August 25, 1865: Welcome, Johnson!

Andrew Johnson

The New York Times reports that the (white) citizens of Richmond invite the new President to visit. A little sucking up as they try to reestablish their hegemony in the state?

RICHMOND.; President Johnson and the Cabinet Invited to Visit Richmond.
From the Richmond Times,
Published: August 25, 1865

Aug. 23.
A highly respectable and enthusiastic meeting of the citizens of Richmond convened at the City Hall last evening. On motion, A.M. BAILEY was called to the chair, and WILLIAM S. GILMAN was appointed Secretary.
The following resolutions were presented, and unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That the citizens of Richmond have learned with feelings of the most lively satisfaction, that there is some probability of their city being honored, at no distant day, by a visit from His Excellency ANDREW JOHNSON, the present able and patriotic President of the United States.

2. That the chairman of this meeting appoint a committee of twenty-five persons from each ward in behalf of the citizens of Richmond, to act in conjunction with the committee of the press, in extending to the President and the members of his cabinet a cordial invitation to visit this city, at such time as may suit their convenience.

3. That in the event of the acceptance of the invitation tendered by said committee, the chairman of this meeting shall call a general meeting of the people of Richmond to make all the necessary arrangements for giving to the President a reception and welcome worthy of our high appreciation of his distinguished ability as a statesman and patriot and of our profound respect for the exalted office which he fills.

4. That this meeting recommend that a mass meeting of the citizens of Richmond convene for the purpose of expressing their sentiments in reference to our present political condition.

5. That a committee of five be appointed by the chairman of this meeting to make all necessary arrangements for the said meeting; and that a committee of eight be appointed, in like manner, to prepare suitable resolutions for the consideration of the meeting.

In obedience to the resolutions offered, the chairman appointed the following committees:
Committee of Arrangements. — H. Exall, W. Goddin, L.D. Crenshaw, R.R. Howison and John Enders.
Committee on Resolutions. — Judge Meredith, R.T. Daniel, P.H. Aylett, F.J. Smith, Robert Ridgway and B.W. Hughes.

On motion, adjourned.

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August 24, 1865: Killing off the hotheads

The Duel

The New York Times speculates, a bit optimistically, that the temporary decline of violence in the South due to the absence of fallen soldiers will continue. The author expects that the abolition of slavery will transform southern culture.

Public Order in the South The Fate of the Bravos.
Published: August 24, 1865

In looking over our exchanges received from all parts of the Southern States, we are struck with the infrequency of any mention of those personal assaults with bowie-knife or pistol, which used to be so very common in that section. Prior to the war, we could hardly take up a paper published in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, or any State of the far South, without learning of a fracas in which two or more hot-headed individuals had taken part, in which knives or pistols were drawn, and in which there was either killing or maiming. Now, we should judge, Mississippi is as free from this kind of thing as Maine; Arkansas knows as little of it as Vermont.

The fact is — and it is a terrible fact, though not without its compensations — that during the war the greater part of these Southern hot-heads were killed. They were in the rebel army of course; they were brave, beyond a question; and in all desperate adventures, in charges upon artillery, or upon works, or with the bayonet, or in cavalry service, they were first and foremost. They carried their recklessness to the field of battle, and there the career of most of them was brief.

A gentleman of this city, on meeting a rebel officer recently from the South, made inquiry concerning the bravos in a certain Southern town in which both parties were well acquainted. “Where is A?” asked the New-Yorker. “Why, he is dead.” “Where is B?” “He was killed in the Shenandoah Valley.” “Where is C?” “He is at home, with his right arm shot off.” “Where is D?” “He fell at Fredericksburgh.” “Where is E?” “Died in a Northern hospital of his wounds.” “Where is F?” “He was taken prisoner, and shot in attempting to escape.” And so the inquiries continued, until it appeared that of all the fire-eating bullies living in that Southern town five years ago, only a few were left alive, and most of these were lacking of an arm or a leg. Such is the tragical experience of many a Southern town and county. It is tragical enough in itself; but their loss will inure to the peace and quiet of many Southern localities. And they are not likely to have successors of their own kind, for the system of slavery, of which they were the foul blossom, has passed away.

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August 2, 1865: Foote says give freedmen the vote.

Henry S. Foote

The New York Times publishes a letter from former Mississippi governor Henry Foote, advocating approval of the thirteenth amendment.

SOUTHERN AFFAIRS.; State of the South and Negro Suffrage. LETTER FROM H.S. FOOTE.
Published: August 2, 1865

The Montreal papers publish a long letter from H.S. FOOTE. It is addressed to Hon. A.O.P. NICHOLSON. He says:

Slavery in North America is clearly now at an end, and its future revival is just as impossible as it would be to call up the moldering dead from the graves where they sleep and to endue them anew with their former vitality and vigor. The sooner we of the South fully realize this fact, the better it will be for ourselves and for our whole country. True it is, that, even as late as last December, it was possible, had proper efforts been made for peace with those at that time in power in Washington City, to bring the war then raging at an end, upon the basis of reconstruction, gradual emancipation, universal amnesty, and a reasonable compensation to the owners of slaves in the South.

But the golden moment was allowed to pass away unembraced; the same mysterious judicial blindness which had enveloped the faculties of our Southern political leaders for fifteen years before, still hung like a gloomy pall about their organs of intellectual vision, and now we have at last disastrously fallen from our high estate, and find ourselves firmly enlocked in the grasp of those who have become our veritable conquerors. We have been compelled to surrender at discretion. We have lost all control over our fate. We are utterly powerless. Our armies are in a state of dispersion. Our ships no longer navigate the deep. Our fiscal sources are exhausted. Our rights of person and property are destroyed, or in a state of abeyance. Our most precious franchises are in the hands of those whom Jehovah and the civilized nations of the earth have allowed to achieve our ruin.

Nor have we now the least ground for hope of being raised to a better condition hereafter, except we promptly and energetically pursue the course which the progress of events has so plainly marked out for us. We must, in order to be free ourselves, agree never hereafter to interfere with the freedom of others. We must amend our State Constitutions as soon as possible, and embody therein our consent that the four millions of bondmen and bond-women heretofore existing upon Southern soil shall be henceforth as free in all respects as those of the white race who lately dominated over them; in other words, we must formally recognize the state of things already existing, and bind ourselves to do nothing to disturb it in all future time.

We must, in order to assure our own return to liberty and happiness, not only recognize the colored denizens of the South as now free, but we must allow them the same means of preserving their freedom that we ourselves desire to possess. They must be freedmen in fact as well as in name. We must consent to their being invested with the elective franchise; and this must be done, too, no matter what cherished notions we may entertain in regard to the mental inferiority of those whom some of us have heretofore regarded as the doomed posterity of Ham.

Nor can we now safely talk about carrying them through a course of special tutelage and probation such as I understand you to recommend, ere we make them our own equals, before the law of the land. These are not at all matters for our regulation, but are to be attended to by those who hold in their hands exclusively the sword and the purse of the nation.

I tell you, my dear Sir, and, through yon, I wish to urge upon the whole mass of my fellow-countrymen of the South that those things must be done by us, else our States will not be allowed to have Representatives and Senators in Congress, or even be permitted, without molestation, to administer their own municipal concerns. This, I say to you emphatically, is a settled matter; it is res judicata, and there is no appeal for us in the case. We may regret this state of things as much as it is possible for us to do; we may bewail it as eloquently as we choose; we may reason against irrevocable destiny with all the logical power of an Aristotle, a Bacon, or a Locke; and still the irremovable fact will stare us in the face; we must consent to the carrying into effect the compact existing between those who now wield all the governing power of the country and those whom, before God and man they have solemnly taken under their protection and patronage. Indeed, I do not at all overstate the case. I have sought information on this subject in all quarters where I thought it was possible to obtain it, and the result of my inquiries is before you.

Let me now bring to your notice one or two additional views of this matter, which, I am sure, cannot fail of their effect upon a mind as healthfully constituted as I know yours to be. The people of the North are not willing to trust us of the South with the exclusive control of this affair, because they believe, and we cannot possibly convince them to the contrary, that, should they permit us to become represented again in the two Houses of the Federal Congress, before we shall have carried into operation fully the arrangements which they have heretofore stipulated in behalf of the colored race, we should afterward either openly resist the execution of the compact or at least attempt to evade its provisions; and some imprudent movements which have recently occurred in the South have greatly tended, I fear, to aggravate this unfortunate feeling of distrust.

Moreover, the people of the North are almost the exclusive holders of the bonds which represent the vast debt which has grown out of the prosecution of the war, and they are apprehensive that if the exercise of the elective franchise is limited to the white population of the South, the whole voting power of our section may be hereafter wielded in favor of repudiating that debt. We shall never be able to satisfy them that this debt will be sale without the counterpoise of negro suffrage. The feelings of the whole bond-holding class are deeply excited on this subject, and nothing can give them satisfaction but the formal adoption of the constitutional amendment propounded.

Upon the whole, then, I must confess that I entirely agree with the enlightened and conscientious editor of the New-York Tribune in holding that the true policy, for the South as well as for the North, is embraced in these words, which are evidently fast becoming stereotyped upon the whole liberal mind of the country, — universal suffrage, and universal amnesty.

The exercise of a noble magnanimity toward the unfortunate South, such as a Julius Caeasar, a Marcus Aurelius, or a William III. of England would not have been ashamed to own, is now being advocated by many of the first intellects in the North, and more sound and manly reasoning, and touching and elevated rhetoric are being expended in our behalf by our new friends there than any occasion has called forth for many years past. Let us, I beseech you, meet this general and unexpected display in a kind and becoming manner. Let us cast aside as unworthy of us and of the great interests which it is our business to serve, all silly and affected fastidiousness; all false pride; all scheming and selfish dilatoriness, and embrace the present opportunity of reinstating ourselves in the dearly-prized rights of American citizenship, and in building up anew the strength, and unity, and true honor of our beloved America.

Our true friends and our future allies in the North are those who are now pleading in our behalf for justice and for a kindly and politic forbearance as to the past. If we fail not to be equal to the demands of the present critical exigency, we shall in a few short years at most find ourselves once more happy, and safe, and prosperous. For I am not among those who at all doubt the complete success of the new system of labor now being introduced in the South; nor do I agree with those who apprehend any great injury of any kind as likely to arise from the proposed extension of the elective franchise to both classes of our Southern population alike. I doubt not at all that with proper judgment, diligence and thrift, Southern plantations will be as prosperous, under the new system of agricultural labor, as they ever were under the old one; and I am decidedly of opinion that there will be as little of fraud and unfairness in our elections hereafter in the Southern States, and upon the whole as judicious and beneficial an exercise of the right of suffrage, as there has ever heretofore been. Demagogueism and corruption will not be more likely to obtain a dangerous ascendancy among us than in former days; and since it is a fixed fact that persons of African descent are hereafter to be free, it will be far better to make friends, and neighbors, and brethren of them, than to retain them in our midst as Pariahs or Helots.

Our true interest lies in assimilating our whole Southern population in political rights, in sentiment, in mental culture, in a just and affectionate neighborship, and in a true and loyal brotherhood. We have to deal with a race whom we know to be mildly affectioned, docile, and readily subject to all high and commanding influences, and it will be greatly our own fault if we do not get along with them in the relation now in process of institution far better than we ever did before. At any rate, this experiment is proposed to us under circumstances which do not permit us safely to decline its trial; and we shall be worse than madmen if we reject the opportunity tendered to us of at once escaping from the fearful domination of military power, and returning once more to the venerated right of trial by jury, the regular administration of justice by civil tribunals, and all the accustomed arrangements known to a state of republican freedom.

Before I conclude, permit me to say that here in this beautiful city I daily and hourly witness the friendly association, personal and official, of gentlemen who less than twenty years ago were arrayed against each other in a political contest, aggravated into actual war. This happy effect has been produced by the patriotic submission of the defeated Canadian insurgents, and the liberal and Christian policy of the government, which not only granted a general amnesty, but generously remunerated even “denounced rebels” for losses incurred in the conflict. What a glorious example for the emulation of our country!
Hoping that you will find, in this crude and hasty effusion, some ideas which you will not altogether disapprove, and that many years of health and happiness and public usefulness are yet in reserve for you,

I remain, your friend and follow-citizen,

Posted in Emancipation, Franchise, Freedmen, Henry S. Foote, Mississippi, Reconstruction | Leave a comment

July 24, 1865: Black and white in Charleston

22nd Regiment U.S. Colored Troops

Friction between black and white Union troops in Charleston.

CHARLESTON, S.C., Saturday, July 15, 1865.

The people of Charleston have just passed through a fiery ordeal. For two weeks past, until within the last three days, it has been dangerous for a respectable person to appear on the street after nightfall. Robbing, clubbing, stabbing and shooting were freely indulged in by the white soldiers, colored soldiers, and, in many instances, colored citizens. A feud seems to exist between the white and the colored troops which no military discipline has, thus far, succeeded in thoroughly eradicating. The white troops conceive that they have privileges which are not extended to the colored troops, and, on the other hand, the latter are possessed with the belief that they should be the sole guardians of the city. As a consequence many of the freedmen sympathize with and fully support their colored brethren in arms. It is no more than justice to the white citizens of the place that it should be put on record that they have not participated in these disgraceful scenes, although they have been the parties to suffer.

Last week the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh New-York Regiment were sent North, and their place was filled by the Second Battalion One Hundred and Sixty-fifth New-York Regiment, (Duryee’s Zouaves.) The very first day they occupied the post it became evident that they and the colored troops could not live together. The latter appeared to be envious of the showy uniforms of the Zouaves, and the Zouaves were impressed with the idea that the colored soldiers took special pains to insult them. On Saturday night affairs were brought to a crisis. At about 8 o’clock musketry firing was heard in the direction of the market. At first the firing was desultory, but in a minute’s time it became pretty regular, especially for a street row. It is impossible to definitely ascertain the origin of this particular disturbance. It is stated by some that the white soldiers were the aggressors, while others are positive that some colored men who kept stalls in the market were the originators of the affair. The result of the shooting was the killing of a colored man and the wounding of a Zouave and two colored men. The Zouaves had been ordered on police duty at the market. They allege that while in the performance of their duty one of their number was set upon by a colored man who keeps a stall, and that the colored man drew a knife as if to stab the Zouave. Immediately thereafter fifteen Zouaves, with loaded muskets and fixed bayonets, dashed through the market, to the great consternation of the occupants of stalls and purchasers who happened to be present. As the Zouaves pressed forward they were fired upon by colored soldiers. The Zouaves returned the fire. The colored man who was killed was an outside party. In twenty minutes’ time all was over, and not a living soul was to be seen inside the market. At 8:30, firing is heard in the direction of Meeting and Hager streets. The Zouaves meet two colored soldiers; one of the latter was wounded and taken where he could receive medical attention. All that night confusion reigned in Charleston, and, at intervals, shots were exchanged. It is not known and probably, for certain reasons, never will be known how many men were killed and wounded in this city last week in consequence of street-broils. The disturbances were not confined to any particular locality, but they prevailed throughout the city.

The Zouaves remained here ten days and were then sent over to Morris Island, where they now are. At present the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania regiment is doing post duty. Brevet Brig.-Gen. W.T. BENNETT has command of the post, but it is due to him to say that he has occupied that position but for a few days. We are firm in our belief that everything will be properly and satisfactorily adjusted under his regime. He is an officer of nerve and will, and understands how to meet the difficulties that beset him. The following is an order he has recently issued:

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 61. — I. The attention of the commander of this post having been called to the defiant and discourteous spirit manifested in the city between the troops and the civilians, both white and colored, causing of late serious and disgraceful disturbances, it is deemed necessary, and is hereby ordered that all citizens remain at their homes after eight (8) o’clock, P.M., abstaining from noisy discussions, or assembling in groups on the streets or other public places, day or night.

II. Some citizens disguised as soldiers having been engaged in disorderly acts, it is ordered that any citizen hereafter found in the United States uniform will be arrested and turned over to the Provost-Marshal.

III. At this time of comparative peace, when the energies of the nation are absorbed in the restoration of harmony and the reestablishment of good feeling among all classes entitled to the rights of citizenship, discourtesy toward civilians is beneath the dignity of soldiers. Respectful department among soldiers, as well as toward their officers, is an indication of good discipline in any command; but courtesy without humility toward those who have no claim except upon your manhood, is the best guarantee of good breeding and nobleness of character. It is enjoined upon the enlisted men in this city that they behave insolently to no person, of whatever color; that they do not monopolize the sidewalks or assemble in groups to the inconvenience of women or other passers by. Citizens should remember that civil rule is not established, and that any act of theirs which may lead to difficulties with the troops will tend to protract that end. Their bearing should be in no manner defiant or discourteous to the troops, and any insolence leading to disturbances will subject the offenders to punishment. Upon the creation of any disturbance, during the day or night, the commanding officer of the district of the city in which it may occur, will at once send patrols, under commissioned officers, to arrest all persons found in the streets in the vicinity of the disturbance, except persons on important business, who will be required to report at the nearest guard for an escort.

By order of
Brevet Brig.-Gen. W.T. BENNETT, Com’g Post.
CHARLES F. JOY, First Lieut. 54th Mass. Vols, and A.A.A. Gen.
Official: CHARLES G. CHIPMAN, Capt. 54th Mass. Vols., A.A.D.C.

Posted in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. Colored Troops | Leave a comment

July 18, 1865: Texas freedmen, stay home


The New York Times prints a variety of items from New Orleans, including the admonition for freed slaves to stay with their former masters in Texas — apparently this is one view of reconstruction.

NEW-ORLEANS, Saturday, July 15.

The steamship Guiding Star, from New-York, has arrived.

Gen. MEJIA, by command of Gen. BRECKINRIDGE, has delivered up the battery and other property received from the Confederacy.

The sugar and cotton crops of Texas will be short on account of the disorder occasioned by the employment of free labor.

The freedmen have been directed to remain with their former masters, with the assurance that no forfeiture of their rights of freedom will be tolerated.

Texas dates of the 12th inst. say that State is infested by jayhawkers and thieves of the very worst stamp. In the interior where the Federal force have not penetrated they are doing much damage.

An interesting discussion is now going on before the United States District Court as to what constitutes the oath of allegiance.

The cotton market is rather quiet at 47c. for Middlings. The depression in domestic exchange restricts operations.

Sugar and Molasses are quiet.

CAIRO, Saturday, July 15.

Major PUTNAM, of Gen. CANBY’s Staff, has arrived here, en route for Washington, with the flags surrendered by Gen. DICK TAYLOR.

Stringent orders have been issued by the commanders of the cavalry marching through Texas to prevent the soldiers from straggling and plundering. None are allowed to enter private houses. All negroes leaving the fields to follow the army are driven back.

The Central Texas Railroad, a work of importance to the troops, is being rapidly pushed forward to completion.
No rain has fallen in portions of Eastern Mississippi since the 1st of May. The crops will be very short, and especially the corn crop.

The stock of cotton in New-Orleans on the 10th inst. was 30,000 bales. Buyers were holding off for lower rates.
Four hundred bales of cotton, 300 hogsheads and 200 boxes of sugar have arrived here in the last twenty-four hours.

Posted in Reconstruction, Texas | Leave a comment

July 13, 1865: How to deal with freedmen

Emancipated Slaves

The New York Times reprints several editorials from British papers. What should be done with the freed slaves? Can they work for wages? Can they stand the northern climate? Are the northerners or southerners treating them as equals?

Published: July 13, 1865

From the London Post, June 29.

But Mr. JOHNSON and his advisers would properly lay themselves open to reproach if they inaugurate a policy which has a tendency to enhance, instead of relieving existing evils. It has already been shown to demonstration that the great mass of slaves cannot, on their emancipation, be brought to labor for hire, and the invariable result of what we may form violent acts of manumission has been an amount of destitution of which only eyewitness can form an adequate idea. It is perfectly idle to say that it is a negro's fault if he will not work in order to save himself from starvation. A slave cast upon the world to work for himself is as helpless and unreasoning as a child. Besides, in the large majority of cases, work is not provided for the freedom, or, it provided, the wages are, in the hands of a man unacquainted with the value or the use of money, utterly insufficient to provide for his wants. Mr. JOHNSON is not without experience: he will, therefore, have no excuse if, with the knowledge which he now possesses, he should at one tell swoop consign the entire colored population of the South to what will be tantamount to a condition of hopeless destitution.

From the London Post, June 30

It argues debasement, as well as laziness, that negroes should prefer squatting in New-York and Canada, hanging to the skirts of people who in no case more than tolerate them, subjecting themselves to the rigor of a climate their physique is not calculated to bear, when countries like Hayti, our own West India Islands, Guina -- not to speak of the Mauritius -- would gladly receive them if they would only consent to reasonable work. If the rejoinder be made that the attraction Canada, the Northern States, and England possessed for the negro was one for which white social humanitarians were partly responsible, one referable to a sentiment of pity, elicited by thoughts of slavery, that much indeed will have to be granted, but with the counter rejoinder that the negro has always done his utmost to foster and uphold the sentiment beyond the bounds of its just and profitable application. At any rate the conditions for that sympathy have ceased; and if American negroes were capable of forecasting events as determined by conditions obvious, they would not try the dangerous experiment of attempting to live amongst white men without working, far less to commit excesses, at a time when the blood of the South is so maddened against them, and people of the North are well nigh tired of benevolence in their favor.

From the London Herald, June 30.

The Americans of the North are boasting that they have set free the negro. We are waiting for some evidence, however, to show that the African black has regained those human rights which are denied to the captive statesmen and soldiers of the South. But the patience of the world, it seems, must be tested for a long time before the dark race is actually admitted, at Washington or New-York, to an ostensible equality with the patriots of the Broadway. Now, indeed, the question is, whether Uncle Tom shall have a vote. A thousand journals, it is asserted by disputants on both sides, are arguing the point as though it involved the whole future of the commonwealth. But it is a remarkable fact that the very men who have been blustering about emancipation as their policy, and equality as its natural result, are indignant with the negroes of Tennessee for daring to memorialize the State Legislature and insist upon the suffrage for themselves. Tennessee, perhaps, may accord them the privilege. Its Governor does a little trade in popularity on his own account, by advocating their claims, though he does so upon the ground that they would neutralize the influence of the disloyal whites; but what of ANDREW JOHNSON, the illustrious predecessor of Parson BROWNLOW? He waits for the advice of Congress -- he dreads the "nigger doctrine" -- he leaves Judge CHASE to exalt black audiences with the belief that they are the salt of the earth; he allows the ebony people to be free, but doubts their capacity to exercise a constitutional franchise. Well, what will Cuffee do? How will he appreciate his new masters? He is "a man and a brother;" but is he to be a "fellow-citizen?" Clearly, he may be designated "a man," and hailed from a distance as "a brother;" yet where is the public conveyance which will carry him uninsulted? Where is the steamboat on the deck of which ho is the equal of uncolored passengers? Where are the Yankee laborers who will work where he is employed? It is hardly time as yet to discuss his political Magna Charta in "the home of the setting sun." That may be done after his liberators have determined whether he shall remain an outcast, outlaw, and leper, or be transported to the moral desolation of Liberia, where a little amateur Africa languishes, ill calculated to fulfill the sublime hopes of BOLINGBROKE for the professors of "Talkee-talkee, or the negro language." "We desire to vote at elections," ejaculate the Nigritian patriots of Tennessee. "Keep your sonorous nonsense to yourselves," rejoin their emancipators, "and do not bring your Dutch, French, Spanish Portuguese, Hottentot, and Mumbo-Jumbo dialets to the polling-booths of a civilized republic, the greatest on the earth. It is interesting from many points of view to watch the progress of this controversy; but one fact is palpable -- that the hatred of the North American for the negro is more intense and pitiless than ever. He spurns him; his organs regret that he and his species cannot be "put up to auction wholesale to stock the plantations of Dutch Guiana;" and one of the very journals which eulogised ABRAHAM LINCOLN as "the father of African liberty in the New World," lately protested against "the ludicrous impossibility" of a wooley-headed population existing in any relationship with a nation of whites.

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June 29, 1865: Ending slavery in Kentucky

Governor Bramlette

The New York Times reports a speech by Kentucky governor Bramlette. He advocates ratification of the 13th Amendment and establishing a free labor system. I’m not sure what his point was about the ownership of land; was he advocating redistribution of land from the former slaveowners to the (white) masses?

Gov. Bramlette of Kentucky on Emancipation.

LOUISVILLE, Thursday, June 29.

Gov. BRAMLETTE addressed the citizens this evening in favor of the Constitutional Amendment and the advantages of free over slave labor in Kentucky. He said slavery has been utterly overthrown, and proved the impossibility of its restoration. He urged the people to proceed to establish a system of free labor, as dictated by wisdom and their interest, showed by statistics of the population and the occupation of land by slave-holders and non-slave-holders, that the rich lands of the State were in the hands of a class exceedingly small in comparison with the popular masses, urged the organization of the free white laborers of the State to take care in future of their own interests. He said the necessity existed for the immediate action of Kentucky in disposing of the vexed question of slavery, the progress of events having practically destroyed the institution itself. Gov. BRAMLETTE discussed at some length the second section of the amendment, and answered, with overwhelming power, the objections urged against it, such as that the amendment gives Congress power to confer the elective franchise upon emancipated slaves, and thus makes social equality. He said the section gives Congress no more power than under the constitution now existing, and this second section meant simply that Congress should, by appropriation or necessary legislation, prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude in the State.

Posted in 13th Amendment, Abolitionism, Emancipation, Kentucky, Slavery | 1 Comment

June 24, 1865: Ignorance in the south

(former?) Slaves learning to read

The New York Times argues that the poor whites of the south need education just as much as the former slaves do, both having been raised in ignorance by the design of the rich planters.

What We Owe to the New South The Prevalence and Density of Popular Ignorance.
Published: June 24, 1865

We have other duties to the States and people of the South, beside those that apply to its material interests.
Not only the four million blacks, but the great body of the poor whites of that section, have always been in the densest ignorance. The common-school system and the universal popular education of the free States, have never been appreciated or imitated in the Southern States. A select few of the planting classes had, doubtless, a very thorough education and culture; and the body of the planters, as well as the business men of the towns, had a certain amount of school learning; but the generality of the poorer white classes of Virginia and North Carolina, as well as of the cotton States, were absolutely destitute of even the primary elements of knowledge.

The census statistics on this subject are bad enough; but they fall very far short of exhibiting the real state of affairs. A person who was present at the paroling of the armies of LEE and JOHNSTON, has declared that less than a fifth of the privates could sign their own name. It was this want of popular education and intelligence that gave the Southern leaders and planters such great power in their respective States, and enabled them to practice such terrible deceptions upon the masses.

Before the war, the North could do but little to improve this condition of things among their Southern countrymen. Northern schoolmasters — though there were hardly any other schoolmasters but Northern ones in the South — were looked on with suspicion, denounced as Abolitionists, and not unfrequently driven away or lynched. There was no law for their protection and little encouragement for their labors. The planting aristocracy did not desire the education of the poorer classes, and the latter cared little for it themselves.

In some of the States, as South Carolina, there were leading public men, such as Mr. FABER, who took the strongest ground against all education for working people, white as well as black, arguing that it only rendered them more wretched, and less content with, their lot in life and position in society. The result of these things — which, in their turn, were the result of slavery and the peculiar social order of the South — was that the great bulk of the Southern whites grew up without education, knowledge or intelligence.

There is now an open field all over the South for intelligent people of the Free States to improve its condition in this regard. The schoolmaster is needed in the Southern States. The way is free for him; the opportunity is before him. In ten States, with ten millions of people, there is abundant scope for his labors. They should not wait till the Southerners call them, but they should go as good men go to India or Africa, bearing with them the light of intelligence, freedom and civilization. There is missionary ground enough now in the South. Thus far hardly anything has been done for those poor ignorant whites. A great deal more has been done for the blacks, who need it as much, perhaps, but no more.

We would especially ask attention to this subject of popular education on the part of those who are engaged in the incipient labors of reconstituting government and social order in the States of the South. It should be laid on the broadest basis at the very first, and, out of the great resources of the South, the most ample provision should be made for it. The old order of things has been overthrown; the old and exclusive ruling and domineering class have passed away. Henceforth, the South requires for its safety an educated and intelligent democracy. The constitution-makers and Legislatures of the South, cooperating with the people of the North, can, in the coming year, lay the foundation of its permanent existence.

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June 20, 1865: What to do with the Missouri Swamp Fox

Meriwether Jeff Thompson

The rebel guerrilla Jeff Thompson, sometimes referred to as the “Missouri Swamp Fox” because of his actions in the sloughs of “swampeast Missouri”, has surrendered, and is awaiting a pardon decision.

FROM CAIRO.; Affairs in Arkansas Movements of Jeff. Thompson.
Published: June 20, 1865

The flag-of-truce boat has arrived here with 1,454 men belonging to JEFF. THOMPSON’s army, including 686 officers.

JEFF. THOMPSON came as far as Memphis, where he remains awaiting the decision of President JOHNSON relative to his petition for pardon.

Gen. REYNOLDS has taken the initiatory steps toward establishing civil courts throughout Northern Arkansas.

Garrisons have been established along the White River.

The people of Arkansas are rapidly becoming orderly and peaceful citizens.

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May 25, 1865: End of part 1, and a little break

Shiloh - Cloud Field

I started this blog on August 2, 2010. Every day since then I have posted something from a primary source dated 150 years previously, a total of over 1750 posts. I had read a lot about the Civil War previously, but I have to say that watching it day by day is a very different experience. Events that are compressed in the history books drag out to their actual length, and the frustrations of waiting, the uncertainties of the outcome, and the anxious searching for information are much more real to me now. I’m about to take a couple of weeks’ vacation — both in real life and from the blog. When I get back, I plan to resume the blog on a weekly basis, covering the much longer second act of the war: Reconstruction.

I hope people have found this blog enjoyable and interesting so far, and I look forward to the next stage.

-Allen Gathman

Posted in Reconstruction | 4 Comments