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Martin Van Buren and Slavery

This appeared in the March 11, 1837 issue of The Colored American newspaper.

The following extracts from President Van Buren’s inaugural address, present his views and designs, in regard to the question of Slavery:

“The last, perhaps the greatest, of the prominent sources of discord and disaster supposed to lurk in our political condition, was the institution of domestic slavery.”

“Perceiving, before my election, the deep interest this subject was beginning to excite, I believed it a solemn duty fully to make known my sentiments in regard to it”

“I then declared that, if the desire of those of my countrymen who were favorable to my election, was gratified, I must go into the Presidential Chair the inflexible and uncompromising opponent of every attempt, on the part of Congress, to abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia, against the wishes of the slaveholding States, and also, with a determination equally decided, to resist the slightest interference with it in the States where it exists.”
“It now only remains to add that no bill conflicting with these views, can ever receive my constitutional sanction.”

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.


A Look Inside: Old Times in West Tennessee

Old Times in West Tennessee is a new addition to our American County Histories: Tennessee collection.  Its full text is now online and fully searchable.


THIS book is prefaced by its title page, requiring but little to be said as to the design of the writer, or his motives for writing it.

It is hardly necessary for the author to put in a disclaimer that he assumes to be neither a historiographer nor a biographer, much less an annalist; semi-historic, irregular and defective, if you will, is the only title he claims for it.

Whether it be accorded or not, it is none the less true that “every man has his own style, as he has his ‘own nose;’ and it is neither polite nor Christian to rally a man about his nose, however singular it may be — a fact pregnant with homely sense, and commends itself to the exercise of charity on the part of the critical reader.



Conceived when gout most troubled, and born of necessity, it was written when afflicted with physical pain, amply recompensed, however, in the pleasurable interest it gave in reviving the scenes and recollections of his boyhood days. Should the reader derive a tithe of the interest in reading that was afforded in writing, the author will be doubly recompensed.

An apology is due the theme it purports to treat, and is beseechingly asked for the author, for having written it hurriedly and without sufficient data. He had written to many of the immediate successors of the first and early settlers in the Big Hatchie country for something of the early lives and connecting incidents of their brave fathers and people, in subduing the wilds of West Tennessee; but, for some cause or other, except in a few instances, he received no response; possibly they feared to trust such a priceless heritage to the pen of unknown authorship.

It is to be regretted, as their names and heroism in hewing down the forest and opening up the way to thrift and refined civilized enjoyment would have contributed greatly to the interest of the history of Old Times in West Tennessee.

The author, not wishing to “play showman to his own machinery,” submits the following pages to tho reader for what they are worth, with a prayer that he be gentle and deal lightly, and, if merit there be, encourage him to a wider field, yet lying fallow in its virgin fireshness.


The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.

Cooking by Gas in 1855

Cooking by Gas in 1855

A small party of scientific and other gentlemen of the city, yesterday made a visit to the city of Worcester, to partake of a dinner cooked by Mr. James B. Blake’s gas cooking apparatus, recently patented. They found the apparatus in a room adjoining Warren Hall, I successful operation, cooking the dinner for the invited guests. The apparatus is a very simple affair in its construction. The boiling part is a cast iron plate with different sized perforations suited to such utensils as are necessary for family use. A coil of copper gas pipe pierced for a number of jets is presented beneath each perforation in the cast iron plate, at such a distance that when the cooking utensil is inserted, the flame from the jet is at the best heating distance.

The baking part consists of an oven of peculiar construction, and which overcomes the grand difficult hitherto experienced in gas cooking . The difficulties hitherto encountered were the loss of heat by radiation and imperfect combustion. In the latter particular there was not only a taster of gas, but an unpleasant odor from the unconsumed gas. Mr. Blake has overcome both of these difficulties. The oven of his invention is oval in form, made of Russian sheet iron, with an inch of coal dust between the outside and the inside, which is so perfect a non-conductor that but very little heat is lost by radiation. The gas is applied at the bottom of the oven, and the heat ascends around it, between the sheet iron that forms the oven and the charcoal lining; there being no escape at the top, the mixed gases, instead of escaping there, as in other gas-cooking ovens, come down past he burners, and, being heavier than the air, not the least offensive odor is noticed.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

Plots and Counter Plots - Lincoln's Perils

Plots and Counter Plots – Lincoln’s Perils

All our readers are familiar with the tremendous conspiracies to take the life of the President elect, and to put out of the way at the same time all his suite, including a lachrymose colonel of dragoons, and a major of artillery who had already suffered in the cause of Old Abe to the extent of a disagreeable dislocation. Mr. Lincoln’s night ride to Washington will make hereafter a splendid incident for the theatre, while his Scotch cap will be as famous as the green turban of the Prophet, and his long military cloak be placed with the uniform of Washington in the Patent Office.

When the news of the plots arrived the country shivered in its shoes; when the country was informed that the second Washington had been safely enfolded in the protecting arms of Mr. Seward, the country took a long breath, and felt relieved. Subsequently, the country desired to know all the particulars of these terrible conspiracies, and wished to be informed why the triumphal tour of the President elect had been so suddenly interrupted.

Among other things, the country has been a good deal exercised about Wood, not Fernando, but W. S. Wood, who officiated as the Grand Chamberlain for Uncle Abe. Nobody seemed to know who Wood was or by whose authority he acted.

Part I of our Civil War collection, A Newspaper Perspective, contains articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.

Shall American Girls Become Servants

Shall American Girls Become Servants?

Where to obtain good servants, and how to furnish remunerative employment for the numerous class of women who must be self- supporting, are two great social problems of the day. And there are those who fancy that the solution of one of these problems necessarily involves the solution of the other. But such persons take only the most superficial view of both subjects. There is no lack of servants, such as they are; it is the need of good servants which is so severely felt. And to increase the quantity would not necessarily improve the quality, while it would result in a reduction of the wages of domestics, which, despite the cry of exorbitance, are already quite as low as they should be.

But I will first refer to the actual practicability of this scheme. In the contemplated general exodus of needy women from their garrets into the kitchens of the wealthy, the fact is overlooked that a large proportion of these women are widows with families to support, and are compelled, for the sake of these families, to keep a home about them, however poor that home may be. These will not desert their little ones for the good homes, high wages and wholesome food which our social economists know how to descibe in such glowing colors. And who can blame them, if they feel that it is better that all should starve together, than to have their little flock scattered hither and thither, dependent on the cold charities of a pitiless world?

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Newspapers Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily, The Revolution, and the National Citizen and Ballot Box.