Tag Archives: 19th century

The Battle of Spottsylvania Court-House

The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes more simply referred to as the Battle of Spotsylvania (or the 19th century spelling Spottsylvania), was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War.

Fighting occurred on and off from May 8 through May 21, 1864, as Grant tried various schemes to break the Confederate line. In the end, the battle was tactically inconclusive, but with almost 32,000 casualties on both sides, it was the costliest battle of the campaign.

From Frank Leslies Weekly, June 11, 1864:

The spot seen in our engraving is one on the right and centre of Grant’s line, hereafter to be famous, having been repeatedly the scene of fierce strife, as the battle swayed to and fro. Here we give it, as sketched by our Artist, at a moment when our men were lying down, with skirmishers in the advance taking cover, while the enemy is firing from his rail barricade. Here a desperate contest took place.

The Battle of Spottsylvania Court-House - Frank Leslies Weekly, June 11, 1864

The Battle of Spottsylvania Court-House – Frank Leslies Weekly, June 11, 1864

As a sequel to this we give a view of the 5th corps’ hospital on the field, and another of wounded soldiers crossing the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, after this battle, a few of the many thousands who in sad procession streamed from the battlefield, some to be seized by rebel citizens and sent off to Richmond; some to be waylaid by guerillas, and left out amid a pitiless storm without food or means of advancing.

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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VA Senate Chambers

Isaac H. Christian’s Political Platform


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.


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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Cookery in Schools – March, 1876

The question of teaching cookery in the public schools has lately been much considered in England, and arrangements have been made by which the object can be effected. The National Training School for Cookery has been for some time in successful operation, and is now prepared to supply teachers qualified to instruct in this novel branch of school learning. The course pursued at present is for a number of the inhabitants of several adjoining school districts to form by subscription a fund sufficient to guarantee a certain rate of payment to the teacher. Sometimes a young lady of the locality is first sent to the Training School to take a course of instruction there, sufficient to qualify her for a teacher. At other times a teacher already qualified is obtained from the Training School.

Cooking ClassThe teacher gives one lesson a week in each school to a class of girls whose parents are willing to pay a small fee for this advantage. She may also, in addition, form classes of ladies who desire to improve their knowledge of cookery, and who, pay a higher fee for the more elaborate instruction they receive. In this way a great number of persons are benefited, and the instructress receives an income which may be sufficient; but, if not, it is supplemented from the subscription fund in the hands of the committee. Sometimes a separate school or class specially for cookery is established.

A writer in one of the London papers gives an interesting account of such a school, which has been opened in that city for teaching the children of the poorer classes the simple elements of cookery, and to enable them to prepare cheap and savory dishes for the sick and invalid. About fifteen girls attend— all that the room will accommodate. They pay threepence a lesson, and get besides a dinner of their own cooking. The school is held every Saturday, from ten to four. The pupils first go to market, a few of the girls in turn accompanying the teacher, to learn how to select the articles of food, and to judge of their quality and the proper price to pay for them. On their return, the proper modes of cooking the articles are briefly explained, and a written receipt is given to each girl, who is required to work from it. The teacher, of course, superintends the whole, pointing out defects, and taking care that the pupils are made to understand the virtues of forethought, neatness, and good management. There are usually visitors present, often the clergymen and other members of the committee, who all sit down with the pupils to the dinner which has thus been prepared. After this satisfactory part of the duty has been performed, four of the girls in turn are appointed to wash the dishes and make everything tidy.


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Never Too Old to Learn

We extract the following from an article which appeared some months since in the Portland Orion, which forcibly illustrates, by a reference to well authenticated facts, that man is never too old to learn.

Socrates, at an extreme old age, learned to play on musical instruments. This would look ridiculous for some of the rich old men in our city; especially if they should take into their heads to thrum a guitar under a lady’s window; which Socrates did not, but only learnt to play upon some common instrument of his time – not a guitar – for the purpose of resisting the fear of old age.

Cato, at eighty years of age, thought proper to learn the Greek language. Many of our young men, at thirty and forty, have forgotten even the alphabet of a language, the knowledge of which was necessary to enter college. A fine comment upon their love of letters, truly!

Plutarch was between seventy and eighty, when he commenced the study of the Latin.

Boccaccio was thirty years of age when he commenced his studies in polite literature; yet he became one of the three great masters of the Tuscan dialect, Dante and Petarch being the other two.

Sir Henry Spelman neglected the sciences in his youth, but commenced the study of them when he was between fifty and sixty years old. After this time, he became the most lerned anti-quarian and lawyer.

Duplessis portrait of Ben Franklin

Colbert, the famous French Minister, at sixty years of age, returned to his Latin and Law studies.

Dr. Johnson applied himself to the Dutch language but a few years before his death.

Franklin did not fully commence his philosophical pursuits, till he had reached his fiftieth year.

Dryden, in his sixty-eighth year, commenced the translation of his Iliad, and his most pleasing productions were written in his old age.

We could go on to cite thousands of examples of men who commenced a new study, and struck out into an entirely new pursuit, either for livelihood or amusement, at an advanced age. But every one familiar with the biography of distinguished men, will recollect individual cases enough to convince him that none but the sick and indolent will ever say, I am too old to learn.


Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: The North Star
Date: February 18, 1848
Title:  Never too old to learn
Location: Rochester, New York

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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Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1863

In 1863, a year filled with pivotal historical events — the Emancipation Proclamation, the Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and the Gettysburg Address — Abraham Lincoln issued what has become known as the first annual Thanksgiving Proclamation.

Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863

President LincolnThe year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.


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