Tag Archives: history books

Women’s History~ Elizabeth Ellet


Elizabeth Fries Lummis Ellet


Elizabeth Fries Lummis Ellet, author, historian, editor, public speaker and advocate for the poor, was born at Sodus Point, New York, most likely in October of 1812. One of her teachers, a Quaker woman, aroused Elizabeth’s interest in history. She became the first American writer to emphasize the role of women in the development of the United States, beginning with her two volume Women of the American Revolution, published in 1848, with an additional volume in 1850. Subsequent works followed. Ms Ellet died in New York City on June 3, 1877. Later historians such as Mary Beard and Alice Morse Earle recognized the great contribution by Ms Ellet.


Her other works include: The Characters of Schiller (1839); Joanna of Sicily (1840); Rambles about the Country (1840); Evenings at Woodlawn (1849); Family Pictures from the Bible (1849); Domestic History of the American Revolution (1850); Watching Spirits (1851); Nouvelettes of the Musicians (1851); Pioneer Women of the West (1852); Summer Rambles in the West (1853); The Practical Housekeeper (1857); Women Artists in All Ages and Countries (1859); The Queens of American Society (1867); Court Circles of the Republic (1869).

There is no book length biography; however, a good biographical essay by Alma Lutz can be found in Notable American Women, 1607– 1950: A Biographical Dictionary (1974), volume 1, pp569– 570.


Two Hostile & Irreconcilable Systems of Society~July 1863~the 8th to the 11th

Two Hostile and Irreconcilable Systems of Society ~ George Templeton Strong

In a prophetic voice, George Templeton Strong writes of the war’s historical significance. The deaths of soldiers haunt Walt Whitman and Mary Chesnut. The abolitionist Gerritt Smith declares that European powers need to keep their noses out and hands off of America’s struggle. The major European powers still face an unsettled situation in Poland. General Lee offers to resign but President Davis refuses to allow him. President Lincoln meets face-to-face with Frederick Douglass and encourages General Grant. Grant allows military authorities to read the mails passing through areas under his command. [Editor’s query: Hhhmm! Wonder what Grant would think about the military necessity of reading citizens’ private e-mails. Mayhap some things do not change.]

August 8– Saturday– Locust Grove, New York– Birth of Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey, ornithologist and nature writer. She will author fourteen books and her writing is considered to be among the best ornithological writing. She will be active in social welfare issues as well, campaigning against child labor, and on behalf of housing, education and recreation for poor youth.

Florence Merriam Bailey c.1904

Florence Merriam Bailey c.1904

August 8– Saturday– Orange Courthouse, Virginia– General Lee offers his resignation to President Jefferson Davis. “I have been prompted by these reflections more than once, since my return from Pennsylvania, to propose to your Excellency the propriety of selecting another commander for this army. I have seen and heard of expressions of discontent in the public journals at the result of the expedition. I do not know how far this feeling extends in the army. My brother officers have been too kind to report it, and so far the troops have been too generous to exhibit it. It is fair, however, to suppose that it does exist, and success is so necessary to us that nothing should be risked to secure it. I therefore, in all sincerity, request your Excellency to take measures to supply my place. I do this with the more earnestness because no one is more aware than my self of my inability for the duties of my position. I cannot even accomplish what I myself desire. How can I fulfil the expectations of others? In addition, I sensibly feel the growing failure of my bodily strength. I have not yet recovered from the attack I experienced the past spring. I am becoming more and more incapable of exertion, and am thus prevented from making the personal examinations and giving the personal supervision to the operations in the field which I feel to be necessary. I am so dull that in making use of the eyes of others I am frequently misled. Everything, therefore, points to the advantages to be derived from a new commander, and I the more anxiously urge the matter upon your Excellency, from my belief that a younger and abler man than myself can readily be obtained. I know that he will have as gallant and brave an army as ever existed to second his efforts, and it would be the happiest day of my life to see at its head a worthy leader ; one that would accomplish more than I could perform, and all that I have wished. I hope your Excellency will attribute my request to the true reason, the desire to serve my country, and to do all in my power to insure the success of her righteous cause.”

August 8– Saturday– St Anns, Nova Scotia, Canada– Angus MacAskill, known as Giant MacAskill, a circus performer who stands 7′ 9″ tall, dies at age 38 of “brain fever.”

Angus MacAskill

Angus MacAskill

August 9– Sunday– Byberry, Pennsylvania– Charlotte Forten Grimke makes music with a friend. “Bessie W came up yesterday afternoon, bringing sunshine with her. She certainly is a charming most refreshing girl. We spent the morning at the piano playing ‘Roll Jordan’ and other songs of the freed people.”

August 9– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to General Grant. “General Thomas has gone again to the Mississippi Valley, with the view of raising colored troops. I have no reason to doubt that you are doing what you reasonably can upon the same subject. I believe it is a resource which if vigorously applied now will soon close the contest. It works doubly, weakening the enemy and strengthening us. We were not fully ripe for it until the river was opened. Now, I think at least one hundred thousand can and ought to be rapidly organized along its shores, relieving all white troops to serve elsewhere. Mr. Dana understands you as believing that the Emancipation Proclamation has helped some in your military operations. I am very glad if this is so.”

August 9– Sunday– Orange Courthouse, Virginia– Confederate soldier Richard Brooks writes to his wife. “I could not wish for any better living than when we had as we was going on an after we got through Maryland an into Pennsylvania as far as we went but after we turned back this way again we all have suffered very much ever since for something to eat. We have not had more than half enough to eat since we turned back. . . . My Dear I do hope the war will soon close for I do want to see you an the Children the worst I ever had in my life.”

August 9– Sunday– McMinnville, Tennessee– Lucy Virginia French takes note in her journal of political changes. “As to our political prospects they are in status quo. Tennessee is gone to the Confederacy I suppose, and in my present frame of mind and state of health, I must confess I feel unpatriotic enough not to care a continental about it any way if I could only be well, and quiet for a little while. . . . We were told today that all the ‘rebel girls’ in McMinnville have been made to take the oath, a great triumph for old Armstrong and his crew. Mollie Armstrong has procured the Federal uniform—a blue riding dress and rides around with the Yankees, as she used to do with Morgan’s men. I suppose this would be the end of her Southernism—it was too intense to last long!”

Lucy Virginia French

Lucy Virginia French

August 10– Monday– dateline: Warsaw, Poland– The New York Times reports that the leaders of the Polish revolution have demanded as part of a cease-fire that “All persons under arrest shall be at once liberated; all pursuit on political grounds shall equally cease; all exiles shall return to their country” and “A permanent international commission shall be established in the country for the purpose of seeing the armistice rigorously put in execution.” They “assure the mediating Powers [Great Britain, France and the Austrian Empire] that the engagements that may be contracted on these grounds will be faithfully observed by the Poles.”

August 10– Monday– Washington, D.C.–President Lincoln meets with Frederick Douglass. They discuss a variety of topics including the treatment and pay of black soldiers in the U. S. Army.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

August 10– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman writes a letter of condolence to Mr. and Mrs. S. B. Haskell, the parents of Erastus Haskell of the 141st New York Infantry. “I write to you this letter, because I would do something at least in his memory; his fate was a hard one, to die so. He is one of the thousands of our unknown American young men in the ranks about whom there is no record or fame, no fuss made about their dying so unknown, but I find in them the real precious & royal ones of this land, giving themselves up, aye even their young & precious lives, in their country’s cause.”

August 10– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– Mary Chesnut relates a strange experience. “To-day I had a letter from my sister, who wrote to inquire about her old playmate, friend, and lover, Boykin McCaa. . . . . To tell the truth, she writes, ‘in these last dreadful years, with . . . everything dismal, anxious, and disquieting, I had almost forgotten Boykin’s existence, but he came here last night; he stood by my bedside and spoke to me kindly and affectionately, as if we had just parted. I said, holding out my hand, Boykin, you are very pale. He answered, I have come to tell you good-by, and then seized both my hands. His own hands were as cold and hard as ice ; they froze the marrow of my bones. I screamed again and again until my whole household came rushing in, and then came the Negroes from the yard, all wakened by my piercing shrieks. This may have been a dream, but it haunts me. Some one sent me an old paper with an account of his wounds and his recovery, but I know he is dead.’ ‘Stop !’ said my husband at this point, and then he read from that day’s Examiner these words: ‘Captain Burwell Boykin McCaa found dead upon the battle-field leading a cavalry charge at the head of his company. He was shot through the head.’”


August 10– Monday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– General Grant issues regulations regarding mail going to or coming from states in the Confederacy. “The establishing of mails within the insurrectionary States of this department being for the exclusive benefit of the military authorities and those connected therewith, the following regulations are established and will be observed, until otherwise ordered, by all persons employed in their transmission, at all military posts south of Memphis, Tennessee: 1. Postmasters will transmit no letters but those coming from designated military authorities, nor deliver any received at their respective offices to citizens or civilians, excepting through the same channels. 2. Mails will be made up at department, corps, division, and post headquarters, and by all provost-marshals, quartermasters, and commissaries, sent regularly to the post offices by them, and promptly forwarded by the post inspector of each post. 3. The military authorities above designated will forward no letters from any citizen in any insurrectionary State in this department, without first examining the same and marking their approval thereon.”

August 11– Tuesday– Albany, New York– In a speech Gerrit Smith, 66 years old, abolitionist, politician and philanthropist, declares, “We must also insist that, during the prosecution of this war, all other nations must let us alone. Ours is a family quarrel with which there must be no outside interference. We will tolerate neither intervention nor mediation. The one we shall pronounce impertinence, and the other we shall construe into war. I have said we must insist on the unconditional submission of the rebels. Our opposition to the rebels must also be unconditional.”

August 11– Tuesday– New York City– George Templeton Strong writes prophetically about the war. “We hardly appreciate, even yet, the magnitude of this war, the issues that depend on its result, the importance of the chapter in the world’s history that we are helping to write. . . . It is the struggle of two hostile and irreconcilable systems of society for the rule of this continent. . . . I think that Grant and Rosecrans, Lee and Stonewall Jackson . . . will be more conspicuous and better known to students of history A.D. 1963 than . . . Napoleon, Frederick [the Great], Wellington . . . not as greater generals, but as fighting on a larger field and in a greater cause than any of them. So will our great-great-grandchildren look back on them a century hence, whatever be the result.”

August 11– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– President Davis refuses General Lee’s offer to resign. “Where am I to find that new commander who is to possess the greater ability which you believe to be required ? I do not doubt the readiness with which you would give way to one who could accomplish all that you have wished, and you will do me the justice to believe that, if Providence should kindly offer such a person for our use, I would not hesitate to avail of his services. My sight is not sufficiently penetrating to discover such hidden merit, if it exists, and I have but used to you the language of sober earnestness, when I have impressed upon you the propriety of avoiding all unnecessary exposure to danger, because I felt your country could not bear to lose you. To ask me to substitute you by someone in my judgment more fit to command, or who would possess more of the confidence of the army, or of reflecting men in the country, is to demand an impossibility. It only remains for me to hope that you will take all possible care of yourself, that your health and strength may be entirely restored, and that the Lord will preserve you for the important duties devolved upon you in the struggle of our suffering country for the independence of which we have engaged in war to maintain.”

P G Doumergue, c.1924

P G Doumergue, c.1924

August 11– Tuesday– Algues-Vives, France– Birth of Pierre Paul Henri Gaston Doumergue, who will serve as Prime Minister of France from December, 1913 to June, 1914 and again for ten months in 1934.

What Are They Trying to Hide?

The American Historical Association, of which I am a member, brought this to the attention of the membership. In the name of a budget reduction measure the state of Georgia is closing access by the public to the state archives. This will affect not only historians but scholars in other professions, students, teachers, journalists and genealogists, among many others. It makes me wonder what the state of Georgia is trying to hide. Are they ashamed of the past?



From the News column of the October 2012 issue of Perspectives on History:

In response to news that the state of Georgia intends to effectively close its archives in a cost-cutting move, AHA Executive Director James Grossman sent the following letter to Governor Nathan Deal:

September 17, 2012

Dear Governor Deal:

I write on behalf of the American Historical Association the leading organization of historians in the United States to express our grave concern about plans to effectively close the Georgia Archives.

An early and active proponent of state archives laws in the United States, the AHA remains committed to the preservation of our heritage, and to its accessibility. We understand that a shortage of financial resources has forced the state to make some difficult financial choices, and that in such situations, everyone claims that their particular activity is sacrosanct. The Georgia Archives, however, tells the story of all Georgians. Genealogists, students, historians, journalists: all require access to these vital records to participate in the preservation of the state’s heritage and the practical use of its past.

Beyond the interests of historical researchers stand a wide variety of civic-minded Georgians who depend on open access to archives. Teachers, lawyers, real estate developers, leaders of neighborhood associations all rely not only on the vital records housed in the Georgia Archives, but on the expert advice of its archivists.

The records of any government represent the heritage of its people, and can serve that role only when its citizens have access to consult those records. Closing the doors to the Archives would represent a devastating blow not only to historians, genealogists, and others with an interest in the past, but also the state’s policymakers and leaders who need a solid understanding of the past to help shape Georgia’s future.

I urge you to reconsider this decision, and to work with the Secretary of State to allocate resources that will enable this vital service to remain open and accessible to all.


James R. Grossman

Executive Director, American Historical Association

Background on This Issue

The issue began on September 13, 2012, when Georgia Secretary of State BrianKemp announced that “effective November 1, 2012, the Georgia State Archives located in Morrow, GA will be closed to the public.” .Kemp also declared his intention to “fight during this legislative session to have this cut restored so that the people will have a place to meet, research, and review the historical records of Georgia.” The National Coalition for History (NCH) rapidlydisseminated information about the Georgia state decision and also providedetailed suggestions for action.

Nearly every state in the union is facing budget shortfalls, and all are lookingfor places to trim expenses. The AHA hopes that a significant protest toGeorgia’s proposed cuts will also catch the attention of decision makers inother states. If a public outcry helps stop the closure of the archives inGeorgia, other states will be far less likely to attempt similar actions.

Real Nature of the Contest~October 6 to 16, 1862

Tension between the United States and Britain increases as a member of the English Cabinet gives a public speech in favor of recognizing the Confederacy as an independent nation. The American Minister expects other British politicians to follow suit. Quietly in London a baby girl is born who will as an adventurous adult become an explorer.

The vicious treatment of the Indians in Minnesota angers a member of Lincoln’s Cabinet. The President orders an effort to be made to establish a loyal government in Louisiana. People in Boston express approval of the Emancipation Proclamation. Union forces in Kentucky win an important battle. Robert Gould Shaw tries to explain his feelings to his abolitionist mother. While wartime scarcity increases in Richmond, a troop of Confederate cavalry makes a daring raid into Pennsylvania.

October 6– Monday– Highland County, Ohio– Birth of Albert J Beveridge, politician and historian whose 4 volume biography of Chief Justice John Marshall will win a Pulitzer Prize in 1920.

Albert Beveridge in 1920

October 6– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– Government clerk John Jones writes in his diary about the city’s problems. “A Jewish store, in Main Street, was robbed of $8000 worth of goods on Saturday night. They were carted away. This is significant. . . . And our own people, who ask for prices for wood and coal, may contribute to produce a new Reign of Terror. The supplies necessary for existence should not be withheld from a suffering people. It is dangerous.”

October 7– Tuesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania–The Philadelphia News reports that Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the president, has sent 1,000 pounds of. grapes to the sick and wounded in military hospitals during the week.

Mary Todd Lincoln

October 7– Tuesday– Newcastle, England– In a speech here, William Gladstone, currently serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Cabinet, urges official diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy. “We may anticipate with certainly the success of the Southern States, so far as regards effecting their separation from the North. I, for my own part, cannot but believe that that event is as certain as any event yet future and contingent can be. But it is from feeling that that great event is likely to arise, and that the North will have to suffer that mortification, that I earnestly hope that England will do nothing to inflict additional shame, sorrow, or pain upon those who have already suffered much, and who will probably have to suffer more. It may be that a time might arrive when it would be the duty of Europe to offer a word of expostulation, or of friendly aid toward composing the quarrel.”

William Gladstone, British Cabinet member hostile to the Union cause

October 7– Tuesday– Paris, France– The correspondent for the New York Times writes that “Not withstanding the fact that we are passing through a complete calm in European and local politics, the discussions in the Press on the Roman and other questions, absorbs the attention of the journals to such an extent that the American question is but little discussed. We are promised, however, some leading articles on the Emancipation question.”

October 8– Wednesday– Downsville, Maryland– Union soldier Elisha Hunt Rhodes writes about the war. “We do not complain, as it is all for the Union. The war will not end until the North wakes up. As it is now conducted it seems to me to be a grand farce. When certain politicians, Army contractors and traitors North are put out of the way, we shall succeed.”

October 8– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to General Grant. “I congratulate you and all concerned on your recent battles and victories. How does it all sum up? I especially regret the death of Gen. Hackleman; and am very anxious to know the condition of Gen. Oglesby, who is an intimate personal friend.”

October 8– Wednesday– Perryville, Kentucky– In the major battle fought in Kentucky, Union troops beat back a Confederate invasion of the state. The fighting is costly to both sides. Southern dead, wounded and missing total 3405 [21.3% of the total force] while Northern dead, wounded and missing come to 4211 [11,4% of the total Union force]. The Union hero of the day is General Philip H Sheridan, age 31

Battle of Perryville, Kentucky

October 8– Wednesday– London, England– James Walker, one of the premier civil engineers of the 19th century, dies at age 81

October 9– Thursday– Leesburg, Virginia– About 1800 Confederate cavalry troopers under the command of Jeb Stuart cross the Potomac River on a raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania, a raid which again take Stuart on a circumferance ride around Federal forces.

October 10– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–The Liberator reports a recent “great meeting” at Faneuil Hall, at which Senator Charles Sumner spoke and those assembled passed resolutions expressing satisfaction with and support of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

October 10– Friday– London, England– U S Minister Charles Francis Adams reports to Secretary of State Seward. “The last week has been marked by only two events of any particular importance. The first of these was the reception of the news of the President’s proclamation respecting the slaves. The effect of it has been only to draw the line with greater distinctness between those persons really friendly to the United States and the remainder of the community, and to test the extent of the genuine anti-slavery feeling left in this country. The second is the appearance of Mr. Gladstone, the chancellor of the exchequer, once more in a popular address referring to the state of things in America. From the first there has been little doubt on which side his sympathy was. . . . As this is just the season when public men are in the practice of making their addresses all over the country, it is probable that more or less of them will be appearing from day to day in the newspapers.”

October 10– Friday– Louvain, Belgium– Birth of Arthur De Greef, composer and pianist

October 11– Saturday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Jeb Stuart’s Confederate cavalry seize horses and supplies and destroy some war materiels and telegraph lines and then turn south toward Virginia.

rebel cavalry in Pennsylvania as depicted in Harper’s Weekly

October 12– Sunday– Poolesville, Virginia– Completing a daring four day maneuver, Confederate cavalry under General Jeb Stuart return to the safety of their own lines. Union cavalry have failed to catch or stop them. None of Stuart’s men have been killed or captured. While not militarily of great significance, the escapade boosts Southern morale and embarrasses General McClellan.

October 13– Monday– Chambersburg, P:ennsylvania– Benjamin Schneck writes to his sister, Margaretta Keller. “To make you feel easy by exaggerated rumors which you will no doubt obtain of the Cavalry Raid here . . . I will merely say, that we are all safe & feel like thanking God, that God deemed to have kept the hearts of these 1600 men in check not to eke out their vengeance, as one might have expected, upon us. . . . the Rebel cavalry will laugh the more heartily at their dashing, bold, successful raid. They got probably 800 horses, plenty of our army clothing at the Depot, sabers, pistols & as much as they wanted, & are now nearly all at least, safe in Virginia. One must give credit for two things: Gentlemanly conduct in their intercourse with our people, and intrepidity and boldness.”

October 13– Monday– London, England– Birth of Mary Kingsley, explorer and ethnographic writer.

Mary Kingsley

October 14– Tuesday– Maryland Heights, Maryland– Union soldier Robert Gould Shaw writes to his mother in Massachusetts. “I believe that the Right will conquer in the end, but we ought not to forget that that able generals, a well-disciplined army, and a powerful navy are the means to reach our end in this case. .; . . You must have thought from my late letters that I was degenerating sadly from the principles in which I was brought up; but an ordinary mortal must be somewhat affected by his surroundings, and events which you look at in one way from a distance, often seem very different when you are in the midst of them.”

October 14– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Wells notes angrily in his diary the discussion at today’s Cabinet meeting. “[Secretary of War] Stanton read a dispatch from General Pope, stating that the Indians in the Northwest had surrendered and he [Pope] was anxious to execute a number of them. . . . I was disgusted with the whole thing; the tone and opinions of the dispatch are discreditable. It was not the production of a good man . . . . The Indian outrages have, I doubt not, been horrible; what may have been the provocation we are not told. . . . . [some Indians] have good land which white men want and mean to have.”

October 14– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln sends a letter to General Butler and other military commandeers in New Orleans instructing them to find candidates to represent Louisiana once again in the Congress. “In all available ways give the people a chance to express their wishes at these elections. Follow forms of law as far as convenient, but at all events get the expression of the largest number of the people possible. All see how such action will connect with, and affect the proclamation of September 22nd. Of course the men elected should be gentlemen of character, willing to swear support to the constitution, as of old, and known to be above reasonable suspicion of duplicity.”

October 15– Wednesday– Downsville, Maryland– Elisha Hunt Rhodes writes about morale. “We are very much ashamed that the Rebels were allowed to make their late raid into Pennsylvania. If this Army cannot protect the loyal states we had better sell out and go home. I ought not to complain, but I am mortified to think we did not catch some of the Rebel raiders.”

October 16– Thursday– New York City– The annual trade sale of books opens at the offices of George A. Leavitt & Company. The New York Times reports that “attendance was quite as large as in former years, though the South was not very largely represented among the buyers. Orders from the rebel States will probably be deferred until after the 1st of January next, when the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln will have gone into effect, and the rebels will have time to turn their attention from war to literature.” A lunch of pork, beef, beans and coffee is available to book buyers.

Woman as Force in History

This is the concluding day of Women’s History Month so I want to pay tribute to the historian who many consider the founding mother of women’s history, Mary Ritter Beard.

Mary Ritter Beard, 1876-1958

Mary Ritter was born on August 5, 1876 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the third child and the first daughter of Narcissa Lockwood Ritter and Eli Foster Ritter. Her father served in the Union Army during the Civil War and afterwards became a lawyer. Her mother taught school. Mary Ritter graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and enrolled at DePauw University in 1893. At DePauw, she was influenced by her German professor, Dr Henry Longden who taught German not only as a language but incorporated history, culture, literature and philosophy into his classes. Dr Longden encouraged students to see their studies in a broad and inclusive context. This kind of world-view had a lasting influence on Mary Ritter.

 While student, at DePauw she met Charles Austin Beard. Charles, two years Mary’s senior, majored in history, edited the student newspaper and participated on the debate team. The pair met at a dance class. After his graduation, Charles Beard went to England to pursue graduate study in history at Oxford. Mary Ritter took a job as a German teacher until Charles returned and the two married in March, 1900. A month after the wedding, Mary accompanied Charles back to England where she became involved with both the woman suffrage movement and the women’s trade union movement. The couple became friends with a number of socialists and progressives and the exiled Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin. The militant suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters became friends with Mary. In 1901 Mary gave birth to a daughter and the next year the family returned to the United States, settling in New York City where she and her husband began graduate study at Columbia University

 Eventually Charles completed his doctoral degree in history and was hired as a teacher at Columbia. Mary dropped out of her program in sociology in 1904 and bore a son in 1907. She became active in labor organizing and political protests. Eventually she joined the American radical Alice Paul in Ms Paul’s Congressional Union. In the 1920’s Mary Ritter Beard and Alice Paul went separate ways because Mary became a firm believer in the benefits of protective litigation and legislation for women while Ms Paul believed that such special protections hurt the cause of women and she argued for a total equality of women and men with women in the work force covered by the exact same protections as their male co-workers.

 Mary Ritter Beard found her voice and her life’s work in study of women in human history. Her first published work was a little book published in 1910 entitled The Woman Voter. In 1914 she co-authored American Citizenship with her husband Charles. The next year, her first solo major work, Woman’s Work in Municipalities, a tome of over 325 pages, appeared in print.

 Ms Beard wrote Woman’s Work for the National Municipal League, now the National Civic League, which had been founded in1894 to promote municipal reform and improvements for city government. Beard took this task most likely for some of the same reasons she dropped out of graduate study at Columbia. The traditional scholarly academic approach of teaching-research-writing was male dominated and not particularly welcoming to women. As Jacqueline Goggin noted in a fine article fifteen years ago: “Although leading male historians at the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country trained the first generations of female historians and helped female students in their search for fellowships and employment, often praising their scholarship, these men did little collectively to reduce the discrimination women faced in their quest to be treated as equals. . . . Before 1940 . . . most male historians offered little encouragement or support to female colleagues but instead fostered and contributed in a variety of ways to the continuous sexual discrimination against women historians. In letters of recommendation for fellowships and jobs, male historians often commented on the age, appearance, dress, personality, and character of the female applicant in a manner that would have been considered improper when writing on behalf of men.” Goggin, Challenging Sexual Discrimination in the Historical Profession: Women Historians and the American Historical Association, 1890-1940, 97(3) THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW 769, 772 (June, 1997).

 As a result of male indifference or even outright hostility, women such as Mary Ritter Beard sought other ways to practice their craft. “Although women failed to achieve much prominence within the profession when they wrote on the history of women, many applied their historical skills in the larger society. They wrote histories for and served as advisers to women’s organizations and urged them to collect and deposit in libraries their organizational records and personal papers. Several women’s organizations sponsored publications, plays, and pageants that focused on American women and sought advice from women historians. . . . Numerous women historians were members of the American Association of University Women and conducted historical and sociological studies of college women and the contemporary issues that concerned them.” Goggin at 882-3. So we find Beard doing such work for the National Municipal League. Also, Ms Beard remained critical of narrow approaches in academia and encouraged the pursuit of self-education as she herself practiced for the rest of her professional life.

 From 1915 through the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, an amendment which finally guaranteed women the right to vote 133 years after the drafting of the constitution and 72 years after the Seneca Falls convention, Ms Beard spoke, wrote, raised money and organized on behalf of suffrage and the needs of women workers. In addition, she collaborated with her husband in writing a new edition of American Citizenship (1918) and her own brilliant Short History of the American Labor Movement (1920), a significant and pioneering work to which other scholars remain indebted.

 While her husband Charles supported participation by the United States in the First World War, he resigned from Columbia on Oct. 8, 1917, after the University discharged three faculty members who spoke out against the war. [Remember, these were still the days when presidents actually followed the Constitution and asked Congress for a declaration of war. Voting against American participation cost Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, her bid for re-election. But that’s a story for another time.] In his resignation, with Mary’s support, Charles charged that “the University is really under the control of a small and active group of trustees who have no standing in the world of education, who are reactionary and visionless in politics, narrow and medieval in religion. I am convinced that while I remain in the pay of the Trustees of Columbia University I cannot do effectively my part in sustaining public opinion in support of the just war on the German Empire.” Shortly thereafter, Charles helped to found The New School in Greenwich Village, New York City, where the faculty would control its own membership but left to enjoy his home in Milford, Connecticut, free of academic responsibilities. The many books and textbooks which Mary and Charles co-authored provided a steady income.

 Mary and Charles provided important intellectual leadership in what came to be called “The New History”– that is, that history is not merely political and military but rather, to be real, earnest historical study, must include intellectual, social, cultural, and economic elements, an inclusivity which Mary Ritter Beard insisted must include women. She alienated some feminists by refusing to concentrate solely on the exploitation of women by men. Rather, she insisted on recognition and inclusion of all that women had done, from earliest recorded history to the present. When she said and wrote things like “The dogma of woman’s complete historical subjection to men must be rated as one of the most fantastic myths ever created by the human mind,” she angered some other women. For Mary Ritter Beard, history needed to tell that “Woman’s success in lifting men out of their way of life nearly resembling that of the beasts – who merely hunted and fished for food, who found shelter where they could in jungles, in trees, and caves – was a civilizing triumph.” She insisted on history that included failures and successes, evil and good. “Unless one’s philosophy is all-inclusive, nothing can be understood,” she declared repeatedly.

 Working with the peace activist and feminist Rosika Schwimmer in 1935, Mary Ritter Beard founded the World Center for Women’s Archives which she intended to include all types of women’s records and to facilitate the writing of inclusive history and the education of women. While the project, supported by women such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, eventually led to the creation of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at RadcliffeCollege and the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, it never reached the full operation of which Mary Ritter Beard dreamt. She left in 1940 and the Center fell apart in a matter of months.

 In 1942, Mary Ritter Beard, heading a team of scholarly women, completed a brilliant and scathing critique of the errors, omissions, distortions and failures of the Encyclopedia Britannica’s representation of women. Their report included significant recommendations on existing articles as well as suggestions for including new and necessary articles. For example, Beard’s team noted that the treatment of abortion was not comprehensive as it was more than a moral question and relevant to population, political, health, medical, and social issues. They rightly complained that the article on education was male-dominated, asked why there was no article on “Queen,” and why women were not included in the articles on medicine. Yet this informative work was so significantly ignored by the very editors who had requested it that five years later Mary Ritter Beard suggested that women decline to write for Britannica.

At age 70, Mary Ritter Beard published what is generally recognized as her best work, Woman as Force in History; a Study in Traditions and Realities. As historian Nancy Cott noted, this masterpiece was “harshly reviewed by male historians . . . [and] served as a beacon for feminist scholars two decades later.” See Cott’s entry on Beard in Notable American Women: the Modern Period, 1980, at 73.

 Charles Beard died in 1948, even as his work and reputation were being disparaged, in part because of his opposition to the United States’ entry into the Second World War and his last major work, a book extremely critical of President Franklin Roosevelt. In 1955, three years before her own death, Mary Ritter Beard rose to Charles’ defense and called for a fresh look at his work in her book, Making of Charles A. Beard : an Interpretation. Twenty years ago, I asked the activist lawyer and historian Staughton Lynd for his opinion about the work of Mary and Charles Beard and he replied to the effect that “they got it right” and we can still read their works with great profit.

 Before her death, Mary Ritter Beard destroyed many of her notes and correspondence. Yet her books and articles and a small collection of her papers survive and inspire. For excellent appreciation of her work, I recommend Making Women’s History : the Essential Mary Ritter Beard, edited and with a new preface by Ann J. Lane (2000) and Woman Making History : Mary Ritter Beard Through Her Letters, edited and with an introduction by Nancy F. Cott (1991).

In the conclusion of her article, Jacqueline Goggin wrote, “Although female historians had by 1940 acquired an organization in the Berkshire Conference and a small measure of recognition from their male colleagues, these gains were fragile, part of what sociologist Jesse Bernard termed the ‘flowing and ebbing tides’ of professional women’s status. Female historians, like women in other professions, were increasingly marginalized in the 1940s and 1950s. Only in the 1960s did large numbers of women reenter the profession. Many turned to and developed women’s history as a means of advancing the position of women. Women historians and women’s history are now well integrated into the profession. Less certain is whether the increasing presence of women and women’s history will produce full equality for female historians.” Goggin, at 802.

 I think Mary Ritter Beard continues to tell us that women were, are and will be a “force in history” and regardless of ebb and flow in academia, it is Clio, the female spirit, parchment in her hands, who relates the full story, not in dry statistics or mere accounts of bloody battles, but in the tales of human struggle and creativity which inspire and strengthen us.





Just Like Andy Jackson

I noted with interest that earlier this week one of the Republican hopefuls who wants to win his party’s nomination for President of the United States said that he wants to treat America’s enemies just as Andrew Jackson did in the early nineteenth century. “Kill them!” this man yelled to the cheers of the audience. Since this individual claims to be a serious student of American history I trust he knows who Andrew Jackson considered as the enemies of America. Jackson viewed African-Americans–especially those with the decided gall to run away from slavery, the British, the Spanish, the Haitians, the Mexicans and Native Americans, especially the Creeks, the Cherokees and the Seminoles, all to be enemies, If this man thinks like Andy Jackson, the country may be headed for a heap of trouble.

I am one of those students of history who take the view that Mr Jackson was one of the worst Presidents we have had. In my mind he ranks with Warren Harding, Richard Nixon, James Buchanan, Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce as one who did much more harm than good for the country.

I looked in the diary of one of his contemporaries for some period view. John Quincy Adams found Jackson wanting. John Quincy Adams is unfortunately often rated as a weak president. In his one term he was hindered from effective government by a hostile Congress. (Sound familiar?) Adams favored putting federal money into the education of women [the influence of his mother, Abigail Adams?], building observatories for astronomers to study the skies and improving roads and canals. However, he told Emma Hart Willard, pioneering women’s educator, “the Congress thinks of nothing but the making of soldiers.” Adams wrote in his diary that Jackson’s presidency “has been the reign of subaltern knaves” and that Jackson himself was “capable of double-dealing worthy of Ferdinand the Catholic or of Tiberius Caesar.” Jackson appointed Roger Brooke Taney, who would author the infamous Dred Scott opinion, to the Supreme Court bench. The day he left office, Jackson said he regretted not having the opportunity to shoot Henry Clay of Kentucky. During his two terms, Jackson replaced 20% of federal employees with party cronies. In the eight years of his life after he left the presidency, Jackson lived in fairly quiet retirement in Nashville, Tennessee.

John Quincy Adams, on the other hand, served seventeen years in the House of Representatives after he left the White House. He led the fight to establish the Smithsonian Institution, fought for First Amendment rights, especially for anti-slavery activists to petition Congress against slavery and, with Joshua Giddings of Ohio, for the free speech rights of members of Congress to express unpopular views. He successfully represented the Amistad captives before the United States Supreme Court where, before time-limits, his argument required ten hours.

For details I suggest interested readers look at Howard Jones, Mutiny on the Amistad: The Saga of a Slave Revolt and Its Impact on American Abolition, Law and Diplomacy, the definitive work about the Amistad case and William Lee Miller’s excellent 1995 book, Arguing About Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress.

Robert V Remini, now age 90, has written critically of Jackson and Jacksonian democracy. And for an over-all challenging look at United States’ history, I strongly recommend the late Howard Zinn’s books, A People’s History of the United States and A People’s History of American Empire. Also, if it can be found, the 1944 work by Alice Felt Tyler entitled, Freedom’s Ferment: Phases of American Social History from the Colonial Period to the Outbreak of the Civil War. Worth the effort to locate a copy, the book is a wonderful overview of multiple antebellum reform movements.

A candidate who wants to be like Andy Jackson makes me nervous. I haven’t yet heard one candidate invoke the name of John Quincy Adams. Come to think of it, none of this crop have yet invoked the names of Republican senators Charles Sumner of Massachusetts (1811 to 1874) or Bob Lafollette of Wisconsin (1855 to 1925). I wonder why that is.

Previews of Coming Attractions



Beginning in January, 2012, I will continue my month-by-month history and commentary on the Civil War as we continue to observe the sesquicentennial of that American struggle. I am preparing a similar series for several retrospective years–1937 (75 years ago from 2012); 1927 (85 years ago); 1912 (100 years ago); 1892 (120 years ago); 1877 (135 years ago); 1872 (140 years ago); 1857 (155 years ago); 1852 (160 years ago); 1847 (165 years ago); and 1812 (200 years ago).

Next year will be a presidential election year. I want to look at1912, 1892, 1872, 1852 and 1812 because they too were presidential election years. I wonder what parallels and what differences we may see.

1812 also marks the 200th anniversary of the war with Britain. As Canadian friends gleefully remind me, the Canadians defeated American attempts to invade Canada–several times.

As in the preset time, 1937, 1927 and 1877 were full of economic problems, worker unrest and social change.

Related to the Civil War, 1857 was full of events leading up to the outbreak of the war.

Political and social change occupied much of 1847 as well. We’ll see what lessons are there to be learned. Additionally, I will take a quick synoptic look at 1832, a presidential election year and time of change and in the summertime look at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, 225 years ago, and the amazing document which the Convention drafted in that secret meeting from late May to early September.

Stay tuned. Plenty of historical adventure coming your way via this blog!

Boil and Bubble, Toil and Trouble: A Recommended Bibliography


There are many books covering many aspects of the election of 1860. The two which I recommend as an excellent starting place are:

Foner, Eric. Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: the Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War. New York. 1970.

Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. New York. 2005.

These are both excellent–good writing, sound research. Eric Foner, I think, is one of the finest historians working today. He is the nephew of the Marxist historian Philip Foner and the son of historian Jack Foner so history seems to run in his blood. He teaches in the Department of History at Columbia. Ms Goodwin is an author and journalist who has written biographies of several presidents. I think Team of Rivals is her finest work. Interestingly, Stephan Spielberg is preparing to make a movie based on Goodwin’s book; Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America, is one of the script writers. Should be interesting.

 Also, I would be remiss if I failed to mention this book:

Lobel, Jules. Success Without Victory: Lost Legal Battles and the Long Road to Justice in America. New York. 2004. Only one chapter deals with Salmon Chase and other litigators who challenged slavery in the courtroom. That chapter is worth the price of the book which is now available in paperback. I was privileged to study constitutional law under Professor Lobel. Frankly, the man is a genius. Just ask any of us who were his students.

 Others, in alphabetical order, useful in whole or in part and representing a variety of viewpoints:

 Barney, William L. The Secessionist Impulse: Alabama and Mississippi in 1860. Princeton, NJ. 1974.

Basler, Roy P, ed. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. 8 volumes New Brunswick, NJ. 1953.

Bilotta, James D. Race and the Rise of the Republican Party, 1848-1865. Philadelphia. 2002.

Booraem, Hendrik. The Formation of the Republican Party in New York: Politics and Conscience in the Antebellum North. New York. 1983.

Cain, Marvin R. Lincoln’s Attorney General: Edward Bates of Missouri. Columbia, MO. 1965.

Crenshaw, Ollinger. The Slave States in the Presidential Election of 1860. Baltimore. 1945.

Donald, David H. Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man. New York. 1970.

Douglass, Frederick. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass; Pre-Civil War Decade. Edited by Philip S. Foner. New York. 1975.

Egerton, Douglas R. Year of Meteors : Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election That Brought on the Civil War. New York. 2010.

Eggleston, Percy C. Lincoln in New England. New York. 1922.

Fite, Emerson David. The Presidential Campaign of 1860. New York. 1911.

Foner, Eric. Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War. New York. 1980.

Helper, Hinton Rowan. Compendium of the Impending Crisis of the South. New York. 1860.

Holt, Michael F. Forging a Majority; the Formation of the Republican Party in Pittsburgh, 1848-1860. New Haven, CT. 1969.

Holzer, Harold. Lincoln at Cooper Union: the Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President. New York. 2004.

Holzer, Harold. Lincoln President-elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861. New York. 2008.

Hunt, Harry Draper. Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, Lincoln’s First Vice-President. Syracuse, NY. 1969.

Johannsen, Robert W. Lincoln and the South in 1860. Fort Wayne, IN. 1989.

Luebke, Frederick C. Ethnic Voters and the Election of Lincoln. Lincoln, NE. 1971.

Luthin, Reinhard H. The First Lincoln Campaign. Cambridge, MA. 1944.

Mansch, Larry D. Abraham Lincoln, President-elect: the Four Critical Months from Election to Inauguration. Jefferson, N.C. 2005.

Morris, Roy. The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln’s Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America. New York. 2008.

Neely, Mark E. The Boundaries of American Political Culture in the Civil War Era. Chapel Hill, NC. 2005.

Niven, John. Salmon P. Chase: a Biography. New York. 1995.

Potter, David Morris. The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861. Edited by Don E. Fehrenbacher. New York. 1976.

Rhodes, James Ford. History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850. Volume 1. New York. 1893.

Stampp, Kenneth M. And the War Came: The North and the Secession Crisis, 1860-1861. Baton Rouge. 1950.

Storey, Moorfield. Charles Sumner. Boston. 1900.

Taylor, Anne-Marie. Young Charles Sumner and the Legacy of the American Enlightenment, 1811-1851. Amherst, MA. 2001.

Van Deusen, Glyndon G. Horace Greeley, Nineteenth-century Crusader. New York. 1953.

The First Year of the War-1861


TThis year marks the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. It has been called the War of Secession, the Brothers’ War, the War Between the States and the War of the Rebellion. Whatever one calls it, I believe that more than anything else, it is THE defining American experience. It changed the way Americans saw themselves and the way that Europeans saw us. It changed us from “the United States are” to “the United States is.” It was about the nature of the federal union, about states’ rights, about economic development, about the Constitution and, I strongly believe, more than anything else, about race and citizenship and civil rights.

 The Civil War cost the nation in many ways. The federal government and the Confederacy spent almost $7,000,000,000 combined (in 1860 U S dollars) to fight the war. This is more than $189,000,000,000 in today’s dollars. Additionally the United Sates paid millions of dollars in veterans benefits until well into the twentieth century. Confederate veterans were disqualified from such benefits. However, some Southern states paid disabled veterans what they could manage with the money at hand. Union forces suffered 140,414 deaths in combat; Confederate forces at least 72,524 combat deaths. Between the two sides, in excess of 300,000 soldiers and sailors died of disease, accidents and other causes. About 282,000 Union fighters suffered wounds in combat, the Confederacy, probably about 175,000 wounded. Some historians estimate that by December, 1865, 1 of every 4 white men in the Confederacy were dead or disabled. No one knows for certain how many civilians, particularly in the South, were killed. Total number of dead soldiers and sailors, by best estimates, amounted to 1.98% of the total 1860 population. Compare that with World War Two American dead which amounted to 0.3% of the total 1940 populastion.

The Civil War battles occurred in more than 10,000 locations. However, almost 40% of these were fought in Virginia and Tennessee.

With this blog, I’m beginning a very long series about the Civil War, its people, its events–large and small, and the world around the war which went on as human life does during any period of warfare. Part of these essays will be chronological to help me and my readers see the day-to-day unfolding and many kinds of interconnections.

I confess, gentle readers, that I approach this topic neither detached nor disinterested. While at the time of the Civil War, my known forebearers were either infants or children in England, Ireland, Bavaria and Alsace-Lorraine, intellectually and emotionally I am the off-spring of abolitionists. William Lloyd Garrison, Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, Abby Kelley Foster, Reverend Samuel J May, Frederick Douglass, John Greenleaf Whittier, Richard Allen, William Wilberforce, Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimke, Levi Coffin, Anthony Benezet, May Ann Shadd Cary, Susan B Anthony, Benjamin Lundy, Theodore Parker, Granville Sharp, Henry David Thoreau, Sojourner Truth, John Woolman, Harriet Tubman and others I proudly acknowledge as my mothers and fathers in the faith, a faith that slavery was not merely an economic policy of questionable merit nor a political wrong but it was sin! In this matter, as Martin Luther said of another matter of faith, “I can not, I will not recant. Here I stand. So kelp me God. Amen.” When I have taught this period, I have made clear to my students that I absolutely reject the Gone With The Wind version of that history. That view is a falsehood whose proponents have other agenda. While I find noble individuals in the conflict, I reject the concept of “the Lost Cause.” Just read the infamous March 21, 1861, “Cornerstone Speech” given at Savannah, Georgia, by Alexander Stephens, newly-elected Vice President of the Confederacy in which he declares that slavery is the natural condition of black people and a cornerstone of the foundation of the Confederacy. “The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro [sic] in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.”

A slave showing scars from whippings

Today I start with some thoughts about how others have seen the Civil War and an overview of various aspects of 1861, the year the war began.

 “Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives you may win Southern independence, but I doubt it. The North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche.”–Sam Houston, governor of Texas

“The quarrel between the North and South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel.”–Charles Dickens

 “No tongue can tell, no mind conceive, no pen portray the horrible sights I witnessed this morning.”–Captain John Taggert, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, September 17, 1862

 “War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”–General William Tecumseh Sherman


“In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free. Honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth.”–President Abraham Lincoln, message to Congress, December, 1862

 “What armies and how much of war I have seen, what thousands of marching troops, what fields of slain, what prisons, what hospitals, what ruins, what cities in ashes, what hunger and nakedness, what orphanages, what widowhood, what wrongs and what vengeance.”–Clara Barton

 “In this age, and in this nation, there can be no meaning to liberty which leaves a man stripped of all civil rights, and free only as the beasts of the forest are free. Emancipation and liberty are but empty and mocking words if they do not convey the idea and rights of citizenship.”–American Missionary Association, December, 1865

 “We have shared the incommunicable experience of war. We felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youths, our hearts were touched by fire.”–Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr.

“I think that Lee should have been hanged. It was all the worse that he was a good man and a fine character and acted conscientiously. It’s always the good men who do the most harm in the world.”–Henry Adams

 “Thus ended the great American Civil War, which upon the whole must be considered the noblest and least avoidable of all the great mass conflicts of which till then there was record.”–Winston Churchill

 “He [President Lincoln] must have suffered far more than he ever expressed from the agonies and griefs of the war, and it was morally and dramatically inevitable that this prophet who had crushed opposition and sent thousands of men to their deaths should finally attest his good faith by laying down his own life with theirs.”–Edmund Wilson

 “The American government had set out to fight the slave states in 1861, not to end slavery, but to retain the enormous national territory and market and resources. Yet, victory required a crusade, and the momentum of that crusade brought new forces into national politics; more blacks determined to make their freedom mean something, more whites . . . concerned with racial equality.”–Howard Zinn




:What kind of year was 1861? What might one read or hear about, in addition to the war? What people were emerging as significant persons whose names we recognize today? Let’s look at some important areas:

Agriculture, Food & Drink:

>the McCormick reaper sells for $150; it can be purchased for $30 down, the balance in six months if harvest is good, longer if harvest is poor;

McCormick reaper in operation

>Gail Borden opens new factories in New York and in Illinois to supply condensed milk for the Union army;

>Gilbert Van Camp of Indianapolis receives a lucrative contract to supply his canned pork and beans to the Union Army;

>Julius Sturgis of Lititz, Pennsylvania, gives up his bakery to open the first commercial pretzel bakery in the U S;

>William Schrafft, a Bavarian immigrant, opens his candy store in Boston;

 >Peter Widener of Philadelphia obtains a lucrative contract to supply mutton to the Union army.

The Arts:

>the German-American painter Albert Bierstadt, age 31, finishes the first of his lush, sweeping landscapes of the American West; he will come to be considered the foremost painter of these scenes for the remainder of the 19th century;

 >in France, construction begins on the new Paris opera house; Napoleon III has approved the design submitted by Charles Garnier, a 36 year old Paris-born architect.


> new books this year include

>On Translating Homer by Matthew Arnold (a printed version of the series of public lectures given by him at Oxford from November 3, 1860 to December 18, 1860);

>Mother Right: an Investigation of the Religious and Juridical Character of Matriarchy in the Ancient World by the Swiss anthropologist Johan J Bachofen (published in German);

>The Flowers of Evil, 2nd edition, by Charles Baudelaire (published in French; this edition is missing the six poems for which Baudelaire had been fined for violating public morals yet includes a number of newer poems);

>Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton;

Isabella Beeton

>The Octoroon by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

>Great Expectations by Charles Dickens;

>The Insulted and Humiliated by Fyodor Dostoevsky (published in Russian);








George Eliot

>Silas Marner by George Eliot ;

>The Chemical History of a Candle by Michael Faraday;

>Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr (later dubbed the first of his “medicated” novels, it tells the story of a neurotic young woman whose mother was bitten by a rattlesnake while pregnant, essentially making her daughter half-woman, half-snake);

>Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs;

>The Book on Mediums or Mediums and Evokers’ Handbook by Allan Kardec (published in French, the second of his five books on spiritualist philosophy)

> The System of Acquired Rights by Ferdinand Lassalle (published in German);

>volume five of The History of England by Thomas Babington Macaulay;

>Considerations on Representative Government by John Stuart Mill;

>A Gift to Young Housewives by Elena Ivanovna Molokhovets (published in Russian-it will be the most successful book of its kind in 19th and early 20th century Russia, well known in Russian households for decades–Molokhovets will revise the book continually between 1861 and 1917);

>The Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrical Poems in the English Language by Francis Turner Palgrav;

>The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Read;

>Consuelo by George Sand (published in French; a new edition of the 1842 original);

>A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament: For the Use of Biblical Students by Frederick H A Scrivener, biblical scholar and textual critic (in this book Scrivener lists over 3,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, as well as manuscripts of early versions);

>Childbed Fever by Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis (published in German–Semmelweis, a Hungarian working in Vienna, argues that the simple act of hand-washing by physicians reduces disease among women giving birth; women describe him as the “savior of mothers”–his male colleagues ridicule him);

>Education: Intellectual, Moral, and Physical  by Herbert Spencer

>Lectures on the History of the Eastern Church by Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, professor of church history at Oxford

>The Adventures of Philip by William Makepeace Thackeray;

>Orley Farm by AnthonyTrollope;

>East Lynn by Ellen Wood;

>The Young Step-Mother by Charlotte Mary Yonge

 >Frederick James Furnivall becomes editor of the Oxford English Dictionary;

 >first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern for use in the Anglican Church appears in print.

Business & Commerce:

>Rudolph Wurlitzer obtains a contract to provide trumpets and drums to the U S Army;

>in Philadelphia, John Wanamaker opens a men’s clothing store with the new practice of selling every item at marked, fixed prices;

>in New York Eberhard Faber begins mass-production of pencils;

>in London, Charles Harrod begins transforming his father’s grocery store into a department store;

>Isaac M Singer sells more sewing machines by export to Europe than he is selling in the U S;

I M Singer

>in Canada, the discovery of gold in British Columbia starts a “gold rush”;

>the North has over 1,300,000 industrial workers producing about $1,500,000,000 worth of products;

>the South has 110,000 industrial workers producing about $155,000,000 worth of products.


>the census of Canada reports that the black population is 13,166;

>the total population of the United States is a little over 32.3 million, of whom about 2/3rd live in the Union;

> population in representative Confederate states: Virginia-1,219,630; Georgia-1,037,286; North Carolina-992,622; South Carolina-703,768;

>population in representative Union states: New York-3,880,735; Pennsylvania-2,996,215; Ohio-2,339,511; Massachusetts-1,231,066;

>the population of the Russian Empire is approximately 76,000,000;

>the population of Italy is about 25,000,000;

>Great Britain has a population of 23,000,000.


>the British government founds the Post Office Savings Bank, the world’s first postal savings system to allow workers “to provide for themselves against adversity and ill-health”;

>from July 1, 1860 to June 30, 1861, the United States has a trade deficit of $86,000,000.


The seal of Vasser College

>Vasser Female College, Poughkeepsie, New York, is endowed by businessman Matthew Vasser and the college receives a charter; however, classes will only begin in 1865;

>Yale awards the first American PhD degree;

>Mary Smith Peake, age 38, born of a white father and free black mother, starts a school for the children of former slaves in the fall of 1861 under what will become known as the Emancipation Oak near Fort Monroe; she is the first black teacher hired by the American Missionary Association; although in declining health, she single-handedly teaches more than fifty children during the day and twenty adults at night.

>New colleges founded include:

–University of Colorado, Boulder

–University of Washington, Seattle

–Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

Fashion & Dress:

Mary Todd Lincoln

>Mary Lincoln, the new First Lady, spends more than $20,000 redecorating the White House, an effort she views as a necessary effort to create an image of stability that commands respect for President Lincoln and for the Union; she is the first presidential wife to be called “First Lady” in the press

Immigration (U.S.):

>91,918 immigrants enter the U S

>31,661 from German states

>23,797 from Ireland

>19,675 from Britain

>7,518 from China

>46.9% are female

>16.7% are under age 15

>9.9% are over age 40


>53.9% list no occupation [this includes many women and children]

>17.2% are general laborers

>10.2% are farmers

>10.2% are skilled laborers

>6.8% are commercial workers

>0.6% are servants

>0.6% are miscellaneous

>0.5% are professional workers

>Leland Stanford, businessman, lawyer and politician, hires hundreds of Chinese laborers to help build the western part of the Central Pacific Railroad.


>Robert Knight merges The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce to become The Times of India;

 >John Edward Taylor, the son of the founder, becomes editor of the Manchester Guardian (the paper will begin an editorial policy hostile to the Northern cause in the American Civil War, earning the wrath of Charles Francis Adams and other Americans).


>in Great Britain, Parliament passes the Criminal Law Consolidation Acts–The death penalty is limited to murder, embezzlement, piracy, high treason and to acts of arson perpetrated upon docks or ammunition depots; the age of consent is codified as twelve; the Home Secretary takes over the power to reprieve or commute sentences from the judiciary and Privy Council.

 Medicine & Health:

>in France, Louis Pasteur publishes a scholarly paper attacking the old concept of spontaneous generation;


>in New England 14.2% of children die before age 1.


>as of June 30, there are 217,112 active duty personnel in the U S armed forces;

>Cochise, a leader of the Chiricahua Apache, is falsely accused of stealing cattle and kidnaping a white boy; escaping a trap, Cochise leads his warriors to fight the United States for the next eleven years;

 >in October, President Lincoln creates the Army Balloon Corps as a branch of the Union Army under the directorship of the balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe and organized as a civilian operation employing a group of prominent American aeronauts and seven specially built, gas-filled balloons to perform aerial reconnaissance of the Confederate Army [it will function until August, 1863];

 >the Minie ball, a bullet developed by the French Army captain Claude Etienne Minie, is used immediately [and will be throughout the Civil War] by both North & South; it produces terrible wounds on those struck by it, shattering bones, and often causing doctors in field hospitals to amputate injured limbs rather than risk a typically fatal secondary infection; the large numbers of infantry armed with this type of ammunition results in mass casualties on a scale previously inconceivable to military strategists;

 >in Russia during April, in response to the Tsar’s abolition of serfdom the month before, in the Spassky Uyezd of Kazan Region, a group of peasants decide that the reform means that every large estate is now in possession of peasants, that they can refuse to pay rent to their aristocratic landlords and can suspend all works on their lands; led by a literate peasant named Anton Petrov, about 5000 peasants from 130 villages in the area join the movement; in violent confrontations, the Tsar’s soldiers kill between 57 to 91 peasants and wound more than 350 others; a university teacher, Afanasy Shchapov, who delivered a speech on behalf of the peasants, is arrested and sentenced to exile in Siberia


>the selection of Charles Francis Adams as U S Minister to Great Britain turns out to be fortuitous for U S-British relations; the appointment by President Lincoln of William Seward to the position of Secretary of State led directly to Seward’s insistence that Adams be chosen as Minister to England; President Lincoln follows Seward’s recommendation and appoints Adams to this key position; with his son Henry as personal secretary, Charles Francis Adams, along with his wife, arrives in London and quickly immerses himself in diplomatic and social affairs; British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, holds a precarious position as leader of a coalition government and is not in the Queen’s favor; the Foreign Secretary, Lord John Russell, though dutiful to the British government’s policies, soon develops an excellent relationship with Adams that, in turn, will help Adams in his effort to preclude British diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy; British working class opinion is against the Confederacy, due to the institution of slavery, while the aristocratic andcommercial classes favor the Confederacy; Adams provides exemplary diplomatic work amid this volatile atmosphere and disputatious events.


>in Korea Choe Je-u founds Donghak, a Korean religious movement against foreign invasions and critical of government policies of the time. Donghak venerates Haneullim (Lord of Heaven) and believes that human beings are not created by a supernatural being but instead are caused by an innate power. Koreans have believed in Haneullim from ancient times,

Science & Technology:

>the U S Patent Office receives 4,643 patent applications for inventions;

>in Great Britain, a system of fifteen land stations operates to use the new telegraph to transmit to Retired Admiral Robert FitzRoy [who had gained fame as captain of The Beagle during Darwin’s voyage] daily reports of weather at set times and includes a system of hoisting storm warning cones at the principal ports when a gale is expected;

 >in Australia, Thomas S Mort establishes at Darling Harbor the first freezing works in the world, which will became the New South Wales Fresh Food and Ice Company;

 >Linus Yale invents the cylinder lock which bears his name

Social Movements:

>an abolitionist, Frederick W Gunn, establishes the first ever recorded summer camp for boys at Washington, Connecticut

Sports & Exercise:

>having lost a bet on the outcome of the 1860 presidential election, Edward Payson Weston walks 478 miles from Boston, Massachusetts to Washington in 10 days and 10 hours, from February 22nd to March 4th, arriving in Washington at 5:00 pm, and attending President Lincoln’s inaugural ball that evening; the Union Army studies his technique in an attempt to improve infantry forced-marching;

 >an English promoter, George Martin, brings to the British Isles an American runner Lewis Bennett, a Seneca Indian from the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York who uses the name “Deerfoot” and runs his races with a naked chest, wearing a feather apron around his waist, and a band with one eagle feather around his head; in a 20 month tour of Europe, Deerfoot will become a world record holder.


>the Confederacy has about 9,000 miles of railroad track

>the Union has better than 22,000 miles of railroad track

Ah, yes–quite a year . . . and only the first act of the great drama.


The First Day, The First Time

“That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”–President Abraham Lincoln

“War is hell.”–General William Tecumseh Sherman

“War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus.”–Antoine de Saint-Exupery, pilot, poet, author

I was 11 years old the first time I saw the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Although I did not fully understand all that happened there, the place made a lasting impression upon my mind and heart. And it has in the several visits I have made since that summer. My mother did not believe in the extravagance of guided tours, even if she could have afforded one, which she could not. She had a simple chart of the battlefield. She drove slowly around, parked wherever she could and we walked to all kinds of places, taking our time to look at monuments and statues and to read many plaques. We moved quietly and respectfully through the rows upon rows of graves. I remember looking in awe at the place where Lincoln gave his short, eloquent speech.

Gettysburg National Cemetery

There are well over 640 history books written just about the Battle of Gettysburg. Of course the battle is discussed in hundreds more books written about the Civil War, President Lincoln and others connected with the events of those three days. I’ve read only a handful and more articles than I can remember. Today, July 1, marks the date of the start of the battle. I’m reflecting on some of those people and events.

Determined to take the war into northern territory, General Robert E Lee launched an invasion of Pennsylvania in the last days of June, 1863. Lee himself entered Pennsylvania on June 27th. Lee’s forces were spread out like the prongs of pitchfork. He was hampered by a lack of communication with General Jeb Stuart, his dashing, rash but brilliant cavalry commander. As a result Lee’s infantry, artillery and supply columns marched somewhat blind in unfamiliar country and without cavalry protection. The Confederate forces, indeed, many parts of the South, were low on food stuffs, short of horses and without a solid industrial base to maintain a regular supply of weapons and ammunition.

Unlike what the Federal troops under General William Tecumseh Sherman would do in Georgia in 1864 and ‘65, Lee’s troops were ordered not to steal or plunder and to “pay” in Confederate script for goods taken. Not all soldiers followed these orders. Nonetheless, many Amish and Mennonite farmers as well as others gave water, milk, bread, butter, flour and bacon to the Confederates without resistance. Aware of a supply of shoes warehoused at Gettysburg and unaware of how close the Union forces really were, Confederates under General Heth headed for the area.

Southern soldiers under General Albert Jenkins seized black people in the areas around Mercersburg and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. While a few were fugitive slaves, most were free born persons. Some managed to escape their captors; however, about 50 or more were shipped south into slavery.

Just as most Union soldiers who had been less than 35 miles from home before the start of the war, most Confederates had little idea of how others lived. Rebel officers expressed shock to see young white women, without shoes or bonnets, working in the fields. A Confederate infantyman wrote to his family, complaining that “Dutch and Irish girls” in Pennsylvania were “dirty and [the] meanest looking creatures to call themselves white girls.” Beer in Pennsylvania, brewed by German immigrants, proved to be much stronger than that known to many Southern lads. Officers and enlisted men over-indulged. Because of several days of rain, Confederate soldiers chose not to march on the muddy roads but rather through fields full of standing grain, damaging crops.


General Buford

On Tuesday, June 30th, two brigades of Federal cavalry, under the command of General John Buford, entered Gettysburg. Buford, like President Lincoln, was born in Kentucky. His family, including his father, owned slaves. He graduated from the military academy at West Point and served in combat against the Sioux on the western plains and with the Federal forces who had tried to end the bloodshed between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces in “Bleeding Kansas,” a prelude to the current war. Buford correctly determined that Lee’s forces were headed away from the state capital at Harrisburg and had turned in a new direction. Despite being significantly out-numbered, Buford dismounted his troopers and determined to make a fight west of Gettysburg until General Meade could bring up the main Union forces. Buford’s men were well-armed with new Spencer 7-shot rifles which enabled them to fire as much twenty-one rounds per minute as compared to the Confederate infantry armed with muzzle-loading muskets who could, with experience, fire four rounds per minute. Most likely, Buford’s determination provoked a battle at a time and on terrain Lee had not chosen. However, despite his brilliant performance at Gettysburg, Buford, like many other generals from both armies, did not live to see the end of the war. He died on December 16th, 1863 in Washington, DC, probably from typhoid fever.

One of the statues I remember clearly from my first visit is a likeness of John Burns. By the standards of the time, he was quite elderly, being 69 years old and a veteran of the War of 1812. On that afternoon of July 1, 1863, as Confederate forces pushed toward the town, Burns shouldered his old musket and calmly joined the men of the 24th Regiment, Michigan Volunteer Infantry, known as the “Iron Brigade.” The tough young men respected the old man who stood with them, firing away until he suffered a minor wound. In November, 1863, John Burns met and walked with President Lincoln when Lincoln came to dedicate the national cemetery. Of the 496 men of the Iron Brigade who went into battle on July 1st, only 99 were present and fit for duty the next morning.

John Burns

The first infantry units to arrive in support of Buford were under the command of General John Reynolds. Reynolds hailed from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had also graduated from West Point, had combat experience in War with Mexico and against Native Americans. At age 42, he was considered smart, handsome and very well-liked by his troops. Reportedly, President Lincoln offered him the command of the Army of the Potomac to replace the ineffective General Hooker. Reynolds declined and Lincoln picked George Meade. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Reynolds wanted the kind of unrestricted command Lincoln later gave Ulysses S Grant. As Reynolds directed infantry into position, a bullet, most likely fired by a Confederate sharpshooter, entered his neck, knocking him from his horse and killing him almost instantly. His true love, Miss Kate Hewitt, learning of his death, entered a Roman Catholic convent in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Death of General Reynolds


The Lutheran Theological Seminary served Union officers and later Confederate officers as an observation tower and still later as a field hospital during the three days of battle. Ironically, one of the men who played a key role in founding the Seminary, Rev Samuel S Schmucker, was an active abolitionist. He used places at the Seminary and rooms in his own house as safe places for fugitive slaves escaping from the South. Union soldiers destroyed anti-slavery materials found at the Seminary to prevent the items from falling into Confederate hands. For two months after the battle, wounded soldiers from both sides were treated at the Seminary as well as in most churches and large buildings in town.

Lutheran Seminary

In 1925, Liberty Augusta Hollinger Clutz, at age 78, put down in writing her memories of the Battle of Gettysburg. She was 16 in July, 1863, one of five children in the Hollinger family living in the town. Her recollections are simply told and deeply moving. She wrote of how the Confederates took her father’s old horse and finding it too old to be useful, let it go and how they ransacked her father’s warehouse, destroying the foodstuffs they could not take with them. In her narration she mentioned how on the first day a young retreating Union soldier left his backpack with her mother and he never returned for it. She saw General Lee on horseback ride past her family’s house. On the second day of fighting, a distinguished looking Confederate doctor asked politely if he might rest a few moments on their porch. His uniform was bloody and caked with mud. When Augusta’s mother offered to feed him, he declined, saying that spending a morning amputating limbs left him with no appetite and he needed only a few minutes quiet to renew his soul. After the battle, she, her sisters and her parents spent days moving wounded off the field and nursing them as best they could. A young Union soldier in her care, a man from Portland, Maine, died the day before his mother arrived to take care of him. For months the young Augusta gathered up abandoned army coats and used them to cover skeletal remains which she and others kept finding. Later she married a Lutheran minister, Jacob Clutz, who taught for some years at the Lutheran Seminary.

Remains of dead horses after the battle

By sundown on July 3rd, the Union forces had sustained 23,049 dead, wounded and missing; the Confederates, 28,063 dead, wounded and missing. Lee managed to disengage and make a painful retreat into Maryland. The cautious General Meade waited and then moved slowly in pursuit, much to Lincoln’s annoyance. Meanwhile, out west, a feisty, short-of-stature, bearded, hard-drinking general named Ulysses S Grant, captured Vicksburg, Mississippi and would provide Lincoln the kind of general the President wanted.

During the Civil War, at least 646,392 Americans were killed or wounded by other Americans. They accounted for 1.96% of the total population. In the South, in 1865, 1 of every 4 white males over age 16 was dead or permanently disabled. Compare those numbers with approximately 50,000 Americans killed or wounded in the Revolution; 211,454 killed or wounded in Vietnam; 320,518 killed or wounded in the First World War.

Unfinished grave of Confederate dead

I tell students that the Civil War was the defining American experience in our 235 years of history. And the issues are still not resolved. Looking at the newspapers, blogs, and television and listening to the radio I still hear the debate of federal power versus states’ rights, the place of African Americans in our society and the meaning and intent of the Constitution as modified by the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Have those honored dead really died in vain? I think we don’t yet have a definitive answer.

“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”–Jeannette Rankin, one of 50 members of the House of Representatives who voted against U S entry in World War One in 1917.

“War is the unfolding of miscalculations.”–Barbara Tuchman, historian, author of The Guns of August.

“In peace, children inter their parents; war violates the order of nature and causes parents to inter their children.” Herodotus, Greek historian (circa 484-425, B C E).

“No one can claim to be called Christian who gives money for the building of warships and arsenals.”–Belva Ann Lockwood, first woman lawyer to practice before the U S Supreme Court and vice-president of the Universal Peace Union.

About the Civil War, Lockwood wrote, “No woman voted a subsidy to maintain it . . . . when the great outlay of blood and treasure is summed up, including the amount paid and to be paid for pensions, enough money would have been peaceably spent to have bought out of bondage every slave.”–Lockwood in Lippincott’s Magazine, February, 1888.

Attorney Belva Lockwood