Seamus Dunphy


About Author: 

Seamus is an Editor who joined NewsBank in 2006 and continues to be an integral member of the Readex Digital Collections team. He currently leads a team indexing the Territorial Papers, curates derivative products, and writes blogs and training material. He received his B.A. from Marlboro College and remains a student of political science and economics. His hobbies include writing, gardening, and traveling.

Posts by this Author

‘Anarchy to be followed by Despotism’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

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The January release of The American Civil Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a trove of reflections on the Civil War and its aftermath. Also found in this release is the influential ten-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln co-written by his two personal secretaries during the Civil War.


Memoirs of General William T. Sherman (1875)

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Whether celebrated for his role in the Vicksburg and Chattanooga Campaigns or criticized for his scorched-earth policy through Georgia and South Carolina, William Tecumseh Sherman (1821-1891) offers essential, firsthand perspective on the American Civil War.

Sherman disputes the conventional wisdom on the Battle of Shiloh, writing:

General Grant did not make an official report of the battle of Shiloh, but all its incidents and events were covered by the reports of division commanders and subordinates. Probably no single battle of the war gave rise to such wild and damaging reports. It was publicly asserted at the North that our army was taken completely by surprise; that the rebels caught us in our tents; bayoneted the men in their beds; that General Grant was drunk; that Buell’s opportune arrival save the Army of the Tennessee from utter annihilation, etc. 

‘Anarchy to be followed by Despotism’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘This Superannuated and Irritable Governor’: Highlights from Territorial Papers of the United States

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The December release of Territorial Papers of the United States, 1765-1953, includes a letter to President Van Buren from the secretary of the Iowa Territory containing his most recent contentious exchange with the territory’s governor; a follow-up petition by several territorial legislators seeking removal of the governor; and finally a memorial by the territory’s legislative assembly asking the president to remove the governor for his “total want of abilities.”


Dispute between the Secretary and Governor, January 8, 1839

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Writing to President Martin Van Buren, the secretary of the Iowa Territory (William Bernard Conway) describes the breakdown of his relationship with the territory’s governor (Robert Lucas).

The papers, which accompany this communication, will convey, to your Excellency, the unwelcome intelligence, that relations, between the governor and the Secretary of this Territory, have ceased to be friendly. This information will doubtless occasion regret, and, indeed, the necessity of communicating it, has been, and is, much regretted by the Secretary; but as mere regret can never settle principles, the attention of the President is respectfully, and very earnestly, invited to the facts connected with this misunderstanding, a fair and impartial examination of which, must lead an honest mind to an equitable decision.

‘This Superannuated and Irritable Governor’: Highlights from Territorial Papers of the United States

‘The Small Cloud of Evil’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

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The December release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes an array of primary source material. These valuable items range from shorter imprints, such as sermons delivered during the war, to lengthier political histories and biographies published years later.


Our Duty Under Reverse: A Sermon (1861)

By John Fothergill Waterhouse Ware

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One week after the First Battle of Bull Run, Unitarian clergyman John Fothergill Waterhouse Ware (1818-1881) delivered this sermon in the Boston church of “Cambridgeport Parish.” He begins by acknowledging the favor Providence has shown the country, and then addresses the nation’s failure to live up to the duties accompanying that blessing. He identifies the fault that led to the country’s current conflict.

‘The Small Cloud of Evil’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘The Right of Revolution Is an Enemy to All Government’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

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The November release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a speech on the limitations of citizens to change the federal government, a defense of pacifism, and an abolitionist’s autobiography.


 

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The Rebellion Cannot Abate the State Governments (1862)

Speech of Hon. A.G. Riddle, of Ohio, in the House of Representatives, May 20, 1862

Mr. Speaker, in the wide sea and chaos of blood, tears, and convulsion, the bare, barren, dry land begins to loom up, and the great end to appear. Soon the patient statistician will gather up his facts, and by his tables will show us the exact thousands of lives squandered in this wide waste, and the innumerable millions of substance consumed in the great conflagration. The curious and industrious annalist will swell his huge volumes of the amazing incidents whose frequent recurrence has robbed us of the power of being astonished even. The moralist will go forth in melancholy to mourn the wide-spread licentiousness and demoralization growing out of this huge war, whose irradicable ulcers shall be the last to cicatrize.

‘The Right of Revolution Is an Enemy to All Government’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘These Traitors and Villains in This Senate’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The October release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes Civil War era works such as a speech from the floor of the House on the subject of slavery and pamphlets from the Loyal Publication Society focused on a faction of the Democratic Party, the Copperheads.


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Slavery in the Capital of the Republic (1862)

Speech of Hon. Edward Henry Rollins, of New Hampshire

Edward Henry Rollins (1824-1889) served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives prior to the Civil War, in the U.S. House during the war, and in the U.S. Senate after the war. On April 11, 1862, arguing in favor of “the bill for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia,” he declared:

The historian who writes the deeds of nations for future generations to read, will not fail to record the truth that slavery put itself front to front with liberty, in the great rebellion of the nineteenth century. Let it be our care that men shall not blush to read that we sought to shun the real foe, and flesh our swords in some spectral horror.

‘These Traitors and Villains in This Senate’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘All the Hypocritical and Lying Tactics’: Highlights from the American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

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The October release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, includes speeches and published works taking partisan positions such as on enrolling slaves in service of the Union, the prosecution of the war, and more.  


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Emancipation and Enrollment of Slaves in the Service of the United States (1862)

Speech of Hon. Charles B. Sedgwick, of New York

Charles Baldwin Sedgwick (1815-1883) practiced law in Syracuse, New York, before being elected to the House of Representatives, serving in the 36th and 37th Congresses. On May 23, 1862, Sedgwick spoke in favor of allowing the enlistment of slaves and offering freedom to those who did so. He began by reading an amendment to a bill introduced by the select committee.

And whereas the several States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas, wickedly and unlawfully combining under the title of the Confederate States of America, have, together, made war upon and rebelled against the Government of the United States, and continue in such state of war and rebellion.

After reading the amendment in full, Sedgwick paraphrases key pieces.

‘All the Hypocritical and Lying Tactics’: Highlights from the American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘I Have Nothing To Be Ashamed Of’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

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Personal narratives digitized for the September release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, include a compelling example of mendicant literature by a disabled veteran, the Confederate Army adventures of a male impersonator, and the sensitive reminiscences of a Union captain.


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The Empty Sleeve, or the Life and Hardships of Henry H. Meacham in the Union Army. By Himself (1865)

At the breaking out of the great Rebellion, I was engaged at carriage-making in the Town of Russell, in Massachusetts, but thought it my duty to enter the service in defense of my country and do what little I could to keep traitors from trampling the good old flag under their feet.

Henry Meacham, twice rejected for poor health, was finally accepted and “placed in Company E, Thirty-Second Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, who were at that time lying at Culpeper, Virginia.” He finds quickly that military life is more difficult than he had imagined; marching for twenty-three hours in a day, experiencing the Battle of Rappahannock Station, and lacking adequate rations. Of the last he writes:

‘I Have Nothing To Be Ashamed Of’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘An Executive of Tried Experience and National Views’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The September release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an early U.S. history text that covers the introduction of slavery to the colonies, an 1835 copy of The Quarterly Anti-Slavery Magazine, and a call for centrism in the 1856 presidential election.


 

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History of the United States (1816)

By David Ramsay, M. D.

David Ramsay (1749-1815) served in the South Carolina legislature during the Revolutionary War and was later a delegate to the Continental Congress. In this work he explores the history of the country from its colonial days to the first decade of the 19th century. While describing the introduction of slavery to the colonies, Ramsay, a practicing physician, points to distinctions between the North and South.

…the principal ground of difference on this head…arose, less from religious principles, than from climate, and local circumstances. In the former, they found it to be their interest to cultivate their lands with white men, in the latter, with those of an opposite color. The stagnant waters, and low lands, so frequent on the shores of Maryland and Virginia, and on the coasts, and near the rivers in the southern provinces, generate diseases, which are more fatal to whites than blacks.

‘An Executive of Tried Experience and National Views’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘I Am by Nature, Education, and Religion a Yankee-Hater’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

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The August release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, includes a pictorial of a dramatic naval engagement, an argument against an eventual reconciliation between the North and South, and the memorial of General Francis C. Barlow.


 

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The Privateer’s Fate (1861)

The first and last cruise of the pirate, or privateer, Petrol is recorded in this series of sketches. This recording suggests the Petrol mistook the USS St. Lawrence for a merchant ship and was sunk after a failed attack.

Other accounts of this naval encounter tell of the Petrel, sailing under the British colors, being pursued for several hours before being overhauled by the St. Lawrence. The Petrel then ran up the Confederate colors and after an exchange of fire was hit in the bow and sunk. Thirty-eight sailors were rescued and transported north aboard the USS Flag. Although the present account depicts a rescue there is no reference to the Flag; instead it tells of a more immediate judgment passed against the rescued sailors—as seen in the uppermost image.  

 

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‘I Am by Nature, Education, and Religion a Yankee-Hater’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

Ye Spleeny Folks: Highlights from the Most Recent Supplement to Early American Imprints, Series II

The July release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society, 1801-1819, includes three anonymous works discussing sobriety, levity, and the cost of crime. 


The Importance of Sobriety: Illustrated by the Evils of Intemperance (1802)

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This imprint concerns itself with “the evils of intemperance” and begins with this anecdote:

Cyrus, when quite a youth, at the court of his grandfather, Astyages, undertook one day to perform the office of cup bearer. He delivered the cup very gracefully; but omitted the usual custom of first tasting it himself. The king reminded him of it, supposing he had forgotten.

“No, Sir,” replied Cyrus; “but I was afraid there might be poison in it; for I have observed that the lords of your court, after drinking, become noisy, quarrelsome, and frantic; and that even you, Sir, seem to have forgotten that you were a king.”

The king goes on to ask if the same thing did not happen to Cyrus’s father:

“Never,” answered Cyrus…. ”Why, when he has taken what wine he chooses, he is no longer thirsty, that is all.”

Happy the man, who shall live in those days, in which the practice of excessive drinking shall be universally laid aside, and detested!

Expanding on his thoughts, the author continues:

Ye Spleeny Folks: Highlights from the Most Recent Supplement to Early American Imprints, Series II

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