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

An African Queen, Inside Monticello, a Reconstructionist Reversal, and Recollections of an Underground Railroad Conductor: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The September release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes descriptions of the Kingdom of Matamba and its powerful Queen Anna Zingha; the private life of Thomas Jefferson, as recalled in the 1860s by a former chief overseer; South Carolina during Reconstruction, recorded by the Washington correspondent of the New York Tribune; and the Underground Railroad, written by a former conductor. This release also includes In the Wilds of Africa, an exciting adventure tale replete with detailed illustrations.

Memoirs of Celebrated Women of All Countries (1834)
By Laure Junot, Duchess of Abrantes

Laure Junot, Duchess of Abrantes was an early 19th century French writer known for her attractiveness, extravagance, and sharp tongue. In this volume, Junot includes a biography of Anna Zingha, Queen of the Kingdom of Matamba, located in what is now Angola. Junot covers Queen Zingha’s rise to power and struggle with the Portuguese for control of her country. She describes the funeral ceremony for Zingha’s father in graphic detail:
An African Queen, Inside Monticello, a Reconstructionist Reversal, and Recollections of an Underground Railroad Conductor: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

From Harpers Ferry to Gettysburg: Perspectives of Confederate and Union Soldiers

The September release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a wide range of voices and perspectives. The documents include a discourse on slavery in reaction to John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry prior to the war; a Confederate general’s report on a Union general during the war; and two retrospectives written years after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Often these differing viewpoints provide details and nuances not found in other Civil War accounts.


Letter from General C.F. Henningsen in Reply to the Letter of Victor Hugo on the Harper's Ferry Invasion (1860)

Charles Frederick Henningsen was a mercenary who participated in conflicts in Spain, Nicaragua, and Hungary before joining the Confederacy and serving as a brigadier-general. Although it is unclear whether he was born in England or Brussels, his views on slavery and Africans, as espoused here, are unambiguous. He wrote this work the year after abolitionist John Brown failed in his attempt to seize the Harpers Ferry arsenal and start an armed slave revolt. Victor Hugo, a French writer and political activist, had written a letter asking the United States to spare John Brown’s life, but it was received after Brown had been executed in December 1859. Henningsen’s response to Hugo quickly moves past the specifics of Brown’s raid and his own approval of Brown’s execution. He instead turns to the overall condition of Africans and African-Americans, writing that their “race has a different, and, in some respects, inferior mental organization, certainly, to the Caucasian race, and probably to every other, and that he is wanting in natural capacity for freedom.”

Henningsen explained his understanding of the differences between the races, comparing slavery to European serfdom, before voicing a sentiment still echoed in some corners today.

From Harpers Ferry to Gettysburg: Perspectives of Confederate and Union Soldiers

Controversial Literature in The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society

The September release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922, contains many documents categorized as “controversial literature.” This bibliographical term describes works that argue against or express opposition to individual religious and monastic orders, individual religions, individual Christian denominations, and sacred works. Unsurprisingly, much of the controversy in the following documents surrounds Biblical interpretations of the institution of slavery.

A Treatise on Resistance and Non-resistance: in Which Is Included a Scriptural Distinction between the Church of Christ and the Civil Government of the World (1848)
By Royal Gage, minister of the Gospel, Westminster, Vt.

Born in 1789 in Walpole, N.H., Royal Gage worked for many years as a pioneer minster in northern Vermont. Among the many topics he discusses in this well-written treatise are the differing perspectives on slavery of Biblical scholars named Fuller and Wayland:
Controversial Literature in The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society

UFO Fever in America’s Historical Newspapers: The Mysterious Airships of 1896-97

Before Roswell and Area 51, before the Wright Brothers and heavier-than-air flying machines, America’s attention was seized by reports of a “mysterious airship.” For five months beginning in November 1896, newspapers across the country described strange aircraft and lights in the night sky above many Western states.  Although the country was not without its skeptics, and opportunists, by April 1897 much of the Midwest was afflicted with UFO fever.

On November 23, 1896, a story originally reported by the San Francisco Chronicle was picked up by many newspapers across the United States. Under various headlines—such as “All in the Air: A Mysterious Airship Puzzles the People of California” (Minneapolis Journal), “Airship a Fact: A Son of Maine has Mastered the Secret” (Boston Daily Journal), and “An Airship: Residents of Sacramento, Cal., Are Treated to a Rare Sight; Aerial Navigation a Reality” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)—the newspapers all reported the same general story.

About 1 o’clock last Monday morning the inhabitants of Sacramento, who were astir at that hour, claim to have seen an airship passing rapidly over the city. Some merely said they saw a bright light, while others went so far as to say they saw a cigar-shaped flying machine and heard human voices from it. The residents of Oakland also say they saw the same sight a few nights ago. (Duluth News Tribune, November 23, 1896)

UFO Fever in America’s Historical Newspapers: The Mysterious Airships of 1896-97

Anti-Slavery Activists, New York Politics, and Formation of the Republican Party: Selected Items from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

One hundred and sixty years ago, on July 6, 1854, the first official party convention of the Republican Party was held in Jackson, Michigan. The party was founded in the Northern states by, among others, anti-slavery activists and ex-Whigs who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Whig Party, established in 1833, had become divided over the question of whether to allow the expansion of slavery into the territories. By 1855 the party was collapsing as many of its members joined the new Republican Party or the American Party, which had formed that year around the anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic movement known as the Know-Nothings.  

United States Senatorial Question (1855)
Speeches Delivered in the Assembly of the State of New-York...in Exposition of the Oaths, Obligations, and Rituals of the Know-Nothings, during the Debate on the United States Senatorial Question, February 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, 1855
Anti-Slavery Activists, New York Politics, and Formation of the Republican Party: Selected Items from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The Paradox of Self Government, Individual Rights, and Slavery: The Lecompton Constitution

The August release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes several speeches about the proposed constitutions under which Kansas, first as a territory and then as a state, would be governed. The Topeka Constitution of 1855, the first of four proposed constitutions, would have banned slavery in Kansas. In response to the Topeka Constitution, the territorial legislature, consisting mostly of slave-owners, met at the designated capital of Lecompton to produce a rival document. The Lecompton Constitution enshrined slavery, protected slaveholder rights, and provided for a referendum that allowed voters the choice of allowing more slaves to enter the territory. Free-state supporters, who comprised a large majority of actual settlers, boycotted the vote. In fact, the proposed Lecompton Constitution was so divisive that territorial Governor Robert Walker, a strong defender of slavery but opposed to the blatant injustice of the constitution, resigned rather than implement it.

The Paradox of Self Government, Individual Rights, and Slavery: The Lecompton Constitution

Neutrality or Piracy? International Law, Great Britain, and the American Civil War

The August release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society contains several items about international law and neutrality, specifically British neutrality. Prior to the American Civil War, British Prime Minister Viscount Palmerston urged a policy of pragmatic neutrality. His international concerns were focused in Europe where he had to balance both Napoleon III’s ambitions in Europe and Bismarck’s rise in Germany. However, the Confederate strategy for securing independence was largely based on the hope of military intervention by Britain, a hope that was nearly realized in the wake of the Trent Affair.

International Law: Case of the Trent. Capture and Surrender of Mason and Slidell (1862)
By Joel Parker
Neutrality or Piracy? International Law, Great Britain, and the American Civil War

The Back-to-Africa Movement, American Colonization Society, and the Know Somethings

The July release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia has several items about the American Colonization Society and the movement to return freedman to Africa. Founded in 1816, the American Colonization Society was a coalition between two distinct groups: abolitionist evangelicals and Quakers on one side, and, on the other, slaveholders who saw in the repatriation of freedmen a way to prevent slave rebellions. Beginning in 1821, thousands of freedmen would eventually emigrate from the United States to what would become the Republic of Liberia.

A Sermon, Preached at New-Ark, October 22d, 1823, Before the Synod of New-Jersey, for the Benefit of the African School, under the Care of the Synod. By Samuel Miller, D.D., Professor in the Theological Seminary at Princeton (1823)
The Back-to-Africa Movement, American Colonization Society, and the Know Somethings

Civil War Intrigue and Reflections: Recent Items from The American Civil War Collection

The July release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a tale of a British plot to destroy democracy, a case of Southern espionage, and a retrospective examination of the Trent Affair. Also found here are popular cultural items such as the history of a famous mid-19th-century singing group and a colorful children’s picture book featuring an advertisement for battle maps and more.

The Present Attempt to Dissolve the American Union: A British Aristocratic Plot (1862)
By B. 

Civil War Intrigue and Reflections: Recent Items from The American Civil War Collection

Slowly Shifting Winds of Change: Selected Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints

By the middle of the 19th century many countries had signed treaties for the abolition of the slave trade. Included in the June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia are treaties between Great Britain and several other countries, namely Venezuela, Haiti, Chile, Ecuador, Belgium, and, finally, the United States. The sentiment behind the changing international political atmosphere was shared by many, but, as seen in additional highlights from this release, was also slow to spread and remained far from universal.



Treaty between Her Majesty and the Republick of Venezuela, for the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1840)

 

Convention between Her Majesty and the Republick of Hayti...for the More Effectual Suppression of the Slave Trade (1841)

Slowly Shifting Winds of Change: Selected Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints

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