Friday, December 30, 2011

Just Finished Reading

Being on holiday break I have had some time to get in a significant amount of reading. This short book didn't take long; it only has 125 pages or so of text. I enjoyed the book. On the positive side it gave some interesting insight into middle-class white life in antebellum Virginia, however on the negative side, this very narrow topic did not seem to allow the author much room for in-depth research.

On a 5 point scale I give it it 3.5.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Just Finished Reading

On a scale of 1 to 5 I give it a 4. I highly recommend.

For more information see:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The 15th Amendment

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."

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 Mississipi 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.

Courtesy Library of Congress

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Intriguing Commentary

It is difficult for us in the 21st century to imagine how much race figured into current affair discussions during the mid-19th century. But, when one stops to think about it, it is not so surprising due to the fact that the race based issues of slavery and emancipation dominated politics and society.

In state like Kentucky that had known slavery since even before statehood, emancipation and the Reconstruction era came as a drastic shock. In the same 1868 issue of the Lexington Observer and Reporter mentioned previously another story ran that to me is quite intriguing.

"The other day we drove to Danville in a buggy. About half a mile for Lexington we saw a couple of negroes hunting; our attention was attracted and we determined to count how many armed negroes we might meet. By the time we reached Danville, our count had become thirty seven. The Christmas holidays was not over and it was a fine day for rabbits.

The negroes are perhaps the most universally armed people in Kentucky, and are daily becoming more familiar with the use of weapons."

It somehow seems strange that a conservative newspaper such as the Observer and Reporter would make mention of something as this. I have read numerous primary source reports of the depredations of this period in Kentucky and it not surprising that African Americans would want to arm themselves for protection. Their change in status from valuable protected property (in slavery) to perceived nuisance as freedmen (in emancipation) often meant that there was little legal recourse from racial persecution. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but is the editor perhaps issuing a subtle warning to his readers?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Emancipation Celebration

I ran across a short but interesting article in the January 4, 1868 issue of the Lexington (Kentucky) Observer and Reporter. It was titled "Negro Celebration" and stated, "On Wednesday last, it being the fifth anniversary of the freedom of the negroes it was celebrated by those in this city and county. Early in the day they formed a column, with music at its head, and marched through our streets until evening, when they proceeded to the Methodist Church (col'd) on Upper street, where they were addressed by [Stephen G.] Burbridge, [James S.] Brisbin and others. We heard of no disturbance at all during the day."

Burbridge controversially served as the commander of the Department of Kentucky during the Civil War and Brisbin organized the 5th US Colored Cavalry, a unit raised and trained at Camp Nelson, Kentucky.

Cool Random Civil War Era Photograph

Photo courtesy Kentuckiana Digital Library via University of Kentucky

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MLK, FDR and WWI Monuments in D.C.

Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.

A very impressive close up of the sculpture.

If you haven't been to see the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, go check it out the next time you're in Washington D.C. It's pretty impressive.

FDR and me

Fireside chat

Soup and bread line

FDR and his dog, Fala

World War I Monument

Thursday, December 8, 2011

USCT Flag Images

While doing some browsing on the Library of Congress website the other day I ran across some neat photographs of United States Colored Troops (USCT) flags. The images painted on the flags are very striking and I only wish these photographs had been taken in color. The mottoes on the flags tell strong stories of what these men were fighting for.

One Cause, One Country: 45th USCT

We Will Prove Ourselves Men: 127th USCT

Strike for God and Liberty: 25th USCT

Let Soldiers in War Be Citizens in Peace: 24th USCT

Sic Semper Tyrannis: 22nd USCT

Rather Die Freemen, Than Live To Be Slaves: 3rd USCT