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This Terrible Plant – The Upas Tree

This educational article on the Upas tree appeared in the April 19, 1856 issue of Frank Leslie’s Weekly.  These weekly papers were large quarto in size, about 12″ by 16″, and each consisted of sixteen pages to the issue. They followed a tested and proven formula of carefully combining elements of war, politics, art, science, travel and exploration, literature and the fine arts in each issue, enhanced with between 16 and 32 illustrations.

The Upas Tree

This terrible plant, to which was for a long time attached a sort of fabulous interest–killing, it was said, man, bird, and beast, that came within the circle of its influence–is of the same tribe of plants as that from which the Strychnos Nux Vomica is obtained. The fruit is about the size of a St. Michael’s orange, with a bitter, astringent pulp, and containing from three to five seeds. The pulp may be eaten; the seeds, which produce one of the strongest poisons, are of a brownish gray color. Each side is flattish, or very slightly concave.

The Upas Tree

The Upas Tree

Owing to the hard, cartilaginous nature of the seeds, they are extremely difficult to reduce to powder. When reduced, a very small quantity of this powder is sufficient to destroy life. The poison Strychnine is obtained from the seeds by the following process:–

The seed is rasped down as small as possible; it is then exposed to the action of nitric ether. The residue, thus deprived of its fatty matter, is digested in alcohol so long as that re-agent is capable of dissolving anything. The alcoholic solution is evaporated to dryness, and what remains is dissolved in water. Caustic potash being dropped into the solution, a white crystaline precipitate falls, which is Strychnine.

The poison thus prepared has a white color; its taste is tolerably bitter, leaving a metallic impression in the mouth; it is destitute of smell, and is not affected by exposure to the air; it is neither fusible nor volatile, except at temperatures at which it undergoes decomposition; it is very soluble in cold water.

Strychnine belongs to the alkaloid class of substances; which is easily proved by adding its alcoholic solution to an infusion of litmus turned red by a little acetic acid. The blue color is instantly restored by the alkaline action of Strychnine.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, founded in 1855 and continued until 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.
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An Alphabet of Proverbs from 1862

The Christian Recorder

This alphabetical list of proverbs appeared in the September 20, 1862 issue of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States’s newspaper The Christian Recorder.

Alphabet of Proverbs

  • A grain of prudence is worth a pound of craft.
  • Boasters are cousins to liars.
  • Confession of faults makes half amends.
  • Denying a fault doubles it.
  • Envy shooteth at others, and wounds herself.
  • Foolish fear doubles danger.
  • God reaches us good things by our hands.
  • He has hard work who has nothing to do.
  • It costs more to avenge wrongs than to bear them.
  • Justice overtakes many a rogue.
  • Knavery is the worst trade.
  • Learning makes a man fit company for himself.
  • Modesty is a guard to virtue.
  • Not to hear conscience is the way to silence it.
  • One hour to-day is worth two to-morrow.
  • Proud looks make foul work in fair faces.
  • Quiet conscience gives quiet sleep.
  • Riches is his who wants least.
  • Small faults indulged are little thieves that let in greater.
  • The boughs that bear most hang lowest.
  • Upright walking is sure walking.
  • Virtue and happiness are mother and daughter.
  • Wise men make more opportunities than they find.
  • You never lose by doing a good turn.
  • Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.

And a good newspaper is a well-spring of knowledge.

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.
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Ruby’s “Easter Hat” – April 1883

For much of the 19th century Godey’s Lady’s Book’s editors used the magazine to showcase the literary work of American authors. This short story,  Ruby’s “Easter Hat”, appeared in the April 1883 issue.

Ruby’s “Easter Hat”

“I wish I was dead, so there;” and Ruby Brown stood the picture of lovely despair, gazing down at a yellow mass at her feet, consisting of six dozen crushed eggs. Poor Ruby had been a whole month saving and hoarding these treasures which were to play an important part in the purchase of a lovely “Easter bonnit,” Aunt Rushy had contemptuously called it, when Ruby had said in a pleading tone:

“But auntie, all the girls are going to have pretty new hats to wear Easter Sunday.”

“Easter bonnits, indeed,” snapped Aunt Rushy, “better be thinkin’ of the good Lord, and how he riz on that day, then hey their minds on bonnits.”

“But auntie—”

“Now, no buts, Ruby Brown; girls in my time wusn’t thinkin’ eternally ’bout bonnits and gimcracks; and Easter Sunday wasn’t made a show day for bonnits, either.”

“If I could have the eggs, auntie,” pleaded Ruby, ignoring her last remarks.

“Well, take ‘em; I don’t, know as I care, if you can save enuff ‘tween this and then. You’ll hey to hey a bonnit eny how shortly after Easter.”

Ruby ran joyfully out into the coop to gather the first installment, after giving Aunt Rushy an affectionate little hug.

(more…)

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Isaac H. Christian’s Political Platform

CHARLES CITY COUNTY, APRIL 1st, 1861.

To the People of New Kent, Charles City, James City, York, Warwick, Elizabeth City and the City of Williamsburg:

I published, during the month of October last, in the Richmond Whig, a card, indicating that I would be a candidate, at the ensuing election, to represent you in the Senate of Virginia.

Since that time, the whole political aspect of the country has changed, and it becomes me to announce to you my position as to the course that Virginia should have taken in the crisis which is upon her. I conceive that there is but one practical question in all this matter, to-wit: Where will she go? There are two Confederacies. One is her natural ally – with equal sympathies, similar institutions, and interests alike – the other is the avowed enemy of her domestic peace. One invites her with open arms and a full heart; the other repulses her overtures of conciliation and compromise with insult added to injury. She must decide – not which she will serve – but which she will encourage, protect end defend. For myself, I do not hesitate. I would have her unite her destiny, for weal or woe, with that of her Southern sisters and briefly, for these, among many reasons:

  1. The prosperity and progress of the Southern States depend upon the permanency of the Institution of African slavery.
  2. The permanency of this institution depends upon a present and final settlement of the question by placing it entirely under the control of the South.
  3. That control can never be acquired in a government, a large majority of whose people have been tutored to believe that slavery is a curse, and that they are responsible for its existence.
  4. The whole moral power of the State will be thrown into the scale of the institution. Her people will be united in its defence, and the question of Virginia emancipation left to be discussed when many generations have passed away.
  5. The commercial depression that afflicts a country will continue and culminate in rule if an adjustment is not speedily effected. Can Virginia hope for this by temporizing with those of whom she seeks redress?
  6. Many of the advantages of the old Government will be secured by treaty, etc…, whilst the cause of strife will be removed.
  7. The honor of Virginia, her past fame, her present high character, and promise of future power demand that she shall take this step.

She will by so doing preserve the peace of the country. A united South will not be warred upon by the Republican horde at Washington. Virginia will carry with her the border States, and when they, with her, shall have added eight more stars to the flag at Montgomery then will the question of peace or war, of prosperity or depression have been settled.

I hope to be able to discuss this question throughout the District. Allow me to add, in yielding to the wishes of my friends by thus announcing myself as candidate for this important post, that, if elected, I shall strive to reward your confidence by an earnest devotion to your interests and Virginia.

Very respectfully, etc…,

Isaac H. Christian
April 16, 1861

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.

According to the 1860 census, Isaac H. Christian owned three slaves.  After the war he was nominated as and appointed judge of the county courts of New Kent and Charles City counties in Virginia.

Source

Collection: The Civil War
Publication: Richmond Enquirer
Date: April 18 , 1861
Title: Charles City County, APRIL 1st, 1861.

Top image: View in Virginia Senate Chamber, looking from the north – Virginia State Capitol, Bank and 10th Streets, Capitol Square, Richmond

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The Doctrine of the Irrepressible Conflict

Irrepressible Conflict, as a term, originated with William H. Seward in an 1858 speech predicting the collision of the socioeconomic institutions of the North and the South.

Seward maintained this collision would determine whether the nation would be dominated by a system of free labor or slave labor. In 1858 Abraham Lincoln proposed the same idea in his “House Divided” speech. At the time, the use of the phrase did not include the assumption that the “irrepressible conflict” would necessarily find expression in violence or armed conflict.

While the term “Irrepressible Conflict” is most connected to Seward, the actual ideas behind it can be traced back to Thomas Jefferson in 1821. The Vincennes Gazette included this article in the December 17, 1859 issue.

The Freeman’ s Catechism Concerning the Irrepressible Conflict

Question: Who first promulgated the doctrine of the irrepressible conflict?
Answer: Thomas Jefferson.

Q: When and how did he promulgate it?
A: In a letter written to a friend in 1821.

Q: What did he say?
A:Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people (negro slaves) are to be free; nor is it less certain that the two forms of society cannot be perpetuated under the same government.

Q: Who next promulgated it?
A: Henry Clay.

Q: When and how did he promulgate it?
A: In a speech delivered before the American Colonization Society in 1827.

Q: What did he say?
A:Until universal darkness and despair shall prevail it will be impossible to repress the sympathies and the efforts of the freemen in behalf of the unhappy portion of our race who are doomed to bondage.

Q: Who endorsed Mr. Clays remarks?
A: Daniel Webster.

Q: Who says so?
A: Edward Everett.

Q: Who next promulgated it?
A: The Richmond Enquirer, a Democratic newspaper.

Q: When did it promulgate it?
A: In the Presidential campaign of 1856.

Q: What did it say?
A:Two opposite and conflicting forms of society cannot, among civilized men, coexist and endure. The one must give way and cease to exist – the other become universal. If free society be unnatural immoral and unchristian, it must fall and give way to slave society—a social system as old as the world, as universal as man.

Q: Who next re-stated the fact?
A: William H. Seward.

Q: When, where, and how?
A: In a speech delivered in Rochester in 1858.

Q: What did he say?
A: Whilst referring to the collision which had occurred between the two systems of labor in the United States, he said: “It (the collision) is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces; and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation or entirely a free labor nation.

Q: Did he intimate the process by which they will ultimately become so?
A: He did; he said: “Whilst I confidently believe and hope my country will yet become a land of universal Freedom, I do not expect that it will be made so otherwise than through the action of the several States co-operating with the Federal Government, and all acting in strict conformity with their respective Constitutions.

Q: Is there any treason in this?
A: Not unless Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and the editor of the Richmond Enquirer were traitors.

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.

Source

Collection: The Civil War
Publication: Vincennes Gazette
Date: December 17, 1859
Title: The Freeman’ s Catechism Concerning the Irrepressible Conflict.
Location: Vincennes, Ind.

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