tailor retailored?

NY Times February 8, 1866

NY Times February 8, 1866

In February 1866 a Convention of Colored Men met in Washington, D.C. to protest the South’s Black Codes[1]. On February 7th a delegation of participants met with President Johnson.

From The Struggle between President Johnson and Congress over Reconstruction by Charles Ernest Chadsey:

On February 7, 1866, a delegation of colored representatives from fifteen States and the District of Columbia called upon President Johnson in order to present their wishes concerning the granting of suffrage to their race. Geo. T. Downing and Frederick Douglass acted as spokesmen. In reply, President Johnson described his sacrifices for the colored man, and went on to express his indignation at being arraigned by incompetent persons. Although he was willing to be the colored man’s Moses, he was not willing “to adopt a policy which he believed would only result in the sacrifice of his [the colored man’s] life and the shedding of his blood.” The war was not waged for the suppression of slavery; “the abolition of slavery has come as an incident to the suppression of a great rebellion—as an incident, and as an incident we should give it the proper direction.” He went on to state that the negro was unprepared for the ballot, and that there was a danger of a race war. The States must decide for themselves on the question of the franchise. “Each community is better prepared to determine the depository of its political power than anybody else, and it is for the legislature * * * to say who shall vote, and not for the Congress of the United States.”[97] [Edward McPherson, History of the Reconstruction, 52-56]

This plain statement of his opposition to negro suffrage greatly added to Johnson’s unpopularity. This was not due to the fact that his views on that subject had not been made public before, for he never had tried to conceal his attitude towards any of the questions before the people. But the attitude of the people themselves had greatly changed since the ill treatment of the freedmen and the objectionable legislation of the Southern States had been placed vividly before the public through the newspapers. The sentiment in favor of the extension of the franchise had rapidly gained strength; and the attitude of the President, made conspicuous anew by his almost harsh reply to so prominent a delegation representing such a wide extent of territory, called forth much hostile criticism, which, added to the vigorous letter published by the delegation in reply to the President, aided in unifying the opposition to him.

According to William S. McFeely, George T. Downing told the president that black people “should be given the vote ‘with which to save ourselves.'” President Johnson became angry and stated that if blacks were allowed to vote there would be a race war between poor whites and poor blacks. President Johnson stated that the majority will should prevail in each state. Mr. Downing said that blacks were the majority in South Carolina. To the president’s suggestion that the freed slaves emigrate, Frederick Douglass

countered with a suggestion that struck at the heart of all that was tragic in Andrew Johnson – and in his South – saying that if poor black people and poor white people were given the vote, they would unite to achieve the justice denied them by the rich. Johnson, once an indentured servant learning the craft of tailoring, had himself smarted under such denial of justice, but he was not going to have a former slave tell him so. He had been willing to advocate black rights during the war as a way to affront rich Confederates of western Tennessee; he could not take the next step – a step back, the tailor thought – and stand equal with the caulker, achieving true democracy. The meeting ended, according to Douglass, “not without courtesy,” but with nothing more.[2]

  1. [1] McFeely, William S. Frederick Douglass. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991. Print. page 247.
  2. [2] ibid. pages247-248.
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“power to enslave”

Hon. Gerrit Smith of N.Y. (between 1855 and 1865; LOC: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/brh2003004625/PP/)

freedom meaningless without political power

In early 1866 Congress debated a proposed Constitutional amendment that that would change the apportionment of representatives to Congress. According to the February 1, 1866 issue of The New-York Times the text read:

ARTICLE – . Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons within each State, excluding Indians not taxed: Provided, that when the elective franchise shall be denied or abridged in any State on account of race or color, all persons of such race or color shall be excluded from the basis of representation.

The proposal would explicitly void the Constitution’s language that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for determining apportionment and tried to influence Southern states to allow freedmen to vote. 150 years ago today abolitionist Gerrit Smith wrote Senator Charles Sumner that he was opposed to the “Apportionment Amendment” because it did not explicitly enfranchise all black men. It was a long letter. Here are a few cuttings:

1GSmith2-5-1866

don’t trust the rebels

2GSmith2-5-1866

ballotless = helpless

3GSmith2-5-1866

“President Johnson’s GREAT MISTAKE”

4GSmith2-5-1866

don’t dilute the truth

It looks like this proposed amendment became the basis for Section 2
of the Fourteenth Amendment, which explicitly applied only to males.

The Gerrit Smith Estate is a national Historic Landmark in Peterboro, New York, where you can also visit the The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum

Pioneers of freedom (1866; LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/94507586/)

a pioneer from Peterboro (1866, Library of Congress)

You can read Gerrit Smith’s entire letter at the Library of Congress
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misguided tour?

In a review of a Northern periodical the Richmond Daily Dispatch of December 23, 1865 said visiting yankees ought to be wary of trusting too much in their tour guides:

Periodicals.

–The January number of the Atlantic Monthly is upon our table. This is one of the most pretentious, as it is the ablest, of the Northern monthlies. It is the representative of Boston literary taste and talent. Typographically, it is the very neatest, and is from the publishing house of Ticknor & Fields. Of course it partakes of the anti-Southern sentiment, which predominates in the American Athens, and can hardly do justice to the South in any matter relating to National politics. In other respects it is entertaining even here, and maintains a most respectable position in the world of Literature.

Wilderness map (LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/99446368/)

The Wilderness

The present number of the Atlantic offers an inviting bill of fare. One of its articles is a sketch of the battle-field of the Wilderness. The writer was aided in his survey of it by one Elijah, whose poor horse and buggy transported the two from Fredericksburg to the field. The traveler makes an entertaining sketch of the journey. In his statement about the scene of battle, he puts great faith in the stories of his guide, who had been recommended to him as one familiar with the locality. And this reminds us of a story — a true one–which should warn sensation-seekers in battle-fields not to believe every thing that guides tell them. This story is as follows:

A Confederate General recently met an Irishman who had served gallantly under him in the war. He was seated on the box of a hack, wielding the whip over a pair of horses that had not been over-fed. Hailing him, and interchanging expressions of mutual satisfaction at meeting, the General inquired: “And how are you getting along, Pat?”

“Finely, General,” said he. “I took to this business immediately [ after ] the evacuation, and I have made twenty dollars a day by visiting the battle-fields. You know, General, I know nothing about them, yet I take travelers to them, and talk as if I know’d everything. I took a party of Bostonians the other day to the Sivin Pines, and showed the hottest part of the fight. I saw a pile of bones in the midst of it that belonged to some animal or other, and pointing to them, said: “There lay the bones of the vilest rebel Gineral that fell in the fight. You think, Gineral, they didn’t believe it, and each of them put a piece of the bones in his carpet-bag to take home wid him?”

Well, to sensation-hunters and writers it matters very little whether they get the truth or not. The fiction is better than fact, if the fiction is the more startling of the two. So we commend Pat to all of this class — he will be sure to give them capital for a thrilling narrative. …

Much of the Atlantic article is a description of the journey from Fredericksburg to the Wilderness battlefield. Even the Yankee author knew he had to take his guide’s information with a grain of salt. Elijah got McLaws confused with Magruder. (page 41). As the duo neared the Wilderness the author reflected on General Grant’s approach to the battles against General Lee’s army in the spring of 1864:

… The Battle of Bull Run in 1861, Pope’s campaign, and Burnside’s defeat at Fredericksburg in 1862, and, lastly, Hooker’s unsuccessful attempt at Chancellorsville in the spring of 1863, had shown how hard a road to Richmond this was to travel. Repeatedly, as we tried it and failed, the hopes of the Confederacy rose exultant; the heart of the North sank as often, heavy with despair. McClellan’s Peninsular route had resulted still more fatally. We all remember the anguish and anxiety of those days. But the heart of the North shook off its despair, listened to no timid counsels; it was growing fierce and obdurate. We no longer received the news of defeat with cries of dismay, with teeth close-set, a smile upon the quivering lips, and a burning fire within. Had the Rebels triumphed again? Then so much the worse for them! Had we been once more repulsed with slaughter from their strong line of defences? Was the precious blood poured out before them all in vain? At last it should not be in vain! Though it should cost a new thirty years’ war and a generation of lives, the red work we had begun must be completed; ultimate failure was impossible, ultimate triumph certain.

[Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in military uniform] / M.B. Brady & Co. National Photographic Portrait Galleries, No. 352 Pennsylvania Av., Washington, D.C. & New York. (1865; LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/2013648326/)

no hesitating, no higgling

This inflexible spirit found it embodiment in the leader of the final campaigns against the Rebel capital. It was the deep spirit of humanity itself, ready to make the richest sacrifices, calm, determined, inexorable, moving steadily towards the great object to be achieved. It has been said that General Grant did not consider the lives of his men. Then the people did not consider them. But the truth lies here: precious as were those lives, something lay beyond far more precious, and they were the needful price paid for it. We had learned the dread price, we had duly weighed the worth of the object to be purchased: what, then, was the use of hesitating and higgling?

We were approaching the scene of Grant’s first great blow aimed at the gates of the Rebel capital. On the field of Chancellorsville you already tread the borders of the field of the Wilderness,—if that can be called a field which is a mere interminable forest, slashed here and there with roads.

Passing straight along the plank road, we came to a large farm-house, which had been gutted by soldiers, and but recently reoccupied. It was still in a scarcely habitable condition. However, we managed to obtain, what we stood greatly in need of, a cup of cold water. I observed that it tasted strongly of iron.

“The reason of that is, we took twelve camp-kettles out of the well,” said the man of the house, “and nobody knows how many more there are down there.”

Wilderness_May5_0700 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wilderness_May5_0700.png)

into the wilderness (Locust Grove in center)

The place is known as Locust Grove. In the edge of the forest, but a little farther on, is the Wilderness Church,—a square framed building, which showed marks of such usage as every uninhabited house receives at the hands of a wild soldiery. Red Mars has little respect for the temples of the Prince of Peace.

“Many a time have I been to meet’n’ in that shell, and sot on hard benches, and heard long sermons!” said Elijah. “But I reckon it’ll be a long while befo’e them doo’s are darkened by a congregation ag’in. Thar a’n’t the population through hyer thar used to be. Oncet we’d have met a hundred wagons on this road go’n’ to market; but I count we ha’n’t met mo’e ‘n a dozen to-day.”

Wilderness Church (LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/2012646926/)

“Wilderness Church ” (Library of Congress)

Not far beyond the church we approached two tall guide-posts erected where the road forks. The one on the right pointed the way to the “Wilderness National Cemetery, No. 1, 4 miles,” by the Orange Court-House turnpike. The other indicated the “Wilderness National Cemetery, No. 2,” by the plank road.

“All this has been done since I was this way,” said Elijah.

We kept the plank road,—or rather the clay road beside it, which stretched before us dim in the hollows, and red as brick on the hillsides. We passed some old fields, and entered the great Wilderness,—a high and dry country, thickly overgrown with dwarfish timber, chiefly scrub oaks, pines, and cedars. Poles lashed to trees for tent-supports indicated where our regiments had encamped; and soon we came upon abundant evidences of a great battle. Heavy breastworks thrown up on Brock’s cross-road, planks from the plank road piled up and lashed against trees in the woods, to form a shelter for our pickets, knapsacks, haversacks, pieces of clothing, fragments of harness, tin plates, canteens, some pierced with balls, fragments of shells, with here and there a round-shot, or a shell unexploded, straps, buckles, cartridge-boxes, socks, old shoes, rotting letters, desolate tracts of perforated and broken trees,—all these signs, and others sadder still, remained to tell their silent story of the great fight of the Wilderness.

A cloud passed over the sun: all the scene became sombre, and hushed with a strange brooding stillness, broken only by the noise of twigs crackling under my feet, and distant growls of thunder. A shadow fell upon my heart also, as from the wing of the Death-Angel, as I wandered through the woods, meditating upon what I saw. Where were the feet that wore those empty shoes? Where was he whose proud waist was buckled in that belt? Some soldier’s heart was made happy by that poor, soiled, tattered, illegible letter, which rain and mildew have not spared; some mother’s, sister’s, wife’s, or sweetheart’s hand, doubtless, penned it; it is the broken end of a thread which unwinds a whole life-history, could we but follow it rightly. Where is that soldier now? Did he fall in the fight, and does his home know him no more? Has the poor wife or stricken mother wailed long for the answer to that letter, which never came, and will never come? And this cap, cut in two by a shot, and stiff with a strange incrustation,—a small cap, a mere boy’s, it seems,—where now the fair head and wavy hair that wore it? O mother and sisters at home, do you still mourn for your drummer-boy? Has the story reached you,—how he went into the fight to carry off his wounded comrades, and so lost his life for their sakes?—for so I imagine the tale which will never be told.

And what more appalling spectacle is this? In the cover of thick woods, the unburied remains of two soldiers,—two skeletons side by side, two skulls almost touching each other, like the cheeks of sleepers! I came upon them unawares as I picked my way among the scrub oaks. I knew that scores of such sights could be seen here a few weeks before; but the United States Government had sent to have its unburied dead collected together in the two national cemeteries of the Wilderness; and I had hoped the work was faithfully done.

“They was No’th-Carolinians; that’s why they didn’t bury ’em,” said Elijah, after a careful examination of the buttons fallen from the rotted clothing.

The ground where they lay had been fought over repeatedly, and the dead of both sides had fallen there. The buttons may, therefore, have told a true story: North-Carolinians they may have been: yet I could not believe that the true reason why they had not been decently interred. It must have been that these bodies, and others we found afterwards, were overlooked by the party sent to construct the cemeteries. It was shameful negligence, to say the least.

The cemetery was near by,—a little clearing in the woods by the roadside, thirty yards square, surrounded by a picket-fence, and comprising seventy trenches, each containing the remains of I know not how many dead. Each trench was marked with a headboard, inscribed with the invariable words,—

“Unknown United States soldiers, killed May, 1864.”

Elijah, to whom I read the Inscription, said, pertinently, that the words, United States soldiers indicated plainly that it had not been the intention to bury Rebels there. No doubt: but these might at least have been buried in the woods where they fell.

As a grim sarcasm on this neglect, somebody had flung three human skulls, picked up in the woods, over the paling, into the cemetery, where they lay blanching among the graves.

Close by the southeast corner of the fence were three or four Rebel graves, with old headboards. Elijah called my attention to them, and wished me to read what the headboards said. The main fact indicated was, that those buried there were North-Carolinians. Elijah considered this somehow corroborative of his theory derived from the buttons. The graves were shallow, and the settling of the earth over the bodies had left the feet of one of the poor fellows sticking out.

The shadows which darkened the woods, and the ominous thunder-growls, culminated in a shower. Elijah crawled under his wagon; I sought the shelter of a tree: the horse champed his fodder, and we ate our luncheon. How quietly upon the leaves, how softly upon the graves of the cemetery, fell the perpendicular rain! The clouds parted, and a burst of sunlight smote the Wilderness; the rain still poured, but every drop was illumined, and I seemed standing in a shower of silver meteors.

The rain over and luncheon finished, I looked about for some solace to my palate after the dry sandwiches, moistened only by the drippings from the tree,—seeking a dessert in the Wilderness. Summer grapes hung their just ripened clusters from the vine-laden saplings, and the chincapin bushes were starred with opening burrs. I followed a woodland path, embowered with the glistening boughs, and plucked, and ate, and mused. The ground was level, and singularly free from the accumulations of twigs, branches, and old leaves, with which forests usually abound. I noticed, however, many charred sticks and half-burnt roots and logs. Then the terrible recollection overtook me: these were the woods that were on fire during the battle. I called Elijah.

Army of the Potomac - Our wounded escaping from the fires in the Wilderness (LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/2002736804/)

“Army of the Potomac – Our wounded escaping from the fires in the Wilderness ” Library of Congress”

“Yes, all this was a flame of fire while the fight was go’n’ on. It was full of dead and wounded men. Cook and Stevens, farmers over hyer, men I know, heard the screams of the poor fellahs burnin’ up, and come and dragged many a one out of the fire, and laid ’em in the road.”

The woods were full of Rebel graves, with here and there a heap of half-covered bones, where several of the dead had been hurriedly buried together.

I had seen enough. We returned to the cemetery. Elijah hitched up his horse, and we drove back along the plank road, cheered by a rainbow which spanned the Wilderness and moved its bright arch onward over Chancellorsville towards Fredericksburg, brightening and fading, and brightening still again, like the hope which gladdened the nation’s eye after Grant’s victory.

Hal Jespersen’s map of the battle is licensed by Creative Commons
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oysters for the vet

Oyster soup / drawn by H.M. Wilder ; sketch by B. McCord. ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, v. 31, no. 1588 (1887 May 28), p. 389; LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/2001695513/)

good in soup, too

Even Sumpter will rouse himself for a delicious meal. Also, the following reminded me of local charity dinners nowadays.

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in (probably) January 1866:

DONATION TO A SOLDIER. – A donation and oyster supper will be given at the house of Darrow lay, (Trexler’s old stand) about two miles north of this village [Seneca Falls], on Thursday evening of next week, for the benefit of Chauncey. T. Lay, a disabled soldier.

Mr. Lay entered the service in 1864, having enlisted in the 50th Engineer regiment, but was soon prostrated by disease which resulted in partially paralyzing both limbs, from the effects of which he has never wholly recovered. He is almost entirely unable to earn a livelihood for himself and family in consequence of his long sickness. He is a worthy man and should receive a generous response from his friends and neighbors on this occasion.

50th Engr. Lay

disease disabled Mr. Lay

Pontoon wagon and boat, 50th New York Engineers, Rappahannock Station, Va., March, 1864 (LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/2012649812/)

“Pontoon wagon and boat, 50th New York Engineers, Rappahannock Station, Va., March, 1864 ” (Library of Congress)

The handwriting on the clipping might possibly say June instead of Jan 1866, but I’m plenty hungry enough now. Mr. Lay’s bio can be found in the 50th Engineers roster at the New York State Military Museum. The Library of Congress served the oyster soup. – and Timothy H. O’Sullivan’s photograph of pontoon wagon and boat.
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hot stove

PotbellyStove (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_stove_league#/media/File:PotbellyStove.jpg)

come and listen to a story about a man named Zip

I embrace hibernation. Reconstruction lacks the excitement of the combined naval-infantry assault on Fort Fisher (already a year ago), and it’s harder to find material. I might be historied out, but lying dormant for a bit sure seems good to me. As a matter of fact, since it is said to be about 15° F. with wind outside, this morning might not be a bad time to find a hot stove and talk some baseball.

Last week I was reading a pretty local newspaper (the paper version, of course) and noticed the following in an article by Dennis Randall that featured Weedsport, New York historical trivia:

I have to stop sometime, so I’ll wind up with the fact that Harry “Zip” Northrop played with the Weedsport Watsons baseball team for several years before joining the Cuban Giants. Mr. Northrop was of the same family that inspired the book and movie “12 Years a Slave.” We have a depiction of him in our museum, with him dressed in his trademark red and blue (one of each) stockings. He said he did that so everyone would know which player he was — never mind the fact that he was the only black player on the team, and one of only very few playing organized baseball at that time.

i002 (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/45631/45631-h/45631-h.htm#img002)

Zip’s grandfather – from the book

You can read much more about Harry “Zip” Northrop at Agate Type. The digital version of the Weedsport article includes a link to information about 12 Years a Slave, the movie about Solomon Northup, Zip’s grandfather. The movie was based on Solomon’s account, which you can read at Project Gutenberg

Mr. Randall also wrote about a couple famous businessmen:

When the Auburn & Syracuse Railroad began business in 1839, William G. Fargo, of Weedsport, became the first freight agent. He would later team up with Henry Wells, of Port Byron, to form the famous Wells-Fargo Co.

I mention this because the same newspaper I looked at last week had an article from Mike Riley of the Port Byron Historical Society. Port Byron was the next port west of Weedsport on the original and Old Erie Canal. Mr. Riley was concerned about falling younger membership in his organization:

I can tell you that the future looks bleak as our membership ages, and I wonder what will happen to our history as people are not replaced. Do kids still go into college to study history? If so, why are they not seeking out local historic societies and museums to get some good hands-on experience? Do our educators even suggest this?

We can see by the numbers of “likes” and views on Facebook and blogs that people really enjoy seeing history, and we know that genealogy is a growing hobby, so why don’t people want to help save their community history? Understanding your family history is great, but being able to place their history within the context of local and national history really helps to complete the story.

Wells Fargo Building, C Street, Virginia City, Storey County, NV (c.1866; LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/nv0009/)

“Wells Fargo Building, C Street, Virginia City, Storey County, NV ” Library of Congress)

I’m a long way from the younger generation; there’s a lot to be said for hibernation; but I think maybe I could at least observing some history while I’m still breathing.

i_107_large (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41008/41008-h/41008-h.htm#Page_107)

Port Byron and then Weedsport just to the east of Montezuma

Three strikes two-step, by A.W. Bauer, late of Sousa's band--Dedicated to John Philip Sousa's baseball team / Fred'k Pollworth & Bro., music printers, Milwaukee.  (LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/95505022/)

these gentlemen might have needed the different colored stockings

____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________

i122 (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/45631/45631-h/45631-h.htm#img122)

“CHAPIN RESCUES SOLOMON FROM HANGING.”from Twelve Years a Slave

“… hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama (by Carol M. Highsmith; LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/2010636932/)

“Statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama ” (Library of Congress)

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“the Government of Freedmen.”

NY Times January 4, 1866

NY Times January 4, 1866

150 years ago this week New Yorkers could read about South Carolina’s enactment of a Black Code for the governance of freedmen. Eric Foner summarizes the code, which:

contained provisions, such as prohibiting the expulsion of aged freedmen from plantations, designed to reinvigorate paternalism and clothe it with the force of law. It did not forbid blacks to rent land, but barred them from following any occupation other than farmer or servant except by paying an annual tax from $10 to $100 (a severe blow to the free black community of Charleston and to former slave artisans). The law required blacks to sign annual contracts and included elaborate provisions regulating relations between “servants” and their “masters,” including labor from sunup to sundown and a ban on leaving the plantation, or entertaining guests upon it, without permission of the employer. A vagrancy law applied to unemployed blacks, “persons who lead idle or disorderly lives,” and even traveling circuses, fortune tellers, and thespians.[1]

“[T]he most flagrant provisions of the Black Coded never went into effect.”General Dan Sickles, head of the Freedmen’s Bureau in South Carolina, suspended South Carolina’s code, apparently by the end of 1865.[2]

Reportedly, a border state enforced a black code as early as 1864. From the Richmond Daily Dispatch July 24 1864:

Black Codes in slave and Fare [Free] States.

The New York Commercial says:

A few days ago a colored clergyman from Canada, Mr. Kinnard, attended the Methodist Conference of colored ministers at Philadelphia. Mr. Kinnard was born in Delaware, and after the conference visited his old home. At Camden he was arrested under the black code of Delaware, and was fined fifty dollars and costs for coming into the State.–In default of ability to pay the fine he was sold, and was purchased by the brother of the man who emancipated him. He released him, and gave a bond that Mr. Kinnard should leave the State at once. Mr. Kinnard then went to Washington and sought redress, as a British subject, from Lord Lyons. The case is very properly regarded as an illustration of the infamous crimes against human rights and personal liberty of which slavery is capable.

Plowing in South Carolina / from a sketch by Jas. E. Taylor. ( Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v. 23, no. 577 (1866 October 20), p. 76. ; LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/2004669782/)

no fee to farm

The image of “Plowing in South Carolina” was published in Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper, v. 23, no. 577 (1866 October 20), p. 76. and can be found at the Library of Congress
  1. [1] Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: HarperPerennial, 2014. Updated Edition. Print. page 200.
  2. [2] ibid. page 208-209 and Wikipedia link
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new year mystery

Lincoln and cabinet. Annual greeting of the carriers to the patrons of "The Press." For January 1st, 1866. (LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/scsm000760/)

“Lincoln and cabinet. Annual greeting of the carriers to the patrons of “The Press.” For January 1st, 1866. ” (Library of Congress)

This cartoon recalls President- elect Lincoln’s address at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on February 22, 1861, but you could look at it in a Janus-like way. Mr. Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 because of his principles. Looking ahead he is certainly an American icon and represents the supremacy of the federal government over the states. He had the will to keep the Union united and would do whatever he could to further that cause.

You can check out this image at the Library of Congress
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work on

Thankfully the American Civil War ended in 1865. Apparently the federal government felt it could let down its defenses a bit on the nation’s northeast corner. From the Richmond Daily Dispatch December 30, 1865:

The coast batteries in Maine dismantled.

Belfast, Me., December27.

–Under the supervision of Major Gardner, United States army, the batteries in this city and at other points on the coast of Maine are being dismantled. The guns have been carried to Fort Knox.

Reported death of Abm. Lincoln. Attack on Secretary Seward. (LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/scsm000517/)

Chautauqua Democrat Extra, April 15, 1865 (Library of Congress)

Thankfully the war ended in 1865, but Secretary of State William H. Seward endured a devastating year:

Seward was tested in 1865 as few men are ever tested: by the carriage accident, by the attack of the assassin, by the near death of his son Frederick, by the death of his good friend and leader Lincoln, and then by the death of his wife Frances [on June 21st]. Although he attended church regularly, he was not an especially religious man, and it does not seem that that he found much solace in religion in this hour of trial. He seems instead to have found comfort in his work, to which he returned as soon as possible after his own injuries and his wife’s funeral. …[1]

SewardCarriage (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SewardCarriage.JPG)

Seward’s bad 1865 started with a carriage accident

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New Year's Eve (c.1876; LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/2003677747/)

“New Year’s Eve ” (c1876, Library of Congress)

The image of the carriage is licensed by Creative Commons. According to the Wikipedia article about the William H. Seward House Museum: “This carriage was involved in an accident that severely injured Seward leaving him bed ridden the night Lincoln was shot, when another conspirator attacked Seward with a knife.”
  1. [1] Stahr, Walter Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man. 2012. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2013. Print. page 440.
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Virginia freedmen

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch December 30, 1865:

The freedmen’s Bureau of Virginia.

The reader will find in this morning’s paper the purport of the report of Colonel Brown, Assistant Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau for the State of Virginia, made to his superior, Major-General Howard. It is a remarkable paper. Fair in some things — not at all so in others.

In the preface to the report as to the condition of society in Virginia [this poor society of Virginia is become the subject of a great deal of investigation!] the Colonel, in very strong language, represents the state of the black population, of half a million, as anything but encouraging to those who came here” to provide “for their protection, elevation and government.” “Suddenly freed,” he says, “from the bonds of a rigorous control, acquainted with no law but that of force, ignorant of the elementary principles of civil government, and of the first Duties of Citizenship, without any provision for the future wants of themselves and families, and entertaining many false and extravagant notions in respect to the intentions of the Government towards them.” [For which latter, according to GeneralGrant, we are in a great degree indebted to the Freedmen’s Bureau and its agents!]

This is a very strong statement of the condition of the blacks when they fell into the hands of the Bureau. It is too highly colored even to be just to them; for they were acquainted with other influences than force. They were familiar with kindness and the stimulant afforded by persuasion, gentle usage, abundant food and clothing, and even generous rewards for good conduct. They knew as much of all the humane stimulants to good conduct and faithfulness as any laborers on the face of this earth.

Nor were they so entirely ignorant. But what is proposed as a remedy for these poor beings who are ignorant of the elementary “principles of civil government and the first Duties of Citizenship?” Why, to confer upon them the Right of Suffrage! Does Colonel Brown think that would heal them? We imagine not, from the portrait he has drawn.

With reference to the conduct of the citizens towards these unfortunate people, Colonel Brown is not just. He transposes his paragraphs — makes the majority a minority, and inputs to the majority the conduct and policy of the minority. He states, with rather the air of complaint, that the citizens generally afforded no assistance in meeting the “difficulties” presented by the negro. Yet he answers his own complaint by confessing immediately afterwards, that, being “stripped, to a great extent, of their resources by the operations of the war, they were unable to allow these people their just dues, much less any charitable assistance.”–Had he made the expression stronger — had he stated that the people were stripped of nearly everything: all their money; all their valuables; their horses and cattle; nearly all their provisions; and had not enough to supply their own wants, to relieve their own sufferings, he would not have exceeded the fact. Yet, these people must have assisted the blacks. For how else did they live? They did not, it is true, assist those who rushed to the camps and the cities. They became a burthen to the Government and the objects of the protecting care of the Bureau.–But those that remained in the country, and assisted to cultivate the farms and to produce something to keep themselves as well as others from starving, enjoyed with the owners a part of the scant supplies left by the war in the country.

The meetings alluded to by Colonel Brown, fixing rates and making pledges about renting lands to freedmen, must have been few indeed. We never heard of more than, probably, two, possibly three, and those only small neighborhood affairs. Whatever was the policy, the people of Virginia are in no wise responsible for it.

Colonel Brown truly describes the conduct of the people of Virginia when he speaks of a “numerically small” class, who “not only accepted the situation, but, with a wise foresight and a noble patriotism, were ready to co-operate with the Government for the speediest restoration of tranquillity and law.” This was the majority–not a “numerically small” class. Colonel Brown either speaks from prejudice, or he has not had the opportunity of seeing the people and judging them fairly. We know nothing of Colonel Brown whatever, and do not presume that he would wailfully misrepresent this people. –But unintentionally, we suppose, he has done injustice to them.

The people of Virginia have as much kind feeling for their late slaves as any other people in the United States–not even excepting that unparalleled race of philanthropists who live east of the Hudson river; and any representation of facts which is inconsistent with this, is both unjust and untrue. The people of this State know the negro better than any other — they know his capacity and his wants, and can now take care of him better, and settle him down in his new relation with as much consideration for his welfare, and more forecast and judgement than any of those persons in other States who are making him their everlasting topic — and the everlasting cause of accusation and vituperation of the people of the South. When is this sort of warfare to cease? Are we never to have rest? Is it not enough that the slave, originally imported by Northern men in Northern ships and sold to the South, is set free? Is it not enough that we, submitting to results, are struggling in earnestness and sincerity, as well as in poverty, to restore plenty and order to the land — that order and plenty without which there is no rest, no satisfaction, no support for white or black? Is it not enough that we submit to the Constitution and the laws, and have solemnly and irrevocably abolished slavery and involuntary servitude from the land? Will not all this do? And must we still be assailed — our peace and quiet, and the safety and order of the country, disturbed by this execrable crusade? What do the people who are enlisted in it desire to do? Do they wish to continue the breach between the sections? Do they wish to perpetuate hate?

We trust and believe that the better judgement of the majority will soon put an end to this state of things. We even hope that the men who control the Freedmen’s Bureau will, through their intercourse with the South, become liberalized and enlightened on the policy that is best for the negro and best for the country. Let them but emulate the unprejudiced judgment, the fair and earnest disposition, of General Grant, and they will honor themselves and truly subserve the peace and welfare of our country.

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“a dirty Yankee trick”

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch December 30, 1865:

Arrival of Captain Semmes.

Washington, December29.

–Captain Semmes arrived here last night by the train from New York, in charge of a guard of United States Marines, and was at once taken to the navy-yard, where he was placed, temporarily, in a room hastily fitted up in the dispensary building, where a guard was placed over him. Semmes was arrested at his residence, about four miles from Mobile, on the 15th instant, on an order from the Navy Department. He expressed great astonishment, and claimed that the arrest was in violation of his parole. His daughter was violently bitter, and said it was a dirty Yankee trick to arrest her father. He was given until twelve o’clock next day to arrange his family matters; after which he was brought away. On the passage from Mobile to New York he was quite cheerful, expressing his readiness to stand trial, and his belief that the arrest was entirely illegal.

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