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.
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
Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling book and film, The Help, brought to life a familiar caricature of African American women, the American “mammy.” Depicted as good humored, overweight, middle-aged, unquestionably loyal and opinionated, the mammy was an important figure in the lives of those white Southern children for whom she was the primary caregiver. In the early part of the 20th century, nostalgia for the lifestyle of the antebellum South, and particularly for the “mammy,” led to the “Mammy memorial movement,” a call for monuments commemorating the archetype throughout the South. Although largely forgotten now, proposals for “Mammy” monuments were covered and debated extensively in newspapers across the nation. Supporters saw the “Mammy” as a figure uniting both African American and white by bonds of affection and unconditional love. In their eyes, the statue was a figure that could help heal the wounds of the Civil War. The statue was often described as “a racial peace monument.”1 Opponents saw the “Mammy memorial movement” as a sentimental recollection that allowed the history of the South to be falsely romanticized and the proposed statue itself as perpetuating a racial stereotype aimed to keep African Americans in low-status occupations. Romantic sentiment for the figure of the “mammy” can be seen in this early poem, published in the Washington (D.C.) Bee in 1910.
Old Evening Star Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. -- Source: Carol M. Highsmith Archive (Library of Congress)
This spring Readex will begin releasing a complete 70-year span of The Evening Star—one of the most influential newspapers in U.S. history. For more than a century, historians have regarded The Evening Star as the newspaper of record for the nation’s capital. Today, curators from leading newspaper repositories cite this long-running afternoon daily as one of their most heavily researched papers.
Henry Whitney Bellows (1814-1882), planner and president of the United States Sanitary Commission, the leading soldiers' aid society, during the American Civil War.
On April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The first shots had been fired in a war that would last four long and bloody years. This April marked the beginning of a four-year commemoration of the 150th anniversary, or Sesquicentennial,of the American Civil War. Over the next four years, Civil War re-enactors, historians and history enthusiasts from across the United States will gather to help commemorate the battles and other important events linked to the war.
Our guest blogger today is Bruce D. Roberts, author of Clipper Ship Sailing Cards (2007) and Mechanical Bank Trade Cards (2008). His new article on "The Development of the American Advertising Card" appears in the April 2011 issue of The Readex Report.
In the mid-nineteenth century, clipper ships sailed from New York and Boston to San Francisco. Shipping lines advertised voyages of clipper ships via sailing cards, most of which were issued between 1856 and 1868. The American Civil War fell right in the middle of this span, and Civil War imagery is seen on many cards. The examples below are found in American Broadsides and Ephemera, Series I, a Readex digital archive created in partnership with the American Antiquarian Society.
In our new issue, you’ll find the deliciously rich history of chocolate; cavalier attitudes toward a deadly plague in a Brazilian port; forgotten battles of the Revolutionary War; and the intriguing rise and demise of the advertising card.