully justifies us in having advocated a policy of inaction.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

May 16– Tuesday– Indianapolis, Indiana– The National Convention of the Greenback Party opens with 239 delegates from 17 states in attendance.

May 16–Tuesday– Matamoros, Mexico–American sailors and marines land to protect American interests.

May 17– Wednesday– Indianapolis, Indiana– The National Convention of the Greenback Party concludes. The party’s platform declares “It is the paramount duty of the government, in all its legislation, to keep in view the full development of all legitimate business– agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and commercial. . . . We most earnestly protest against any further issue of gold bonds for sale in foreign markets, by which we would be made for a long period ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ to foreigners, especially as the American people would gladly and promptly take at par all bonds the government may need to sell, providing they are made payable at the option of the holder, and bearing interest at 3.65 per cent per annum, or even a lower rate. . . . We further protest against the sale of government bonds for the purpose of purchasing silver to be used as a substitute for our more convenient and less fractional currency, which, although well calculated to enrich owners of silver mines, yet in operation it will still further oppress, in taxation, an already overburdened people.”

May 17– Wednesday– Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory [now North Dakota]– Elements of the 7th U S Cavalry leave the fort headed for General Alfred Terry’s command along the Powder River with the aim of forcing the Lakota and Cheyenne people back onto reservations.

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soldiers of the 7th Cavalry

 

May 20– Saturday– New York City– “The event to which the whole nation has been looking forward with eager expectation passed off with all the éclat and splendor that the most ardent lover of his country could desire. For the last few days the busy hum of preparation has been heard from early morning until late at night, and so much remained to be done, that only by dint of superhuman exertion could the buildings be put in any suitable order for the inaugural ceremonies. The exhibitors, aided by the Commissioners, showed themselves equal to the occasion, and by nine o’clock on the 10th of May everything was in as great a state of forwardness as was witnessed on the first day in Paris or Vienna. Long before the hour appointed for the opening the entrances were besieged by a crowd of people who were prepared to pay the exact charge required for admission, and who were anxious to secure good positions for witnessing the ceremonies, and for gazing at the distinguished guests who were to occupy the seats of honor on the platform. The multitude was free to march through the Park, but the buildings were closed to them until the Exhibition had been declared open by the President of the United States.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

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Main Building of the Exposition

 

May 20– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Grant orders that “the several Departments of the Government will be closed on Tuesday, the 30th instant, to enable the employees to participate in the decoration of the graves of the soldiers who fell during the rebellion.”

May 27– Saturday– New York City– “Happily, the Centennial Exhibition comes just in the right time to mitigate the ferocity of our Presidential contest this year, as there is no knowing what might happen if there were no sideshow to divide the exasperation and energies of journalistic writers and political spouters. The Centennial serves as a tub for the whale. There is no lack of good, strong political objurgations, it must be confessed, but it must also be admitted that, in the general skirmishing preliminary to the great work of making the nominations for the Presidency, there is less bitterness of feeling exhibited than has ever been known before. This is not wholly owing to the diversion of popular sympathies and attention by the Centennial, but a good deal is owing to this cause beyond a question, and this is an additional reason for entertaining a jubilant feeling in this year of our great jubilee. The chief cause, however, of the moderate tone of the contest between the two great contending parties is that there is really so little difference between them, so far as any essential principle is involved, the contest being narrowed down to a choice of men rather than to an assertion of principles. And even in the choice of men there is so little to contend for that there is a widespread opinion entertained that the two leaders under whose banners the fight is to be conducted are both Great Unknowns; and there will hardly be time, after the nominations shall have been made, to get up much enthusiasm on either side. Certainly neither of the distinguished citizens whose names are now publicly discussed in connection with the nominations to be made are men calculated to create much popular enthusiasm.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

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Machinery Hall at the Exposition

 

May 28– Sunday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Birth of Katharine Blunt, educator, home economist, nutritionist and author who will serve as president of Connecticut College from 1929 to 1943. [Dies July 29, 1954.]

May 29– Monday– Somerville, Massachusetts– Birth of Helen Woodard, home economist, researcher, author, and journal editor who will serve in the U S Department of Agriculture from 1909 to 1923 as well as on a number of committees relating to food, health, children and women. [Dies June 26, 1947.]

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Helen Woodard

 

May 30– Tuesday– Constantinople, Turkey– Sultan Abdulaziz, age 46, ruler of the Ottoman Empire since June, 1861, is deposed by a group of his ministers.

May ~ Election Year 1916

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The world is in turmoil as the United States prepares to elect a president. Incumbent Woodrow Wilson faces challenges within his party, from Republicans and from several third parties. Most of Europe is being consumed by the Great War. Yet all is not quiet in Western Hemisphere as the United States sends troops into Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Americans express concern for peace and want to avoid involvement in the war. Britain quells rebellion in Ireland and executes Irish leaders.

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Dublin’s General Post Office after the fighting

 

May 1– Monday– Dublin, Ireland–The Easter Rising collapses as Irish fighters, out-gunned by British forces either surrender or go into hiding. Sir John Maxwell, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces announces that all involved in the insurrection have surrendered. The dead include 82 Irish fighters, 126 British soldiers, 17 Irish police officers and 260 civilians.

May 1– Monday– The Hague, Netherlands– The German Counsel recruits a Dutch dancer and courtesan who uses the stage name Mata Hari, to serve as a spy for Germany. She has lived and worked in Paris since 1905 and has numerous friends and clients among French officials and officers.

May 3– Wednesday– New York City– The Socialist Labor Party of America concludes it five day national convention, having nominated Arthur Reimer, a Massachusetts lawyer, age 34 for president and issues its platform which calls upon working people to assume control of “industrial production.”

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May 3– Wednesday– Verdun, France– The Germans begin an intense artillery bombardment of the French position known as Cote 304.

May 4– Thursday– Dublin, Ireland– British authorities execute Ned Daly, Willie Pearse, Michael O’Hanrahan and Joseph Plunkett for their roles in the Easter Rising.

May 5– Friday– Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic– Two companies of U S Marines land from the U.S.S. Prairie to protect the U.S. Legation and the U.S. Consulate, and to occupy Fort San Geronimo. Within hours, the Marines are reinforced with seven additional companies.

May 5– Friday– Berlin, Germany– In response to American protests, the German government pledges not to sink any more merchant ships without warning and to allow time for crew and passengers to abandon ship.

May 5– Friday– Verdun, France– German troops begin an assault against Cote 304.

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tired French troops on Cote 304

 

May 7– Sunday– Waterbury, Connecticut– Mrs Ethel O’Neill and her sister Mrs Bedelia Griffen head to Washington, D.C., to call upon the State Department to have the British release their brother James Mark Sullivan whom the British government has charged with involvement in the Easter rising. [Sullivan, age 43, a lawyer born in Ireland, is a naturalized American citizen, was visiting family in Ireland and had a reputation for making anti-British public statements. He will be released by the British. He dies in Florida on August 15, 1935.]

May 8– Monday– Marathon, Texas– Units of United States cavalry set out to pursue Mexican raiders who attacked Texas towns.

May 8– Monday– Dublin, Ireland– British authorities execute Eamon Kent, Michael Mallin, Con Colbert and Sean Houston for their roles in the Easter Rising.

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location where Irish prisoners were executed

 

May 8– Monday– Verdun, France– After three days of fierce fighting German troops capture Cote 304.

May 9– Tuesday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– About 15,000 workers at Westinghouse Electric plants who went out on strike April 22, return to work without winning any improvements in wages and working conditions as the company threatens to fire them all. However, the union reports that about 2,000 machinists have left the region to find work elsewhere.

May 9– Tuesday– New Haven, Connecticut– Homer S Cummings, a member of the Democratic National Committee, declares that Republican critics of President Wilson place party ahead of the best interests of the country and while attacking the current administration have offered “no definite policy indicating what alternative course the Administration could have pursued which would have more completely accorded with the dignity and traditions of America.”

May 11– Thursday– London, England– During a debate in Parliament on the Irish crisis, John Dillon of the Irish Parliamentary Party calls on the British government to end the executions of the Easter Rising leaders.

May 13– Saturday– New Hartford, Connecticut– Clara Louise Kellogg, dramatic soprano who was a popular performer in both the United States and Europe from 1863 through 1881, dies from cancer at 73 years of age.

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Clara Louise Kellogg

 

May 13– Saturday– London, England– The government orders the call-up of married men between the ages of 36 and 41 for military service.

May 13– Saturday– Luxeuil-les-Bains, France– The Escadrille Americaine, a/k/a the Lafayette Escadrille, American pilots fighting for the French, fly their first patrol.

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pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille

 

May 14– Sunday– New York City– In today’s New York Times Dr Abbott Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard, presents a lengthy article calling for educators to join others in building an international body of the League to Enforce Peace by utilizing arbitration, economic sanctions and an international tribunal to discourage nations from going to war. [Lowell, age 59, has been Harvard’s president since 1909. He is one of 7 children and his sisters are the poet Amy Lowell and the advocate of pre-natal care Elizabeth Lowell Putnam. He dies on January 6, 1943, ten years after leaving Harvard. On Lowell’s life and work, see Lawrence Lowell and His Revolution (1980) by Nathan M. Pusey. On the League to Enforce Peace, see Blocking New Wars (1918) by Herbert S Houston; The League to Enforce Peace (1944) by Ruhl J Bartlett; Development of the League of Nations Idea: Documents and Correspondence of Theodore Marburg (2003) edited by John H Latane.]

May 15– Monday– Waco, Texas– Jesse Washington, a teenaged black farmhand, is brutally lynched by a crowd of nearly 10,000 white people, for allegedly murdering his employer’s wife. He is mutilated, then hung and burned while photographs are taken and sold as souvenirs.

May 15– Monday– Trentino, Province, Italy– The Austrians launch a major offensive with a heavy artillery barrage which does severe damage to Italian positions.

May 16– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Speaking at the National Press Club President Wilson declares that the United States must remain out of the war in Europe so that it can, with other neutral nations, help build an impartial peace.

May 17– Wednesday– Limerick, Ireland– Thomas O’Dwyer, Roman Catholic Bishop, refuses a request to discipline two of his priests who expressed sympathies for the establishment of an Irish republic. He reminds British General Maxwell that the general has shown no mercy to those fighters who surrendered.

May 17– Wednesday– Rome, Italy– Sir Henry Howard, British Minister to the Vatican, reports that Pope Benedict XV has urged Germany to abandon submarine warfare.

May 18– Thursday– London, England– The Royal Commission established to inquire into the Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland, begins hearings today.

May 19– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Wilson and his wife, Edith Bolling Wilson, head by train to North Carolina to visit several towns and cities, including Salisbury, Greensboro and Charlotte.

May 20– Saturday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– This issue of the Saturday Evening Post uses the first cover with a painting by a young artist named Norman Rockwell, age 22. The picture is entitled “Boy with Baby Carriage.”

May 20– Saturday– Charlotte, North Carolina– In a speech here President Wilson says that as the United States has learned and continues to learn “that it is made up out of all the nations of the world”, it can teach other countries how “this great cataclysm of European war” may “be turned into a coordination and cooperation of elements” which will make for “peace . . . accommodation and righteous judgment.”

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President Wilson prepares to speak from the back of a train

 

May 23– Tuesday– New York City– The sixth annual convention of the National Council of Settlements closes. Speaking at the luncheon Lillian D Wald warns against the rising spirit of militarism which threatens peace and can derail the social work of settlement houses. [On settlement houses generally, see Settlement Houses: Improving the Social Welfare of America’s Immigrants (2006) by Michael Friedman & Brett Friedman; American Settlement Houses and Progressive Social Reform: an Encyclopedia of the American Settlement Movement (1999) by Domenica M Barbuto; Settlement Houses and the Great Depression (1975) by Judith Ann Trolander; Children of the Settlement Houses (1998) by Caroline Arnold.

May 23– Tuesday– Vienna, Austria– The Austrian government is reviewing President Wilson’s speech of May 20th.

May 27– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “If it should ever be our privilege to suggest or initiate a movement for peace among the nations now at war, I am sure that the people of the United States would wish their Government to move along these lines: First, such a settlement with regard to their own immediate interests as the belligerents may agree upon. We have nothing material of any kind to ask for ourselves, and are quite aware that we are in no sense or degree parties to the present quarrel. Our interest is only in peace and its future guarantees. Second, an universal association of the nations to maintain the inviolate security of the highway of the seas for the common and unhindered use of all the nations of the world, and to prevent any war begun either contrary to treaty covenants or without warning and full submission of the causes to the opinion of the world,—a virtual guarantee of territorial integrity and political independence. But I did not come here, let me repeat, to discuss a program. I came only to avow a creed and give expression to the confidence I feel that the world is even now upon the eve of a great consummation, when some common force will be brought into existence which shall safeguard right as the first and most fundamental interest of all peoples and all governments, when coercion shall be summoned not to the service of political ambition or selfish hostility, but to the service of a common order, a common justice, and a common peace. God grant that the dawn of that day of frank dealing and of settled peace, concord, and cooperation may be near at hand!” ~ President Woodrow Wilson speaking to the First National Assembly of the League to Enforce Peace

May 30– Tuesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Giving a Memorial Day speech at G. A. R Post #1, John Wanamaker, age 78, businessman, civic and political figure, asserts that the United States, as a friend to all nations, is called to emancipate the world from the scourge of war.

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John Wanamaker

 

May 30– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as FLAG DAY with special patriotic exercises, at which means shall be taken to give significant expression to our thoughtful love of America, our comprehension of the great mission of liberty and justice to which we have devoted ourselves as a people, our pride in the history and our enthusiasm for the political program of the nation, our determination to make it greater and purer with each generation, and our resolution to demonstrate to all the world its, vital union in sentiment and purpose, accepting only those as true compatriots who feel as we do the compulsion of this supreme allegiance. Let us on that day rededicate ourselves to the nation, ‘one and inseparable’ from which every thought that is not worthy of our fathers’ first vows in independence, liberty, and right shall be excluded and in which we shall stand with united hearts, for an America which no man can corrupt, no influence draw away from its ideals, no force divide against itself,-a nation signally distinguished among all the nations of mankind for its clear, individual conception alike of its duties and its privileges, its obligations and its rights.” ~ Proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson.

May 31– Wednesday– London, England– In a letter to the Times of London, Lord Cromer asserts that the British government has no confidence in President Wilson’s ability to broker peace. “It is more than doubtful in spite of the very friendly feelings entertained toward America and Americans generally that the people of this country would under any circumstances welcome the idea that President Wilson should assume the role of mediator.”

May 31– Wednesday– North Sea, near the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark– British naval forces of 111 warships commence the first day of a two day battle with 99 warships of the German navy.

Election Year 1856 ~ April

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Political issues taking the forefront: slavery, the conflict in Kansas, the rise of a new political party. Women assert their claims on civil rights, much to the distress of some men. Within abolitionist circles, the debate intensifies about non-violence versus the use of force. Peace has brought an end to the carnage of the Crimean War, a loss of life soon to be over-shadowed by America’s Civil War. Divisions manifest themselves among Democrats over who should be the nominee for president. The escapades of the freebooter William Walker draw some favorable attention in the United States at a time when many have imperialistic dreams of controlling the whole of the Western Hemisphere. His conduct angers Great Britain which has led to some talk of war with the United States. Anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant talk find voice in print.

April 1– Tuesday– Richmond, Indiana– “Man alone is but a piece– a fragment– a half of humanity, and he needs the other half by his side, with her smiles and indomitable fortitude, to strengthen his resolutions and share his aspirations and his toils. He will go heavenward when angel woman points the way, and cheers his path with the light of her genius, the power of her example, and the fascinations of her own loveliness. But when he attempts to go alone, he is too apt to go devilward, as he generally has done in political affairs. Could educated woman become an equal arbiter in the fate of nations, especially of this nation, soon indeed would the brain maddening and bloody traffic in alcoholic liquors be prohibited. Soon, too, would the gigantic wrong of American slavery be abolished. It would be no longer necessary for tender mothers to cut their children’s throats to protect them from the hellish despotism in a land which claims to be ‘the asylum of the oppressed, and the home of the free!’” ~ The Lily.

April 3– Thursday– Island of Rhodes– The Ottoman Turks who control the island use the Church of St John, attached to the almost 500 year old Palace of the Grand Masters, as a storehouse for ammunition. Today lightning strikes the church causing a fire and explosion which kills about 4,000 people and turns the two buildings into a huge pile of rubble

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April 4– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The Twenty-Third Public Anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society will be held . . . In the city of New York, on Wednesday, May 7th, at 10 o’clock, A.M. . . . . As full an attendance of the members and friends of the Society as practicable, from all parts of the country, is earnestly desired and strongly urged. We reiterate our former declaration, that the object of the Society is not merely to make Liberty national and Slavery sectional, nor to prevent the acquisition of Cuba nor to restore the Missouri Compromise nor to repeal the Fugitive Slave Bill nor to make Kansas a free State nor to resist the admission of any new slave State into the Union nor to terminate slavery in the District of Columbia and in the National Territories but it is, primarily, Comprehensively, and uncompromisingly to effect the immediate, total and eternal overthrow of Slavery, wherever it exists on American soil, and to expose and confront whatever party or sect seeks to purchase peace or success at the expense of human liberty. Living or dying, our motto is, ‘No Union With Slaveholders, Religiously or Politically!’” ~ The Liberator.

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members of the American Antislavery Society

 

April 5– Saturday– New York City– New York Times quotes likely Democratic candidate James Buchanan as writing “The Missouri Compromise [of 1820] is gone, and gone forever. . . . The time for it has passed away, and I verily believe that the best– nay the only– mode now of putting down the fanatical and restless spirit of Abolition at the North, is to adhere to the existing settlement [the Compromise of 1850] without the slightest thought or appearance of wavering, and without regarding any storm which may be raised against it.”

April 9– Wednesday– Newark, New Jersey– A large number of people attend an organizing rally to create a state-wide Republican Party. Participants insist upon the admission of Kansas as a free state. “New Jersey will enroll herself among the ranks of the Freemen of the Union in the approaching struggle.”

April 9– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Senators of the free States, I appeal to you. Believe the prophets, I know you do. You know then, that Slavery neither works mines and quarries, nor founds cities, nor builds ships, nor levies armies, nor mans navies. Why, then, will you insist closing up this new Territory of Kansas, against all enriching streams of immigration, while you pour into it the turbid and poisonous waters of African Slavery? Which one of you all, whether of Connecticut, or of Pennsylvania, or of Illinois, or of Michigan, would consent thus to extinguish the chief light of civilization within the State in which your own fortunes are cast, and in which your own posterity are to live?” ~ Speech in the Senate by Senator William H Seward, age 54, of New York.

April 10– Thursday– New York City– “The people of this country already knew that Colonel [John C] Fremont was one of the boldest and most indomitable men who have explored our wilderness, and marked out the path of empire; but only his intimate friends knew how heartily and thoroughly he sympathized in every movement towards freedom and the emancipation of the country from an unscrupulous and oppressive oligarchy. There is no equivocation or hesitation in Colonel Fremont’s declaration of sentiments, as regards the [free state] Government of Kansas.” ~ New York Times.

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John C Fremont

 

April 10– Thursday– New Orleans, Louisiana– A ship with 200 recruits leaves to join the force of the freebooter William Walker in Nicaragua.

April 11– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– In response to the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher’s assertion that a Sharp’s rifle is a better argument against slavery than the Bible and his defense of the practice of sending guns to Northern settlers in Kansas, in today’s issue of The Liberator William Lloyd Garrison writes: “The rhetoric . . . is very fine, and the spirit of it as tender and magnanimous at is compatible with a deadly use of Sharp’s rifles. Mr. Beecher says, ‘There are times when self-defense is a religious duty’– but not with murderous weapons, we beg leave to add. Are there no times when martyrdom becomes such a duty from which one ‘cannot shrink, without leaving honor, manhood, and Christian fidelity behind’? ‘But I say unto you, Overcome evil with good. They that take the sword shall perish with the sword.’ The weapons of our struggle are not carnal.”

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a Sharp’s rifle

 

April 11– Friday– Rivas, Nicaragua– Costa Rican forces defeat the soldiers of the American mercenary and freebooter William Walker[ 1824-1860]. On Walker and his crimes and misdeeds, see, By-ways of War; the Story of the Filibusters (1901) by James J Roche; Filibusters and Financiers; the Story of William Walker and His Associates (1916) by William O Scroggs; William Walker, Filibuster (1932) by Merritt Parmelee Allen; The Filibuster: the Career of William Walker (1937) by Laurence Greene.

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William Walker

 

April 12– Saturday– New York City– “That Walker is selected as the instrument of important changes in Central and perhaps Southern America, we have a strong conviction. All the circumstances attendant upon his recent acts point to that result. The moderation which he has exhibited in his dealings with the other Central States, whilst it has won for him the respect and good will of the liberal portion of their populations, has only been regarded by their rulers as a proof of weakness. The Costa Rican government, with a fatuity which will be looked upon as suicidal, has thought fit to declare war against the man who holds its fate in his hands, and whose forbearance constituted its only security. Ere many weeks elapse, Costa Rica will in all probability be annexed to Nicaragua, under . . . Walker’s . . . sway, thereby forming the first link in the chain of a powerful Central American confederation. It is likely that this event will operate as a salutary lesson upon the other States; but if it should not, their hostility will only hasten the consummation of an object which all friends of liberty must regard as holding out the only hope of salvation for Central America.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

April 12– Saturday– California, Missouri– A sale of slaves includes a 5 year old boy for $505, a 7 year old boy for $886, a 10 year old boy for $1,015 and a 26 year old woman with her 18 month old child for $1355. [The $1355 would be the equivalent of $39,000 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

April 15– Tuesday– Richmond, Indiana– “I would like to know if a woman does not need as much property to support a family of children as a man, who gets higher wages for labor? But no; they deprive her of property, reduce her wages, and then compel her to wear away her life in unremitting toil, for a mere pittance, to provide for herself and her helpless children. Now, I ask, what justice is there in this? It is no wonder that people blush at the name of Slavery! I do not intend to cast reflections upon all; for I am sure that we have some true and earnest friends– even among gentlemen– who consider that women are capable of fulfilling a higher mission than what is generally assigned them. But I do censure our unjust rulers, who pride themselves in revelry and drunkenness and he is considered the greatest hero, who can display the most vulgarity, and trample upon the rights of his fellow men!” ~ letter from Almira M. Smith in today’s The Lily.

April 18– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “To the exclusion of much other matter designed for our present [edition], we publish entire, (with the exception, of a small portion of the testimony which he adduced in support of his positions, as given by both parties in Kansas,) the very able, eloquent, comprehensive statesman-like speech of the Hon. William H. Seward, delivered in the U.S. Senate [April 9th] on the Kansas question. We are sure our subscribers will be eager to peruse it. Its arraignment of the President is bold, direct, explicit, worthy of the days of ‘76.” ~ The Liberator.

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William Seward

 

April 18– Friday– New York City– In response to a piece in the Richmond [Virginia] Enquirer which praises border ruffians as “the noblest type of mankind” and that without slavery that some white men will be reduced to the status of European peasants as “mere hereditary bondsmen” the New York Times comments “No solitary reason can be urged for extending Slavery into Kansas which would not have equal weight in favor of reducing to slavery the laboring classes in every Northern State.”

April 19– Saturday– New York City– “As the question of the probability of hostilities between this country and Great Britain has been happily set at rest by the common sense of the people of both, it hardly seems worth while to discuss any of the collateral issues raised by it. And yet there is a consideration which has been extensively made use of in the discussion of its chances, to which it may be useful, in view of future contingencies, to devote a few remarks. . . . Canada has now but little if any thing to gain by annexation to the United States. It enjoys as much of the privileges of self-government as it would do as a member of the Union, and commercially speaking, it is a question whether it could derive any additional advantages from the connection. We do not see in what respect we ourselves should be benefitted by it. The Canadian [provinces] would, to be sure, bring us a large additional territory, but of this we have enough as it is. We must not forget to balance against this acquisition the fact that it would also bring us a large French population, the most difficult of any to assimilate with our own, and with their religion likely to prove a troublesome element in our present political condition. We incline to the opinion that Canada is much more useful to us as it is than it could possibly be if it were a member of the Union. It serves as a sort of debatable land to which the discontented spirits who come out here from Europe, and who cannot settle down under republican institutions, may retire as a sort of compromise between their new prejudices and their old hatreds. We are best rid of such people. They only breed disorder and trouble amongst us, and it is, therefore, an advantage to have neighbors who are ready to take them off our hands.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

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Anna Sarah Kugler

 

April 19– Saturday– Ardmore, Pennsylvania– Birth of Anna Sarah Kugler, who will become a physician and serve as a Lutheran medical missionary to India from 1883 until her death on July 20, 1930.

April 20– Sunday– Springfield, Massachusetts– “Most heartily do I join with those friends of peace and good will, whose thank-offerings have, through the last number of The Liberator, been so cordially poured out to you for your most triumphant vindication of the heaven-descended doctrine of non-resistance, against the insane and illogical attacks of those, in other respects, sound, consistent, and excellent men, Henry Ward Beecher and Theodore Parker. Your words were timely and refreshing to every one whose mental and moral vision has been opened to see the divinity and beauty of those precepts of the Man of Nazareth, uttered in unostentatious and simple phrase – ‘Do good to them that hate you’ – ‘Resist not evil’ – &C To me, this is not only sound morality, but true philosophy. Like begets like. . . . it was no part of my intention to argue this question; you have done it completely. H.C. Wright and Adin Ballou have done it over and over again. Humanity in general owes much to them and to you for your joint and several labors in this sacred cause. I am greatly indebted to this distinguished triumvirate of peace; for the last fifteen years, there has scarcely been a day but I have thought more or less of each of you.” ~ letter from E. W. Twing to William Lloyd Garrison.

April 21– Monday– Rock Island, Illinois– The first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River opens between here and Davenport, Iowa.

April 25– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Mr. Conway, pastor of the Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C., in a sermon lately preached there, said, ‘I have been ashamed to hear in Boston, the descendants of the Puritans apologizing for slavery. I am a Southern man, and they think Southerners like that. Southern politicians are willing to make use of such, while they laugh in their sleeves; but the noble men and women of the South grieve to see men falling thus meanly. I fear act contradiction from any one there when I say, they all respect a man from the North who will not bend from his principles; and not one of them thinks a doughface more to be valued than a cat’s-paw.’ We should think that Northerners who have apologized for slavery, and got down on their knees to do its bidding, would feel on reading this, that they have dirtied themselves all over for nothing.” ~ The Liberator.

April 25– Friday– New York City– The New York Times reports that President Pierce and Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois are supporting Senator Robert M Hunter of Virginia, age 47, in opposition to James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, as the Democratic nominee for president.

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Senator Robert Hunter

 

April 26– Saturday– Melbourne, Australia– Birth of Joseph George Ward, who will become the 17th Prime Minister of New Zealand, serving from 1906 to 1912. [Dies July 8, 1930.]

April 29– Tuesday– New York City– “The official announcement that the treaty of peace [the Treaty of Paris, signed March 31st, ending the Crimean War] has at last been executed, will be received with almost universal satisfaction, although with little emotion, and no surprise. From the time when the propositions for peace were first suggested, up to yesterday afternoon, when the formal treaty was signed, scarcely any one, who gravely reflected on the matter, entertained much doubt as to what the issue would be. The public are not at present in possession of the particular terms upon which the treaty is based, but we believe that, as far as Great Britain is concerned, they will be strictly in accordance with what is fair and honorable. Although the mere announcement of the conclusion of Peace may be said to have excited comparatively little sensation, the circumstances attending it are already beginning to be felt. Lord Palmerston [British Prime Minister] assures us in his ministerial capacity, and with a full knowledge of what the terms of peace really are, that his ‘conviction is that the treaty which has just been concluded will be deemed satisfactory by this country and by Europe; that by the stipulations of the Treaty the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire’ – that is to say, the sole object of the war– will be secured, as far as human arrangements can effect that purpose; that the Treaty is honorable to all Powers who are contracting parties to it, and that he (Lord Palmerston) trusts that while, on the one hand, it has put an end to a war which every friend of humanity must naturally have wished to see concluded, it will, on the other, lay the foundation of a lasting and enduring peace. Accompanying this assurance of the Premier, we may recognize the first fruits of peace in the general news of the day. The Bank of France has already reduced the rate of discount from £6 to £5 per cent., and the Bank of England is reported to be about to make a similar reduction. The accounts from the trading and manufacturing districts are also satisfactory.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly

Election year 1856

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The year begins on a Tuesday. Around the world, leaders include Tsar Alexander II of Russia, age 37, ruling since March of 1855 when he ascended the throne upon the death of his father; Emperor Franz Joseph I of the Austrian Empire, age 25, ruling since 1848; Sultan Abdulmecid I of the Ottoman Empire, age 32, ruling since 1839; King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, age 60, ruling since1840; King Leopold I of Belgium, age 65, ruling since 1831; Queen Victoria of Great Britain, age 35, reigning since 1837, and mother of 8 children since becoming Queen; her current Prime Minister is Lord Palmerston, age 71, in office since 1855 and Her Majesty’s sixth Prime Minister since she ascended the throne; Emperor Napoleon III of France, age 47, ruling as emperor since December of 1852; King Kwahu Dua I of the Ashanti Empire of West Africa, age 59, reigning since 1834; Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia, age 38, ruling since February 1855; President Joseph Jenkin Roberts of Liberia, age 46, in office since 1848; Sultan Ali Babba bin Bello of the Sokoto Caliphate of West Africa, age 48, ruling since 1842; Emperor Xianfeng of China, age 48, reigning since 1850; Emperor Komei of Japan, age 24, reigning since 1846; President Franklin Pierce of the United States, age 51, member of the Democratic Party and in office since 1853.

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Tsar Alexander II

 

Religious leaders include Pope Pius IX of the Roman Catholic Church, age 63, ruling since 1846; John Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury of the Anglican Church, age 75, in office since 1848; Nathan Marcus Adler, Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, age 53, in office since 1844; Pope Cyril IVof the Coptic Orthodox Church, age 40, in office since 1854; Cyril VII, Patriarch of Constantinople, age 80, in office since 1855. Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow of the Russian Orthodox Church, age 73, in office since 1821; Khendrup Gyatso, the 11th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Bhuddhism, age 17, in office since 1842; Thomas Brownell, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, age 76, in office since 1852.

The Crimean War grinds on with England, France, Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire pitted against the Russian Empire. Begun in October 1853, the total number of dead from both sides has reached in excess of 300,000. Cholera and typhus have taken more lives than the losses in battle. Citizens in England, France and Russia grow increasingly dissatisfied with the war and its seemingly endless stalemate. English nurse Florence Nightingale is gaining favorable notoriety in Europe and America. Despite the deadlock in Crimea, Russia has expansionist aims in Central Asia, moving toward Persia.

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Crimean War fighting

 

Japan is taking steps to build relations with European powers. Over 30,000 Chinese immigrants have come to Australia. In response the Australian government has imposed a poll tax on every Chinese immigrant.

The population of the United States is approximately 28,212,000 with 9.2 people per square mile. In this antebellum religious period there are 1,348,000 Methodists; 569,000 Southern Baptists; 233,000 Presbyterians.

With 25,565 post offices in operation, the mail service will generate $6,920,000 in revenue and sell 126,045,000 stamps but will require $10,405,000 to operate. The Postmaster General is James Campbell, age 43, a Democrat and a Roman Catholic of Irish decent from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [From 1829 until 1971 the Postmaster General serves as a member of the President’s Cabinet.] Over 320 daily newspapers are being published with an approximate daily circulation of 1,100,000 subscribers.

Railroads continue to expand with 22,076 miles of track in operation by the end of the year, 1471 miles, or 6.6% of which will be built during the calendar year. Merchant vessels include 4,199 sail-powered ships and 673 steam-powered ships.

This year the United States exports $327,000,000 of goods and materials while importing $315,000,000 from other countries, thus having a trade surplus of $12,000,000. Major imports include $24,000,000 of sugar, $22,000,000 of coffee and $7,000,000 of tea.

Of exports, 39.1% goes to the United Kingdom, 10.7% goes to France, 8.8% goes to Canada.

Of imports, 38.7% comes from the United Kingdom, 15.5% from France, 7.6% from Cuba, 6.6% from Canada.

The government issues 2440 patents.

The government receives $74,057,000 in revenue and spends $69,571,000, leaving a budget surplus of $4,486,000. The national debt stands at $31,974,000. Expenditures include $16,948,000 for the Army, $14,092,000 for the Navy, $1,954,000 for interest on the national debt, $1,298,000 for veterans’ pensions and $161,000 for improvements to harbors and rivers.

Members of the military on active duty include 15,715 in the Army, 8,681 in the Navy and 1,471 in the Marine Corps.

In Washington, D.C., the 34th Congress has been meeting in its first session which began December 3,1855 and last until August 18 of the year. In the Senate there are 34 Democrats, 13 members of the fading Whig Party and 7 members of various other parties. In the House of Representatives, Democrats hold 81 seats and members of various other parties hold 148. Since no party has a majority there has been a contentious battle in the selection of a Speaker of the House so the position will remain open until February 2 when Nathaniel Banks, age 40, from Massachusetts, will be selected in a compromise. Banks has been associated with the Democratic Party and for awhile with the American (Know Nothing) Party; however, his strong support of the abolition cause has led him into the new Republican Party. Important members of this Congress serving in the Senate include William H Seward of New York, Benjamin Wade of Ohio, Sam Houston of Texas, Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, Judah Benjamin of Louisiana, Robert Toombs of Georgia and Stephan A Douglas of Illinois. Those in the House include Joshua Giddings of Ohio, Schyler Colfax of Indiana, Rufus King of New York, Howell Cobb of Georgia, Preston Brooks of South Carolina and Anson Burlingame of Massachusetts.

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President Franklin Pierce

 

The Democratic incumbent, Franklin Pierce, greatly desires to be renominated by his party. James Buchanan, U S Minister to Great Britain, and Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois also desire the Democratic nomination. The old Whig Party has splintered and for all practical purposes is dysfunctional and disappearing. A considerable number of men would like the nomination from the American [Know Nothing] Party, including Senator John Bell of Tennessee, Senator Sam Houston of Texas, Senator Kenneth Rayner of North Carolina, Senator John Clayton of Delaware, businessman George Law of New York, Representative Lewis Campbell of Ohio, former President Millard Fillmore and U S Supreme Court Justice John McLean from Ohio, among others. The American Party generally favors imposing limits on immigration and ending naturalization laws. A number of third parties, both pro-slavery and anti-slavery have arisen but the greatest growth is being seen in the new Republican Party. As the year begins no individual has yet given a strong public indication of interest in the Republican nomination.

Some American diplomats desire the acquisition of Cuba, by force if necessary. Since the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, primarily the work of Senator Douglass, did away with most of the provisions of the Compromise of 1820, saying that Kansas Territory shall enter the union once the voters determine whether it shall be slave or free state, the Territory has turned into “Bleeding Kansas” with periodic violence between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces. Based upon Reverend Henry Ward Beecher’s comment that a Sharps rifle is a better argument against slavery than the Bible, boxes of rifles marked “Beecher’s bibles” are sent to anti-slavery groups in Kansas.

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Henry Ward Beecher

 

Agitation by women for political rights and social equality continues to grow, slowly but steadily. An increasing number of women participate openly in the abolitionist cause. The temperance advocacy book Ten Nights in a Barroom and What I Saw There by Timothy Arthur, along with Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, both continue to be best sellers. Southern resentment to Stowe’s book remains unabated as Southerners insist that slaves are happy and contented.

A law passed in 1855 establishes that any child born in a foreign country to American parents is automatically an American citizen by virtue of the parents’ citizenship.

Many Dead & Wounded Lying by the Roadside~July 1863~the 5th & 6th

Many Dead and Wounded Lying by the Roadside~a citizen observer

Around Gettysburg and the vicinity there remain thousands of dead and wounded soldiers, dead horses, broken wagons and canon and abandoned instruments of war. Vicksburg is under military occupation after weeks of siege. In many Northern hearts there is generally jubilation and optimism. In the hearts of many Southerners sorrow for the dead and a continued belief in the abilities of General Lee. In the heart of Charlotte Forten Grimke there flows admiration for “the nobleness of soul” in Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. In the heart of Gideon Welles there rests distrust of anti-administration politicians. The heart of Rachel Cormany fills with joy and gratitude as she is reunited with her husband Samuel.

July 5– Sunday– New York City– George Templeton Strong writes; “A memorable day, even should its glorious news prove but half true. Tidings from Gettysburg have been arriving in fragmentary instalments but with a steady crescendo toward complete , overwhelming victory. If we can believe what we hear, Lee is smitten hip and thigh and his invincible ‘Army of Northern Virginia’ shattered and destroyed.”

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July 5– Sunday– near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– Union soldier Elisha Hunt Rhodes writes: “Glorious news! We have won the victory, thank God, and the Rebel army is fleeing to Virginia. We have news that Vicksburg is fallen. . . . . We have had rain and the roads are bad, so we move slow. Every house we see is a hospital and the road is covered with the arms and equipment thrown away by the Rebels.” General Lee’s main body of troops is retreating toward Hagerstown Maryland.

July 5– Sunday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Jacob Stouffer writes to his daughter Mary. “I have many things to Say yet but have not time now as Jacob is waiting for this-I think too our mails will Soon Run again I think you can all come home Soon-yesterday we heard cannonading toward Waynesboro– the army had hard fighting at Gettysburg a few days ago. The Rebels were coming across the mountains with their wagon trains and Striking from Greenwood to Hagerstown-I will close by wishing you the blessing of God and his protections to you and all Godfearing Souls-my love to all enquiring friends.”

July 5– Sunday– near Fairfield, Pennsylvania– Confederate Jedediah Hotchkiss describes the battle at Gettysburg to Sara, his wife. “We renewed the fight on Friday [July 3] with no better success– though wekilled many of the enemy . . . our loss was also heavy & in the evening it was decided, in a council of war, to fall back & compel the enemy to come out to a fair field & also to send to Virginia the large train of wagons, horses, stores &c that we had captured – they were started yesterday & we fell back to the line of hills West of the town – the enemy did not follow & we spent the day moving our wounded, our trains &c – the success of the first day was great, of the two following days we cannot say that are gained anything by them.”

July 5– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– In the afternoon, President Lincoln and his son, Tad, visit General Daniel Sickles, who is recovering from his wound received at Gettysburg on July 2. The President congratulates the general on his courage and expresses regret that part of the wounded leg had to be amputated.

July 5– Sunday– Birdsong Ferry, Mississippi– General Sherman’s Federal troops press hard against General Johnston’s Confederates.

July 5– Sunday– Bolton, Mississippi; Bardstown, Kentucky; Woodburn, Kentucky; Yellow Creek, Tennessee; Warsaw, North Carolina– Raids, skirmishes and fire fights.

July 6– Monday– Readville, Massachusetts– Charles Douglass training with the 55th Massachusetts, writes to his father, Frederick Douglass. “I have just returned to camp from Boston where I spent the fourth and fifth. Yesterday, I went to Mr. Grimes Church and Dr. Rock read a letter that he had received from his wife who is in Philadelphia and that the Rebels were sending the Negroes south as fast as they advanced from our lines and that the colored people were rushing into Philadelphia and that yourself and Stephen Smith and other were doing all you could for them. I was glad to hear that– only keep out of the hands of the rebels.”

July 6– Monday– New York City– George Templeton Strong evaluates the situation. “The rebels are hunted out of the North, their best army is routed, and the charm of Robert Lee’s invincibility broken. The Army of the Potomac has at last found a general that can handle it, and it has stood nobly up to its terrible work . . . . Government is strenghtened four-fold at home and abroad. Gold one hundred thirty-eight dollars today, and government securities rising.”

July 6– Monday– Buffalo, New York– Violence erupts when dock workers, mostly Irish immigrants, attack black sailors and laborers.

July 6– Monday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– In a report to the War Department Union General George Meade writes, “The losses of the enemy were no doubt very great, and he must be proportionately crippled. My headquarters will be here to-night, and to-morrow I expect to be at Frederick. My cavalry have been attacking the enemy on both flanks, inflicting as much injury as possible.”

July 6– Monday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin submits a report to General Barnes about the bayonet charge made by the 20th Maine on Little Round Top on July 2nd. At the time he ordered the charge he had only 128 men still able to fight. In the charge they took 368 prisoners and forced the retreat of most of a Confederate brigade.

July 6– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– William Heyser records the day’s news. “We hear a decisive battle was fought at Gettysburg. That Lee is withdrawn towards the Potomac and that enormous amounts of supplies and prisoners have been captured. The news gave rise to the ringing of bells and general convivial [feelings] in the streets. It appears the contest raged for 3 days and was the most desperate of the war. As Lee withdraws towards the Potomac, we hear of skirmishes along the way. . . . . Reports that the Pine Stump Road is filled with broken Rebel wagons and caissons, filled with ammunition much of which is thrown in the mud with a view of destroying it. Also many dead and wounded lying by the roadside, indicating a hasty retreat. . . . [A Confederate physician] tells me most of the best men of the South were in this battle, now most of them gone.”

wives pray for their soldier husbands

July 6– Monday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Rachel and Samuel Cormany are happily reunited. Rachel describes it this way: “I was sitting reading, Pussy [nickname for her little girl] playing by my side when little Willie Wampler came running as fast as he could to tell me a soldier had come to see me & sure enough when I got to the door Mr Cormany just rode up. I was so very glad to see

him that I scarcely knew how to act. He was very dirty & sweaty so he took a bath & changed clothes before he got himself dressed A. Holler & Barny Hampshire called– next Rev. Dixon & Dr Croft & others. Eve we went down into the parlor to hear some of the girls play– Mr. C was very much pleased with the music.” Samuel remembers the meeting: “I told Corporal Metz I intended going on– To Chambersburg– To see wife and Baby– and would report in the morning again. He understood and I slipped away . . . . on approaching Chambersburg I was assured there were still squads of rebs about town– Near town I was met by town folk inquiring about the battle. I was the first ‘blue coat’ they had seen and the first to bring direct news of the Enemy’s defeat as communications had been cut. As I struck the edge of town, I was told ‘The Rebel rear-guard had just left the Diamond.’ So I ventured out 2nd Street and ventured to strike Main near where Darling and Pussy lodged and behold They were at the door– had been watching the Reb Rear leaving town– and Oh! The surprise and delight thus to meet after the awful battle they had been listening to for passing days– My horse was very soon stabled. My Cavalry outfit covered with hay– and myself in my citazens clothes– So should any final ‘rear’ come along, I would not be discovered. To attempt to describe my joy and feelings at meeting and greeting my dear little family must prove a failure. We spent the P. M and evening very sweetly and pleasantly, but only we had a few too many inquiring callers.”

July 6– Monday– Hagerstown, Maryland; Boonsborough, Maryland; Williamsport, Maryland– Union cavalry skirmish with elements of General Lee’s retreating column; most of the Union infantry and artillery remain with General Meade in Pennsylvania.

July 6– Monday– on the march somewhere in Maryland– Confederate General George Pickett writes to his sweetheart Sallie Corbell. “I can’t write you a love-letter to-day, my Sally, for with my great love for you and my gratitude to God for sparing my life to devote to you, comes the overpowering thought of those whose lives were sacrificed of the broken-hearted widows and mothers and orphans. The moans of my wounded boys, the sight of the dead, upturned faces, flood my soul with grief and here am I whom they trusted, whom they followed, leaving them on that field of carnage . . . . This is too gloomy and too poor a letter for so beautiful a sweetheart, but it seems sacrilegious, almost, to say I love you, with the hearts that are stilled.”

July 6– Monday– Martinsburg, West Virginia– Confederate soldier Samuel Carson writes to Annie Harris “We have had another big fight at Gettysburg Pennsylvania. Our loss is very heavy indeed, lost a great many officers.”

July 6– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles writes optimistically and with criticism of two prominent Democratic politicians. “The army news continues to be favorable. Lee is on the retreat, and Meade in hot pursuit, each striving to get possession of the passes of the Potomac. . . . . The papers this evening bring us the speeches of the two Seymours, Horatio and Thomas Henry, on the Fourth at New York. A couple of partisan patriots, neither of whom is elated by Meade’s success, and whose regrets are over Rebel reverses.” [Horatio Seymour is Governor of New York; Thomas Seymour is former Governor of Connecticut. Both are Democrats and critics of the Lincoln Administration.]

July 6– Monday– Huntington, Indiana– Members of the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret society of pro-slavery and pro-Confederacy activists, break into the supply depot and steal guns and ammunition.

July 6– Monday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke has a fine day. “Did not neglect my invitation to tea with the officers of the 54th.” Arriving with several other women they “were just in time to see the Dress Parade. T’is a splendid looking regiment. An honor to the race. Then we went with Colonel Shaw to tea. Afterward sat outside the tent and listened to some very fine singing from some of the privates. Their voces blended beautifully. ‘Jubilo’ is one of the best things I’ve heard lately. I am more than ever charmed with the noble little Colonel. What purity, what nobleness of soul, what exquisite gentleness in that beautiful face! As I look at it I think ‘The noblest are the tenderest.’ I can imagine what he must be to his mother.”

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July 6– Monday– dateline: Vicksburg, Mississippi– A reporter for the Chicago Journal writes: “Vicksburg is to be hereafter, as the rebels made it, a military post– nothing more. Commercial non-intercourse with the loyal North will mark its history during the rebellion. Their experiment of establishing and permitting trade and traffic in a rebel city was well and thoroughly tested at Memphis. . . . All kinds of goods and medicines, and even ammunition, were furnished the rebel army, and fortunes were made in the contraband trade. None of that business can be carried on here. The rules are strict, and the mailed hand of an earnest General will enforce them.”

July 6– Monday– London, England– Birth of Reginald McKenna, who will serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1915 and 1916.

July 6– Monday– Paris, France– Across the country the parliamentary elections conclude. The supporters of Emperor Napoleon III win 74.22% of the popular vote.

Fight Him When Opportunity Offers~June 1863~the 8th to the 11th

Fight Him When Opportunity Offers~June 1863~the 8th to the 11th

Soldiers and civilians alike begin to anticipate another Confederate attempt to invade the North. Black soldiers earn the increasing respect of white officers. Unfortunately the soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts are ordered to take part in the burning of Darien, Georgia, an undefended town of no military significance. Ramifications will be numerous. The presence of Federal troops in the South brings a defacto end to slavery in many places.

President Lincoln attempts to move the increasingly hesitant General Hooker to take action. The self-confident General Stuart is surprised by Federal cavalry and the two sides fight the most intense cavalry battle in North America. Stuart wins a tactical victory but now faces an increasingly more confident force in blue uniforms. Walt Whitman wonders about raising money to fund his nursing efforts.

Elections take place in Canada and in Belgium. Despite the war immigrants, such as Mormons from Great Britain, continue to come to the United States from Europe.

June 8– Monday– Brunswick, Georgia; Camp Cole, Missouri; Fort Scott, Kansas; Triune, Tennessee– Skirmishes and raids add to the casualty lists.

June 8– Monday– on the ship Amazon off the Isle of Wight– William Bramall of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) writes to George Q. Cannon about the group of immigrants he is accompanying to the United States. “All feel well; the music from the brass band, songs and hymns succeed each other to cheer the hearts of the Saints and enliven the voyage, and the captain has often expressed his satisfaction with the people. Elders Sloan and Palmer have been pretty well. I have been better than I ever was before at sea; I have been able to move round most all the time. We hope to start from here soon. . . . May God bless you and prosper you in the discharge of every duty; and while we pray for you and your associates, we do not forget ourselves while on our journey over the sea and plains, that the God of Israel will prosper and bless us on our way to Zion.”

Salt Lake City, Utah-c.1890

Salt Lake City, Utah-c.1890

June 9– Tuesday– New York City– The New York Times prints a report from General Banks about the conduct of black soldiers in the siege of Port Hudson. “They answered every expectation. Their conduct was heroic No troops could be more determined or more daring. They made, during the day, three charges upon the batteries of the enemy, suffering very heavy losses, and holding their position at nightfall with the other troops on the right of our line. The highest commendation is bestowed upon them by all the officers in command on the right. Whatever doubt may have existed before as to the efficiency of organizations of this character, the history of this day proves conclusively to those who were in a condition to observe the conduct of these regiments, that the Government will find in this class of troops effective supporters and defenders. The severe test to which they were subjected, and the determined manner in which they encountered the enemy, leave upon my mind no doubt of their ultimate success.”

detail on the memorial honoring trhe 54th Massaachusetts Regiment

detail on the memorial honoring trhe 54th Massaachusetts Regiment

June 9– Tuesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Alexander McClure writes to Eli Slifer about possible Confederate invasion. “If the Rebels come they will come much stronger than before, and I doubt not with a much more destructive intent. Our raiders south have been wantonly destructive with private property and the lex talionis [literally, “law of retaliation”– the concept of striking back to match the degree and kind of injury] may come back upon us. We will at first arrange for communication with a telegraphic instrument at Greencastle and a few good scouts on the view, wemay avoid surprise, and thus save much valuable property. In connexion [sic] with the Hagerstown, Greencastle, Mercersburg, Williamsport and Hancock people, we can I think arrange a perfect police system, and be able at this point to have timely notice of any movement.”

June 9– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman writes to his mother. “Mother, I think something of commencing a series of lectures & readings &c through different cities of the north, to supply myself with funds for my Hospital & Soldiers visits– as I do not like to be beholden to the medium of others– I need a pretty large supply of money &c. to do the good I would like to & the work grows upon me, & fascinates me– it is the most affecting thing you ever see, the lots of poor sick & wounded young men that depend so much, in one ward or another, upon my petting or soothing or feeding, sitting by them & feeding them their dinner or supper, some are quite helpless– some wounded in both arms– or giving some trifle (for a novelty or a change, it isn’t for the value of it,) or stopping a little while with them– nobody will do but me. So, mother, I feel as though I would like to inaugurate a plan by which I could raise means on my own hook, & perhaps quite plenty too.”

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

June 9– Tuesday– Culpeper Court House, Virginia– Confederate soldier Henry Dedrick writes home to his wife, Mary. “We have been permitted to stay here today. We got here yesterday about twelveo’clock and drawed three days rations and was to be ready to start this morning by day light, and then we got orders to stay here today and cook another days rations. I don’t know where we will go. . . .I would not be surprised if we don’t be in Maryland before ten days. Some thinks that we will go over in the valley. We are on the road that leads to New Market.”

June 9– Tuesday– Brandy Station, Virginia– At dawn Union cavalry under General Alfred Pleasonton launches a surprise attack on General Jeb Stuart’s cavalry. After an all-day fight in which fortunes change repeatedly, the Federals withdraw without discovering Lee’s infantry camped near Culpeper Court House. In the largest cavalry battle ever fought on U S soil, Union cavalry loses the hard fight to Confederate Stuart and his troopers. Federal losses are 866, dead, wounded and missing; Confederate losses total 523, dead, wounded and missing. Among the rebel casualties is Robert E. Lee’s son, Rooney, who was seriously wounded in the thigh. Hundreds of dead and maimed horses remain on the battlefield at day’s end.

Battle of Brandy Station

Battle of Brandy Station

June 9– Tuesday– Brussels, Belgium– General elections are held throughout the country, resulting in a victory for the Liberal Party, which wins 59 of the 116 seats in the Chamber of Representatives and 33 of the 58 seats in the Senate. Voter turnout is 80.0%, although only 52,519 people in total are eligible to vote.

June 10– Wednesday– New York City– The New York Times evaluates what’s happening with slavery. “Wherever the Union armies have marched, the death-knell of Slavery is sounded. “At Norfolk, on the Peninsula, in Northern Virginia, at Memphis, Nashville and New-Orleans, in all of Tennessee, at any time visited or occupied by the Union armies, Slavery is practically extinct. Not even the most strenuous slaveholder refuses to admit that so utter is the ‘demoralization’ (another word for insubordination) of the slaves in the districts named, that no power can ever restore the relations that previously existed. And whenever a new region of slave territory is penetrated, the first sign to the outward world is the effervescence and ebullition of this same evaporating institution.” the piece goes on to say that within the last few weeks in Louisiana about 6,000 slaves have sought safety within the union lines.

runaway slaves entering Union lines

runaway slaves entering Union lines

June 10– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln telegraphs General Hooker. “I think Lee’s army, and not Richmond, is your true objective point. If he comes towards the upper Potomac, follow on his flank, and on the inside track, shortening your lines while he lengthens his. Fight him, too, when opportunity offers. If he stay where he is, fret him and fret him.”

June 10– Wednesday– Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana– Union Captain M M Miller, a white man who commands black soldiers of the 9th Louisiana Colored Regiment, writes to his aunt in Illinois about his soldiers’ performance in the recent battle. “Not one of them offered to leave his place until ordered to fall back; in fact, very few ever did fall back. I went down to the hospital three miles today to see the wounded. Nine of them were there, two having died of their wounds. A boy I had cooking for me came and begged a gun when the rebels were advancing, and took his place with the company, and when we retook the breast-works I found him badly wounded with one gunshot and two bayonet wounds. A new recruit I had issued a gun to the day before the fight was found dead, with a firm grasp on his gun, the bayonet of which was broken in three pieces So they fought and died defending the cause that we revere. They met death coolly, bravely; not rashly did they expose themselves, but all were steady and obedient to orders.” He explains that he is slightly wounded but alive because of his men. “A rebel took deliberate [aim] at me with both barrels of his gun, and the bullets passed so close to me that the powder that remained on them burned my cheek. Three of my men who saw him aim and fire thought that he wounded me each fire. One of them was killed by my side, and he fell on me, covering my clothes with his blood, and before the rebel could fire again I blew his brains out with my gun. It was a horrible fight, the worst I was ever engaged in, not even excepting Shiloh.”

Battle of Milliken's Bend

Battle of Milliken’s Bend

June 11– Thursday– The New York Times reports that based on early voting in Canada the Conservatives are expected to return to power. [The forecast is wrong.}

June 11– Thursday– New York City– This evening at Dr Cheever’s Church of the Puritans a large crowd gathers to hear a report from a committee of citizens who presented a petition to President Lincoln to create a “legion” of black soldiers to be commanded by General Fremont.

June 11– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln sends congratulations to Jesus Jimenez on election to the presidency of Republic of Costa Rica.

June 11– Thursday– Columbus, Ohio– The Peace Democrats nominate the absent Clement Vallandigham for governor of the state.

June 11– Thursday– Bank’s Ford, Virginia– Union soldier H W Freedley writes to a young woman of his acquaintance, Marie Hiester, and to whom he is attracted. “We have been here . . . guarding the Ford to prevent the Rebs making a raid into my Maryland-and frightening the politicians in Washington. We are under orders again to move and may leave to-night where to or when is not yet divulged. Your kind letter of the 6th inst was received yesterday. My letters do not reach Washington until the evening of the second day. I fear that many of them are delayed as the mail is frequently detained for prudential reasons.”

June 11– Thursday– Alexandria, Tennessee– In another effort to relieve Union pressure on Vicksburg, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan leaves town at the head of 2460 cavalrymen on a raid northward which will take him through parts of Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

General John Hunt Morgan

General John Hunt Morgan

June 11– Thursday– Darien, Georgia– Under orders from General Hunter, Colonel Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts accompany Colonel James Montgomery and the 2nd South Carolina on a raid down the coast to this small undefended town which has no military significance. At Montgomery’s orders, the town is looted and burned. Shaw restrains most of his men from unnecessary violence; however, Montgomery encourages his men and himself leads setting fire to buildings.

June 11– Thursday– Port Hudson, Louisiana– Union forces tighten their hold by seizing several Confederate outposts.

one of the Union gunboats attacking Port Hudson

one of the Union gunboats attacking Port Hudson

June 11– Thursday– Triune, Tennessee; Corinth, Mississippi; Scottsville, Kentucky; Jacksonport, Arkansas; Little Folly Island, South Carolina– Skirmishes and raids add to the death toll.

Mr Jefferson’s Wisdom After the Election

On a raw day in early March of 1801, Thomas Jefferson stood to swear the oath of office as the newly elected President of the United States. The oath was administered by the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall. Although they were distant cousins, the two men possessed a strong personal antipathy. The new capital city consisted mostly of mud-filled streets and buildings under construction. In the campaign of 1800, the exchanges between President John Adams and former Governor Jefferson were heated and sometimes hateful. The two former friends would not again exchange peaceful words for many years until the resourceful Abigail Adams re-opened communication between her husband and their former great friend. In his inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson gave us words to consider in the aftermath of our just-concluded election.

 

Thomas Jefferson in 1805 painting

“During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes wornan aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

Jefferson on a postage stamp in use during 1850s

Historical note: The “Republican” Party to which Jefferson made reference was the Democratic-Republican Party which he and James Madison co-founded in the early 1790’s. In 1825 it split into the Democratic Party which we know today and the Whig Party which faded away in the mid-1850s and many former members in the North became part of the Republican Party which we know today by that name. Andrew Jackson was the first Democratic president and Abraham Lincoln the first Republican president which we identify with those terms in modern usage. Both modern parties can claim descent from Jefferson in some fashion. For more reading on the history of American political parties, check the following:

Adams, Henry Brooks. History of the United States during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson. (1889).

Banning, Lance, ed. After the Constitution : Party Conflict in the New Republic. (1989).

Beard, Charles A. Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy. (1915).

Bernhard, Winfred E. A., ed. Political Parties in American History. (!974).

Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. Jeffersonian Republicans: the Formation of Party Organization: 1789-1801 (1957)

Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. The Jeffersonian Republicans in Power: Party Operations 1801-1809 (1963).

Edwards, Rebecca. Angels in the Machinery : Gender in American Party Politics from the Civil War to the Progressive Era. (1997).

Kelley, Robert L. The Cultural Pattern in American Politics : the First Century. (1979).

Klein, Philip S. Pennsylvania Politics, 1817-1832: A Game without Rules (1940).

Macy, Jesse, Political Parties in the United States, 1846-1861. (1900).

Rutland, Robert A., ed. James Madison and the American Nation, 1751-1836: An Encyclopedia. (1994)