Seamus Dunphy


About Author: 

A Readex Editorial Content Analyst, Seamus joined NewsBank in 2006 as a U.S. Congressional Serial Set indexer. He received his BA in History from Marlboro College and continues to study political science and economics. His passion for organic gardening stems from the lessons of hard work and sustainable living he learned on his family’s farm.

Posts by this Author

“Ventilated Crudities, Absurdities, and Blasphemies”: African Exploration, Abolition, Women’s Rights, and Voodoo

From an 18th-century report on an African expedition to a 19th-century compilation of American folklore, the February 2015 release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, contains a wide variety of valuable documents, all from the holdings of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Additional highlights include a work by Harriet Beecher Stowe describing the foundation and inspiration for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a compilation of her articles promoting women’s rights, and an autobiography by James Still, illustrating some of the best and worst aspects of 19th-century America.

A Narrative of Four Journeys into the Country of the Hottentots, and Caffraria (1789)
By Lieut. William Paterson
“Ventilated Crudities, Absurdities, and Blasphemies”: African Exploration, Abolition, Women’s Rights, and Voodoo

Tinkering Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

The February release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes an array of documents relatable to wars from nearly any era: the battlefield readiness of new military technology; prisoner mistreatment and battlefield atrocities; and the deadly threat of espionage from within.

Engineer Stimer's Report of the Last Trial Trip of the "Passaic": Unparalleled Attempt to Throw Discredit upon Superiors, Language Unbecoming an Officer, His Dismissal from the Service Demanded, the Public Probably Deceived as to the "Result" of the Experiment of Firing inside the Turret (1862)
By One of the People

Alban Crocker Stimers was a U.S. Navy Chief Engineer who assisted with the design of the Navy’s latest technological marvel, the ironclads. After the launch of the U.S.S. Monitor, the first ironclad warship commissioned by the Union Navy, and drawing on lessons learned from its performance, naval engineers quickly began designing the new Passaic-class ironclad.
Tinkering Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

“It’s the Devil!”—Slavery, Civil War, and King Cotton

Among the 100+ works in last month's release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia are an antebellum account of Caribbean travel written by a New Yorker, slave narratives written before and after the American Civil War, and satirical works on U.S. history by 19th-century English humorists and cartoonists.

The Winter of 1840 in St. Croix, with an Excursion to Tortola and St. Thomas (1840)
By James Smith

As appealing as wintering in the Caribbean may sound, James Smith’s description of his voyage to the Danish colonies illustrates many of the harsh realities of the period. Sailing south of St. Bartholomew’s and Saba, Smith reports,
“It’s the Devil!”—Slavery, Civil War, and King Cotton

“Beware of Imposters and Sharpers” and Other Advice for Civil War Soldiers and Surgeons

The January release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society contains works providing advice to discharged soldiers returning home, guidance on potential pension benefits, and instructions to surgeons on the changing use of anesthetics. Also included is a brilliantly illustrated biography of Robert E. Lee.

The Soldiers' Guide in Philadelphia (1861)
Published for gratuitous distribution by Robert R. Corson

This nifty city guide for soldiers includes railroad timetables as well as other pertinent information. Its “Instructions for Discharged Soldiers” provides rates of travel pay in addition to pension amounts for certain veterans and rates of survivors’ benefits for the heirs of deceased soldiers. It also gives special instructions to disabled veterans, directing them to the Citizens’ Volunteer Hospital where they will receive:

…every attention that kindness and medical aid can suggest, for the alleviation of their sufferings. Those soldiers who can bear transportation to other hospitals are carefully taken thither in the ambulances provided by the various Fire Companies of the city.

Advice is also tendered to those traveling beyond Philadelphia:

“Beware of Imposters and Sharpers” and Other Advice for Civil War Soldiers and Surgeons

The “Unhallowed, Demoralizing and Blighting Influences” of Slavery

The December release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes documents on an arresting array of subjects. Highlighted here are imprints about natural history, a religious justification of slavery, judicial opinions in the Dred Scott case, and a critique of a work of Reconstruction-era fiction.



A General Introduction to the Natural History of Mammiferous Animals, with a Particular View of the Physical History of Man, and the More Closely Allied Genera of the Order Quadrumana, or Monkeys (1841)
By William Charles Linnaeus Martin

This voluminous work ranges over many topics and includes this brief foray into phrenology.  

The “Unhallowed, Demoralizing and Blighting Influences” of Slavery

“Casting Pearls before Swine” – Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The December release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes both pro- and anti-slavery perspectives as well as a retrospective view of U.S. slavery at the close of the 19th-century.



A View of the American Slavery Question (1836)
By Elijah Porter Barrows, Jr., Pastor of the First Free Presbyterian Church, New York

Pastor Elijah Barrows prepared this discourse on slavery “with particular reference to the condition of his own church.” He notes that its members were “divided in their views, and disunited in their feelings, on this much agitated subject.”  Hoping to unify his New York congregation in support of abolishing slavery, Barrows begins his argument by drawing attention to Louisiana Code, Article 3:

A slave is one who is in the power of a master to whom he belongs. The master may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry, his labor; he can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire any thing but which must belong to his master.

Barrows then takes that definition to a logical and stark conclusion:

“Casting Pearls before Swine” – Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

“Surgical Bugbears and Incongruities” — Military Health and Medicine during the American Civil War

The December release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society contains many documents pertaining to military medicine during the war. These include works on providing immediate surgical care on the battlefield, maintaining the health of a standing army, helping to recuperate the sick and wounded, and raising funds to care for veterans.

 

“Surgical Bugbears and Incongruities” — Military Health and Medicine during the American Civil War

Cutting the “Cord of Caste”—The Impact of British Activist George Thompson on American Abolitionist Societies

George Donisthorpe Thompson (1804-1878) was a British abolitionist who often pointed out America’s role in the perpetuation of slavery. Lecturing in the United States in 1834, Thompson attracted the attention of both abolitionists and slavery supporters. He left the U.S. “to escape the assassin’s knife,” a claim supported by the Hobart Town Courier, which reported that attempts to “burn and murder” Thompson had been made in several American towns. New abolitionist societies formed in the wake of Thompson’s speaking tour, and the November release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society contains the annual reports from three such societies, each of which was organized by women. First Annual Report of the Ladies’ New-York City Anti-Slavery Society (1836)
Cutting the “Cord of Caste”—The Impact of British Activist George Thompson on American Abolitionist Societies

“The Long, Wicked War”—Regimental Histories from the American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

Many of the documents in the October release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society are histories of specific regiments. Some contain registers naming each member of the regiment. Others include photographs of their officers. But they all have unique perspectives and descriptions of their regiment’s particular “tramps and triumphs.”  

Testimonial to Col. Rush C. Hawkins, Ninth Regiment N.Y.V. (1863)

At a ceremony honoring Col. Rush Christopher Hawkins and the Ninth Regiment of New York Volunteers, also known as “Hawkins’ Zouaves,” Charles P. Kirkland contextualized the gravity of the Civil War. He considered it not only “a contest for a nation’s life” but also a “contest for the very existence of Republican Government, not only here but every where, for if our experiment fails, it surely can NEVER be repeated,—it is a contest… to determine the question of man’s capacity for self-government.” Kirkland continued:

“The Long, Wicked War”—Regimental Histories from the American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

Folly, Falsehood, and Disfellowship: Religious Discord and Disunity in 19th-Century America

The October release of American Pamphlets, Series 1, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society includes works that illustrate tensions between different religions, within Presbyterianism, and between believers and free-thinkers.  

An Exposure of the Folly and Falsehood of the Rev'd George C. Light (1829)
By Archibald Cameron

Archibald Cameron wrote this pamphlet in response to one titled, “True State of the Case, or Slander Repelled” by Reverend George C. Light. Light claimed Presbyterians were secretly traveling throughout the country arguing against the separation of church and state.  Cameron clarifies the Presbyterian position, saying:
Folly, Falsehood, and Disfellowship: Religious Discord and Disunity in 19th-Century America

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