Abraham Lincoln


“Humbugs and fol-de-rols!”: Highlights from Nineteenth-Century American Drama

This final release of plays from Nineteenth-Century American Drama includes a devastating assault on Abraham Lincoln, an all-female cast in a courtroom drama meant to ridicule women, and a “Negro sketch in two scenes.”


The Royal Ape. By William Russell Smith (1863)

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William Russell Smith was a U.S. congressman from Alabama who served from 1851 to 1857. He subsequently served as a member of the first and second Confederate Congresses. Smith was not the first, nor the last, to describe Lincoln as a simian. He wrote this “dramatic poem” after the Union’s defeat in the Battle of Manassas as the South preferred to call what the North called the First Battle of Bull Run. It is dated January 1, 1863, in anticipation of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Smith’s cast of characters—with the exception of two former slaves, two White House maids, and extras including officers, soldiers, citizens, and senators—are all prominent politicians and generals of the time. In following the action of the play, knowledge of the actual events of the time provides some perspective.

Act I, Scene I, occurs in the White House on the eve of the battle which Smith refers to as Manassas. We discover Mrs. Lincoln and her son Robert who would have been age 20. He has just returned from the House of Representatives and describes with gusto a physical fight that had broken out there.

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“Humbugs and fol-de-rols!”: Highlights from Nineteenth-Century American Drama

‘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

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a clergyman’s critique of Thomas Jefferson’s candidacy for the presidency, a Quaker’s message to slave-owners, and an abolitionist’s speech from the floor of the House of Representatives.


 

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Serious Considerations on the Election of a President (1800)

By William Linn

Reverend William Linn (1752-1808) served as a chaplain in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and was the first Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives. Linn opposed Thomas Jefferson’s presidential run for religious reasons.

…my objection to his being promoted to the Presidency is founded singly upon his disbelief of the Holy Scriptures; or, in other words, his rejection of the Christian Religion and open profession of Deism.

Linn turns to Jefferson’s writings to prove he is not a Christian. Linn quotes Jefferson casting doubt on a global flood and making reference to an age of the earth greater than 6000 years. He then quotes Jefferson’s musings on various races of people and how they compared:

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Contraband, Conspiracy, and Political Cartoons: New Works in The American Civil War Collection

154FE302DA7FE3C8.jpgThe current release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society, includes:

  • an unusual Christmas story instructive of the need for faith,
  • an elaborate account of the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln,
  • and a lithographic collection of caricatures, or political cartoons, from the years surrounding and including the Civil War.

Contraband Christmas. By N.W.T.R. With illustrations by Hoppin. (1864)

N.W.T.R are the initials for Nathaniel William Taylor Root (1829-1872) who appears to have been particularly interested in preparing Civil War-era boys for military service. The illustrator is Augustus Hoppin who has previously been featured here for his comical works Carrot-pomade and Hay Fever.

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This tale takes place in Rhode Island and entails the Greene family and their three children the eldest of whom is a soldier in the Union Army. When he had last visited his family on leave, he had brought with him a black man who remained with the family to whom he was introduced as Chrismus. When asked, he explained that his former master had named him thus because he was born on Christmas Day twenty years earlier.

Contraband, Conspiracy, and Political Cartoons: New Works in The American Civil War Collection

The 1864 GOP National Convention and ‘the Little Squad of Bolters’

250px-Republican_presidential_ticket_1864b.jpgEvery four years the American political parties gather to nominate their presidential candidate. The months preceding the conventions are often the most fractious periods in American politics as spring turns to summer and internecine squabbles turn to feuds. This was particularly true in 1864.

As the National Union Party convention in Baltimore neared the young Republican Party was at risk of being torn apart. An uncompromising faction of the party, the Radical Republicans, opposed nominating President Lincoln for a second term and even held their own convention in Cleveland. They objected to the president’s policy on slavery, his administration of the war, and his post-war plans which they found too lenient.

Most Radical Republican leaders expected the Confederates to be treated severely after the war. In early January 1864, under the headline “The Logic of History: Bloodthirsty Venom of the ‘Loyalists,’” the Wisconsin Daily Patriot printed the following:

During the summer of 1863, according to the Washington Chronicle, Jim Lane, a Republican United States Senator from Kansas, made a speech in Washington, in which he gave utterance to the following bloodthirsty sentiments:

“I would like to live long enough to see every white man in South Carolina, in hell, and the negroes inheriting their territory.”

[Loud applause.]

The 1864 GOP National Convention and ‘the Little Squad of Bolters’

“What appears to be wise and right”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

LincolnPortrait.jpgThis month’s release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes works illustrating various forms of internal strife caused by slavery and the opposition to it. Highlighted here—in George Washington's "Last Will and Testament," a book by an Irish abolitionist, and a compilation of the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln—are examples of conflicting sentiments within an individual, a movement, and a country. 


 

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The Last Will and Testament of General George Washington (1800)

By George Washington

Item. Upon the decease of my wife, it is my will and desire that all the slaves which I hold in my own right shall receive their freedom. To emancipate them during her life, would, though earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties, on account of their intermixture by marriages with the dower negroes, as to excite the most painful sensations, if not disagreeable consequences from the latter, while both descriptions are in the occupancy of the same proprietor; it not being in my power, under the tenure by which the dower negroes are held, to manumit them.

Washington continues, describing the treatment he expects of his slaves upon their eventual emancipation:

“What appears to be wise and right”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“A Crime of the Deepest Dye”: Speeches from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The October release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes speeches illustrating the growing controversy surrounding America’s peculiar institution in the decade leading up to the Civil War.

Highlighted here are speeches from the floor of the House of Representatives, the floor of the Senate of Massachusetts, and a street corner in Alton, Illinois.


Ohio congressman Joshua Reed GiddingsPayment for Slaves (1849)

Speech of Representative Joshua Reed Giddings

In dissenting to legislation before the U.S. House of Representatives—the “Bill To Pay the Heirs of Antonio Pacheco for a Slave Sent West of the Mississippi with the Seminole Indians in 1838”—Ohio congressman Joshua Reed Giddings makes both an emotional and technical argument after giving a brief background of the case.

The claimant, in 1835, residing in Florida, professed to own a negro man named Lewis….The master hired him to an officer of the United States, to act as a guide to the troops under the command of Major Dade, for which he was to receive twenty-five dollars per month.

It is unclear whether Lewis deserted the army or was captured by the enemy when Dade was defeated, but Lewis was recaptured in 1837 by U.S. General Jesup who…

“A Crime of the Deepest Dye”: Speeches from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

Freedom Bound: The Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation

By Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Associate Professor of History, University of Delaware, and Director of the Program in African American History, Library Company of Philadelphia

In 2013, people across the United States will celebrate the sesquicentennial of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. As the country approached a third year of bloody civil war, President Abraham Lincoln issued what has become the most symbolic of mandates. Although limited in many ways, the Proclamation stands as a centerpiece in the long struggle to end racial slavery in America, an institution that spanned more than two centuries and brought death and despair to millions of people of African descent.
Freedom Bound: The Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation

Just published — The Readex Report: September 2012

In this issue: celebrating a milestone of African American freedom; China's canal system sparks domestic curiosity and competition; students reveal the history of Radical Republicans; and fetching females hawk clipper-ship trips. Freedom Bound: The Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation By Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Associate Professor of History, University of Delaware, and Director of the Program in African American History, Library Company of Philadelphia
In 2013, people across the United States will celebrate the sesquicentennial of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. As the country approached a third year of bloody civil war, President Abraham Lincoln issued what has become the most symbolic of mandates. Although limited in many ways, the Proclamation stands as a centerpiece in the long struggle to end racial slavery in America, an institution that spanned more than two centuries and brought death and despair to millions of people of African descent. (read article)
Lake Erie by Way of Guangzhou: Or, The Other Canal Boom By Dael Norwood, Ph.D. Candidate in History, Princeton University
Just published — The Readex Report: September 2012

Instant Access to our Award-Winning Civil War Collection Still Available

From The Daily Picayune; 04-15-1865; New Orleans

One hundred and forty-five years ago this month, two of the most critical events in American history occurred within five days of one another. On April 9, General R. E. Lee surrendered the battered Army of Northern Virginia to Union forces under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant. Five days later, President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth and died the next day. Learn about these events and many more in The Civil War: Antebellum Period to Reconstruction—a Choice 2010 Outstanding Academic Title.

Instant Access to our Award-Winning Civil War Collection Still Available

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