Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Another Envelope

As one might imagine the South had their own take on patriotic envelopes in the Civil War. Just like the Union, the people of Confederacy often used these pieces of ephemera to boost pride in their cause and show where they stood on the sectional issues.

This particular one shows an infant - probably meant to represent the new born nation - sitting on a globe, marking his place in the world. He is holding an eleven-star first national Confederate flag in his right hand while choking a snake labeled "ABOLITION" with his left hand.

Obviously, the artist who created this envelope image wanted to make a point as clear Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens' "Cornerstone Speech" given on March 21, 1861 in Savannah, Georgia. In the speech Stephens exclaimed, "The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution [slavery] while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of the races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government [United States] built upon it fell when the 'storm came and the wind blew.' Our new government [the Confederacy] is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not the equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical and moral truth." In a political society and economic system built on slavery, there is no room for discussion about its end; thus the symbolism of South's strangle of the evil snake of abolition.

Courtesy Library of Congress

1 comment:

  1. Excellent envelope! Thanks for sharing. Just a thought - might I suggest that the baby is Heracles/Hercules strangling a serpent? In Greek/Roman mythology, as an infant he strangled serpents sent by Hera to kill him. In addition, the use of the imagery of Hercules as a representation of the CSA would be a way to show the nation's birth, yet instantaneous strength. This imagery has been appropriated elsewhere in American iconography in medals that Benjamin Franklin presented to French royalty after the American Revolution. See here: http://images.pcgs.com/CoinFacts/13121339_1144773_2200.jpg
    Thanks again for posting!