negotiating reconstruction?

Benjamin Grubb Humphreys, 1808-1882 (

Benjamin Grubb Humphreys

It was reported that the Mississippi legislature would give freedmen the right to testify in court if President Johnson withdrew federal (mostly colored?) troops

From The New-York Times November 23, 1865:

FROM MISSISSIPPI.; Negroes Allowed to Testify for their Own Race–Colored Troops Capture a Railway Train–Correspondence About the Withdrawal of Troops–Work of the Methodist Conference.

JACKSON, Tuesday, Nov. 21.

The bill conferring certain civil rights upon freedmen passed the House to-day, with a substitute for the fourth section. Freedmen are allowed to testify and be witnesses when a party to the record, but not in cases exclusively between white men, by a vote of 56 to 30.

Gov. HUMPHREYS telegraphed on the 18th inst. to the President that the colored troops attacked and took possession of a passenger train at Louderdale Springs [sic] and insulted the ladies, the officers being unable to control them. He further says the Legislature have memoralized for the removal of the troops, and are willing to extend the right to freedmen to testify in court if the troops are withdrawn. The President replied that the troops would be withdrawn when peace and order could be maintained without them. Measures should be adopted giving protection to all freedmen in their possessions, which will entitle them to assume their constitutional rights. There was no disposition on the part of the government arbitrarily to dictate, but simply to devise a policy that is beneficial.

The Methodist Conference of Mississippi has just adjourned. It adopted resolutions providing for the education of freedmen and their wives and children.

This report touches on the development of Mississippi’s “black codes”

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“compelled to inflict on them”

This commission is worthy of support, for it will relieve their necessities, and assuage the distress which we, in the course of this war, have been compelled to inflict on them.

The American Union Commission held a big fundraiser at the Cooper Institute on November 13, 1865 to support its work helping the destitute South. The Commission invited some famous Union generals. Two sent in their regrets.

Ovation to Lieutenant General Grant at the Cooper Institute, New York, on the evening of June 7 - Grant saluting the audience ( Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v. 20, no. 508 (1865 June 24), p. 209. ; LOC:

what might have been – General Grant speaking at the Cooper in June 1865

From The New-York Times November 14, 1865: …

The following letters were then read by Rev. LYMAN ABBOTT, General Secretary of the Union Commission: …



Rev. Lyman Abbott, General Secretary American Union Commission:

SIR: I have received your invitation to be present at the meeting of the “Union Commission” in the City of New-York on the 13th inst. At the time of receiving this invitation I did not know but it would be possible [f]or me to attend. I now find that it will not be possible. It affords me great pleasure to see so respectable an organization as yours interested in so deserving a cause. However we may have differed from our Southern brethren in the events of the last four years, we have now become one people, and with but one interest. The war has worked such ruin upon much of the South that without some aid from those who can give it, there must be much suffering the coming Winter. The work of your commission, while it will give present aid where it is so much needed, will also serve to heal old wounds.

Whatever is calculated to increase the friendship and brotherly feeling between the two sections of our country, I heartily approve of. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, U.S. GRANT, Lieut.-Gen.

Sherman's March Through South Carolina - Burning of McPhersonville, February 1, 1865 (Published in: Harper's Weekly, March 4, 1865, p. 136.; LOC:

Sherman’s army burned here



Messrs. Jos. P. Thompson and others:

GENTLEMEN: I have your letter of Oct. 24, inviting me to your city to address the citizens of New-York on the condition and wants of the people of the South, left destitute and in need by the devastations of war. It will be impossible for me to come to New-York, or to address the people on that or any other subject. It would be foreign to my office, which gives me a field of duty large enough to absorb all of my thoughts, time and charitable wishes.

I am pleased, however, to know that so many good people in your great city have the means and willingness to bestow a part on those whom war has left helpless and in want, and I know there are men in your midst far better qualified than I am to point out the way in which such charity will do the most good.

Complimenting you on the good policy which has prompted your action, and thanking you for uniting my name therewith.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant, W.T. SHERMAN, Major-General. …

General Meade was able to attend the meeting.

Union commanders With compliments of the Travelers Insurance Company.  (1884; LOC:

some leading inflicters


Gen. MEADE, who was received with a perfect storm of applause, said: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: It is hardly possible for me to express in suitable language the gratitude I feel from your reception of me this evening. It would be vanity in me to say that I thought my name was not well known here; but I really did not expect this flattering reception, and am deeply grateful for it. It is only right that I should explain why I am here before you to-night. I am no speaker, and it seems to me to be audacity only equal to that required to fight the great battle of Gettysburgh to come before you after listening to the flow of eloquence which you have just heard; but I was told in Philadelphia that, if I came here to-night, I might do some good. I, therefore, said I would come and tell you briefly how heartily I indorse the plan of the commission, and wish it success. As commander of a very large army, it has fallen to my lot to witness the ruin which has fallen on a large portion of the country. I can tell you that you cannot conceive the distress which exists in the Southern States. It is hardly necessary to dilate on this point. Since the rebellion broke out the men have been engaged in war, the women in providing for their wants. They have had no means of making money. Their currency is now destroyed, and when you consider these things you must see how great is their distress. The question is, ought we to relieve it? I will not reason on the morality of the question, but I will tell you what we soldiers do. After fighting a battle, when the dead and wounded lay thick around us, we did not ask any questions, but we took tender care of such as needed it. That should be your morality. The Southern people have now ceased to be enemies, and are disposed to be friends. It is your duty, as Christians and citizens, and for your material interests, to relieve them. This commission is worthy of support, for it will relieve their necessities, and assuage the distress which we, in the course of this war, have been compelled to inflict on them. The officers of this association are among the first men in the country, and will make the very best use of all funds that may be intrusted to their care. Thanking you for your very kind reception of me this evening, I bid you adieu. …

General Grant sure was a media magnet. A couple days later he made it to New York City. He attended Fra Diavolo with his wife and General Meade.

NY Times 11-16-1865

NY Times November 16, 1865

The leader and his battles - Ulysses S. Grant, Lieutenant-General, U.S.A. (1866; LOC:

the opera???


I haven’t found a reference for the following letter of April 25, 1865, but it would seem to show that General Grant observed and sympathized with the South’s destitution when he was in North Carolina overseeing Johnston’s surrender to Sherman. As he wrote to his wife:

Dear Julia: We arrived here yesterday. … Raleigh is a very beautiful place. The grounds are large and filled with the most beautiful spreading oaks I ever saw. … The suffering that must exist in the south the next year, even with the war ending now, will be beyond conception. People who talk of further retaliation and punishment, except of the political leaders, either do not conceive of the suffering endured already or they are heartless and unfeeling and wish to stay at home out of danger while the punishment is being inflicted. Love and kisses for you and the children. Ulys.[1]

Grant, Mrs. U.S. (Julia Dent)  (between 1865 and 1880; LOC:

Julia Dent Grant

Oakwood Confederate Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina  (by Carol M. Highsmith; LOC:

RIP, CSA (Raleigh’s Oakwood Confederate Cemetery)


Images from the Library of Congress: General Grant at the Cooper Institute in June; burning McPhersonville; Union commanders; The Leader, Mrs. Grant, Carol M. Highsmith’s photo of Raleigh’s Oakwood Confederate Cemetery

  1. [1] Woodward, William E. Meet General Grant. New York: Premier, Fawcett World Library, Authorized Abridgment 1957. Print. page 208-209.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction, Southern Society | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

suffering Selma

The American Union Commission held a big fundraising event in New York City 150 years ago tonight. Many famous men attended or sent in their regrets. Provisional Alabama Governor Lewis E. Parsons gave a first-hand report from the field. Alabama’s problems intensified during the latter stages of the war when Union troops under General James H. Wilson raided and ransacked parts of Alabama and Georgia. In the war’s aftermath the freed slaves stopped working in the fields, there was a severe drought, and the state was broke. Here’s Governor Parson’s speech:

From The New-York Times November 14, 1865:

SOUTHERN DESTITUTION; Large Public Meeting at Cooper Institute. The Wants and Sufferings of the South Described. Statement and Plea of Governor Parsons of Alabama. The Aims of the American Union Commission. ADDRESS OF REV. HENRY WARD BEECHER Short Speeches of Gen. Meade, Rev. Dr. Thompson and Gen. Fisk. SPEECH OF DR. JOS. P. THOMPSON. SPEECH OF REV. HENRY WARD BEECHER. LETTER FROM SECRETARY SEWARD. ADDRESS OF GEN. FISK.

A meeting in aid of the American Union Commission and its work at the South, was held last night at Cooper Institute, at which time an audience of about two thousand persons attended to listen to addresses from eminent men from both sections of the country.

At 7:30 o’clock, Hon. E.D. MORGAN, Maj.-Gen. MEADE, Rev. HENRY WARD BEECHER, GOV. PARSONS of Alabama, Hon. ABRAM WAKEMAN, Rev. Dr. BACON and other gentlemen entered the hall and were received with hearty cheers. …

Parsons, Gov. Lewis E. (between 1865 and 1880; LOC:

Selma “was laid in ashes.”

Gov. PARSONS was received with expressions of applause. He said:


LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: It is difficult with language to portray the devastation which war, especially civil war, produces, so as to furnish an adequate idea of its effects. To realize them you must witness them; to comprehend them fully you must live upon the theatre and witness the advance and the retreat of vast armies, listen to the roar of battle, and see those who are left upon the field after the retreat; you must see fields laid waste, farm-houses, cotton-presses and gins in ruins; you must see towns and cities in flames to form anything like an adequate idea of what war in reality is. You whose fortune it has been to see only the regiment with colors streaming, the recipients of all the kindness and watchful care that friends could bestow, as they left for the scene of battle, can form no conception of the appearance of that regiment after the battle is over, unless, indeed, it has been your fortune to be on the scene of action or so near it that your house has been crowded with those who have become victims of the strife. It will be in your recollection, ladies and gentlemen, that during the last of March and in April the rebellion suddenly collapsed. At that time public attention in the North was doubtless turned mainly to the operations around Richmond, and to those which attended the movements of the vast armies of Gen. SHERMAN.

Portrait of Maj. Gen. (as of May 6, 1865) James H. Wilson, officer of the Federal Army (LOC:

“Portrait of Maj. Gen. (as of May 6, 1865) James H. Wilson, officer of the Federal Army” (Library of Congress)

But it also happened that Gen. WILSON, with a large force of cavalry, some seventeen thousand, I believe, in number, commenced a movement from the Tennessee River and a point in the northwest of the State of Alabama, diagonally across the State. He penetrated to the centre, and then radiated from Selma in every direction through one of the most productive regions of the South. That little city of about ten thousand inhabitants — its defences were carried by assault on one of the first Sunday evenings in last April, sun about an hour high. Before another sun rose every house in the city was sacked except two; every woman was robbed of her watch, her ear-rings, her finger-rings, her jewelry of all descriptions, and the whole city given up for the time to the possession of the soldiers. It was a severe discipline to this people. It was thought necessary by the commanding General to reduce and subdue the spirit of rebellion. For one week, the forces under Gen. WILSON occupied that little town, and night after night and day after day one public building after another — first the arsenal, then the foundry, each of which covered about eight or nine acres of ground and was conducted upon a scale commensurate with the demand that military supplies for the war created; railroads depots, machine shops connected with them — everything of that description which had been in any degree subservient to the cause of the rebellion, was laid in ashes. Out of some sixty odd brick stores in the city, forty-nine, I think, were consumed. On the line of march, you were scarcely out of sight of some indication of its terrible consequences. Indeed, after three weeks had elapsed, it was with difficulty you could travel the road from Plantersville to that city, so offensive was the atmosphere in consequence of decaying horses and mules that lay along the roadside. Every description of ruin except the interred dead of the human family met the eye. I witnessed it myself. The fact is that no description can equal the reality. When the Federal forces left that little town — which is built on a bluff on the Alabama River — they crossed on a pontoon bridge and commenced in the night to cross, and their way was lighted by burning warehouses standing on the shore. All this is a part of war — a part of that severe discipline which nations experience, and must expect to share as the fort[u]nes of war vary, when they lay aside reason and appeal to brute force to settle what reason should settle, among Christian people certainly, and especially those who are born beneath the same flag. [Applause.] At the time of these great occurrences, to which I at first alluded, around Richmond, and in connection with Gen. SHERMAN’s army, this devastation was in progress in the State of Alabama. Up to that time, such had been the fortune of war that our State had experienced very little of its baleful effects, except the occupancy of about four counties north of the Tennessee River, and a small skirt of the shore on the Gulf of Mexico. In the South we knew little of the presence of the army, except as prisoners were brought to us to be provided for, and our own sons and brothers were marshalled and carried off to the field. Out of a voting population of ninety thousand. Alabama furnished a hundred and twenty-two thousand men for service in the Confederate army. Thirty-five thousand of these died on the field of battle from wounds or from disease, and a large proportion of those who returned came back broken in health and constitution and disabled by wounds from which they had partially recovered, but which rendered them unfit for active service. The white population of that State was 525,000, according to the census of 1860. At the time Gen. WILSON invaded it, the State was supplying with salt and meal 139,042 women and children and otherwise helpless persons of the white race. Of the black race, there were 440,000, and they, being the property of those who owned them, were supplied with food and everything necessary for their comfortable subsistence physically by their owners. Hence, there never was any necessity in all the States for a public assistance of the blacks. But this eleemosynary assistance to the white race was absolutely necessary. The State had appropriated, at the previous session of the Legislature, seven millions of dollars for the purpose of procuring meal and salt for their relief. Meat was out of the question. Even those comparatively wealthy possessed but little of it, and that little was generally contributed, for the most part, to the army. That was the condition of things in Alabama at the time the Confederacy collapsed. Now, at that time the corn crop of the State was just ready to be plowed and hoed the first time. But the black people being informed of the presence of the Federal forces thought the off-repeated tale of freedom was actually to be verified at last, and concluded they would test the matter, knowing no way of testing it except by quitting work, and seeing whether their masters dared order them back again to the plow-handle and the hoe. That was their only mode — simple, direct, efficacious — of testing the great proposition, “Am I free or not?” [Applause.] The effect on the crop was of course most disastrous; but it tended to satisfy those who made the experiment that there was at least some degree of truth in the idea that they were free. The consequence was that the crop just at the turning point vanished for want of cultivation, besides, a drouth set in of unparalleled severity, and continued all through the crop season; and the result is, that the States, thus depleted of its working force for securing means of subsistence in the commencement of the season to a degree never before known, is now left with about half a crop of corn and small grain. Cotton has not been planted to any extent, because as a matter of course, material for bread must be raised before cotton. This is the actual condition of affairs as given me by the delegates at the recent State convention which assembled in Montgomery in September last. Men of intelligence, candor, fairness in all respects, and whose judgment can be relied on, assured me that it is undoubtedly true that in that State there is not more than one-fifth of a crop of grain for breadstuffs raised. Now, if the same ratio of indigence exists among the black population that exists among the white, it is manifest that there are seven hundred and fifty thousand people in that State who may suffer for food before the month of March comes round. Our resources were completely exhausted, or nearly so, at the commencement of the last Spring. It is therefore manifest that in the State of Alabama these people will suffer unless they are supplied from some source outside the State, for the State is unable to supply them. Such is the condition of the State and its population to-day. When the Treasury of the State was turned over to me in July last, it consisted of about seven hundred dollars in specie, and besides that several millions in Confederate notes, not worth the paper upon which they were printed. Previous to the invasion of Gen. WILSON the State possessed the privilege of purchasing that currency at the rate of one or two cents on a dollar. By the emancipation of the black population of that State one-ha f of the entire taxable value of property is wiped out, and the remaining half, consisting of land, horses, mules, cotton, etc., has been materially reduced — the cotton by burning, the horses and mules by being taken for Confederate or Federal service, and the land, for want of labor to cultivate it, and by means of the destruction of fences, gins, and cotton-presses. You see the actual condition of the State, both as to the body and the individuals of the State separate. These facts are stronger than anything I can say by way of argument — stronger and more comprehensive than any argument I can make in support of them; and, to this audience, I am satisfied no argument is needed to enforce them. The Government of the United States has emancipated the black people, and provided by act of Congress, approved the 3d of March, for the existence and organization of the Freedmen’s Bureau. That bureau, in the State of Alabama, is in charge of Maj.-Gen. SWAYNE, who reached there to take charge of his department at the same time that I reached there, charged, under the commission of the President, with establishing a civil provisional government for the State. In a short time it became apparent to the intelligent and thinking portion of the people, and, as fast as they became acquainted with Gen. SWAYNE, that impression became more and more general, that that bureau, under his skillful administration, being a man of large and comprehensive views, and of strong sense of justice, could be the means and would be the means, if the government did not discontinue it, of aiding those who saw the necessity for aid, until we could realize, from the fruits of another year’s industry, the means of subsistence for these people. As you understand, that bureeu is organized by the Federal Government; it has its confidence; it has all the machinery in operation, ready now to disseminate or distribute material and other aid throughout the State; and it can enlarge its capacity of doing so at pleasure and according to the necessity that exists for it. It has not, however, the means to meet these overwhelming demands upon its resources. While the government assures the bureau that it is willing to do all in its power to sustain it and render it efficient, there is reason to apprehend that much will remain undone for want of necessary means to do it. You see at once from what I have already stated that the means of affording relief, not only to the white people, but to the black people are wanting materially. So far as the blacks are concerned, an entire system of relief is to be inaugurated from the very foundation: and the question is, shall that be temporary in its character, or shall it be of such a description as will insure permanency, and in the future great results to the white. Perhaps it is not necessary to call your attention at this time to it, but I cannot forbear hinting, at least, at the fact that, by means of this great organization, which has now the support of the powerful arm of the government to sustain it, there is an opportunity afforded for inaugurating a sound and efficient system, simple, direct, and to the purpose, which will be as lasting, perhaps, as the demands of the race for whom it is inaugurated. [Loud applause.] If this opportunity is permitted to pass unimproved, it will never present itself again. It is immaterial what may be the color; when it is furnished to them by a heart moved to sympathy on account of their necessities, they, I say, are well prepared to received counsel in connection with it. How much can now be done which will in turn become an instrument to produce other effects, multiplied for others in future years! Aid to this Freedman’s Bureau, therefore, is the great object, I take it, which should be striven for on the part of every one who desires to render efficient aid. It matters not whether he is an individual, or whether he is an individual of a body having for the objects of its organization these great objects in view. I will say, also, in this connection, that it is manifest to every one that only in this way can the people of that section of the South where the war has been raged most furiously and where its destructive effects have been made most apparent — it is in this way only that it can raise a crop another year. Before they can realize the fruit of another year’s industry this class must starve unless assistance is promptly furnished them. And let me say, likewise, ladies and gentlemen, and especially to those of you in this vast city who pursue commercial avocations, scarcely one of whom is not in some way, directly or indirectly, connected with it and affected by it; that nothing is more important to the interests of the United States of America now than to restore business pursuits in all their old relations to each other. A good cotton crop next year will do more to sustain the currency of the Federal Government — to help Mr. MCCULLOCH out of his troubles, if he has any, and perhaps he has — to maintain the supremacy of American manufacturers and commerce on sea and land in the future as they were aforetime — it will do more to thwart the schemes and mischievous clamors of those who whisper to the South: “Free trade and free goods, and down with the Yankee tariff,” than anything else you can devise. [Applause.] It will put a checkmate upon the idea of introducing Egyptian cotton in place of American in the market. I am informed by a distinguished citizen of this State, who is recently from Alexandria, that when he left that port there were fifty-one vessels, steamers, laden with cotton from the Valley of the Nile, which commanded the same price in Liverpool as cotton from the South. Whoever is interested in that trade, desires to have a high export duty placed upon American cotton, because such a duty would be equivalent to a bounty on Egyptian cotton. The same gentleman I refer to — Mr. FIELD, of the Atlantic Telegraph — informed me that English capital, by the thousands and tens of thousands, is being invested in the construation of railroads in India, so that the cotton cultivated and produced in the interior can be taken cheaply and rapidly to the coast, and thus brought to market — an inferior article to the Egyptian, but which goes in to make up the sum necessary. These things, it seems to me, are worth considering. Now, if the cotton-fields of the South, left desolate by the war, without labor, without capital to sustain a laboring force and to procure that which is necessary to carry on the business of raising a new crop; if these fields are permitted to go uncultivated another year. Does it not materially waken a very great interest in the country? I refer to this merely for the purpose of showing how the doctrine of compensation comes in. He who gives forth from his abundance to those who appear to have nothing to give, comes back laden with returns which he little expected to receive. So it will be with us. It is in this that the Union will be restored in the heart more effectually than any bayonet can bind it together. [Loud applause.] It is not by the bayonet that the Union is to be permanently maintained; it is by good offices rather, who live upon the extreme South have an interest in common with those who live upon the extreme North; and I look forward, by the blessing of God, to the time when we who have been lately at bayonet points 6nd swords points shall greet each other, the people of the North coming to the South, bringing their active capital there and uniting it with those who have land and experience necessary to cultivate cotton and other crop, and spending their Winters with their families in the South; to the time, too, when new industry shall have given us new means and resources, enabling us to go to the North and spend our Summers upon your lake shores and your cool rivers and mountains. That will be the sort of union that will secure harmony and peace. With the widowed wife, surrounded by her fatherless children, let us sympathize, regretting the strife which has produced her bereavement; and if our lips speak words of mutual kindness away in the distant home by the pine forests, along the distant streams, a response will be awakened which nothing but that tribute of kindness could have called forth. It is indeed by such means that we shall at last hear one universal song of gratitude going up over the land; because the giver will be happy in having bestowed where his bounty was needed, where it brought hope once more to the heart that was ready to despair; and the receiver will be happy, because it opens to him a future of prosperiy. But I will not enlarge on this theme. I leave it for your consideration. When you shall have heard from those who have participated in scenes of battle, and from these who have the power of painting with words as the artist does with the brush or pencil, I know you will respond. I thank you for this evidence of your interest, which this large assembly indicates, in the fate of a portion of our common country. I shall bear back the evidence with me when I refuse to those among whom I live; and I shall tell them what I have found to be almost universally true in every individual instance since I have been in the North, that there is a kindly feeling which we had no idea existed among the great mass of the people. [Applause.] And let me say, my friends, that if you see in the newspapers of the South unkind things, take no account of them. Newspapers do not always speak the real sentiments of the people. If you find there is occasionally an outbreak, bear in mind the terrible sufferings which have been undergone by our people. Make allowances for that. Do not be discouraged if you do not find that prompt and effectual change which you desire. Everything good and great in this world, both in nature and in man, is the result of time and effort. [Applause.] It is only the weak, the useless, that springs up in a day and perishes as quickly. All great undertakings must be patiently labored for and discouragements patiently borne, when everytning does not work as we desire. [Applause.] Fncourage that feeling and that hope. Let us persevere in the great effort of pacifying, restoring and uniting the hearts of our people, that thereby the strength and the glory of our nation may be increased; that, if the time shall ever come when, in the Providence of God, we are called upon to take up arms in a common cause, we may stand shoulder to shoulder, in the conflict. After the soldiers of the North and of the South have met each other on the field in deadly strife, I know no one will feel less confidence than heretofore in the success of a mutual cause when they again stand under the same flag, rallying round it, and bearing it forward. [Applause.] If, at such a time, my friends, we fail to do our part as men, then call us cowards, then say we are whipped; but don’t say it till then. [Loud applause.]

Lewis Eliphalet Parsons was born in the Southern Tier of New York State. He moved to Alabama when he was about 23 years old. He practiced law and politics but also fought for the Confederacy during Wilson’s Raid: “Parsons fought as a Confederate lieutenant at the brief Battle of Munford near Talladega in April, 1865.”

For a man bent on making treason odious and displacing the South’s traditional leadership, Andrew Johnson displayed remarkable forbearance in choosing provisional governors to launch the reconstruction process. [Except for Texas and North Carolina] Johnson passed over unconditional loyalists to select men acceptable to a broader segment of white public opinion. … In Alabama, Johnson ignored the upcountry Unionist opposition and selected Lewis E. Parsons, a former Whig Congressman who served as a “peace party” member of the wartime Alabama legislature and enjoyed close ties to the state’s mercantile and railroad interests.[1]

Selma Alabama 1864 (LOC:

Selma Alabama 1864

LOC: Lewis E. Parsons, General Wilson, map
  1. [1] Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: HarperPerennial, 2014. Updated Edition. Print. page 187.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction, Southern Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

chains into ploughshares

United States slave trade, 1830 (LOC:

a farewell to chains

A poem from 150 years ago celebrated peace and the victory of freedom and free labor over slavery:

From The Atlantic Monthly, VOL. XVI.—NOVEMBER, 1865.—NO. XCVII.

Autumn Peace page 1

Autumn Peace page 2

Richmond, Virginia (vicinity). Soldiers graves (1865 Apr.; LOC:

“Who died to make the slave a man” (“Richmond, Virginia (vicinity). Soldiers graves ” Library of Congress)

City Point, Virginia. Soldier's graves near General Hospital (between 1861 and 1865; LOC:

“City Point, Virginia. Soldier’s graves near General Hospital” (Library of Congress)

Bull Run, Virginia. Soldier's graves (by George N. Barnard, 1862 Mar.; LOC:

“Bull Run, Virginia. Soldier’s graves” (Library of Congress)


Our modern Veteran’s Day springs from Armistice Day: The shooting finally stopped in World War I on November 11, 1918 – at 11:00 AM Paris Time.

Here’s a bit about that day with an American slant. From History of the World War An Authentic Narrative of the World’s Greatest War, by Francis A. March and Richard J. Beamish (1919) (in Chapter LII):

The last action of the war for the Americans followed immediately on the heels of the battle of Sedan. It was the taking of the town of Stenay. The engagement was deliberately planned by the Americans as a sort of battle celebration of the end of the war. The order fixing eleven o’clock as the time for the conclusion of hostilities, had been sent from end to end of the American lines. Its text follows:

Germans at comrades' graves (1914 or 1915; LOC:

“Germans at comrades’ graves” (1914 or 1915, Library of Congress)

1. You are informed that hostilities will cease along the whole front at 11 o’clock A. M., November 11, 1918, Paris time.

2. No Allied troops will pass the line reached by them at that hour in date until further orders.

3. Division commanders will immediately sketch the location of their line. This sketch will be returned to headquarters by the courier bearing these orders.

4. All communication with the enemy, both before and after the termination of hostilities, is absolutely forbidden. In case of violation of this order severest disciplinary measures will be immediately taken. Any officer offending will be sent to headquarters under guard.

5. Every emphasis will be laid on the fact that the arrangement is an armistice only and not a peace.

German cross over French soldiers (1914 or 1915; LOC:

“German cross over French soldiers” (1914 or 1915, Library of Congress)

6. There must not be the slightest relaxation of vigilance. Troops must be prepared at any moment for further operations.

7. Special steps will be taken by all commanders to insure strictest discipline and that all troops be held in readiness fully prepared for any eventuality.

8. Division and brigade commanders will personally communicate these orders to all organizations.

Signal corps wires, telephones and runners were used in carrying the orders and so well did the big machine work that even patrol commanders had received the orders well in advance of the hour. Apparently the Germans also had been equally diligent in getting the orders to the front line. Notwithstanding the hard fighting they did Sunday to hold back the Americans, the Germans were able to bring the firing to an abrupt end at the scheduled hour.

Decorating a grave (1917 May 3; LOC:

“a British soldier tending a soldier’s grave near Blangy, May 3, 1917 during the Battle of Arras, a French city on the Western Front, during World War I.” (Library of Congress)

The staff and field officers of the American army were disposed early in the day to approach the hour of eleven with lessened activity. The day began with less firing and doubtless the fighting would have ended according to plan, had there not been a sharp resumption on the part of German batteries. The Americans looked upon this as wantonly useless. It was then that orders were sent to the battery commanders for increased fire. …

The early forenoon had been marked by a falling off in fire all along the line, but an increasing bombardment from the retreating Germans at certain points stimulated the Americans to a quick retort. From their positions north of Stenay to southeast of the town the Americans began to bombard fixed targets. The firing reached a volume at times almost equivalent to a barrage.

Two minutes before eleven o’clock the firing dwindled, the last shells shrieking over No Man’s Land precisely on time.

There was little celebration on the front line, where American routine was scarcely disturbed over the cessation of fighting. In the areas behind the battle zone there were celebrations on all sides. Here and there there were little outbursts of cheering, but even those instances were not on the immediate front.

Many of the French soldiers went about singing.

“Well, I don’t know,” drawled a lieutenant from Texas while the artillery was sending its last challenge to the Germans, “but somehow I can’t help wondering if we have licked them enough.” …

Peace Hurrah (11-11-1918; LOC:

Germany hung in effigy? (New York City, November 11, 1918)

From the Library of Congress: slave trade, Richmond area, City Point, Bull Run, German graves, French graves, British grave, NY City
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last rebel hanging

[Washington, D.C. Reading the death warrant to Wirz on the scaffold] (by Alexander Gardner; LOC:

“Washington, D.C. Reading the death warrant to Wirz on the scaffold” (Library of Congress)

As a matter of fact, Andersonville commandant Henry Wirz was the only Confederate officer/official executed in the aftermath of the American Civil War. He was hung 150 years ago today outside Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C.

From The New-York Times November 11, 1865:

EXECUTION OF WIRZ.; Closing Scenes in the Life of the Andersonville Jailor. Farewell Interview with His Associate, J.H. Winder. Final Effort of His Counsel to Obtain Executive Clemency. Firm Demeanor of the Prisoner on the Scaffold. He Asserts His Innocence to the Last, and Meets His Fate with Fortitude. A Remarkable Attempt to Poison Him Just Brought to Light. A Bolus of Strychnine Conveyed to Him by His Wife.

Special Dispatch to the New-York Times.

WASHINGTON, Friday, Nov. 10.

WIRZ was executed this morning at 10:30 o’clock. Nobody who saw him die to-day will think any the less of him. He disappointed all those who expected to see him quiver at the brink of death. He met his fate, not with bravado, or defiance, but with a quiet, cheerful indifference. Smiles even played upon his countenance until the black coat shut out from his eyes the sunlight and the world forever. His physical misery, whatever it may have been, was completely hidden in his last and successful effort to die bravely and without any exhibition of trepidation or fear, so his step was steady, his demeanor calm, his tongue silent, except as he offered up his last prayer, and all his bearing evinced more of the man than at any time since his first incarceration. The crowd said he was a braver man than PAYNE, or HERROLD, or ATZEROTH. Perhaps it was the bravery of a desperate man, who knows mercy is beyond his hope. Nevertheless, he met his fate with unblanched eye, unmoving feature, and a calm, deliberate prayer for all those whom he has deemed his persecutors. He seemed to have convinced himself of his own innocence, and his last principal conversation was full of protestations that he died unjustly, and that others were just as guilty as he.

NY Times 11-4-1865

NY Times 11-4-1865 (with a list of all New York soldiers buried at Andersonville)

Yesterday afternoon, LOUIS SCHADE, WIRZ junior counsel, communicated to him the result of his last appeal to the President. WIRZ said he had no hope. He was ready to die. He had sought and received religious consolation, and it mattered little whether he died now or was spared to die a natural death, for die soon he must. An attache of the Swiss Consulate also called to ascertain the residence of his relatives, that they might be officially apprised of his death. WIRZ said he had been greatly wronged by the refusal of the Swiss Consul to receive money to enable him to conduct his defence.

WIRZ ate his supper as usual, and retiring, slept soundly the best part of the night. This morning he arose early and partook of a moderate breakfast. Soon after, R.B. WINDER, who was associated with WIRZ in the command at Andersonville, was allowed to visit him, and the two had a long conversation, devoted to a review of their career at the stockade, a review of the evidence, and mutual assertions that they were equally guilty, or rather, equally innocent, and that if WIRZ deserved hanging, so did WINDER. WINDER then bade WIRZ an emotional farewell at half-past eight o’clock. Mr. SCHADE was admitted for a farewell interview, during which the prisoner reiterated his thanks for his counsel’s efforts, and expressed himself as to his innocence, much as he had done before. It is due to Mr. SCHADE to say that he has been indefatigable in seeking to prolong the life of his client. He left the prison at the close of the interview, and went to the President’s, where at ten thirty-five he made his last appeal. WIRZ was hung at ten thirty-two.

Washington, D.C. Adjusting the rope for the execution of Wirz (by Alexander Gardner; LOC:

“Washington, D.C. Adjusting the rope for the execution of Wirz” (Library of Congress)

After Mr. SCHADE left WIRZ, his spiritual advisers, Fathers BOYLE and WIGET entered and remained with him until he was led forth to the scaffold.

The arrangements for the execution which had been under the management of Maj. RUSSELL, Provost-Marshal of the District, and Capt. WALBRIDGE, commandant of the prison, were completed at an early hour this morning. The scaffold was erected in the southern portion of the prison yard. WIRZ is the eighth criminal who has been executed upon it. WOODWARD for the murder of his wife was hung in the jail yard nearly fifteen years ago. SAMUEL POWERS hung in the same place for the murder of young LUTZ, of Baltimore. JOHN CONRAD KESSLER, of Co. K, One Hundred and Third New-York Volunteers, hung in the Old Capitol yard Dec. 5, 1862, for the murder of Lieut. F. LINZY, of the same company, at the Sixth-street wharf. AUGUSTUS FORD, colored, hung on the 3d of March, 1863, in the jail-yard, for the murder of GEORGE ADAMS, colored. CORNELIUS TUELL, hung in the jail-yard on July 6 last, for the murder of his wife. CHARLES FENTON BEAVERS, of MOSBY’s gang, hung in the Old Capitol yard, on Aug. 26, for violating his oath of allegiance he had twice taken. CHARLES WILLIAMS, Thirty-first United States colored troops, Nov. 25, 1864, for the murder of an unknown colored woman at Camp Casey, Virginia, on the 14th of September previous.

The capacity of the yard for holding spectators having been closely estimated, directions were given by Major RUSSELL for the issue of two hundred tickets of admission. He had applications for ten hundred. The hour for the execution not being generally known, people began to assemble as early as 7 o’clock; but no one was admitted to the yard until nearly 10. The crowd who couldn’t get in at all soon became very large, and was chiefly composed of soldiers, many of whom well remembered Andersonville. The facilities for observation for this outside crowd were few — chiefly confined to the tops of a row of shade trees in the capitol grounds, a few house-tops, and the dome of the capitol, a quarter of a mile distant. The house-tops were peopled at an early hour, and favorable places for seeing commanded a premium.

NY Times September 3, 1865

NY Times September 3, 1865

At 10 o’clock, all being ready, Maj. RUSSELL and Capt. WALBRIDGE and the guard entered WIRZ’ room to bring him to the scaffold. WIRZ greeted the officers in a quiet and easy manner. He had been engaged for the previous hour with the confessors, and now complied with the request to prepare for the final scene. Without any exhibition of nervousness, he even indulged in pleasantry as to his appearance in the black shroud, and said also that he “Hoped to have a white gown soon.” The officers proceeded to pinion his arms behind his back, but found the handcuffs would not slip on to his right arm, it being much swollen. His limbs were therefore all left free until he reached the scaffold. As they were leaving the room, WIRZ turned to the mantel, and with as much nonchalance as if he had been in a bar-room, took up a bottle of whisky, and pouring out a liberal draught drank it down with apparent relish. Then taking a chew of tobacco, he took his place in the procession which was led by the Provost-Marshal, then the two Priests, then WIRZ, the guards next, and Capt. WALBRIDGE in the rear, in which order they mounted the scaffold, the prisoner exhibiting much steadiness in his movements. Stepping upon the trap, he seated himself upon a stool, the noose, so soon to be his fatal snare, dangling over his head. Maj. RUSSELL then proceeded to read the order, reciting the finding of the court, and the approval of the sentence by the President,.

The prisoner was charged and convicted of combining, confederating and conspiring with Jefferson Davis, J.A. Seddon, Howell Cobb, John H. Winder, Richard B. Winder, Isaiah White, W.S. Winder, W. Shelby Reed, R.R. Stevenson, S.P. Moore, _____ Kerr, late Hospital Steward at Andersonville; James Duncan, Wesley W. Turner, Benjamin Harris, and others whose names are unknown, and who were then engaged in armed rebellion against the United States, in maliciously, traitorously and in violation of the laws of war, to impair and injure the health and to destroy the lives, by subjecting to torture and great suffering, by confining in unhealthy and unwholesome quarters, by exposing to the inclemency of Winter, and to the dews and burning sun of Summer, by compelling the use of impure water, and by furnishing insufficient and unwholesome food, of large numbers of Federal prisoners, to wit: The number of about 45,000 held as prisoners of war at Andersonville, within the lines of the so-called Confederate States, on or before the 27th of March, 1864, and at divers times between that day and the 10th day of April, 1865, to the end that the armies of the United States might he weakened and impaired, and that the insurgents engaged in armed rebellion against the United States might be aided and comforted, etc., etc.

NY Times September 10, 1865

NY Times September 10, 1865

The order states that the prisoner was found guilty of the second charge, viz.: Murder, in violation of the laws and customs of war, and guilty of all the specifications, excepting the fourth, tenth and thirteenth, which three set forth that he killed a prisoner by shooting him with a revolver; that he ordered a sentinel to fire upon another with a revolver; and that he shot another with a revolver, so that he died.

The order concludes as follows:

Sentence. — And the court do therefore sentence him, HENRY WIRZ, to be hanged by the neck until he be dead, at such time and place as the President of the United States may direct, two-thirds of the members of the court concurring therein.

And the court also find the prisoner, HENRY WIRZ, guilty of having caused the death in the manner as alleged in specification 11, charge 2, by means of dogs, of three prisoners of war in his custody and soldiers of the United States, one occurring on or about the 15th day of May, 1864; another occurring on or about the 11th day of July, 1864; another occurring on or about the 1st day of September, 1864, but which finding as here expressed has not and did not enter into the sentence of the court as before given.

Second — The proceeding, finding and sentence in the foregoing case having been submitted to the President of the United States, the following are his orders:


The proceedings, finding and sentence of the court in the within case, are approved, and it is ordered that the sentence be carried into execution by the officer commanding the Department of Washington, on Friday, the 10th day of November, 1865, between the hours of 6 o’clock in the morning and 12 o’clock noon.


President of the United States.

Third-Major-Gen. C.C. AUGUR, commanding the Department of Washington, is commanded to cause the foregoing sentence, in the case of HENRY WIRZ, to be duly executed in accordance with the President’s order.

Fourth — The Military Commission, of which Major-Gen. LEWIS WALLACE, United States Volunteers, is President, is hereby dissolved, by command of the President of the United States.

(Signed) S.D. TOWNSEND, A.A.G.

The reading was finished at 10:20, and WIRZ, was directed to stand up. Major RUSSELL asked him if he had anything to say publicly, to which he replied, “No.” Father BOYLE then recited the service of the Catholic Church for the dying, to which WIRZ responded in a low tone.

Washington, D.C. Soldier springing the trap; men in trees and Capitol dome beyond (by Alexander Gardner; LOC:

“Washington, D.C. Soldier springing the trap; men in trees and Capitol dome beyond” (Library of Congress)

During these few moments shouts could be heard from the soldiers in the tree-tops of “Hang him,” “Andersonville,” “Remember Andersonville,” and others not calculated to increase his calm demeanor, but he paid no attention to them, and preserved his cheerful expression of countenance throughout.

At thirty minutes past ten, his hands and legs having been pinioned by straps, the noose was adjusted by L.J. RICHARDSON, Military Detective, and the doomed man shook hands with the priests and officers. At exactly thirty-two minutes past ten, SYLVESTER BALLOU, another detective, at the signal of the Provost-Marshal, put his foot upon the fatal spring, the trap fell with a heavy noise, and the Andersonville jailor was dangling in the air. There were a few spasmodic convulsions of the chest, a slight movement of the extremities, and all was over. When it was known in the street that WIRZ was hung, the soldiers sent up a loud ringing cheer, just such as I have heard scores of times on the battle-field after a successful charge. The sufferings at Andersonville were too great to cause the soldiers to do otherwise than rejoice at such a death of such a man.

After hanging fourteen minutes the body was examined by Post-Surgeon FORD, and life pronounced to be extinct. It was then taken down, placed upon a stretcher, and carried to the hospital, where the surgeons took charge of it.

Washington, D.C. Hooded body of Captain Wirz hanging from the scaffold (by Alexander Gardner; LOC:

“Washington, D.C. Hooded body of Captain Wirz hanging from the scaffold” (Library of Congress)

No sooner had the scaffold and the rope done its work, and become historically famous, than relic seekers began their work. Splinters from the scaffold were cut off like kindling wood, and a dozen feet of rope disappeared almost instantly. The interposition of the guard only saved the whole thing from being carried off in this manner.

The surgeons held a post-mortem, and an examination of the neck showed the vertebrae to be dislocated. His right arm, which has been the chief cause of his physical misery, was in a very bad condition, in consequence of an old wound having broken out afresh. His body also showed severe scrofulitic cruptions.

Agreeably to a request from WIRZ, Father BOYLE received the body to-day, and delivered it to an undertaker, who will inter it, to await the arrival of Mrs. WIRZ, who is expected soon. WIRZ left few or no earthly effects. The only things in his room after the execution were a few articles of clothing, some tobacco, a little whisky, a Testament, a copy of Cummings on the Apocalypse, and a cat, which was WIRZ’s pet companion. This is all there is left of him.

Here’s a bit on the Wirz trial from the October 21, 1865 issue of Harper’s Weekly at Son of the South:


WE give on this page an illustration of the WIRZ trial going on at Washington, which portrays a more recent phase of the trial than a former engraving printed in the Weekly relating to that subject. As our readers know, Captain WIRZ has during the progress of the trial become quite ill, so that on some days the Commission were under the necessity of adjourning; and when he has been well enough to be present, his indisposition has compelled him to recline on a lounge. “Captain WIRZ,”-says our artist, ” keeps in the position rep-resented in the sketch all day long, excepting when he clutches his bottle of stimulants, or when he is ‘led to his cell by the officer of the guard.”

The case for the prosecution has been closed, and the case for the defense is progressing very slowly indeed. The facts which have been sworn to by the witnesses for the prosecution can not be disputed ; the only question to be settled is one regarding WIRZ’S responsibility for his diabolical acts. In any case, a stain rests upon the military record of the late rebellion which neither tears nor repentance can quite wash out. Andersonville forms an important chapter in the history of the war.

Wirz Trial (

Captain Wirz “reclining on a lounge”

Captain Wirz was “charged and convicted of combining, confederating and conspiring with Jefferson Davis …”, but his co-conspirators got off pretty lightly:

Johnson’s pardon policy also reinforced his emerging image as the white South’s champion. Despite talk of punishing traitors, the President embarked on a course of amazing leniency. No mass arrests followed the collapse of the Confederacy; only Henry Wirz, commandant of Andersonville prison camp, paid the ultimate penalty for treason. Jefferson Davis spent two years in federal prison but was never put on trial and lived to his eighty-second year; his Vice President, Alexander H. Stephens, served a brief imprisonment, returned to Congress in 1873, and died ten years later as governor of Georgia. … [This paragraph goes on to say that President Johnson ignored the Ironclad Oath in making political appointments and began issuing pardons in large numbers by September 1865.[1]

Home of Jefferson Davis, three generations (1884 or 1885; LOC:

“Home of Jefferson Davis, three generations ” (1884 or 1885, Library of Congress)

From the Library of Congress: Alexander Gardner was at the Old Capitol Prison: reading, adjusting, springing, hanging; Davis family. The redo of the Harper’s drawing comes from Andersonville by John McElroy.
  1. [1] Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: HarperPerennial, 2014. Updated Edition. Print. page 190.
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last rebel flag struck

CSS Shenandoah (Australia, 1865; US Navy:

CSS Shenandoah, Australia, February 1865

On November 5, 1865 the CSS Shenandoah docked at Liverpool in England. 150 years ago today:

Lieutenant James I. Waddell surrenders the CSS Shenandoah
to British authorities. His is the final Confederate flag struck. After a few days in confinement, the crew is released to British authorities. Shenandoah is subsequently turned over to U.S. minister Charles F. Adams, who sells the vessel to the Sultan of Zanzibar. Waddell, meanwhile, is reviled by the American government as the “Anglo-American Pirate Captain,” which induces him to remain in England until 1875.[1]

NY Times November 21 1865

NY Times November 21 1865

The Confederacy angled for British and French intervention especially during the first half of the war, something like the original American rebels got bailed out by France. Of course, that never happened, but the last Confederate surrender did occur in Liverpool. A Northern paper editorialized that the British would have to decide if the Shenandoah was privateer or pirate.

From The New-York Times November 21, 1865:

The Pirate Shenandoah.

The Shenandoah, like a good many other rebel curses, has gone “home to roost.” She turned up one fine morning in the port of Liverpool, carrying the rebel flag, and was, surrendered by her Commander to an English man of war.

It will be seen by the extracts from English papers which we publish elsewhere, that her welcome is by no means cordial. It has ceased to be for British interests, and has therefore become immoral, to welcome the rebel flag and fete the Captains of rebel privateers. The English, moreover, feel that the untimely arrival of the Shenandoah involves them in new and somewhat embarrassing responsibilities. It is susceptible of proof, we believe, that the Captain of this vessel, long after he had received authentic information of the termination of the war, pursued his career of plundering and burning peaceful and unarmed vessels, and that fifty or sixty whalers thus fell victims to his cowardly prowess in the Arctic seas. He claims to have received official intelligence of the close of the war only on the 30th of August; but what particular form and style of information is requisite to check the black and bloody cruise of a privateer, it will now become the duty of English law courts to determine.

Commander James Iredell Waddell, CSN (US Navy:

“cowardly prowess”

The responsibility of dealing with WADDELL devolves wholly on the British Government. If he was in command of a privateer, duly exercising belligerent rights, England cannot surrender him, nor shall we ask her to do so. If, on the contrary, he pursued his career of devastation after those rights had ceased to protect him, he became simply a pirate, and violated the laws of Great Britain quite as truly as those of the United States. And it devolves upon the English authorities to hold him responsible. The fact that his depredations were confined to American vessels, and that British commerce suffered nothing at his hands, cannot, of course, alter the principles of justice and of law applicable to his case; though we should hesitate, in view of recent events, to say that it will not alter the actual application of those principles by the British courts of law.

One thing, however, it may be well enough to bear-in mind. The future application of whatever principles may now be laid down by English tribunals is of much more importance to England herself than is the fate of WADDELL to anybody on the face of the earth. We wish the English neutrals joy of the return of their belligerent rover.

The Conquered banner (

last lowering in Liverpool

Southern national song. Stars and bars. Tune: Star spangled banner. J. H. Johnson, Card and job printer (LOC:

“Bar Spangled Banner”

Fate of the rebel flag / painted by Wm. Bauly ; lith. of Sarony, Major & Knapp, 449 Broadway, N.Y. (September 1861; LOC:

prophecy – September 1861

I was excited when I saw the flag flying on the Shenandoah at Melbourne. The U.S. Navy points out the flag may have been retouched. The Navy also provided the image of Commander Waddell. From the Library of Congress: conquered, tune, afire
  1. [1] Fredriksen, John C. Civil War Almanac. New York: Checkmark Books, 2008. Print. page 599.
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poll watchers

Men vote today as women watch

Only going back 100 years for this one. On Election Day in 1915 women’s suffrage was on the ballot in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York. It was voted down in all three states.

Pre-election parade for suffrage in NYC, Oct. 23, 1915, in which 20,000 women marched (1915; LOC:

“Pre-election parade for suffrage in NYC, Oct. 23, 1915, in which 20,000 women marched ” (Library of Congress)

NY Times 11-2-1915

NY Times 11-2-1915

NY Times 11-3-1915

NY Times 11-3-1915


I didn’t realize that some states took the lead in adopting women’s suffrage before the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. According to the map below from Wikipedia states in green had approved full suffrage before the federal amendment had been ratified. Here’s a bit about the process in New York.

Map of US Suffrage, 1920 (,_1920.svg)

green’s a go for female voting

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. …[New York ratified 19th amendment in 1919] [1]

Suffragettes - U.S. - Margaret Vale (Mrs. George Howe), niece of Pres. Wilson in Suffrage parade, New York. Oct. 1915.  (LOC:

“Suffragettes – U.S. – Margaret Vale (Mrs. George Howe), niece of Pres. Wilson in Suffrage parade, New York. Oct. 1915.” (Library of Congress)

Suffrage parade, NYC, Oct. 23, 1915  (LOC:

“Photograph shows four women carrying ballot boxes on a stretcher during a suffrage parade in New York City, New York.” (October 1915, Library of Congress)

Casting the Suffrage "Liberty Bell" at Troy  (between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915; LOC:

“Casting the Suffrage “Liberty Bell” at Troy ” (ca.1910-1915, Library of Congress)

The map is licensed by Creative Commons. From the Library of Congress: Pre-election parade, Ms. Alaska, four women, Suffrage Liberty Bell
  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 391.
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the serious, the somber, the sullen …

Abraham Lincoln, the martyr, Victorious. (W. H. Hermans, Penn Yan Yates Co., New York, 1866; LOC:

welcome to eternal summertime

the South.

Interested in reading a 115 stanza poem about Abraham Lincoln? You can browse on over to Project Gutenberg and delve into The Atlantic Monthly, VOL. XVI.—OCTOBER, 1865.—NO. XCVI.. Although I did not read it all, one part of the poem reminded me of “Rock and Roll Heaven”. President Lincoln is now standing “In the fairest of Summer Lands” surrounded by his staff and with many others who died for the Stars and Stripes:

There they are all at his side,
          The noble hearts and true,
          That did all men might do,—
Then slept, with their swords, and died.

The long list of those who died for the Union cause includes Elmer Ellsworth, Senator Edward Dickinson Baker, and Ulric Dahlgren.

Big Lincoln Horner (London Punch May 24, 1862; Project Gutenberg

grinning Abraham

I also noticed that one of Abraham Lincoln’s qualities the poem praised was his sense of humor. He was even compared to William the Silent, who was apparently quite a funny guy, as explained in the poem’s only footnote:

How much he cared for the State,
          How little for praise or pelf!
A man too simply great
         To scheme for his proper self.

But in mirth that strong heart rested
         From its strife with the false and violent,—
A jester!—So Henry jested,
         So jested William the Silent.

Orange, shocking the dull
          With careless conceit and quip,
Yet holding the dumb heart full
          With Holland’s life on his lip![D]

Running the "machine" (Published by Currier & Ives, 152 Nassau St. N.Y., c1864; LOC: LC-USZ62-9407)

“A jester!”


[D] “His temperament was cheerful. At table, the pleasures of which in moderation were his only relaxation, he was always animated and merry; and this jocoseness was partly natural, partly intentional. In the darkest hours of his country’s trial, he affected a serenity he was far from feeling; so that his apparent gayety at momentous epochs was even censured by dullards, who could not comprehend its philosophy, nor applaud the flippancy of William the Silent. He went through life bearing the load of a people’s sorrows with a smiling face.”—Motley’s Rise of the Dutch Republic.

Perhaps a lively national sense of humor is one of the surest exponents of advanced civilization. Certainly a grim sullenness and fierceness have been the leading traits of the Rebellion for Slavery; while Freedom, like a Brave at the stake, has gone through her long agony with a smile and a jest ever on her lips.

Yankee volunteers marching into Dixie (Waashington City : Published by C.F. Morse ; Boston G.A. Morse c1862; LOC:

jesting Yankee braves with smiles on their lips

I read recently that Abe Lincoln’s sense of humor was appreciated by some Easterners well before he was elected president. William H. Seward spoke at Boston’s Tremont Temple during the 1848 campaign:

He was followed by a speaker from Illinois, a young congressman who spoke in what one paper called a “humorous strain of Western eloquence.” When Abraham Lincoln finished, the audience “gave three cheers for ‘Old Zack,’three more for Governor Seward, three more for Mr. Lincoln, and then adjourned.”[1]

Lincoln in Mass (LOC:

“A 100th anniversary map of Abraham Lincoln’s visit to Massachusetts, September 11-23, 1848.” (Library of Congress)

But the footnote seemed to be kind of a broad generalization. The Mason-Dixon line was made into an impermeable wall, and only the humorless lived south of it. Wasn’t that mindset one of the South’s issues? – the elite stereotyped all Africans as being too inferior to be anything other than slaves. Slavery was, therefore, a just if peculiar institution in the South’s antebellum society.

Apparently, even the eventual hotbed of fire-eating secession could appreciate humor. When William Seward was doing legal work in Charleston, South Carolina in 1849 he was somewhat snubbed socially because he was considered an abolitionist, but “one local paper commended his courtroom argument as ‘lucid and logical, replete with happy illustrations, and interspersed with … refined humor.'”[2]

I guess my prejudices were aroused when I read the second part of the footnote. However, here’s something else I read recently:

There are only two ways to be quite unprejudiced and impartial. One is to be completely ignorant. The other is to be completely indifferent. Bias and prejudice are attitudes to be kept in hand, not attitudes to be avoided.

Charles P. Curtis: A Commonplace Book, Simon & Schuster, 1957.[3]

Life mask and plaster hands of Abraham Lincoln, preserved at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C., where assassin John Wilkes Booth mortally wounded the president in 1865 (by Carol M. Highsmith; LOC:

“Life mask and plaster hands of Abraham Lincoln, preserved at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, D.C., where assassin John Wilkes Booth mortally wounded the president in 1865 ” (Library of Congress)

Abraham Lincoln bronze life mask and hands and what was in his pockets the night he died in 1865, kept at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C. (by Carol M. Highsmith; LOC:

“Abraham Lincoln bronze life mask and hands and what was in his pockets the night he died in 1865, kept at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, D.C. ” (Library of Congress)

Well, it’s Halloween 2015, and earthly Death would seem to be about the most unprejudiced of entities, maybe not ignorant but probably indifferent.

From Project Gutenberg: Big Lincoln Horner from the May 24, 1862 issue of London’s Punch
From the Library of Congress: Messrs. Washington and Lincoln in heaven; cartoon; invading Yankees; you can get a much more detailed look at the Boston map, including an image of Tremont Temple, “spoke here with W.H. Seward Sept 22.”; Carol M. Highsmith’s photos of life mask and hands, with pocket contents
  1. [1] Stahr, Walter Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man. 2012. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2013. Print. page 110. with note 62 on page 575.
  2. [2] ibid., page 119. with note 8 on page 577.
  3. [3] Seldes, George, compiler. The Great Quotations. 1960. New York: Pocket Books, 1967. Print. page 758.
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outside base ball

Base-ball match between the "Athletics", of Philadelphia, Pa., and the "Atlantics", of Brooklyn, N.Y., played at Philadelphia, October 30, 1865 / sketched by J.B. Beale. (Harper's Weekly, 11-18-1865; LOC:

“Base-ball match between the “Athletics”, of Philadelphia, Pa., and the “Atlantics”, of Brooklyn, N.Y., played at Philadelphia, October 30, 1865 / sketched by J.B. Beale. ” (Library of Congress)

150 years ago today the Brooklyn Atlantic base ball club extended its undefeated season down in Philly with what appears to be small ball, lots of small ball. From The New-York Times October 31, 1865:

THE GREAT BASE BALL MATCH.; The Atlantics Against the Athletics The Atlantics the Victors.

PHILADELPHIA, Monday, Oct. 30.

The first game in the great base ball match between the Atlantic and Athletic Clubs was played to-day.

The Atlantics were the victors.

The following is the score:

Atlantics………………………………..21 runs

Athletics……………………………….15 runs

Mr. T.C. KNIGHT, of the Camden Club, acted as Umpire.

The second game between these two famous clubs will be played on Monday next, on the Capitoline Grounds, Brooklyn.


Notwithstanding the short notice given, the base ball match between the Athletics and Atlantics this afternoon was witnessed by an immense number of spectators. The weather was very pleasant. The game lasted nearly three hours and a half. The Atlantics made eleven fly-catches and two home runs, and the Athletics eight fly-catches and one home run. The Atlantics were skunked once, and the Athletics four times. The Atlantics were put out at the bases eighteen times, and the Athletics ten times. The following is the score:

          ATHLETICS.           ATLANTICS.

                   Outs. Runs           Outs. Runs.

Kleinfelder……..4 2 Pearce…………..2 5

McBride ………..1 1 C.J. Smith……..1 3

Reach…………..4 1 Norton…,……….4 2

Wilkins…………5 0 Pratt……………4 2

Berkenstock…….2 2 Crane…………..2 1

Laugene…………3 2 S. Smith………..3 2

E.A. Gaskill…….3 2 Start……………4 1

Smith…………..2 3 Galvin…………..3 3

Potter…………..3 2 Chapman……….4 2

Total……….27 15 Total……….27 21


1st. 2d. 3d. 4th. 5th. 6th. 7th. 8th. 9th.

Atlantics……..3 2 0 2 2 1 4 3 4 — 21

Athletics……..4 2 3 0 0 0 5 0 1 — 15

Champions of America / Williamson, Brooklyn. (1865; LOC:

“Early baseball card prototype showing ten members of the Atlantics of Brooklyn baseball club. ” (Library of Congress)

Union prisoners at Salisbury, N.C. / drawn from nature by Act. Major Otto Boetticher ; lith. of Sarony, Major & Knapp, 449 Broadway, N. York. (1863; LOC:

inside baseball? “Union prisoners at Salisbury, N.C. / drawn from nature by Act. Major Otto Boetticher ; lith. of Sarony, Major & Knapp, 449 Broadway, N. York. ” (1863, Library of Congress)

"On the fly" / The Major & Knapp Eng. Mfg. & Lith. Co., 71 Broadway, N.Y. (c.1867; LOC:

advertisement c.1867

Baseball images from the Library of Congress: today’s game (from Harper’s Weekly, November 18, 1865); the champs; Salisbury prison; advertisement from the 1860’s.
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American Union Commission report

In October 1865 the American Union Commission, “organized to aid in the restoration of the Union upon the basis of freedom, industry, education, and Christian morality,” published a report of its work helping destitute Southerners. It is a 33 page document that covers the commission’s work in several Southern states – and in New York City. Here are a few cut-outs with a focus on the refugees who spent a short time in Gotham. The report begins with a complimentary letter from General O.O. Howard, leader of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Another well-known Civil War general also wrote a note:

Burnside to Commission (preface)

Burnside to Commission (preface)

[Framed photographs of General Ambrose Everett Burnside and Abraham Lincoln with a manuscript signed note in Lincoln's hand.] (M Brady, December 22, 1862 ; LOC:

big fans of the Commission

Lyman Abbott (

Commission’s General Secretary Lyman Abbott

origin - page 1

approved by Andrew and Abraham (page 1)

Union refugees / Baker. (1860-1870; LOC:

“Union refugees” (Library of Congress)

Refugees leaving the old homestead (LOC:

“Refugees leaving the old homestead ” (Library of Congress)

refugees - page 1

refugees (page 1)

refugees and relief - page 2

refugees and relief (page 2)

education - page 4

education (page 4)

Lloyd's new military map of the border & southern states (April 1865; LOC:

that Sherman swath in blue

[Atlanta, Ga. Boxcars with refugees at railroad depot] (1864; LOC:

“Atlanta, Ga. Boxcars with refugees at railroad depot” (Fall 1864, Library of Congress)

NYC - page 17

NYC (page 17)

refugees in NYC - page 18

refugees temporarily in NYC (page 18)

Arrival of Union refugees at Kingston, Georgia (Harper's Weekly 12-10-1864; LOC:

“Arrival of Union refugees at Kingston, Georgia” (Library of Congress)

The above image was published in the December 10, 1864 issue of Harper’s Weekly at Son of the South, where you can also read some background:


WE give on our first page an illustration representing UNION REFUGEES AT KINGSTON, GEORGIA, on their way North. The number of these arrivals is daily increasing. Since SHERMAN with the main body of his army advanced southward, abandoning Northern Georgia, this region has become one not very safe and pleasant to those who have by the presence of our army been emboldened to declare their preference for the old Union. The Richmond journals dwell upon the departure of these loyalists with peculiar satisfaction, on the ground that it diminishes that opposition in Georgia which has always been an element of danger to the Confederacy.

150 years ago today Alexander H. Stephens observed Georgia’s desolation (from an addendum to his prison diary page 539):

AHS 10-25-1865 (Page 529)

AHS 10-25-1865 (Page 529)

It appears that the Commission joined into The Freedmen’s Union Commission by May 1866.

Images from the Library of Congress: Ambrose and Abe; Union Refugees; Refugees leaving the old homestead (the back of card talks about Unionist families being persecuted by rebels and bushwhackers); map; leaving Atlanta; at Kinston.
The image of General Secretary Lyman Abbott comes from a book about Brooklyn’s Plymouth Church at Project Gutenberg
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