Thursday, December 19, 2013

Which Side are You On?

An eastern Kentucky coal camp song asked miners to consider which side they would take when push came to shove. Similarly, when the American Civil War erupted in the spring of 1861, citizens had to decide whether to support the Union, the Confederacy - or like some Kentuckians - try to serve as mediator and hope for an amiable settlement.

Some though, apparently, sought economic opportunity with the coming fury. In the June 18, 1861, edition of the Louisville Daily Journal, on page three, the above advertisement was run by Madden's Bookstore offering Southern themed stationary at their store on Third Street. 

If the reader did not continue on to page four, they might think that Madden's Bookstore was a hotbed of Confederate sympathy. But, no, there in the middle of the page was a brief notice that Madden's served those Union-loving citizens as well. Other editions of the newspaper only separated the opposing advertisements by mere columns, not pages. And, as is easily seen, there was not even an attempt to change the font on the notices.

My questions is, how did the people reading the newspaper receive these adds run by the same company appealing to belligerent parties? Did they care? Or, did they just see it as a shewed business move capitalizing on the conflict.

Regardless of what the people thought, Madden's Bookstore has to be given some credit for realizing that they were operating in a border state where sentiment was divided and the chances to cash in on war offered opportunities not available in say, Mobile, Alabama or Troy, New York.

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