cotton-picking wages

Scenes on a cotton plantation / sketched by A.R. Waud. left ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, 1867 Feb. 2, pp. 72-73. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/96513748/)

Harper’s Weekly, 1867 Feb. 2, p. 72

Scenes on a cotton plantation / sketched by A.R. Waud. left ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, 1867 Feb. 2, pp. 72-73. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/96513748/)

Harper’s Weekly, 1867 Feb. 2, p. 73

Almost two years after the Civil War ended Alfred R. Waud was still providing illustrations from the front for Harper’s Weekly. Back in January his drawings of a rice plantation in Georgia were published. The February 2, 1867 issue of Harper’s Weekly (page 69) included Mr. Waud’s observations of southern cotton plantations. “These pictures were mainly taken upon the Buena Vista plantation, in Clarke County, Alabama.” The accompanying text went on to explain the process of growing cotton and processing it into bales for shipment and sale. The picture of the plantation graveyard for “defunct negroes” shows the rail fence above the graves to keep away marauding animals. The former slaves put a mattock and a spade on each new grave for fourteen days to prevent “premature resurrection of the corpse”. Cotton growing was still profitable in the South, even with free labor replacing slavery:

picking cotton (Illus. in: Harper's weekly, 1867 Feb. 2, pp. 72-73. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/96513748/)

wage earners

… One man to ten acres is considered sufficient – if they work. A good hand before the war was worth $1500 in gold, which, at the Alabama rate of interest – 8 per cent. – was $120 a year, besides the clothing, taxes, doctor’s bill, loss of time during sickness, insurance, etc. The same hand can now be hired for $10 a month in currency; pay’s his own doctor’s bill and taxes, clothes himself, deducts all time lost by sickness, and if he dies is his own loss – a consoling reflection to some planters.

Horses and mules can be purchased for less in currency than they could before the war, while provisions are about the same when reduced to a gold basis. The richest lands are for sale for prices one half to one third less than before the war. …

According to Walter L. Fleming in his 1905 Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama (pages 322-324) many Yankees took advantage of the cheap land:

Planter and overseer ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, 1867 Feb. 2, pp. 72-73. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/96513748/)

immigrants from the North?

Immigration to Alabama

As soon as the war was ended, there was an influx of northern men and northern capital into Alabama. Cotton was selling at a fabulous price,—40 to 50 cents a pound, $200 to $250 a bale,—and the newcomers expected to make fortunes in a few years. They were welcomed by the planters who wanted to sell or to lease their plantations, which, for want of funds, they were unable to cultivate. General Swayne said that in 1866 there were 5000 northern men in Alabama engaged in trading and planting. They were sought for as partners or as overseers by those who hoped that northern men could control free negro labor. Lands were sold or leased at low prices, and many soldiers, especially officers, decided to buy land and raise cotton. Numbers of large plantations in the Black Belt were bought or leased by officers of the army, all of whom had lofty ideas as to what they were going to do. The soil was fertile, cotton was selling for high prices, and the free blacks, they were sure, would work for them out of gratitude and trust. They wanted to help reconstruct southern industry, and to show what could be done toward developing the great natural resources of the state. They embarked in large enterprises, and as long as their money lasted bought everything that was offered for sale. Their success or failure was dependent largely upon the negro laborer, who was to make the cotton, and the new planters made extraordinarily liberal terms with him. They dealt with the negro as if he were a New Englander with a black skin, and they purchased expensive machinery for him to use. They would not listen to southern advice, but went as far as possible to the opposite extreme from southern methods of farming. All suggestions were met with the assurance that the southern man was used only to slaves, and could not know how free men would work.

Reports, generally false and made mainly for political purposes, were continually published by the northern press in regard to the ill treatment of northern men who wished to make their homes in the South. But not a single authenticated case of violence to such persons can be found to have taken place in Alabama.

Cotton gin ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, 1867 Feb. 2, pp. 72-73. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/96513748/)

rum gin?

In some localities, on account of bands of outlaws, for several months after the war it was not safe for any stranger to settle. The ignorant whites had no liking for the northern men (and may not have to this day). The better class of people was in favor of much immigration from the North, and Governor Parsons made a tour through the North to induce northern men and capital to come to Alabama. The people had no capital, and wanted to induce those who possessed it to come and live in the state. The testimony of travellers was that the accounts of cruelty and intolerance toward northerners were almost entirely false; that they were welcomed if they did not attempt to stir up trouble between the races. The refusal of Congress to recognize the state government and the rejection of the members elected to Congress caused a fresh outburst of bitter feeling against the North; but General Swayne, who had the best opportunities for observation, said that rudeness and insult and the occasional attentions of a horse-thief were the worst things that had happened to the northern settlers.

fleming (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41680/41680-h/41680-h.htm#Page_359)

southwesterly Clarke County

These northern men meant well but, as a rule, were incompetent as farmers and business men. Consequently they failed, and most of them never quite understood the reasons for their failure. They knew next to nothing of plantation economy, and the negroes were their only teachers. Most of them were from the West, and had never seen cotton growing before. It was almost pathetic to see these 5000 northerners risking all they possessed upon their faith in the negro, and losing. The northern merchant gave the negro unlimited credit and lost; the planter gave his tenant all he asked for, whenever it pleased him to ask. The farm stock was driven to camp-meetings and frolics while the grass was killing the cotton. Mills and factories were built and negro laborers employed, but the negroes, because of a lack of quickness and sensitiveness of touch, proved to be unfit for factory work. Besides, the noise of the machinery made them sleepy, and it was beyond their power to report for work at a regular hour each morning. At first, the negroes showed great confidence in the northern man and were glad to work for him, but too much was required of them, and after a year or two the disgust was mutual. The revulsion of feeling following failure and disappointment and ostracism injured the South by creating hostile opinion in the North. Nearly all the northern men went home, but the less desirable ones remained to assist in the political reconstruction of the state, when many of them became state officials.

work time (Illus. in: Harper's weekly, 1867 Feb. 2, pp. 72-73. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/96513748/)

a time to labor

The above stories are two tiny snapshots of the complex change in Southern society from slavery to free labor, and it would seem that people’s prejudices made the problem more complicated. In his book on Reconstruction Eric Foner details the complexity and some of the prejudices in a section entitled Masters Without Slaves[1] Mr. Foner writes about the Northerners who moved South and invested their money in cotton production. The Yankees were generally welcomed at first:

… most Southern planters recognized that Northern investment, ironically, was raising land prices and rescuing many former slaveholders from debt – in a word. stabilizing their class. What most annoyed Southern whites was the newcomers’ sublime confidence that they knew better than former slaveowners how to supervise free black labor. “They believed, in their supercilious folly,” one planter later wrote, “that they could get along with the free negroes as laborers, and teach the Southerners how to manage them.”

Southern planters predicted that the newcomers would soon complain about the character of black labor, and they were not far wrong. …

The blacks preferred a more irregular pace of work and wanted to “direct their own labor.”[2]

The February 2, 1867 Harper’s Weekly piece concluded that even with free labor cotton growing should be a profitable business, but the current growing season was the worse since 1846. Mr. Foner says that 1866 and 1867 were terrible years for cotton because of the weather and the army worm. “Many planters suffered devastation losses in these years.”[3]
A current study finds that blacks spend more time not working at work than whites (although they labor more than Hispanics). Daniel Hamermesh, one of the researchers, was quickly “labelled a racist in an online forum popular among economists.” That’s not fair because Mr. Hammeresh sort of puts blacks and Hispanics on a pedestal – he wants everyone to work less. [4] Are the critics racist in a way because they assume the white work ethic is superior?A?h6>

Also, I have learned that some people might consider my title racist
Thomas Nast, a cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly, highlighted southern white mistreatment of blacks. According to the Library of Congress Mr. Nast also produced a Grand Caricaturam, a series of paintings on American History. One of his paintings portrayed King Cotton as dependent on slavery.
King Cotton (by Thomas Nast; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2009617745/)

a king without a country?

___________________________________________________

[Gettysburg, Pa. Alfred R. Waud, artist of Harper's Weekly, sketching on battlefield] (by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, 1863 July; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/cwp2003000198/PP/)

Waud I see

Rice culture on the Ogeechee, near Savannah, Georgia / Sketched by A.R. Waud. ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, v. XI, no. 523 (1867 January 5), p. 8. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2015647678/)

growing rice in Georgia

Also from the Library of Congress: Timothy H. O’Sullivan’s photograph of Alfred R. Waud “taking pictures” at Gettysburg in 1863; rice cultivation in Georgia. The map can be found at Project Gutenberg
  1. [1] Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: HarperPerennial, 2014. Updated Edition. Print. pages 128-142.
  2. [2] ibid pages 137-138.
  3. [3] ibid pages 140-141.
  4. [4] “United States: Working and race; Colouring in.” The Economist 4 February 2017: 26-27. Print.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Month, Aftermath, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction, Southern Society, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

no, no

National map of the territory of the United States. (1867; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2002628194/)

territorial ambitions

150 years ago this week President Andrew Johnson kept chalked up a couple more vetoes by opposing statehood bills for Colorado and Nebraska. You can read both veto messages at the Miller Center of the University of Virginia (Colorado andNebraska). The president didn’t think either state was populous enough to support a state government; In the Colorado message he included a protest from inhabitants who were concerned about the expenses of state government. Mr. Johnson was also concerned that the population of each territory was well below the number that would allow a state to gain another representative in the U.S. House (127,000 in 1867).

In both cases the United States Congress submitted bills to the president that would make Colorado and Nebraska states only if their respective legislatures enacted laws ensuring voting rights regardless of race or color. President Johnson objected to this because the U.S. Constitution gave individual states the right to determine voting qualifications. Since Congress was changing the state constitution which Nebraskans adopted, the president wondered whether the mandated change in the electoral law should be put before the voters in Nebraska as a referendum.

Here is President Johnson’s Nebraska message from Project Gutenberg:

WASHINGTON, January 29, 1867.

To the Senate of the United States:

I return for reconsideration a bill entitled “An act for the admission of the State of Nebraska into the Union,” which originated in the Senate and has received the assent of both Houses of Congress. A bill having in view the same object was presented for my approval a few hours prior to the adjournment of the last session, but, submitted at a time when there was no opportunity for a proper consideration of the subject, I withheld my signature and the measure failed to become a law.

It appears by the preamble of this bill that the people of Nebraska, availing themselves of the authority conferred upon them by the act passed on the 19th day of April, 1864, “have adopted a constitution which, upon due examination, is found to conform to the provisions and comply with the conditions of said act, and to be republican in its form of government, and that they now ask for admission into the Union.” This proposed law would therefore seem to be based upon the declaration contained in the enabling act that upon compliance with its terms the people of Nebraska should be admitted into the Union upon an equal footing with the original States. Reference to the bill, however, shows that while by the first section Congress distinctly accepts, ratifies, and confirms the Constitution and State government which the people of the Territory have formed for themselves, declares Nebraska to be one of the United States of America, and admits her into the Union upon an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatsoever, the third section provides that this measure “shall not take effect except upon the fundamental condition that within the State of Nebraska there shall be no denial of the elective franchise, or of any other right, to any person by reason of race or color, excepting Indians not taxed; and upon the further fundamental condition that the legislature of said State, by a solemn public act, shall declare the assent of said State to the said fundamental condition, and shall transmit to the President of the United States an authentic copy of said act, upon receipt whereof the President, by proclamation, shall forthwith announce the fact, whereupon said fundamental condition shall be held as a part of the organic law of the State; and thereupon, and without any further proceeding on the part of Congress, the admission of said State into the Union shall be considered as complete.” This condition is not mentioned in the original enabling act; was not contemplated at the time of its passage; was not sought by the people themselves; has not heretofore been applied to the inhabitants of any State asking admission, and is in direct conflict with the constitution adopted by the people and declared in the preamble “to be republican in its form of government,” for in that instrument the exercise of the elective franchise and the right to hold office are expressly limited to white citizens of the United States. Congress thus undertakes to authorize and compel the legislature to change a constitution which, it is declared in the preamble, has received the sanction of the people, and which by this bill is “accepted, ratified, and confirmed” by the Congress of the nation.

The first and third sections of the bill exhibit yet further incongruity. By the one Nebraska is “admitted into the Union upon an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatsoever,” while by the other Congress demands as a condition precedent to her admission requirements which in our history have never been asked of any people when presenting a constitution and State government for the acceptance of the lawmaking power. It is expressly declared by the third section that the bill “shall not take effect except upon the fundamental condition that within the State of Nebraska there shall be no denial of the elective franchise, or of any other right, to any person by reason of race or color, excepting Indians not taxed.” Neither more nor less than the assertion of the right of Congress to regulate the elective franchise of any State hereafter to be admitted, this condition is in clear violation of the Federal Constitution, under the provisions of which, from the very foundation of the Government, each State has been left free to determine for itself the qualifications necessary for the exercise of suffrage within its limits. Without precedent in our legislation, it is in marked contrast with those limitations which, imposed upon States that from time to time have become members of the Union, had for their object the single purpose of preventing any infringement of the Constitution of the country.

Union Pacific Rail Road, map of a portion of Nebraska Territory, showing surveys and location of lines by Peter A. Dey, C.E. (n.p., 1865?; LOC:  https://www.loc.gov/item/98688831/)

“a central position on the great highway that will soon connect the Atlantic and Pacific States”

If Congress is satisfied that Nebraska at the present time possesses sufficient population to entitle her to full representation in the councils of the nation, and that her people desire an exchange of a Territorial for a State government, good faith would seem to demand that she should be admitted without further requirements than those expressed in the enabling act, with all of which, it is asserted in the preamble, her inhabitants have complied. Congress may, under the Constitution, admit new States or reject them, but the people of a State can alone make or change their organic law and prescribe the qualifications requisite for electors. Congress, however, in passing the bill in the shape in which it has been submitted for my approval, does not merely reject the application of the people of Nebraska for present admission as a State into the Union, on the ground that the constitution which they have submitted restricts the exercise of the elective franchise to the white population, but imposes conditions which, if accepted by the legislature, may, without the consent of the people, so change the organic law as to make electors of all persons within the State without distinction of race or color. In view of this fact, I suggest for the consideration of Congress whether it would not be just, expedient, and in accordance with the principles of our Government to allow the people, by popular vote or through a convention chosen by themselves for that purpose, to declare whether or not they will accept the terms upon which it is now proposed to admit them into the Union. This course would not occasion much greater delay than that which the bill contemplates when it requires that the legislature shall be convened within thirty days after this measure shall have become a law for the purpose of considering and deciding the conditions which it imposes, and gains additional force when we consider that the proceedings attending the formation of the State constitution were not in conformity with the provisions of the enabling act; that in an aggregate vote of 7,776 the majority in favor of the constitution did not exceed 100; and that it is alleged that, in consequence of frauds, even this result can not be received as a fair expression of the wishes of the people. As upon them must fall the burdens of a State organization, it is but just that they should be permitted to determine for themselves a question which so materially affects their interests. Possessing a soil and a climate admirably adapted to those industrial pursuits which bring prosperity and greatness to a people, with the advantage of a central position on the great highway that will soon connect the Atlantic and Pacific States, Nebraska is rapidly gaining in numbers and wealth, and may within a very brief period claim admission on grounds which will challenge and secure universal assent. She can therefore wisely and patiently afford to wait. Her population is said to be steadily and even rapidly increasing, being now generally conceded as high as 40,000, and estimated by some whose judgment is entitled to respect at a still greater number. At her present rate of growth she will in a very short time have the requisite population for a Representative in Congress, and, what is far more important to her own citizens, will have realized such an advance in material wealth as will enable the expenses of a State government to be borne without oppression to the taxpayer. Of new communities it may be said with special force—and it is true of old ones—that the inducement to emigrants, other things being equal, is in almost the precise ratio of the rate of taxation. The great States of the Northwest owe their marvelous prosperity largely to the fact that they were continued as Territories until they had growth to be wealthy and populous communities.

ANDREW JOHNSON.

On the other hand, President Johnson didn’t veto the Territorial Suffrage Act of January 10, 1867. The bill, which prohibited “denial of the elective franchise in any of the Territories of the United States, now or hereafter to be organized, to any citizen thereof on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” became law without the president’s signature.

Congress voted to override the Nebraska veto – the territory would soon become the 37th state. Congress did not override the Colorado veto.

Nebraska state seal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nebraska-StateSeal.svg)

lesson learned

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on no, no

corrections

From The New-York Times January 24, 1867:

No More Negroes to be Sold in Maryland …

ANNAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 23.

The Maryland Legislature have passed an act abolishing an article in the code permitting the sale of negroes into slavery as punishment for crime. There will hereafter be no distinction in the State in the mode of punishing white and black criminals.

The Senate adopted a report against suspending bounties to colored soldiers. …

According to a Thomas Nast cartoon in the January 12, 1867 issue of Harper’s Weekly the Maryland legislature’s action was not a mere formality:

<em>Harper's Weekly</em> January 12, 1867 (LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/93507943/)

Harper’s Weekly January 12, 1867

Maryland ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on February 3, 1865. The Amendment abolished slavery, except as punishment for crime. According to William Starr Myers in his 1909 The Self-Reconstruction of Maryland
1864-1867
(Page 180), the Maryland legislature passed an act dealing with the status of the black population on March 24, 1865. Former slaves were to be treated just like white folks, except that they couldn’t testify at trials of white people and they could be “sold for crime for the same period that a white man might be confined in the penitentiary for the same offence.”

Slavery is dead(?) / Th Nast. ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, 1867 Jan. 12, p. 24. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/93507943/)

Harper’s Weekly January 12, 1867

According to the same cartoon convicted freeman were being whipped as punishment:

whipping Slavery is dead(?) / Th Nast. ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, 1867 Jan. 12, p. 24. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/93507943/)

Harper’s Weekly January 12, 1867

______________________________________________

In his biography of Andrew Johnson, Hans L. Trefousse wrote that the relatively soft terms of presidential reconstruction made the South more resistant to change. An observer noted that

immediately after the war, the Southern leaders had been thoroughly subdued. Expecting no mercy from the government, they were prepared to submit to anything, even Negro suffrage, they thought would be required of them. “But the more lenient the government, the more arrogant they became.”

The president’s approach to reconstruction accorded with his beliefs about states’ rights, but this “reanimated Southern resistance and fatally undermined efforts to integrate freedmen into society.”[1] Once they were freed, President Johnson was never going to push for greater rights for the former slaves.

You can take out a much larger version of the Thomas Nast cartoon at the Library of Congress, which also provides the September 1940 photograph of “John Dyson, FSA (Farm Security Administration) borrower, playing the accordion. He was born into slavery over eighty years ago. Saint Mary’s County, Maryland”
John Dyson, FSA (Farm Security Administration) borrower, playing the accordion. He was born into slavery over eighty years ago. Saint Mary's County, Maryland (1940 Sept.; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/fsa2000041990/PP/)

free in Maryland

  1. [1] Trefousse, Hans L. Andrew Johnson: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton & company, Inc., 1997. Print. pages 232 and 233.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction, Southern Society | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on corrections

maintaining supremacy

Henry Blackwell (LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2002699146/)

white political supremacy in the counterbalance

150 years ago this week Henry Browne Blackwell wrote an open letter to Southern state legislatures in which he put forward “the only ground of settlement between North and South which in [his] judgment can be successfully adopted.” More and more Northerners were becoming committed to negro suffrage as a prerequisite for re-admittance into the Union. Most Southern whites were adamantly opposed to black suffrage and wanted an unconditional readmission. This stalemate would either produce another Civil War, which the North would easily win, or the South would be forced to concede that blacks had equal rights with whites.

But Mr. Blackwell suggested an alternative. The South should out-radical the Radicals by insisting on universal suffrage and telling the North: “Give suffrage to all men and women of mature age and sound mind, and we will accept it as the basis of State and national reconstruction.” Mr. Blackwell maintained that it was in the white South’s interest to demand universal suffrage because “Your four millions of Southern white women will counterbalance your four millions of negro men and women, and thus the political supremacy of your white race will remain unchanged.

He produced a chart showing how the numbers would work out:

HB Blackwell numbers (https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.12701100/)

numbers game

Mr. Blackwell also wrote that universal suffrage in New Jersey from 1776 until 1807 was not a disaster:

njexample (https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.12701100/)

no catastrophe in New Jersey

Henry B. Blackwell was married to Lucy Stone. According to Wikipedia: “In the winter of 1866-67, Blackwell and Stone lectured together on universal suffrage and formed local Equal Rights Leagues in New York and New Jersey. They also traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby Charles Sumner against inclusion of the word “male” in the proposed Fourteenth Amendment, which would penalize states for denying black suffrage but not woman suffrage.”

_____________________________________________

Thanks to the1a, I learned today about the Green Book, a guide for black travelers published from 1936 until sometime after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Its purpose was to list safe services and accommodations for blacks. As one of the book covers stated: “Carry your Green Book with you … you may need it!”

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, D.C. (by Carol M. Highsmith; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2012630217/)

at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, D.C.

From the Library of Congress: Henry B. Blackwell and his letter; King library
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on maintaining supremacy

murder of a Tennessee Unionist

150 years ago this week Dr. Almon Case, a Unionist State Senator in Tennessee, was shot dead by Frank Farris, a former Confederate guerrilla. From The New-York Times January 21, 1867:

Cold-Blooded Assassination of a Tennessee State Senator.

From the Nashville Press and Times, Jan. 17.

We were overwhelmed with grief last evening on hearing intelligence of the brutal assassination of Dr ALMON CASE, Union State Senator from Obiou [Obion] County, West Tennessee, who was shot dead at his residence, a few evenings since, by an assassin. Our present is as follows: Late in the evening a man rode up to his residence and called for him to come out. Mrs. CASE went to the door, and in answer to the man’s inquiry, replied that he had gone to town. The man rode off in the direction indicated, and met Senator CASE on his return, with whom he rode back. On approaching the house the assassin pretended to depart, but immediately afterward wheeled and shot his unsuspecting victim dead, and made his escape.

Senator CASE was a good, brave and faithful man, an advocate of progress and an enlightened public public officer. He was an early friend of colored enfranchisement, and it is worthy of particular note that he was in favor of universal amnesty, and allowing all citizens to vote, irrespective of their political antecedents or color. But his liberal views made him no less obnoxious to rebel malevolence. He has fallen by the hands of one of the very men whom he was ready to pardon and restore. Only a few days prior to the beginning of the present session his son, an excellent lad of sixteen, was shot dead while the family were returning from church, where the young man had just made a profession of religion. The father was wearing crape for his murdered son at the time of his own assassination.

A later article in the The New-York Times provided more information from the Nashville Press & Times. The murderer was identified as Frank Farris, who was a member of his brother Oliver’s guerrilla band during the war. It was said that Senator Case helped out Oliver Farris before the war and treated him like his son. Frank Farris mortally shot Moses Kinman in Troy, Tennessee on the morning of the day he killed Almon Case.

An article about Almon Case at Roots Web provides directions about how to view an interesting 1985 article about the murder of Senator Case. In his paper for the West Tennessee Historical Society Charles L. Lufkin pointed out that contemporary newspaper accounts distorted the motives of Frank Farris to fit their own biases. Unionist papers like the Press & Times conveyed the idea that Senator Case was shot for his Unionist, more liberal views. Conservative publications, such as the Memphis Daily Avalanche, argued that Frank Farris was justifiably retaliating for the killing of his brother John during the war.

Like the death of twenty-two blacks in the Kingstree jail fire, Thomas Nast saw the murder of Senator case as an example of Southern Justice:

<em>Harper’s Weekly</em>, March 23, 1867

Harper’s Weekly, March 23, 1867

Southern justice and the president's veto of the military government bill / Th. Nast. ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, v. 11, no. 534 (1867 Mar. 23), pp. 184-185. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2008680979/)

murder – left side, upper left

According to the article by Mr. Lufkin, Almon Case migrated to Tennessee from Ohio in the late 1840’s. He was successful enough in his medical practice to buy 355 acres of land. Like Andrew Johnson, another Tennessee Unionist, Dr. Case bought some slaves – “a family unit of six, including four young children.”
Harper’s Weekly published an account of the case murder in its February 16, 1867 issue.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on murder of a Tennessee Unionist

Kingstree jail fire

On January 7, 1867 the jail in Kingstree, South Carolina caught on fire. Twenty-two black prisoners were burned or smothered to death.

From The New-York Times January 16, 1867:

The Burning of the Kingstree, S.C., Jail – Heartrending Scenes Attending the Death of the Inmates – Ineffectual Attempts to Save Them.

From the Charleston Courier, Jan. 11

We have deferred giving place in our columns to any of the numerous rumors which have reached the city in regard to the distressing calamity which occurred at Kingstree on Monday night, in the hope that the reports would prove exaggerated: … [but now there is an “authentic statement”] …

We learn that Gen. SCOTT has dispatched an officer of the Freedmen’s Bureau to the scene of the disaster to inquire into the circumstances under which it occurred.

We copy the following account of the fire from the Kingstree Star of Wednesday:

“We are called upon to record one of the most horrifying and melancholy accidents which has ever occurred within the limits of this State. Though an accident which no caution or foresght [sic] could avoid, it will send a thrill of horror throughout the whole country. On the evening of the 7th inst., between the hours of 8 and 9 P.M., the occupant of the jail heard very suddenly a rumbling noise
in the upper stories of the jail, as if the iron grates were being shaken, and immediately followed by the cry of fire. He rushed from his room to ascertain whether the jail was on fire or not, and after walking around the jail he observed a little smoke issuing from one of the windows on the third floor. … [The occupant sent for the jailor, who lived several hundred yards away and who had the keys to the jail. The jailor and sheriff soon arrived.]

The Sheriff, with the assistance of nearly all the citizens in the village and the garrison at this place, immediately took the most active measures to save, if possible, the unfortunate inmates. … [But there was too much smoke to use the stairs in the building, and the would be rescuers used ladders on the outside but couldn’t remove the grating from a window.]

At this time the cries and screams of the suffering inmates were heart-rending. The jail was in flames, and twenty-two human beings were being burnt to death, without any possible relief. Human agency could effect nothing; every effort was made to rescue them which could be suggested, but all to no purpose. … [only bones remained in the charred ruins only the bones remained]

[Twenty-two negroes, including three women, died on the third floor. Mr. MCBRIDE saved a white man who was confined on the second floor for bail process; Mr. MCBRIDE almost suffocated during the rescue.]

[Many people acted heroically, but especially] the superhuman efforts of Lieut. ROSS, private WM. GREEN, (who mounted a ladder at the most perilous crisis, and ascended to a window on the third story,) Sheriff MATTHEWS and Mr. BECK, JOE and WILLIAM BLABELY, (colored,) particularly excited our commendation.

As to the origin of this fire we can only conjecture. Whether it was accidental or designed by the prisoners for the purpose of making their escape is one of those mysteries that will remain unexplained. A jury of inquest is now sitting for the investigation of the whole matter, but up to the time of going to press they had not rendered their verdict.”

It’s all a mystery to me. The only other mention I found of Kingstree at The New-York Times archives for the rest of 1867 and 1868 was a paragraph in the February 5, 1867 issue that referenced the January 30th issue of the Kingstree Star: Two men “who were arrested by order of the military on account of the death of the negroes in the burning of the Kingstree jail, have been released from Castle Pinckney, where they were confined.” A District Judge requisitioned a transfer of the prisoners to civil authorities.

In the March 23, 1867 issue of Harper’s Weeekly Thomas Nast included the Kingstree jail fire in a cartoon lampooning “Southern Justice”. He drew the fire over a caption “TWENTYTWO NEGRO PRISONERS BURNED TO DEATH.” The text with the cartoon quotes General John C. Robinson saying the white prisoner “was permitted to escape.”

Southern justice and the president's veto of the military government bill / Th. Nast. ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, v. 11, no. 534 (1867 Mar. 23), pp. 184-185. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2008680979/)

fire – left side, lower right

<em>Harper's Weekly</em> March 23, 1867

Harper’s Weekly March 23, 1867

<em>Harper's Weekly</em> March 23, 1867

Harper’s Weekly March 23, 1867

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Kingstree jail fire

unfazed

NY Times January 8, 1867

NY Times January 8, 1867

As 1867 began, newspaper headlines indicated that the United States Congress was definitely planning on impeaching President Andrew Johnson. The president wasn’t cowed. On January 7th Congress received his veto of An act to regulate the elective franchise in the District of Columbia, which specifically mandated that the right to vote was guaranteed to every man in the District “without any distinction on account of color or race.”

You can read the veto message at The American Presidency Project. It was a long message. Two of President Johnson’s points: Congress was ignoring the will of existing D.C. voters; by prohibiting the Southern States representation in the national legislature Congress was ensuring it was veto-proof:

… Measures having been introduced at the commencement of the first session of the present Congress for the extension of the elective franchise to persons of color in the District of Columbia, steps were taken by the corporate authorities of Washington and Georgetown to ascertain and make known the opinion of the people of the two cities upon a subject so immediately affecting their welfare as a community. The question was submitted to the people at special elections held in the month of December, 1865, when the qualified voters of Washington and Georgetown, with great unanimity of sentiment, expressed themselves opposed to the contemplated legislation. In Washington, in a vote of 6,556–the largest, with but two exceptions, ever polled in that city–only thirty-five ballots were cast for Negro suffrage, while in Georgetown, in an aggregate of 813 votes–a number considerably in excess of the average vote at the four preceding annual elections–but one was given in favor of the proposed extension of the elective franchise. As these elections seem to have been conducted with entire fairness, the result must be accepted as a truthful expression of the opinion of the people of the District upon the question which evoked it. Possessing, as an organized community, the same popular right as the inhabitants of a State or Territory to make known their will upon matters which affect their social and political condition, they could have selected no more appropriate mode of memorializing Congress upon the subject of this bill than through the suffrages of their qualified voters.

Entirely disregarding the wishes of the people of the District of Columbia, Congress has deemed it right and expedient to pass the measure now submitted for my signature. It therefore becomes the duty of the Executive, standing between the legislation of the one and the will of the other, fairly expressed, to determine whether he should approve the bill, and thus aid in placing upon the statute books of the nation a law against which the people to whom it is to apply have solemnly and with such unanimity protested, or whether he should return it with his objections in the hope that upon reconsideration Congress, acting as the representatives of the inhabitants of the seat of Government, will permit them to regulate a purely local question as to them may seem best suited to their interests and condition. …

Congressional Library, (In U.S. Capitol) / photographed and published by Bell & Bro., 480 Penn, Avenue, Washington, D.C. ([Washington, D.C.] : [Bell & Bro.] [1867]; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/cph24851/)

Capitol full of Republicans … and librarians?

In addition to what has been said by these distinguished writers, it may also be urged that the dominant party in each House may, by the expulsion of a sufficient number of members or by the exclusion from representation of a requisite number of States, reduce the minority to less than one-third. Congress by these means might be enabled to pass a law, the objections of the President to the contrary notwithstanding, which would render impotent the other two departments of the Government and make inoperative the wholesome and restraining power which it was intended by the framers of the Constitution should be exerted by them. This would be a practical concentration of all power in the Congress of the United States; this, in the language of the author of the Declaration of Independence, would be “precisely the definition of despotic government.” …

As shown in charts at Wikipedia, the Republican majorities in both House and Senate in the 39th United States Congress were veto-proof, given the exclusion of southern states. As documented at The Daily Render, Congress did indeed override the veto by January 8th.

The Library of Congress provides the image of Congressional Library at the U.S Capitol. The Library of Congress didn’t move out until 1897. The image of exhibit cases at the Smithsonian Institution also comes from the Library. Andrew Johnson served as a representative from Tennessee in the U.S. House from 1843 until 1853. According to Hans L. Trefouse, he generally supported economy in government and consistently opposed the Smithsonian Institution. In the fall of 1847 Congressman Johnson exhibited an “ever more pronounced vendetta against the Smithsonian Institution, which he attacked at every opportunity. After advocating the establishment of a committee of supervision for the institution, he so severely criticized one of its regents, his fellow congressman Henry W. Hilliard of Alabama, that members of the House were appalled.” David Outlaw of North Carolina denounced the “real demagogical speech.” [1]
Interior of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., showing exhibit cases (1867; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2005680852/)

at the Smithsonian about 1867

  1. [1] Trefousse, Hans L. Andrew Johnson: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton & company, Inc., 1997. Print. page 69.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on unfazed

Letter to the Loyal Alabamans

A document at the Library of Congress indicates that 150 years ago today the Grand Council of the Union League of Alabama wrote an epistle to its local branches. The letter began by thanking God that thanks to federal soldiers Alabamans could publicly proclaim the doctrine that “all men are created equal.” It discussed the 1866 elections:

Facsimile of Union League of Alabama Constitution (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41680/41680-h/41680-h.htm#Page_566)

“Facsimile of Page from Union League Constitution.”

The National situation, so dark before the manifestation given by the people in October and November last of their determination that the Government of the United States should not be administered in the interest of the rebels who tried to overthrow it, is now steadily improving. Loyalty maintains the ascendancy in Congress, endorsed by the people of the Nation with marked unanimity. …

No word of cheer, however applies to our very properly unrecognized State[,] Alabama.

But for the loyalty before alluded to, which manifests so much power at a distance, the personal safety of the loyal men of Alabama might well be questioned. The late devotees to treason have far too much power to permit a loyal man to be regarded with respect by the masses in their train. The pains taken in all places of public resort to denounce the Government and its defenders; the manner in which a vicious press alludes to our flag; the continual annoyance of those who wear the National uniform in either service; the misrepresentations of a Bureau instituted to secure the colored man justice, and which has not been allowed to secure him that justice; and the ingratitude towards the Government in view of its lavish charity dispensed to suffering whites; all indicate that old things have not yet passed away – that treason is still a power in Alabama. …

The missive described several ways in which the freed people were being mistreated and said “that the old pro-slavery ideas, in which [treason] had its birth, have still controlling power in the State.”

And yet we say to you, our loyal brethren, take courage. The power which has made treason stagger, can make it die.

We desire that you keep bright the council fires, and see that the fact that positive loyalty still exists within our borders, is kept before the people, in season, and when the faint hearted would deem out of season. …

The loyal members were to promote the Constitutional amendments and the test oath. They were to clean up their own acts by abolishing “the spirit of hatred and contempt” toward the freed people. The whole world was moving toward greater liberty and justice. The United States federal government was going to make sure that the freedmen were treated with equal rights.

It is your duty then, brethren, in view of this fact – if from no higher consideration – to discard the prejudices of the past against race and color. We would that nobler motives than those of policy might influence you, because even-handed justice is more potent and creditable as an incentive than the lower maxims of the mere politician – But if you will not be constrained by these higher impulses, heed the reasoning of sound policy[.] In the nature of things, the black man is your friend. In the war, the loyal men of the nation found nothing but kindness and respect on his part. He loved the land which we love, and he suffered privation and death in behalf of the cause to us so dear. Shall we have him for our ally, or the rebel for our master?

Trifle not with his friendship by denying him the rights to which he is justly entitled … [including the right to vote.]

Be strong, then, in the love of truth. Seek not to increase your numbers unless the numbers can be increased and the principles here enunciated be maintained at the same time.

Do this, and we will shortly be able to prove before the nation the falsity of the charge now made by rebels, that the loyal men of Alabama have not the ability to manage the State.

Do this, and we will be able to show before God and man, that we have not been unfaithful to the high trust committed to our care.

Done at the Council Chamber in the City of Montgomery, Alabama, on the 2nd day of January, 1867, and the Sixth year of the League.

Parties in the Convention of 1865" (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41680/41680-h/41680-h.htm#Page_566)

north more loyal to the North?

According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, the Union League of Alabama “run locally by Freedmen’s Bureau agents and various pro-Union groups, mobilized labor protests and promoted voter registration. The Union League helped create the Reconstruction movement, and it established a tradition of black voting for the Republicans that lasted well into the twentieth century.” The Alabama League started the northern hill country. “League branches sprang up in these areas when former draft resisters and native-born Union veterans found themselves a besieged minority after ex-Confederate soldiers returned to their homes. The league also provided a forum for opponents of Presidential Reconstruction, especially those inclined to organized self-defense, and played an integral role in the passage of military Reconstruction in 1867.”

According to Walter L. Fleming’s 1905 Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama, it was difficult for some white members of the League to get over their prejudices:

Extension to the South

Even before the end of the war the Federal officials had established the organization in Huntsville, Athens, Florence, and other places in north Alabama. It was understood to be a very respectable order in the North, and General Burke, and later General Crawford, with other Federal officers and a few of the so-called “Union” men of north Alabama, formed lodges of what was called indiscriminately the Union or Loyal League. At first but few native whites were members, as the native “unionist” was not exactly the kind of person the Federal officers cared to associate with more than was necessary. But with the close of hostilities and the establishment of army posts over the state, the League grew rapidly. The civilians who followed the army, the Bureau agents, the missionaries, and the northern school-teachers were gradually admitted. The native “unionists” came in as the bars were lowered, and with them that element of the population which, during the war, especially in the white counties, had become hostile to the Confederate administration. The disaffected politicians saw in the organization an instrument which might be used against the politicians of the central counties, who seemed likely to remain in control of affairs. At this time there were no negro members, but it has been estimated that in 1865, 40 per cent of the white voting population in north Alabama joined the order, and that for a year or more there was an average of half a dozen “lodges” in each county north of the Black Belt. Later, the local chapters were called “councils.” There was a State Grand Council with headquarters at Montgomery, and a Grand National Council with headquarters in New York. The Union League of America was the proper designation for the entire organization.

Disaffection 1861-1865 (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41680/41680-h/41680-h.htm#Page_110)

Tories and deserters more in the north

The white members were few in the Black Belt counties and even in the white counties of south Alabama, where one would expect to find them. In south Alabama it was disgraceful for a person to have any connection with the Union League; and if a man was a member, he kept it secret. To this day no one will admit that he belonged to that organization. So far as the native members were concerned, they cared little about the original purposes of the order, but hoped to make it the nucleus of a political organization; and the northern civilian membership, the Bureau agents, preachers, and teachers, and other adventurers, soon began to see other possibilities in the organization.

From the very beginning the preachers, teachers, and Bureau agents had been accustomed to hold regular meetings of the negroes and to make speeches to them. Not a few of these whites expected confiscation, or some such procedure, and wanted a share in the division of the spoils. Some began to talk of political power for the negro. For various purposes, good and bad, the negroes were, by the spring of 1866, widely organized by their would-be leaders, who, as controllers of rations, religion, and schools, had great influence over them. It was but a slight change to convert these informal gatherings into lodges, or councils, of the Union League. After the refusal of Congress to recognize the Restoration as effected by the President, the guardians of the negro in the state began to lay their plans for the future. Negro councils were organized, and negroes were even admitted to some of the white councils which were under control of the northerners. The Bureau gathering of Colonel John B. Callis of Huntsville was transformed into a League. Such men as the Rev. A. S. Lakin, Colonel Callis, D. H. Bingham, Norris, Keffer, and Strobach, all aliens of questionable character from the North, went about organizing the negroes during 1866 and 1867. Nearly all of them were elected to office by the support of the League. The Bureau agents were the directors of the work, and in the immediate vicinity of the Bureau offices they themselves organized the councils. To distant plantations and to country districts agents were sent to gather in the embryo citizens. In every community in the state where there was a sufficient number of negroes the League was organized, sooner or later. In north Alabama the work was done before the spring of 1867; in the Black Belt and in south Alabama it was not until the end of 1867 that the last negroes were gathered into the fold.

The effect upon the white membership of the admission of negroes was remarkable. With the beginning of the manipulation of the negro by his northern friends, the native whites began to desert the order, and when negroes were admitted for the avowed purpose of agitating for political rights and for political organization afterwards, the native whites left in crowds. Where there were many blacks, as in Talladega, nearly all of the whites dropped out. Where the blacks were not numerous and had not been organized, more of the whites remained, but in the hill counties there was a general exodus. Professor Miller estimates that five per cent of the white voters in Talladega County, where there were many negroes, and 25 per cent of those in Cleburne County, where there were few negroes, remained in the order for several years. The same proportion would be nearly correct for the other counties of north Alabama. Where there were few or no negroes, as in Winston and Walker counties, the white membership held out better, for in those counties there was no fear of negro domination, and if the negro voted, no matter what were his politics, he would be controlled by the native whites. What the negro would do in the black counties, the whites in the hill counties cared but little. The sprinkling of white members served to furnish leaders for the ignorant blacks, but the character of these men was extremely questionable. The native element has been called “lowdown, trifling white men,” and the alien element “itinerant, irresponsible, worthless white men from the North.” Such was the opinion of the respectable white people, and the later history of the Leaguers has not improved their reputation. In the black counties there were practically no white members in the rank and file. The alien element, probably more able than the scalawag, had gained the confidence of the negroes, and soon had complete control over them. The Bureau agents saw that the Freedmen’s Bureau could not survive much longer, and they were especially active in looking out for places for the future. With the assistance of the negro they had hoped to pass into offices in the state and county governments. …

The constitution and two maps are found in Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama at Project Gutenberg. The Library of Congress provides Carol M. Highsmith’s photo of the Jeff Davis star
State Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama (by Carol M. Highsmith, 2010 February 22; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2010637479/)

Montgomery was also first Confederate capital

Posted in 150 Years Ago, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction, Southern Society | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Letter to the Loyal Alabamans

hilltop experience

Bearded man, standing, three-quarter length, wearing backpack, with walking stick, Russia (between ca. 1880 and 1924; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/93506572/)

pause a bit

In its New Year’s piece 150 year ago today The New-York Times changed up the Janus imagery a little bit:

… New Year’s Day is like a hill upon which a traveler pauses to rest, to look back over the ground he has traversed, and to look forward to that which is before him. How long it took to reach the place on which he stands; how short the distance to the eye, now that it has been passed over! Points of interest were slow of reaching, and few and far between, but in the foreshortening of the landscape they seem a little crowded now.

We start fair this morning upon a new stage of the journey, and as the stage is twelve months[,] long let us lay in a good stock of good temper, the best mental pabulum known to science; a good stock of self-appreciation, which pushes nations as well as people along at high speed, and above all make conscience our compass and honor our staff as we go through the journey. …

I like the idea of a rest-stop but realize it’s going to be very brief as time keeps marching relentlessly on, maybe something like Stonewall’s foot cavalry. In the same issue the Times helped out short-sighted (forgetful) people like me by providing a chronicle of EVENTS IN 1866. I double-checked February 22nd. Five separate events were listed, including the celebration of George Washington’s 134th birthday, a great Union meeting in New York to support President Johnson, and Speech by the President at Washington on reconstruction. Relations between Andrew Johnson and the Congress, northern elites, and the northern people definitely went South during 1866. The president’s Washington Birthday speech was a big part of this process. Encouraged by the audience, President Johnson named Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, and Wendell Phillips as traitors to the Union in the same category as southern rebels.

Skip ahead 10 months. In its December 28, 1866 issue The New-York Times reprinted an article from the December 20 [I think] 1866 issue of the Anti-Slavery Standard in which Wendell Phillips argued that there were two important reasons to seek a conviction of President Johnson after he was impeached. Andrew Johnson should not be allowed to pick judges for the U.S. Supreme Court:

… Such is one of the dangers of leaving a rebel at the head of the Government for two years more. We may, and probably shall, have the Supreme Court reinforced with fresh, young blood, to last another quarter of a century, and be always the refuge of abuses and the foe of progress. If his crimes have given us sufficient grounds to remove JOHNSON and avert this momentous danger, it is fool-hardy, it is madness, to leave the criminal untouched and run all these risks.

The article stated that North Carolina was still whipping negroes under state laws, but there was no state of North Carolina. The second reason Mr. Phillips wanted a conviction was that even if Congress abolished all the “phantom” state governments in the South and established Territorial governments, President Johnson would still have the power to nominate Territorial officers:

… He can so shape his nominations as to keep those Governments wholly subservient to his policy. Of course he would not name WADE HAMPTON or Mayor MUNROE to Governorships; he knows such men would never be approved by the Senate. But he can select from rebeldom, North and South, men, more decent but not less dangerous – indeed, for that very reason of their decent behavior, more dangerous than the swaggering bravos of their party – and thus, sure in time of the Senate’s acquiescence, make Territories as supple tools as he has made his so-called States.

We see, therefore, that it is impossible to make one step in the direction of permanent and thorough reconstruction while Johnson remains in office. We have the legal right to remove him; the country, indignant and disgusted, demands it; the necessity of the situation requires it. Delay is dangerous, and may be fatal. Who dares to trust such a man as ANDREW JOHNSON with the power thus to baulk the plans of the conqueror

Thanks for the break. It looks like the path ahead in the new year may be a bit rocky.

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Month, 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on hilltop experience

dress code

View of the upper village of Lockport Niagara Co. N.Y. (LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2003654291/)

locked up in Lockport

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper presumably sometime in 1866:

[pointing finger] A FEMALE CANAL DRIVER. – On Thursday last a canal driver was arrested in Lockport, on suspicion of being a woman in male attire. On being taken before a justice she owned up and was committed to jail, a fate not shared by all women who “wear the trousers.”

Seneca Falls, New York was a hotbed of the women’s rights movement and the dress reform that temporarily accompanied it. An obituary for Amelia Jenks Bloomer explained how her name became associated with the mid-19th century pantsuit (The Evening Dispatch (Provo, UT), February 7, 1895, Page 3, Image 3, col. 2-3.):

Amelia1 (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091038/1895-02-07/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1836&index=3&rows=20&words=AMELIA+Amelia+Bloomer+BLOOMER&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1922&proxtext=amelia+bloomer&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1)

Amelia2 (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091038/1895-02-07/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1836&index=3&rows=20&words=AMELIA+Amelia+Bloomer+BLOOMER&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1922&proxtext=amelia+bloomer&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1)

Bloomers 1851 (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024442/1895-07-14/ed-1/seq-11/#date1=1836&index=15&rows=20&words=bloomer+Bloomer+bloomers&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1922&proxtext=bloomer&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1)

_______________

The obituary went on to say that Amelia Bloomer abandoned the costume after seven or eight years. Two possible reasons: she didn’t want to be known only for the dress reform, and she wanted to alleviate the social pressure applied to her husband.

The National Park Service backs up the obituary’s claim that Elizabeth Smith Miller ” first wore the costume of Turkish pantaloons and knee length skirt popularized by Amelia Bloomer in The Lily. Reportedly, she began wearing the outfit after seeing this type of clothing on a trip to Europe.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote about the new costume in History of Woman Suffrage, Volume II, edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage (1881; pages 469-471):

Turkey. Young woman. Dame Virique / Dumas. (between 1860 and 1900; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2004670414/)

“the Turkish style”

Quite an agitation occurred in 1852, on woman’s costume. In demanding a place in the world of work, the unfitness of her dress seemed to some, an insurmountable obstacle. How can you, it was said, ever compete with man for equal place and pay, with garments of such frail fabrics and so cumbrously fashioned, and how can you ever hope to enjoy the same health and vigor with man, so long as the waist is pressed into the smallest compass, pounds of clothing hung on the hips, the limbs cramped with skirts, and with high heels the whole woman thrown out of her true equilibrium. Wise men, physicians, and sensible women, made their appeals, year after year; physiologists lectured on the subject; the press commented, until it seemed as if there were a serious demand for some decided steps, in the direction of a rational costume for women. The most casual observer could see how many pleasures young girls were continually sacrificing to their dress: In walking, running, rowing, skating, dancing, going up and down stairs, climbing trees and fences, the airy fabrics and flowing skirts were a continual impediment and vexation. We can not estimate how large a share of the ill-health and temper among women is the result of the crippling, cribbing influence of her costume. Fathers, husbands, and brothers, all joined in protest against the small waist, and stiff distended petticoats, which were always themes for unbounded ridicule. But no sooner did a few brave conscientious women adopt the bifurcated costume, an imitation in part of the Turkish style, than the press at once turned its guns on “The Bloomer,” and the same fathers, husbands, and brothers, with streaming eyes and pathetic tones, conjured the women of their households to cling to the prevailing fashions. The object of those who donned the new attire, was primarily health and freedom; but as the daughter of Gerrit Smith introduced it just at the time of the early conventions, it was supposed to be an inherent element in the demand for political equality. As some of those who advocated the right of suffrage wore the dress, and had been identified with all the unpopular reforms, in the reports of our conventions, the press rung the changes on “strong-minded,” “Bloomer,” “free love,” “easy divorce,” “amalgamation.” I wore the dress two years and found it a great blessing. What a sense of liberty I felt, in running up and down stairs with my hands free to carry whatsoever I would, to trip through the rain or snow with no skirts to hold or brush, ready at any moment to climb a hill-top to see the sun go down, or the moon rise, with no ruffles or trails to be limped by the dew, or soiled by the grass. What an emancipation from little petty vexatious trammels and annoyances every hour of the day. Yet such is the tyranny of custom, that to escape constant observation, criticism, ridicule, persecution, mobs, one after another gladly went back to the old slavery and sacrificed freedom to repose. I have never wondered since that the Chinese women allow their daughters’ feet to be encased in iron shoes, nor that the Hindoo widows walk calmly to the funeral pyre. I suppose no act of my life ever gave my cousin, Gerrit Smith, such deep sorrow, as my abandonment of the “Bloomer costume.” He published an open letter to me on the subject, and when his daughter, Mrs. Miller, three years after, followed my example, he felt that women had so little courage and persistence, that for a time he almost despaired of the success of the suffrage movement; of such vital consequence in woman’s mental and physical development did he feel the dress to be.

Amelia Bloomer (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28020/28020-h/28020-h.htm#v1_1497)

Amelia Bloomer

Gerrit Smith Samuel J. May, J. C. Jackson, C. D. Miller and D. C. Bloomer, sustained the women who lead in this reform, unflinchingly, during the trying experiment. Let the names of those who made this protest be remembered. We knew the Bloomer costume never could be generally becoming, as it required a perfection of form, limbs, and feet, such as few possessed, and we who wore it also knew that it was not artistic. Though the martyrdom proved too much for us who had so many other measures to press on the public conscience, yet no experiment is lost, however evanescent, that rouses thought to the injurious consequences of the present style of dress, sacrificing to its absurdities so many of the most promising girls of this generation.

Amelia Bloomer published The Lily from 1849 to 1853. The paper initially focused on promoting temperance but later took on more women’s rights issues. Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote several articles for the paper “under the pseudonym ‘sunflower’.” You can read more about The Lily at Accessible Archives

Amelia Bloomer statue (11-20-2016, Ludovico Sculpture Trail, Seneca Falls, NY)

the wearing of the trousers

Bloomer NY State Historical marker (12-11-2016; Cayuga Street (Routes 5&20), Seneca Falls, NY(

claims to fame

_______________________________

Any possible connection to the Civil War or Reconstruction? – the canal driver does sort of remind me of all the women who disguised themselves as men so that they could soldier on during the war.
I found the Lockport article in the 1866 section of a big binder of newspaper clippings at the Seneca Falls, New York public library, but there was no date written on the artcle. Based on a search of its archives The New-York Times didn’t pick up the story.
Cherry Rahn’s 2001 statue of Amelia Bloomer stands on the Ludovico Sculpture Trail along the Seneca-Cayuga Canal in Seneca Falls, New York. The Bloomer historical marker appears on Cayuga Street in Seneca Falls.
The portrait of Mrs. Bloomer comes from History of Woman Suffrage at Project Gutenberg”. You can read about The Bloomer at the Library of Congress Chronicling America series, which also provides links to the obituary and the image of the outfit. Also from the Library of Congress: Lockport, Turkish, Elizabeth Smith Miller then and 1906.
Elizabeth Smith Miller (LOC: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=rbcmil&fileName=scrp7000601/rbcmilscrp7000601.db&recNum=0&itemLink=h?ammem/rbcmillerbib:@field(DOCID+@lit(rbcmiller002593)))

wore bloomers before they were bloomers

Posted in 150 Years Ago, Postbellum Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on dress code