brotherly love again?

Philadelphia / des. eng. & pub. by Jas. Queen ; P.S. Duval & Co. Lith. Phila. (ca. 1855; LOC:

convention city (ca. 1855)

On August 14-17 a National Union Convention was held in Philadelphia. Although a new mega-party of Democrats and moderate Republicans was not achieved, it was hoped that the convention would stir up public support for President Johnson’s lenient Reconstruction policy and lead to victory over Radical Republicans in the 1866 fall elections.The convention was also referred to as the Arm-In-Arm Convention because South Carolina’s Governor James L. Orr and Massachusetts’ General Darius N. Couch walked arm-in-arm as they led a procession of delegates.[1]

John Adams Dix, who certainly believed in the Union and its banner, delivered the opening speech that compared the meeting with the constitutional Convention of 1787. Here is some of it:



From The Struggle between President Johnson and Congress over Reconstruction by Charles Ernest Chadsey (1896; pages 91-95):

… The fall campaign was formally opened by the supporters of the presidential policy, who had immediately accepted the report of the Committee on Reconstruction as the platform of the Republican anti-administration faction, and had determined to appeal on that issue to the people. Their hope was that the conservative element of the population, thoroughly worn out by the struggle, would uphold the speedy restoration of the Southern States, and that thereby a coalition might be made between the Democrats and the administration Republicans strong enough to unseat many of the radical members, reverse the majority, and so give the administration control in the 40th Congress.

NY Times August 16, 1866

NY Times August 16, 1866

The first steps were promptly taken. The executive committee of the National Union Club, a political organization established in Washington by supporters of the administration, issued on June 25, just one week after the submission of the report of the Committee on Reconstruction, a call for a national convention to be held in Philadelphia on August 14. Delegates to this convention were to be chosen by those supporting the administration and agreeing to certain “fundamental propositions” which formed the platform of the conservatives. These propositions maintained the absolute indissolubility of the Union, the universal supremacy of the Constitution and acts of Congress in pursuance thereof, the constitutional guarantee to maintain the rights, dignity and equality of the States, and the right of each State to prescribe the qualifications of electors, without any federal interference. They declared that the usurpation and centralization of powers infringing upon the rights of the States “would be a revolution, dangerous to republican government, and destructive of liberty;” that the exclusion of loyal senators and representatives, properly chosen and qualified under the Constitution and laws, was unjust and revolutionary; that as the war was at an end, “war measures should also cease, and should be followed by measures of peaceful administration;” and that the restoration of the rights and privileges of the States was necessary for the prosperity of the Union. This formal call was approved, and its principles endorsed by the Democratic congressmen, who issued an address to the “People of the United States” on July 4, urging them to act promptly in the selection of delegates to the convention.

In accordance with the call, every State and Territory was represented in the convention. A glance at the list of delegates shows that they included many of the prominent Democrats of the country, re-enforced by a number of the prominent Republicans who were in sympathy with the administration. The enthusiastic manner in which the summons was answered seemed to the friends of the administration to indicate an unquestionable overthrow of the radicals. They thought that harmony was soon to reign over all portions of the Union, which was once more being drawn closely together by the watchword “National Union.”

An august convention (

muzzled dog days in Philly

Reverdy Johnson, who had submitted in the Senate the minority report of the Committee on Reconstruction, was chosen chairman, and Senator Cowan, of Pennsylvania, chairman of the committee on resolutions. The resolutions were reported on August 17, and unanimously adopted by the convention. They re-affirmed the fundamental principles set forth in the call of June 25, and appealed to the people of the United States to elect none to Congress but those who “will receive to seats therein loyal representatives from every State in allegiance to the United States.” They reiterated the claim that in the ratification of constitutional amendments all the States “have an equal and an indefeasible right to a voice and vote thereon.” In concession to Northern sentiment, they declared that the South had no desire to re-establish slavery; that the civil rights of the freedmen were to be respected, the rebel debt repudiated, the national debt declared sacred and inviolable, and the duty of the government to recognize the services of the federal soldiers and sailors admitted. A final resolution commended the President in the highest terms, as worthy of the nation, “having faith unassailable in the people and in the principles of free government.”

These views were fully elaborated in an address prepared by Henry J. Raymond, and read before the convention. Little attempt was made to qualify or render less offensive the argument that the Southern States must be allowed their representation in Congress, whether or not such action was for the best interest of the Union. Referring to this the address declared that “we have no right, for such reasons, to deny to any portion of the States or people rights expressly conferred upon them by the Constitution of the United States.” We should trust to the ability of our people “to protect and defend, under all contingencies and by whatever means may be required, its honor and welfare.”

The tearful convention / Th. Nast. ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, v. 10, no. 509 (1866 Sept. 29), p. 617; LOC:

extremes reconciled

A committee of the convention hastened formally to present its proceedings to President Johnson, who had taken the keenest interest in the plans of the National Union party. In his remarks to the committee he feelingly referred to the somewhat theatrical entrance of the delegates of South Carolina and Massachusetts, “arm in arm, marching into that vast assemblage, and thus giving evidence that the two extremes had come together again, and that for the future they were united, as they had been in the past, for the preservation of the Union.” Speaking to a sympathetic audience, who applauded him to the echo, and believing that the people were now endorsing his opposition to Congress, he saw no necessity for tempering his statements, and cast aside his discretion. His characterization of Congress was as follows: “We have witnessed, in one department of the government, every endeavor to prevent the restoration of peace, harmony and union. We have seen hanging upon the verge of the Government, as it were, a body called, or which assumes to be, the Congress of the United States, while in fact it is a Congress of only a part of the States. We have seen this Congress pretend to be for the Union, when its every step and act tended to perpetuate disunion and make a disruption of the States inevitable. Instead of promoting reconciliation and harmony, its legislation has partaken of the character of penalties, retaliation and revenge. This has been the course and policy of one portion of the Government.” Again, to show the disinterestedness of his own course, he said: “If I had wanted authority, or if I had wished to perpetuate my own power, how easily could I have held and wielded that power which was placed in my hands by the measure called the Freedmen’s Bureau bill (laughter and applause). With an army, which it placed at my discretion, I could have remained at the capital of the nation, and with fifty or sixty millions of appropriations at my disposal, with the machinery to be unlocked by my own hands, with my satraps and dependents in every town and village, with the Civil Rights bill following as an auxiliary (laughter), and with the patronage and other appliances of the Government, I could have proclaimed myself dictator.” (“That’s true!” and applause.) …

New York Times editor and New York Congressman Henry J. Raymond delivered the main address at the convention, “but his draft of the platform included guarded praise of the Fourteenth Amendment and oblique criticism of slavery. This proved too much for the Resolutions Committee, which omitted the offending passages.[2]

News about and dispatches from the Transatlantic telegraph cable dominated the front page of The New York Times from August 11, 1866.
From the Library of Congress: cityscapes, Dix speech, at the Wigwam, crocodile tears, bell and halls
Phil c. 1917 (LOC:

from 1917 book

  1. [1] Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: HarperPerennial, 2014. Updated Edition. Print. page 264.
  2. [2] ibid
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benefit increase

Group of veteran soldiers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, near Fort Monroe, Va., Capt. P.T. Woodfin, Governor (Philadelphia, Pa. : E.H. Hart, Copying, Landscape and Stereoscopic Photographer, 911 Arch Street, [between 1870 and 1880]; LOC:

“National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, near Fort Monroe, Va.” (1870s Library of Congress)

Reportedly, 150 years ago the United States Congress decided Uncle Sam was going to be more generous with war widows and disabled veterans. From a Seneca County, New York Newspaper in August 1866:

EXTRA BOUNTY AND PENSIONS.- Attention is called to the Bounty and claim advertisement of Chas. A. Hawley, Esq., in another column. By the acts of June 6th and July 23d, 1866 the Pension Laws have been somewhat changed. Widows will now receive two dollars per month for each child under sixteen years, in addition to the eight dollars. Disabled soldiers’ pensions are increased to fifteen, twenty and twenty five dollars per month. New applications are necessary in every case, and in order to draw the increased pension o the 4th of September next, it should be attended to at once. By the act of July 28th, additional bounties are also given to the soldiers of 1861 – 2 & 3.

Mr. Hawley has had much experience in the Bounty, Claim and Pension business, and all matters entrusted to his care will be promptly and correctly attended to. read his advertisement elsewhere in today’s paper.

Confederate widows and veterans never participated in the federal pension system; eventually individual southern states established their own pension laws.

The Social Security Administration points out that over time the Civil War pension system was criticized for possible corruption. There were concerns that the program “was rife with fraud, waste and abuse. Whether these concerns were valid, is hard to say.” The Social security page shows a business card for a Pension & Claim attorney out in Iowa and a different satirical Punch cartoon than the one I’ve got here.

As of March 2016 there was only one surviving Civil War pensioner. Her father began the war as a Confederate but later joined a Federal unit.

Our national dime museum / Keppler. ( Illus. from Puck, v. 42, no. 1087, (1898 January 5), cover; LOC:

(Punch January 5, 1898)

Images from the Library of Congress: National Home, Puck
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“wholesale slaughter”

The riot in New Orleans (by Theodore R. Davis      Illus. in: Harper's weekly, v. 10, no. 504 (1866 August 25), p. 537; LOC:

“The riot in New Orleans”

On July 30, 1866 a riot broke out in New Orleans. Louisiana Governor James Madison Wells had called for a convention to “enfranchise blacks, prohibit ‘rebels’ from voting, and establish a new state government.” Opponents, including members of the city police, attacked the gathering. At least 37 people were killed and over 100 injured in what General Philip Sheridan called a massacre. According to Hannibal Hamlin’s son, a Civil War veteran: “the wholesale slaughter and the little regard paid to human life I witnessed her” were worse than anything he had seen in battle.[1]

Here is an 1896 summary from The Struggle between President Johnson and Congress over Reconstruction by Charles Ernest Chadsey:

The laws discriminating against the colored man, and the numerous instances of cruelty which had been reported to the North, were an important factor in creating and sustaining the common feeling of hostility to the administration. But the New Orleans riots, occurring on July 30, did more to rouse the people of the North, and convince them that stern measures were necessary, than all that had preceded. The massacre stood out vividly against the background of “black laws,” and furnished an argument of the most effective kind to be used in the campaign.

2. The riots were of a peculiarly exasperating character. The constitutional convention of 1864, summoned by the proclamation of Major General Banks, had passed resolutions giving the president of the convention power “to reconvoke the convention for any cause.” A majority of the members came to the conclusion, in the spring of 1866, that the State constitution should be amended, to place it in harmony with the congressional policy. They determined to have the convention reconvoked for this purpose. The president, Judge E. H. Durell, declined to take advantage of his prerogative, but the delegates, not to be thwarted in this way, proceeded to elect a president pro tem. who was willing to issue the desired proclamation. The governor of the State, J. M. Wells, concurred in this rather questionable procedure, and issued a proclamation for an election to fill existing vacancies.

The Riot in New Orleans - the Freedmen's procession marching to the institute - the struggle for the flag The riot in New Orleans - siege and assault of the convention by the police and citizens / / sketched by Theodore R. Davis. ( 2 Illustrations in: Harper's weekly, 1866 Aug. 25, p. 536; LOC: )

riot, slaughter, massacre

It being well understood that negro suffrage was one of the ultimate objects desired by the supporters of the proposed constitutional convention, active hostility to the movement rapidly developed. The proclamation of the president pro tem. called for the assembling of the delegates on July 30; and though the only object of this meeting was to determine officially the existing vacancies to be filled in the fall elections, the enemies to the enfranchisement of the freedmen determined to crush the movement in its incipient stage. It is an easy matter to stir up the passions and prejudices of the people, and the indiscreet speeches of certain of the delegates only added to the popular excitement. A negro procession organized in honor of the convention was attacked by a mob in front of Mechanics’ Hall, where the convention was in session. The attack was soon extended to the hall itself, the police of the city joining hands with the assailants. When the riot was over nearly two hundred persons were found to have been killed or wounded, the greatest sufferers being the negroes, who were shot down in front of the hall without mercy.

The flagrancy of the act, the connivance of the city authorities, and the fact that, while legal steps were taken against the delegates and innocent spectators, the actual murderers were in no way molested, furnished to the people of the incensed North ample proof of the inability of the South to maintain local government, and of the advisability of refusing to restore these States to their former position in the Union. New Orleans was taken as a fair example of what might happen at any place in the South. There was no satisfactory justification for these acts of violence, and there was little inclination in the North to consider the legal technicalities involved in the attempt to amend the constitution of Louisiana. They simply took cognizance of the fact that about fifty loyal citizens had been murdered in cold blood, with the city authorities silently acquiescing. In the face of such a fact, the solicitude of the President to preserve the “inherent rights of the States” did not appeal to the masses, and Johnson was forced to begin his campaign badly handicapped.

But, in addition to the blow given to the theory of the administration, Johnson was forced to labor against a certain amount of personal censure, brought about by his supposed attitude before the riots and his known attitude after them. It was freely charged that he was in full sympathy with the determination of the Mayor of New Orleans, and the Lieutenant-Governor and Attorney-General of Louisiana, to prevent the convention from accomplishing its plans. In support of the charge, his answer to the inquiry as to whether the military power would interfere with the attempt to arrest the members of the convention upon criminal process was cited. His reply was as follows: “The military will be expected to sustain, and not to obstruct or interfere with the proceedings of the court.” While this may have indicated too great confidence in the civil authorities of Louisiana, it certainly did not imply any connivance in or sympathy with the summary proceeding of July 30. Possibly the well-known opposition of Johnson to negro suffrage may have stimulated the rioters to bolder defiance of Northern sentiment, but censure of him can extend no farther. But, in his political canvass in the fall, while endeavoring in every way to discredit the 39th Congress in the eyes of the people, he committed a grave error by an indirect defense of the rioters, attacking the members of the convention as traitors who incited the negro population to rioting, and throwing the responsibility of the whole affair back upon Congress as having originated and fostered the plan to force negro suffrage upon Louisiana. …

The massacre at New Orleans (by Thomas Nast 1867; LOC:

“The massacre at New Orleans]” (Thomas Nast)

  1. [1] Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: HarperPerennial, 2014. Updated Edition. Print. page 263.
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restoration and readmission

Lookout Mountain, Tennessee: and the Chattanooga Rail Road (About this Item  Title     Lookout Mountain, Tennessee: and the Chattanooga Rail Road Contributor Names     Currier & Ives.  Created / Published     New York : Published by Currier & Ives, c1866; LOC:

Tennessee side of Lookout Mountain back in

On July 18, 1866 Tennessee became the third United state (and first ex-Confederate state) to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. On July 24, 1866 both houses of the United States Congress began accepting representatives from Tennessee. In his response to the “Joint resolution, restoring Tennessee to her relations in the Union” President Johnson said he was happy that Tennessee was back in Congress, but he was careful to state that he did not acquiesce with any right of Congress to impose prerequisites (like agreeing to the Fourteenth Amendment) on the readmission of the rebel states. President Johnson believed all the southern states were fit for readmission with the possible exception of Texas.

The two new senators from Tennessee were Joseph S. Fowler and David T. Patterson, Andrew Johnson’s son-in-law. The front page of The New-York Times from July 26, 1866 said that there was a 100 gun salute in Washington, D.C. on the evening of the 24th to celebrate Tennessee’s readmission and restoration “was at the insistence of the friends of the Administration.”

The following is an 1896 summary of Tennessee from The Struggle between President Johnson and Congress over Reconstruction by Charles Ernest Chadsey (1896; pages 85-86):

The reconstruction legislation of the first session of the 39th Congress closed with the restoration of Tennessee to the Union. Other measures were under consideration, but were not acted upon until the following session. The attitude of Tennessee, since her re-organization under the provisions of the proclamation of 1863, had been the most consistent of any of the Southern States. From March 3, 1862, until March 3, 1865, Johnson, as military governor, had preserved law and order to a great extent. The formal reorganization of the State was undertaken by a convention of the loyal citizens convened January 8, 1865, acting upon the recommendation and personal approval of Johnson. This convention proposed the amendments to the constitution of the State, made necessary by the changes brought about by the war, and they were adopted by the loyal voters of the State on February 22. On March 4 a governor and legislature were elected, who assumed their duties on April 3. The work of the legislature was characterized by an apparent eagerness to do all that should be done by a State loyal to the Union.

Seal_of_Tennessee.svg (v)

from 1796

The popular ratification of the amendments to the Constitution distinguished the action of Tennessee from that of the other Southern States, and this fact, united to her uniformly consistent attitude, formed the ground for the recommendation of the Committee on Reconstruction that this State should be restored to her former rights and privileges. This recommendation, in the form of a joint resolution, was reported from the committee by Mr. Bingham on March 5, but no action was taken until July 20. Tennessee’s prompt action in ratifying the 14th Amendment was taken as good evidence that her government was thoroughly reconstructed, and the State entitled to representation. Accordingly a substitute resolution, noting these facts, was introduced and passed, the Senate amending and passing it three days later. This declared Tennessee to be restored to her former relations to the Union, and entitled to representation in Congress, but the preamble was used as a vehicle for the assertion of the sole power of Congress to restore State governments. President Johnson, while approving the resolution, explained in his message that his approval was “not to be construed as an acknowledgment of the right of Congress to pass laws preliminary to the admission of duly qualified representatives from any of the States,” nor as committing him “to all the statements made in the preamble.”

CSA-T67-20-1864 (CSA-T67-20-1864v ($20-1864.jpg))

Tennessee capitol, 1864

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lightning votes

The Misses Cooke's school room, Freedman's Bureau, Richmond, Va. / from a sketch by Jas. E. Taylor. (llus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v.23, 1866 Nov. 17, p. 132.)

“The Misses Cooke’s school room, Freedman’s Bureau, Richmond, Va. / from a sketch by Jas. E. Taylor.”

150 years ago this week Congress took almost all of three hours to override a presidential veto

In February 1866 President Andrew Johnson vetoed a bill to extend the jurisdiction of the Freedmen’s Bureau. The U.S. Senate was unable to override the president’s veto. On Washington’s Birthday Mr. Johnson made some incendiary remarks that likened abolitionist Wendell Phillips, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, and Senator Charles Sumner to traitorous rebels. That changed everything. Congress would eventually pass the Freedmen’s Bureau bill again. On July 16, 1866 President Johnson again sent a veto message to Congress. Both Houses of Congress immediately voted to override the veto. According to the July 17, 1866 issue of The New-York Times Congress received the veto message at 2:00 PM and both Houses had voted to override before 5:00 PM. “Thus the Freedmen’s Bureau is a fixed fact for two years from the 16th of July, 1866.”

Marriage of a colored soldier at Vicksburg by Chaplain Warren of the Freedmen's Bureau ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, v. 10, no. 496 (1866 June 30), p. 412 (top).; LOC:

“Marriage of a colored soldier at Vicksburg by Chaplain Warren of the Freedmen’s Bureau”

You can read President Johnson’s veto message at The American Presidency Project. The president believed that the original 1865 Freedmens’s Bureau act was a war measure, still in operation; it would still be operating for months after the next Congress convened. It was unconstitutional for he federal government to intervene in state matters during peace time. Competent civil courts had been re-established which might conflict with the military tribunals in the South. There had been reports of abuse by Freedmen’s Bureau bureaucrats. The 1866 Civil Rights Act was already providing equal protection to all. President Johnson concluded his message by stating his concern that the federal largesse might produce an idle class:

In conclusion I again urge upon Congress the danger of class legislation, so well calculated to keep the public mind in a state of uncertain expectation, disquiet, and restlessness and to encourage interested hopes and fears that the National Government will continue to furnish to classes of citizens in the several States means for support and maintenance regardless of whether they pursue a life of indolence or of labor, and regardless also of the constitutional limitations of the national authority in times of peace and tranquillity.

The bill is herewith returned to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, for its final action.


Walter L. Fleming’s 1905 Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama discussed the Freedmen’s Bureau under the heading of “The Wards of the Nation”, but the Bureau also distributed rations to poor white people in Alabama in 1865 and 1866 as can be seen in the following table:

rationsAlabama (

feeding frenzy

In a U.S. history textbook, John A. Garraty points out that many freed slaves understandably “at first equated legal freedom with freedom from having to earn a living, a tendency reinforced for a time by the willingness of the Freedmen’s Bureau to provide rations and other forms of relief in war-devastated areas. Most, however, soon accepted the fact that they must earn a living …” Southern agricultural output did decrease greatly after the abolition of slavery, not because the freedmen were dependent on their overseers, but because they had their children, women, and old people spend less time in the fields. Some southern whites criticized the decline in output by using racial stereotypes. As it turned out, freed blacks enjoyed more leisure and were better off materially after the war: “Their earnings brought them almost 30 percent more than the value of the subsistence provided by their former masters.” [1]

Glimpses at the Freedmen's Bureau. Issuing rations to the old and sick / from a sketch by our special artist, Jas. E. Taylor. ( Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v. 23, 1866 Sept. 22, p. 5. ; LOC:

“Glimpses at the Freedmen’s Bureau. Issuing rations to the old and sick” in Richmond, Virginia (Library of Congress)

  1. [1] Garraty, John A., and Robert A. McCaughey. The American Nation: A History of the United States, Seventh Edition. New York: HarpersCollins Publishers, 1991. 461.
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four score and ten

Loring, Hon. Geo. Bailey of MASS (LOC:

Ubi libertas, ibi patri

150 years ago today Massachusetts state representative George Bailey Loring delivered an Independence Day oration at Newburyport, Mass. He paid homage to Abraham Lincoln and declared the supremacy of the federal government. He disagreed with President Andrew Johnson’s objection to the federal Congress excluding representatives from the rebel southern states. Here’s some sound:

Fellow – Citizens : — We have gathered here on this anniversary of the Declaration of our National Independence, to renew our offerings, and repeat our prayers, within the sacred edifice erected by our fathers to the cause of free government, popular intelligence, universal philanthropy, and public education, morals, and religion. Ninety years ago they laid the cornerstone. Commencing with the simple declaration of human equality, they devoted their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the completion of the great civil fabric. “They builded better than they knew.” Battles, sieges, and privation, and bankruptcy, and sorrow, frost, snows and starvation brought indeed no terror to their hearts. …

Franklin signing the Declaration of Independence (between 1900 and 1920; LOC:

Ben Franklin signing “that immortal emblem of humanity”

There have been many martyrs in the church and state — but one LINCOLN. To him above all men was it given so to die by the assassin’s hand, as to seal with his blood the cause for which he lived and labored. Never was there a story like his. … saying of slavery, with a sweet spirit of kindness and consideration worthy of a wife and a mother, “it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty,”—calling on his people with a sublime and fervid eloquence, ” think nothing of me; take no thought for the political fate of any man whatever; but come back to the truths that are in the Declaration of Independence; you may do anything with me you choose, if you will but heed these sacred principles. … do not destroy that immortal emblem of humanity — the Declaration of Independence …”

Abraham_Lincoln_Tomb_Springfield_Illiois (; by David Jones, 8 July 2005)

sacred grave in 2005

He must be less than a man, less than an American, my friends, who could perform any public service this day, even expressing the smallest tribute of regard for our national institutions, without allusion to the work of reconstruction which is now going on, as a consequence of the anarchy, confusion and disruption of the war. I am brought to it, here in your presence, by the memories of the past, and by that path which has led me, in my discourse, to the sacred grave of Abraham Lincoln, around which cluster his wise and humane counsels, and his large christian devotion to mankind and his country. We are reminded here of his high resolve, during all the trials and doubt of the last year of the war, the long and weary and bloody gloom of the Wilderness, and during the political uncertainty which unnerved the brave and faithful, — his high resolve to listen to no terms of peace which did not embrace “the integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery.” We are reminded here of his determination “not to be inflexibly committed to any plan of restoration,” until all the complications and difficulties of the times were fully unfolded, provided always that in any event, free citizenship with all its rights and immunities should take the place of slavery. …

There is no time here to argue the question of reconstruction. But I claim that the Federal Government has at last vindicated its right to self-defence, its supreme nationality, and its power to declare and fix uniformly and everywhere within its jurisdiction, a free American citizenship, untrammelled by local law, and unobstructed by local prejudice. I go further; and I maintain that no local legislation should be allowed to abridge this citizenship, in respect of the ballot box. The government which can make soldiers of its people, should also make citizens, and of citizens, voters — granting and establishing impartial suffrage, so supreme, that no caprice of State or section should ever curtail it. I know no other foundation for State equality in the Union than this. American citizenship will be a farce and a sham so long as a State dependent upon the general government for its very existence, shall arrogantly exercise the power of declaring, that no person shall be a citizen, who cannot trace his descent from some one particular branch of the human family. A thinking, reasoning man passes from the open courts, and school houses, and colleges and churches of Massachusetts into another State, and on account of some accident of birth, he finds all these institutions closed to him, his right to hold property gone, his right to equal civil privileges destroyed, the ballot box as far from him as it is from the exile wearing away his life in the lonely forests of Siberia. …

African American soldiers mustered out at Little Rock, Arkansas (Waud, Alfred R. (Alfred Rudolph); Published in: Harper's Weekly, v. 10, 1866 May 19, p. 308. LOC:

soldiers should become voting citizens

If we still hesitate to invite the Senators and Representatives of States, even now hugging slavery and rebellion to their bosoms, all will be well. If we will insist upon it, that a State which allows its judges to sell men into slavery as a punishment for crime, and to bind black children to a bondage worse than slavery, because possessed of none of its domestic ties and interests, is not fit to participate in the work of free government, all will be well. Let us remember that, today, without the protection of the Freedman’s Bureau, supported as it is by the military power of the government, the negro could not pursue any employment in safety at the South. These new-born citizens of the United States are hunted down in the streets, a price set upon their heads, as if they were wolves, every form of ingenuity exercised to deprive them of a fair reward for their labor, by those who were born with the bitterest contempt for their color, and who have been taught to detest their protector —that government which they could not overthrow. The maddened press of the South clamors still for another revolution. …

But, my friends, they say there are objections to this. The President objects; and his objections, as far as I have been able to ascertain from his various vetoes and messages, are based mainly on the ground that “of thirty-six States which constitute the Union, eleven are excluded from representation in either House of Congress,” and have no voice in any amendments or enactments now proposed for the effectual business of reconstruction. But had these States any voice in the organizing of that army with swept through them with fire and sword, wasting their fields, defeating their sons, chastising their folly with the flaming sword of the destroying angel? Had they any voice in the organization of that policy which sent Andrew Johnson to Tennessee as military governor, gave Butler and Banks the rule of Louisiana, established martial law and military punishments within their borders? Had they any voice in that amendment to the constitution, which confirmed freedom on four millions of the sons of men, which they held in bondage by solemn enactments on their statute books? …

 Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson. Union standard bearers for 1864. (LOC:

Are You Sure Abe Done It This Way?

But the South objects to the plan of Congress. So also does it object to the plan of the President, hitherto pursued. It is not to be supposed that any policy can be particularly gratifying to those, who are obliged to submit in any event. The South, however, should not object. If there are those, in that section of our country, who desire their own local honor and prosperity, let them rise to the magnitude of the occasion. If they desire to write their names in history, with the benefactors of their race, and with the immortal statesmen who have created new glories, from the seeming misfortune of their country, let them teach their followers the way to human elevation, through education, and the institutions of universal freedom. What a glorious reward awaits the liberal and advancing young men of the South! The South should not object. …

My friends, there is among the heraldic devices which have been brought to this country, preserved from the lineage of the old world, and upon which I have often pondered, as expressing all that there is of patriotism, of true government, of social order and elevation, of the christianity of civil life : — Ubi libertas, ibi patri: — where freedom is, there is my country. Let that motto be ours forever, that the hopes of the fathers of the Republic may all be fulfilled.

David Jones’ July 8, 2005 photograph of the Lincoln tomb is licensed by Creative Commons. The Library of Congress provides other images: Mr. Loring, Declaration, envelope, crane, Puck, and Alfred R. Waud’s drawing of black troops being mustered out in Little Rock, which was published in the May 19, 1866 issue of Harper’s Weekly.
Large crowd watching crane lift box containing Abraham Lincoln's body above grave in front of Lincoln Memorial at Springfield, Ill. (1901; LOC:

unearthing Lincoln in 1905

Puck July 4th 1904 / Frank A. Nankivell. ( Illus. in: Puck, v. 55, no. 1426 (1904 June 29), 4th of July cover; LOC:

Happy Fourth!

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back home

William Johnson (

Colonel William Johnson

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in June 1866:

PERSONAL. – Col. WM. JOHNSON arrived home from Tennessee on Tuesday last, having been absent some four or five months. The Colonel is looking well and seems to be enjoying very good health.

William Johnson built more than Memphis street railroads. According to “Grip’s” Historical Souvenir No. 17: Seneca Falls, N.Y and Vicinity. (pp. 134–5) William Johnson was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The family was living in Frankfort, New York when William’s father died. The small “… boy William [was] thrown on his own resources. By pluck and perseverance he made his own way to a high position.” When he was 14 he began studying mechanics and eventually became a contractor on public works. After moving to Seneca Falls, he was a large contractor on state canals and railroads between 1849 and 1856; he then began to manufacture woolen goods. Mr. Johnson was elected to the state assembly as a Democrat in 1860. When the war broke out the New York governor appointed him as Seneca County’s representative on the war committee. Colonel Johnson recruited and led the 148th Infantry “until poor health forced him to resign.” “Returning home, he was not idle, for during the remainder of the war he gave to the cause of perpetuity of federal government, both his personal influence and means.” After the war he pursued business interests in Seneca County and New York City. He promoted public utilities in Seneca Falls, and was elected twice to the state senate. His “comparatively sudden” death occurred on October 11, 1875.

Colonel Johnson prepped the 148th at Camp Swift in Geneva, New York.

Here are some shots of the Johnson family plot at Restvale Cemetery in Seneca Falls, New York.

Johnson column - Restvale Cemetery May 15, 2016

Johnson family column

Johnson family plot, Restvale cemetery, Seneca Falls, NY 6-26-2016

after the leaves and flags came out

William Johnson Civil War marker Restvale Cemetery, Seneca Fally NY 5-15-2016

148TH N.Y. INF.

William Johnson gravestone Restvale Cemetery, Seneca Falls, NY 5-15-2016


The photographs of Colonel Johnson and Fall Street come from Grip’s book linked to above. According to Grips … I would like to point out that there may have been some proofreading mistakes on the Johnson bio because Grip’s has the colonel getting married in 1885, which would seem rather unlikely.
Fall Street, Seneca Falls, NY 1870

main drag in Seneca Falls

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kudos to the chief

Lt Col Kennedy of the 13th Iowa, 3rd Brigade, 4th Division, 17 A.C. raising the stars & stripes over the State House Columbia ( Published in: Harper's Weekly, April 8, 1865, p. 209, credited to Theodore Davis.; LOC:

back under federal control – early 1865

On July 22, 1866 President Andrew Johnson reported to Congress that his administration had sent the recently passed Constitutional Amendment to the states for ratification. He used the occasion to explain his opposition to the amendment. He thought it was wrong to change the Constitution until all the states were represented in Congress. The eleven rebel southern states still had not been readmitted. Thanks to the telegraph it didn’t take long for a newspaper in one of those states to applaud the president’s words. On July 24th The Daily Phoenix in Columbia, South Carolina unsurprisingly agreed with the president, who had played the statesman versus Thaddeus Stevens and the rest of the radical Republicans who were abusing the Constitution for their own purposes, “who think that tinkering with the Constitution is a perfectly legitimate mode to advance their ambitious projects.” The people at large had not been given an opportunity to express their opinion of the proposed amendment. It was wrong to change the Constitution without the representation of the eleven states, all of which, except Texas, “have been entirely restored to all their functions as States.” And,

We honor Andrew Johnson for embracing this opportunity to reiterate his sound and patriotic views, at this critical juncture, and to announce to the people of America that the savage warfare waged upon him for months past has not moved him one inch from the policy he avowed at the beginning of his administration. We admire his tact and ability in frustrating, by this official declaration, the lying inventions of his enemies, to deceive the people of the United States as to his present views on the all-absorbing question now before the country. …

36 star flag (1864;

only twenty-five represented in Congress

The Phoenix link appears in an article at the Library of Congress about the 14th Amendment. Also from the Library of Congress: the drawing of “Lt Col Kennedy of the 13th Iowa, 3rd Brigade, 4th Division, 17 A.C. raising the stars & stripes over the State House Columbia” (February 1865), which was published in the April 8, 1865 issue of Harper’s Weekly; the Thirty-six star flag. The 1865 photograph of Columbia in ruins comes from the National Archives.
Columbia_sc_ruins (South Carolina, Columbia, view from the State Capitol) (

in need of a phoenix

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southern states’ side

Mending the family kettle (Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v. 22, no. 559 (1866 June 16), p. 208.)

a babe in arms

In early June 1866 Congress passed what would become the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 150 years ago today President Andrew Johnson reported to Congress that the amendment had been dutifully sent to the states for their consideration. The president stated that he opposed ratifying the amendment without his approval and before eleven southern states had been allowed representation in Congress. From The American Presidency Project:

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

… Even in ordinary times any question of amending the Constitution must be justly regarded as of paramount importance. This importance is at the present time enhanced by the fact that the joint resolution was not submitted by the two Houses for the approval of the President and that of the thirty-six States which constitute the Union eleven are excluded from representation in either House of Congress, although, with the single exception of Texas, they have been entirely restored to all their functions as States in conformity with the organic law of the land, and have appeared at the national capital by Senators and Representatives, who have applied for and have been refused admission to the vacant seats. Nor have the sovereign people of the nation been afforded an opportunity of expressing their views upon the important questions which the amendment involves. Grave doubts, therefore, may naturally and justly arise as to whether the action of Congress is in harmony with the sentiments of the people, and whether State legislatures, elected without reference to such an issue, should be called upon by Congress to decide respecting the ratification of the proposed amendment. …[1]


The political cartoon was published in the June 16, 1866 issue of Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper
  1. [1] Andrew Johnson: “Special Message,” June 22, 1866. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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“Irish flag was planted on British soil”

Battle of Ridgeway, C.W. (Buffalo, N.Y. : The Sage, Sons & Co. Lith., Print'g & Manufac'g Co., c1869.(LOC:

“Battle of Ridgeway, C.W.”

150 years ago today an army of Fenians, Irish-Americans who wanted Great Britain to let Ireland become an independent republic, attacked Canadian forces at the Battle of Ridgeway. “The Fenian insurgents [were] led by Brigadier General John O’Neill, a former Union cavalry commander who had specialized in anti-guerrilla warfare in Ohio.” Although the Fenians won the battle, they scampered back across the Niagara River when they realized large British and Canadian reinforcements were on the way, which “convinced many of the Fenians to return in haste to the United States – some on logs, on rafts, or by swimming. O’Neill and 850 Fenians surrendered their arms to waiting U.S. authorities.”

From Ridgeway: An Historical Romance of the Fenian Invasion of Canada by Scian Dubh (I have no idea how authentic the following report is)

By the Army of the Irish Republic, under General O’NEILL, June, 1866.

About midnight, on the 31st May, the men commenced moving from Buffalo to Lower Black Rock, about three miles down the river, and at 3:30 A.M., on the 1st of June, all of the men, with the arms and ammunition, were on board four canal boats, and towed across the Niagara River, to a point on the Canadian side called Waterloo, and at 4 o’clock A.M., the Irish flag was planted on British soil, by Colonel Starr, who had command of the first two boats.

NY Times June 3, 1866

NY Times June 3, 1866

On landing, O’Neill immediately ordered the telegraph wires leading from the town to be cut down; and sent a party to destroy the railroad bridge leading to Port Colborne.

Colonel Starr, in command of the Kentucky and Indiana troops, proceeded through the town of Fort Erie to the old Fort, some three miles distant up the river, and occupied it for a short time, hoisting the Irish flag.

O’Neill then waited on the Reeve of Fort Erie, and requested him to see some of the citizens of the place, and have them furnish rations for the men, at the same time assuring him that no depredations on the citizens would be permitted, as he had come to drive out British authority from the soil, and not for the purpose of pillaging the citizens. The request for provisions was cheerfully complied with.

About 10 o’clock A.M., he moved into camp on Newbiggin’s Farm, situated on Frenchman’s Creek, four miles down the river from Fort Erie, where he remained till 10 o’clock P.M.

During the afternoon, Capt. Donohue, of the 18th, while out in command of a foraging party, on the road leading to Chippewa, came up with the enemy’s scouts, who fled at his approach.

Later in the afternoon, Col. Hoy was sent with one hundred men in the same road. He also came up with some scouts about six miles from camp. Here he was ordered to halt.

Freedom to Ireland (New York : Published by Currier & Ives, c1866; LOC:

an independent-minded lass

By this time—8 o’clock P.M.—information was received that a large force of the enemy, said to be five thousand strong, with artillery, were advancing in two columns; one from the direction of Chippewa, and the other from Port Colborne; also, that troops from Port Colborne were to make an attack from the lake side.

Here truth compels me to make an admission that I would fain have kept from the public. Some of the men who crossed over with us the night before, managed to leave the command during the day, and recross to Buffalo, while others remained in houses around Fort Erie. This I record to their lasting disgrace.

On account of this shameful desertion, and the fact that arms had been sent out for eight hundred men, O’Neill had to destroy three hundred stand, to prevent them falling into the bands of the enemy. At this time he could not depend on more than five hundred men, about one-tenth of the reputed number of the enemy, which he knew were surrounding him. Rather a critical position, but he had been sent to accomplish a certain object, and he was determined to accomplish it.

At 10 o’clock P.M., he broke camp, and marched towards Chippewa, and at midnight changed direction, and moved on the Limestone Ridge road, leading toward Ridgeway; halting a few hours on the way to rest the men;—this for the purpose of meeting the column advancing from Port Colborne. His object was to get between the two columns, and, if possible, defeat one of them before the other could come to its assistance.

Battle of Ridgeway, C.W. Victory of Gen'l O'Neil. "Masterly" retreat of the Queens own (1866; LOC:

fleeing Canadians

At about 7 o’clock A.M., 2d of June, when within three miles of Ridgeway, Col. Owen Starr in command of the advanced guard, came up with the advance of the enemy, mounted, and drove them some distance, till he got within sight of their skirmish line, which extended on both sides of the road about half a mile. By this time, O’Neill could hear the whistle of the railroad cars which brought the enemy from Port Colborne. He immediately advanced his skirmishers, and formed line of battle behind temporary breastworks made of rails, on a road leading to Fort Erie, and running parallel with the enemy’s line. The skirmishing was kept up over half an hour, when, perceiving the enemy flanking him on both aides, and not being able to draw out their centre, which was partially protected by thick timber, befell back a few hundred yards, and formed a new line. The enemy seeing he had only a few men—about four hundred—and supposing that he had commenced a retreat, advanced rapidly in pursuit. When they got close enough, he gave them a volley, and then charged them, driving them nearly three miles, through the town of Ridgeway. In their hasty retreat they threw away knapsacks, guns, and everything that was likely to retard their speed, and left some ten or twelve killed and twenty-five or thirty wounded, with twelve prisoners, in his hands. Amongst the killed was Lieut. McEachern, and amongst the wounded Lieut. Ruth, both of the “Queen’s Own.” The pursuit was given up about a mile beyond Ridgeway.

NY Times June 4, 1866

fleeing Fenians (NY Times June 4, 1866)

Although he had met and defeated the enemy, yet his position was still a very critical one. The reputed strength of the enemy engaged in the fight was fourteen hundred, composed of the “Queen’s Own,” the 13th Hamilton Battalion, and other troops. A regiment which had left Fort Colburne was said to be on the road to reinforce them. He also knew that the column from Chippewa would hear of the fight, and in all probability move up in his rear.

Thus situated, and not knowing what was going on elsewhere, he decided that his best policy was to return to Fort Erie, and ascertain if crossings had been made at other points, and if so, he was willing to sacrifice himself and his noble little command, for the sake of leaving the way open, as he felt satisfied that a large proportion of the enemy’s forces had been concentrated against him.

He collected a few of his own wounded, and put them in wagons, and for want of transportation had to leave six others in charge of the citizens, who promised to look after them and bury the dead of both sides. He then divided his command, and sent one half, under Col. Starr, down the railroad, to destroy it and burn the bridges, and with the other half took the pike road leading to Fort Erie. Col. Starr got to the old Fort about the same time that he himself did to the village of Fort Erie, 4 o’clock P.M. He (Starr) left the men there under the command of Lieut. Col. Spaulding, and joined O’Neill in a skirmish with a company of the Welland Battery, which had arrived there from Port Colborne in the morning, and which picked up a few of the men who had straggled from the command the day before. They had these men prisoners on board the steamer “Robb.” The skirmish lasted about fifteen minutes, the enemy firing from the houses. Three or four were killed, and some eight or ten wounded, on each side.

It was here that Lieut. Col. Bailey was wounded, while gallantly leading the advance on this side of the town. Here forty-five of the enemy were taken prisoners, among them Capt. King, who was wounded, (leg since amputated,) Lieut. McDonald, Royal Navy, and Commander of the steamer “Robb,” and Lieut. Nemo, Royal Artillery. O’Neill then collected his men, and posted Lieut. Col. Grace, with one hundred men, on the outskirts of the town, guarding the road leading to Chippewa, while with the remainder of the command he proceeded to the old Fort.

NY Times June 6, 1866

General Meade vs. Fenians

About six o’clock A.M., he sent word to Capt. Hynes and his friends at Buffalo that the enemy could surround him before morning with five thousand men, fully provided with artillery, and that his little command, which had by this time considerably decreased, could not hold out long, but that if a movement was going on elsewhere, he was perfectly willing to make the Old Fort a slaughter pen, which he knew it would be the next day if he remained. FOR HE WOULD NEVER HAVE SURRENDERED.

Many of the men had not a mouthful to eat since Friday morning, and none of them had eaten anything since the night before, and all after marching forty miles and fighting two battles, though the last could only properly be called a skirmish. They were completely worn out with hunger and fatigue.

On receiving information that no crossing had been effected elsewhere, he sent word to have transportation furnished immediately; and about ten o’clock P.M. Capt. Hynes came from Buffalo and informed him that arrangements had been made to recross the river.

Previous to this time some of the officers and men, realizing the danger of their position, availed themselves of small boats and recrossed the river, but the greater portion remained until the transportation arrived, which was about 12 o’clock on the night of June 2, and about 2 o’clock A.M. on the morning of the 3d, all except a few wounded men were safely on board a large scow attached to a tug boat which hauled into American waters. Here they were hailed by the tug Harrison, belonging to the U.S. steamer Michigan, having on board one 12-pounder pivot gun, which fired across their bows and threatened to sink them unless they hauled to and surrendered. With this request they complied; not because they feared the 12-pounder, or the still more powerful guns of the Michigan, which lay close by, but because they respected the authority of the United States, in defence of which many of them had fought and bled during the late war. They would have as readily surrendered to an infant bearing the authority of the Union, as to Acting Master Morris of the tug Harrison, who is himself an Englishman. The number thus surrendered was three hundred and seventeen men, including officers.

The Fenian banner (1866; LOC:

The Fenian banner

The officers were taken on board the Michigan, and were well treated by Capt Bryson and the gentlemanly officers of his ship, while the men were kept on the open scow, which was very filthy, without any accommodation whatever, and barely large enough for them to turn round in. Part of the time the rain poured down on them in torrents. I am not certain who is to blame for this cruel treatment; but whoever the guilty parties are they should be loathed and despised by all men. The men were kept on board the scow for four days and then discharged on their own recognizances to appear at Canandaigna [probably Canandaigua] on the 19th of June, to answer to the charge of having violated the Neutrality Laws. The officers were admitted to bail. The report generally circulated, and, I might say, generally believed, that the pickets were left behind, and that they were captured by the enemy, is entirely false. Every man who remained with the command, excepting a few wounded, had the same chance of escaping that O’Neill himself had.

To the extraordinary exertions of our friends of Buffalo, F.B. Gallagher, Wm. Burk, Hugh Mooney, James Whelan, Capt. James Doyle, John Conners, Edward Frawley, James J. Crawley, M.T. Lynch, James Cronin, and Michael Donahue, the command were indebted for being able to escape from the Canadian side. Col. H.R. Stagg and Capt. McConvey, of Buffalo, were also very assiduous in doing everything in their power. Col. Stagg had started from Buffalo with about two hundred and fifty men, to reinforce O’Neill, but the number was too small to be of any use, and he was ordered to return. Much praise is due to Drs. Trowbridge and Blanchard, of Buffalo, and Surgeon Donnelly, of Pittsburg, for their untiring attendance to the wounded.

All who were with the command acted their parts so nobly that I feel a little delicacy in making special mention of any, and shall not do so except in two instances: One is Michael Cochrane, Color Sergeant of the Indianapolis Company, whose gallantry and daring were conspicuous throughout the fight at Ridgeway. He was seriously wounded, and fell into the hands of the enemy. The other is Major John C. Canty, who lived at Fort Erie. He risked everything he possessed on earth, and acted his part gallantly in the field.

In the fight at Ridgeway, and the skirmish at Fort Erie, as near as can be ascertained, the Fenian loss was eight killed and fifteen wounded. Among the killed was Lieut. E.R. Lonergan, a brave young officer, of Buffalo. Of the enemy, thirty were killed and one hundred wounded.

You can get a ton of information about the battle, including maps and Peter Vronsky’s book here. The New-York Times headlined the Fenian raid from June 2- June 10 and had a lot of fun with the Fenians and the “F” alliteration. HistoryNet provides a good summary.

From the Library of Congress:  Red Green (the Wikipedia link up top mentions that the Canadian units involved wore either British red or a dark-green; the Fenians wore old Civil War uniforms with green facings or civilian clothes with green scarves); lass; flight; banner. Óðinn’s photo of the Peace Bridge is licensed by Creative Commons
The Peace Bridge between Fort Erie and Buffalo. (,_Ontario#/media/File:Peace_Bridge.jpg)

nowadays: Peace Bridge between Fort Erie and Buffalo from Canadian side

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