In early December 1917 the New York Tribune was eagerly anticipating the British capture of Jerusalem:

NY Tribune 12-2-1917 (LOC:

wrapping it up

As explained by Francis A. March and Richard J. Beamish in their 1919 History of the World War (at Project Gutenberg, pages 506-512) British forces commanded by Edmund Allenby captured Jerusalem on December 8, 1917 (it probably was really the 9th). On December 11th General Allenby entered the city. His proclamation declaring martial law also promised to protect the sacred sites for each of the three “great religions of mankind” that call Jerusalem holy.


camels (History of the World War (

technology: old but still useful

From the beginning of the war the German General Staff and the British War Office planned the occupation of Palestine and Macedonia. Germany wanted domination of that territory because through it lay the open road to Egypt and British prestige in the East. Turkey was the cat’s paw of the Hun in this enterprise. German officers and German guns were supplied to the Turks, but the terrible privations necessary in a long campaign that must be spent largely in the desert, and the inevitable great loss in human life, were both demanded from Turkey.

Great Britain made no such demands upon any of its Allies. Unflinchingly England faced virtually alone the rigors, the disease and the deaths consequent upon an expedition having as its object the redemption of the Holy Land from the unspeakable Turk.

The surrender of Jerusalem to the British, December 9, 1917. The Mayor of Jerusalem, with white flag, offers surrender to two British tommies (sergeants) (LOC:

“The surrender of Jerusalem to the British,
December 9, 1917. The Mayor of Jerusalem,
with white flag, offers surrender
to two British tommies (sergeants)”

Volunteers for the expedition came by the thousands. Canada, the United States, Australia and other countries furnished whole regiments of Jewish youths eager for the campaign. The inspiration and the devotion radiating from Palestine, and particularly from Jerusalem and Bethlehem, drew Jew and Gentile, hardy adventurer and zealous churchman, into Allenby’s great army.

It was a long campaign. On February 26, 1917, Kut-el-Amara was recaptured from the Turks by the British expedition under command of General Sir Stanley Maude, and on March 11th following General Maude captured Bagdad. From that time forward pressure upon the Turks was continuous. On September 29, 1917, the Turkish Mesopotamian army commanded by Ahmad Bey was routed by the British, and historic Beersheba in Palestine was occupied on October 31st. The untimely death of General Maude, the hero of Mesopotamia, on November 18, 1917, temporarily cast gloom over the Allied forces but it had no deterrent effect upon their successful operations. Siege was laid to Jerusalem and its environs late in November, and on December 8, 1917, the Holy City which had been held by the Turks for six hundred and seventy-three years surrendered to General Allenby and his British army. Thus ended a struggle for possession of the holiest of shrines both of the Old and New Testaments, that had cost millions of lives during fruitless crusades and had been the center of religious aspirations for ages.

Allenby's entry (History of the World War;

on foot through the Jaffa gate

General Allenby’s official report follows:

“I entered the city officially at noon December 11th with a few of my staff, the commanders of the French and Italian detachments, the heads of the political missions, and the military attaches of France, England, and America.

“The procession was all afoot, and at Jaffa gate I was received by the guards representing England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, India, France and Italy. The population received me well.

“Guards have been placed over the holy places. My military governor is in contact with the acting custodians and the Latin and Greek representatives. The governor has detailed an officer to supervise the holy places. The Mosque of Omar and the area around it have been placed under Moslem control, and a military cordon of Mohammedan officers and soldiers has been established around the mosque. Orders have been issued that no non-Moslem is to pass within the cordon without permission of the military governor and the Moslem in charge.”

A proclamation in Arabic, Hebrew, English, French, Italian Greek and Russian was posted in the citadel, and on all the walls proclaiming martial law and intimating that all the holy places would be maintained and protected according to the customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they were sacred. The proclamation read:


To the Inhabitants of Jerusalem the Blessed and the People Dwelling in Its Vicinity.
The defeat inflicted upon the Turks by the troops under my command has resulted in the occupation of your city by my forces. I, therefore, proclaim it to be under martial law, under which form of administration it will remain so long as military consideration makes necessary.
However, lest any of you be alarmed by reason of your experience at the hands of the enemy who has retired, I hereby inform you that it is my desire that every person should pursue his lawful business without fear of interruption.
Furthermore, since your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore, do I make it known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the three religions will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.
Guardians have been established at Bethlehem and on Rachel’s Tomb. The tomb at Hebron has been placed under exclusive Moslem control.
The hereditary custodians at the gates of the Holy Sepulchre have been requested to take up their accustomed duties in remembrance of the magnanimous act of the Caliph Omar, who protected that church.

Jerusalem was now made the center of the British operations against the Turks in Palestine. …

The surrender of Jerusalem to the British December 9th, 1917. Turkish prisoners. (LOC:

Turkish prisoners

Entry of Field Marshall Allenby, Jerusalem, December 11, 1917. Franciscan monk reading the proclamation in French (LOC:

Franciscan monk reads
Allenby’s proclamation
in French

Jerusalem from Mount of Olives

Tomb of Abraham, Hebron


I don’t know much about the Cave of the Patriarchs, but I picked what is said to be the tomb of Abraham, who with did beget Ishmael with Hagar (and then Isaac with Sarah).

During the American Civil War a Confederate army captured camels in the U.S. Army’s experimental United States Camel Corps:

In spring 1861, Camp Verde fell into Confederate hands until recaptured in 1865. The Confederate commander issued a receipt to the United States for 12 mules, 80 camels and two Egyptian camel drivers. There were reports of the animals’ being used to transport baggage, but there was no evidence of their being assigned to Confederate units. When Union troops reoccupied Camp Verde, there were estimated to be more than 100 camels at the camp, but there may have been others roaming the countryside. In 1866, the Government was able to round up 66 camels, which it sold to Bethel Coopwood. The U.S. Army’s camel experiment was complete. The last year a camel was seen in the vicinity of Camp Verde was 1875; the animal’s fate is unknown.

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bipartisan hoopla

Harold Holzer called Abraham Lincoln’s speech at the the Cooper Institute in New York City on February 27, 1860 his “watershed, the event that transformed him from a regional leader into a national phenomenon. Here the politician known as frontier debater and chronic jokester introduced a new oratorical style: informed by history, suffused with moral certainty, and marked by lawyerly precision.” Mr. Lincoln’s address so impressed the public that it was more plausible that he eventually became the Republican nominee for president over William H. Seward and went on to win the 1860 election. 150 years ago this week there was another meeting at the Cooper. Its purpose was more explicitly political. Unlike the February 1860 meeting the star of the show was already famous throughout the nation. He didn’t give a speech; as a matter of fact, he wasn’t even on site. Nevertheless, a “grand mass meeting” gathered to show their support and to “nominate” General U.S. Grant for U.S. president about eleven months before the 1868 election.

From The New-York Times December 5, 1867:


Immense Mass Meeting at the Cooper Institute.

Gen. Grant the Candidate of the Loyal Union People of New-York.

Speeches by A.T. Stewart, Judge Hilton, F.B. Cutting, Gen. Sickles, Lyman Tremaine and Others.

Ulysses S. Grant / engraved by William Sartain, Phila. (Phila. : Pubished by Wm. Sartain, 728 Sansom St., c1866.; LOC:

new job for general-in-chief?

The public feeling in favor of the nomination of Gen. GRANT for the Presidency, which has been rapidly increasing in this vicinity for some time past, culminated in a grand mass meeting at the Cooper Institute last evening, held in response to a call from a large number of our [prominent?] merchants, bankers and businessmen representing both of the leading parties. As the first public demonstration in favor of Gen. GRANT for President it was a great success. Seldom has the Cooper Institute been filled with a larger audience, or one better representing the various classes of our population, than the one assembled there last night. A good number of ladies were present. The hall was tastefully decorated for the occasion with the Stars and Stripes and the flags of the leading nations of the earth. Suspended at the rear of the platform was a life-size portrait of Gen. GRANT, while in front of the speakers’ desk a plaster cast of the hero represented him sitting at his ease in his chair smoking the inevitable cigar. Among the mottoes inscribed on the walls were: “The Constitution – it lives forever,” “The Union – it must and will be preserved,” &c. The following, among other prominent citizens, occupied seats upon the platform: Peter Cooper, A.T. Stewart, Wm. E. Dodge … [many others, including Daniel Sickles] [many speeches were given in the rest of the article] …


studying sacred document under dome (Sickles speech)

The mass meeting’s executive committee published a report of the proceedings (available at HathiTrust). Civil War general and Democrat Daniel Sickles began his speech by favorably comparing General Grant to George Washington, who was “commended to the American people, not by party platforms, not by political indorsement, but by his principles, and his character, and his deeds in the service of the nation.” He got off some zingers about President Johnson, who had fired Sickles as commander of the Second Military District (the Carolinas) back in August. The general made fun of Johnson’s well-known devotion to the Constitution. He closed by commending General Grant “because, of all men living, he is the truest embodiment of the great loyal millions who put down the rebellion because they loved the Union, and who desire peace now because they pray for its perpetuity.”

According to a document at the Library of Congress, possibly from 1867, not all Republicans wanted General Grant as their nominee in 1868, and they weren’t afraid to publish their feelings. Why would Republicans support a Democrat?:

Sixteen reasons why our Republican party should not run Gen. Grant for president in 1868. [Sixteen reasons] American Republicans. [n. p. 1867?]. (LOC:

Schuyler Colfax for President!

According to the committee’s report the stage was partly decorated with “one of Rogers’ beautiful statuettes of the hero … sitting at his ease in his chair, smoking the inevitable cigar.” Apparently the sculptor was Randolph Rogers, but I haven’t seen that particular work anywhere so far. From the Library of Congress: statue; engraving
Gen. Grant ([New York, N.Y.] : [George Stacy], [ca. 1865]; LOC:

close, but no cigar

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still in veto mode

Andy veto (Root & Cady, Chicago, 1866. ; LOC:

same old song

In late November 1867 the 40th United States Congress reconvened after about a four months’ absence. In his Third Annual Message, which he sent over to the Capitol on December 3rd, the president didn’t exactly welcome Congress back to town. In a major section of his report, Mr. Johnson emphasized that the Congressional Reconstruction laws enacted earlier in 1867 were not working, were dangerous, and should be repealed.

In its December 4th editorial commenting on the president’s message, The New-York Times strongly criticized the message as being too arrogant, bitter, and hostile to promote the peace and harmony of the nation and its component parts. President Johnson didn’t provide Congress with any information about problems with the Reconstruction Acts as they were being implemented or suggest any well thought out changes that would improve laws’ implementation. Instead he regurgitated the same arguments he used in his veto messages – but the laws were already in force. The president’s approach would “widen the breach” between the two branches.

NYT 12-3-1867

NY Times
December 3, 1867

The newspaper believed that Congress would find the following passage especially threatening (from Project Gutenberg):

How far the duty of the President “to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution” requires him to go in opposing an unconstitutional act of Congress is a very serious and important question, on which I have deliberated much and felt extremely anxious to reach a proper conclusion. Where an act has been passed according to the forms of the Constitution by the supreme legislative authority, and is regularly enrolled among the public statutes of the country, Executive resistance to it, especially in times of high party excitement, would be likely to produce violent collision between the respective adherents of the two branches of the Government. This would be simply civil war, and civil war must be resorted to only as the last remedy for the worst of evils. Whatever might tend to provoke it should be most carefully avoided. A faithful and conscientious magistrate will concede very much to honest error, and something even to perverse malice, before he will endanger the public peace; and he will not adopt forcible measures, or such as might lead to force, as long as those which are peaceable remain open to him or to his constituents. It is true that cases may occur in which the Executive would be compelled to stand on its rights, and maintain them regardless of all consequences. If Congress should pass an act which is not only in palpable conflict with the Constitution, but will certainly, if carried out, produce immediate and irreparable injury to the organic structure of the Government, and if there be neither judicial remedy for the wrongs it inflicts nor power in the people to protect themselves without the official aid of their elected defender–if, for instance, the legislative department should pass an act even through all the forms of law to abolish a coordinate department of the Government–in such a case the President must take the high responsibilities of his office and save the life of the nation at all hazards. [The editorial appears to have added the italics.]

At least in this particular editorial the Times didn’t specifically mention what seems the most striking part of the message from the perspective of 150 years later – the president’s views on the political place of black people. The message includes over 2000 words about the ex-slaves’ political rights in the South and the impact on the nation as a whole. Here are parts of that section. Mr. Johnson segues from his denunciation of the Reconstruction Acts to his fear of black supremacy:

The operations of the registration laws and Negro [suffr]age in the South / from sketches by James E. Taylor. ( Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, 1867 Nov. 30, pp. 168-169. ; LOC:

“Scene in Registration office, Macon, Ga.”

It is manifestly and avowedly the object of these laws to confer upon Negroes the privilege of voting and to disfranchise such a number of white citizens as will give the former a clear majority at all elections in the Southern States. This, to the minds of some persons, is so important that a violation of the Constitution is justified as a means of bringing it about. The morality is always false which excuses a wrong because it proposes to accomplish a desirable end. We are not permitted to do evil that good may come. But in this case the end itself is evil, as well as the means. The subjugation of the States to Negro domination would be worse than the military despotism under which they are now suffering. It was believed beforehand that the people would endure any amount of military oppression for any length of time rather than degrade themselves by subjection to the Negro race. Therefore they have been left without a choice. Negro suffrage was established by act of Congress, and the military officers were commanded to superintend the process of clothing the Negro race with the political privileges torn from white men.

The blacks in the South are entitled to be well and humanely governed, and to have the protection of just laws for all their rights of person and property. If it were practicable at this time to give them a Government exclusively their own, under which they might manage their own affairs in their own way, it would become a grave question whether we ought to do so, or whether common humanity would not require us to save them from themselves. But under the circumstances this is only a speculative point. It is not proposed merely that they shall govern themselves, but that they shall rule the white race, make and administer State laws, elect Presidents and members of Congress, and shape to a greater or less extent the future destiny of the whole country. Would such a trust and power be safe in such hands?

The operations of the registration laws and Negro [suffr]age in the South / from sketches by James E. Taylor. ( Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, 1867 Nov. 30, pp. 168-169. ; LOC:

“Discussing the merits of the candidates.”

The peculiar qualities which should characterize any people who are fit to decide upon the management of public affairs for a great state have seldom been combined. It is the glory of white men to know that they have had these qualities in sufficient measure to build upon this continent a great political fabric and to preserve its stability for more than ninety years, while in every other part of the world all similar experiments have failed. But if anything can be proved by known facts, if all reasoning upon evidence is not abandoned, it must be acknowledged that in the progress of nations Negroes have shown less capacity for government than any other race of people. No independent government of any form has ever been successful in their hands. On the contrary, wherever they have been left to their own devices they have shown a constant tendency to relapse into barbarism. In the Southern States, however, Congress has undertaken to confer upon them the privilege of the ballot. Just released from slavery, it may be doubted whether as a class they know more than their ancestors how to organize and regulate civil society. Indeed, it is admitted that the blacks of the South are not only regardless of the rights of property, but so utterly ignorant of public affairs that their voting can consist in nothing more than carrying a ballot to the place where they are directed to deposit it. I need not remind you that the exercise of the elective franchise is the highest attribute of an American citizen, and that when guided by virtue, intelligence, patriotism, and a proper appreciation of our free institutions it constitutes the true basis of a democratic form of government, in which the sovereign power is lodged in the body of the people. A trust artificially created, not for its own sake, but solely as a means of promoting the general welfare, its influence for good must necessarily depend upon the elevated character and true allegiance of the elector. It ought, therefore, to be reposed in none except those who are fitted morally and mentally to administer it well; for if conferred upon persons who do not justly estimate its value and who are indifferent as to its results, it will only serve as a means of placing power in the hands of the unprincipled and ambitious, and must eventuate in the complete destruction of that liberty of which it should be the most powerful conservator. I have therefore heretofore urged upon your attention the great danger–to be apprehended from an untimely extension of the elective franchise to any new class in our country, especially when the large majority of that class, in wielding the power thus placed in their hands, can not be expected correctly to comprehend the duties and responsibilities which pertain to suffrage. Yesterday, as it were, 4,000,000 persons were held in a condition of slavery that had existed for generations; to-day they are freemen and are assumed by law to be citizens. It can not be presumed, from their previous condition of servitude, that as a class they are as well informed as to the nature of our Government as the intelligent foreigner who makes our land the home of his choice. In the case of the latter neither a residence of five years and the knowledge of our institutions which it gives nor attachment to the principles of the Constitution are the only conditions upon which he can be admitted to citizenship; he must prove in addition a good moral character, and thus give reasonable ground for the belief that he will be faithful to the obligations which he assumes as a citizen of the Republic. Where a people–the source of all political power–speak by their suffrages through the instrumentality of the ballot box, it must be carefully guarded against the control of those who are corrupt in principle and enemies of free institutions, for it can only become to our political and social system a safe conductor of healthy popular sentiment when kept free from demoralizing influences. Controlled through fraud and usurpation by the designing, anarchy and despotism must inevitably follow. In the hands of the patriotic and worthy our Government will be preserved upon the principles of the Constitution inherited from our fathers. It follows, therefore, that in admitting to the ballot box a new class of voters not qualified for the exercise of the elective franchise we weaken our system of government instead of adding to its strength and durability.

I yield to no one in attachment to that rule of general suffrage which distinguishes our policy as a nation. But there is a limit, wisely observed hitherto, which makes the ballot a privilege and a trust, and which requires of some classes a time suitable for probation and preparation. To give it indiscriminately to a new class, wholly unprepared by previous habits and opportunities to perform the trust which it demands, is to degrade it, and finally to destroy its power, for it may be safely assumed that no political truth is better established than that such indiscriminate and all-embracing extension of popular suffrage must end at last in its destruction. I repeat the expression of my willingness to join in any plan within the scope of our constitutional authority which promises to better the condition of the Negroes in the South, by encouraging them in industry, enlightening their minds, improving their morals, and giving protection to all their just rights as freedmen. But the transfer of our political inheritance to them would, in my opinion, be an abandonment of a duty which we owe alike to the memory of our fathers and the rights of our children. …

The great interests of the country require immediate relief from these enactments. Business in the South is paralyzed by a sense of general insecurity, by the terror of confiscation, and the dread of Negro supremacy. The Southern trade, from which the North would have derived so great a profit under a government of law, still languishes, and can never be revived until it ceases to be fettered by the arbitrary power which makes all its operations unsafe. That rich country–the richest in natural resources the world ever saw–is worse than lost if it be not soon placed under the protection of a free constitution. Instead of being, as it ought to be, a source of wealth and power, it will become an intolerable burden upon the rest of the nation.

In the fall of 1867 the NY Times headlined many of its front pages “TELEGRAMS.”, maybe in an attempt to be as much like CNN as possible 150 years ago. It didn’t take too long for a succinct reaction to the annual message from England. From The New-York Times December 6, 1867:

learning disability?


View of the British Press – Distrust in Financial Circles.

LONDON, Thursday, Dec. 5 – Noon.

Copious extracts from the message of President JOHNSON, which were received by Cable, are published here to-day. In commenting the Times has the following:

“The message shows that Mr. JOHNSON has learned nothing. He transcends himself in imprudence. He regards his office as absolute sovereigns do their prerogatives. He forfeits all respect. It is hard to say where the hope of the people of the United States lies between JOHNSON on the one side and STEVENS on the other.”

The other journals use similar language on the subject.

The reference in the President’s Message to the Alabama claims, coupled with Lord STANLEY’S dispatch to Mr. FORD on the same subject, has created considerable distrust in financial circles.

As shown above the Times December 3, 1867 issue did headline “Negro Suffrage and its Bearings on the Future of the Country.” From the Library of Congress: sheet music; pugilist is a cutout from Thomas Nast’s “Andy’s Trip:, which was originally published in the October 27, 1866 issue of Harper’s Weekly; a couple cutouts from a sketch about negro suffrage and the registration laws by James E. Taylor published in the November 30, 1867 issue of Frank Leslie’s
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction, Southern Society | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“a national holiday”

with regional characteristics

Home to Thanksgiving (by Currier & Ives, c.1867; LOC:

customary throughout the nation

Thanksgiving Day was celebrated 150 years ago today across the United State. The New-York Times thought that the observance was almost beyond the need for presidential or gubernatorial proclamations. Thanksgiving was becoming “a national holiday” anticipated by all the citizens and observed on the last Thursday in November by custom. The paper stated that the proclamations were no longer necessary but a welcome way to add dignity to the celebration. That’s a good thing because there sure seemed to be a lot of them. President Andrew Johnson’s proclamation agreed that the Thanksgiving custom “may now be regarded as established on national consent and approval” and thanked God that “He has inclined our hearts to turn away from domestic contentions and commotions consequent upon a distracting and desolating civil war, and to walk more and more in the ancient ways of loyalty, conciliation, and brotherly love.” State governors also got in the act. Here are a couple examples.

Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and his 20th Maine Regiment heroically and successfully defended Little Round Top on July 2, 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg. As governor of Maine he proclaimed November 28, 1867 as a day of Thanksgiving.

State of Maine. By the Governor. A proclamation for a day of public thanksgiving and praise ... I do hereby, with the advice of the Executive Council, appoint Thursday, the twenty- eighth day of November next, as a day of public thanksgiving and (1867; LOC:

give thanks for the lessons of war

Portrait of Maj. Gen. (as of Mar. 29, 1865) Joshua L. Chamberlain, officer of the Federal Army (1865; LOC:

General Chamberlain, March 1865


Down in Georgia Governor Charles J. Jenkins was annoyed that Big Yankee was infiltrating and basically running the state but was thankful things weren’t worse.

From The New-York Times November 16, 1867:

Thanksgiving Proclamation by the Governor of Georgia.

It becomes all men, who individually recognize and adore the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, laying aside, at times, their several avocations, simultaneously to bow before His Throne – to render thanks for blessings shared by all, and to supplicate protection and advancement for interests common to all.

The people of Georgia have much to be thankful – and very much to pray for.

Lloyd's topographical map of Georgia from state surveys before the war showing railways, stations, villages, mills, &c. (1864; LOC:

no “tumult and violence” so far

The destitution, unparalleled in their history, the result of protracted war, an abundant harvest has succeeded. Pestilence, which among neighboring peoples has slain its thousands, has been unknown within their borders. Subjected to a form of government not of their own choosing, nor congenial to their cherished love of liberty, and menaced with social disorder and popular commotion by the evil machinations of unofficial intruders and agitators, yet patiently awaiting the prevalence of better counsels, they find to-day that apprehended tumult and violence have thus far been averted by an unseen power, greater than that of all earthly agents and potentates.

These and many other blessings earnestly besought in the past, call for devoutly grateful acknowledgement of their present realization.

Whatever of physical, social or spiritual good they may properly desire, it is their privilege and their duty to implore at the mercy-seat of Omnipotence.

Therefore I, CHARLES J. JENKINS. Governor of the State of Georgia, do issue this my proclamation, appointing Thursday, the 28th day of November inst., as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer; and do earnestly invite my fellow-citizens, during its brief space, to close their places of business, and to open their sanctuaries – to lay aside their secular cares and engrossments, and to celebrate it by communion with God.

Given under my hand and seal of the Executive Department, at the Capitol in Milledgeville, this 8th day of November, A.D. 1867.

In Gotham the Times celebrated the commercial activity and hustle and bustle of the day before. Another custom – turkey seemed to be the default entrée of the feast. From The New-York Times November 28, 1867:

Buying Thanksgiving turkey (between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915; LOC:

turkeys “whisked off their hooks”


Yesterday our crowded markets gave fearful promise of much feasting on the morrow. The manner in which turkeys were whisked off their hooks, or from the counters, and flung into the ready scale, was wonderful. No appreciable time seemed to have elapsed from the moment that you asked the price of this one until you found it in your possession or booked by the expressman. All the good things which accompany the whilom monarch of the feast – the fragrant, smoking, silent gobbler – changed hands with like celerity. Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day with all the poultrymen and with all the grocers. Many, very many purchased; few waited to bargain. The dealers shook the customers as if they were apple-trees and gathered in the fruit. But who will be the less happy if turkey costs an extra cent a pound? Nobody. He will be all the dearer to us! Johnny wouldn’t eat less pudding if turkeys could be had for nothing, nor would head-aches be fewer to-morrow if raisins were a dollar by the pound. Toy venders were as busy, too, as turkey venders, from dawn to late last night. Boys ran against you at every corner with big packages, evidently going somewhere, and in a hurry to get there. There was room in cars for about half their usual take-in of human stuffing – the rest of the space was choked with parcels – yey everybody bore good humoredly, in street and vehicle, their share of the crush and jam and collision.

Thanksgiving turkey ([between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915; LOC:

“whilom monarch of the feast”

No doubt the patience exercised in the market and in the street is to-day rewarded to the heart’s content of those who suffered. Happy faces round the boards, and God’s blessing on the feast, are meet reward for those who learn to “labor and to wait.”

Let us hope that this bright presence will bless to-day the festival alike of rich and poor, filling all hearts with gratitude for the untold deliverances of the past, for present bounties, and for the hope implanted in our hearts that the children of an age, to whom this time will be remote in the history of the past, will still preserve the memories and the observances of Thanksgiving Day.

The Crowded car [Pair of horses unable to pull overcrowded street car in New York City] (Illus. in: Harper's Weekly, v. 16, (1872 September 21), p. 741.; LOC:

cars were stuffed, too

From the Library of Congress: Currier & Ives’ 1867 treatment of the holiday; Joshua Chamberlain and his proclamation; 1864 map; turkeys in the market and with a boy, probably from early 1910’s; a crowded street car in New York City from the September 21, 1872 issue of Harper’s Weekly; Thomas Nast’s The Uprising of the North, part of his 1867 “Grand caricaturama”
The Uprising of the North (1867; LOC:

Thomas Nast thankful for “The Uprising of the North” (and of Congress)?

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“a sorry exhibit”

House corridor, in the U.S. Capitol (1867; LOC:

back in business

On November 21, 1867 the Fortieth U.S. Congress reassembled amid a great deal of curiosity about the possible impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. The spectator section in the House was packed an hour before the start time, but the Judiciary Committee wasn’t ready to submit its report, so Congress adjourned until Monday the 25th. After a long weekend the House Judiciary submitted its report favoring impeachment of the president by a 5-4 vote.

The majority report was “a hodgepodge of charges centering on Johnson’s Reconstruction policies.” According to report author Thomas Williams (Republican from Pennsylvania) the several charges boiled down to one thing: “Every great abuse, every flagrant departure from the well settled principles of the government, which has been brought home to its present administration … is referrable to the one great overshadowing purpose of reconstructing the shattered governments of the rebel States in accordance with his own will.” Committee Chairman James F. Wilson (Republican from Iowa)wrote a minority report – he agreed that the president had acted improperly, but didn’t think the actions amounted to a crime. “The committee report was not a strong indictment …”[1]

Hon. Thos. Williams (between 1860 and 1875; LOC:

Thomas Williams

Hon. James Falconer Wilson of Iowa (between 1860 and 1875; LOC:

James Falconer Wilson


In its November 26, 1867 issue The New-York Times agreed – unless new facts were presented the Judiciary Committee’s report wouldn’t amount to anything:

The Impeachment Question.

Unless the evidence gathered by the Judiciary Committee embraces facts altogether new to the country, the report recommending impeachment will amount to nothing. The allegations on which Mr. BOUTWELL [<a “title=”George S. Boutwell” href=””>George S. Boutwell (Republican from Massachusetts)], as the mouthpiece of the majority, relies to justify the measure and insure its success, are merely a rehash of charges again and again preferred during the progress of the reconstruction controversy, and always for political effect. No striking accusation appears – no terse statement of fact that can arouse popular feeling and reconcile it to a formal arraignment of the Executive. “An unconstitutional usurpation of power” in the organization of State Governments – a “denial of the right of Congress to control” reorganization – sins of omission and commission in connection with these positions: such are the leading counts in the indictment presented by Mr. BOUTWELL, and a sorry exhibit they form as a groundwork of impeachment. If partisan ingenuity can discover no offence more tangible than those here imputed, we may be quite sure that Mr. JOHNSON has little to fear from the recommendation which has been reported.

Hon. George S. Boutwell of Mass. (between 1870 and 1880; LOC:

George S. Boutwell

Our opinion has always been that something more convincing than the imputations of partisanship would be needed to warrant the extreme measure proposed. … [The president has “done and said many foolish things,” but the laws passed over his vetoes are “in smooth and peaceful operation” – proof that he hasn’t been trying to usurp the dictates of Congress. President Johnson’s behavior proves Congress needs to be vigilant and certain that its policy is being carried out, but it doesn’t prove any pretext for his removal. In fact, Congress is totally in charge so why fear the president’s actions for the rest of his term? Markets didn’t think the Republicans would pursue impeachment and therefore show it was “intent on committing suicide.”]

From the Library of Congress: House corridor; Messrs. Williams, Wilson, and Boutwell
  1. [1] Trefousse, Hans L. Andrew Johnson: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997. Print. page 301.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Impeachment, Postbellum Politics, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on “a sorry exhibit”

conspiracy theory

150 years ago a northern periodical thought that the United States Congress would probably eventually impeach and convict Andrew Johnson, but it was worried that the president was conspiring to ignore that result as he had been ignoring the will of Congress right along. The best countermeasure would be for voters to support the Republican party in the elections of 1867. Here’s the beginning and the end of about a 3500 word article from the the November 1867 issue of The Atlantic Monthly (pages 633-638):

Andy's Trip (LOC:

“the moral and mental constitution of Andrew Johnson”


The people of the United States now have the mortification of standing before the world in the attitude of a swindled democracy. Their collective will is crossed by the will of one individual, whose only title to such autocracy is in the fact that he has cheated and betrayed those who elected him. There might be some little compensation for this outrage, if the man himself possessed any of those commanding qualities of mind and disposition which ordinarily distinguish usurpers; but it is the peculiarity of Mr. Johnson that the indignation excited by his claims is only equalled by the contempt excited by his character. He is despised even by those he benefits, and his nominal supporters feel ashamed of the trickster and apostate, while condescending to reap the advantages of his faithlessness. No party in the South or in the North thinks of selecting him as its candidate, for the vices and weaknesses which make an excellent accomplice and tool are not those which any party would consider desirable in a leader. Whatever office-seekers, partisans, traitors, and public enemies may find in Mr. Johnson, it is certain that they find in him nothing to respect. He is cursed with that form of moral disease which sometimes renders a man ridiculous, sometimes infamous, but which never renders him respectable,—namely, vanity of will. Other men may be vain of their talents and accomplishments, but he is vain of the personal pronoun itself, utterly regardless of what it covers and includes. Reason, conscience, understanding, have no impersonality to him. When he uses the words, he uses them as synonymes of his determinations, or as decorative terms into which it pleases him to translate the rough vernacular of his wilfulness and caprices. The “Constitution,” also, a word constantly profaned by his lips, is not so much, as he uses it, the Constitution of the United States as the moral and mental constitution of Andrew Johnson, which, in his view, is the one primary fact to which all other facts must be subordinate. His gross inconsistencies of opinion and policy, his shameless betrayal of his party, his incapacity to hold himself to his word, his hatred of a cause the moment its defenders cease to flatter him, his habit of administering laws he has vetoed, on the principle that they do not mean what he vetoed them for meaning, his delight in little tricks of low cunning,—in short, all the immoral and unreasonable acts of his administration have their central source in a passionate sense of self-importance, inflaming a mind of extremely limited capacity.

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

will he allow himself to be impeached?

Such a person, whose mere presence in the executive chair of a constitutional country is itself “a high crime and misdemeanor,” is of course the natural prey of demagogues, and he now appears to be surrounded by demagogues of the most desperate class. His advisers are conspirators, and they have so wrought on his vulgar and malignant nature that the question of his impeachment has now come to be merged in the more momentous question whether he will submit to be impeached. Constitutionally, there is no limit to the power of Congress in this respect but that which Congress may itself impose. The power is plain, and there can be no revision of the judgment of the Senate by any other power in the government. But Mr. Johnson thinks, or says he thinks, that Congress itself, as at present constituted, is unconstitutional. He believes, or says he believes, that the defeated Rebel States whose representatives Congress now excludes are as much States in the Union, and as much entitled to representation, as New York or Ohio. As he specially represents the defeated Rebel States, it is hardly to be supposed that he will consent to be punished for crimes committed in their behalf by a Congress from which their representatives are excluded; and it is also to be presumed that the measures he is now taking to obstruct the operation of the laws of Congress relating to reconstruction are but preliminary to a design to resist Congress itself. …

Thayer, Hon. John Milton of Wyoming & Nebraska. Brig Gen & major of the Territorial forces operating against the Pawnee Indians in 1855-61. Colonel of 1st Nebraska Inf. July 21, 1861 (between 1865 and 1880; LOC:

got the lowdown from U.S. Grant?

… Now, if by apathy on the part of Republicans and audacity on the part of Democrats the autumn elections result unfavorably, it will then be universally seen how true was Senator Sumner’s remark made in January last, that “Andrew Johnson, who came to supreme power by a bloody accident, has become the successor of Jefferson Davis in the spirit by which he is governed, and in the mischief he is inflicting on the country”; that “the President of the Rebellion is revived in the President of the United States.” What this man now proposes to do has been impressively stated by Senator Thayer of Nebraska, in a public address at Cincinnati: “I declare,” he said, “upon my responsibility as a Senator of the United States, that to-day Andrew Johnson meditates and designs forcible resistance to the authority of Congress. I make this statement deliberately, having received it from an unquestioned and unquestionable authority.” It would seem that this authority could be none other than the authority of the Acting Secretary of War and General of the Army of the United States, who, reticent as he is, does not pretend to withhold his opinion that the country is in imminent peril, and in peril from the action of the President. But it is by some considered a sufficient reply to such statements, that, if Mr. Johnson should overturn the legislative department of the government, there would be an uprising of the people which would soon sweep him and his supporters from the face of the earth. This may be very true, but we should prefer a less Mexican manner of ascertaining public sentiment. Without leaving their peaceful occupations, the people can do by their votes all that it is proposed they shall do by their muskets. It is hardly necessary that a million or half a million of men should go to Washington to speak their mind to Mr. Johnson, when a ballot-box close at hand will save them the expense and trouble. It will, indeed, be infinitely disgraceful to the nation if Mr. Johnson dares to put his purpose into act, for his courage to violate his own duty will come from the neglect of the people to perform theirs. Let the great uprising of the citizens of the Republic be at the polls this autumn, and there will be no need of a fight in the winter. The House of Representatives, which has the sole power of impeachment, will in all probability impeach the President. The Senate, which has the sole power to try impeachments, will in all probability find him guilty, by the requisite two thirds of its members, of the charges preferred by the House. And he himself, cowed by the popular verdict against his contemplated crime, and hopeless of escaping from the punishment of past delinquencies by a new act of treason, will submit to be removed from the office he has too long been allowed to dishonor.

I haven’t seen any documentation that Nebraska senator John Milton Thayer got his information about President Johnson planning to forcibly ignore Congress from General Grant. According to Wikipedia John Thayer did serve in the Union army in the western theater throughout the Civil War. President Grant appointed him as territorial governor of Wyoming in 1875.

As it turned out President Johnson got “a tremendous boost” from the results of the fall elections. “Always convinced that in the long run the people would sustain him, he thought that the Democratic gains in state after state were the justification for which he had been waiting.” [1] According to The New-York Times President Johnson was serenaded by between four and five thousand people in front of the White House on the evening of November 13, 1867. The Conservative Army and Navy Union seems to have organized the event, invited “all Conservatives and Democrats” to participate, and led the procession from its headquarters to the White House. The audience was reportedly disappointed that the president didn’t make a longer address. “… he read a few remarks from carefully prepared manuscript. [sic]” He was gratified by the fall election results. The president expressed his confidence that the people by their votes would help preserve the Constitution and save the Republic. He was “hopeful that in the end the rod of despotism will be broken, the armed heel of power lifted from the necks of the people, and the principles of a violated Constitution preserved.”

You can see the photo of John Milton Thayer at the Library of Congress. Also at the Library the two works by Thomas Nast: His Own Constitution from Andy’s Trip and King Andy from The massacre at New Orleans
  1. [1] Trefousse, Hans L. Andrew Johnson: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997. Print. pages 298-299.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Month, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on conspiracy theory

non-turkey day

A century ago some people in Georgia weren’t counting on turkey for Thanksgiving Day.

tgpossum (NYT 12-2-1917 LOC:

night time is the right time

World War was raging one hundred years ago. Perusing the rest of the December 2, 1917 Rotogravure Picture Section in The New-York Times, I was somewhat reminded of Thanksgivings from my youth. Although not on the day itself, Macy’s employees marched in Manhattan; there was a stunning parade in Toronto, although I doubt Santa Claus was invited. Detroit wasn’t hosting professional American football games, but a college and military units were competing.

Macys (NYT 12-2-1917 (LOC:

Macy’s employees send ambulance over there

toronto1(NYT 12-2-1917 LOC:

Sammies north of the border

toronto2 (NYT 12-2-1917 LOC:

Rude Britannia

football (NYT 12-2-1917 LOC:

a change of helmets imminent?

Thanksgiving in 1917 was on November 29th. Earlier in 1917 the United States actively entered the Great War. The Times editorial didn’t stress the first Thanksgiving as a time of peace and harmony between first Americans and Pilgrims (or the Tawnies and Whities?). The New England colonists had to be fighters:


Those old Pilgrims and Puritans whose Thanksgiving has passed as an inheritance to easier times often had, from the material or secular point of view, small reason enough to give thanks. “Our mercies” were often enough outnumbered by “our chastisements.” Sometimes the women and the children, and the men, were cut off by mysterious diseases, by the pitiless Winters, when COTTON MATHER’S inkstand froze by the fire in his library; by hardship, by the rough labors of winning a living from a thankless soil, by tomahawks of “the Bloody Salvages.” They fought not merely the Tawnies and the French, but the powers of Satan, as real to many of them as the Governor or the Selectmen. …

They fought the Devil and the climate. They had their ideal, harsh and intolerant as it looks to us. They kept Thanksgiving as a symbol of gratitude to “the Father of Mercies,” for what He was pleased to send of good or ill, for a narrow and toilsome life, for the accompaniment of their “pilgrimage,” in their own rigid way and for immortal hope. …

[Thanksgiving 1917 would not be as carefree and plentiful as in past years. America has finally put aside its “shameful prosperity” and taken on its enemy, “the monstrous German State.” America is fighting for “a great ideal, for justice, liberty, democracy.” The patriotic response to the war is helping to ease divisions. “Many in origins, one in duty.” Great suffering lies ahead, but the victory will be worth it.]

That the victory is for no selfish, material end, that it will be the victory of liberty and democracy, the close, we hope, of war for offense and dominion; that the Americans are one in purpose and in hope; that the meanest among us gets some tinge of the great patience, resolve, and heroism of the hour; that at last America is American – these things, amid all the darkling spectacle of human destiny, amid ruined nations and sorrow infinite, are cause for thanks. We have turned our backs to childish things. Duty and honor, courage and labor, are better masters than pleasure and moneymaking.

The war didn’t exactly wipe out all divisions in the United States, as pointed out by Stephanie Hall in an article for the Library of Congress: “Trench Blues”: An African American Song of World War I

Billy Sunday was a professional baseball player turned evangelist preacher. According to Wikipedia the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was marched in 1924; Toronto held its first Santa Claus Parade in 1905. You can check out all the Times images at the Library of Congress, which also provides the Pilgrim Landing.
The landing of the pilgrim fathers, in America. A.D. 1620 (LOC:

Pilgrims progress

Posted in 100 Years Ago, American Culture, American History, World War I | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on non-turkey day

with a little help from the men

NY Times 11-7-1917

NY Times 11-7-1917

On November 6, 1917 New York State voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that allowed women the right to vote in all elections in the state. A large New York City majority in favor of the amendment offset a slightly negative vote in the rest of the state. Of course, for one last election in New York, all the voters were men.

NY Times 11-4-1917 million (LOC: image 1)

million signature march (NY City October 27, 1917)

today the state
(thanks to downstate)
NYT 11-7-1917

tomorrow the nation
(despite President Wilson)
NYT 11-10-1917

NY Times 11-12-1917

Woodrow Wilson threatened
NYT 11-12-1917


New York State women had always been leaders of the long struggle for female suffrage:

suffrage cook book (1915;

the vote in the balance

In the period following the Civil War, the various national organizations demanding the vote for women drew their most enthusiastic support and most of their funds from New York. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were in this period the acknowledged leaders of the movement in both the state and the nation. … [Women waged a persistent and protracted campaign that involved lobbying, meetings, speeches, propaganda, and pestering] … “At the state constitutional conventions of 1867 and 1894, they unsuccessfully sought an amendment granting women the right to vote” …

[The work continued] … Although Miss Stanton died in 1902 and Miss Anthony in 1906, there were now many others to carry on their work, and Miss Carrie Chapman Catt emerged as the generally acknowledged leader of the movement in both the state and the country.

[Carrie Chapman Catt, half-length portrait, seated, facing left, on telephone] (between 1909 and 1932; LOC:

Carrie Chapman Catt

By 1910 the suffragettes were committed to an aggressive campaign that was as spectacular as it was effective. The old methods were not abandoned, but many new ones were added. Suffragette societies were organized along the lines of political parties; huge parades were held in New York City; motorcades toured the state distributing literature; street-corner speakers urging the vote for women became a commonplace in large cities; a one-day strike of women was threatened; and almost any stunt that would attract publicity was used. These tactics and the long campaign of education that had been carried on by earlier suffragettes finally produced results. A bill for amending the state constitution was passed by the legislature in 1913 and repassed in 1915, but was rejected by the voters at the polls. The process was immediately repeated, and this time it proved successful. The legislature passed the bill in 1916 and 1917, and the voters approved it in the fall of 1917. …[1]

You can read a good article about the history of the 1917 New York constitutional amendment by Susan Ingalls Lewis at SUNY New Paltz.

femsufmap1917 (LOC:

the west was the best

NY Times 11-4-1917 Catt et al ( image 4)

see all about it (more from the October 27th parade)


Here’s a little about how nascent suffragettes remembered the 1867 New York State constitutional convention. From History of Woman Suffrage, Volume II, edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage (1881; pages 269-270):


Constitution Amended once in Twenty Years—Mrs. Stanton Before the Legislature Claiming Woman’s Right to Vote for Members to the Convention—An Immense Audience in the Capitol—The Convention Assembled June 4th, 1867. Twenty Thousand Petitions Presented for Striking the Word “Male” from the Constitution—”Committee on the Right of Suffrage, and the Qualifications for Holding Office.” Horace Greeley, Chairman—Mr. Graves, of Herkimer, Leads the Debate in favor of Woman Suffrage—Horace Greeley’s Adverse Report—Leading Advocates Heard before the Convention—Speech of George William Curtis on Striking the Word “Man” from Section 1, Article 11—Final Vote, 19 For, 125 Against—Equal Rights Anniversary of 1868.
This was the first time in the history of the woman suffrage movement that the Constitution of New York was to be amended, and the general interest felt by women in the coming convention was intensified by the fact that such an opportunity for their enfranchisement would not come again in twenty years. The proposition of the republican party to strike the word “white” from the Constitution and thus extend the right of suffrage to all classes of male citizens, placing the men of the State, black and white, foreign and native, ignorant and educated, vicious and virtuous, all alike, above woman’s head, gave her a keener sense of her abasement than she had ever felt before. But having neither press nor pulpit to advocate her cause, and fully believing this amendment would pass as a party measure, she used every means within her power to arouse and strengthen the agitation, in the face of the most determined opposition of friends and foes. Meetings were held in all the chief towns and cities in the State, and appeals and petitions scattered in every school district; these were so many reminders to the women everywhere that they too had some interest in the Constitution under which they lived, some duties to perform in deciding the future policy of the Government.
This campaign cost us the friendship of Horace Greeley and the support of the New York Tribune, heretofore our most powerful and faithful allies. In an earnest conversation with Mrs. Stanton and Miss Anthony, Mr. Greeley said: “This is a critical period for the Republican party and the life of the Nation. The word “white” in our Constitution at this hour has a significance which “male” has not. It would be wise and magnanimous in you to hold your claims, though just and imperative, I grant, in abeyance until the negro is safe beyond peradventure, and your turn will come next. I conjure you to remember that this is “the negro’s hour,” and your first duty now is to go through the State and plead his claims.” “Suppose,” we replied, “Horace Greeley, Henry J. Raymond and James Gordon Bennett were disfranchised; what would be thought of them, if before audiences and in leading editorials they pressed the claims of Sambo, Patrick, Hans and Yung Fung to the ballot, to be lifted above their own heads? With their intelligence, education, knowledge of the science of government, and keen appreciation of the dangers of the hour, would it not be treasonable, rather than magnanimous, for them, leaders of the metropolitan press, to give the ignorant and unskilled a power in government they did not possess themselves? To do this would be to place on board the ship of State officers and crew who knew nothing of chart or compass, of the safe pathway across the sea, and bid those who understand the laws of navigation to stand aside. No, no, this is the hour to press woman’s claims; we have stood with the black man in the Constitution over half a century, and it is fitting now that the constitutional door is open that we should enter with him into the political kingdom of equality. Through all these years he has been the only decent compeer we have had. Enfranchise him, and we are left outside with lunatics, idiots and criminals for another twenty years.” “Well,” said Mr. Greeley, “if you persevere in your present plan, you need depend on no further help from me or the Tribune.” And he kept his word. We have seen the negro enfranchised, and twenty long years pass away since the war, and still woman’s turn has not yet come; her rights as a citizen of the United States are still unrecognized, the oft-repeated pledges of leading Republicans and Abolitionists have not been redeemed.

Mrs. Stanton might not have helped her friendship with Horace Greeley with a letter republished in the July 4, 1867 issue of The New-York Times. I think the state constitutional convention was also debating removing the property qualification for black men to vote. According to The New York History Blog that didn’t happen until the 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. From the suffrage history above and looking through NY Times headlines – Stanton and Anthony also campaigned for female suffrage in Kansas in 1867. In November 1867 Kansas voters rejected both negro and female suffrage.

Susan B. Anthony, portrait with Carrie Chapman Catt quotation on Anthony's courage and optimism (LOC:

Susan B. Anthony with Catt’s commentary

Justice. Miss Florence Hanlin as Justice in the Dance Drama presented at Seneca Falls, on July 20th in connection with the National Woman's Party's seventy-fifth anniversary celebration of Equal Rights. (July 20, 1923; LOC:

suffrage more just

You can see the cover and read The Suffrage Cook Book at Project Gutenberg (Jack London and wife participated – check out their Liver Dumplings). From the Library of Congress: map from The Woman suffrage year book printed in January 1917; Carrie Chapman Catt; farmers; all the images from the photo section of the November 4, 1917 issue of The New-York Times; Susan B. Anthony(apparently Anthony signed the photo about a month before her death); Justice portrayed in Seneca Falls, New York in July 1923 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first women’s rights convention
Suffrage farmers (1917; LOC:

time to reap?

  1. [1] Ellis, David M., James A. Frost, Harold C. Syrett, and Harry J. Carman. A Short History of New York State. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1957. Print. page 390-391.
Posted in 100 Years Ago, 150 Years Ago This Week, American History, American Society, World War I | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on with a little help from the men

sitting it out

150 years ago Georgia conducted a five day election to determine if a state constitutional convention should be held, and, if so, who would be sent as delegates. Evidently many white conservatives didn’t vote. Here’s an early report from Savannah, which was the scene of a riot about a month earlier. From The New-York Times October 30, 1867:

… SAVANNAH, Tuesday, Oct. 29.

The election to-day passed off quietly. Many negroes from the country and some from South Carolina voted. The city vote was 602, and that of the county 440. About 250 votes were rejected, all of which, with the exception of three or four, were negroes. All the votes were for the Convention and the Radical ticket. Only one white vote was cast out of 174 city voters and 80 county voters. Many of the names given by the negroes could not be found upon the registry books. The Boston mulatto Bradley ticket is ahead.

Not a single arrest was made, and Savannah sustained its reputation as a peaceable city. The cooperation of the civil and military authorities was of the kindliest nature. …

And the military authority played an important part. In fact, General John Pope, commander of the Third Military District, added two days to the election period. From The New-York Times November 1, 1867:


With regard to the extension of time for the election in Georgia by Gen. POPE, it should be stated that there has been but one polling place in each county, except in the incorporated cities. As some of the counties are very large, and the voting by registration a novel and slow proceeding for the blacks, the additional time has been found necessary. …

The five-day tally showed that voters had approved the constitutional convention; overall conservative turnout was low. From The New-York Times November 4, 1867:


The Convention Election – Further Returns.

AUGUSTA, Ga., Sunday, Nov. 3.

From the election returns received at headquarters it is estimated that 105,000 votes were cast on the question of a Convention, out of 186,000 registered. The official count only can show the majority in favor of a Convention. Opposition candidates were nominated only in the northern part of the State, where the whites are largely in the majority. In the other portions of the State the Conservatives took no part in the contest, and the candidates favoring the Convention were elected by a large majority.

Here’s a summary from The Reconstruction of Georgia by Edwin C. Woolley (1901):


In the Third Military District, of which Georgia was a part, the Reconstruction Acts were administered from April 1, 1867, to January 6, 1868, by General Pope, and from January 6 to July 30, 1868, by General Meade. The present chapter will describe, first, the manner in which these men conducted the political rebuilding of Georgia, and second, the manner in which they governed during this process.

On April 8 Pope issued his first orders regarding the registration of voters. The three officers commanding respectively in the sub-districts of Georgia, Florida and Alabama were directed to divide the territory under them into registration districts, and for each of these to appoint a board of registry consisting as far as possible of civilians. On May 2 the scheme of districts for Georgia was published. The state was divided into forty-four districts of three counties each, and three districts of a city each. For each district the names of two white registrars were announced, and each of these pairs was ordered to complete the board by selecting a negro colleague. The compensation of registrars was to be from fifteen cents to forty cents for every name registered, varying according to the density or sparseness of the population. It was made the duty of registrars to explain to those unused to the enjoyment of suffrage the nature of this function. After the lists were complete they were to be published for ten days.

The unsettled condition of the negro population suggested to Pope the possibility that many negroes would lose their right to vote by change of residence. He therefore ordered on August 15 that persons removing from the district where they were registered should be furnished by the board of registry with a certificate of registration, which should entitle them to vote anywhere in the state.

The election for deciding whether a constitutional convention should be held, and for choosing delegates in case the affirmative vote prevailed, was ordered to begin on October 29 and to continue three days. Registrars were ordered to revise their lists during the fortnight preceding the election, to erase names wrongly registered, and to add the names of persons entitled to be registered. The boards of registry were to act as judges of election, but registrars who were candidates for election were forbidden to serve in the districts where they sought election.

The election was to occupy the last three days of October. On October 30 Pope extended the time to the night of November 2, in order to give the negroes ample opportunity to vote, which in their inexperience they might otherwise fail to do.

After the election the following figures were announced:

          Number of registered voters in Georgia 188,647
          Of these the negroes numbered 93,457
                  ”       the white men 95,214
          Number of votes polled 106,410
               ”                 ”     for a convention 102,283
              ”                 ”       against a convention 4,127

The delegates elected were ordered to meet in convention on December 9th. …

In his book on Reconstruction Eric Foner reviews the southern state constitutional conventions as a group and writes that “Since most opponents of Reconstruction had abstained from voting, the total of just over 1,000 delegates included few Democrats or Conservatives, and a high rate of absenteeism further reduced their influence.” The delegates represented “the first large group of elected Southern Republicans”. Blacks made up about a quarter of delegates overall; carpetbaggers a sixth; most delegates were southern white scalawags.[1]

According to a 1947 thesis by Paul Laurence Sanford (pages 14-15), blacks made up 32 of 170 delegates to Georgia’s constitutional convention. A.A. Bradley was indeed one of the delegates. You can read more about Aaron Alpeoria Bradley in an article by Keri Leigh Merritt at the African American Intellectual History Society

  1. [1] Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: HarperPerennial, 2014. Updated Edition. Print. pages 316-318.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction, Southern Society | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on sitting it out

clean energy

From The New-York Times October 27, 1867:

Petroleum for Fuel.

There have been many objections urged to the use of petroleum as fuel on sea-going vessels, most of which, we believe, will be successfully set aside. But none of them would seem to apply to the employment of this clean and concentrated fuel in those of our City steam fire engines that burn coal. At a late fire in Boston petroleum was thus used in one of the engines … [with much better steam and water pressure than the other engines] … by reason of never choking the exhaust, and, finally, by the complete combustion of the fuel, throwing off almost no smoke at all, while the other engines filled the streets with the same murky cloud that we know so well in New-York. All this was done with crude apparatus. Why could not this experiment be tried here by our Commissioners, and, if successful, adapted to the use of all our engines?

The self-propelling steam fire-engine, "J.C. Cary" ( Illus. in: Harper's Weekly, v. 2, (1858 November 20), p. 749. ; LOC:

even more smoke at the fire

Horse-drawn fire engine rushing to a fire ([between ca. 1900 and ca. 192; LOC:

still smoky

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