Tag Archives: 19th century

The Lincoln Family at Barnum’s

In our Civil War: Part I: A Newspaper Perspective collection subscribers can find news coverage of the events leading up to the war as well as reports on battles, recruitment, troop morale, and logistics.  When the newly elected Abraham Lincoln and his family’s travel towards  Washington, the New York Herald ran several days of human interest stories describing the events and festivities surrounding the new First Family as they passed through New York and saw some of the sights.

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.

The Lincoln Family at Barnum’s

On Tuesday afternoon, soon after Lincoln arrival in the city, Mr. Barnum, the ‘Prince of Showmen,’ waited upon him at the Astor House, and invited him to visit the Museum. Mr. Lincoln said that he would certainly attend some time during yesterday. ‘Don’t forget,’ said Barnum. ‘You ‘Honest Old Abe;’ I shall rely upon you, and I advertise you.’The advertisement appeared, but Mr. Lincoln didn’t. A great many people took this opportunity of seeing the President elect, together with the other curiosities, but they were unfortunately disappointed. They saw the great Lincoln turkey, however, and looked as though they enjoyed it. They didn’t, though, for how can one enjoy the sight of a fine fowl fattened for another person to eat?

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

During the morning Bob Lincoln, the rail prince, dropped into the Museum and looked through its spacious halls. The ‘What Is It’ enjoyed his distinguished consideration; the Aztec children looked wilder than ever as he faced them, descendants of a long and thin line of kings as they are; the lightning calculator dropped his chalk, and for the first time made only a small mistake in his addition. The young Prince wanted to consult Madame Delmonte, the fortune teller, upon the future of the country, but having connection with extremely Southern latitudes, she rather favored secession. If Mr. Barnum had only left young Lincoln to himself, no one could have recognized him as the son of the President.

Mrs. Lincoln, a handsome matronly lady, paid the Museum a visit, also, and sent her children, with their nurse, to see the ‘Woman in White’ and sit with Mr. Barnum in his private box. Such of the party as could write inscribed their names upon the visitors’ book, under the signatures of Tommy and the Prince of Wales. There was no extraordinary crowd, and very little attention paid to the distinguished visitors. The manner in which the brass band executed the national airs was the most remarkable event of the day at the Museum.

Source: The New York Herald , February 21,1861
Top Image:  Sleighing in New York by T. Benecke 1855.

Barnum Museum Ad

Barnum Museum Ad, Frank Leslie’s Weekly


The Irrepressible Conflict in Play

The term Irrepressible Conflict originated with William H. Seward in an 1858 speech predicting a socioeconomic collision between the institutions of the North and the South. This confrontation settle the question of whether America would be dominated by a system of free labor or slave labor. Lincoln alluded to the same idea in his 1858 “House Divided” speech. In the late 1850s the use of the phrase did not expressly include the assumption that the “irrepressible conflict” would be resolved through violence or armed conflict.

The Irrepressible Conflict doing its Work

“Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad,” is a trite saying, and one entirely applicable to the Democratic party, as is evinced unmistakably the last few years. Not looking for the remote causes that acted potentially to bring about the crisis in modern Democracy, we see it as it is, and find it in a state a distraction, and daily getting into “confusion worse confounded.” Not to go farther back into the past than a few months, we behold the once “harmonious Democracy” divided in the State conventions, held to select delegates to the national convention, and in many cases two antagonistical sets of delegates were the results of opposing conventions in the same State and of the same party.

Part IV of our Civil War collection, A Midwestern Perspective, consists of seven newspapers published in Indiana between the years of 1855 and 1869. These items provide pre-and post-Civil War information, in addition to coverage of the Civil War itself.



“All Quiet Along the Potomac”

The Civil War era is considered by many to be a watershed in American literary history. People on both sides of the conflict read the sensational news reports from the front lines, composed a variety of “patriotic” poems and songs, and fiction continued to be churned out by writers of the day. The literature of the war helped soldiers and civilians make sense of the conflict, particularly the death and destruction wrought by both sides.

Early in the war, Washington, D.C. feared Southern invasion following the disastrous Union route at the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas). One such poem that captured this fear and spoke of the seemingly senseless violence was released to the press on November 30, 1861 – “The Picket Guard,” also known as “All Quiet Along the Potomac.” Originally attributed to “E.B.”, this poem was written by an accomplished Unionist woman poet, Ethel Lynn Beers. Over the course of the next few months many newspapers in the North and the South reprinted the poem for their readers.

The poem was based on the newspaper reporting of General George McClellan’s official telegrams to the War Department stating “all is quiet tonight” and the brief notice of the death of a Union sentry by a Southern sharpshooter.

Interestingly, “All Quiet Along the Potomac” was set to music by songwriter John Hill Hewitt, who was serving in the Confederate army, in 1863. Check out the  musical version by 97th Regimental String Band.


OG-Memoirs of Robert E. Lee 5

Book Update: Memoirs of Robert E. Lee

Memoirs of Robert E. Lee his Military and Personal History Embracing a Large Amount of Information Hitherto Unpublished by A.L. Long, a former military secretary to General Lee, was published in 1887 by J. M. Stoddart & Company.  This volume’s full text is searchable by Accessible Archives subscribers. It can be found in our The Civil War Part III. The Generals Perspective.

Dedicated to the Disabled Confederate Soldiers:

The gallant men with whom he has a right to sympathize, the author respectfully dedicates the following pages.

A.L. Long,
Charlottesville, Virginia

Dedication: Memoirs of Robert E. Lee

Dedication: Memoirs of Robert E. Lee


To overcome the inactivity to which loss of sight has for some years subjected me, I have sought occupation in recording the recollection of familiar events. Having obtained a slate prepared for the use of the blind, I soon learned to write with a moderate degree of legibility. In order to excite a pleasing interest in my work, I undertook something that might prove of future benefit. Having served on General Lee’s personal staff during the most important period of his military career, I began an eye-witness narrative of his campaigns in the war between the States. In the execution of my work I received valuable assistance from my wife and daughter, my two sons, and Miss Lucy Shackelford (now Mrs. Charles Walker), all of whom lovingly and faithfully served me as copyists and readers. I am also indebted to Colonel C. S. Venable of General Lee’s staff, Major Green Peyton of Rodes’s staff, and Major S. V. Southall of my own staff, for indispensable aid in reviewing my manuscript, informing me of facts that had not come to my knowledge or reminding me of such as had escaped my recollection. My work is now completed, and I offer it to the public, hoping it may prove of value as a record of events which passed under my own observation, and many of which have been described directly from my notes made at the time of their occurrence. It is not intended to be a history of the war in detail, but a statement of my personal knowledge of General Lee’s life, actions, and character, and of the part played by him in the great events of which he was the ruling spirit.

After receiving my manuscript the publishers desired a change of plan which would embrace some of the interesting social and domestic features of General Lee’s life. This part of the work has been edited and conducted through an arrangement with the publishers by General Marcus J. Wright, formerly of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, but now, and for some years past, agent of the United States War Department for the collection of Confederate records. My wife has rendered important aid in this part of the work by contributing personal incidents and other valuable material obtained through her friendly relations with the family of General Lee. It is also proper to acknowledge the use of the publications of Rev. J. W. Jones, Colonel Walter H. Taylor, Miss Emily Mason, the Southern Historical Society papers, Swinton, and the Report of the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War (Federal). I have had occasion to refer to the Memoirs of General Grant and The Campaigns of General J. E. B. Stuart, by Major H. B. McClellan. I have been greatly encouraged in the publication of this work by the cordial concurrence of General G. W. Custis Lee, General W. H. F. Lee, Major R. E. Lee, Miss Mildred Lee, Governor Fitz Lee, and other members of the family.

I further desire to acknowledge my indebtedness to Colonel R. N. Scott, U. S. A., for opportunity afforded me at the War Records Office of studying official reports, maps, and the confidential letter-books of General Lee, relating to the events described in the present volume, many of which have never hitherto been published, and which will prove of great value and interest both in rightly understanding military operations and in estimating the character and genius of that great soldier.

A.L. Long



Appeal on Behalf of the Amistad Africans

National Anti-Slavery Standard was established in 1840 by the husband and wife team of Lydia and David Child, who both were affirmed abolitionists as well as recognized successful writers (Lydia Child was the author of the poem “over the river and through the woods”). Using the motto “Without Concealment–Without Compromise” the Standard sought to extend the rights of slaves across the country.

Items like the one below focused on major events and topics amount the abolitionist community appeared regularly.   This plea for help for the Amistad  Africans appeared in the National Anti-Slavery Standard on October 7, 1841.

Appeal on Behalf of the La Amistad Africans

National Anti-Slavery StandardThe appeals heretofore made for funds for the defence, support and education of these Mendi Africans, have been successful, and the money, so generously contributed, has been economically expended, and with the happiest results. The sums contributed and the expenditures made have been published in the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter and the New-York Journal of Commerce, for the information of the donors and all persons interested. The time has now arrived when another appeal has become necessary. Such facts have recently come to the knowledge of the Committee, respecting the native country of these Mendians, and the feasibility of their reaching their kindred and homes, if they can be sent to Sierra Leone, that it had been determined to send the whole body of them (now reduced to 35 in number) back to Africa the present autumn. They will leave in a vessel for Sierra Leone as soon as the necessary funds shall be contributed. The Committee have in view two ministers of the gospel, one white and one colored, to accompany them to Mendi, and take up their abode with them as religious teachers, so long as the providence of God shall direct; and they are desirous of engaging one or two more, to be associated with these brethren as missionaries to Mendi.

Contributions are earnestly requested. Remittances may be made by mail, or otherwise, directed to Lewis Tappan, No. 7, Dorr’s Building, corner of Hanover and Exchange streets, rear of Merchants’ Exchange. Donors, if they choose, can specify whether their donations shall go towards defraying the expenses of the passage to Sierra Leone, &c., or for the support of the religious teachers. If not otherwise directed, the Committee will appropriate the money according to their discretion.— All donations will be acknowledged, and a paper, containing the acknowledgment, sent to each donor. The expenditures will also be published, as heretofore. (more…)