Tag Archives: reform movements

August ~ Election Year 1912

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With former President Teddy Roosevelt its candidate, the Progressive Party adopts a liberal, reform-minded platform but as a gesture to the South, keeps Southern blacks from the convention. Invoking the Monroe Doctrine, the U S mends in Latin American affairs. President Taft takes away Native American lands while getting Congress to pass some important legislation. Trouble is brewing in Mexico and in the Balkans.

August 1– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– The Progressive Party announces that it will not allow African Americans from Southern states to be delegates at its organizing convention in Chicago, a statement made with the approval of former President Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt emphasizes that from Northern states, “there would be a number of Negro delegates; more, in fact, than ever before figured in a National convention.”

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August 2– Friday– Washington, D.C.– The Senate votes 51-4 to extend the Monroe Doctrine to protect the Americas, both North and South, from foreign corporations.

August 4– Sunday– Corinto, Nicaragua– One hundred U.S. Marines and sailors arrive on the USS Annapolis to protect American interests.

August 4– Sunday– Lidingo Municipality, Sweden– Birth of Raoul Wallenberg, diplomat and humanitarian who will rescue tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II, then disappear into Soviet custody in 1947 and subsequently be presumed dead.

August 5– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The Progressive Party, nicknamed the “Bull Moose” Party to rival the Republican elephant and Democrat donkey, opens its founding convention.

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August 6– Tuesday– Chicago, Illinois– The Progressive Party presents a 16 page booklet detailing the platform which includes establishing limits and disclosure requirements ob campaign contributions, registration of lobbyists, establishment of a national health service, social insurance for the elderly and disabled, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, mandatory reporting of industrial accidents, a minimum wage for working women, an eight-hour workday, conversation of natural resources, establishment of a federal securities commission, establishment of a department of labor, regulation of interstate corporations, downward revision of tariffs, establishment of an inheritance tax, financial aid to farmers, pensions for veterans and their widows and children, use of the new Panama Canal to break the monopoly of the railroads, woman suffrage, direct election of senators, maintaining a strong military yet working for international agreements on limiting naval forces.

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Woodrow Wilson

 

August 7– Wednesday– Sea Girt, New Jersey– Speaking to a crowd of 6,000 supporters, Woodrow Wilson formally accepts the Democratic nomination.

August 7– Wednesday–Chicago, Illinois– The Progressive Party nominates Theodore Roosevelt as its candidate for President of the United States and California Governor Hiram Johnson for vice-president. [Johnson, age 46, a reform-minded lawyer, was elected governor in 1910. He will continue to serve as governor until 1917 and then as U S Senator from California from 1917 until his death on August 6, 1945. On his life and work, See: Hiram Johnson: Political Revivalist (1995) by M Weatherson and H Bochin; A Bloc of One: the Political Career of Hiram W Johnson (1993) by R C Lower.

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Hiram Johnson

 

August 8– Thursday– Mt Juliet, Tennessee– Ross Winn, age 40, American anarchist and newspaper publisher, dies from tuberculosis, “the poor people’s disease.”

August 9– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Taft issues a proclamation opening parts the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana for public sale as of October 21, 1912.

August 10– Saturday– Beijing, China– The Republic’s provisional government enacts its election law, creating a lower house of parliament, and limiting voting rights to male citizens who were at least 21 years of age, have at least two years residency in their district, and meet certain property and educational restrictions.

August 11– Sunday– near Mexico City, Mexico– Zapatista rebels attack a train, killing 35 soldiers and 20 civilians.

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August 12– Monday– City of Uskub (now Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia)– An army of 15,000 Kosovar Albanians march into the city, one of the European outposts of the Ottoman Empire, and expel the Turkish administrators and Serbian residents.

August 13– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– The Radio Act of 1912 is enacted, providing for all American radio broadcasters to be licensed by, and assigned a specific frequency, by the federal government.

August 14– Wednesday– London, England– Octavia Hill, social reformer, dies at age 73 from cancer.

August 15– Thursday–Pasadena, California– Birth of Julia Carolyn Mc Williams Child, chef, author and television personality.[Dies August 13, 2004.]

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August 16– Friday– Providence, Rhode Island– Theodore Roosevelt opens his campaign for the presidency, with an speech detailing his plans.

August 16– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– Sixteen-year-old African-American Virginia Christian is executed for the March 18th murder of her employer, Mrs Ida Belote, in Hampton, Virginia, despite pleas for clemency made to Governor William Hodges Mann, age 69, a Democrat and veteran of the Confederate Army. Miss Christian is listed as “the first woman to be put to death in the electric chair in Virginia.”

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Virginia Christian in her jail cell

 

August 17– Saturday– Los Angeles, California– Clarence Darrow, the famous trial lawyer, receives a verdict of acquittal in his own criminal trial. Darrow had been charged with having attempted to bribe a juror in the Los Angeles Times bombing case.

August 17– Saturday–Piedmont, California– Cloe Annette Buckel, physician whose career included care of Union soldiers from August, 1863 through May, 1865, dies of arteriosclerosis eight days before her 79th birthday.

August 20– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Taft signs into law the Plant Quarantine Act, giving the federal government the power to regulate the importation and interstate shipment of plant products that might carry with them insects and diseases. The law will prove effective in curtailing the spread of the gypsy moth beyond the New England area, where the population of the pest had significantly increased over the previous seven years.

August 20– Tuesday– London, England– Reverend William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, dies at age 83.

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William Booth

 

August 23–Friday– Washington, D. C.– The Pure Food and Drug Act is amended to prohibit drug manufacturers from making false claims on the labels of medication.

August 24–Saturday– Washington, D.C.–Congress gives final approval to the creation of the parcel post system.

August 25– Sunday–Beijing, China– The Kuomintang political party, also referred to as the Nationalist Chinese Party, is founded by former President Sun Yat-sen. [Under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, the Kuomintang will be the ruling political party of mainland China until 1949, and of Taiwan since then.]

August 27– Tuesday– Veracruz, Mexico– Birth of Gloria Rubio Alatorre Guinness, who will become a well-known socialite in the Americas and in Europe. A fashion icon, she will write for and edit Harper’s Bazaar (1963-1971). [Dies November 9, 1980.]

August 29– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Claims made by entrepreneur Clarence Cunningham, to the coal fields of the Territory of Alaska, are cancelled by the Department of the Interior.

August 29– Thursday– Memphis, Tennessee– Robert R. Church, African-American entrepreneur and philanthropist, dies at age 72 after a brief illness.

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Robert R Church

 

August 30– Friday– Colonia Morelos, Sonora, Mexico– Rebel Mexican General Jose Inez Salazar begins a campaign to force American residents to leave Mexico, ordering the residents of the American Mormon settlement to leave the country within two weeks.

 

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July ~ Election Year 1852

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Frederick Douglass, former slave, calls into question the American vision in a dramatic Fourth of July speech. President Fillmore is busy, including having to deal with a leak to the press. Abolitionists do not mourn the late Henry Clay. Dissatisfaction with the two major parties seems to create opportunity for third party movements. Temperance is an issue which will grow in significance over the next seventy years. Great Britain undergoes a significant political change.

July 1– Thursday– New York City– “Mrs. Margaret Freeland of Syracuse was recently arrested upon a warrant issued on complaint of Emanuel Rosendale, a rum-seller, charging her with forcing an entrance to his house, and with stones and clubs smashing his doors and windows, breaking his tumblers and bottles, and turning over his whiskey barrels and spilling their contents. Great excitement was produced by this novel case. It seems that the husband of Mrs. Freeland is a drunkard, that he is in the habit of abusing his wife, turning her out of doors, &c., and this was carried so far that the Police have frequently found it necessary to interfere to put a stop to his ill treatment of his family. Rosendale the complainant, furnished Freeland with the liquor which turned him into a demon. Mrs. Freeland had frequently told him of her sufferings and besought him to refrain from giving her husband the poison. But alas! she appealed to a heart of stone. He disregarded her entreaties and spurned her from his door. Driven to desperation she armed herself, broke into the house, drove out the base-hearted landlord and proceeded upon the work of destruction. She was brought before the Court and demanded a trial. The citizens employed C. B. Sedgwick, Esq., as her counsel, and prepared to justify her assault upon legal grounds. Rosendale, being at once arrested on complaint of T. L. Carson for selling liquor unlawfully, and feeling the force of the storm that was gathering over his head, appeared before the Justice, withdrew his complaint against Mrs. Freeland, paid the costs, and gave bail on the complaint of Mr. Carson, to appear at the General Sessions, and answer to an indictment should there be one found. Mrs. Freeland is said to be ‘the pious mother of a fine family of children, and a highly respectable member of the Episcopal Church.’” ~ The Lily

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temperance activists

 

July 1– Thursday– Washington, D.C. – “Great was my surprise to observe this morning in one of the public journals a statement of what purports to be a proposition, jointly signed by Her Britannic Majesty’s minister here and the Secretary of State, for the adjustment of certain claims to territory between Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the Mosquito Indians. I have caused immediate inquiry to be made into the origin of this highly improper publication, and shall omit no proper or legal means for bringing it to light. Whether it shall turn out to have been caused by unfaithfulness or breach of duty in any officer of this Government, high or low, or by a violation of diplomatic confidence, the appropriate remedy will be immediately applied, as being due not only to this Government, but to other governments. And I hold this communication to be especially proper to be made immediately by me to the Senate, after what has transpired on this subject, that the Senate may be perfectly assured that no information asked by it has been withheld and at the same time permitted to be published to the world. This publication can not be considered otherwise than as a breach of official duty by some officer of the Government or a gross violation of the confidence necessary always to be reposed in the representatives of other nations. An occurrence of this kind can not but weaken the faith so desirable to be preserved between different governments and to injure the negotiations now pending, and it merits the severest reprobation.” ~ Message to the Senate from President Fillmore.

July 2– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “An announcement of [Henry] Clay’s death. He was a brilliant orator, and exceedingly attractive and magnetic in social life, but utterly devoid of principle, and one who has done more than any other man to extend and perpetuate slavery, and render popular the accursed doctrine of ‘compromise.’ Death has its uses; and never is this more clearly seen than in the removal of such a man from a world which he has only cursed by his bad example. In his removal, the colored population of the country, both bond and free, have lost their most insidious and influential persecutor.” ~ The Liberator. [Clay died on June 29, 1852.]

July 2– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “By an act of Congress approved on the 10th day of February, 1852, an appropriation of $6,000 was made for the relief of American citizens then lately imprisoned and pardoned by the Queen of Spain, intended to provide for the return of such of the Cuban prisoners as were citizens of the United States who had been transported to Spain and there pardoned by the Spanish Government. It will be observed that no provision was made for such foreigners or aliens as were engaged in the Cuban expedition, and who had shared the fate of American citizens, for whose relief the said act was intended to provide. I now transmit a report from the First Comptroller, with accompanying papers, from which it will be perceived that fifteen foreigners were connected with that expedition, who were also pardoned by the Queen of Spain, and have been transported to the United States under a contract made with our consul, at an expense of $1,013.34, for the payment of which no provision has been made by law. The consul having evidently acted with good intentions, the claim is submitted for the consideration of Congress.” ~ Message to Congress from President Fillmore. [The $1,013.14 would equal $32,000 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

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President Fillmore

 

July 5– Monday– Rochester, New York– “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour. Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.” ~ Speech by Frederick Douglass on the meaning of the Fourth of July.

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Douglass at the podium

 

July 8– Thursday– Montreal, Quebec, Canada– A fire breaks out which will consume 11,000 houses.

July 15– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The National Era will keep its readers advised of the movements of Parties, their Principles, Purposes, and Prospects; and their Position, especially as relates to the Question of Slavery. Persons subscribing for six months from the 1st of July, will receive the paper till the 1st of January, thus securing a full view of the entire Campaign, its results, and its bearings upon the preliminary movements in the next session of Congress. Twelve copies of the paper will be sent for the six months for $9 – the person making up the club entitling himself to an extra copy; or, For the five months from July 1st to December 1st, covering the campaign and its results, twelve copies will be sent for $7.50 – the person making up the club being entitled to an extra copy. The record of Mr. Pierce, which we publish this week, will be republished in the early part of next month, for the benefit of those subscribers who may commence on the first of July. It shall be our aim to furnish impartially the important facts in relation to all the contending Parties. Will not our friends who regard the Era as qualified to spread correct political information and disseminate sound political sentiments, do what they can, by the formation of clubs and otherwise, to secure it still larger access to the public mind? We must rely upon their well-directed efforts. An uncompromising opponent of the Pro-Slavery policy of the old political organizations, it still expects to obtain a fair hearing from the liberal men who continue to support them, though under protest.” ~ The National Era.

July 16– Friday–Rochester, New York– “Slave Hunters. We understand that some specimens of these loathsome excrescences of the human race, made their appearance in Detroit last week. But there they met a boundary they dare not pass in search of slave property. IF any of them aspire after the honors that graced the Austrian woman-whipper in London, we feelingly invite them on Her Majesty’s free soil.” ~ Frederick Douglass’ Paper.

July 23– Friday– Rochester, New York– “Sir, we are in the midst of a revolution. The two great parties are striving to convert this free Government into a slaveholding, a slave-breeding Republic. Those powers which were delegated to secure liberty are now exerted to overthrow freedom and the Constitution. It becomes every lover of freedom, every Christian, every man, to stand forth in defense of popular rights in defense of the rights of the free States, of the institutions under which we live, in defense of our national character.” ~ Speech by Joshua Giddings in the House of Representatives on June 23rd, reprinted in today’s issue of Frederick Douglass’ Paper.

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Joshua Giddings

 

July 26– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Fillmore submits to the Senate information on the determination of the boundary between Mexico and the United States.

July 29– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “We trust that the Pittsburgh Convention will restrict its platform on the subject of Slavery to the topics of which we have spoken, and thus attract to its standard the noble and ardent spirits who seek to limit and sectionalize Slavery, and bring the National Government to use its influence actively on the side of Liberty. Notwithstanding the passage of the Compromise measures, the friends of Slavery are actively plotting to diffuse it over new and virgin soil. The issue presented is similar to that of 1848, and should be resisted by a similar platform of principles to prevent the National Government from aiding, by its action or connivance, the establishment of more Slave States of Slave Territories. Accepting this issue, the Pittsburgh Convention should adopt a similar platform to that of 1848, and seek by practicable means to divorce the Government from all connection with, or responsibility for, Slavery. Especially should this be pursued now, when the old parties have resolved to ‘resist’ agitation, and ‘acquiesce’ in the Compromise measures adopted by the last Congress. In regard to other questions, we trust the Convention will take a decisive stand for cheap postage for the people; retrenchment of the expenses and patronage of the Federal Government; the election, so far as practicable, of all civil officers; free grants of land to actual settlers on our public lands; the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law; constitutional appropriations for River and Harbor Improvements; and declare the right of every nation to choose its own Government, and especially the duty of free nations to protest against and prevent the intervention of despots to suppress republican or constitutional Government. Such a platform will attract a large number of votes, and spread dismay into the ranks of the two old parties, which have blinked these questions, and taken no manly ground in regard to them.” ~ The National Era.

July 30– Friday– Rochester, New York– “I have time now to say but a word. It is evident that the Vermont friends of freedom mean to support John P. Hale for the Presidency. That is their intention now, subject to the decision of the National Convention, August 11th, at Pittsburgh. In your paper of July 16th, your corresponding Editor, John Thomas, regards Hale as unsound on the slavery question; because, ‘acknowledging its LEGAL claims, he would but REGULATE its manifestations.’Is it even so? Is that Mr. Hale’s position? The friends of freedom in this section think that it is not so. I have not the documents on hand to meet them. Probably Mr. Thomas can lay his hands on the proof. Will he do so, and let us see what is, as speedily as possible? I am welcomed here. I preached three times in this town last Sabbath, July 18th, and last evening. Monday farmers from the hay fields filled the Town House to hear about the position of the Liberty Party, as understood in the State of New York.” ~ Letter to the editor from Mr J R Johnson in today’s issue of Frederick Douglass’ Paper.

July 30– Friday– Princeton, Wisconsin– Birth of Emma Millinda Gillett, educator, feminist, and lawyer who along with Ellen Spencer Mussey will found the Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. in 1896 and serve as its dean from 1913 to 1923. [Dies January 23, 1927.]

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Emma Gillett

 

July 31– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I communicate to the Senate herewith, for its constitutional action thereon, nineteen treaties negotiated by commissioners on the part of the United States with various tribes of Indians in the Territory of Oregon, accompanied by a letter to me from the Secretary of the Interior and certain documents having reference thereto.” ~ Message to the Senate from President Fillmore.

July 31– Saturday– London, England– In a general election for all 654 seats in Parliament’s House of Commons, the Conservatives win 330 seats and the Whigs win 324 seats. [This particular general election constitutes a watershed in formation of the modern political parties of Great Britain. Following 1852, the Tory/Conservative party becomes mostly the party of the rural aristocracy, while the Whig/Liberal party becomes the party of the rising urban bourgeois in Britain. The results of the election are extremely close in terms of both the popular vote and number of seats won by the main two parties. See, Party and Politics, 1830-1852 (1989) by Robert Stewart.]

May ~ Election Year 1896

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

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

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the Shah of Persia

 

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

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

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Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Kate Field

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Coronation of Tsar Nicholas II

 

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

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

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Charles Bentley

 

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

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

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the crowd at Khodynka Field before the panic began

 

 

May~Election Year 1940

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The so-called phony war which has raged in Europe since last September turns into a very hot shooting war with parts of the continent overrun by German forces and British and Allied soldiers forced to evacuate. The Olympic Committee cancels the summer games. Churchill becomes Prime Minister of England. The difficulties of the war will add pressure upon President Roosevelt as he weighs seeking an unprecedented third term. The Prohibition Party puts forward a slate of candidates.

May 3– Friday– Atlanta, Georgia– Henry Ossian Flipper, born a slave who became a soldier, engineer, author and the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, dies at 84 years of age.

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Henry Ossian Flipper, circa 1900

 

May 6– Monday– New York City– Columbia University announces the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes. The public service award goes to the Waterbury Republican-American. Other journalism awards go to a reporter for the New York World-Telegram, a reporter from the New York Times, an editor from the St Louis Post-Dispatch and a cartoonist from the Baltimore Sun. Book awards go to John Steinbeck for The Grapes of Wrath, Carl Sandburg for Abraham Lincoln: the War Years and Ray Stannard Baker for volumes 7 and 8 of Woodrow Wilson, Life and Letters.

May 6– Monday– Lausanne, Switzerland– The International Olympic Committee announces the cancellation of the Summer Olympic Games.

May 10– Friday– Chicago, Illinois– The Prohibition Party nominates Roger W Babson for president and Edgar V Moorman for Vice-President. [Babson, 1875– 1967, was born in Massachusetts and became a successful statistician, business executive and author. Until 1938 he was active in the Republican Party. Moorman is a business executive from Illinois. On this election, see Babson’s own recollections in Our Campaign for the Presidency in 1940; America and the Churches (1941); on the party and its politics, see Ardent Spirits: the Rise and Fall of Prohibition (1993) by John Kobler; Partisan Prophets; a History of the Prohibition Party, 1854-1972 (1972) by Roger C Storms; Women and Gender in the New South: 1865-1945 (2009) by Elizabeth Hayes Turner.

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Roger W Babson, circa 1919

 

May 10– Friday– London, England– Winston Churchill, age 65, becomes Prime Minister as King George VI officially invites him to form a government.

May11– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas a state of war unhappily exists between Germany, on the one hand, and Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands, on the other hand; Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, in order to preserve the neutrality of the United States and of its citizens and of persons within its territory and jurisdiction, and to enforce its laws and treaties, and in order that all persons, being warned of the general tenor of the laws and treaties of the United States in this behalf, and of the law of nations, may thus be prevented from any violation of the same, do hereby declare and proclaim that all of the provisions of my proclamation of September 5, 1939, proclaiming the neutrality of the United States in a war between Germany and France; Poland; and the United Kingdom, India, Australia and New Zealand apply equally in respect to Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands.”

May 12– Sunday– Sedan, France– In a massive thrust, German forces invade France as well as Belgium and the Netherlands.

May 14– Tuesday– Toronto, Ontario, Canada– Emma Goldman, anarchist, feminist, political activist, author and orator, dies of complications from a stroke, six weeks away from her 71st birthday.

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grave of Emma Goldman

 

May 14– Tuesday– London, England– Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, age 59, and her government arrive. [She leads the government in exile until she can return to her home in March, 1945.]

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Queen Wilhelmina, 1942

 

May 15– Wednesday– London, England– Winston Churchill sends a private telegram, the first of many, to President Roosevelt requesting American aid and asking the United States to join the Allied effort.

May 22– Wednesday– Washington, D. C.– “When Reorganization Plan No. IV was submitted to Congress, I did not contemplate the transmittal of any additional plans during the current session. However, the startling sequence of international events which has occurred since then has necessitated a review of the measures required for the nation’s safety. This has revealed a pressing need for the transfer of the immigration and naturalization functions from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice. I had considered such an interdepartmental transfer for some time but did not include it in the previous reorganization plans since much can be said for the retention of these functions in the Department of Labor during normal times. I am convinced, however, that under existing conditions the immigration and naturalization activities can best contribute to the national well-being only if they are closely integrated with the activities of the Department of Justice.” ~ Message from President Roosevelt to Congress.

May 26– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “For more than three centuries we Americans have been building on this continent a free society, a society in which the promise of the human spirit may find fulfillment. Commingled here are the blood and genius of all the peoples of the world who have sought this promise. We have built well. We are continuing our efforts to bring the blessings of a free society, of a free and productive economic system, to every family in the land. This is the promise of America. It is this that we must continue to build—this that we must continue to defend. It is the task of our generation, yours and mine. But we build and defend not for our generation alone. We defend the foundations laid down by our fathers. We build a life for generations yet unborn. We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind. Ours is a high duty, a noble task. Day and night I pray for the restoration of peace in this mad world of ours. It is not necessary that I, the President, ask the American people to pray in behalf of such a cause—for I know you are praying with me. I am certain that out of the heart of every man, woman and child in this land, in every waking minute, a supplication goes up to Almighty God; that all of us beg that suffering and starving, that death and destruction may end—and that peace may return to the world. In common affection for all mankind, your prayers join with mine—that God will heal the wounds and the hearts of humanity.” ~ President Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chat” with the American people via radio.

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Dunkirk evacuation

 

May 26– Sunday– Dunkirk, France– The British begin the evacuation of their own and allied troops.

May 29– Wednesday– New York City– “In various places I have moved about recently, I have been confronted with red poppies. I hurriedly look in my bag to see if I still have the last one to show, but finding it gone each time, I fish out more money and buy a new one. Veterans of the last World War are still in the hospitals and it is fitting that we should make their lot pleasanter by remembering them in this week before Memorial Day and by paying our share to the veterans’ fund. I want to congratulate the Amalgamated Clothing Workers on their silver jubilee, which they have just celebrated. This union has pioneered in many fields. Of course, their primary purpose has been to obtain the best possible wages and working conditions for the workers in the clothing and related industries, but they have undertaken labor banking, cooperative housing, unemployment insurance, life insurance and a real program of cultural activities.” ~ My Day column by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, age55 [written today it will appear in newspapers tomorrow]

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First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Election Year 1852~April

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Not one convention has taken place but the issues are coming into focus and candidates appearing. Issues include the expansion of slavery, enforcement of the Compromise of 1850, particularly the Fugitive Slave Act, the novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, religious tolerance. And women are making an unusual amount of agitation.

April 1– Thursday– New York City– “Too many of those who are engaged in the present reform, seem to suppose that the great work we have to do, is to look to our fathers and brothers for help, and accept it when they grant it. True, we need their aid. To work efficiently and harmoniously, we must work together; but on woman rests the responsibility of elevating woman. . . . The law of progress is proclaimed by every page of human history, and whether we aid or retard the work, it still goes on, and they only are losers who oppose its progress. Let woman appeal to Legislative and Ecclesiastical bodies, as well as to Medical Colleges, setting forth the injury inflicted on humanity by the present laws and rules. Let her go herself before those public bodies, and set forth the difficulties under which she labors, the disabilities which are imposed upon her, the injustice of taxation without representation, and of not permitting her to be tried by a jury of her peers. It is objected to this last innovation, that if women sat as jurors, the sentences on woman would be less lenient than they now are. I shall not dispute this; time only can settle it. But admitting that it is so– that the sexes are more merciful to each other than to themselves, then so much greater the reason for woman to share the toil and the responsibility of jurorship. Let there be an interchange of good offices, that men may experience from them the mercy they have failed to find in man. Woman has a deep, intuitive, divine sense of justice, and she has a power of endurance, of quiet fortitude in bearing fatigue, hunger, thirst and sleeplessness, at least equal to man. Or if she has not, a superior education, by giving her habits of close attention and continued concentration of mind, will qualify her for the responsibility of jurorship. Of this I am very certain, if woman is not capable of fulfilling the duties of that post, she will not be elevated to it, or, if elevated, will soon vacate it. Character and ability, like water, will find their level as a general fact; and this accounts for the present position of woman. She is just beginning to realize her wealth of mind, and moral power.” ~ Letter from Sarah Grimke in The Lily. [On Sarah Grimke and her sister Angelina, see the excellent biography The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina: Pioneers for Woman’s Rights and Abolition (1967) by Gerda Lerner.]

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April 2– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– In The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison criticizes Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois as a strong supporter of the South and southern interests.

April 5– Monday– New York City– Reverend W S Balch delivers a lengthy lecture to a large audience in which he argues that no one can be a good republican while claiming allegiance to the pope and the Roman Catholic Church.

April 5–Monday– Washington, D. C.–Congress passes a resolution affirming support of the Compromise of 1850 and mandating full enforcement of all its provisions.

April 8– Thursday– Rochester, New York– “My labors, since the last issue, have quite assured me of returning strength. I have delivered five anti-slavery lectures; two at Hemlock Lake, Livingston County, two at Honeoye, Ontario County, and one in the Congregational Church, St. Paul Street, Rochester: and from these labors, I have experienced no other inconvenience, save that necessarily involved in absence from my post. . . . In a word, I found them as clear as light, in respect to all important points connected with the anti-slavery question; and as strong as steel, in their adhesion to them. I speak this, however, as especially applying to the members of the Independent Congregational Church of Honeoye, for I doubt not, that outside of it there might easily be found many that would not answer his description. This being my first visit to Honeoye, the friends of the slave thought that it would be well for me to narrate my experience in slavery. – This I did, in my second lecture, and it was most gratifying to observe the evidence of sympathy, in old and young, as they listened to my simple story. At the close of my lecture, several came forward and subscribed for my paper, and otherwise rendered me “material aid.” The result of my lecturing tour, is, that I am cheered and strengthened; having had abundant evidence that there are yet “ears to hear,” and hearts to feel. Oh! that the means could be had to send anti-slavery lecturers into every section of the State. – The people must have “line upon line,” and “precept upon precept,” if they are ever confirmed in the great principles of human liberty, upon which the anti-slavery movement is founded.” ~ Frederick Douglass in his Frederick Douglass’ Paper.

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April 9– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Mr. [Parker] Pillsbury took up the subject of the identity of the interests of the working classes with the anti-slavery cause, and showed, as far as words have power to show, that the laboring classes of the North cannot hope for better things until slavery is abolished at the South. He proved that the Northern and Southern slaveholder were banded together by the of interest and trade; that the Church was blessing and sanctifying the unholy union; and unless some change came to the relief of the toiling even of the North, they would, in the progress of a very few years, be at starving point– be literally crushed by this triple and relentless power. Yet his burning eloquence and cogent arguments reached only a very few ears. The people are being led by the priests and politicians like lambs to the slaughter. They assist robbers to rob their own pockets, and then pay the priesthood to reconcile the deed with Divine justice, and themselves to their condition. Father, forgive them all, lo! they know not what they do!” ~Letter from Alonzo J. Grover to The Liberator. [On the life and work of Parker Pillsbury, 1809-1898, see: American Chivalry (1913) by Lillie Buffum Chace Wyman; Parker Pillsbury: Radical Abolitionist, Male Feminist (2007) by Stacey M Robertson.]

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Parker Pillsbury

 

April 10– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times asserts that there is “a party, more or less complete, in different sections of the South, whose sole bond of union is the conservation of Southern rights as dependent upon the institution of slavery and its perpetuity.”

April 11–Sunday– Boston, Massachusetts–At the request of Reverend Theodore Parker, peace activist Adin Ballou preaches a sermon on peace and non-resistence at Parker’s large church. [On the life and work of Adin Ballou, 1803- 1890, see: Autobiography of Adin Ballou, Containing an Elaborate Record and Narrative of His Life from Infancy to Old Age; with Appendixes (1896) compiled and edited by William S Heywood.]

April 13– Tuesday– Rodman, New York– Birth of Frank Winfield Woolworth, American businessman. [Dies April 8 1919. At his death his personal worth is $76,500,000 and his chain of stores numbers over 1,000.]

April 15– Thursday– New York City– The New York Times denounces “Southern Fanaticism” and efforts to expand slave territory and to reopen international slave trade. “There will be no . . . triumphant achievement by means of Quixotic advocacy of the system of African Slavery, or through any schemes, of agitation or coalition, for its extension.”

April 16– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”The General’s Position Defined. A Washington correspondent of the Nashville Banner recently had an interview with General [Winfield] Scott, who it is said is indignant at the charge made in some of the newspaper, that his position in regard to some, of the Compromise measures is ambiguous. According to the writer, Scott, in his conversation with him, said: ‘How can any one doubt my past or present earnest support of the Compromise measures? Did I not, at the first meeting of the friends of the Union, held in Castle Garden, New York, publicly proclaim my approval of them; at a period, too, when but few in that city advocated the propriety of their adoption? Immediately after my perusal of Mr. Clay’s first great speech in their defense, made in the Senate of the United States, I wrote to him . . . [to express support].’” ~ The Liberator.

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April 19– Monday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Whig Party members in the area hold a convention and debate whether or not to support General Winfield Scott as the party’s nominee for president, his supporters noting that he is a Southern man, born near Petersburg, Virginia, and a supporter of the Compromise of 1850.

April 20– Tuesday– Rochester, New York– Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony, Amelia Bloomer, Ann Fitzhugh Smith and Abigail Smith Delavan, among others, establish a Woman’s Temperance Society.

April 20– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– The Whig Party caucus ends up bitterly divided along sectional lines.

April 22– Thursday– Rochester, New York– “We take it for granted that the Free Soilers of New York, if they possess any of the sympathies which their name implies, will shudder at the thought of being instrumental to the election of any of those men whose names we have mentioned. Setting aside General Scott, all those men have been mainly instrumental in enacting those terrible laws which have so much shocked our sensibilities, and made our legal code the abhorrence of the civilized world. It is needless to detail the atrocities which they have enacted, and the ferocious and bloody tyranny with which they have sought and are still seeking to enforce them. The ‘compromise’ which they have made, and which they all rely on for the presidency, and which each argues himself as most anxious and able to enforce, for cruelty and injustice, is not surpassed by any other criminal act in the political history of mankind.” ~ Frederick Douglass’ Paper.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

April 22– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “This beautiful new evangel of freedom– for so the book seems to us– does not suddenly flash the intolerable light of God’s truth upon souls benighted in error, but softly drops veil after veil till they stand in mid-day brightness, wondering and remorseful. . . . . We have undertaken nothing like a critique of this book; but we must be allowed to say, even in this circumscribed notice, that the work to us gives evidence of greater power, of deeper and more various resources, than any other novel of the time. It displays rare dramatic genius, its characters are strongly drawn, refreshingly peculiar and original, yet wondrously true to nature and to many a reader’s experience of life. It abounds alike with quaint, delicious humor, and the most heart-searching pathos; with the vividest word-painting, in the way of description, with argument, philosophy, eloquence, and poetry. And straight and pure through all– through characterization, conversation, description, and narrative, sweeps the continuous moral– the one deep thought, flowing ceaselessly from the soul of the writer, and fed by ‘under-springs of silent deity.’So great and good a thing has Mrs. Stowe here accomplished for humanity, for freedom, for God, that we cannot refrain from applying to her sacred words, and exclaiming, ‘Blessed art thou among women!’” ~ The National Era reviews Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or Life Among the Lowly which ran in this newspaper in serialized form beginning in June of 1851 and just appeared in a 2 volume book form on March 20th. [In its first sixteen months it will sell 1,200,000 copies.]

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April 23– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “In the midst of all this stir about men’s rights, on indefatigable Friend, Anne Knight, is pursuing her course with the patience of a martyr. She writes letters . . . and publishes them by hundreds. She is admitted to all classes of society, and whether you find her at the soirees of the nobility, or among the humble builders on the great walls of time, there you hear her untiring plea for the equal political rights of women. A few evenings since, I saw her in close with a brilliant wit and beauty connected with the court circle. Anne had on her Quaker cap with a black net over it, a black satin dress with a large black shawl thrown over her shoulders to conceal a large satchel that she always carries about her filled with papers. The other wore a white dress, with a opera cloak, trimmed with ermine. ‘Night and day personified,’ quoth the gentleman at my left hand. I could not but smile at the appropriateness; but, after all her meek face had in it much of the serenity of midsummer moonlight, and I could not but admire its earnestness and purity.” ~ Letter from Mrs. H.M. T reprinted in The Liberator. [Anne Knight, 1786– 1862, an English Quaker, spent her adult life as a feminist and abolitionist activist.]

April 23–Friday– New York City–David Low Dodge, merchant and peace activist, founder of the New York Peace Society and the New York Bible Society, dies at age 77. [For information about his life and work, see: Pacifism in the United States from the Colonial Era to the First World War (1968) by Peter Brock, pp 450-463, 466-471, 478-482.]

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April 24– Saturday– Peoria, Illinois– Birth of Annis Bertha Ford Eastman, Congregational minister, feminist and scholar who will mother Crystal Eastman and Max Eastman. [Dies October 22, 1910.]

April 27– Cincinnati, Ohio– An anti-slavery convention opens today. Prominent participants include Frederick Douglass, George Washington Julian, Charles Calistus Burleigh and Reverend John G Fee.

April 29– Thursday– Rochester, New York– “Again, what but an approaching presidential election could have wrought a universal pledge of the Whig and Democratic parties to the policy, sanctity, and perpetuity of the Fugitive Slave Law and its kindred measures of compromise? Were there no such election at hand, who believes the people could have been induced to set forward candidates professedly for no other purpose but their fitness to sustain and continue those unconstitutional and infernal measures? At this moment the only issue between the Democratic and Whig parties, is, whether [Winfield] Scott, or [Daniel] Webster, or Fillmore, is a more suitable man than Cass, or [Stephen A] Douglas, or Marcy, or [James] Buchanan, &c., to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law upon the people of the North. The issue is not whether that like measures shall be continued, whether they are politic, just and wise, but which of the parties can furnish a president of the greatest ability to compel the people of the North to submit to them and obey them. We have no hesitation to say that this is the only issue between these great parties. They are both agreed to enforce these most humiliating and diabolical measures, and disagree only as to be the intellectual and physical force of their infernal materials. What has become of the Tariff question, the Bank question, the Land Distribution question, and all those questions which once agitated the country? All gone– gone forever; and the parties are rushing into the campaign for a popular vote on the question which is best qualified and disposed to pollute and oppress the North with pro-slavery sentiments and measures.” ~ Frederick Douglass’ Paper

April 30– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– Parker Pillsbury writes that “we have just closed a fatiguing and every way trying [anti-slavery] campaign in Maine. In Portland we had meetings of a truly cheering character. . . . we had some disturbance, though slight compared with what we often encounter. In Bath we good meetings, and found a few excellent and good friends.” ~ The Liberator.

Women’s History ~ Hallie Q Brown

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Hallie Q Brown

 

Hallie Q Brown was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 10, 1850, one of the six children born to her parents who were both former slaves. Ms Brown became an educator, school administrator, lecturer, author, suffragist, temperance advocate, church leader and activist. She graduated from Wilberforce University in 1873, campaigned for woman suffrage and against lynching, taught public speaking to hundreds of young black people, participated in the International Congress of Women in London in 1899, twice had an audience with Queen Victoria, lectured in many parts of Europe about African American life in the United States with a frequent focus on black music and poetry, and was a leader in the formation of women’s clubs for black women. Ms Brown died on September 16, 1949 in Wilberforce, Ohio.

For more about her life and work, see her books: Bits and Odds: a Choice Selection of Recitations (1880); Elocution and Physical Culture (1910); Our Women: Past, Present and Future (1925); Tales My Father Told and Other Stories (1925); Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction (1926); Pen Pictures of Pioneers of Wilberforce (1937).

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In addition, see: Lifting as They Climb (1933) by Elizabeth Lindsay Davis; Reconstructing Womanhood: the Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (1987) by Hazel V Carby; Great African American Women (1999) by Darryl Lyman; Activist Rhetorics and American Higher Education, 1885– 1937 (2001) by Susan Kates; Black Pioneers in Communication Research (2006) by Ronald L Jackson.

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Women’s History~ Emily Greene Balch

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Emily Greene Balch

 

Emily Greene Balch, peace advocate, feminist, social reformer, economist, educator, social worker, researcher, author, internationalist, journalist and Nobel Laureate, was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts on January 8, 1867. She graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1889 and studied political science at the Sorbonne during 1890 to 1891 and taught at Wellesley College from 1896 to 1918. A friend and colleague of women such as Jane Addams and Vida Scudder, she was active in the Woman’s Peace Party and was one of the founders of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) where she served for some years as one of the executive officers. Out of deeply-held personal convictions she became a Quaker in 1921. In 1926 she investigated conditions in Haiti and published an expose of problems there, many caused by repeated interventions by the United States. Always politically astute, Ms Balch encouraged the United States in 1939 to accept a large number of refugees fleeing conditions in Germany. During the Second World War she opposed the internment of Japanese Americans and advocated for fair treatment. In 1955 she reached out to the people of China via a poem addressed to them. A co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946, she said in her acceptance, “I am hoping that 1946 will mark a turning point in the age-old effort to rid the world of war, to national disarmament, to renunciation of power politics, and to development of international trusteeship, not only for dependent peoples, but for regions and interests which are essentially supranational in character, such as the Polar regions and the main waterways of the world . . .” She donated her prize money to the WILPF.

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In her Nobel Lecture which she delivered on April 7, 1948, Ms Balch declared, “As the world community develops in peace, it will open up great untapped reservoirs in human nature. Like a spring released from pressure would be the response of a generation of young men and women growing up in an atmosphere of friendliness and security, in a world demanding their service, offering them comradeship, calling to all adventurous and forward reaching natures. We are not asked to subscribe to any utopia or to believe in a perfect world just around the comer. We are asked to be patient with necessarily slow and groping advance on the road forward, and to be ready for each step ahead as it becomes practicable. We are asked to equip ourselves with courage, hope, readiness for hard work, and to cherish large and generous ideals.”

Zurich Congress Session, 1919

Zurich Congress Session, 1919

Emily Greene Balch died in Cambridge Massachusetts, on January 9, 1961, a day after her 94th birthday. On her life and work, see: Emily Greene Balch: the Long Road to Internationalism (2010) by Kristen E Gwinn; Champions for Peace: Women Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize (2006) by Judith Hicks Stiehm; Vote and Voice: Women’s Organizations and Political Literacy, 1915– 1930 (2004) by Wendy B Sharer; Pioneers for Peace: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 1915– 1965 (2nd ed. 1980) by Gertrude Bussey and Margaret Tims; Beyond Nationalism: the Social Thought of Emily Greene Balch (1972) edited by Mercedes M Randall; For Peace and Justice: Pacifism in America, 1914– 1941 (1971) by Charles Chatfield; Improper Bostonian: Emily Greene Balch (1964) by Mercedes M Randall; The Miracle of Living (1941) by Emily Greene Balch; Women at the Hague: the International Congress of Women and its Results (1915) by Jane Addams, Emily Greene Balch and Alice Hamilton

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Balch, circa 1899

Women’s History~Elizabeth Buffum Chace

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Elizabeth Buffum Chace was a feminist, abolitionist, suffragist, author, lecturer, temperance advocate, pacifist, free thinker and advocate for the rights of women. She was born in Providence, Rhode Island on December 9, 1806. As an adult she involved herself in numerous reform causes, especially the struggle against slavery where she allied with radicals such as Lucy Stone, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Parker and Wendell Phillips. Her house served as a station on the underground railroad. Later she worked with Ralph Waldo Emerson to help establish the National Free Religious Association. She agitated for prison reform and fought for the admission of women to Brown University and died on December 12, 1899, in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

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For more about her see: Elizabeth Buffum Chace and Lillie Chace Wyman: a Century of Abolitionist, Suffragist and Workers’ Rights Activism (2003) by Elizabeth C Stevens; Virtuous Lives: Four Quaker Sisters Remember Family Life, Abolitionism, and Women’s Suffrage (1994) edited by Lucille Salitan and Eve Lewis Perera; Two Quaker Sisters; from the Original Diaries (1937); Elizabeth Buffum Chace (in 2 volumes; 1914) by Lillie Buffum Chace Wyman

Womens History Month~Mary White Ovington

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Mary White Ovington

 

Mary White Ovington was feminist, pacifist, suffragist, anti-imperialist, socialist, civil rights activist, settlement house worker, advocate of consumer rights, social researcher and author. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 11, 1865, to parents who supported the abolitionist cause, she became one of the white persons working with black leaders to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and served on the board for many years. She remained active in civil rights until her death on July 15, 1951, in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts.

For more about her life and work, see her own books The Walls Came Tumbling Down (1947) and Half a Man: the Status of the Negro in New York (1911) as well as White Allies in the Struggle for Racial Justice (2015) by Drick Boyd and Inheritors of the Spirit: Mary White Ovington and the Founding of the NAACP (1998) by Carolyn Wedin.

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Mary White Ovington

Women’s History Month~Emma Goldman

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Emma Goldman was a feminist, lecturer, journalist, editor, anarchist, free speech agitator, advocate of birth control, political activist, book author, popularizer of the plays of Ibsen, Strindberg, and George Bernard Shaw, free love advocate, supporter of the Republican cause and the International Brigades fighting against Franco in Spain’s Civil War, advocate and student of mid-wifery and all-around radical firebrand. She was born of Jewish parents in Kovno, Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire, on June 27, 1869. Coming to the United States in 1885, she quickly became involved in left-wing political activities. In secret proceedings during 1908-9, the federal government revoked her citizenship and deported her in December, 1919. In 1921, she left Russia, appalled at Lenin’s suppression of dissent. She spent the rest of her life in England, France and Canada, dying from complications of a stroke in Toronto, Ontario, on May 14, 1940.

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Emma Goldman

 

The reporter Nellie Bly described Goldman as an attractive woman “with saucy turned-up nose and very expressive blue-gray eyes . . . hair falling loosely over her forehead, full lips . . . a mild, pleasant voice, with a fetching accent.” In 1922 the Nation magazine listed her as one of “the twelve greatest living women.” Roger Baldwin, one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union, said of her, “For the cause of free speech in the United States Emma Goldman fought battles unmatched by the labors of any organization.”

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In addition to Goldman’s own books, essays and speeches, the materials about her are extensive. Those interested may make a start by selecting from among the following: Lives of Their Own: Rhetorical Dimensions in the Autobiographies of Women Activists (1999) by Martha Watson; Emma Goldman (1997) by Kathlyn Gay and Martin Gay; Emma Goldman: a Guide to Her Life and Documentary Sources (1995) edited by Candace Falk; Emma Goldman: Sexuality and the Impurity of the State (1993) by Bonnie Haaland; Emma Goldman and the American Left: “Nowhere at Home” (1992) by Marian J Morton; Mother Earth: an Epic Drama of Emma Goldman’s Life (1991) by Martin Duberman; Emma Goldman: American Individualist (1991) by John Chalberg; Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman (1990) by Candace Falk; Emma Goldman in Exile: from the Russian Revolution to the Spanish Civil War (1989) by Alice Wexler; Emma Goldman (1987) by Martha Watson; Emma Goldman in America (1984) by Alice Wexler; Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman (1984) by Candace Falk; Vision on Fire: Emma Goldman on the Spanish Revolution (1983) edited by David Porter; Red Emma Speaks: an Emma Goldman Reader (1983) compiled and edited by Alix Kates Shulman; Emma Goldman: Portrait of a Rebel Woman (1979) by Birendranath Ganguli; Seven Women Against the World (1976) by Margaret L Goldsmith; Rebel in Paradise: a Biography of Emma Goldman (1961) by Richard Drinnon; Emma Goldman: Biographical Sketch (1960) by Charles A Madison; Red Rose: a Novel Based on the Life of Emma Goldman (1941) by Ethel Mannin; Women and the Revolution (1938) by Ethel Manin; Native American Anarchism (1932) by Eunice M Schuster