Sunday, October 31, 2010

Today in History - Nevada, Gold, Slavery, & Abraham Lincoln

.
On this day in 1864, anxious to have support of the Republican-dominated Nevada Territory for President Abraham Lincoln's reelection, the U.S. Congress quickly admits Nevada as the 36th state in the Union.

In 1864, Nevada had only 40,000 inhabitants, considerably short of the 60,000 normally required for statehood. But the 1859 discovery of the incredibly large and rich silver deposits at Virginia City had rapidly made the region one of the most important and wealthy in the West. The inexpert miners who initially developed the placer gold deposits at Virginia City had complained for some time about the blue-gray gunk that kept clogging up their gold sluices. Eventually several of the more experienced miners realized that the gunk the gold miners had been tossing aside was actually rich silver ore, and soon after, they discovered the massive underground silver deposit called the Comstock Lode. Unlike the easily developed placer deposits that had inspired the initial gold rushes to California and Nevada, the Comstock Lode ore demanded a wide array of expensive new technologies for profitable development. For the first time, western mining began to attract investments from large eastern capitalists, and these powerful men began to push for Nevada statehood.

The decisive factor in easing the path to Nevada's statehood was President Lincoln's proposed 13th Amendment banning slavery. Throughout his administration Lincoln had appointed territorial officials in Nevada who were strong Republicans, and he knew he could count on the congressmen and citizens of a new state of Nevada to support him in the coming presidential election and to vote for his proposed amendment. Since time was so short, the Nevada constitutional delegation sent the longest telegram on record up to that time to Washington, D.C., containing the entire text of the proposed state constitution and costing the then astronomical sum of $3,416.77.

Their speedy actions paid off with quick congressional approval of statehood and the new state of Nevada did indeed provide strong support for Lincoln. On January 31, 1865, Congress approved the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning slavery.
.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Today in History - 1866 Dedication of the Statue of Liberty

.
On October 28, 1866, The Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, is dedicated in New York Harbor by President Grover Cleveland was dedicated.

The Statue of Liberty's head, on exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1878.

Originally known as "Liberty Enlightening the World," the statue was proposed by the French historian Edouard de Laboulaye to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution. Designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the 151-foot statue was the form of a woman with an uplifted arm holding a torch. Its framework of gigantic steel supports was designed by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the latter famous for his design of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Right arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty, 1876 Centennial Exposition

In February 1877, Congress approved the use of a site on New York Bedloe's Island, which was suggested by Bartholdi. In May 1884, the statue was completed in France, and three months later the Americans laid the cornerstone for its pedestal in New York Harbor. In June 1885, the dismantled Statue of Liberty arrived in the New World, enclosed in more than 200 packing cases. Its copper sheets were reassembled, and the last rivet of the monument was fitted on October 28, 1886, during a dedication presided over by President Cleveland and attended by numerous French and American dignitaries.

Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World (1886) by Edward Moran. Oil on canvas. The J. Clarence Davies Collection, Museum of the City of New York.

On the pedestal was inscribed "The New Colossus," a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus that welcomed immigrants to the United States with the declaration, "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. / I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper July 2, 1887, pp. 324-325. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

In 1892, Ellis Island, adjacent to Bedloe's Island, opened as the chief entry station for immigrants to the United States, and for the next 32 years more than 12 million immigrants were welcomed into New York harbor by the sight of "Lady Liberty." In 1924, the Statue of Liberty was made a national monument, and in 1956 Bedloe's Island was renamed Liberty Island. The statue underwent a major restoration in the 1980s.
.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Women & the Painting "The Burial of Latané"

.

William D. Washington
(American, 1833-1870) The Burial of Lantane Detail 1864

The Burial of Latané was one of the most famous Lost Cause images of the American Civil War (1861–1865). Painted by Virginian William D. Washington in Richmond in 1864, the work shows white women, slaves, & children performing the burial service of a cavalry officer killed during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. The incident first inspired a poem & then the painting, which became a powerful symbol of Confederate women's devotion to the Confederate cause.

Latané's Interment

In June 1862, 29-year-old Captain William Latané of the 9th Virginia Cavalry was the only Confederate killed during J. E. B. Stuart's famous ride around Union General McClellan's army during the Peninsula Campaign. After Latané's death at Old Church in Hanover County, his brother John Latané removed the body to the Westwood plantation two miles away. The plantation's white men were all away serving the Confederate army, but Mrs. William Spencer Roane Brockenbrough, the mistress of the house, assured John Latané that his brother's remains would be rendered proper care & a Christian burial. The next day, slaves from Westwood & the neighboring family plantation of Summer Hill prepared the body & constructed a coffin. According to the story that circulated at the time, Mrs. Brockenbrough sent one of the slaves to retrieve the family minister, but Union pickets hindered his arrival. Without any men to assist them, the women performed the funeral themselves. It was believed that Mrs. Brockenbrough's sister-in-law, Mrs. Willoughby Newton, read the service, while the white children & slaves watched.

Scene Becomes Iconic Image

Within days, the details of the burial had been reported in the Richmond press. The much-publicized incident inspired John R. Thompson to compose a poem eulogizing Latané's death among strangers; the restrictions placed on funerals during the war; & the patriotic role of women who had performed the burial. Published in the July–August issue of the Southern Literary Messenger, the poem read in part:

No man of God might read the burial rite
Above the "rebel"—thus declared the foe
That blanched before him in the deadly fight,
But woman's voice, in accents soft & low,
Trembling with pity, touched with pathos, read
Over his hallowed dust the ritual of the dead—

An instant success, the poem was immediately reprinted as a broadside. Its message resonated throughout the Confederacy, as thousands of young soldiers died alone, far from home with only strangers to care for their remains. Mothers & wives on the home front, who feared their sons & husbands might experience a similar fate, could take solace in knowing that other Confederate women would provide loving care for their departed on distant battlefields.

Two years later, in 1864, William D. Washington immortalized the scene on canvas. Seeking models to pose for the image, Washington visited Miss Pegram's School for Girls in Richmond. From his sketches, he painted a 36-by-46-inch oil that featured loyal slaves; Mrs. Willoughby Newton at center performing the rites; Mrs. William Spencer Roane Brockenbrough, who agreed to care for the body; & the children of Westwood & Summer Hill plantations with flowers to decorate on the grave. The painting was first exhibited in a Richmond studio, but the great masses of people wishing to view it compelled officials to relocate it to the Virginia State Capitol. According to several accounts, a bucket was placed under the painting to solicit contributions for the Confederate war effort.

After the war, Washington arranged for A. G. Campbell to produce a steel engraving of the image. It originally sold for $20, a considerable sum in the postwar South. But the price of the print declined, as its popularity rose. In 1868, Campbell engraved the image for William Pate, one of New York City's most popular print-houses. The Southern Magazine, a publication begun in 1871 to celebrate the Confederacy, offered free copies with the purchase of a $1.50 annual subscription & 1 free copy of the print for every 5 orders of their books. According to historian Drew Gilpin Faust, the prints "became a standard decorative item in late-nineteenth-century white southern homes."

Years later, Mrs. Brockenbrough revealed that in fact neither she nor her sister-in-law had performed the service because a Methodist minister arrived just in time. Regardless of this revelation, the painting continued to herald Confederate women's heroic self-sacrifice & their special responsibility for mourning. Alone on the home front, Confederate women had shown their patriotic devotion to the nation through private acts such funerals. Women's wartime mourning thus marked an increasingly political tone of the formerly private grieving process. As would be the case in the postwar Ladies' Memorial Associations, these women were not grieving for their loved ones; they were grieving for the entire Confederate nation. The painting became emblematic of women's devotion to Confederate nationalism.

During the late 19th & early 20th centuries, the print proved integral to the Lost Cause. Depicting the war from a female perspective, the painting celebrated Confederate women's valor & extolled their virtue. Just as much as Confederate soldiers, women on the home front had been faithful to the cause. The image also celebrated the loyal & faithful slave, perhaps hoping to serve as a role model for southern race relations during the uncertain years of Reconstruction (1865–1877). Applauding freedmen who might tearfully mourn their former masters allowed southern whites to praise those black people who knew their "place" in the postwar society—those who did not question the authority of whites, meddle in politics, or stage Emancipation Day celebrations.

Article from Janney, Caroline E. " The Burial of Latané ." Encyclopedia Virginia. Ed. Brendan Wolfe. 25 Oct. 2010. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. 23 Aug. 2010 .
.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Today in History - The Telegraph

.
This key, believed to be from the first American telegraph line, was built by Alfred Vail as an improvement on Samuel Morse’s original transmitter.

On October 24, 1861, the first transcontinental telegraph system was completed, making it possible to transmit messages rapidly (by mid-19th-century standards) from coast to coast.

This technological advance, pioneered by inventor Samuel F.B. Morse, brought an end to the Pony Express, the horseback mail service which had previously provided the fastest communication between the East and the West.

In February 1753, a mysterious letter appeared in the Scots' Magazine describing a simple method of transmitting messages using electricity "An Expeditious Methods of Conveying Intelligence." At least 60 experimental electric telegraphs are known to have been made in the following 100 years.

Samuel Morse "caught the telegraph bug" in 1832 on board of the ship Sully crossing the Atlantic. He teamed up with the professor in chemistry Leonard Gale and received help from physicist Joseph Henry.
.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Today in History - 1813 US Fur Traders Turn Over Astoria, Oregon, to the British

.
John Jacob Astor, Oregon Pioneer

On this day in 1813, US citizens operating the Pacific Fur Company trading post in Astoria, Oregon, turn the post over to their rivals in the British North West Company, and for the next three decades Britons dominate the fur trade of the Pacific Northwest. The town and fur trading post at Astoria were founded in 1811 at the behest of John Jacob Astor (1763–1848), a German-born US immigrant who had hoped to beat out his British rivals and develop the Pacific Northwest fur trade for the US. Unfortunately for Astor, the outbreak of the War of 1812 between the US and Great Britain threw the fate of his enterprise into doubt, raising the threat that at any moment a British warship might arrive and seize Astoria as a spoil of war. Astor's partners in the Pacific Fur Company were mostly Canadian, and they saw little reason to risk losing their entire investment in a British takeover so they sold their interests to the British North West Company in early October 1813. Just as they had feared, within weeks of the sale a man-of-war arrived and took possession of Astoria for Great Britain. In December 1813, the Stars and Stripes came down, the Union Jack went up, and Astoria became Fort George.

Although Great Britain gave the settlement of Astoria back to the United States after the War of 1812, the British maintained control of Fort George and the Pacific Northwest fur trade, primarily through the royally chartered Hudson Bay Company. For the next 20 years the Hudson Bay Company's British representatives ruled as benevolent despots over the traders, settlers, and Indians of the Pacific Northwest. By the 1840s, the beaver population had dwindled, while US settlement in the area was on the rise. Unwilling to protect the Hudson Bay Company's claim to the region, the British agreed to accept US control of the territory below the 49th parallel in 1846 and ceded to the US the territory encompassing the future states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
.

African American Women from the 1890s Albums of WEB Dubois



These photos come from Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. Du Bois' albums of photographs of African Americans in Georgia were exhibited at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900. These are part of the Library of Congress collection of African American Photograph collection assembled for that 1900 Paris Exposition. They are part of the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog of the Library of Congress. There are many more to see online.














Today in History - 1855 Rival Governments in Bleeding Kansas

.
Photo of John Brown 1856

On this day in 1855, in opposition to the fraudulently elected pro-slavery legislature of Kansas, the Kansas Free State forces set up a governor & legislature under their Topeka Constitution, a document that outlaws slavery in the territory.

Trouble in territorial Kansas began with the signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act by President Franklin Pierce in 1854. The act stipulated that settlers in the newly created territories of Nebraska and Kansas would decide by popular vote whether their territory would be free or slave. In early 1855, Kansas' first election proved a violent affair as over 5000 so-called Border Ruffians invaded the territory from western Missouri forcing the election of a pro-slavery legislature. To prevent further bloodshed, Andrew H. Reeder, appointed territorial governor by President Pierce, reluctantly approved the election.

In May 1856, Border Ruffians sacked the abolitionist town of Lawrence In retaliation a small Free State force was formed, armed by supporters in the North & under the leadership of militant abolitionist John Brown. It massacred five pro-slavery Kansans along the Pottawatomie Creek. Raids, massacres, and skirmishes follow the establishment of Kansas' second government, and the territory becomes popularly known as "Bleeding Kansas.” However, in 1861 the irrepressible differences in Kansas are swallowed up by the outbreak of full-scale Civil War in America.
.

Photo Archives - African American Women at Work & School in the 1890s

.
These photos come from the Library of Congress collection of African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition. They are part of the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog of the Library of Congress, and there are many more there to see.

5 Female Negro officers of Women's League, Newport, R.I. 189os

African Americans, mostly women] assorting tobacco at the T.B. Williams Tobacco Co., Richmond, Virginia 1890s

Agricultural and Mechanical College, Greensboro, N.C - Butter making 1890s

Bazoline Estelle Usher, Atlanta University Student 1890s

Four African American women seated on steps of building at Atlanta University, Georgia 189os

Group of Children from the Model School, Fisk University, Nashville Tenn. 1890s

Nine African American women seated on steps of a building at Atlanta University, Georgia 1890s

Roger Williams University--Nashville, Tenn.--Normal class 1890s

Sewing class at Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, Augusta, Georgia 1890s

Sewing Class

Young women cutting and fitting clothing in class at Agricultural and Mechanical College, Greensboro, N.C. 1890s
.

Photo Archives - Back To School

.

Hands-on learning out-of-doors became commonplace in late 19th-century elementary schools in the United States. The new trend introduced basic science, conservation, and preservation into the cirriculum. Children took field trips and sometimes planted gardens or beautified school grounds.

Children on a Field Trip Washington, D.C. c. 1899. United States Library of Congress
.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Today in History - The Light Bulb

.

On this day, October 21, 1879, Thomas Edison invented a workable electric light at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Using a filament of carbonized thread, Thomas Edison tested the 1st electric light bulb, which lasted 13½ hours before burning out. Now we are phasing the filament light bulb out.

.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

19th-Century American Families

.
John Barnard Whittaker (American, 1836-1926) The Lesson 1871

Horace Rockwell (American painter, 1811-1877) Lewis G. Thompson Family 1842-5

Henry F. Darby (1829 – 1897) The Reverend John Atwood and His Family

Oliver Tarbell Eddy (1799 – 1868) The Children off Mr and Mrs Israel Griffith

Ambrose Andrews (1805 – 1859) The Children of Nathan Starr

John Mix Stanley (1814 – 1872) The Williamson Family

Erastus Salisbury Field (1805 – 1900) Joseph Moore and His Family
.