Tag Archives: science

June ~ Election Year 1860

Woman making American Flag

The Democratic Party is fracturing along regional lines, North versus South. Senator Douglas of Illinois is selected by northern and western party members to run against Republican Lincoln. The debate about slavery continues to heat up to an even higher degree. While the United States slips toward dissolution, Italy moves toward unification under Garibaldi.

June 1– Friday– Annapolis, Maryland– Maryland’s new law banning all types of manumission of slaves takes effect today. This law completely bans the practice of manumission by deed or by the will of a deceased slave owner. In keeping with the state’s desire to reduce its free black population, the statute also contains a provision to allow free black persons to petition state courts to renounce their freedom and to choose a master for themselves.


slaves prepare to escape


June 1–Friday– Waterdown, Ontario, Canada– Birth of Margaret Mick, who while serving as a prison guard, will become the first Canadian woman to be killed in the line of duty as a peace officer. She will be slain by three female prisoners in an escape from a prison farm on May 25, 1925.

June 2– Saturday– New York City– “I learn that the Government has received information that the fishermen off the coast of Florida and South Carolina are in the habit of running over to Cuba, on the pretense of disposing of their fish, and returning with two or three native Africans, bought there at a low figure, which they dispose of, at a great advance, to parties who meet them on the coast, purchase the Negroes, and take them into the interior. This gross and notorious violation of law has been going on for some time, and it remains to be seen whether any steps will be taken to arrest it.” ~ National Anti Slavery Standard

June 4–Monday– Washington, D.C.–In the Senate, Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, age 49, delivers a long, blistering speech called “The Barbarism of Slavery” in which he severely criticizes the slave system and the whole of Southern culture. In it he declares “It is in the Character of Slavery itself that we are to find the Character of Slave-masters; but I need not go back to the golden lips of Chrysostom, to learn that ‘Slavery is the fruit of covetousness, of extravagance, of insatiable greediness;’ for we have already seen that this five-fold enormity is inspired by the single idea of compelling men to work without wages. This spirit must naturally appear in the Slave-master. But the eloquent Christian Saint did not disclose the whole truth. Slavery is founded on violence, as we have already too clearly seen; of course it can be sustained only by kindred violence, sometimes against the defenseless slave, sometimes against the freeman whose indignation is aroused at the outrage. It is founded on brutal and vulgar pretensions, as we have already too dearly seen; of course it can be sustained only by kindred brutality and vulgarity. The denial of all rights in the slave can be sustained only by a disregard of other rights, common to the whole community, whether of the person, of the press, or of speech.”

In response, Senator James Chesnut of South Carolina, age 45, attacks the adulation given to Sumner in the North and in Britain as modern idolatry. “In Egypt, also, we know they deified beasts and reptiles; but even that bestial people worshiped their idols on account of some supposed virtue. It has been left for this day, for this country, for the Abolitionists of Massachusetts, to deify the incarnation of malice, mendacity, and cowardice. Sir, we not intend to be guilty of aiding in the apotheosis of pusillanimity and meanness.”


Senator Sumner


June 4–Monday– Buffalo, New York–Having been in session since Tuesday, May 1st, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church concludes when the conference can no longer produce a quorum. Hundreds of delegates from all over the country have been in attendance; however, bitter debate about slavery and some other issues caused some to leave in anger, others to return home out of exhaustion.

June 4–Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Buchanan extends an official invitation to Queen Victoria that should the Prince of Wales, 18 year old Albert Edward, the Queen’s oldest son (who will succeed her as King Edward VII in 1901), wish to extend his upcoming visit to Canada with a visit to the United States, he would receive an enthusiastic welcome.

June 5–Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts–Josiah Quincy, former president of Harvard and now 88 years old, sends a letter of praise to Senator Sumner. “I have read enough to approve, and rejoice that you have been permitted, thus truly, fully, and faithfully to expose the ‘Barbarism’ of Slavery on that very floor on which you were so cruelly and brutally stricken down by the spirit of that Barbarism.” [Quincy, 1772– 1864, is a municipal reformer, politician, educator, orator, college president and life-long critic of the Southern slave power. For more on his life and work, see: Josiah Quincy, 1772-1864; the Last Federalist (1974) by Robert A McCaughey; The Magic of the Many: Josiah Quincy and the Rise of Mass Politics in Boston, 1800-1830 (1999) by Matthew H Crocker.]


Josiah Quincy


June 6–Wednesday– Elmira, New York–John W Jones, a conductor on the underground railroad writes to William Still in Philadelphia. Still, a black man, is considered “the Father of the Underground Railroad” and has been helping about sixty fugitives a month for the last few years. Jones reports. “All six came safe to this place. . . . the two men went this morning, and the four went this evening. ‘O old master don’t cry for me, For I am going to Canada where colored men are free.’”

June 7–Thursday– Boston, Massachusetts–Today’s Boston Herald reports that “Yesterday forenoon, a smart, active, and intelligent looking man, about 23 years of age, called at the mayor’s office and asked for something to eat. He represented that he ran away from his master in North Carolina . . . and arrived in Boston yesterday morning, leaving immediately for this city, on his way to Canada. . . . He was furnished with a good meal of victuals, and left shortly after on the underground railroad for her majesty’s dominions.”

June 8–Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–The current issue of the Liberator reports that at the recent annual meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, Mary Ann Day Brown, the widow of John Brown, was in attendance. Garrison called her a “truly noble woman” and as he recognized her presence the participants expressed a spontaneous and genuine deep sympathy for her and her children.

June 9–Saturday– Washington, D.C.–Senator Stephen A. Douglas writes to Follett Foster & Company with complaints about their reprint of his 1858 debates with Mr Lincoln. “I find that Mr Lincoln’s speeches have been revised, corrected and improved since their publication in the newspapers of Illinois, while mine have been mutilated, and in some instances, the meaning changed by the omission of interrogatories and expressions of approbation and disapprobation by persons in the crowd to which my remarks were made responsive, but by the omission of which my replies seemed ambiguous, incoherent or unintelligible. . . . In short, I regard your publication as partial and unfair and designed to do me injustice by placing me in a false position.”

Giuseppe Garibaldi on Caprera

 Giuseppe Garibaldi


June 9–Saturday– Genoa, Italy– Around 2,400 men along with their equipment, reinforcements for Giuseppe Garibaldi’s ongoing campaign against the Bourbon forces in Sicily, leave the port aboard three American registered ships, the Washington, the Oregon, and the Franklin, all clearly flying the U.S. flag. Garibaldi, age 53, for the last two months has been leading armed struggle to unite Italy and make it a free country. [For a biography and analysis, see: Cavour and Garibaldi, 1860: a Study in Political Conflict (1954) by D Mack Smith; Garibaldi and the Making of Italy, June– November, 1860 (1982– reprint of 1928 edition) by George Macaulay Trevelyan; Giuseppe Garibaldi: a Biography of the Father of Modern Italy (1998) by Benedict S LiPira.

June 11– Monday– Buffalo, New York– Birth of May Jane Rathbun, marine zoologist, educator, researcher and author. [Dies April 4, 1943.]


Mary Jane Rathbun


June 11–Monday– Milwaukee, Wisconsin–The Milwaukee Sentinel evaluates Democratic response to the Republican convention. “The Chicago Convention accomplished one thing very effectually. It opened the eyes of the Democratic journals to the shining qualities and eminent public services of Senator Seward. Heretofore the Democratic papers have been accustomed to speak in disparaging and denunciatory terms of Mr. Seward, his doctrines and public career. Now all that is changed, and they have no language but praises, for the great statesman of New York.”

June 15– Friday– Baden, Germany–The French Emperor Napoleon III begins two days of meetings with the Prince Regent of Prussia and the Kings of Bavaria, Hanover, and Saxony, and a number of other German royalty, to build goodwill and calm fears in Germany over France’s opposition to Italian unification and possible renewed tension with Austria.

June 16– Saturday– New York City– “The conduct of the Republicans towards Mr. Sumner’s admirable speech is not one of the least observable signs of their times. It was ‘ill-timed’ and injudicious, forsooth! And that because the slaveholders may, peradventure, make it the pretense of voting against the admission of Kansas. As if the slave-masters were ever moved by anything men or angels could say from the line of their deliberate policy! Whoever else may give up the substance for the shadow at the bidding of their passions, they never do. If they have fully made up their minds that it is better for their interest to keep Kansas out, it is possible they may make Mr. Sumner’s speech the stalking-horse from behind which they may aim at her life. But it would be a mere pretense, and the same thing would have been done if he had never opened his lips. If, on the other hand, they think that this would be giving the Republicans the very cry they need in order to elect Lincoln, and that they had better toss this tub to the Western whale, they will do it, though Mr. Sumner should make a speech ten times worse every day for the rest of the session. The real objection they have to it lies in its substantial anti-slavery merits, and in the hold it will give their enemies to make them out worse (or better) than they are.” ~ National Anti Slavery Standard.

June 16– Saturday– New York City– William Cullen Bryant, editor of the New York Evening Post, writes a private letter to congratulate Lincoln upon his nomination. Bryant advises the nominee on how to wage a successful campaign. “Make no speeches, write no letters as a candidate, enter into no pledges, make no promises, nor even give any of those kind words which men are apt to interpret into promises. Several of our Presidents have had a great deal of trouble from this cause.”\


William Cullen Bryant


June 17– Sunday– Castellamare, Sicily–The reinforcements for Garibaldi arrive on the three American ships.

June 18– Monday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Democrats convene again at the Front Street Theater. A dispute over credentials and the delegates who walked out at Charleston splits the party yet again.

June 18–Monday– Springfield, Illinois–Lincoln writes to Carl Schurz, German immigrant “Forty-eighter” and actively involved in Republican politics. “I beg you to be assured that your having supported Governor Seward, in preference to myself in the convention, is not even remembered by me for any practical purpose, or the slightest unpleasant feeling. I go not back of the convention, to make distinctions among its members; and, to the extent of our limited acquaintance, no man stands nearer my heart than yourself.” [Schurz, now 31 years old, was active in the failed revolution of 1848, fleeing first to England, then to the United States in 1852. He will campaign for Lincoln, giving speeches in German to immigrants, serve as Lincoln’s minister to Spain, become a general in the Union Army, serve in the Senate, become a cabinet member in Rutherford Hayes administration, be an advocate for African Americans, support anti-imperialism, be an editor, journalist and historian before his death on May 14, 1906.]


Carl Schurz


June 22– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–In the abolitionist Liberator, a report mocks Senator Mason. “The ponderous Senator Mason has made a long report from the Committee on the Harpers Ferry Investigation, but the labor of the mountain has produced only a ridiculous mouse. A more flagrant failure, after so sounding a manifesto, never before occurred, and if the haughty Virginian had a proper sense of his ludicrous position, he would have been ashamed to make any report.”

June 22–Friday– Washington, D.C.–Congress passes a Homestead Bill which President Buchanan vetoes, because, the President asserts, the government can not give land to individual citizens.

June 23–Saturday– Baltimore, Maryland–The national convention of the Democratic Party adjourns, having nominated Stephen A Douglas of Illinois, age 47, for president and Herschel Johnson of Georgia for vice-president. Their adopted platform calls for a decision by the Supreme Court on slavery in the territories, building a transcontinental railroad, acquiring Cuba, and an end to Northern resistance to enforcement of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. [On Douglas, see: Stephen Douglas; the Last Years, 1857-1861 (1971) by Damon Wells.]


Stephen A Douglas


June 27–Wednesday– Off the coast of West Africa–A U S warship captures the slaver Thomas Achorn.

June 28–Thursday–Richmond, Virginia–The break-away Southern Democrats finish a three day convention in Richmond where they select John C. Breckinridge as their nominee for president. They adopt a platform which affirms the right to expand slavery into the western territories as settlers may decide, favors “the acquisition of the Island of Cuba, on such terms as shall be honorable to ourselves and just to Spain, at the earliest practicable moment,” stringent enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, supports “the duty of this Government to protect the naturalized citizen in all his rights, whether at home or in foreign lands, to the same extent as its native-born citizens,” and to secure the passage of some bill, to the extent of the constitutional authority of Congress, for the construction of a Pacific Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, at the earliest practicable moment.”

May~Election Year 1932


The United States keeps falling into the Great Depression and citizens look to the federal government to do something. Violence and political troubles shake Germany, France, New Zealand, Peru, Japan, India, Austria and Cuba.

May 2– Washington, D.C.– In the case of Nixon v Condon, the Supreme Court by a 5 to 4 decision holds the Democratic Party’s primary election system in Texas which excludes black people is unconstitutional. Justice Benjamin Cardozo writes the majority opinion while Justice James McReynolds writes for the four dissenters. Cardozo, age 62, is the newest member of the Court, appointed by the president on March 2nd.


Benjamin Cardozo


May 3– Tuesday– New York City– Columbia University announces the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes who include five reporters from the Detroit Free Press, one from the St Louis Post-Dispatch, one from the New York Times, and a cartoonist from the Chicago Tribune. Book awards go to Henry F Pringle for his biography Theodore Roosevelt, Pearl Buck for The Good Earth and retired General John J Pershing for My Experiences in the World War.

May 3– Tuesday– Sacramento, California– John Nance Garner, age 63, a lawyer and politician from Texas, wins the Democratic primary.

May 4– Wednesday– Moscow, Russia– The Soviet union and Estonia sign a non-aggression pact.

May 5– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The imperative need of the nation today is a definite and conclusive program for balancing the budget. Uncertainty is disastrous. It must be in every sense a national program. Sectional, partisan, group, or class considerations can have no place in it. Ours is a government of all the people, created to protect and promote the common good, and when the claims of any group or class are inconsistent with the welfare of all, they must give way.” ~ Message from President Herbert Hoover to Congress.

May 6– Friday– Paris, France– President Paul Doumer, age 75, is shot and mortally wounded by a Russian emigre named Paul Gorguloff at a book fair.

May 7– Saturday– Paris, France– President Paul Doumer dies of his wound.

May 9– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Hoover vetoes a bill which have allowed civilians who served in the Quartermaster Corps to be cared for in old soldiers’ home.

May 10– Tuesday– Paris, France– Albert Francois Lebrun becomes the new President of France.

May 10– Tuesday– Wellington, New Zealand– A riot ensues when the government refuses to respond to the demands of 4,000 relief workers.

May 12– Thursday– Hopewell Township, New Jersey– The body of Charles Lindbergh, Jr, the 20 month old son Charles Lindbergh, is found two months after his kidnaping.

May 12– Thursday– Berlin, Germany– Wilhelm Groener, Defense Minister, resigns from his post. The Reichstag is shut down after violence by four Nazi members.

May 13– Friday– Marseilles, France– Former king Alfonso XIII of Spain is assaulted by a Spanish citizen.

May 14– Saturday– Mexico City, Mexico– The government breaks diplomatic relations with Peru after that country accused Mexican diplomats of plotting to stir up public disorder.

May 15– Sunday– Tokyo, Japan– A group of naval officers and army cadets assassinate Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi in a failed coup attempt.

May 17– Tuesday– Bombay, India– British troops end four days of rioting between Hindus and Muslims by opening fire on the rival crowds.

May 18– Wednesday– Havana, Cuba– Police arrest several hundred people on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

May 19– Dublin, Ireland– By a vote of 77 to 69, the lower house of the Irish Free State parliament passes a bill to abolish the oath of allegiance to the English king which was mandated of all legislators by the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 which had concluded the Irish War for Independence.

May 20– Friday– Vienna, Austria– Engelbert Dollfuss becomes Chancellor of Austria.


Amelia Earhart


May 21–Saturday– Culmore, Northern Ireland–Amelia Earhart, age 34, arrives from Newfoundland, becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Engine trouble prevents her from going on to Paris as Charles Lindbergh had done.

May 22–Sunday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania–The Pittsburgh Courier, an African American newspaper, criticizes the Hoover administration for providing only segregated facilities for black Gold Star Mothers going to visit the graves of their sons in Europe.

r l vann

Robert L Vann, founding editor of Pittsburgh Courier


May 22– Sunday– County Galway, Ireland– Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory, folklorist, poet, dramatist and key figure in the Irish literary revival, dies of breast cancer at 80 years of age.

May 22– Sunday– Tokyo, Japan– The Emperor appoints Saito Makoto as the new Prime Minister.

May 23– Monday– Geneva, Switzerland– The scientist Albert Einstein, age 53, issues a call for pacifists worldwide to demand total disarmament to take place within the next five years. “War can’t be humanized. It can only be abolished,” he asserts.


Albert Einstein, circa 1921


May 25– Wednesday– Rome, Italy– Italy and Turkey renew their non-aggression treaty of 1928 for another five years and agree to improved trade relations.

May 26– Thursday– Hamburg, Germany– The shortage of food leads to a riot in which two people are killed.

May 27– Friday– Washington, D.C.– At his press conference President Hoover explains his opposition to a pending bill in Congress. “A total of over 3,500 projects of various kinds are proposed in this bill, scattered into every quarter of the United States. Many of these projects have heretofore been discredited by Congress because of useless extravagance involved. Many were originally authorized as justified only in the long-distant future. I do not believe that 20 percent could be brought to the stage of employment for a year. I am advised by the engineers that the amount of labor required to complete a group of $400 million of these works would amount to only 100,000 men for 1 year because they are in large degree mechanized jobs. This is not unemployment relief. It is the most gigantic pork barrel ever proposed to the American Congress. It is an unexampled raid on the Public Treasury. Detailed lists of these projects have been broadcast to every part of the country during the past 24 hours, to the cities, towns, villages, and sections who would receive a portion of this pork barrel. It is apparently expected that the cupidity of these towns and sections will demand that their Congressmen and Senators vote for this bill or threaten to penalize them if they fail to join in this squandering of money. I just do not believe that such lack of intelligence or cupidity exists amongst the people of the United States.”


President Herbert Hoover


May 30– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I have received Your Majesty’s gracious message. The tribute which you and the Belgian people are paying on Decoration Day to the memory of those American soldiers and sailors who gave their lives for the cause of justice and whose bodies rest in Belgium, echoes and resounds in every American heart with gratitude and affection for their Belgian comrades and friends. I and my fellow country men in dedicating this day to our own dead will be keenly mindful of your own country’s great sacrifice and will bend our heads in silent prayer for Belgium’s heroic dead.” ~ Message from President Hoover to King Albert of Belgium, in response to the king’s memorial day message of friendship.

Busy Tearing Up the Railroad ~ February 1865 ~ the 6th to 8th

Busy Tearing up the Railroad ~ a Union officer

skirmishing in South Carolina

skirmishing in South Carolina

While the governor of South Carolina calls on all citizens to resist the Yankee, Federal troops are busy destroying railroads and burning cotton, just as they did marching through Georgia months ago. While Delaware, a slave-holding state which remained in the Union, rejects the Thirteenth Amendment, five other states ratify it. Snow falls up and down the east coast. Secretary Welles again describes a dysfunctional Congress driven only by party politics– just as today’s Congress. Lincoln sends a thank you letter to William Lloyd Garrison. An obscure Catholic monk presents pioneering scientific research.

February 6– Monday– Jefferson City, Missouri– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 6– Monday– London, England– Isabella Mary Mayson Beeton, cook and author of a popular book on household management, dies at 28 years of age.

Isabella Beeton

Isabella Beeton

February 6– Monday– Antrim, Ireland– Birth of Andrew Claude de la Cherois Crommelin, astronomer and educator. [Dies September 20, 1939.]

February 6– Monday– Kristiansand, Norway– Birth of William Martin Nygaard, publisher and politician. [Dies December 19, 1952.]

February 7– Tuesday– Augusta, Maine– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.


February 7– Tuesday– Brooklyn, New York– “We are now having quite a snow storm– it looks as if it would be quite deep. I am rather sorry to see it for it looks hard for the soldiers. I feel disappointed in regard to the peace talks. I was in hopes that we have had war enough. It seems almost impossible that the south can keep up the fight much longer– however I think the president showed a great deal of cuteness in going down to see them and if he only told them that the Union was all he asked [he showed] more statesmanship than I ever gave him credit for. I see that a great many here have not yet given up the idea but what there is something more to come– the desire for a peace on the basis of the Union alone seems so far as I can see meets with universal applause. Well Walt so you have gone to keeping house have you? You must be careful or you will get sick again. I fear you do not live well. I think the great cause of good health is good eating. Keep up the supply of good things. Do you have about the same experience in the Hospitals as you used to? were the men glad to see you back? were any remaining that you used to visit? if so I know they were glad to see you– and it must seem like old times for you to go among them. Do you see many of the friends that you used to know then? I suppose you visit the Hospitals once a day– are there as many in them as there used to be? I hope not– tis so long since we have had any very large battles that I should suppose the Hospitals were not full.” ~ Letter from Jeff Whitman to his brother Walt.

February 7– Tuesday– Dover, Delaware– The legislature rejects the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 7– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I have your kind letter of the 21st of January, and can only beg that you will pardon the seeming slight occasioned by my constant engagements. When I received the spirited and admirable painting, ‘Waiting for the Hour,’ I directed my Secretary not to acknowledge its arrival at once, preferring to make my personal acknowledgment of the tender kindness of the donors; and waiting for some leisure hour, I have committed the discourtesy of not replying at all. I hope you will believe that my thanks, though late, are most cordial, and I request that you will convey to them to those associated with you in this flattered and generous gift.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to William Lloyd Garrison.

Waiting for the Hour, a gift to President Lincoln

Waiting for the Hour, a gift to President Lincoln

February 7– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Very little before the Cabinet. The President, when I entered the room, was reading with much enjoyment certain portions of Petroleum V. Nasby to Dennison and Speed. The book is a broad burlesque on modern Democratic party men. Fessenden, who came in just after me, evidently thought it hardly a proper subject for the occasion, and the President hastily dropped it. . . . Strange how men in prominent positions will, for mere party, stoop to help the erring and the guilty. It is a species of moral treason. J. P. Hale is, as usual, loud-mouthed and insolent in the Senate, belying, perverting, misstating, and misrepresenting the Navy Department. The poor fellow has but few more days in the Senate, and is making the most of them for his hate.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 7– Tuesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “This morning when I awoke I found as did all the troops that I was covered with snow and ice. It had snowed during the night and then turned to rain which froze as it fell. I never felt more uncomfortable in my life and we started fires to try and dry our clothing.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 7– Tuesday– Hatcher’s Run, Virginia– In the third and final day of hard fighting, Federal forces defeat Confederate troops, creating an encirclement around Petersburg and Richmond which extends 37 miles, leaving General Lee’s 46,000 soldiers short on supplies and facing General Grant’s 125,000 troops who are well supplied. For this three day battle, Union casualties– dead, wounded, missing– total 1512 while total Confederate losses amount to approximately 1160.

February 7– Tuesday– Topeka, Kansas– The state legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

Governor Andrew Magrath of South Carolina

Governor Andrew Magrath of South Carolina

February 7– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The doubt has been dispelled. The truth is made manifest; and the startling conviction is now forced upon all. The invasion of the State has been commenced, our people driven from their homes; their property plundered and destroyed; the torch and the sword displayed, as the fate to which they are destined! The threats of an insolent foe are to be carried into execution, unless that foe is checked and beaten back. I call now upon the people of South Carolina to rise up and defend, at once, their own rights and the honor of their State. . . . Remove your property from the reach of the enemy; carry what you can to a place of safety; then quickly rally and return to the field. What you cannot carry, destroy. Whatever you leave that will be of use to your foe, what he will not need, that will he destroy. Indulge no sickly hope that you will be spared by submission; terror will but whet his revenge. Think not that your property will be respected, and afterward recovered. No such feeling prompts him. You leave it but to support and sustain him; you save it but to help him on his course. Destroy what you cannot remove. . . . You have led the way in those acts which united the people of your sister States in this confederation of States, and their secession from the Government of the United States. You first fired the gun at the flag of the United States, and caused that flag to be lowered at your command. As yet, you have suffered less than any other people. You have spoken words of defiance – let your acts be equally significant. In your sister States, with the people of those States, you have a common sympathy in the determination to be free, and in your hatred of the foe; you will not falter in that strong sympathy which is derived from a common suffering. . . . Rise, then, with the truth before you, that the cause in which you are to arm is the cause of Justice and of Right! Strike, with the belief strong in your hearts, that the cause of Justice and of Right is the cause which a Power superior to the hosts seeking to oppress you will not suffer to be overthrown. And even upon the soil of the State in which this monstrous tyranny was first defied, let it meet the fate it deserves, while imperishable honor will be awarded those who contributed to that great consummation, in which humanity will rejoice.” ~ Message from Governor Andrew Gordon Magrath to the people of South Carolina, published in today’s Charleston Mercury.

February 7– Tuesday– Bamberg, South Carolina– “Marched into Bamberg; five miles. This was a once thriving town on the Charleston and Augusta Railroad. The Fifteenth Corps was busy tearing up the railroad; as we entered the last train to Charleston passed about 4 o’clock that morning. In Bamberg we found an immense quantity of cotton, which was burned.” ~ Diary of a staff officer under Union General Oliver O. Howard.

typical of the South Carolina railroads destroyed by Federal Troops

typical of the South Carolina railroads destroyed by Federal Troops

February 8– Wednesday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Massachusetts legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 8– Wednesday– New York City– “Not so clear but that the Hampton Roads Conference has done good after all by silencing or converting Peace Democrats. . . . Opposition papers . . . say in substance, more or less distinctly, ‘Since the South refuses to negotiate about peace, except on the basis of recognition and disunion, there is nothing left but to fight it out.’ Strange they have been so long in coming to that conclusion.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 8– Wednesday– Harrisburg, Pennsylvania– The Pennsylvania legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 8– Wednesday– Johnson’s Island, Ohio– “I am forced to reiterate the familiar cry – no letter. It is a consolation to know that a portion of my letters reach you. But I look daily for the batch of old missives that have been detained by the way. Letters from Aunt Mary, Ira and Carrie Sanders have been received. The information those contained relieved my anxiety about affairs at home. The suspense had been unutterably painful. On every Wednesday night there is held a small prayer-meeting in my room. The old familiar songs are sung, the loved [ones] at home are remembered in prayers of men familiar with every experience of grim-visaged war. There are none on earth I love better. Monroe was before me; the dear old church hard by my grandmother’s home, the other scarcely less dear from kindred associations, those whom I have so often met within their sacred walls. I have abiding faith that I shall one day meet them as of old.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry Mc Daniel to his sweetheart Hester C. Felker.

Henry McDaniel

Henry McDaniel

February 8– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I am called on by the House of Representatives to give an account of my interview with Messrs. Stephens, Hunter & Campbell; and it is very desirable to me to put in your despatch of February 1st to the Secretary of War, in which among other things you say ‘I fear now their going back without any expression from any one in authority will have a bad influence.’ I think the despatch does you credit while I do not see that it can embarrass you. May I use it?” ~ Private message from President Lincoln to General Grant.

February 8– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Rained all day yesterday– slush– bright this morning and cool– ground still covered with snow. It is reported by General Lee that the losses on both sides on Monday were light, but the enemy have established themselves on Hatcher’s Run, and intrenched; still menacing the South Side Railroad. It is also said fighting was going on yesterday afternoon, when the dreadful snow and sleet were enough to subdue an army! We have nothing from Charleston or Branchville, but the wires are said to be working to Augusta.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 8– Jacksonville, Florida– “The military force is so small here now, that the rebels are giving us some annoyance. Dickinson’s band of cavalry, about two hundred strong, is in this vicinity, and have recently captured several small parties of our soldiers, amounting, in all, to over a hundred men. Our Schools are in a flourishing condition; we have an average attendance of one hundred and sixty. I have organized a sewing-school – the children bringing such work as they have – and we teach them to mend, and patch, and the older ones to cat by patterns, which we prepare for them. It is an interesting sight to see my sewing school; and the delight of the smaller ones, who are being initiated into the mysteries of making rag babies, is comical to see. It is the best I can do, we have so little to do with besides. I have great faith in the knowledge which comes to children through their dolls. Last Saturday, I visited thirty-seven different families, white and black, in town. I wish I could give you some idea of the difference between the two– equally poor, equally dirty and destitute! The whites, have a hopeless, listless appearance; and no words of encouragement or cheer seem to reach them. They do not hesitate to beg, and are full of complaints. There is no elasticity in them; with the blacks, it is just the opposite: they are cheerful, willing to work, do not beg or complain, and are far more hopeful objects to labor for.” ~ Report from Esther H. Hawks to the New England Freedmen’s Aid Society.

Dr Esther H Hawks

Dr Esther H Hawks

February 8– Thursday– Brunn, Moravia, Austrian Empire– Gregor Mendel, age 43, a Catholic friar, presents his first paper on plant genetics to the Nature Research Society.

Gregor Mendel

Gregor Mendel

Taney Must Have Shivered in the Tomb ~ February 1865 ~ the 1st to 2nd

Roger B Taney Must Have Shivered in the Tomb ~ George Templeton Strong

The recently deceased author of the infamous decision in the Dred Scott case is criticized as the constitutional amendment banning slavery goes to the states for ratification. Lincoln’s home state proudly becomes the first to ratify. Sherman begins major operations in South Carolina. Lincoln attempts to negotiate peace.


February– Boston, Massachusetts– “By this record will the world judge Chief Justice Taney. His great familiarity with the special practice; his knowledge of the peculiar jurisdiction of his tribunals . . . after doing service for the day in the mechanical branch of his craft, will soon be all forgotten. But the slavocrats’ revolution of the last two generations, and the Secession war, and the triumph of Liberty, will be the theme of the world; and he, of all who precipitated them, will be most likely, after the traitor leaders, to be held in infamous remembrance; for he did more than any other individual,– more than any President, if not more than all,– more in one hour than the Legislature in thirty years,– to extend the Slave Power. Indeed, he had solemnly decided all and more than all  that President Buchanan, closing his long political life of servility in imbecility, in December, 1860, asked to have adopted as an ‘explanatory amendment’ of the Constitution, to fully satisfy the Slave Power. . . . But those he served themselves with the sword cut the knot he so securely tied; his own State was tearing off the poisoned robe in the very hour in which he was called before the Judge of all. America stood forth once more the same she was when the old man was a boy. The work which he had watched for years and generations, the work of evil to which all the art of man and the power of the State had been subservient, that work which he sought to finish with the fatal decree of his august bench, one cannon-shot shattered forever. He is dead. Slavery is dying. The destiny of the country is in the hand of the Eternal Lord.” ~ Article by Charles M Ellis on the late Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in this month’s issue of the Atlantic Monthly. [Charles M. Ellis, 1818 – 1878, a Boston lawyer and determined abolitionist, was one of the attorneys who represented the fugitive slave Anthony Burns. For a history of the case and more about Ellis, see, The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson’s Boston by Albert J Von Frank (1999), pp. 75-79, 127-128, 131-146, 191-207.]

page from Godey's Lady's Book

page from Godey’s Lady’s Book

February– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “The sending of Valentines is going out of date, but still the custom is somewhat kept up. Our illustration shows a family so anxiously watching the postman going to their neighbors that they do not see the servant bringing in their own letters. It is a very pretty engraving any way, and reflects great credit on the artist, Lauderback, about whom we take this occasion to say, that he is the best engraver on wood in this city. The most sensible Valentine to send a lady is a copy of Godey for one year.” ~ Godey’s Lady’s Book.

February 1– Wednesday–Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs the resolution for the Thirteenth Amendment, sending it to the states for ratification.

February 1– Wednesday– New York City– “The constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery within the United States passed the House yesterday by a vote of 119 to 56, a little more the required two-thirds. . . . The Senate has already passed on it, but three-fourths of the states must endorse the amendment before it can become part of the Constitution. Unless affairs change greatly for the worse within six months, it will be ratified. The current sets steadily that way; witness this vote compared with the last, 95 to 65, when the measure failed for want of a two-thirds majority. No one expected it to prevail in this Congress. Who thought four years ago that John Brown would march so fast? And here has the Supreme Court of the United States just been admitting a colored person one of its attorneys and counsellors, on motion of Charles Sumner. . . . The dust that was Roger B Taney must have shivered in its tomb when the motion was granted.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 1– Wednesday–Washington, D.C.– “Well, mother, how are you getting along? we had a cold week, but the past three days has been much moderated. I am satisfied in the main with my room. I have such a good bed & my stove does very well– it is a little bit out of the way in location. My work as clerk in the Indian office is quite easy. I am through by 4. I find plenty who know me. I received a week’s pay on Monday, came very acceptable. My appetite is not very good, but I feel very well upon the whole. . . . I am very glad I have employment (& pay). I must try to keep it. I send you an envelope, so that you can write me a letter soon as convenient.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

Louisa Whitman

Louisa Whitman

February 1– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “It has been more than a month since the writer left Richmond; he has mingled freely with people of all shades of opinion; with the friends as well as with the opponents of the Administration; and he is painfully convinced that he does not exaggerate when he says that the authorities at Richmond must concede something to popular sentiment – that the press must be more reticent and forbearing, remembering that it is one-thing to criticize the conduct of public men and point out their errors as we would those of a friend, and quite another thing to denounce them and destroy their power for future good – and that the standard of private virtue and public morals must be elevated, and the people called away from the groves and high places where Mammon is worshiped, and where patriotism is bartered away for gold. If something like this be not done; if, in other words, a remedy for existing disorders be not found and speedily applied, those in authority, as well as the press and the people, may live to see the day when they will call upon the rocks and mountains to fall upon them and hide them from the consequences of their own infatuation. People in Richmond, at the time I left the capital, had but a faint idea of the real condition of affairs. The Administration itself did not begin to realize the estimation in which it is held by the country – whether rightfully or wrongfully, I need not now stop to consider. The fact is what I am after, and the fact is as I have stated it to be. Such is the malady. What is the remedy? Patience and firmness on the part of the people; reticence, forbearance and judicious criticism on the part of the press; and conciliation and a generous confidence on the part of the Government, and an energetic administration of military affairs, so that all the resources of the country, whether of men or material, and of men, whether black or white, shall be made available in the struggle for our liberties. A long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together, would secure our independence as surely as to-morrow’s sun will rise and set.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to the editor of the Richmond Times Dispatch.

disabled veterans

disabled veterans

February 1– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and pleasant; subsequently thawing and foggy. General Robert E. Lee has been appointed General-in-Chief by the President, in response to the recent action of Congress and the clamorous demands of the people. It is to be hoped he will, nevertheless, remain in person at the head of the Army of Virginia, else the change may be fraught with disaster, and then his popularity will vanish! He has not been fortunate when not present with the troops under his command, as evidenced by Early’s defeat and Jones’s disaster in the Valley last year. A general must continue to reap successes if he retains his popularity. General Lee has called upon the people everywhere to send in any cavalry arms and equipments in their possession– the importation being stopped.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 1– Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– In the President’s home state of Illinois, the legislature becomes the first state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment as soon as they receive notice by telegraph of Lincoln having signed the resolution.

the Thirteenth Amendment

the Thirteenth Amendment

February 1– Wednesday– across southern South Carolina– Federal forces under General Sherman are moving in force. As in Georgia, Sherman has multiple columns of troops moving at one time in slightly different directions, causing the Confederate forces to wonder if his target is Charleston or some other place.

February 1– Wednesday– Manchester, Indiana– Birth of Henry Luke Bolley, educator, botanist and researcher. [Dies November 10, 1956.]

Henry Luke Bolley

Henry Luke Bolley

February 2– Wednesday– Providence, Rhode Island– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 2– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “An erroneous supposition in regard to the rights of a substitute in the army is very generally prevalent and needs correction. It seems to be understood that a substitute has the right to elect to what regiment he shall be designed. Such is not the case. All substitutes are assigned by squads to different regiments as fast as the War Department has need for them. The mistake perhaps arises from a confusion of the rights accorded to a substitute with those belonging to a representative recruit– a substitute for a person act liable to draft– who enjoys all the privileges of a volunteer. But a substitute for an enrolled person, whether that person has been drafted or merely liable to draft, is not allowed the government bounty, or the right of choosing his own regiment.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The President and Mr. Seward have gone to Hampton Roads to have an interview with the Rebel commissioners– Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell. None of the Cabinet were advised of this move, and without exception, I think, it struck them unfavorably that the Chief Magistrate should have gone on such a mission.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


February 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “In response to a serenade last night, President Lincoln said he supposed the passage through Congress of the Constitutional Amendment for abolishing slavery throughout the United States was the occasion to which be was indebted for the honor of this call. (Applause.) The occasion was one of congratulation to the country, and to the whole world. But there lay a task yet before us, to go forward and consummate by the votes of the States, that which Congress so nobly began yesterday.(Applause, and cries ‘they will do it’). He had the honor to inform those present that Illinois had already to-day done the work. Maryland was about half through, but he felt proud that Illinois was a little ahead. He thought this measure was a very fitting, if not an indispensable adjuncts to the winding up of the present difficulty. (Applause.) He wished the Union of all the States perfected, and so effected to remove ail causes of disturbance in the future; and to obtain this end It was necessary that the original disturbing cause should, if possible, be rooted out. He thought all would bear him witness that he had never shrunk from doing all that he could to eradicate slavery, by issuing an emancipation proclamation. (Applause.) But that proclamation falls far short of what the amendment will be when fully consummated. A question might be raised whether the proclamation was legally valid. It might be said, that it only freed those who came in our lines, and that it was inoperative as to those who did not give themselves up; or that It would have no effect upon children of slaves born hereafter. In fact, it would be urged that it did not meet the evil; but this amendment is a King’s cure for all evils. (Applause.) It winds the whole thing up. He would repeat, that it was the fitting, if not indispensable adjunct to the consummation of the great game we are playing. He could not but congratulate all present, the country, the whole world, and himself, upon this great moral victory.” ~ An abolitionist reporter’s article for The Liberator.

Destruction Fairly Commenced~November 1864~14th to 16th

Destruction Fairly Commenced ~ Henry Hitchcock

So it begins, the campaign which will attach infamy in the South and glory in the North to the name of William Tecumseh Sherman. Splitting his force into multiple columns and leaving Atlanta ablaze, Sherman begins to carve a bitter swath through Georgia as he heads toward Savannah. Ordinary Georgia folks fret. The Confederacy is so short of soldiers that the government gives serious consideration to arming slaves to fight the Yankees. Reverend Finney gives thanks for the abolition of slavery and the reelection of Lincoln. A Radical Republican [yes, gentle reader, there was a time in American history when those two words were not mutually exclusive!] advocates the vote for former slaves.

damage in Atlanta

damage in Atlanta

November 14– Monday– Atlanta, Georgia– “I reached Atlanta during the afternoon of the 14th , and found that all preparations had been made. Colonel Poe, United States Engineer, of my staff, had been busy in his special task of destruction. He had a large force at work, had leveled the great depot, round-house, and the machine-shops of the Georgia railroad, and had applied fire to the wreck. One of these machine shops had been used by the rebels as an arsenal, and in it were stored piles of shot and shell, some of which proved to be loaded, and that night was made hideous by the bursting of shells, whose fragments came uncomfortably near Judge Lyon’s house, in which I was quartered. The fire also reached the block of stores near the depot, and the heart of the city was in flames all night, but the fire did not reach the parts of Atlanta where the court-house was or the great mass of dwelling-houses.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman.

November 15– Tuesday– New York City– “Rebel editors and Congressmen are in a great heat over the question whether they shall arm a few thousand slaves, offering them freedom as a reward for a certain term of military service. The chief objection to doing so seems to be that they would thereby admit that freedom is a boon to the field hand, whereas slavery is its highest blessing, and emancipation a penalty and a curse instead of a reward. The policy proposed, therefore violates first Southern principles. They don’t want to stultify themselves, but necessity will probably outweigh logic in the end and their most sacred and inviolable theories will have to be violated. The most pious pirate would consent to raise the Devil to help him in extremity, but the Devil is not to be depended upon as an ally.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

November 15– Tuesday– Oberlin, Ohio— “Many thanks for your dear letters of the 3rd & 10th instant. I did not know where you were & in my loneliness it seemed a great while since I had heard from you. I thank the Lord that Mary is better. . . . Now [my] wife has gone I am more than ever thankful for this kindness. From your letter Mary, I infer that you have relinquished the thought of paying us a visit. So, Delia Woods is with you. Dear Precious Child, she is. Give abundant love to her. I do wish she would come & spend next summer with us. . . . We are enjoying a blessed revival of religion. It commenced about 2 months ago on Sabbath & last Sabbath we received 50 converts to the Church as first fruits. . . . I preach twice on Sabbath & once during the week. We have had but few extra prayer meetings. Meetings of enquiry have been held more frequently than usual. . . I have kept up the fire upon the unconverted so far as I deemed it wise. The work has gone on powerfully. We soon close our fall term. The students generally are greatly blessed & I hope will spread this revival spirit in many places. Until this fall I have not dared to make any revival efforts for some years. And now I have changed the direction rather than increase the number of services. I am sorry that Boston ministers will make no revival efforts the coming winter. I guess they will before spring. I am glad to hear Mary speak so well of Brother Kirk’s political efforts. God bless him. I have the spirit of thanksgiving for the special blessings connected with the recent election. When this college was first established, our faculty & students were held in great abomination almost all over this state. Hissed, pelted with eggs & stones, & hooted, & hunted, as the enemies of the country. But we quietly & firmly bore our testimony. Our students have scattered all through this state, & through the west until the tables are completely turned. Thank God for this. Our Eastern friends are not aware of the part Oberlin has taken in making Ohio & the north west a unity for freedom. You know only a little of it. I mention it only as cause of thanksgiving. I do thank the Lord that I have lived to see this marvelous change. My health is better than ever you saw it. I do not know how long I can hold out but at present I enjoy my labors quite as well as ever in my life.” ~ Letter from Reverend Charles Grandison Finney to Edwin and Mary Lamson.

Reverend Charles G Finney

Reverend Charles G Finney

November 15– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “About 5 o’clock yesterday morning, the car shed of the Danville railroad company, in Manchester, was set on fire by an incendiary, and destroyed, with ten railroad cars, which were burned in it at the time. The loss is estimated at twenty thousand dollars in old currency.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

November 15– Tuesday– St Louis, Missouri– “Without doubt, assuming the abolition of slavery as settled, the concomitant question of franchise will claim all the faith and tax all the firmness of the friends of radical freedom for its right settlement. That violent prejudices will have to be encountered, and all the weary round of two-facedness and demagoguery and subterfuge confronted, is rendered certain by the attitudes of the conflict of the past three years in Missouri. But that any people forming anew constitution of their liberties, after such experience as ours, should willingly leave to breed other conflicts unjust discriminations against large portions of their population, in the shape of a refusal of any participation in government, is scarcely to be credited. To those who are emancipated, access to the franchise must be opened up, otherwise the boasted freedom conceded to them is a cheat, and their status for the future becomes one of abjectness or else active hostility. Temporary and transitory stages of qualification may be prescribed, if needful– service in the armies is already qualifying thousands for the duties of citizenship; but the primary condition of aright of suffrage must be incorporated into their estate, if the honor and safety and prosperity of this commonwealth for all time are to be consulted. The same logic that obtains in the absorption of any other large element of population into the body political so controls with respect to those manumitted as a class. The argument of slavery is inferiority of race. Shall we abolish the name, but retain the argument? The most patent evils of slavery flow from caste distinctions reacting upon society. Shall we make a merit of destroying the institution, yet insist on perpetuating the distinctions that breed social disease and death? There surely are considerations of State, that should weigh decisively with a community just emerging from the fierce fires of an unparalleled strife engendered by like prejudices and errors, and should cause it to cling to the path of safety. But before all such, and higher than any question of profit or peace, is the knowledge that it is right and conforms to God’s appointment, whereby all men are created free and equal.” ~ Public letter from Benjamin Gratz Brown. [Brown, age 38, lawyer, politician, Union veteran, is a Radical Republican serving as U S Senator from Missouri, which office he will hold until 1867. He will serve as governor of Missouri from 1871 to 1873. He will support woman suffrage, the 8 hour day, the merit system in civil service and government construction and ownership of telegraph lines. He dies December 13, 1885.]

Benjamin Gratz Brown

Benjamin Gratz Brown

November 15– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “I got into camp about 11 o’clock and then it was raining a little and before morning it rained considerable. Nashville must be very near as large as Cleveland and it is a real pretty place and kept pretty clean. Dry goods stores plenty of them and well filled up [with] groceries any amount of them. I can’t tell you how odd it did seem to us to be transferred from Chattanooga and everlasting mend, almost a scarcity of everything unless at exorbitant prices. In this place if a man has money, here he can get most anything he could yearn for and at reasonable prices too. . . . I suppose by this time Sherman has struck out from Atlanta with 60,000 men and gone south. The railroad between Chattanooga and that place having been torn up by our troops. General Thomas is left here to take care of Hood with the 4th and 23rd Corps while Sherman goes right through the confederacy. He will take some of them up and with a rush. Some think he will go to Savannah or Charleston. But time will tell where.” ~ Letter from Union soldier John Watkins to his wife Sarah.

November 15–Tuesday– Atlanta, Georgia–”Today the destruction fairly commenced. This P.M. the torch applied. Clouds of heavy smoke rise and hang like pall over doomed city. At night, the grandest and most awful scene. From our rear windows [the] horizon shows immense and raging fires, lighting up whole heavens. First bursts of smoke, dense, black volumes, then tongues of flame, then huge waves of fire roll up into the sky: presently the skeletons of great warehouses stand out in relief against and amidst sheets of roaring, blazing, furious flames, then the angry waves roll less high, and are of deeper color, then sink and cease, and only the fierce glow from the bare and blackened walls as one fire sinks another rises, further along the horizon, it is a line of fire and smoke, lurid, angry, dreadful to look upon.” ~ Diary of Henry Hitchcock.

leaving Atlanta

leaving Atlanta

November 15– Tuesday– Stockbridge, Georgia– In a heavy skirmish Confederate troops fail in an attempt to stop one of Sherman’s advancing columns.

November 15– Tuesday– Covington, Georgia– “Went up to Covington to-day to pay the Confederate tax. Did not find the commissioners. Mid [a slave] drove me with Beck and the buggy. Got home about three o’clock. How very different is Covington from what it used to be! And how little did they who tore down the old flag and raised the new realize the results that have ensued!” ~Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

November 16– Wednesday– near Pulaski, Tennessee– “I was very glad to hear from home and that you were all well. I have not much time to write as I have to go out on detail duty of some kind this afternoon and I have dinner toget before I go. We have been assigned to our companies. There was six of us put in Company C, so you can direct my letters and papers to that company now. I would like to get a paper some times as we do not get anything to read here. We see enough but hear little that is reliable. We are getting along finely. . . . I would like if you would send me a pr of good socks. The socks we get from [the] government is no account. They will not last over two weeks. Write as often as you can. Tell Eddie that he must learn to write and write me a letter. Kiss them all for me andtake good care of yourselves. Tell Mag she must write me a letter and let meknow how she likes married life.” ~ Letter from Union soldier John Seibert to his family.

November 16– Wednesday– Atlanta, Georgia– “About 7 a.m. of November 16th we rode out of Atlanta by the Decatur road, filled by the marching troops and wagons of the Fourteenth Corps; and reaching the hill, just outside of the old rebel works, we naturally paused to look back upon the scenes of our past battles. We stood upon the very ground whereon was fought the bloody battle of July 22nd and could see the copse of wood where McPherson fell. Behind us lay Atlanta, smoldering and in ruins, the black smoke rising high in air and hanging like a pall over the ruined city. Then we turned our horses’ heads to the east; Atlanta was soon lost behind the screen of trees, and became a thing of the past. Around it clings many a thought of desperate battle, of hope and fear, that now seem like the memory of a dream. The day was extremely beautiful, clear sunlight, with bracing air, and an unusual feeling of exhilaration seemed to pervade all minds – a feeling of something to come, vague and undefined, still full of venture and intense interest.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman.

Atlanta burns

Atlanta burns

November 16– Wednesday– south of Atlanta, Georgia– “Up last night nearly all night. News that Yankees were coming this way after burning Atlanta, Decatur and some houses at Stone Mountain. Hid out box, tools, horse, buggy and other things. Mr. Anderson left after breakfast. We are now waiting for the worst to come, still hoping they will not come this way. If they are coming there will be here by nine o’clock. It is now 7. I went to see Mr. Anderson and while I was gone the Yankees came sure enough. I did not like to go back home so I stayed with David. A little after ten the Yankees were here and coming. Slocum’s corps came and camped all around the house. At every side hogs and sheep are being shot down and skinned to regale the Yankee palates. Mr. Anderson and I slept in the woods all night, not very pleasant for either body or mind not knowing what was going on at home.” ~ Journal of a farmer.

November 16– Wednesday– Covington, Georgia– “As I could not obtain in Covington what I went for in the way of dye stuffs, etc., I concluded this morning, in accordance with Mrs. Ward’s wish, to go to the Circle. We took Old Dutch and had a pleasant ride as it was a delightful day, but how dreary looks the town! Where formerly all was bustle and business, now naked chimneys and bare walls, for the depot and surroundings were all burned by last summer’s raiders. Engaged to sell some bacon and potatoes. Obtained my dye stuffs. Paid seven dollars [most likely in Confederate money] a pound for coffee, six dollars an ounce for indigo, twenty dollars for a quire of paper, five dollars for ten cents worth of flax thread, six dollars for pins, and forty dollars for a bunch of factory thread. On our way home we met Brother Evans accompanied by John Hinton, who inquired if we had heard that the Yankees were coming. He said that a large force was at Stockbridge, that the Home Guard was called out, and that it was reported that the Yankees were on their way to Savannah. We rode home chatting about it and finally settled it in our minds that it could not be so. Probably a foraging party. Just before night I walked up to Joe Perry’s to know if they had heard anything of the report. He was just starting off to join the company [of the Home Guard], being one of them.” ~Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

November 16– Wednesday– Lyon, France– Birth of Stephane Javelle, astronomer. [Dies August 3, 1917.]

Stephane Javelle

Stephane Javelle

Regardless of the Impending Crisis~October 1859

Regardless of the Impending Crisis ~ October 1859

With John Brown in prison, newspapers and individuals debate the whys and wherefores of what happened. Some point to the problems of the Fugitive Slave Law, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott case and Southern desires to legally reopen the African slave trade, which while officially at an end since 1808 has gone on illicitly through slave markets in Cuba and Brazil. Others point to the relentless agitation by abolitionists, especially radicals such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. Some speak openly of disunion. Democrats attack the moderate ant-slavery position of some Republicans. Strong memories and unwilling reminders must have brought the painful discussion back to soldiers and politicians in the fall of 1864. Federal soldiers will be singing “John Brown’s Body” as they march through Georgia to the sea.

john brown-images

October 22– Saturday– Chicago, Illinois– “The late insurrection in Virginia, which has meant shivers of fear to the inmost fibre of every white man, woman and child in that State, and which will produce a panic throughout all slaveholding communities, is probably but the beginning of a series of like endeavors, which will horrify the country, if the present policy of the bogus Democratic party is pursued for another ten or twenty years. With the madness and recklessness of men bent upon their certain destruction, those engaged in promoting the slaveholding interest are filling the land with their clamor for more Negroes, are weakening the defenses of the institution by spreading it over an indefinite area, and are opposing with deadly bitterness every attempt of the humane and philanthropic to ward off the dangers which they are accumulating upon their heads. In all this they are assisted by the bogus Democratic party. Utterly blind to or regardless of the impending crisis, they have, by their repeated outrages upon the rights and sensibilities of the North, by their breaches of solemn compacts, in the Kansas-Nebraska bill, by their mode of enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law, by their Kansas policy, by their Dred Scot decisions, and by their attempted revival of the infamous Slave- Trade, alienated their most powerful friends of the North, and have put to work bands of reckless and bloody men, like Brown and his confederates, who will shrink at nothing, stop at nothing in the gratification of their instincts of fanaticism and revenge. . . . . The Democratic policy is exploded. It is the policy of propagandism, which can have but one end, and that will be the bloodiest succession of tragedies that the world ever knew. The rights of humanity cannot always be disregarded. It is time for this nation to begin its preparations for retribution. Permit the Democracy to rule, and this Harper’s Ferry blood is but the few falling drops which presage the burst.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune

brown raid-05-images

October 22– Saturday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Our telegraphic reports for the last two or three days have contained little else than accounts of the riots at Harper’s Ferry. The Washington and Baltimore papers are also full of the same subject, but as their accounts are vague, contradictory and unsatisfactory, we are unable to give our readers any information in addition to what our dispatches have already conveyed. The public mind is too intensely excited now to ascertain the true state of affairs. We can only say that a fearful riot has occurred, blood has been shed, lives have been lost, and property destroyed. The causes of the riot, it is impossible now to determine. . . . We shall have to wait for the excitement to subside before we can get at the truth of the matter. We will offer no comments nor attempt any explanation until we obtain something more reliable and consistent than any account of the affair we have yet seen.” ~ Republican Banner and Nashville Whig.

October 22– Saturday– Madrid, Spain– The government begins military operations against Morocco to quell alleged activity by pirates.

October 22– Saturday– Kasssel, the German states– Louis Spohr, composer, violinist and conductor, dies at 75 years of age.

October 23– Sunday– Concord, Massachusetts– “I have elected Ticknor & Fields as my publishers . . . . I finished the ‘Song of Nature,’stimulated by your favorable opinion, by writing six more quatrains, & sent it to Lowell, who has it, he says, already in print. It shall be mended, I hope, when the proof comes to me. We are all very well, in spite of the sad Harpers Ferry business, which interests us all who had Brown for our guest twice. And the story of ‘bushels of letters’ naturally alarmed some of his friends in Boston. He is a true hero, but lost his head there.” ~ Letter from Ralph Waldo Emerson to his cousin William Emerson.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1857

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1857

October 24– Monday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The panic Mr. Brown with his handful of deluded followers created in Maryland and Virginia was not at all creditable to the people or authorities of the vicinity. They showed the ‘white feather’ [mark of cowardice] in a manner to plainly reveal the inherent weakness of society where slavery is tolerated and free labor regarded as degrading. The fact almost exceeds belief, that seventeen white men and five blacks – only twenty-two persons in all – should not only be able to take possession of the Armory of the United States, but retain it for hours, and not be driven therefrom until the arrival of the military from abroad. . . . . five resolute men could have dislodged ‘the revolutionists’ in five minutes. But terror seems to have seized upon all classes of persons in the immediate vicinity, and the population behaved as madly and wildly as the residents of the interior of New England, where a great fire does not occur more than once in half a century, do, when a large conflagration occurs. To use the word ‘chivalry’ in connection with such cowardice as the Virginians displayed, is to be guilty of the severest sarcasm.” ~ Boston Daily Evening Transcript.

brown raid-07-images

October 24– Monday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– The Museum of Comparative Zoology opens with a generous gift from the Swiss-born scientist Louis Agassiz who donates his extensive personal collection in zoology he had gathered for more than a decade. Agassiz, now age 52, had emigrated to the United States in 1846 and has been teaching at Harvard since 1847. [Dies December 14, 1873.]

Louis Agassiz

Louis Agassiz

October 24– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The outbreak at Harper’s Ferry must exert no small influence upon political movements. It is a mark upon the Republicans, & must make them more pliable, yielding and conciliatory;– less audacious, confident & exacting. In this state of things it seems to me that boldness, decision & prompt action on our part, is the dictate of sound policy. Timidity & hesitation always invite aggression and encourage assumption. I should be glad to have your views on this subject. . . . What I rather fear is, that your [Republican] convention, excited by the late scenes & outrages, will adopt some resolution, or give expression to some sentiment not calculated to ‘turn away wrath,’ but to invite by ‘touching the raw’ of the North. I hope, however, you will be able to prevent this. . . . It seems to be generally concluded that the Harpers Ferry transactions have laid Seward on the shelf, as well as Chase, Banks & all others belonging to the ‘irrepressible conflict’ section of the Republican party.” ~ Letter from N. Sargent to Alexander H. H. Stuart.

October 24– Monday– Frankfort, Kentucky– “We are pleased to observe that the Northern press, without the distinction of party, express the most unqualified condemnation of the wicked and insane projects of Brown and his hair-brained associates. The great mass of the Northern people, including the most inveterate Republicans, regard such schemes with as much abhorrence as they do any other conspiracy to murder by wholesale, and it is not going too far to assert that in case there had been any necessity for their aid, thousands of true men in the North would have promptly taken up arms in behalf of the Southern slaveholder against the brutality and of the slave. Throughout the entire North but few such desperate and incendiary wretches as Brown . . . can be found, and when they are they certainly meet with little encouragement from the Northern people. Their acts have been emphatically repudiated by every Republican paper we have yet seen, and we doubt if even [William] Lloyd Garrison, who is himself rejected by the Republicans as a political teacher, will justify it.” ~ Frankfort Commonwealth.

October 24– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– “This attempt to excite an insurrection among the slaves is one of the natural results of the agitation of the slavery question, originated and so persistently kept up by designing politicians, both of the North and the South for partisan purposes. It can be traced to no other cause, and unless the people of both sections rise in the majesty of their strength and put an end at once to this mischievous agitation, the page that records the bloody events of the last two days, will be but a preface to the history of a civil war in which the same scenes will be re-enacted on a larger scale, and end in the dissolution of our glorious Union. . . . The folly of the Southern people in their incessant demand for more slavery legislation is exhibited in a strong light by this view of the subject, and should convince them of the impolicy of further agitation. By ceasing the agitation in the South, an end will be put to the discussion of this subject in the North. As long as we agitate the North will do the same, and though only seventeen men of the entire North were engaged in the conspiracy, there is no telling how many may engage in the next plot unless the subject of slavery ceases to be a matter of discussion among demagogues. The people have the means in their hands of putting an end to this evil, by resolutely refusing to elevate men to political office who seek to ride into power by incendiary appeals to sectional prejudices.” ~ Republican Banner and Nashville Whig.

brown defenders-images

October 25– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “The voice of the Southern people has not been heard, and may never be heard. The shallow waters murmur, but the deep are dumb; and such is the state of public feeling at this moment from the Potomac to the Gulf. Let not the people of the North mistake this silence for indifference. There exists a horror and indignation which neither press nor public meeting can express, a feeling that has weakened the foundations of the Union, and which may at any moment rase the superstructure. Will not the people of New York, from the polls, speak some word of encouragement, and, if possible, re-instate the Union sentiments disturbed by their own people? The Harper’s Ferry invasion has advanced the cause of Disunion, more than any other event that has happened since the formation of the Government; it has rallied to that standard men who formerly looked upon it with horror; it has revived, with ten fold strength the desire of a Southern Confederacy.” ~ Richmond Enquirer.

October 25– Tuesday– Charles Town, Virginia– The trial of John Brown and his accomplices opens. Brown refuses to be represented by a lawyer. His wounds remain quite noticeable. The court appoints lawyers to represent him.

October 25– Tuesday– New Orleans, Louisiana– “Now this is the very serious question, which the men of the North who are not incurably touched with the same madness – and these constitute, we believe, a large numerical majority – will be apt to put to themselves and to each other, when they read of such things as have transpired at Harper’s Ferry. These wanton disturbances of the peace of a great community, fearfully aggravated by the uncertainties which thicken with unimagined terrors, about a subject in which so many of tenderest interests of life are concerned; these scenes of disorder suddenly provoked, and crushed out with such stern necessity of bloodshed; these cruel seductions of the victims of the false philanthropy into suffering and punishment for the guilty, and increased rigors for the whole race; the incitement, the cause, and the consequences, are but the legitimate growth of the ultraisms which have been permitted to gain such an ascendancy over the minds of the Northern people, and have been made more powerful and more dangerous by being used as the means by which aspiring politicians and selfish demagogues seek to ride into power and office. The fools that became the criminals and have perished in their folly, as all such will do when they fling themselves against the ramparts with which the South can protect itself against this incendiarism, are themselves victims of those false teachers, who are themselves morally guilty of the very offences they will repudiate entirely, and responsible for the consequences they may affect to deplore. They are guilty of all the mischief done by the firebrands with which they have armed the heedless and the wicked.” ~ Times-Picayune.

October 25– Tuesday– Amsterdam, Netherlands– Birth of Stephanie Helene Swarth, a poet. [Dies June 20, 1941]

Stephanie Helene Swarth

Stephanie Helene Swarth

Inflict Retaliatory Vengeance~September 1859~12th to 21st

Inflict Retaliatory Vengeance ~ Franklin Repository.

A Pennsylvania newspaper comments on Southern fears of a slave insurrection, unaware that on a Maryland farm, not far from Harpers Ferry, Virginia, a radical and militant abolitionist named John Brown is preparing to foment just such a bloody revolt. Lincoln criticizes Stephan Douglas in a series of speeches. The slavery question creates literally dueling politicians in California. Many other politicians busily make speeches. A mentally unbalanced man proclaims himself Emperor of the United States. Life moves on– fairs, storms, births, deaths. How many soldiers, wearing blue or grey in the fall of 1864, might wish to return to the quieter times before the events at Harpers Ferry?

ladies autumn bonnets for the fall of 1859

ladies autumn bonnets for the fall of 1859

September 12– Monday– Syracuse, New York– Reverend Samuel J May, Unitarian minister, radical abolitionist, advocate of women’s rights and uncle of Louisa May Alcott, turns 62 years of age. [Dies July 1, 1871.]

September 12– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania–Birth of Florence Kelley, labor reformer and advocate of child welfare and consumer rights. [Dies February 17, 1932. See, Impatient Crusader: Florence Kelley’s Life Story by Josephine Goldmark (1953) and Florence Kelley: the Making of a Social Pioneer by Rose Blumberg (1966).]

Florence Kelley

Florence Kelley

September 12– Monday– the Atlantic Ocean– A ship near 40°N latitude, 50°W longitude, reports strong winds. At least four ships sustain structural damage or take on water. The Bell Flower loses her captain and a crew member to the sea. The severity of the weather encountered by the ships suggests a storm of modest hurricane intensity, the second of the month and the fourth of this year’s hurricane season.

September12– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The National Agricultural Society’s annual fair opens today and runs through September 17th.

September 13– Tuesday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– “Would it be convenient for you, before your return home, to visit Pittsburgh and give us a speech? Mr. Douglas was here, with his stereotyped speech, and it would much gratify us if you could follow him up. Please write me and let me know if you can come, and when; we will make ample arrangements, and give you as large an audience as you can wish.” ~ Letter from Russell Errett to Abraham Lincoln.

September 13– Tuesday– San Francisco, California– Kentucky-born David S. Terry, recently defeated for re-election as Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, fights a duel with fellow Democrat, U.S. Senator David C. Broderick, just outside the city. Terry had argued with Broderick, who had opposed him in the election due to Terry’s views on extending slavery to California. The exchanges had escalated into the challenge to settle the matter by a duel. The gunfire leaves Broderick mortally wounded, shot through the right lung. [Terry will serve in the Confederate army during the Civil War.]

September 14– Wednesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– “We have often stated that the tendency of extending the area of slavery is to eradicate the white population in the old Southern States. This is fast becoming verified in the very strong-hold of the peculiar institution. The authorities in South Carolina have instituted measures for taking the census of that State, which produces such an abundance of fire-eaters. The returns from seventeen parishes alone, show a decrease of more than 5000 in the white population, in the last four years, (a similar census-taking having occurred in 1855,) whilst the blacks have increased very largely in numbers, in the same time, in those parishes. At this rate the blood-and-thunder State will soon become sufficiently Africanized to suit the tastes of the greatest Negro-lovers in the land. Is it not astonishing that the simpletons who urge so strongly the propriety of repealing the laws of Congress which pronounce the Slave-trade piracy, cannot see that they are preparing for themselves the most horrible doom imaginable? The slave-holders of the South are now almost afraid to go to bed without a revolver under their pillows for fear their darkeys will rise in the night and inflict retaliatory vengeance upon their self constituted owners– their unfeeling task-masters. Then why do they insist upon increasing the danger? They had better be upon their guard, and prevent this iniquity, while they have the strength, lest an opening of the Slave trade should result in so completely Africanizing the Southern States as that the tables might be turned– the whites becomes the slaves while the blacks bear rule. The only way slavery is upheld now, or ever was, is by brute force– the law of might. If, therefore, the weak of to-day become the strong of to-morrow, there is nothing in the world which can prevent their enslaving the weaker portion of society– from whom they have learned the inhuman lessons.” ~ Franklin Repository.

September 14– Wednesday– Chicago, Illinois– “The Republicans of Cincinnati, at one of their meetings on Monday evening last, appointed a committee consisting of two hundred and ten gentlemen to receive Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, who will address the people of that city in reply to Senator Douglas, on Saturday evening next. Well done, Cincinnati! You are paying merited respect to an honest man!” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

September 14– Wednesday– Beloit, Wisconsin– “Seeing by our papers that you have accepted an invitation to deliver the address at our State fair at Milwaukee, the last of this month – Our City Republican Club have instructed me to write and see if you would stop at our place on your return home from the fair, and address the Citizens of old Rock County, on the great political issues which now absorbs the public mind in the Northwest. It is their desire that you should open the Campaign here, if your engagements would permit – You can come from Milwaukee to our place by Rail Road and from here to Freeport or Belvidere by R. R.” ~ Letter from M. A. Northrop to Abraham Lincoln.

September 14– Wednesday– Constantinople, Turkey– Fire which began on the 10th and destroyed over a thousand structures is finally brought under control.

September 15– Thursday– Elizabethtown, New Jersey– In its third day today, the New Jersey State Fair draws a record crowd of around 30,000 people. Programs and displays include equestrian races, a ploughing contest, horse taming, quilting, baking, leather working and other crafts.

September 15– Thursday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The D. R. Duffield & Co advertises the most fashionable hoop skirts for ladies. For example, skirts with 22 hoops and a bustle for $4.50, skirts with 16 hoops and a bustle for $3.00, skirts with 13 hoops and a bustle for $2.50 and skirts with 11 hoops and a bustle for $2.95. [The price range in today’s dollars would run from $130 to $72.30, using the Consumer Price Index.]

evening dress-Godeys' Ladies Book, September, 1859

evening dress-Godeys’ Ladies Book, September, 1859

September 15– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The Honorable Gerrit Smith has issued a circular letter . . . . He takes the occasion to set forth at some length his views of the [political] parties of the day, and to declare that he has no faith in any of them. He seems to look upon the Republican party as being but little better than those which openly profess to uphold Slavery; and he sees no prospect of emancipation except in insurrection, and he regards insurrection as ‘a terrible remedy for a terrible wrong.’” ~ National Era. [Gerrit Smith, 1797–1874, is a wealthy New Yorker, an outspoken radical abolitionist, social reformer and philanthropist.]

September 15– Thursday– Mobile, Alabama– The region is struck by the fifth hurricane of the season, the third one in this month.

September 15– Thursday– London, England– Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an engineer, dies at age 53, ten days after he suffered a stroke. [The most famous engineer of his day, he revolutionized the digging of tunnels, pioneering the machinery used to this day; built a hundred bridges over the most daunting obstacles; laid a thousand miles of railway track; and brought ship-building into the modern era with his all-metal, propeller-driven, steam ships, the Great Britain and the Great Eastern.]

Isamfard Brunel, engineer extraordinaire

Isambard Brunel, engineer extraordinaire

September 16– Friday– Columbus, Ohio– “The chief danger to this purpose of the Republican party is not just now the revival of the African slave trade, or the passage of a Congressional slave code, or the declaring of a second Dred Scott decision, making slavery lawful in all the States. These are not pressing us just now. They are not quite ready yet. The authors of these measures know that we are too strong for them; but they will be upon us in due time, and we will be grappling with them hand to hand, if they are not now headed off. They are not now the chief danger to the purpose of the Republican organization; but the most imminent danger that now threatens that purpose is that insidious Douglas Popular Sovereignty. This is the miner and sapper. While it does not propose to revive the African slave trade, nor to pass a slave code, nor to make a second Dred Scott decision, it is preparing us for the onslaught and charge of these ultimate enemies when they shall be ready to come on and the word of command for them to advance shall be given. I say this Douglas Popular Sovereignty– for there is a broad distinction, as I now understand it, between that article and a genuine popular sovereignty.” ~ Speech by Abraham Lincoln

September 16– Friday– San Francisco, California– Senator David C. Broderick, age 39, dies of his wound received in his duel with David S. Terry. [The hot-headed Terry will die by gunfire on August 14, 1889, when he attacks U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field at a California railway station over a court case and is killed by the U.S. Marshal serving as Field’s bodyguard.]

David C Broderick

David C Broderick

September 16– Friday– the East African rift– British explorer, missionary and anti-slavery activist Dr. David Livingstone, age 46, becomes the first known European to see Lake Nyasa, also called Lake Malawi.

September 17– Saturday– Boston, Massachusetts– With great and imposing ceremonies that include an oration from Edward Everett, the new bronze statue of Daniel Webster (1782–1852) is dedicated on the grounds of the state capitol, facing Beacon Hill. The sculptor, Hiram Powers, age 54, receives $10,000 for his work. [His fee would equal $289,000 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

Statue of Daniel Webster despised by abolitionists

Statue of Daniel Webster despised by abolitionists

September 17– Saturday– Buffalo, New York– “A Convention of self-styled reformers has been sitting in this city for two days past, comprising the leading abolitionists, spiritualists, free-lovers, infidels, fanatics, and women’s rights men and women’s rights men and women of the country. The Convention closes its session to-morrow (Sunday) and the public generally will experience a feeling of relief when the city is rid of these reformers.” ~ A reporter’s article for the New York Times.

September 17– Saturday– San Francisco, California– “At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, andthereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.” ~ Proclamation issued by Joshua Norton, a man approximately 39 years old, a bankrupt merchant, apparently mentally unstable, claiming to Norton the First, Emperor of the United States. [Norton will become a popular figure in the city, not only tolerated but encouraged in his eccentric dress and conduct. When he dies on January 8, 1880, about 10,000 people will pay their respects. See, the Emperor of the United States and Other Magnificent British Eccentrics by Catherine Caufield (1981); Emperor Norton, Life and Experiences of a Notable Character in San Francisco, 1849–1880 by Albert Dressler (1927); A Rush of Dreamers: Being the Remarkable Story of Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico by John Cech (1997).]

Joshua Norton, self-proclaimed emperor

Joshua Norton, self-proclaimed emperor

September 17– Saturday– Montreal, Quebec, Canada– Birth of Frank Dawson Adams, geologist and educator. [Dies December 26, 1942.]

September 18– Sunday– Easton, Massachusetts– Birth of John L. Bates, governor of Massachusetts from 1903 to 1905. [Dies June 8, 1946.]

September 18– Sunday– Indiana, Pennsylvania– Birth of Lincoln Loy McCandless, industrialist, politician and rancher. [Dies October 5, 1940.]

September 19– Monday– Somerville, Massachusetts– Birth of John Franklin Jameson, historian. [Dies September 28, 1937.]

September 19– Monday– Indianapolis, Indiana– Attorney Abraham Lincoln addresses an evening meeting at Masonic Hall.

September 20– Tuesday– Lowell, Massachusetts– “Honorable Galusha A. Grow and Honorable Schuyler Colfax are in Minnesota. They were the principal speakers at a mass meeting in St Paul last evening, in the theatre. Just as Mr Colfax was drawing his remarks to a close, and while yet the theatre was densely crowded, there was an alarm of fire. The cry was at once taken up, and soon the words ‘the theatre is on fire!’ went up from all parts of the house. A smoke was seen issuing from the rear part of the stage and immediately there was a hurrying for the door. The words, however, that there was ‘no danger,’ ‘plenty of time,’&c., &c., prevented any confusion, but the audience moved hurriedly and safely out of the door. A few of the more fearful, however, took the short cut and jumped out of the windows. The flames burst up through the rear end of the stage floor and ignited the scenery, and very soon the Thespian temple was all a blaze. In ten minutes from the time the fire was discovered, the whole building was in ruins. How the fire originated is involved in mystery, but from the fact that it was first discovered in the extreme rear end of the building, under the stage, where no fire could accidentally have been dropped, is clear proof that it was the work of an incendiary.” ~ Lowell Citizen & News.

September 20– Tuesday– New York City– The elderly General Winfield Scott, age 73, hero of the war with Mexico a decade ago, leaves on a steamer bound for the northwest Pacific coastal island of San Juan. President Buchanan has charged him with representing the United States in a territorial dispute with the British, known as the ‘Pig War’ from its advent in an argument between Canadians and Americans over a pig, that had threatened to escalate into a unwanted military clash. [The impetuous Captain George Pickett, age 34, of the U S Army had almost provoked a shooting war some weeks ago. Cooler heads such as General Scott will eventually prevail and the area will finally be partitioned between Great Britain and the United States in the 1871 Treaty of Washington.]

General Winfield Scott

General Winfield Scott

September 20– Tuesday– Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory– Captain John F Reynolds observes his 39th birthday. [Reynolds will quickly advance once the Civil War begins and become a general in the Union army. He will be killed in the fighting at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.]

September 21– Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– “This is my first opportunity to express to you my great regret at not meeting you personally while in Ohio. However, you were at work in the cause, and that, after all, was better. It is useless for me to say to you (and yet I cannot refrain from saying it) that you must not let your approaching election in Ohio so result as to give encouragement to Douglasism. That ism is all which now stands in the way of an early and complete success of Republicanism; and nothing would help it or hurt us so much as for Ohio to go over or falter just now. You must, one and all, put yours souls into the effort.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Salmon P Chase.

September 21– Wednesday– Chicago, Illinois– “We commend to any of our readers who have been bitten by the absurd notion that Mr. Douglas has any concern for the extension and perpetuation of free institutions, the perusal of that portion of Mr. Lincoln’s Cincinnati speech which we publish to-day. If it does not cure them of the heresy into which they have fallen there is no hope for the relief of stupidity like theirs. The gods would war against it in vain.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

A Gain to The Loyal Cause~August 1864~28th & 29th

A Gain to the Loyal Cause ~ Frederick Douglass.

Following up his meeting with Lincoln, Frederick Douglass provides a detailed proposal to draw more slaves from the South and into the Union cause. Welles speaks his mind about Secretary of State Seward. Many southerners express concern about Federal troops vandalizing or stealing property. Sherman’s soldiers find special delight in destroying railroads. The Democrats convene their national meeting to select a candidate to oppose Lincoln. Like many wealthy northern men George Templeton Strong hires a substitute rather than be drafted himself, a legal but rich man’s option under the law. The family of a wounded soldier write to Whitman.

General Sherman meeting with his officers

General Sherman meeting with his officers

August 28– Sunday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I am truly glad you’ve so far been spared the presence of the Yankee raiders; but from the recent dispatches of the press association, I’m every day afraid those uncivilized warriors will make their appearance near your home. It is doubtless their intention to free the prisoners confined at Andersonville. I hope such may never be. Should, however, such happen, I pity the fate of South Western Georgia. T’would be equivalent to turning loose so many inmates of the Asylum and Penitentiary. Neither citizens nor private property would be respected. Everything in their path would be taken or destroyed. Such has been the course pursued by them in Virginia, why should Georgia be an exception? I have known them to take jewelry from the persons of young ladies. Their object is to impoverish the citizens and enrich themselves. I do sincerely hope the day of retribution is not too far distant. Sometimes I think all raiders ought to be put to death as soon as captured; but so soon as I see them, I pity and can but treat them as prisoners of war should be.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his finance Maggie Cone.

August 28– Sunday– Cobb County– “Sabbath again, a most delightful day, bright, clear & cool, everything quiet and calm, scarcely a thing moving about, not even on the [Rail] Roads. We have this morning traced the stolen pot, it was carried over to a Hospital at Mr. Baker’s place to wash with, they promising to return it today we left it with them, in use. The mosquitoes were very bad last night, as bad as I have ever known them in Savannah, even keeping me awake. I have written to my wife today to be sent via New York.” ~ Diary of William King.


August 28– Sunday– outside of Atlanta, Georgia– “Quite early yesterday morning, squads of rebels appeared near our picket line, and patrols I sent out soon discovered a considerable force. About noon today they drove in a portion of our pickets, and at the same time opened upon our lines with two pieces of artillery. It was a reconnaissance, and when they found us posted here with infantry and artillery, they withdrew. We have a very nice place here now– a shady grove– and it would not be bad if we were to stay for a time. Our corps is in detachments at different points on the river, guarding our communications, while the rest of the army has gone on a big raid I suppose. General Locum has come and taken command of our corps. He was here yesterday, just as the fight commenced, and stayed until it was over. In personal appearance and manner, he is very prepossessing.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

August 29– Monday– Glens Falls, New York– “As we have received your letter you sent to Bethuel I will write a few lines in this and send it to you . . . he was wounded the 11 of June in his right leg a little above his knee– he rode in a government wagon 4 Days then on about one Day and night then he came to Washington– he got a furlough the first Day of July for forty Days at which period he returned to Washington to the hospital– he was very thin in flesh but looked some better when he left home his health was not very good and if the [hospital] saves his life we expect him home again next month.” ~ Letter from Christopher and Maria Smith, the parents of Bethuel Smith, a soldier in the Union cavalry, to Walt Whitman.

August 29– Monday– New York City– “I purveyed myself a substitute, a big ‘Dutch’ boy of twenty or thereabouts, for the moderate consideration of $1100. Thus do we approach the almshouse at an accelerating rate of speed. My alter ego could make a good soldier if he tried.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong. [As many wealthy Northern men, Strong hires a substitute in order to avoid the draft himself, an action permissible under Federal law at this time. The $1100 would equal $16,800 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

August 29– Monday– Rochester, New York– “That every slave who escapes from the Rebel states is a loss to the Rebellion and a gain to the Loyal Cause, I need not stop to argue the proposition is self evident. . . . I will therefore briefly submit at once to your Excellency the ways and means by which many such persons may be wrested from the enemy and brought within our lines: 1st Let a general agent be appointed by your Excellency charged with the duty of giving effect to your idea as indicated above: Let him have the means and power to employ twenty or twenty five good men, having the cause at heart, to act as his agents: 2d Let these Agents which shall be selected by him, have permission to visit such points at the front as are most accessible to large bodies of slaves in the Rebel States: Let each of the said agents have power to appoint one subagent or more in the locality where he may be required to operate: the said sub agent shall be thoroughly acquainted with the country and well instructed as to the representations he is to make to the slaves but his chief duty will be to conduct such squads of slaves as he may be able to collect, safely within the Loyal lines: Let the sub agents for this service be paid a sum not exceeding two dollars per day while upon active duty. 3dly In order that these agents shall not be arrested or impeded in their work, let them be properly ordered to report to the General Commanding the several Departments they may visit, and receive from them permission to pursue their vocation unmolested. 4th Let provision be made that the slaves or Freed men thus brought within our lines shall receive subsistence until such of them as are fit shall enter the service of the Country or be otherwise employed and provided for: 5thly Let each agent appointed by the General agent be required to keep a strict acct of all his transactions, of all monies received and paid out, of the numbers and the names of slaves brought into our lines under his auspices, of the plantations visited, and of everything properly connected with the prosecution of his work, and let him be required to make full reports of his proceedings at least, once a fortnight to the General Agent. 6th Also, Let the General Agent be required to keep a strict account of all his transactions with his agents and report to your Excellency or to an officer designated by you to receive such reports. 7th Let the General Agent be paid a salary sufficient to enable him to employ a competent Clerk, and let him be stationed at Washington or at some other Point where he can most readily receive communications from and send communications to his Agents: The General Agent should also have a kind of roving Commission within our lines, so that he may have a more direct and effective oversight of the whole work and thus ensure activity and faithfulness on the part of his agents– This is but an imperfect outline of the plan but I think it enough to give your Excellency an Idea of how the desirable work shall be executed.” ~ following up on the meeting of the 19th Frederick Douglass submits to President Lincoln a plan to aid slaves escape from the South.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

August 29– Monday– Johnson’s Island, Sandusky, Ohio– “Colonel Cooper Nisbet, 66th Georgia, captured on the 22nd before Atlanta, is here and a member of my private mess. He gave me much personal intelligence. Indeed, with what I have heard from him, and from a recent letter from General Anderson’s Head Quarters, I am better informed about affairs and persons than at any time since my capture. I have undergone keen anxiety about my brothers. Ira lies in hospital at Baltimore and, from a letter showed me this morning by Colonel Phillips of Georgia from a lady who has been kind to him, I fear his recovery is doubtful. I have heard of Egbert, but not from him. He is supposed to be at [the prisoner of war camp at] Elmira, New York. All that remains of poor Sanders has been kindly cared for at Frederick City, Maryland.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry McDaniel to his sweetheart Hester C. Felker in Georgia. [He will survive the war and marry Hester on December 20, 1865.]

August 29– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The Democratic National Convention opens with a speech by Mr August Belmont. Belmont, a wealthy businessman and Democratic politician, age 50, declares, “Four years of misrule, by a sectional, fanatical and corrupt party, have brought our country to the very verge of ruin. The past and present are sufficient warnings of the disastrous consequences which would befall us if Mr Lincoln’s re-election should be made possible by our want of patriotism and unity.”

site of the 1864 Democratic convention

site of the 1864 Democratic convention

August 29– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “We have word through Rebel channels that the Union forces have possession of Fort Morgan. This will give us entire control of the Bay of Mobile. . . . The Rebel leaders understand [Secretary of State William] Seward very well. He is fond of intrigue, of mystery, of sly, cunning management, and is easily led off on a wild chase by subtle fellows who can without difficulty excite his curiosity and flatter his vanity. Detectives, secret agents, fortune-tellers are his delight.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 29– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “Saturday night, about one o’clock, the torch of the incendiary was applied to the stable of Mr. John M. Daniel, on Council Chamber Hill. The flames being undiscovered until they had gained considerable headway, the building and also two adjoining stables were destroyed. The horses in each were gotten out in safety by a party who were returning from the Theatre.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

August 29– Monday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Cool, clear pleasant day again. I walked out to the Powder Spring Road to learn what was going on in the big World. I saw an old Woman who had just moved into the Johnson Brick House (without doors or Window shutters) with her sick Husband & 8 children, she had come from Campbell County, to see if they could get some work to make a living, she thought they might be able to get washing & sewing enough to supply them with provisions to sustain life, the Husband she says was very sickly, & could do nothing to help. I will go & see him during the day or tomorrow. The poor are gathering thick in and about town. May God provide for them during the coming winter, trust in man is poor. Our Hogs are all gone I am afraid, nothing has been seen of any of them, for several days past, nothing eatable is safe out of doors, and our 2 last chickens have been missing for 2 days. A soldier remarked that often when their officers send them out on foraging expeditions for the Horses, they say do not take any thing more than you can bring off, by which the soldiers understand they are allowed to take everything they find, and can get, if they can only bring it off.” ~ Diary of William King.

August 29– Monday– along the western perimeter of Atlanta, Georgia– Carrying out General Sherman’s orders, Federal troops spend most of the day tearing up 12 miles of track of the Western & West Point Railroad. The wooden railroad ties along with fence-rails are burned in large bonfires. The metal rails are heated in the these fires until they can bend. Soldiers then wrap them around trees or telegraph poles to cool and harden into useless forms. [As this becomes a common practice for the remainder of the Georgia campaign, the soldiers nickname the bent rails “Sherman’s neckties.”]

making Sherman's neckties

making Sherman’s neckties

August 29– Monday– Red Oak Station, Georgia; near Sandtown, Georgia; Smithfield Crossing, Virginia; Charles Town, West Virginia; Greeneville, Tennessee; Ghent, Kentucky; Milton, Florida; near Port Hudson, Louisiana– Hard skirmishes, bloody firefights, raids and surprise attacks.

August 29– Monday– London, England– William Huggins, age 40, becomes the first astronomer to take the spectrum of a planetary nebula when he analyzes NGC 6543. [Huggins dies May 12, 1910.]

Sir William Huggins 1906

Sir William Huggins 1906


The Most Grateful Satisfaction~August 1864~19th to 21st

The Most Grateful Satisfaction ~ Charles Francis Adams.

The American Minister to Great Britain extends his thanks to an abolitionist society for their support of the Lincoln Administration. Confederates still hold the city of Atlanta but for how much longer? Slowly Grant extends his hold on Petersburg. The New York Times informs an adoring American public about the most recent reports from the missionary and explorer Dr David Livingstone. A Vietnamese rebel leader commits suicide to avoid capture by the French. The Russian Czar has fully crushed the rebellion in Poland. Napoleon III is in a snit with the Pope.


August 19– Friday– Andersonville, Georgia– Confederate inspectors report to Richmond that at least 15,000 prisoners from the camp here should be transferred from the prison, and that poor leadership, combined with a lack of supplies, have left the post destitute, adding that the prison is a reproach to the Confederacy.

August 19– Friday– Dooly County, Georgia– “General Hood still holds Atlanta, though a great many think, he will have to fall back. A regular engagement is daily looked for, at that point. Heavy fighting no doubt awaits us. If the enemy is successful what a sad fate to Georgia! I fear we will suffer from Yankee raids, so long as Sherman remains in the State.” ~ Letter from Maggie Cone to her fiancé, Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer.

August 19– Friday– London, England– “I am requested to inform you that the resolutions passed by the executive of the Union and Emancipation Society, at Manchester, on the 4th of July last, which I had the pleasure to transmit to the President of the United States, have been received by him with the most grateful satisfaction. If there were need the sympathy thus manifested in quarters so evidently disinterested and just would inspire the Government and people with new resolution to rescue their institutions from the dangerous abyss which American slave-holders, aided by malevolent spirits, both abroad and at home, have conspired to open before them. Believing that in perseverance they are promoting the ultimate interests of the human race everywhere, they draw satisfaction from a cheering recognition of their labors from all worthy sources.” ~ Message from American Minister Charles Francis Adams.

Charles Francis Adams, 1867

Charles Francis Adams, 1867

August 19– Friday– Bien Hoa, Vietnam– Truong Dinh, a rebel leader against the French, dies by his own hand to avoid capture. He is about 44 years old.

Truong Dinh

Truong Dinh

August 20– Saturday– New York City– “The Czar of Russia, having crushed out the Polish rebellion and the Revolutionary Government about a year ago, is now engaged in the work of hanging the leaders of the revolt. It will be remembered that while that great rebellion was in actual progress, it maintained profound secrecy as to who were its leaders, and as to its means and agencies of operation. The ‘Revolutionary Committee,’ or ‘National Government,’ was a secret affair; secret as to its members and as to its plans, while its edicts were issued in secret and executed secretly by mysterious agents. It issued orders for the assassination of obnoxious persons, and vast numbers were suddenly and unexpectedly slain by they knew not whom. Some of its active military chiefs were of course known; but both in field and cabinet, it tried to wrap itself in mystery. It assumed for a time very formidable proportions, and had it got the assistance that was promised from England and France, it might have achieved success. But the immense armies of Russia, when fairly set in motion, soon broke it down, and reduced it to a mere guerrilla war, which also in turn was crushed out; and all the notice we now find of the late Polish Revolution is such as is conveyed in the following telegram from Warsaw, under date of the 5th instant: ‘M. Traugott, the head of the Polish National Government, together with Krajewski, Focyski, Zulinski and Jezioranski, the chiefs of the different departments, were hanged this morning on the glacis of the citadel. The sentences of death passed upon eleven officials of the National Government have been commuted in some cases to hard labor, and in the others to imprisonment in a Siberian fortress.’ And so closes the latest bloody tragedy of Polish Revolution.” ~ New York Times.

August 20– Saturday– Winchester, Virginia– “According to my promise I seat myself tonight to drop you a few lines to let you know how we are getting along since you left. We are at Winchester, where we arrived on day before yesterday evening. The only item of news is that General Bryan has resigned and will take his letter to Augusta where he waits the action of the War Department on his tender of resignation accompanied by Surgeons Certificate of Disability. It is generally thought his resignation will be accepted. Early had a fight with the enemy at this place on the evening of the 17th. Thrashed them handsomely, taking some 500 prisoners, and 6 pieces of artillery. Should this reach you give my respects to homefolks and everybody else that you see.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W. A. Stilwell to a friend.

August 20– Saturday– Legareville, South Carolina– Federal troops burn the town.

August 20– Saturday– Cobb County, Georgia– “The foraging Wagons returned last night safe, but with little forage, I think, all the country in this vicinity being pretty much stripped of every thing. I took a short walk on the Powder Springs Road this morning, found no wagons from the country today. I stopped and had a long talk with the pickets today, men of good sense and spirits, and anxious for peace, but say there can be no peace until the government is restored, and the slave question disposed of. How this war is to be brought to a close God only knows. For 2 days past laborers have been hard at work putting in order the Rail Road in front of the House. I hear General Kilpatrick has gone on a Raid into the State. I hear that some of our Cavalry have been taking and killing some Federal prisoners near Gainesville, after they had surrendered, I am sure it cannot be true. A young soldier who had returned from the Stoneman Raid, told me that while on it, he had with him a Melodeon, & being in his way, he went up to a House & presented it to a young Lady at the door, she thanked him: the old Lady said it was more than they expected as she thought the Yankee soldiers kept their gifts for the Negro Women. I hear a foraging train had been taken near the town yesterday. I hear that about 180 deserters from our [Confederate] Army were brought into Marietta yesterday. Mr. Griffith and myself had a pleasant walk after supper this evening. How anxious am becoming to see my family at Home or even to hear from them. 1st [of] October is too far off to wait.” ~ Diary of William King.

cavalry -07-images

August 20– Saturday– Lovejoy’s Station, Georgia– Confederate troops drive off Federal cavalry who have been destroying parts of the Macon and Western Railroad but at a price. Total Confederate loss– dead, wounded, missing– is 240; total Federal loss is 237.

August 20– Saturday– London, England– John Alexander Reina Newlands, age 26, produces the first periodic table of the elements in order of their atomic weights. [Dies July 18, 1898.]

John Alexander Reina Newlands

John Alexander Reina Newlands

August 20– Saturday– Paris, France– Rumors are circulating around the city to the effect that Emperor Napoleon III is angry at Pope Pius IX to the extent that he will withdraw French soldiers from Rome where they have provided protection.

August 21– Sunday– New York City– “The expedition was sent out by the English universities, and accompanied by the excellent and devoted Bishop Mackenzie, who was so regardless of his own comfort, that there is little doubt he lost his life thereby. The Portuguese had long carefully excluded all other Europeans from the country; he himself had obtained access to it on a former occasion by entering it from the south and coming down the river, when they could not for very shame compel him to go back. This was in 1856,and on his return two years later the expedition was allowed without difficulty to enter the country . . . . On ascending the river several cataracts were encountered, which Dr. Livingstone had not seen when he came down. On this account they took the direction of the Shire River, and ascended the beautiful valley of that name. It contained a thick population, flourishing villages, and fine cultivation. Above was an elevated plateau some thousand feet above the sea, which strongly resembled the Deccan, except that it was covered with trees and grass, and which, like the valley, contained a large population. But about that time the Portuguese sold a quantity of firearms and ammunition to one of the tribes, to be paid for in slaves. The tribe, thus armed, swept the whole neighboring country like a scourge, killing the men in the villages, and carrying off women and children into slavery. This produced a terrible famine, in which large numbers of the survivors perished; and the fine valley of the Shire was transformed literally into a valley of bones. Whole villages were found without people. On another expedition they ascended the main stream of the Zambesi, passing thirty-five miles of rapids, and reached Lake Nyassa, which was 270 miles long and 60 or 70 wide. Above it was a range of hills, which proved when they had amended it to be another plateau or table land nearly 4,000 feet high, extending for many miles, and filled with villages and cultivation. . . . In reply to various questions. Dr. Livingstone, who seemed good-naturedly desirous to satisfy the curiosity of those present, stated that the cultivation by the African natives was very good, though it was entirely carried on with hand tools. They were very industrious, and while whole families worked in their gardens, which were often very large, men, women and children altogether, an infant in addition being sometimes seen deposited under a hedge. They grew beans of all kinds, pumpkins, maize and rice, but not wheat nor grain. Cotton they grew, spun and wove themselves.” ~ New York Times. [At this time Dr David Livingstone, age 51, has recently returned from an exploratory expedition which he began in March, 1858. His work as both a missionary and an explorer have gained him popularity in the United States as well as in Great Britain.]

Dr David Livingstone

Dr David Livingstone

August 21– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln authorizes the testing of an allegedly improved canon developed by Horatio Ames. [Ames, owner of an ironworks in Connecticut, is himself a giant of a man, standing 6′ 6″ tall and weighing over 300 pounds. The war will end before his canon are brought into extensive service. In a few years steel processing will make canon of iron obsolete. Ames will lose his business and his personal fortune. See, Lincoln and the Tools of War by Robert V Bruce, Chicago, Illinois, 1989.]

August 21– Sunday– along the Weldon Railroad, Virginia– Confederate efforts to gain control of this key railroad fail but they have inflicted heavy losses on the Federal forces. Total Union casualties since Thursday the 18th– killed, wounded, missing– are 4455; Confederate losses total approximately 1600. However, Grant has successfully cut one of Lee’s vital supply lines.

cavalry battle images

August 21– Sunday– Memphis, Tennessee– Confederate cavalry raid the city and occupy parts for several hours, taking some prisoners and carrying off needed supplies but fail to reach the prison where Confederate soldiers are held.

August 21– Sunday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Sabbath again. A Rainy, dirty day. This morning the encampment of the 5th & 6th Indiana Cavalry under Major Carter removed encampment to the North of town, near Mrs. Wilkins– it is the first time I can say I feel rejoiced at the removal of soldiers from me, until this command they have always contributed greatly to my enjoyment and comfort, nearly all of the officers being intelligent & gentlemanly in their deportment. I told the Chaplain that I should miss him, & a few of the officers & most of the privates greatly, but that I must candidly tell him that I was rejoiced that the Regiment was leaving me. Most of the officers were either drinking, ungentlemanly & bad principled men. I had very little to do with them & rejoiced at their departure, they afforded very little company for me, & very destructive to everything about, have done more damage to Fences & Trees than all who had preceded them combined of the Federal & Confederate Armies.” ~ Diary of William King.

August 21– Sunday– Camden County, Georgia– “Kate and family have gone to Valdosta to visit her mother. It is lonely without her. We went over yesterday for the mail, but heard nothing from the boys. It is monotonous here. I have no spirit to write. Some days we are very desponding. It seems as if we should never meet with our friends again. I hope we may have patience to wait. Mr. Linn has been home on a week’s furlough. His baby was four months old before he had a sight of it. It is a pretty child. Called Arthur Stuart. Ed Richardson’s foot is still very bad, but he is obliged to show himself in Savannah once in thirty days. He is going again tomorrow. It is two days journey to the [railroad] cars and he has nothing but a cart to go in.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

August 21– Sunday– Berryville, Virginia; Charles Town, West Virginia; Middleway, West Virginia; Summit Point, Virginia; Loudon County, Virginia; Grubb’s Crossroads, Kentucky; Diamond Grove, Missouri– Firefights, melees and pitched battles.

We Learn From Every Portion~March 1859~the 1st to the 7th

We Learn from Every Portion ~San Francisco Evening Bulletin

Anyone who cared to do so in 1864 could look back a mere five years and see the emerging roots of the civil struggle disrupting the Union. Likewise, any of us today can see in the last years of the antebellum period not only issues around slavery but others which would come to the fore in the 19th and 20th centuries: struggles by “strong-minded” women, the battles over temperance, urban problems with health and crime, Federal budget debates, difficulties in Mexico, debates about states rights and the role of the Federal courts.

March 1– Tuesday– Memphis, Tennessee– Fire breaks out in the basement of the Eagle and Enquirer newspaper on Main Street. The flames quickly spread to other newspaper offices situated in this area and four more are destroyed, including the Presbyterian Sentinel and the Christian Advocate. Several stores also burn. In all, half a city block on the street is burned out with total damages estimated at $150,000. [The damage total would equal $4,270,000 in current dollars using the Consumer Price Index.]

March 2– Wednesday– New York City– In response to “strong-minded” women asserting “self-dependence” the New York Times runs a lengthy article about young women who earn a living making corsets and the hoops to go under the voluminous hoop skirts. “The introduction of hoops into modern fashion has given employment to thousands of girls who were unable to use a needle and who now have become invaluable to their employers in this particular trade. Having this in view we may wish the hoops a long and successful reign.”

the fashionable hoop to be worn under a skirt

the fashionable hoop to be worn under a skirt

March 2– Wednesday– Newark, Ohio– “Philip Barton Key, the victim of the late terrible domestic tragedy in Washington, was the brother of the wife of the Honorable George H Pendleton, of this city, and the son of the immortal author of the Star-spangled Banner. He was, we believe, a married man. His age was about thirty-eight. Mrs. Sickles, whose alleged unfortunate frailty has been the cause of this distressing affair, is possessed of great personal beauty. She is youthful– ‘not being over twenty-one or twenty-two years old’– and has been married about two years. She has been a reigning belle in Washington for the last winter. Mr. Sickles, the member of Congress who killed Mr. Key, represents New York City. He has been re-elected to the next Congress. He was formerly Secretary of Legation in London when President Buchanan was Minister to England, and had been a member of the State Senate in New York. He is a man of much more than ordinary abilities.” ~ Newark Advocate.

March 2– Wednesday– Cedar County, Iowa– “I write to let you know that all is yet well with me, except that I am not very strong. I have something of the ague yet hanging about me. I confidently expect to be able to send you some help about team [of horses or mules], etc., in a very few days. However, if I should be delayed about it longer than I could wish, do not be discouraged. I was much relieved to find on coming here that you had got the draft sent by Mr. Painter. He has been helping me a little . . . . Do not be in haste to buy a team until you can have time to get further word from me. I shall do as fast as I can and may God bless and keep you all!” ~ Letter from John Brown to his wife and children.

March 2– Wednesday– San Francisco, California– “We learn from every portion of the interior that the snow on the mountains is unusually deep, and it is the general impression that if warm weather comes upon us suddenly, with heavy rains, the floods in the valley will do much damage. Cold rains are not to be feared, for they become snow upon the mountains, and have very slight present effect upon our mountain rivers. If the snow does not soon begin to melt gradually, we may be quite sure that a sudden visitation of mild weather, with gentle south winds will bring down a quantity of water that will forcibly remind us of Sacramento floods in the early settlement of this city. Our authorities should have an eye to the signs in the heavens, and if they portend an extraordinary deluge, it will be well for them to make a general call upon the citizens to rally on the line of the levee, and do yeoman service with their picks and shovels.” ~ San Francisco Evening Bulletin.

March 2– Wednesday– Pereyaslav, Russian Empire– Birth of Solomon N Rabinovich, a/k/a Sholem Aleichem, author. [Dies May 13, 1916.]

Sholem Aleichem in 1907

Sholem Aleichem in 1907

March 3– Thursday– Albany, New York– Mary Hartung is sentenced to hang on April 27 for the murder of her husband Emil which she did in 1858 by putting white arsenic in his food and drink.

March 3– Thursday– New York City– In an article about temperance, the New York Times says that however worthy the cause, the failure to achieve the control of the sale and abuse of liquor is because tavern owners have political power at the ballot box while people “who desire to see the law enforced, having only an abstract and general interest in securing that end, devote themselves to fastening the responsibility” for enforcement upon others.

March 3– Thursday– Williamsport, Pennsylvania– The East Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Church opens its meeting with one hundred and sixty clergymen in attendance and Bishop Levi Scott presiding. [Despite regional divisions over the question of slavery, at this time Methodism is the fastest growing religious group in the antebellum United States.]

March 3– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “An imperative sense of duty compels me to make an appeal to Congress to preserve the credit of the country. This is the last day of the present Congress, and no provision has yet been made for the payment of appropriations and to meet the outstanding Treasury notes issued under the authority of law. From the information which has already been communicated to Congress by the Secretary of the Treasury it is manifest that the ordinary receipts into the Treasury, even under the most favorable circumstances, will scarcely meet the ordinary expenses of the Government during the remainder of the present fiscal year, ending on the 30th of June. . . . . Under these circumstances I earnestly recommend to Congress to make provision within the few remaining hours of the session for the preservation of the public credit. The urgency of the case not only justifies but demands that, if necessary, this shall be done by a separate bill. We ought to incur no risk when the good faith of the country is at stake.” ~ Special Message from President Buchanan to Congress.

March 3– Thursday– Hawesville, Kentucky– A mob breaks into the jail and murders a prisoner who was arrested for assaulting the county prosecutor.

March 4– Friday– Batavia, New York– Mr David Curry shoots and kills Mr John Foster, claiming that Foster seduced Mrs Curry and then assaulted Mr Curry. The newspapers immediately draw parallels to the Sickles case in Washington, D.C.

March 4– Friday– Moffett’s Creek, Virginia– “Rejoicing at the reception of your very welcome epistle not long since, conclude to respond without any procrastination, as I was delighted to hear from you a schoolmate & a friend. Oh! it affords inexpressible joy to me, when I get such informative news, from such a kind one, about persons and the vicinity, so much appreciated & admired by one whose memory still points to Christian’s Creek and its noble fascinating commodity, with whom I have long roamed. I have not much of interest to write only I have been on the sick list for some few days & desire your sympathy. Give my respects to Miss Mat and Sister. Sorry to hear that so many ladies are going to get married in that neighborhood, & in fact in all vicinities there is nothing but marrying going on: pity the poor wretches that are left single. Have you any singings in your respective places, like you formerly have had, this winter? I have been in some charming meetings of the kind. I have had a splendid time attending singings this winter in New Port & other places.” ~ Letter to Miss Kate Armentrout from a male admirer.

March 5– Saturday– Beacon Falls, Connecticut– Birth of William F Durand, pioneer in the science oif aeronautics. [Dies August 9, 1958.]

William F Durand

William F Durand

March 5– Saturday– Ripley, Ohio– “Our Army in Utah is costing the country at the rate of nearly five millions of dollars per annum, and is doing no good whatever. It does not even cause Federal authority to be respected within gunshot of the camp. It does not vindicate a single law. Brigham Young is still monarch of the valley; his tyranny has not abated in the least. The Governor sent out to supersede him, is a cipher. The Indians are troublesome as they always have been. The contractors in the transport service are making enormous fortunes, and the Mormons find Camp Floyd a market which is a mine of coined gold to them. And here is the sum total of our Utah expedition. The Federal Judges, unable to enforce the laws, are about to return home.”~ Ripley Bee.

March 5– Saturday– Berne, Switzerland– There have been recent rumors circulating of French military incursions into Swiss territory during the slow build-up to possible war between Austria and France. Today the Swiss government declares that it desires no involvement of any sort in the conflict and says that it will defend both Switzerland’s borders and its neutrality by force of arms should that become necessary.

March 7– Monday– Lowell, Massachusetts– “The unhealthiness of the city of New York is attracting the attention of the legislators at Albany. From the reports published, it appears that New York is one of the most unhealthy cities on the globe, or at least of any of the great capitals of Europe or America. The weekly mortality of Boston appears small in comparison, as some of the wards of New York show nearly as many deaths as this entire city. Week before last 445 deaths occurred in New York, and only 44 in Boston, or one-tenth as many. New York being about four and one-half times larger than Boston, it should have shown (were it equally healthy) only about 200 deaths. In our most sickly seasons, when the deaths in Boston have reached 100 per week, New York has shown 1000 and upwards. Boston had but 17 deaths of Americans one week this month, and its statistics show it to be one of the most healthy places in the world.” ~ Lowell Citizen & News.

March 7– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Buchanan appoints an experienced diplomat, Robert Milligan McLane of Maryland, as minister plenipotentiary to Mexico. Buchanan charges him with ascertaining if the government of Benito Juarez, embroiled in the War of Reform, is worthy of recognition. His instructions stipulate that a recognizable government does not have to occupy the capital but does require the allegiance of the great majority of the population. McLane, age 43 at the time, a graduate of West Point, Class of 1837, is a lawyer who has served the United States as a diplomat to China and Nicaragua and as a Congressman from Maryland.

Roger Taney

Roger Taney

March 7– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Chief Justice Roger Taney writes for a unanimous court in the case of Ableman v. Booth. Sherman M. Booth, a Wisconsin abolitionist, had helped a runaway slave and was imprisoned under federal law in March, 1854. He had appealed to the Wisconsin state supreme court for a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that the Fugitive Slave Law was unconstitutional. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed and nullified the Fugitive Slave Law. Chief Justice Taney rules that the Wisconsin court had no right to nullify federal laws nor to release a federal prisoner. Taney asserts the constitutional supremacy of federal law over state courts and further declares that “we are not willing to be misunderstood, it is proper to say that, in the judgment of this court, the act of Congress commonly called the fugitive slave law is, in all of its provisions, fully authorized by the Constitution of the United States, that the commissioner had lawful authority to issue the warrant and commit the party, and that his proceedings were regular and conformable to law.” [Booth, age 46, will be re-arrested and imprisoned but after 8 failed attempts, friends will break him out of jail. He will die August 10, 1904. Taney, age 82, from a slave-holding Maryland family, author of the infamous opinion in Dred Scott in which he had declared that even free black people had no legal rights, had been appointed Chief Justice by President Andrew Jackson in 1836 after the death of the brilliant John Marshall, a man Jackson hated. Taney will die in the last months of the Civil War on October 12, 1864. Interestingly, during the 1850’s it is a number of Northen states who assert the doctrine of states rights, as in this case, to defy the Fugitive Slave Law which many in the North view as unconstitutional.]