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I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger… Harriet Tubman

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Bound for Canaan : the underground railroad and the war for the soul of America  Fergus M. Bordewich  New York : Amistad, c 2005  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xv, 540 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [508]-519). Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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The civil war brought to a climax the country’s bitter division. But the beginnings of slavery’s denouement can be traced to a courageous band of ordinary Americans, black and white, slave and free, who joined forces to create what would come to be known as the Underground Railroad, a movement that occupies as romantic a place in the nation’s imagination as the Lewis and Clark expedition. The true story of the Underground Railroad is much more morally complex and politically divisive than even the myths suggest. Against a backdrop of the country’s westward expansion arose a fierce clash of values that was nothing less than a war for the country’s soul. Not since the American Revolution had the country engaged in an act of such vast and profound civil disobedience that not only challenged prevailing mores but also subverted federal law.

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Bound for Canaan tells the stories of men and women like David Ruggles, who invented the black underground in New York City; bold Quakers like Isaac Hopper and Levi Coffin, who risked their lives to build the Underground Railroad; and the inimitable Harriet Tubman. Interweaving thrilling personal stories with the politics of slavery and abolition, Bound for Canaan shows how the Underground Railroad gave birth to this country’s first racially integrated, religiously inspired movement for social change.

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I trust that I have the courage to lead a forlorn hope… John C. Breckinridge

meteors008A crude nonpartisan satire, parodying all four candidates in the 1860 presidential election. A map of the United States hung on a wall is being torn apart by three of the candidates. Lincoln (far left) and Douglas tear at the western part of the country, as Breckinridge (center) attacks the South. The fourth, John Bell (right), stands on a stool trying to repair the northeastern section with a jar of “Spaldings,” a widely marketed glue of the period. Several boxes of this adhesive appear, prominently labeled, at right.

Read almost any current American history textbook and you will come away with the impression that the presidential election of 1860 was between the clear victor – Abraham Lincoln of Illinois – and the sour grapes loser of the first series of presidential debates, ala Kennedy/Nixon style, Stephen A. Douglas. Political correctness will reinforce your understanding that although Lincoln was nominally a republican he was first, foremost and always the heir to Jefferson’s promise that all men are created equal. You will not be told that Douglas was a Democrat, had always been a democrat, had won the debates – which actually occurred in 1858 and won him the Democratic senate seat from Illinois in a contest with Abraham Lincoln.

meteors005A pro-Breckinridge satire on the 1860 presidential contest. Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln (right) and Democrat Stephen A. Douglas (left) appear as boxers squaring off in a ring before a small crowd of onlookers. Douglas is seconded by an Irishman (left), presumably representing Douglas’s Democratic constituency. Lincoln is coached by a black man, who kneels at right, armed with a basket of liquor bottles, and signifies Lincoln’s antislavery leanings. In the background a third candidate, John C. Breckinridge, thumbs his nose and points toward the White House. He is encouraged on his way by a number of men who cheer and doff their hats to him.

The reality of the election was that Lincoln was the candidate of the north who managed to incorporate a large number of tactics – membership in clubs, arm bands, marching societies – that have been used by other successful politicians since. Douglas, who came in second in the popular vote but last in the electoral vote, was something like a current establishment Republican in that he controlled a machine that could deliver a nomination but not an election. John C. Breckinidge was Lincoln’s true rival winning 11 states – all Southern – with John Bell taking the “border states” of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. All told the three challengers for the White House would amass 60.3% of the popular vote and still be unable to deny Lincoln the presidency in the first modern failure of the Electoral College system. It should really come as no surprise that the election resulted in secession and it was only the post electoral manipulation by Lincoln’s adherents that managed to turn it into the catastrophe of the civil war.

meteors002Rival presidential nominees Lincoln and Douglas are matched in a footrace, in which Lincoln’s long stride is a clear advantage. Both sprint down a path toward the U.S. Capitol, which appears in the background right. They are separated from it by a rail fence, a reference to Lincoln’s popular image as a rail-splitter. Douglas, whose characteristic shortness is here exaggerated to dwarfish dimensions, wonders aloud, “How can I get over this Rail Fence.” Over his shoulder he carries a cane on which hangs a jug marked “M.C.,” which probably refers to the Missouri Compromise, repealed in 1854 largely through Douglas’s efforts. As he runs, playing cards spill from his pockets (suggesting perhaps a penchant for gambling). Lincoln, whose height is equally exaggerated, runs along beside him waving his hat and carrying a rail-splitter’s maul over his shoulder. He says confidently, “It [i.e., the rail fence] can’t sto\p me for I built it.” From the fence on the far right a black youth taunts Douglas, “You can find me in dis yer Fence Massa Duglis.” The last is evidently a reference to the slavery question central to the election campaign.

Year of meteors : Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the election that brought on the Civil War Douglas R. Egerton New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2010 Hardcover. 399 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

meteors011Prominent candidates for the Democratic nomination at Charleston, S.C. [Composite of bust portraits of Stephens, Alexander Hamilton, 1812-1883; Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889; Slidell, John, 1793-1871 [diplomat and politician]; Lane, Joseph, 1801-1881 [U.S. Sen Dem.]; Breckinridge, John Cabell, 1821-1875; Douglas, Stephen Arnold, 1813-1861; Orr, James Lawrence, 1822-1873 [U.S. Cong Dem S.C.]; Guthrie, James, 1792-1869 [lawyer; Sec. of the Treasury]; Pierce; Houston, Samuel, 1793-1863

In early 1860, pundits across America confidently predicted the election of Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas in the coming presidential race. Douglas, after all, led the only party that bridged North and South. But the Democrats would split over the issue of slavery, leading Southerners in the party to run their own presidential slate. This opened the door for the upstart Republicans, exclusively Northern, to steal the Oval Office. Dark horse Abraham Lincoln, not the first choice even of his own party, won the presidency with a record-low 39.8 percent of the popular vote.

meteors009 An illustrated sheet music cover for campaign music honoring Constitutional Union party candidates John Bell and Edward Everett. The candidates’ bust portraits are framed in floral and acanthus tracery. In the upper right a streamer with stars and stripes hangs on the twigs which sprout from the rusticated wooden letters of Everett’s name. Below is an arrangement of motifs, including an eagle with shield, a cannon, flags, and a fasces. In the distance (left) is a harbor with several ships.

Egerton chronicles the contest with a political reporter’s eye for detail. Vividly, Egerton re-creates the cascade of unforeseen events that confounded political bosses, set North and South on the road to disunion, and put not Stephen Douglas, but his greatest rival, in the White House.

meteors006Print shows a large campaign banner for Constitutional Union party presidential candidate John Bell and running mate Edward Everett. The banner consists of a printed, thirty-three star American flag pattern with an oval bust portrait of Bell encircled by stars on a blue field.

We see Lincoln and his team outmaneuvering more prominent Republicans, like New York’s grandiose William Seward, while Democratic conventions collapse in confusion. And we see the gifted, flawed Douglas marking his finest hour in defeat, as he strives, and fails, to save the Union. Year of Meteors delivers a teeming cast of characters, minor and major, and a breakneck narrative of this most momentous year in American history.

meteors001 A caricature of Abraham Lincoln, probably appearing soon after his nomination as Republican presidential candidate. The artist contrasts Lincoln’s modest posture at the Illinois Republican state convention in Springfield in 1858 with his confident appearance at the 1860 Illinois Republican ratifying convention, also held in Springfield. The two Lincolns are shown joined at the back and seated on a stump. The 1858 Lincoln (facing left) addresses a small audience of men, including a young black man. He denies any presidential ambitions, his words appearing in a cabbage-shaped balloon: “Nobody ever expected me to be President. In my poor, lean, lank face, nobody has ever seen that any Cabbages were sprouting out.” In contrast, the 1860 Lincoln (facing right) states, “I come to see, and be seen.” There may be, as Wilson maintains, an implied criticism here of Lincoln’s reticence about his political views during the 1860 campaign, when from May to November Lincoln made no speeches except for a brief address at the meeting in Springfield. This may explain the less-than-enthusiastic, puzzled look of several of his listeners here.

meteors007A membership certificate for the Wide-Awake Club, a Republican marching club formed in February or March 1860 and active throughout the North during the election campaign. The club was dedicated to the preservation of the Union and the non-extension of slavery. The certificate has a central vignette showing crowds and troops before the U. S. Capitol. Some of the troops march in long parade lines, others fire cannons into the air toward the Capitol. Crowds line the Capitol steps, flanking a lone figure (Lincoln?) who ascends toward the building’s entrance. The certificate is framed by an American flag draped over a rail fence, with olive branches at the top. In the upper corners are oval medallions of Abraham Lincoln (left) and running mate Hannibal Hamlin (right). The rail-splitter’s mallets also appear in the corners. A vigilant eye peers from a halo of clouds at the center. On either side stand uniformed members of the society, wearing their characteristic short capes and visored caps. One holds a staff and a lantern (left), and the other holds a burning torch. Below, an eagle on a shield holds a streamer “E Pluribus Unum,” arrows, and olive branch. Broken shackles lie before him. In the left distance, the sun rises over a mountainous landscape and a locomotive chugs across the plains. On the right is a more industrial scene: an Eastern city with its harbor full of boats. In the foreground a man hammers a wedge into a wooden rail.
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Grand procession of Wide-Awakes at New York on the evening of October 3, 1860. Republican Wide Awakes in N.Y. – Lincoln-Hamlin Campaign [Printing-House Square (Park Row and Nassau St.)

meteors013During the 1860 election campaign the “Wide Awakes,” a marching club composed of young Republican men, appeared in cities throughout the North. (See no. 1860-14.) They often wore uniforms consisting of visored caps and short capes, and carried lanterns. Here Republican presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln (left) is dressed as a “Wide-Awake,” and carries a lantern and a spear-like wooden rail. He rounds the corner of the White House foiling the attempts of three other candidates to enter surreptitiously. At far right incumbent James Buchanan tries to haul John C. Breckinridge in through the window. Buchanan complains, “I’ll do what I can to help you Breck, but my strength is failing and I’m afraid you’ll pull me out before I can pull you in.” Breckinridge despairs, “. . . I’m too weak to get up–and we shall be compelled to dissolve the Union.'” His words reflect his and Buchanan’s supposed alliance with secessionist interests of the South. In the center Democrat Stephen A. Douglas tries to unlock the White House door, as Constitutional Union party candidate John Bell frets, “Hurry up Douglas! and get the door open, so that I can get in, for the watchman [i.e., Lincoln] is coming.” Douglas complains that none of the three keys he holds (labeled “Regular Nomination,” “Non Intervention,” and “Nebraska Bill”) will open the door, “. . . so I’d better be off, for old Abe is after me with a sharp stick.”

 

meteors010The antislavery plank was a controversial feature of the 1860 Republican platform. Here Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln is shown uncomfortably straddling a rail–a dual allusion to the platform and to Lincoln’s backwoods origins–carried by a black man and abolitionist editor of the New York “Tribune” Horace Greeley (right). Lincoln says, “It is true I have split Rails, but I begin to feel as if “this” rail would split me, it’s the hardest stick I ever straddled.” The black man complains, “Dis Nigger strong and willin’ but its awful hard work to carry Old Massa Abe on nothing but dis ere rail!!” One of Lincoln’s foremost supporters in the Northeast, Greeley here assures him, “We can prove that you have split rails & that will ensure your election to the Presidency.”

meteors014A pro-Lincoln satire, deposited for copyright weeks before the 1860 presidential election. The contest is portrayed as a baseball game in which Lincoln has defeated (left to right) John Bell, Stephen A. Douglas, and John C. Breckinridge. Lincoln (right) stands with his foot on “Home Base,” advising the others, “Gentlemen, if any of you should ever take a hand in another match at this game, remember that you must have a good bat’ and strike a fair ball’ to make a clean score’ & a home run.'” His “good bat” is actually a wooden rail labeled “Equal Rights and Free Territory.” Lincoln wears a belt inscribed “Wide Awake Club.” (See no. 1860-14 on the Wide-Awakes.) A skunk stands near the other candidates, signifying that they have been “skunk’d.” Breckinridge (center), a Southern Democrat, holds his nose, saying, “I guess I’d better leave for Kentucky, for I smell something strong around here, and begin to think, that we are completely skunk’d.'” His bat is labeled “Slavery Extension” and his belt “Disunion Club.” At far left John Bell of the Constitutional Union party observes, “It appears to me very singular that we three should strike foul’ and be put out’ while old Abe made such a good lick.’ Bell’s belt says “Union Club,” and his bat “Fusion.” Regular Democratic nominee Douglas replies, “That’s because he had that confounded rail, to strike with, I thought our fusion would be a short stop’ to his career.” He grasps a bat labeled “Non Intervention.”

 

meteors012Probably issued late in the campaign, the print seems to express the growing confidence among Republicans in the election of their candidate Abraham Lincoln. It may also be that like “The National Game” (no. 1860-42) the print was published after the election. As in “Stephen Finding His Mother” (no. 1860-35), Uncle Sam (center) is here shown as an elderly man in knee-breeches. He stands before the White House, about to take down a notice that reads: “Wanted. An honest upright and capable man to take charge of this house for four years. Undoubted testimonials will be required. Apply to Uncle Sam on the Premises.” At the same time he hands Abraham Lincoln a notice that “I have hired [him] for four years from March 1st 1861.” Lincoln is in shirtsleeves and rustic boots, and carries an axe and valise. Uncle Sam announces to the other presidential applicants (left to right) Bell, Breckinridge, and Douglas, “You’re too late gentlemen! I’ve concluded to take down the Notice and let Abraham Lincoln have the Place. I find his record all right, and can safely trust him with the management of my affairs.” Lincoln thanks him, saying, ” . . . I will endeavor to do my duty.” The losers plead their cases. Bell, holding a cane and satchel, says, “I’m an old gentleman sir, but I have a good many friends, to help me take care of your matters, if you’ll let me have the place.” Breckinridge, the southern Democratic nominee, claims, “This little man in front of me Sir [i.e., Douglas], is an imposter, it is “I” that have the genuine Certificates, and besides I can refer to the last incumbent.” Breckinridge served as vice president under discredited incumbent James Buchanan, who can be seen at right through an open White House window, stuffing “dirty linen” into his valise. Buchanan complains, “It is too bad! here [Uncle Sam’s] given me Notice to pack up and quit, without a character, and I’ll never be able to get another place.”Northern Democrat Douglas asks, “Please Sir, I’ve been trying a long time to get a recommendation for the place, and here it is at last, you’ll find me a young man of regular habits.” Breckinridge and Douglas carry valises similar to Lincoln’s, and all three candidates hold pieces of paper with their party affiliations.

 

meteors003 A view of the public meeting in Johnson Square, Savannah, prompted by news of Lincoln’s election, where a resolution was adopted for a state secession convention. In the nocturnal scene, the square is crowded with animated spectators surrounding an obelisk, where a banner emblazoned with the image of a coiled rattlesnake and the words “Our Motto Southern Rights, Equality of the States, Don’t Tread on Me” is displayed. The scene is lit by fireworks and a bonfire. The old City Exchange building is visible beyond the monument.

 

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The past rises before me like a dream. Again we are in the great struggle for national life.We hear the sounds of preparation–the music of boisterous drums–the silver voices of heroic bugles. We see the pale cheeks of women and the flushed faces of men; and in those assemblages we see all the dead whose dust we have covered with flowers…

Voices in the storm : Confederate rhetoric, 1861-1865 Karen E. Fritz Denton, Tex. : University of North Texas Press, 1999 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xv, 173 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 139-164) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Voices in the Storm examines the significance of oratory in the Confederacy and also explores the nuances and subtle messages within Confederate speeches. Examining metaphor, argument, and figures of speech, Fritz finds some surprising shifts within the Civil War South. Her research indicates that four years of bloody conflict caused southerners to reconsider beliefs about their natural environment, their honor, their slaves, and their northern opponents.

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Between 1861 and 1865 southerners experienced shattering calamities as they waged their unsuccessful struggle for independence. Confederate orators began the war by outlining a detailed and idealized portrait of their nation and its people. During the conflict, they gradually altered the depiction, increasingly adding references to the grotesque and discordant, as all around them southerners were losing homes and family members in the maelstrom that consumed their cities and fields, polluted their rivers, and destroyed their social order.

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Oratory played a fundamental role in the southern nation, whose citizens encountered it almost daily at military functions, before battle, in church, and even while lying in hospital beds or strolling on city streets. Because Confederate citizens frequently commented on oratory or spoke out during speeches, Fritz also considers audience behavior and response.

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By the end of the war, speakers described their nation in savage terms, applying to it expressions and characteristics once reserved only for the North. This analysis thus indicated that southerners listened as orators gradually shaped them and their nation into rhetorical facsimiles of their enemy, suggesting that separation at some level effected reunion.

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The penalty for laughing in a courtroom is six months in jail; if it were not for this penalty, the jury would never hear the evidence… H. L. Mencken

Hays County Jail, San Marcos, Texas. Living quarters for the Deputy Sherriff who is the jailer, and his family, are downstairs. Jail cells are on second floor. Maid who came to the door said, "It's the nicest place I ever saw"

Hays County Jail, San Marcos, Texas. Living quarters for the Deputy Sherriff who is the jailer, and his family, are downstairs. Jail cells are on second floor. Maid who came to the door said, “It’s the nicest place I ever saw”

Wanted : historic county jails of Texas Edward A. Blackburn, Jr. College Station : Texas A&M University Press, c 2006 Hardcover. 1st ed. xii, 412 p. : ill., maps ; 26 cm. Includes bibliographical references p. ( [377]-396) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

interior view looking west in west room, jail cells to right - Old County Jail, San Elizario Plaza, El Paso, El Paso County, TX

Interior view looking west in west room, jail cells to right – Old County Jail, San Elizario Plaza, El Paso, El Paso County, TX

Along with the settlement of the Texas frontier came rustlers, public drunks, gunfighters, and other outlaws. A jail in which to incarcerate the lawbreakers was often the first public building raised in a new town.

Jail and courthouse. San Augustine, Texas

Jail and courthouse. San Augustine, Texas

Later, as government developed, public buildings — notably county courthouses and jails — assumed not only practical but also symbolic importance. The architecture of these buildings in the nineteenth century reflected the power and status with which the community imbued the government; many of the same architects applied the aesthetic standards of the day to both. In later years, the safety of the prisoners – and the citizens – became concerns and jails were remodeled or abandoned to other uses in favor of modern, more utilitarian structures.

Preston DeCosta, fifteen year old messenger #3 for Bellevue Messenger Service. I ran across him and took photos while he was carrying notes back and forth between a prostitute in jail and a pimp in the Red Light. He had read all the notes and knew all about the correspondence. He was a fine grained adolescent boy. Has been delivering message and drugs in the Red Light for 6 months and knows the ropes thoroughly. "A lot of these girls are my regular customers. I carry 'em messages and get 'em drinks, drugs, etc. Also go to the bank with money for 'em. If a fellow treats 'em right, they'll call him by number and give him all their work. I got a box full of photos I took of these girls - some of 'em I took in their room." Works until 11:00 P.M. Location: San Antonio, Texas.

Preston DeCosta, fifteen year old messenger #3 for Bellevue Messenger Service. I ran across him and took photos while he was carrying notes back and forth between a prostitute in jail and a pimp in the Red Light. He had read all the notes and knew all about the correspondence. He was a fine grained adolescent boy. Has been delivering message and drugs in the Red Light for 6 months and knows the ropes thoroughly. “A lot of these girls are my regular customers. I carry ’em messages and get ’em drinks, drugs, etc. Also go to the bank with money for ’em. If a fellow treats ’em right, they’ll call him by number and give him all their work. I got a box full of photos I took of these girls – some of ’em I took in their room.” Works until 11:00 P.M. Location: San Antonio, Texas.

In this heavily illustrated guide to the historic county jails of Texas, Blackburn takes readers to each of the 254 counties in the state, presenting brief histories and of the counties and their structures that housed their criminals. He provides general information about the architecture and location of the buildings and, when possible, describes the present uses of those that have been decommissioned.

Mexican Jail, Farm Roads 390 & 50 Vicinity, Independence, Washington County, TX

Mexican Jail, Farm Roads 390 & 50 Vicinity, Independence, Washington County, TX

Interviews with local officials, historians, and newspaper publishers have yielded colorful anecdotes for many of the jails. Revealing photographs of many of the old jails have been gathered from local and archival sources, and Blackburn himself has taken pictures of extant buildings. Together, these words and images not only provide a survey of the way Texans have housed their criminals, but also, with the aid of thumbnail maps of county locations, offer residents and tourists throughout the state a guide to a fascinating aspect of architectural and cultural history.

Sheriff Jim Halberd talking with a prisoner in the county jail

Sheriff Jim Halberd talking with a prisoner in the county jail

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This light of history is pitiless; it has a strange and divine quality that, luminous as it is, and precisely because it is luminous, often casts a shadow just where we saw a radiance… Babylon violated diminishes Alexander; Rome enslaved diminishes Caesar; massacred Jerusalem diminishes Titus. Tyranny follows the tyrant. Woe to the man who leaves behind a shadow that bears his form… Victor Hugo

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Tomorrow is Juneteenth another of the host of misunderstood facts of American history. On January 1, 1863 Lincoln had issued his Emancipation Proclamation – a few hours before signing an order deporting another 5,000 blacks from the north – declaring all black slaves in the states that had seceded to be free. By April 1865 Lee had surrendered and Lincoln had died effectively ending the direct military engagement portion of the Civil War however not until June 19, 1865 was the north able to muster a sufficient force to land – unopposed – at Galveston and receive the surrender of Texas, the last State of the Confederacy to submit. As part of the invasion the federal commander, Major General Gordon Granger, issued General Order No. 3 which stated, The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.

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Technically of course it was the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution that freed the slaves with its dubious ratification on December 18, 1865 which was followed by the equally dubious Fourteenth Amendment, ratified on July 8, 1868, which may be seen as the granting of citizenship to the freed slaves and the Fifteenth Amendment – the most politically charged of all – granting the freed slaves, who were now newly minted citizens, the right to vote after February 3, 1870. This last nail in the coffin of the Republic was necessitated by the fact that the great hero of the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant, had a close call in the presidential election of 1868 and the Republicans were in need of some wholesale blocks of votes with which they would control the White House almost uninterrupted until 1912.

A double campaign placard or sign. The work may be an uncut proof for two placards, produced for both Republican and Democratic camps during the 1868 campaign. It is unclear whether the Grant image is intended to be serious or facetious. The Grant panel has a bust-length portrait of the Republican candidate with the words, "God Grant Us Peace." Grant closed his speech accepting the 1868 nomination with the words "Let us have peace," which later became his campaign slogan. The panel at right has a portrait of Grant's opponent Seymour accompanied by the pun, "We Shall See More [i.e., Seymour] Rads [Radical Republicans] bottled up' in November." "Bottled Up" may allude to rumors of Grant's alcoholism, which were fully exploited by Democrats to further their campaign in 1868.

A double campaign placard or sign. The work may be an uncut proof for two placards, produced for both Republican and Democratic camps during the 1868 campaign. It is unclear whether the Grant image is intended to be serious or facetious. The Grant panel has a bust-length portrait of the Republican candidate with the words, “God Grant Us Peace.” Grant closed his speech accepting the 1868 nomination with the words “Let us have peace,” which later became his campaign slogan. The panel at right has a portrait of Grant’s opponent Seymour accompanied by the pun, “We Shall See More [i.e., Seymour] Rads [Radical Republicans] bottled up’ in November.” “Bottled Up” may allude to rumors of Grant’s alcoholism, which were fully exploited by Democrats to further their campaign in 1868.

Someday legal scholars will be free to point to the dubious legality of an executive order that violated the war powers and the constitutional amendments that dismantled the last vestiges of the Republic. Until then we will have to live with the fruits of the poisoned tree and a history that shows the following prints as accurate despite every fact to the contrary that exists. It starts with government deceit that seeps into the culture and creates openings for things like Margaret Walker’s JUBILEE and after that the truth is unrecognizable  and may as well not exist.

 

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Print showing President Grant sitting at the center of a large table, with several men clustered around, signing the 15th amendment granting that the right to vote cannot be denied on basis of race or color. From left, sitting and standing, are “E. Stanton, H. Greeley , S. Colfax, A. Lincoln, R. Small[s], U.S. Grant, Chs. Sumner, W.F. Seward, Lt. Gov. Revels, Fred. Douglass, B.J. [i.e., F.] Butler, [and] W.T. Sherman.” Vignettes along sides and bottom show black Americans in military service, at school, on the farm, and voting. A head-and-shoulders portrait of John Brown is hanging on the wall in the background.

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Another of several large prints commemorating the celebration in Baltimore of the enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment. (See also nos. 1870-2 and 1870-3.) A group of black men, on horseback and wearing top hats, sashes, and badges, lead a procession. Behind them follow black soldiers and others carrying American flags and banners with portraits of an Indian brave, a black military officer, and Liberty. A small float with a crowned woman under a canopy also follows. On either side of the picture are two columns, “Education” and “Science,” on top of which rest ballot boxes wreathed in oak leaves. The columns are connected by arches with the legend “The Right of Citizens of the United States to Vote Shall Not Be Denied or Abridged by the United States or Any State on Account of Race Color or Condition of Servitude.” At left, beside the “Education” column, is a classroom scene where a black man teaches two black children geography. Below this scene is a bust portrait of Frederick Douglass. At right, near the “Science” column, are two black men at work. One, a stonemason, carves a large column. The other, a smith, stands at his anvil. Below this scene is a bust portrait of Mississippi senator Hiram R. Revels. The upper register of the print features portraits of white benefactors. In the center is an oval portrait of Lincoln, framed in oak leaves. It is decorated with an eagle and American flags, and flanked by seated figures of History or Learning (left) and Columbia or Liberty (right) with a shield, Phrygian cap, and sword. At the far left are busts of President Ulysses S. Grant and Vice President Schuyler Colfax, and at far right busts of abolitionist martyr John Brown and Baltimore jurist Hugh Lenox Bond.

 

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One of several large commemorative prints marking the enactment on March 30, 1870, of the Fifteenth Amendment, and showing the parade celebrating it which was held in Baltimore on May 19 the same year. The amendment declared that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Here the parade winds down Monument Street from Baltimore’s Washington Monument. In the left distance is the spire of the First Presbyterian Church. Heading the parade are a small troop of black Zouaves, holding rifles across their shoulders. They are followed by several men on horseback wearing top hats and sashes, several floats, and more soldiers. The sidewalks are lined with onlookers, many of them black. Framing the central image are a series of vignettes. At left are portrait busts of the late Pennsylvania representative and champion of black suffrage Thaddeus Stevens, Maryland representative Henry Winter Davis, author of the Wade-Davis Bill, and Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner. At right are busts of distinguished blacks Martin Robinson Delany, Frederick Douglass, and Hiram R. Revels. In the upper left corner of the print is an antebellum plantation scene, where a mustachioed overseer supervises slaves picking cotton. Nearby is an elegant house surrounded by palm trees. Beneath the scene are the words, “We are in bondage. O deliver us!” In contrast, the right hand corner holds a Civil War scene of black troops rushing into battle, with the words “We fought for Liberty, we now enjoy” below. In the center, above the parade scene, appear busts of (left to right) Lincoln, Baltimore jurist Hugh Lennox Bond, abolitionist martyr John Brown, Vice president Schuyler Colfax, and President Ulysses S. Grant. The three busts in the center rest on crossed laurel branches and flags. In the lower corners stand two parade groups of black men wearing Masonic sashes and aprons. They carry banners decorated with allegorical figures as well as the portraits of Lincoln, Grant, and Swiss patriot William Tell and his son. Between these groups are two small scenes: a black schoolroom with the words “Education will be our pride,” and a black preacher before his congregation, with the words, “The day of Jubilee has come.”

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America had no use for [John Quincy] Adams because he was eighteenth-century, and yet it worshipped Grant because he was archaic and should have lived in a cave and worn skins… Henry Adams

An overweight rheumy eyed drunk who, after eight years of scandal and mismanagement, had been run out of Washington, D.C. did what every president since has done – when they can no longer stand the heat of the kitchen they travel rooting for foreign plaudits to shore up their reputations at home. Listening to the Republican rhetoric of today chastising the Democrats for attempting to follow Lincoln’s playbook must have Clio laughing and weeping in alternating fits. As the GOP follow the Whigs into inconsequential oblivion this book – which is a delight to read – serves as a first-rate lesson as to why neither memoirs nor journalism should be used as historical sources.

Around the world with General Grant John Russell Young ; abridged, edited, and introduced by Michael Fellman Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xv, 448 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm. Map on end papers. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Print shows a caricature of financier Jay Gould, left, who attempts to corner the gold market, represented by bulls and bears in a cage. On Black Friday, September 1869, in the midst of scandal, President Ulysses S. Grant, center, restored prevailing gold prices by having the U.S. Treasury sell five million dollars in gold which he brings forward in a bag.

Print shows a caricature of financier Jay Gould, left, who attempts to corner the gold market, represented by bulls and bears in a cage. On Black Friday, September 1869, in the midst of scandal, President Ulysses S. Grant, center, restored prevailing gold prices by having the U.S. Treasury sell five million dollars in gold which he brings forward in a bag.

After leaving the office of the presidency in 1877, Ulysses S. Grant embarked on a journey worthy of his legendary namesake, an around-the-world tour that took him from Europe to the Middle East and Asia over two and one-half years. Accompanying Grant was journalist John Russell Young, a wartime associate who was working in Europe as a correspondent for the New York Herald when Grant first arrived in England. On assignment for the Herald, Young joined the former president’s entourage and recorded every detail of the grand tour – the sightseeing, official visits, travel conditions, and Grant’s candid discussions with heads of state and other notables about the Civil War and other matters of state. So far from home, Grant felt free to speak his mind about his fellow Union officers, his Confederate adversaries, and the conduct of the war, at far more length than he would in his memoirs. These salty reminiscences of the war give this travelogue its greatest importance for union apologists.

Horace Greeley's famous and widely ridiculed 1871 pamphlet "What I Know of Farming" provided the pretext for the title here. With the tail and cloven hoof of a devil Greeley (center) leads a small band of Liberal Republicans in pursuit of incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant and his supporters. Greeley heralds "General Amnesty," echoing his campaign pledge of amnesty for former Confederates. He is followed by his running mate Benjamin Gratz Brown (with a long beard) who calls for "Reduction of Taxes." Next follows bespectacled Missouri Republican leader Carl Schurz, who carries a flag "Reconciliation," and Massachusetts senator and civil rights advocate Charles Sumner who demands "Equal Rights to All." Grant, holding a liquor bottle, and his three companions flee to the left. One of them is Benjamin F. Butler, who grasps three silver spoons. (For the significance of Butler's spoons, see "The Radical Party on a Heavy Grade," no. 1868-14.) The man at far left is probably former New York senator Roscoe Conkling, a zealous supporter of Grant's administration and programs. Grant cries, "Let us have Peace," an 1868 campaign slogan.

Horace Greeley’s famous and widely ridiculed 1871 pamphlet “What I Know of Farming” provided the pretext for the title here. With the tail and cloven hoof of a devil Greeley (center) leads a small band of Liberal Republicans in pursuit of incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant and his supporters. Greeley heralds “General Amnesty,” echoing his campaign pledge of amnesty for former Confederates. He is followed by his running mate Benjamin Gratz Brown (with a long beard) who calls for “Reduction of Taxes.” Next follows bespectacled Missouri Republican leader Carl Schurz, who carries a flag “Reconciliation,” and Massachusetts senator and civil rights advocate Charles Sumner who demands “Equal Rights to All.” Grant, holding a liquor bottle, and his three companions flee to the left. One of them is Benjamin F. Butler, who grasps three silver spoons. (For the significance of Butler’s spoons, see “The Radical Party on a Heavy Grade,” no. 1868-14.) The man at far left is probably former New York senator Roscoe Conkling, a zealous supporter of Grant’s administration and programs. Grant cries, “Let us have Peace,” an 1868 campaign slogan.

First published in two volumes in 1879, Young’s account has been abridged by historian Michael Fellman and is now available in a single volume that, besides his adventures abroad, distills Grant’s unvarnished memories and judgments of his wartime and executive experiences. We read Grant’s opinions of such Civil War figures as Stonewall Jackson (“Jackson’s fame as a general depends upon achievements gained before his generalship was tested, before he had a chance of matching himself with a really great commander.”) George McClellan (“It has always seemed to me that the critics of McClellan do not consider this vast and cruel responsibility – the war, a new thing to all of us, the army new, everything to do from the outset, with a restless people and Congress.”) and Joe Johnston (“I have had nearly all of the Southern generals in high command in front of me, and Joe Johnston gave me more anxiety than any of the others. I was never half so anxious about Lee… Take it all in all, the South, in my opinion, had no better soldier than Joe Johnston.”). An intimate portrait of one of America’s military men, Around the World with General Grant is filled with half-remembered details of exotic places and on Western, particularly British, imperialism as America was on the reluctant verge of entering the world stage.

Cartoon showing Ulysses S. Grant, wearing Civil War uniform, in front of tents "Camp Bourbon," "post trading tent," etc., and Belknap, Cameron, Williams, and Murphy, as soldiers with unhappy faces, handing damaged sword "IIId. term imperialism" to James Garfield, who is holding paper "for nomination President Garfield," in front of "Fort Alliance (anti-third-term)."

Cartoon showing Ulysses S. Grant, wearing Civil War uniform, in front of tents “Camp Bourbon,” “post trading tent,” etc., and Belknap, Cameron, Williams, and Murphy, as soldiers with unhappy faces, handing damaged sword “IIId. term imperialism” to James Garfield, who is holding paper “for nomination President Garfield,” in front of “Fort Alliance (anti-third-term).”

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They were pleased that Keckley’s book was published, as it would serve as a warning “to those ladies whose husbands may be elevated to the position of the President of the United States not to put on airs and attempt to appear what their education, their habits of life and social position, and even personal appearance would not warrant.” Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer

There are two major flaws with this book. The first is that Keckly can hardly be described as a slave in the terms of Uncle Toms Cabin. She was a highly considered domestic servant who was allowed to ply a trade and by doing so buy her freedom. There is no evidence offered that she was ever the subject of sexual misadventure or any other sort of maltreatment. Of course Fleischner will not allow this and states that her past was “hidden” since the new dispensation insists that every slave who was not beaten on a daily basis was sexually abused constantly – how else can they justify their outlandish claims to entitlement today?

Largely missing also is the history of her arriving in Washington, being given rather than having to purchase, a seamstress license and the fact that both Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis; and Mary Anna Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee were clients. Either they did not talk to the “help” or discretion was the better part of valor since Keckly’s book has no juicy tidbits from these ladies whose every utterance would have been pounced upon by a sensationalist press.

And that may be the telling of the tale. Ladies may have confided certain things to their dressmakers but every evidence suggests that Keckly manufactured her own self-importance and Fleischner has compounded the errors. The result is a muddle that is worthy of Kitty Kelly in spite of its foot-noted pretensions.

Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly : the remarkable story of the friendship between a first lady and a former slave New York : Broadway Books, 2003  Jennifer Fleischner Dressmakers United States Biography, Keckley, Elizabeth, ca. 1818-1907 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. 372 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 327-360) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A vibrant social history set against the backdrop of the Antebellum south and the Civil War that recreates the lives and friendship of two exceptional women: First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and her mulatto dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckly.

“I consider you my best living friend,” Mary Lincoln wrote to Elizabeth Keckly in 1867, and indeed theirs was a close, if tumultuous, relationship. Born into slavery, mulatto Elizabeth Keckly was Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker, confidante, and mainstay during the difficult years that the Lincolns occupied the White House and the early years of Mary’s widowhood.

She was a fascinating woman in her own right, independent and already well-established as the dressmaker to the Washington elite when she was first hired by Mary Lincoln upon her arrival in the nation’s capital. Lizzy had bought her freedom in 1855 and come to Washington determined to make a life for herself as a free black, and she soon had Washington correspondents reporting that “stately carriages stand before her door, whose haughty owners sit before Lizzy docile as lambs while she tells them what to wear.”

Mrs. Lincoln’s wardrobe on exhibition in New York, sketched by Stanley Fox, Illus. in: Harper’s weekly, v. 11, no. 565 (1867 October 26), p. 684.

Mary Lincoln had hired Lizzy in part because she was considered a “high society” seamstress and Mary, an outsider in Washington’s social circles, was desperate for social cachet. With her husband struggling, Mary turned increasingly to her seamstress for companionship, support, and advice — and over the course of those trying years, Lizzy Keckly became her confidante and closest friend.

With Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly, Fleischner allows us to glimpse the intimate dynamics of this unusual friendship, and traces the events that enabled these two women — one born to be a mistress, the other to be a slave — to forge such an unlikely bond. Beginning with their respective childhoods in the slaveholding states of Virginia and Kentucky, their story takes us through the years of war, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the early Reconstruction period.

An author in her own right, Keckly wrote one of the most detailed biographies of Mary Lincoln ever published, and while is was a commercial success because of its sensational nature it led to a bitter feud between the friends, none the less it is one of the resources that Fleischner depends upon.

A work that reveals – and often weaves of whole cloth – the legacy of slavery and sheds new light on the Lincoln White House, Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly brings to life intimate aspects of the Lincoln’s during the Civil War and underscores the inseparability of black and white in Lincoln’s heritage.