Proposal Draft

Hey all, what follows below is the draft of my proposal. I hope that it’s as interesting to read as it was to write. I could really use ya’ll critical assessment of the whole thing.

Best,

Sorn

American Dreams July 4, 1865: A Nation in Search of Itself.

Initial statement of findings

On July 4, 1865 James Lynch, soon to become Mississippi’s first African American Secretary of State under its reconstruction government, stated the demands of the recently freed slaves before an assemblage of 4,000 freed-people in Augusta, Ga.  In a section titled What the Colored Man Asks, Lynch proclaimed: “he asks to stay in the land of his birth, to till the soil and labor in the workshop, and to fill positions of usefulness under these bright skies that smile[d] on his infancy. He asks and demands protection in the enjoyment of his liberty, which is only secured by equality before the law.”[i] Likewise, on the same day, the Colored People’s National Lincoln Monument Association held a celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the fallen president in which the master of Ceremonies read a letter from Frederick Douglass emphasizing the importance of Negro suffrage: “The one thought to be emphasized and deeply underscored on that occasion is this: The immediate, complete, and universal enfranchisement of the colored people of the whole country. This is demanded both by justice and national honor. . . . The great want of the country is to be rid of the negro question, and it can never be rid of that question until justice, right, and sound policy are complied with.”[ii] In the oration that followed William Howard Day, a graduate of Oberlin College, whose mother was one of the founders of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, expounded a vision of slavery as a two-hundred year “wave of blood” which by God’s providence had been set backward, and visited upon “the hearts and homes of the nation.”[iii] Yet, Day, as was the case with other African Americans on this national anniversary, perceived the national bloodshed as serving the higher purpose of freedom: “On these successive waves of blood, rising higher and higher, year by year, the colored man has been borne on and up to freedom, and must be borne outward still, to full enfranchisement.”[iv] The image thus presented was both of a glorious war of liberation and of a commitment to realize its results.

Not confined to prominent men and educated northern blacks the sentiment everywhere among African Americans, on the first Fourth of July after Appomattox, contained both elements of a hopeful promise for the future, and the necessary requirement of confronting racist realities in a former slave society. Sergeant William A. Warfield of the 119th U.S. Colored Infantry, in a letter to the Weekly Anglo African stated both conditions with clarity and verve. First he illustrated the meaning independence held for former slaves, and their corresponding desire for a brighter tomorrow: “This is an age of wonders, and not least among them is the celebration of the Fourth of July at Camp Nelson, Ky., by the colored people. To see so many thousands who a year ago were slaves, congregate in the heart of a slave State and celebrate the day sacred to the cause of freedom . . . was a grand spectacle. It was the first time we have ever been permitted to celebrate the Nation’s Day.”[v]  Second, Sergeant Warfield gave voice to a desire for equality and a determination for its achievement worthy of Douglass, James Lynch, or William Day. Moreover, while the orators and intellectual leaders of the black community affirmed a public principle before a large audience, Warfield demonstrated a private commitment, openly expressed, to strive for rights not yet secured:

If we would obtain our just privileges, we must strive for them [emphasis in original]. We must be willing to pay the same price that other people have always been compelled to pay. By laboring for our own cause we show, in the first place that we understand and appreciate what our rights are; in the second place, that we have the courage and manhood to ask for them; in the third place, that we are determined, sooner or later to have them. We need not expect those who have held us as slaves, and regarded us as incapable of an honorable position in government and society, to grant us that which we are indisposed to labor for.”[vi]

Collectively, the African American Community—regardless of region, class, or previous condition of servitude—emerged from the Civil War with a firm desire to secure the full rights of citizenship purchased by their bravery on the battlefield. The Elevator, a California Newspaper dedicated to “equality before the law” and advancing the rights of African Americans in a state which restricted citizenship to white men said of Negro suffrage that “nothing ‘has been accomplished for the Negro  during the past four  years’ but what the exigencies of the times and the God-scourged people demanded. We are not content with what you [were] compelled to grant, or what was grudgingly given, or else the nation would have been rent in twain.”[vii]  Clearly, the black community arose from the civil war with a shared sense of national purpose, a dedication to the half-finished work begun by the Civil War, and a commitment to securing the promises of the Second American Revolution.

The dreams of African Americans for full equality before the law, and a measure of equal citizenship, however, fundamentally clashed with the desires of current and former slave-owners who wished to create a dependent labor force, curtail African American civil rights, and preserve a modicum of the antebellum way of life. Northern abolitionists, and teary-eyed reformers, might agree with William Garrison that “Hitherto the returning anniversary of the Fourth of July . . . has been a bitter mockery to the millions held in the galling chains of slavery on our soil and a satire upon all our professions as a free and Christian people. On Tuesday next, for the first time, it will be celebrated with something like the semblance of consistency and in the semblance of universal emancipation.”[viii] Yet, without fully knowing it, Garrison presumed that universal emancipation was everywhere fully realized. On the contrary, despite his rosy words, the following Tuesday did not dawn bathed in the collective sunshine of human rights for all. Even as the Thirteenth Amendment made its way through the ratification process, and as James Lynch propounded that “this great Republic was raised up to elevate humanity and to oppose the despotism of the universe,” in the state of Kentucky A.J. Beale sold to Angeline Outland a “negro girl” for another African American woman “equal in value” and certified her soundness on “this the 4[th] day [of] July[,] 1865.”[ix] Slavery far from being dead was very much alive in the state of Kentucky, which remained in control of a conservative coalition of Unionists firmly opposed to any change in the relationship between master and slave.

What is more, in the states of the old confederacy, where the war had brought about emancipation, former slave-owners clung to their old justifications and old beliefs with a tenacity revealed in words and deeds. Still believing that their former slaves were the “descendants of Ham,” and that “service in some form is their heritage,” white southerners fought through legal and extra-legal means to re-assert or maintain their mastery.[x] In Tennessee William Bonner, calling upon the help of three federal soldiers—Privates Mathew Mullins, Tyler Harrison and Captain Adkins—tied his house servant, Henry Bonner to a tree and administered 150 lashes with elm branches, whipping him twice. In the testimony of Mathew Mullins: “we whipped him for saucing his master Wm. Bonner—we were sent out under the charge of the home guard captain and were to do what he directed and [Bonner] directed the party to whip the negro.”[xi]  Even after four years of bloody conflict the realities of human bondage remained, both in slave-holding border-states, and in the erstwhile confederacy,.

In other parts of the South, the Fourth of July took on the sullen air of a defiant refusal to acknowledge the realities of defeat. Mary Boykin Chesnut wrote in her diary from Camden, South Carolina that “Our people were all at home quiet, orderly, respectfull [sic], and at their usual work. There was nothing to show that any one of them had ever seen a Yankee or knew that there was one in existence.”[xii]  Likewise, the Norfolk Post, gave its readers the following advice: “Let our people who are now mourning over the loses of the last four years, pause for one moment in their lamentations, and think for one moment how much greater were our forefathers in the war of revolution and that of 1812.”[xiii] Furthermore, the paper added in a tone of passive-aggressive warning:  “We counsel all soberness and propriety, and let all abstain from too much enthusiasm, as the weather is hot and the consequences to [the public] health might be very detrimental.”[xiv] Or, as a Mathew Woodruff, a sergeant in the Union Army recounted from Vicksburg, Mississippi, on this day: “The war is over, but I am sorry to say the people does [sic] not do honor to the fallen Braves, or the suffering communities of our Nation.”[xv] In short, the actualities of conquest were far from being universally acknowledged, and many former confederates stood opposed to any sort of reconciliation.

Still elsewhere in the former confederacy, in Texas, people stood resigned to reunion and life under the old flag, but greatly feared the prospect of a coming race war.  As General Phillip H. Sheridan wrote in his memoirs concerning the condition of Texas in July, 1865: “It was greatly feared that political rights were to be given those so recently in servitude, and as it was generally believed that such enfranchisement would precipitate a race war unless the freedmen were overawed and kept in a state of subjection, acts of intimidation were soon reported from all parts of the State.”[xvi] In a similar fashion, one Texas newspaper, The Bellville Countryman, publicly expressed Sheridan’s observations while commemorating the Fourth of July: “There being no demonstrations here today . . . we have concluded to raise the ‘stars and stripes’ ourselves. We expect to remain in Texas, and to live under the old flag. But we don’t want to fight under that flag,—nor any other. We are opposed to the NEXT WAR [emphasis in original].”[xvii] On the same page, giving a concrete reality to the possibility of intimidation, the paper reported that “Peter, a gentleman of color, who has for several months past occupied rooms at the County Hotel [Jail] at this place and been fed at the public crib, stepped out last night (July 3), by permission of the proprietor, to procure a drink of cold water at an adjacent house, and has not yet returned.”[xviii]   Clearly the hopes of southern blacks for equality before the law and basic safety relative to southern whites could not be maintained without outside enforcement.

The governing powers of the South, however, seemed far more concerned with maintaining and securing a reliable black labor force, and with implementing means of social control than they did in creating any sort of public safety for the former slaves. As Carl Schurz relayed to President Andrew Johnson in his Report on the Condition of the South 1865, white southerners felt that “the blacks at large belong to the whites at large,” and that “the negro will not work without physical compulsion.”[xix] The planter class remained determined to reassert its mastery. Believing that “these niggers will all be slaves again in twelve months,” and that the National Government possessed “nothing but Lincoln proclamations to make them free,” the White South, set about to re-assert its mastery over labor with the help of municipal, state, and, where possible, federal authorities both in the army and the recently formed freedman’s bureau.[xx]  The town of Opelousas, Louisiana passed the following municipal ordinance which took effect on the Fourth of July, 1865. Thirteen regulations effectively restricted the movement, status, and opportunity of freedmen and women, so that the only place for them in society was working for their former masters. No freedman was allowed to come within the city limits without permission from his employer, and every black found on the streets after 10’oclock at night, or three p.m. on Sundays, was thrown in jail and compelled to labor on public works. No African American was allowed to own or rent property within the city limits or reside there without permission from an employer. Both public meetings and black preachers were forbidden without permission from the mayor. Additionally no freed person was allowed to carry a firearm that was not in military service, and no person of color was permitted to buy, sell, trade, or barter any merchandise without the written permission of an employer, the mayor, or the president of the board.[xxi]

In cases where such municipal ordinances did not exist, planters and freedman’s bureau agents worked in conjunction to create a dependent labor force by forcing former bonds-people into contracts at well below market value.  James Yeatman, writing to O.O. Howard on this day expressed his observations that “the tendency everywhere is to pay too little. I have seen no wages named either by employers, military commandants or others which would be deemed fair and just compensation were they the owner of the negro, and hiring them to labor for others.”[xxii] As a case in point, James Eason in a contract with his former slave Eddy dated July 4, 1865, guaranteed him and the eleven people in his household one thirty-second of the crop in exchange for an entire year’s labor. As a condition of the contract, Eddy and his family agreed to “remain with and serve him the said Eason, their former owner as they have heretofore done for and during the remainder of the present year.”[xxiii] In a similar fashion to northern iron ore miners whose wages fell from a wartime high of $2.50 a day in July of 1864, to a post-war value of $1.50 a day in July of 1865, freed slaves found their labor worth far less to themselves in freedom than it had been to their masters under slavery before and during the war.[xxiv] The realities of the industrial revolution, intensified by the war, meant that the values of free labor ideology were becoming obsolescent, to be replaced by a new reality of dependence upon an impersonal market.

Northern Reformers, and members of the African American community might agree with New York State Senator Palmer Havens that “negro suffrage is absolutely essential to our future peace and safety,” but these individuals faced stiff resistance in implementing their vision of the future from more conservative northern whites, recalcitrant southerners still dealing with the realities of southern defeat, and those in the border states who wished to perpetuate slavery.[xxv] The Reverend Frederick Brown, might proclaim before the congregation of the Central Presbyterian Church in Chicago that “swords are beating into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks,” but the mysteries of Peter’s fate at the hands of persons unknown, belied the mythic image of peaceful coexistence.[xxvi] The bloody contest between competing armies on the battlefield stood resolved, but the sanguinary war of competing principles, and with it the bloody contest regarding the meaning of the civil war had yet to be determined.  The competing dreams unleashed by the Second American Revolution shown visibly on this day of national observance, but their truths remained to be realized.

Literature Review and Discussion of Major Themes.

Nearly a century after Charles and Mary Beard labeled the Civil War, the Second American Revolution historians still contest its meaning. In Beardian parlance the Civil War was a “social war, ending in the unquestioned establishment of a new power in the government, making vast changes in the arrangement of classes, in the accumulation and distribution of wealth, in the course of industrial development, and in the constitution inherited from the Fathers.”[xxvii] Beard’s view of the Civil War, as a social war between distinct groups in American society, has much to offer, for each sectional group or social class possessed its own view of the conflict. To northerners the war was an attempt to save the union, transformed into a war against slavery by slow, painful degrees. To white southerners the conflict was the second war for independence, and it was when the Yankees stole their country and their slaves from them. Finally, to the African American population it was a war for liberation, a contest that defined their position in the country: delivering them from the cotton, rice, and tobacco fields, placing muskets in their hands, and creating citizens out of former slaves. These three distinct views of the conflict each, in turn, birthed their own historiographical traditions. To Alan Nevins, the civil war was a War for the Union. To Edward Channing and to Shelby Foote the conflict was a southern war for hearth and home, while to W.E.B. Dubois and the scholars who rediscovered him in the 1960s, the Civil War was the “most dramatic episode in American history [this] the sudden move to free four million slaves in an effort to stop a great civil war, to end forty years of bitter controversy, and to appease the moral sense of civilization.”[xxviii] In many ways, these three views of the Civil War continue to shape our opinions, and fuel many mythologies concerning the war. As James McPherson and James K. Hogue wrote in 2009 “the civil war is the central event in the American historical consciousness.”[xxix] But, without Reconstruction, the Civil War was a revolution only half completed.

In a recent book, The Fall of the house of Dixie, Bruce Levine argues that “this great and terrible war undermined the economic, social, and political foundations of the old South, destroying human bondage and the storied world of the slaveholding elite.”[xxx] Levine, however, declines to extend his narrative much beyond Appomattox, and, as previously demonstrated, slavery was still very much a reality on the Fourth of July 1865. Dying but not dead the removal of involuntary servitude was by no means certain until the final ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a case in point, Missouri, on July 4, 1865, ratified its new constitution, which would have extended slavery in that state until 1876 under a scheme of gradual emancipation.[xxxi] Even so, much mythology concerning slavery and the course of the war exists both in the popular and scholarly imaginations. Building on the work of Ken Burns, whose Civil War documentary captured the hearts of the nation, these narratives of the conflict perpetuate an image in which the war that freed the slaves began in Wilbur Maclean’s backyard and ended in his living room. But this narrative does not do justice to the complex realities of the Second American Revolution. When W.E.B. Dubois, wrote in Crisis Magazine for February 1912, that “this country has had its appetite for facts on the Civil War and the Negro problem spoiled by sweets,” he spoke against such oversimplified understandings of the war that reduce it to a tragedy with a happy ending.[xxxii]  Michael Vorenberg writing in Final Freedom: The Civil War, The Abolition of Slavery and the Thirteenth Amendment, argues that “by itself, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave.”[xxxiii] The process by which the dreams of the Second American Revolution became reality, therefore, must include Reconstruction as a fundamental part of the struggle, and not as a separate chapter in the nation’s history.

Additionally, to fully capture the long term effects of this massive upheaval in the nation’s political, social, and economic institutions, historians should speak of a long civil war, much as they speak of a long nineteenth century. Only when viewed as a single unit—stemming from 1860 until 1877 and encompassing all of Reconstruction—do the realities of the Second American Revolution emerge with any clarity. Otherwise, stopping the narrative at Appomattox leaves the revolution unfulfilled. But once again, including Reconstruction divides the narrative along racial and sectional lines. To Southerners, Reconstruction flew in the face of everything they believed concerning the place of African Americans in society. Still struggling with the realities of Confederate defeat, they faced also the experience of a world turned upside down, in which competent, capable former slaves and free northern African Americans attempted to fashion a freedom fully actualized. Out of the experiences of Reconstruction, the South fashioned its own historiography: a narrative contained in the Dunning school with its myth of Reconstruction as a “tragic era” that captured the emotional dislocation that white Southerners felt at being on the losing end of the second American Revolution. Likewise, to northerners, progressive historians of the New Left, and those generations appearing after the 1960s, who interpreted Reconstruction in light of the Civil Rights Movement and the rediscovery of W.E.B. Dubois, the period was, in the words of Eric Foner: “[the] first attempt to live up to the noble professions of [America’s] political creed.”[xxxiv] But is it a fair assessment to characterize Reconstruction as an attempt to create an idea of “national citizenship whose equal rights belonged to all Americans regardless of race,” when Native Americans would not gain their rights as citizens until 1924, or, when an orator, mocking the progressive spirit of Abolitionists on July 4, 1865, could say: “Let us all hope that the political millennium is at hand, when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and if the lamb should happen to be inside of the lion it is the lamb’s fault, and will be overlooked by a discriminating public [emphasis in original].”[xxxv]  Indeed the idea that Reconstruction was an attempt to create a non-racial democracy is indicative of another type of mythology: a mythos born from the combined ideas of the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s, the African American memory of the Second American Revolution—preserved by Dubois—and  northern ideas of progress, a mythology which although it corrects the racism of the Dunning school is surely guilty of promoting a degree of American exceptionalism.

The reason for the competing historiographical narratives surrounding the Civil War and Reconstruction is that, as Robert Penn Warren wrote in his Legacy of the Civil War, “the civil war is our only ‘felt’ history—history lived in the national imagination.”[xxxvi] If this is true how then should one evaluate the meaning of the Second American Revolution, without either creating a new mythology, or doing violence to the historical record? How to disentangle the knot of competing historiographies?  Is there a way to expose what David Blight in Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory calls, the three overall visions of the Civil War: the reconcilliationist vision, the white supremacist vision, and the emancipationist vision, without unduly prejudicing one over the other?[xxxvii] I believe there is. The first step is to bound the study in time. Focusing on the history of a single day freezes the competing visions of the Civil War and Reconstruction in place, and renders possible a still-life portrait of competing aspirations. The second step is to choose a day. It can’t just be any day for then the project loses meaning. July 4, 1865 recommends itself as the first Independence Day celebration after Appomattox: a day of national reflection, in which the meaning of past conflict met the plans for future reconstruction. It also has the advantage of dividing the Second American Revolution, or the long Civil War, almost exactly in half. Furthermore by July 4, 1865, congress has decided on the policy of emancipation, but it is not yet a guaranteed reality. In the words of the poet Mathew Arnold, the nation is “wandering between two worlds/One dead, the other powerless to be born.”[xxxviii] In short, the union as it was is dying but no clear replacement appeared ready to hand.

The third step is to find a way to engage the problem without either confirming the old racist view of reconstruction as a tragic era, or reinforcing the mythology of American exceptionalism. Here the question becomes one either of finding a new historical methodology, or of refurbishing an old idea so that it meets the demands of modern scholarship. In The Mind of the South Willard J. Cash argues that the Second American Revolution succeeded in transforming the South into “a frontier once more.”[xxxix] Without accepting his racist, old-time, Dunning School interpretation of Reconstruction, nor prejudicing Frederick Jackson Turner’s definition of the frontier as the “meeting place between savagery and civilization,” the idea merits consideration.[xl] Perhaps, building on this idea in a way Cash never intended, the ideas laid down by the new western history may be applied to the history of the Second American Revolution producing a history of July 4, 1865 by tapping other themes.

Elliot West, in The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers and the Rush to Colorado, defines the frontier as a “wave of new experience” a “merging of worlds,” and goes on to argue that “above all else the merging of worlds was a reevaluation of routes to power in its largest sense.”[xli] Aside from being well-written, it also serves as a workable definition of revolutionary change, one that does not rely on Gramscian theories of hegemony and counter-hegemony, or stale dynamics of revolution and counter-revolution. West also argues that this “merging of worlds” released visions of life that were fundamentally incompatible: “When moved out of human heads and set to life in the effective world, they could not exist in the same place. The reason was simple. They conceived of and used power in conflicting ways yet each drew its power from the same sources.”[xlii] This is the first major theme: that the Second American Revolution released dreams, visions of the future, which were irreconcilable, and destined to battle over the contested ground of the American Nation on July 4, 1865.

Western historians also speak of a Western Myth, concerning how the collective memory of the settling of the West, by Jeffersonian yeoman farmers, small mechanics, and tradesmen, simply isn’t true. Moreover, there is an indistinguishable line between mythology and memory. The Western Myth exists because individual’s memories of Western settlement were categorically different than the historical reality. In a similar fashion the mythology of the Civil War has its roots in the historical memory of the conflict. A close look at the history of the national anniversary after the end of the Civil War reveals the nascent mythologies emerging out of the memories of the conflict. As David Blight argues in Race and Reunion: “The Long and troubled career of Civil War memory began well before the conflict ended. It took root in the dead and the living. The living were compelled to find meaning in the dead, and, as in most wars, the dead would have a hold on the living.”[xliii] Furthermore, the mythologies present on the Fourth of July, 1865 are readily identified. First was a mythology of American exceptionalism, and a tendency to idealize both the founding generation and the Declaration of Independence. The second was the mythology of free-labor ideology. Here we see a direct overlap with the Western Myth, for the remnants of free-labor ideology, together with a Jeffersonian agrarianism, comprised the driving forces behind a view of the West as settled by small-holders, mechanics, and tradesmen. Yet, the massive revolution in production, capital-structures, labor, and the national government, intensified by the war, meant that the old free labor ideology—with its ideal of the poor attaining productive property—was increasingly obsolescent. The third mythology present on this day was the mythology surrounding pro-slavery ideology. As previously stated, slavery was a dying institution, dying but not quite dead, and the justifications planters used to assert their mastery—the mythologies behind white supremacy—were readily apparent. Finally the fourth piece of mythology is the mythology of peace: the idea that the war was over, instead of entering a new phase comprised of counter-insurgency and nation building.

The third theme derived from western history is the question of place. Elliot West in his book, The Last Indian War argues concerning the Second American Revolution: “It’s as if there are two independent historical narratives, and because the one that is set in the East and centered on the Civil War has been tapped as the defining story of its time, the one that is set out West seems peripheral, even largely irrelevant, to explaining American during a critical turn of its history.”[xliv] Focusing on a single day and viewing that day through the literature of place allows the historian to connect North, South, East and West, into a single coherent narrative regarding the effects of the Second American Revolution. The fourth theme is what Patricia Nelson Limrick called The Legacy of Conquest, or what Drew Faust in her book This Republic of Suffering, labeled, “the work of death.”[xlv] How did Americans deal with the deaths caused by the conflict on the national anniversary of American Independence? The fifth theme is the question of labor. If industrialization was making free-labor ideology obsolete, what was to take its place? Here Western history meets the historiography of the New South. Both western and southern historians speak of the creation of a colonial economy in the South and West, where raw materials were shipped to eastern manufacturing centers, and of the creation of a dependent labor force. As we have seen from the initial statement of findings both realities were in evidence on this day, but the larger question is can one see the colonial economy and a new dependent labor force, almost in the moment of their creation, on a single day? And, more importantly, what was the relationship between public policy and private interest that made these realities possible?

The final subject is the question of “Americanization,” or nation-building. Once again the impetus for the theme derives from Western history. Historians Ray Allen Billington and Martin Ridge described the end of the frontier process as “the Americanization of peoples and institutions.”[xlvi] The questions that naturally follow from this are: how were the various sections brought together, and how was a national consciousness formed out of what had been previously two independent nations? Is it possible to see, on July 4, 1865, the seeds of a new American nationalism? As Melinda Lawson states, advancing the historical consensus concerning nationalism and the American Civil War: “Most historians of the Civil War agree: the war, they argue, fostered a metamorphosis in American national identity. A restless, individualistic, acquisitive people, divided in their loyalties, suspicious of federal power, and tentative in their commitment to the nation learned through the crucible of war the importance of organized, united action, a patriotism of sacrifice and national as opposed to state loyalties. By war’s end a “Union” of states had become a “nation” of Americans.”[xlvii] This claim that the war created American national unity, however, propagates a northern vision of the war, and does not adequately examine the divided loyalties present on July 4, 1865.  As an example of these separate allegiances, the citizens of Vicksburg, Mississippi would not celebrate Independence Day until 1945. Thus, the questions facing the nation resembled those confronted by more recent policy-makers both in Iraq and Afghanistan: what is the best way to undertake the re-building of a nation shattered by war, and how does one win “hearts and minds?”

To review, the proposed master’s thesis, will attempt to evaluate the history of a single day: July 4, 1865, along themes borrowed from Western history, while engaging the relevant, recent secondary literature outlined, in part, above. The themes for each chapter may each be described in a word: Dreams—or contested visions of the future, mythology, place, conquest—or death, labor, and last nation-building or Americanization. Finally, the argument underlying each of these themes is that the life-ways, habits, customs and practices on display on July, 4, 1865 fundamentally clashed because each vision “conceived of and used power in different ways.”[xlviii]

Tentative Chapter Outline:

American Dreams July 4, 1865: A Nation in Search of Itself.

Sorn Jessen

22 August 2013

Chapter 1: Dreams and Visions: The Contested Meaning of the Second American Revolution.

  1. Dreams of Peace and Reconciliation
  2. Visions of White Supremacy
  3. Dreams inspired by Emancipation and Visions of Equality before the Law

Chapter II: Myths: Memory and the Creation of Competing Mythologies Surrounding the Civil War.

  1. The Mythology of American Exceptionalism
    1. A Northern Vision the First American Revolution as seen by the Civil War Generation
    2. A Southern Vision of the First American Revolution
    3. An African American Vision of the Founders
    4. The Mythology of Free Labor
    5. The Sons of Ham: Pro-Slavery Ideology in the Aftermath of the Civil War
    6. The Mythology of Peace.

Chapter III: Place: The Meaning of Sectionalism on July 4, 1865.

A. The Meaning of Place and Section on July 4, 1865.

1. A Northern Independence Day

2. The Lost Cause and Causes not Lost: The Meaning of the Southern Patriotism after Defeat on July 4, 1865.

3.  Independence Day in the West: or The Civil War without Armies (something along these lines not entirely clear how to shape this)

Chapter IV: Legacy of Conquest: The Meaning of Death.

A. The Work of Death

                        1. Abraham Lincoln American Jesus: Remembrances of Lincoln on July 4, 1865.

                        2. Confederate Death: A Former Nation Remembers its Fallen

3. African American Sacrifice and the meaning of Manhood.

Chapter V: The Realities of Dependent Labor

  1. Colonial Economics on Display
  2. Labor in an Industrial Society.

Chapter VI: Nation-Building in the Aftermath of the Civil War.

Working Bibliography of Primary Sources (incomplete)

Adams, Henry W. The Past, Present, and Future of America.: An Oration Delivered in the First Presbyterian Church, Orange, New Jersey, July 4th, 1865. New York: John F. Trow &, 50 Greene Street, 1865.

Aldrich, Nelson W. Wholesale Prices, Wages and Transportation. Report of Changes in Railway Transportation Rates on Freight Traffic throughout the United States, 1852 to 1893 Part IV. Washington: Goverment Printing Office, 1893.

Anderson, Edward Clifford. Confederate Foreign Agent: The European Diary of Major Edward C. Anderson. Edited by W. Stanley Hoole. University, Alabama: Confederate Publishing Company, 1976.

Andes, John W., and Will A. McTeer. Loyal Mountain Troopers: The Second and Third Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry in the Civil War : Reminiscences of Lieutenant John W. Andes and Major Will A. McTeer. Edited by Charles S. McCammon. Maryville, TN: Blount County Genealogical and Historical Society, 1992.

Andrews, Sidney. The South Since the War. New York: Arno Press, 1969.

Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss. An Address Delivered by Major-General N.P. Banks, at the Custom House, New Orleans, on the Fourth of July, 1865. New York: Harper & Bros., 1865.

Barber, Lucius W. Army Memoirs of Lucius W. Barber, Company “D,” 15th Illinois Volunteer Infantry: May 24, 1861, to Sept. 30, 1865. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1984.

The Bellville Countryman (Bellville, Texas). 1865.

Berlin, Ira, ed. Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation: Series 1 Volume II The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Upper South. Cambridge [England: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Bingham, Joel Foote. Bright Republic a Song and Chorus, Written for the National Jubilee, July 4th, 1865. Buffalo?: S.n., 1865.

Bishop, Albert Webb. An Oration Delivered at Fayettville, Arkansas, by Big.-Gen. Albert W. Bishop, Adjuinct General of the State, July 4 1865. New York: Baker & Godwin Printers, 1865.

Blanchard, Ira. I Marched with Sherman: Civil War Memoirs of the 20th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. San Francisco: J.D. Huff, 1992.

Blatchford, JNo. S. Circular Addressed to the Branches and Aid Societies Tributary to the U.S. Sanitary Commission. July 4, 1865. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1865.

Boker, George H. Hymn for the Union League, July 4, 1865. Philadelphia?: S.n., 1865.

Boker, George H. Poems of the War. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1864.

Boston City Council Dinner at Faneuil Hall July 4, 1865 Bill of Fare. [Boston]: Geo. C. Rand & Avery, Printers, 3 Cornhill, Boston., 1865.

Boutwell, George S. Reconstruction: Its True Basis. Speech of Hon. George S. Boutwell, at Weymouth, Mass., July 4, 1865. Boston: Wright & Potter, Printers, 1865.

Brown, Frederick T. An Address Delivered in the Central Presbyterian Church, Chicago July 4th, 1865,. Chicago: Jameson & Morse, Printers, 1865.

Chesnut, Mary Boykin Miller. A Diary from Dixie. Edited by Ben Ames Williams. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1949.

City of Boston. Eighty Ninth Anniversary of American Independence. July 4, 1865.: Sir–You Are Respectfully Invited to Unite with the City Council of Boston in Celebrating the Approaching Anniversary of the Declaration of American Independence. … –[Boston: S.n., 1865] –[2] Leaves: Ill; 25cm.

Crawford, James Garvin, Martha Elizabeth Wilson, and Elizabeth Ethel Parker. Bascom. “Dear Lizzie”: Letters Written by James “Jimmy” Garvin Crawford to His Sweetheart Martha Elizabeth “Lizzi” Wilson While He Was in the Federal Army during the War Between the States, 1862-1865. N.C.: N.P., 1978.

Cutler, William Parker. The Duty of Citizens in the Work of Reconstruction. Marietta, OH: Printed at the Register Office, 1865.

Day, William Howard, John Pierpont, and Henry Wilson. Celebration by the Colored People’s Educational Monument Association in Memory of Abraham Lincoln: On the Fourth of July, 1865, in the Presidential Grounds, Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: McGill & Witherow, Printers, 1865.

Dell, P. A., ed. “Negro Suffrage.” The Elevator: A Weekly Journal of Progress (San Francisco, California), May 5, 1865.

Doty, Lockwood L., comp. Presentation of Flags of New York Volunteer Regiments and Other Organizations, to His Excellency, Governor Fenton, in Accordance with a Resolution of the Legislature, July 4, 1865. Albany: Weed, Parsons and, Printers, 1865.

Edwards, Abial Hall. “Dear Friend Anna”: The Civil War Letters of a Common Soldier from Maine. Edited by Beverly Hayes. Kallgren and James L. Crouthamel. Orono, Me., U.S.A.: University of Maine Press, 1992.

Fisk, Wilbur, Emil Rosenblatt, and Ruth Rosenblatt. Hard Marching Every Day: The Civil War Letters of Private Wilbur Fisk, 1861-1865. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 1992.

Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867:Series 3: Volume 1: Land and Labor , 1865. Chapel Hill: Univ of North Carolina Press, 2008.

Garrison, William L. The Liberator, 1865.

Geer, Allen Morgan. The Civil War Diary of Allen Morgan Geer, Twentieth Regiment, Illinois Volunteers. Edited by Mary Ann Andersen. Denver: R.C. Appleman, 1977.

Gibbons, Charles. Proceedings of the Union League of Philadelphia, in Commemoration of the Eighty-Ninth Anniversary of American Independence, July 4th, 1865. Oration of Charles Gibbons, Esq. Philadelphia: King & Baird, Printers, 1865.

Greene, William B. Letters from a Sharpshooter: The Civil War Letters of Private William B. Greene, Co. G, 2nd United States Sharpshooters (Berdan’s) Army of the Potomac, 1861-1865. Edited by William H. Hastings. Belleville, WI: Historic Pub., 1993.

Hancock, John. The Great Question for the People! Essays on the Elective Franchise; Or, Who Has the Right to Vote? Philadelphia: Merrihew & Son, Printers, 1865.

Havens, Palmer E. Oration of Hon. P.E. Havens, of Essex, Delivered at Crown Point, July 4, 1865. Albany: Weed, Parsons and, Printers, 1865.

Hodges, Charles. “President Lincoln.” Princeton Review XXXVII, no. III (July 1865): 435-58.

Hopkins, Owen Johnston, and Otto Ferdinand Bond. Under the Flag of the Nation: Diaries and Letters of a Yankee Volunteer in the Civil War. Columbus: Ohio State University Press for the Ohio Historical Society, 1961.

Horrocks, James. My Dear Parents: The Civil War Seen by an English Union Soldier. Edited by A. S. Lewis. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982.

Howard, O. O., O. O. Howard, and Andrew Gregg Curtin. Oration of Major-General O.O. Howard and Speech of His Excellency A.G. Curtin, Governor of Pennsylvania: At the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Monument in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, at Gettysburg, July 4, 1865, with the Other Exercises of the Occasion. Gettysburg: Printed for the Cemetery Association by Aughinbaugh & Wible, 1865.

Inauguration of the Statue of Horace Mann, in the State-House Grounds, Boston, Massachusetts, July 4, 1865:: With the Addresses of Gov. Andrew, John D. Philbrick, President Hill, Dr. S.G. Howe, and Others. Boston:: Walker, Fuller, and Company., 1865.

Independence Programme for July 4, 1865. How Shall We Celebrate the Coming “Fourth”?. [Boston?]: N.P., 1865.

Inzer, John Washington, and Mattie Lou Teague. Crow. The Diary of a Confederate Soldier: John Washington Inzer, 1834-1928. Huntsville, Ala.: Strode Publishers, 1977.

Johnston, Gertrude K., ed. Dear Pa–and so It Goes. Harrisburg, PA: Business Service Company, 1971.

Jones, Themistocles Alcibiades., and Nastasio Byronis. Stuffoniosi. Oration by Themistocles Alcibiades Jones and A Poem by Nastasio Byronis Stuffoniosi. Pronounced at the Parade of the Antique and Horrible Phantastiques, at Waterbury, Conn., July 4, 1865. Waterbury [Conn.: Phantastique Committee, 1865.

"July, 4 1865." In TSLA: Civil War Sourcebook. Nashville, TN: Tennessee Historical Commission, 2011. Accessed June 25, 2013. http://tn.gov/tsla/cwsb/1865-07-Article-4-Page5.pdf.

Keeler, William Frederick. Aboard the USS Florida: 1863-65: The Letters of Paymaster William Frederick Keeler, U.S. Navy to His Wife, Anna. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1968.

Lynch, James. The Mission of the United States Republic. An Oration Delivered by Rev. James Lynch, at the Parade Ground, Augusta, Ga., July 4, 1865. Augusta, GA: Chronicle & Sentinel Office, 1865.

Manning, J. M. Peace Under Liberty: Oration Deviered before the City Authorities of Boston, on the Fourth of July, 1865 by J.M. Manning. Together with an Account of the Municipal Celebration of the Eighty Ninth Anniversary of American Independence. Boston: J.E. Farwell & Company, Printers, 1865.

May, Charles Sedgwick. The Experiment and the Trial of Republican Institutions: An Oration Delivered at Jackson, Michigan, July 4, 1865. Jackson [Mich.: O'Donnell & Ray, 1865.

Moulton, Charles H. Fort Lyon to Harper's Ferry: On the Border of North and South with "Rambling Jour" : The Civil War Letters and Newspaper Dispatches of Charles H. Moulton (34th Mass. Vol. Inf.). Edited by Lee C. Drickamer and Karen D. Drickamer. Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Pub., 1987.

The National Freedman, a Monthly Journal of the National Freedman's Relief Association (New York). June 1865.

Newton, Isaac. Monthly Report of the Agricultural Department for June and July, 1865. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1865.

The Norfolk Post (Norfolk, VA). "Fourth of July." July 4, 1865.

Paige, Alonzo C. Address before the Common Council and Citizens of the City of Schenectady, July 4, 1865. Albany: Van Benthuysen's Steam Printing House, 1865.

Parker, Joel. Oration Delivered by Governor Parker, at the Dedication of a Monument to the Memory of John Hart: One of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence from New Jersey, at Hopewell, Mercer County, New Jersey, July 4th, 1865. Trenton, NJ: Printed at the True American Office, 1865.

Patterson, James W. 89th Anniversary of the National Independence, July 4, 1865, at Dover, N.H.: Full Report of the Celebration, Including Preliminary Incidents, Procession, Engine Trial, Fireworks, Decorations, &c. Also Oration by Hon. James W. Patterson, of Hanover, N.H. Dover, NH: B. Barnes, Jr., Publisher, 1865.

Pugh, J. Howard. The Success and Promise of the American Union, an Oration, Delivered before the Citizens of Burlington, N.J., on the Occasion of Their Celebration of the Eighty-Ninth Anniversary of Independence Day, July 4th, 1865. Philadelphia: King & Baird, Printers, 1865.

Redkey, Edwin S. A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army, 1861-1865. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Reid, Whitelaw. After the War: A Tour of the Southern States, 1865-1866. Edited by C. Vann Woodward. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.

Rhodes, Elisha Hunt, and Robert Hunt Rhodes. All for the Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes. New York: Vintage Books, 1992.

Robinson, James T. National Anniversary Address, Delivered at the Baptist Church, North Adams, Mass., July 4th, 1865. North Adams Mass.: W.H. Phillips, Printer, 1865.

Schurz, Carl. Report on the Condition of the South "1865":. Civil War Classic Library. N.C.: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

Sheldon, James. Oration Delivered July 4th, 1865, at Eden, Erie Co., N.Y. Buffalo [N.Y.: A.M. Clapp &'s Morning Express Steam Printing House, 1865.

Sheridan, Philip Henry. Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan, General United States Army. Edited by Jeffry D. Wert. New York: Da Capo Press, 1992.

Smith, Benjamin T. Private Smith's Journal: Recollections of the Late War. Edited by Clyde C. Walton. Chicago: Lakeside Press, 1963.

Smith, David, and Ann Smith. Who Only Stand and Wait: Civil War Letters of David and Ann Smith, 1863-1865. Edited by Helene C. Phelan. Almond, NY: H.C. Phelan, 1990.

Smith, James C. Oration, Delivered at Canandaigua, N.Y., July 4, 1865 by Hon. James C. Smith. Canandaigua, NY: N.J. Milliken, Printer, 1865.

Smith, Nathaniel. An Oration Delivered by Nathaniel Smith, Esq., at Woodbury, Conn., on the Fourth of July, 1865. N.C.: Press of J. Giles Waterbury, 1865.

Soldiers', Memorial Society., and George Putnam. The Soldiers' Memorial Society. Boston, MA: Soldiers' Memorial Society, 1865.

Stevens, Thomas N., and George M. Blackburn. "Dear Carrie-- ": The Civil War Letters of Thomas N. Stevens. Mount Pleasant, MI: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, 1984.

Stone, A. L. Elements of National Life: An Oration Delivered before the City Authorities and Citizens of Providence, July 4, 1865. Providence: H.H. Thomas &, City Printers, 1865.

Thayer, M. Russell. The Great Victory.--Its Cost and Its Value. An Address Delivered at Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, July 4th, 1865,. Philadelphia: King & Baird, Printers, 1865.

Thayer, M. Russell. The Great Victory.--Its Cost and Its Value. An Address Delivered at Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, July 4th, 1865,. Philadelphia: King & Baird, Printers, 1865.

Thorpe, Francis Newton. The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America Vol. IV Michigan-New Hampshire. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909.

Tuttle, John W., and Hambleton Tapp. The Union, the Civil War, and John W. Tuttle: A Kentucky Captain's Account. Edited by James C. Klotter. Frankfort: Kentucky Historical Society, 1980.

Williams, Hiram Smith, Lewis Nicholas. Wynne, and Robert A. Taylor. This War so Horrible: The Civil War Diary of Hiram Smith Williams. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1993.

Woodruff, Mathew. A Union Soldier in the Land of the Vanquished: The Diary of Sergeant Mathew Woodruff, June-December, 1865. Edited by F. N. Boney. University, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1969.

Yates, Richard. Speech of Hon. Richard Yates, Deliovered at Elgin, Ill on The Fourth Day of July, A.D. 1865 [As Reported for the Chicago Press]. Jacksonville, Ill: Ironmonger & Mendenhall, 1865.

Yeatman, James E. “Freedmen’s Wages.” The National Freedman: A Monthly Journal of the New York National Freedman’s Relief Association (New York, NY), August 15, 1865.


Notes.

1. James Lynch, The Mission of the United States Republic. An Oration Delivered by Rev. James Lynch, at the Parade Ground, Augusta, Ga., July 4, 1865. (Augusta, GA: Chronicle & Sentinel Office, 1865), 12.

[ii]. William Howard Day, John Pierpont, and Henry Wilson, Celebration by the Colored People’s Educational Monument Association in Memory of Abraham Lincoln: On the Fourth of July, 1865, in the Presidential Grounds, Washington, D.C. (Washington, D.C.: McGill & Witherow, Printers, 1865), 5.

[iii]. Ibid., 15.

[iv]. Ibid..

[v]. Edwin S. Redkey, A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army, 1861-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 187.

[vi]. Ibid., 188.

[vii]. P. A. Dell, ed., “Negro Suffrage,” The Elevator: A Weekly Journal of Progress (San Francisco, California), May 5, 1865. *N.B. The Microfilm service copy from the University of Arkansas did not contain the issues from June through September 1865 as requested, so the paper has been re-ordered. I still thought, however, that this quote was representative enough that it merited inclusion.

[viii]. William Garrison, ed., “Fourth of July,” The Liberator (Boston, MA), June 30, 1865.

[ix]. Lynch,  The Mission of the United States Republic, 7.; A.J. Beale, “Certificate regarding soundness of a Negro girl sold by A.J. Beale to Angeline Outland, signed by D.U. Outland and F.W. Russell, July 4, 1865,” Folder 1, Item 7, A.J. Beale Papers 1835-1901, Accession MS 92-04, Murray State University Special Collections, Kentucky Digital Library, Accessed 21 July 2013. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7w6m33340r_1_13.

[x].  Whitelaw Reid, After the War: A Tour of the Southern States, 1865-1866., ed. C. Vann Woodward (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), 218.

[xi]. “July, 4 1865,” in TSLA: Civil War Sourcebook (Nashville, TN: Tennessee Historical Commission, 2011), accessed July 25, 2013, http://tn.gov/tsla/cwsb/1865-07-Article-4-Page5.pdf.

[xii].  Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut, A Diary from Dixie, ed. Ben Ames Williams (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1949), 544.

[xiii]. “Fourth of July,” The Norfolk Post (Norfolk, VA), July 4, 1865.

[xiv]. Ibid..

[xv]. Mathew Woodruff, A Union Soldier in the Land of the Vanquished: The Diary of Sergeant Mathew Woodruff, June-December, 1865, ed. F. N. Boney (University, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1969), 10.

[xvi]. Philip Henry Sheridan, Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan, General United States Army, ed. Jeffry D. Wert (New York: Da Capo Press, 1992), 414.

[xvii]. The Bellville Countryman (Bellville, Texas), July 1, 1865.

[xviii]. Ibid..

[xix]. Carl Schurz, Report on the Condition of the South “1865″:, Civil War Classic Library (N.C.: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2012), 32-33.

[xx]. Ibid., 128.

[xxi]. Ibid., 162-164.

[xxii].  James E. Yeatman, “Freedmen’s Wages,” The National Freedman: A Monthly Journal of the New York National Freedman’s Relief Association (New York, NY), August 15, 1865.

[xxiii]. Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867:Series 3: Volume 1: Land and Labor , 1865 (Chapel Hill: Univ of North Carolina Press, 2008), 357-358.

[xxiv]. Nelson W. Aldrich, Wholesale Prices, Wages and Transportation. Report of Changes in Railway Transportation Rates on Freight Traffic throughout the United States, 1852 to 1893 Part IV (Washington: Goverment Printing Office, 1893), 1567.

[xxv]. Palmer E. Havens, Oration of Hon. P.E. Havens, of Essex, Delivered at Crown Point, July 4, 1865. (Albany: Weed, Parsons and, Printers, 1865), 17.

[xxvi].  Frederick T. Brown, An Address Delivered in the Central Presbyterian Church, Chicago July 4th, 1865, (Chicago: Jameson & Morse, Printers, 1865), 7.

[xxvii]. Charles Austin Beard and Mary Ritter Beard, The Rise of American Civilization: Volume II The Industrial Era (New York: Macmillan, 1927), 53.

[xxviii]. W.E.B. Dubois, Black Reconstruction in America: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 1.

[xxix]. James M. McPherson and James Keith Hogue, Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2009), xxiii.

[xxx]. Bruce C. Levine, The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South (New York: Random House, 2013), xviii.

[xxxi]. Francis Newton Thorpe, The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America Vol. IV Michigan-New Hampshire (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909), 2190.

[xxxii]. W.E.B. Dubois, “The Gall of Bitterness,” The Crisis 3, no. 4 (February 1912): 153.

[xxxiii]. Michael Vorenberg, Final Freedom: The Civil War, The Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), i.

[xxxiv]. Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), xxvii.

[xxxv]. Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863-1877 (New York: Harper & Row, 1990), xvi; Themistocles Alcibiades. Jones and Nastasio Byronis. Stuffoniosi, Oration by Themistocles Alcibiades Jones and A Poem by Nastasio Byronis Stuffoniosi. Pronounced at the Parade of the Antique and Horrible Phantastiques, at Waterbury, Conn., July 4, 1865. (Waterbury [Conn.: Phantastique Committee, 1865), 7.

[xxxvi]. Robert Penn Warren, The Legacy of the Civil War (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 4.

[xxxvii]. David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2001), 2.

[xxxviii]. Matthew Arnold, New Poems by Mathew Arnold (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867), 180.

[xxxix]. W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South (New York: Vintage Books, 1991), 103.

[xl]. Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in American History (New York: H. Holt and, 1920), 3.

[xli]. Elliott West, The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, & the Rush to Colorado (Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 1998), xxii.

[xlii]. Ibid., xxiii-xxiv.

[xliii]. Blight, Race and Reunion, 6.

[xliv]. Elliott West, The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story (Oxford [England: Oxford University Press, 2009), xix.

[xlv]. Drew Gilpin. Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), xiv.

[xlvi].Ray Allen Billington and Martin Ridge, Westward Expansion: A History of the American Frontier (New York: Macmillan, 1982), 2.

[xlvii]. Melinda Lawson, Patriot Fires: Forging a New American Nationalism in the Civil War North (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002), 3.

[xlviii]. West, The Contested Plains, xxiv.

American Dreams July 4, 1865: A Nation in Search of Itself. (First part of the proposal)

What follows below for those who are interested is the first part of my proposal on what I hope will be my M.A. thesis here at the University of Montana. The working title, is the one you see here and in the subject heading. I’m hoping that when I finish with it I can garner enough interest to form a committee.

American Dreams July 4, 1865: A Nation in Search of Itself.

On July 4, 1865 James Lynch, soon to become Mississippi’s first African American Secretary of State under its reconstruction government, stated the demands of the recently freed slaves before an assemblage of 4,000 freed-people in Augusta, Ga.  In a section titled What the Colored Man Asks, Lynch stated that “he asks to stay in the land of his birth, to till the soil and labor in the workshop, and to fill positions of usefulness under these bright skies that smile[d] on his infancy. He asks and demands protection in the enjoyment of his liberty, which is only secured by equality before the law.”[i] Likewise, on the same day, the Colored People’s National Lincoln Monument Association held a celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the fallen president in which the master of Ceremonies read a letter from Frederick Douglass emphasizing the importance of Negro suffrage: “The one thought to be emphasized and deeply underscored on that occasion is this: The immediate, complete, and universal enfranchisement of the colored people of the whole country. This is demanded both by justice and national honor. . . . The great want of the country is to be rid of the negro question, and it can never be rid of that question until justice, right, and sound policy are complied with.”[ii] In the oration that followed William Howard Day, a graduate of Oberlin College, whose mother was one of the founders of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, expounded a vision of slavery as a two-hundred year “wave of blood” which by God’s providence had been set backward, and visited upon “the hearts and homes of the nation.”[iii] Yet, Day, as was the case with other African Americans on this national anniversary, perceived the national bloodshed as serving the higher purpose of freedom: “On these successive waves of blood, rising higher and higher, year by year, the colored man has been borne on and up to freedom, and must be borne outward still, to full enfranchisement.”[iv] The image thus presented was both of a glorious war of liberation and of a commitment to realize its results.

Not confined to prominent men and educated northern blacks the sentiment everywhere among African Americans, on the first fourth of July after Appomattox, contained both elements of a hopeful promise for the future, and the necessary requirement of confronting racist realities in a former slave society. Sergeant William A. Warfield of the 119th U.S. Colored Infantry, in a letter to the Weekly Anglo African stated both conditions with clarity and verve. First he illustrated the meaning independence held for former slaves, and their corresponding desire for a brighter tomorrow: “This is an age of wonders, and not least among them is the celebration of the Fourth of July at Camp Nelson, Ky., by the colored people. To see so many thousands who a year ago were slaves, congregate in the heart of a slave State and celebrate the day sacred to the cause of freedom . . . was a grand spectacle. It was the first time we have ever been permitted to celebrate the Nation’s Day.”[v]  Second, Sergeant Warfield gave voice to a desire for equality and a determination for its achievement worthy of Douglass, James Lynch, or William Day. Moreover, while the orators and intellectual leaders of the black community affirmed a public principle before a large audience, Warfield demonstrated a private commitment, openly expressed, to strive for rights not yet secured:

If we would obtain our just privileges, we must strive for them [emphasis in original]. We must be willing to pay the same price that other people have always been compelled to pay. By laboring for our own cause we show, in the first place that we understand and appreciate what our rights are; in the second place, that we have the courage and manhood to ask for them; in the third place, that we are determined, sooner or later to have them. We need not expect those who have held us as slaves, and regarded us as incapable of an honorable position in government and society, to grant us that which we are indisposed to labor for.”[vi]

Collectively, the African American Community regardless of region, class, or previous condition of servitude emerged from the Civil War with a firm desire to secure the full rights of citizenship, purchased by their bravery on the battlefield. The Elevator, a California Newspaper dedicated to “equality before the law” and advancing the rights of African Americans in a state which restricted citizenship to white men said of Negro suffrage that “nothing ‘has been accomplished for the Negro  during the past four  years’ but what the exigencies of the times and the God-scourged people demanded. We are not content with what you [were] compelled to grant, or what was grudgingly given, or else the nation would have been rent in twain.”[vii]  Clearly, the African American community emerged from the civil war with a shared sense of national purpose, a dedication to the half-finished work begun by the Civil War, and a commitment to completing the work begun during the first half of the Second American Revolution. 

The dreams of the African American community for full equality before the law, and a measure of equal citizenship, however, fundamentally clashed with the desires of current and former slave-owners who wished to create a dependent labor force, curtail African American civil rights, and preserve a modicum of antebellum way of life. Northern abolitionists, and teary eyed reformers, might agree with William Garrison that “Hitherto the returning anniversary of the Fourth of July . . . has been a bitter mockery to the millions held in the galling chains of slavery on our soil and a satire upon all our professions as a free and Christian people. On Tuesday next, for the first time, it will be celebrated with something like the semblance of consistency and in the semblance of universal emancipation.”[viii] Yet, without fully knowing it Garrison presumed that universal emancipation was everywhere fully realized, for despite his rosy words, the following Tuesday did not dawn bathed in the collective sunshine of human rights for all. Even as the thirteenth amendment was making its way through the ratification process, and as James Lynch was propounding that “this great Republic was raised up to elevate humanity and to oppose the despotism of the universe,” in the state of Kentucky A.J. Beale sold to Angeline Outland a “negro girl” for another African American woman “equal in value” and certified her soundness on “this the 4[th] day [of] July[,] 1865.”[ix] Slavery far from being dead was very much alive in the state of Kentucky, which remained in control of a conservative coalition of Unionists firmly opposed to any change in the relationship between master and slave.

What is more, in the states of the old confederacy, where the war had brought about emancipation, former slave-owners clung to their old justifications and old beliefs with a tenacity revealed in words and deeds. Still believing that their former slaves were the “descendants of Ham,” and that “service in some form is their heritage,” white southerners fought through legal and extra-legal means to re-assert or maintain their mastery.[x] In Tennessee William Bonner, calling upon the help of three federal soldiers—Privates Mathew Mullins, Tyler Harrison and Captain Adkins—tied his house servant, Henry Bonner to a tree and administered 150 lashes with elm branches, whipping him twice. In the testimony of Mathew Mullins: “we whipped him for saucing his master Wm. Bonner—we were sent out under the charge of the home guard captain and were to do what he directed and [Bonner] directed the party to whip the negro.”[xi]  Even after four years of bloody conflict, both in slave-holding border-states, and in the erstwhile confederacy, slavery was very much alive.

In other parts of the South, the fourth of July took on the solemn, sullen air of a defiant refusal to acknowledge the realities of defeat. Mary Boykin Chesnut wrote in her diary from Camden, South Carolina that “Our people were all at home quiet, orderly, respectfull [sic], and at their usual work. There was nothing to show that any one of them had ever seen a Yankee or knew that there was one in existence.”[xii]  Likewise, the Norfolk Post, gave its readers the following advice: “Let our people who are now mourning over the loses of the last four years, pause for one moment in their lamentations, and think for one moment how much greater were our forefathers in the war of revolution and that of 1812.”[xiii] Furthermore, the paper added in a tone of passive-aggressive warning:  “We counsel all soberness and propriety, and let all abstain from too much enthusiasm, as the weather is hot and the consequences to [the public] health might be very detrimental.”[xiv] Or, as a Mathew Woodruff, a sergeant in the Union Army recounted from Vicksburg, Mississippi, on this day: “The war is over, but I am sorry to say the people does [sic] not do honor to the fallen Braves, or the suffering communities of our Nation.”[xv] In short, the actualities of conquest were far from being universally acknowledged, and many former confederates stood opposed to any sort of reconciliation.  

Still elsewhere in the former confederacy, in Texas, people stood resigned to reunion and life under the old flag, but greatly feared the prospect of a coming race war.  As General Phillip H. Sheridan wrote in his memoirs concerning the condition of Texas in July, 1865: “It was greatly feared that political rights were to be given those so recently in servitude, and as it was generally believed that such enfranchisement would precipitate a race war unless the freedmen were overawed and kept in a state of subjection, acts of intimidation were soon reported from all parts of the State.”[xvi] In a similar fashion, one Texas newspaper, The Bellville Countryman, publicly expressed Sheridan’s observations while commemorating the Fourth of July: “There being no demonstrations here today . . . we have concluded to raise the ‘stars and stripes’ ourselves. We expect to remain in Texas, and to live under the old flag. But we don’t want to fight under that flag,—nor any other. We are opposed to the NEXT WAR [emphasis in original].”[xvii] On the same page, giving a concrete reality to the possibility of intimidation, the paper reported that “Peter, a gentleman of color, who has for several months past occupied rooms at the County Hotel [Jail] at this place and been fed at the public crib, stepped out last night (July 3), by permission of the proprietor, to procure a drink of cold water at an adjacent house, and has not yet returned.”[xviii]   Clearly the hopes of the African American population for equality before the law and basic safety relative to the white population of the South could not be maintained without outside enforcement.

The governing powers of the south, however, seemed far more concerned with maintaining and securing a reliable black labor force, and with implementing means of social control than they did in creating any sort of public safety for the former slaves. As Carl Schurz relayed to President Andrew Johnson in his Report on the Condition of the South 1865, the feeling in the south was that “the blacks at large belong to the whites at large,” and that “the negro will not work without physical compulsion.”[xix] The planter class remained determined to reassert its mastery. Believing that “These niggers will all be slaves again in twelve months,” and that the National Government possessed “nothing but Lincoln proclamations to make them free,” the White South, set about to re-assert its mastery over labor with the help of municipal, state, and where possible federal authorities in the form of the recently formed freedman’s bureau or the army.[xx]  The town of Opelousas, Louisiana passed the following municipal ordinance which took effect on the Fourth of July 1865. In thirteen ordinances, the movement, status, and opportunity of freedmen and women were effectively restricted so that the only place for them in society was working for their former masters. No freedman was allowed to come within the city limits without permission from his employer, and every negro found on the streets after 10’oclock at night, or three p.m. on Sundays, was thrown in jail and compelled to labor on public works. No African American was allowed to own or rent property within the city limits or reside there without permission from an employer. Both Public meetings and black preachers were forbidden without permission from the mayor. Additionally no freed person was allowed to carry a firearm that was not in military service, and no person of color was permitted to buy, sell, trade, or barter any merchandise without the written permission of an employer, the mayor or the president of the board.[xxi]

In cases where such municipal ordinances did not exist, planters and freedman’s bureau agents worked in conjunction to create a dependent labor force by forcing former bonds-people into contracts at well below market value.  James Yeatman, writing to O.O. Howard on this day expressed his observations that “the tendency everywhere is to pay too little. I have seen no wages named either by employers, military commandants or others which would be deemed fair and just compensation were they the owner of the negro, and hiring them to labor for others.”[xxii] As a case in point, James Eason in a contract with his former slave Eddy dated July 4, 1865, guaranteed him and the eleven people in his household one thirty-second of the crop in exchange for an entire years labor. As a condition of the contract, Eddy and his family agreed to “remain with and serve him the said Eason, their former owner as they have heretofore done for and during the remainder of the present year.”[xxiii] In a similar fashion to northern iron ore miners who saw their wages fall from a wartime high of $2.50 a day in July of 1864, to a post-war value of $1.50 a day in July of 1865, freed slaves found their labor worth far less to themselves in freedom than it had been to their masters under slavery before and during the war.[xxiv] The realities of the industrial revolution, begun by the war, meant that the values of free labor ideology were becoming obsolescent, to be replaced by a new reality of dependence upon an impersonal market.

Northern Reformers, and members of the African American community might agree with New York State Senator Palmer Havens that “negro suffrage is absolutely essential to our future peace and safety,” but these individuals faced stiff resistance in implementing their vision of the future from more conservative northern whites, recalcitrant southerners still dealing with the realities of southern defeat, and those in the border states who wished to perpetuate slavery.[xxv] The Reverend Frederick Brown, might proclaim before the congregation of the Central Presbyterian Church in Chicago that “swords are beating into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks,” but the mysteries of Peter’s fate at the hands of persons unknown, belied the mythic image of peaceful coexistence.[xxvi] The bloody contest between competing armies on the battlefield stood resolved, but in so many ways the sanguinary war of competing principles, and with it the bloody contest regarding the meaning of the civil war had yet to be determined.  The competing dreams unleashed by the Second American Revolution shown visibly on this day of national observance, but their truths remained to be realized.


Notes.

1. James Lynch, The Mission of the United States Republic. An Oration Delivered by Rev. James Lynch, at the Parade Ground, Augusta, Ga., July 4, 1865. (Augusta, GA: Chronicle & Sentinel Office, 1865), 12.

[ii]. William Howard Day, John Pierpont, and Henry Wilson, Celebration by the Colored People’s Educational Monument Association in Memory of Abraham Lincoln: On the Fourth of July, 1865, in the Presidential Grounds, Washington, D.C. (Washington, D.C.: McGill & Witherow, Printers, 1865), 5.

[iii]. Ibid., 15.

 [iv]. Ibid..

 [v]. Edwin S. Redkey, A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army, 1861-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 187.

[vi]. Ibid., 188.

 [vii]. P. A. Dell, ed., “Negro Suffrage,” The Elevator: A Weekly Journal of Progress (San Francisco, California), May 5, 1865. *N.B. The Microfilm service copy from the University of Arkansas did not contain the issues from June through September 1865 as requested, so the paper has been re-ordered. I still thought, however, that this quote was representative enough that it merited inclusion.

 [viii]. William Garrison, ed., “Fourth of July,” The Liberator (Boston, MA), June 30, 1865.

[ix]. Lynch,  The Mission of the United States Republic, 7.; A.J. Beale, “Certificate regarding soundness of a Negro girl sold by A.J. Beale to Angeline Outland, signed by D.U. Outland and F.W. Russell, July 4, 1865,” Folder 1, Item 7, A.J. Beale Papers 1835-1901, Accession MS 92-04, Murray State University Special Collections, Kentucky Digital Library, Accessed 21 July 2013. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7w6m33340r_1_13.

[x].  Whitelaw Reid, After the War: A Tour of the Southern States, 1865-1866., ed. C. Vann Woodward (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), 218.

[xi]. “July, 4 1865,” in TSLA: Civil War Sourcebook (Nashville, TN: Tennessee Historical Commission, 2011), accessed July 25, 2013, http://tn.gov/tsla/cwsb/1865-07-Article-4-Page5.pdf.

[xii].  Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut, A Diary from Dixie, ed. Ben Ames Williams (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1949), 544.

[xiii]. “Fourth of July,” The Norfolk Post (Norfolk, VA), July 4, 1865.

[xiv]. Ibid..  

 [xv]. Mathew Woodruff, A Union Soldier in the Land of the Vanquished: The Diary of Sergeant Mathew Woodruff, June-December, 1865, ed. F. N. Boney (University, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1969), 10.

 [xvi]. Philip Henry Sheridan, Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan, General United States Army, ed. Jeffry D. Wert (New York: Da Capo Press, 1992), 414.

 [xvii]. The Bellville Countryman (Bellville, Texas), July 1, 1865.

[xviii]. Ibid..  

 [xix]. Carl Schurz, Report on the Condition of the South “1865″:, Civil War Classic Library (N.C.: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2012), 32-33.

 [xx]. Ibid., 128.  

 [xxi]. Ibid., 162-164.   

 [xxii].  James E. Yeatman, “Freedmen’s Wages,” The National Freedman: A Monthly Journal of the New York National Freedman’s Relief Association (New York, NY), August 15, 1865.

 [xxiii]. Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867:Series 3: Volume 1: Land and Labor , 1865 (Chapel Hill: Univ of North Carolina Press, 2008), 357-358.

[xxiv]. Nelson W. Aldrich, Wholesale Prices, Wages and Transportation. Report of Changes in Railway Transportation Rates on Freight Traffic throughout the United States, 1852 to 1893 Part IV (Washington: Goverment Printing Office, 1893), 1567. 

[xxv]. Palmer E. Havens, Oration of Hon. P.E. Havens, of Essex, Delivered at Crown Point, July 4, 1865. (Albany: Weed, Parsons and, Printers, 1865), 17.

[xxvi].  Frederick T. Brown, An Address Delivered in the Central Presbyterian Church, Chicago July 4th, 1865, (Chicago: Jameson & Morse, Printers, 1865), 7. 

Thoughts on W. J. Cash: The Mind of The South 

Of all of the insights that Tuan leads one to think about, with his twin ideas of space and place, perhaps the most interesting is the question of the role of sectionalism in American history. It should be noted that the question of sectionalism is a rather old idea, Frederick Jackson Turner, of the much disputed and ever argued frontier hypothesis, wrote, in addition to a book bearing a similar title, an essay in the March 1925 edition of the Wisconsin Historical Review entitled: “The Significance of the Section in American History.” In the article Turner views the section as an outgrowth of his larger idea concerning the frontier:

To the average American, to most American historians, to most of the writers of our school textbooks (if one can trust the indexes to their books) the word section applies only to the struggles of South against North on the questions of slavery, state sovriegnty, and, eventually, disunion. But the Civil War, was only the most drastic and most tragic of sectional manifestations, and in no small degree the form which it took depended on the fact that rival societies, free and slave, were marching side by side into the unoccupied lands of the West, each attempting to dominate the back country the hinterland working out agreements from time to time something like the diplomatic treaties of European nations defining spheres of influence and awarding mandates such as in the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Each Atlantic section was in truth engaged in a struggle for power and power was to be gained by drawing upon the growing west.

Whatever the verities or the vagaries of Turner’s much-abused hypothesis concerning the significance of the frontier in American history, there is real wisdom here concerning the question of politics and power in Antebellum America. When Turner wrote that “each Atlantic section was in truth engaged in a struggle for power and power was to be gained by drawing upon the growing west,” he expressed what we might call the “irrepressible conflict thesis” in terms that center upon the Western United States. In a very real sense, the West was the future of the nation, and the conflict over slavery was fought in part to define what that future would be for future generations. Perhaps this is Turner’s most valuable point, that in settling the slavery question, the Civil War created a space for the West to be developed along lines laid down by northern free-soil principles.

Even so, Turner does not address adequately the question of how places exist as mental regions in a person’s conceptual landscape. If we take Tuan’s equation, that space plus culture equals place, as a given, then what or how is the best way to define the South? This used to be a question that one could ask with some comfort, but, is it possible anymore to say with certainty that the South, or the North, or the West, is a distinctive part and holds a special place in the American consciousness? More importantly, for someone interested in pursuing the history of a single day, July 4th, 1865, as a possible master’s thesis, how exactly does one trace the history of a place in transition? The Old South was in the process of passing away, and the New South had not yet been born. The meaning of Southerness and the question of a “southern way of life” were being called into question. In short, the very nature of the place was being re-defined. But what was the South? And, perhaps more importantly, where does one go to find answers to the question of what people hoped the South would become? More than sixty years ago, Willard J. Cash, in his path-breaking book The Mind of the South attempted to answer a few of these questions, and though seriously dated in some respects, his work helps one to understand the meaning of the South as a section in transition.

To Cash, the South “is a tree with many age rings, with its limbs and trunk bent and twisted by all the winds of the years, but with its tap root in the Old South.” Yet, what was this Old South gasping its final breaths on July 4th, 1865? Here Cash is less clear, but there are other sources, and other places where one can go for information. Unquestionably the Old South was one of the four or five great slave societies in human history. If we take the 1860 census numbers as a reasonably reliable guide: 3, 953,760, nearly 4 million people were enslaved. At an average market price of 1,200 dollars the total value of this population approximately equaled, $4,744,512,000 or 4.7 billion dollars. This is what Lincoln meant in his Second Inaugural when he said: One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war.” In the idea of slavery as a “peculiar and powerful interest” both Cash and Lincoln are in agreement, but how did slavery shape the development of the region? What, ultimately were its idiosyncrasies and how does Cash’s book help us to explain them?
The first major insight, that The Mind of the South brings to the forefront of one’s awareness is how the rise of the Old South happened in the timespan of an individual lifetime. The same generation which saw slavery rise to become a potent part in the nation’s political life was comprised of the very same people who lived to see its eventual end. Or as Cash states so eloquently in his depiction of the Southern Old Country:

From 1820 to 1860 is but forty years—a little more than the span of a single generation. The whole period from the invention of the cotton gin to the outbreak of the Civil War is less than seventy years—the lifetime of a single man. Yet it was wholly within the longer of these periods, and mainly within the shorter, that the development and growth of the great south took place. Men who, as children, had heard the war whoop of the Cherokee in the Carolina backwoods lived to hear the gins at Vicksburg. And thousands of other men who had looked upon Alabama when it was still a wilderness and upon Mississippi whn it was still a stubborn jungle, lived to fight—and to fight well, too—in the ranks of Confederate armies.

We forget this sometimes, I think, in outlining the warp and woof of American history, just how little time elapsed between the revolution and the close of the Civil War in 1865. Only eighty-nine years elapsed between the outbreak of the American Revolution, and the close of the Civil War in 1865. Conceivably, such a timespan could be encapsulated within the confines of an individual life. In this relatively brief timespan arose the Great South as Cash argues, and as a result slavery went from being something that Americans viewed as a necessary evil, to use Jefferson’s famous phrase, “We have the wolf by the ears” to something that white southerners, represented most tellingly by George Fitzhugh justified as a positive good.

Second, in chronicling the growth of slavery as an institution, Cash, because he agrees with Turner and defines the old South as a frontier society, places a great deal of emphasis upon the role of the speculator in the development of the Old South: “In the fullness of time, the new era had set in—the era of the second great experiment of independence; the era, namely of credit without capital, and enterprise without honesty. . . . The condition of society may be imagined;–vulgarity—ignorance—fussy and arrogant pretension—unmitigated rowdyism—bullying insolence, if they did not rule the hour, seemed to wield unchecked domination.” The place of speculation, of ever increasing values of land, slaves, and cotton, has an enduring position in the history of the Old South. David Blight in his open-course lecture series states this with his usual directness: “The cotton crop nearly doubled every decade from 1820 to 1860. Four decades in a row the production of American cotton nearly doubled.” Yet Blight is not alone in his analysis. Sixty years ago, Walter Prescott Webb in postulating “The Boom Hypothesis of Modern history” argued that the discovery of the rest of the world by Europe precipitated a four-hundred year expansion of windfall profits in which materials outnumbered people and gave rise to the modern capitalist economy:

Thus far logic has driven us toward the conclusion that a very important element which was nearly always present in a . . . windfall was a low labor cost. It would be low either because a very small amount of labor was required, as in robbing a treasure ship, or because it came at a very small wage, as with the fur hunters when they used Indian labor. The planters had to have a large labor force, but they were in worse luck than the fur traders because their Indians would not go along with a plantation program. The solution the planters hit upon to reduce their labor expense to a minimum was Negro slavery. With free land the planter could not get forward, but with free land and slave labor he could make some headway.

Essentially, both Blight and Webb re-enforce Cash’s point concerning the role of speculation in creating the economy of the Old South, speculation in land and slaves which was brought to an abrupt end in 1865 with the conclusion of the Civil War. Yet the mentalities of violence, what Cash calls the “savage ideal” brought about by rapid speculation in land, slaves and cotton, did not end with the conclusion of the war. Here ultimately, is where we get back to Tuan, barring a long digression. Tuan argues that “place is an organized world of meaning.” As such, it exists in one’s conceptual universe long after the physical or social characteristics which brought it into being have passed away. Furthermore, when massive social upheaval brings changes to the meaning of conceptual place, the older vision of place, surviving as a cultural sphere contends with newer concepts of place for mastery. This is a point brought out by Elliot West in his masterful study of the Colorado Gold Rush The Contested Plains: “People use their brains to create mental variations of the places they observe, variations that exist only inside their heads. They imagine changes in the world as it presently exists outside themselves; they visualize new connections and relationships that are not there yet. So besides the perceived environment in the first—sense the outer world as humans encounter it through their senses—there can be many alternate environments existing simultaneously as imagined places.” What I hope ultimately to be able to illustrate through my investigation of a single day, July 4, 1865 is how these different imagined places competed for power, and how this single day reveals in microcosm the larger debates not only over Reconstruction, but also concerning the place of the West in the life of the nation, on a single day. More on Cash will follow, as I delve more deeply into Eugene Genovesse and others, but to structure this narrative more clearly and cleanly I need to investigate the place of nationalism, especially Southern Nationalism, for it could be said that a nation may exist as an imagined place, precisely in lines laid down by Tuan and West, even though it has none of the formal institutional trappings which one normally associates a nation-state.

The Things They Carried: PTSD, July 4, 1865, and the Memory of War

One of the more interesting developments that arises out of Tuan’s work Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience is that it enables one to arrive at a deeper understanding of what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Tuan writes concerning place that “place is a special kind of object. It is a concentration of value, though not a valued thing that can be handled or carried about easily; it is an object in which one can dwell” (12). Conceptually, this means that people inhabit different mental spaces, which they instill with meaning through lived experience, as we have discussed earlier. But, what happens when the physical location that one currently occupies conflicts with the mental space that one has previously constructed? In short, what are the consequences of experiencing two competing places in one’s mind during the same event?

Tuan gives no answer to this question, but in my mind it’s an intriguing problem that lends itself naturally to an analysis of PTSD. In the nineteenth century there was no name for the affliction that during the First World War would be named shell-shock, battle fatigue in the Second, and receive its modern designation only in the aftermath of Vietnam. Yet, there is a timelessness to the experiences soldiers carry with them in their mental universes as a by-product of war. Every generation of soldiers have had, in some capacity, to re-adapt themselves to the demands of peace-time and accordingly re-adjust the ideas of place which they carry in their heads. Most of the time, this is done successfully, but there are various points in time, when the past intrudes on the present, when the places one has previously experienced arise unbidden to haunt or remind the spectator of past events. Perhaps, what we call post-traumatic stress disorder is not really a disorder at all but the intrusion, or the imposition of one place upon another.

The experiences of private Benjamin T. Smith, the son of a shoemaker from Kankakee Illinois on July 4, 1865 vividly illustrate how PTSD is best understood as an experience of competing places. He wrote in his journal regarding the day: “This is the 89th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. At day light the forts around the outskirts of the city [presumably Nashville] awoke the echoes, by firing a national salute. It reminded me forcibly of the 15th of last December, the racket and the roar of the big guns, only now they are all blanks that are fired.”

Clearly private Smith carried his experiences in the Battle of Nashville, which took place on the 15th and 16th of December forward and they intimately shaped his understanding of the Fourth of July 1865. The sound of the guns, this time firing a salute to the national holiday, evoked in his conscious mind the memory of a battle recently experienced. In sum, the place created to honor the nation’s independence conflicted with the place where the battle lived in his memory, evoking images and thoughts rooted in his prior experience. Thankfully, we have in his journal the recorded impressions of the two bloody days surrounding the skirmish where Smith writes: “Men have been slaughtered by hundreds, in some instances, the line officers of regiments have been all killed or disabled, leaving the non commissioned officer in command of companies.” Almost certainly he lived with the images of the slaughter and the cries of wounded soldiers brought back to his memory by the sound of salutary cannon:

“[The wounded] are taken up and conveyed to the surgeon’s tents; here they are laid upon a table, and examined, bullets are probed for, wounds stitched up and dressed, arms or legs cut off if too badly shattered to be saved. . . . Visiting one of these tents, used by our [headquarters’] surgeon, I find him with his up to their elbows in gore; in one corner is a pile of members of the human system, arms and legs, hands and feet. . . . And so the ghastly works goes on all night long.”

Smith like many soldiers lived with these mental memories, these places created by war, for the rest of his life, and it took only the right circumstances for them to be brought to the surface once again. In this case, the sound of booming cannon and the acrid smell of powder smoke on the Fourth of July brought back the horrendous work of death achieved by artillery during the conflict. An experience smith describes most vividly in his journal entry for December 16th, 1865:

As the first rays of the rising sun begins to streak the eastern sky, our batteries belch forth a rain of iron, at the enemy. The thunderous racket these engines of war create as they send death and destruction into the enemys [sic] ranks must be witnessed to be appreciated. The enemy open[s] up their batteries in reply, as though bidding defiance to any attack. The air is filled with solid shot and shells, crossing each other, and it behoves [sic] one to lay low for the hour it lasts.

Unfortunately, Private Smith did not feel at liberty to divulge his physical reactions either during the battle or on the Fourth of July, yet one can imagine how the muscles tighten up at the sound of artillery, the ways in which he, like so many other soldiers, hugged close to the ground for protection, waiting for the bombardment to pass. Undoubtedly, these reactions that served him so well, and saved his life on the 16th of December 1864, were similar to those he went through on the more peaceful July 4th 1865. Ultimately, the place conjured up by the roar of the guns on the more peaceful national holiday merged with his earlier experiences to create a single locus, defined by an bloodshed and trauma, that he carried with him as he journeyed into the uncertain future of life in peacetime.

Reflections on Yi Fu Tuan Part One

Essay: Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007).
So I’m making my way through my second reading of Yi Fu Tuan’s excellent, short book on the social construction of space and place: Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. Tuan writes: “what begins as undifferentiated space becomes place as we get to know it better and endow it with value.” Tuan is speaking about geography, and the meaning which people attach to specific locations through time. However, he got me to thinking about what I would like to call, for lack of a better way to define it at present, conceptual space and conceptual place. The thought process behind this is relatively similar, but it should be noted that I am speaking here of abstract concepts. If geographical localities undergo a process of change, whereby they are endowed with value through time, or experience, should not the same be true concerning our conceptions of other things, such as truth, beauty, fairness, justice, and many additional things which exist in our mental universe? Is it possible to view abstractions in the same way in which Tuan and the environmental historians, who take their cues from him, view places? What are the ramifications of viewing something like justice as a place, in the same way in which one views home, or the city in which one lives, as a place that is endowed with value through a process of experience?
Central to Tuan’s ideas concerning space and place is a dichotomy between space as freedom and place as security. Or, as Tuan elegantly phrases it: “Space lies open; it suggests the future and invites action. . . . Open space has no trodden paths and signposts. It has no fixed pattern of established human meaning; it is like a blank slate on which meaning may be imposed.” By contrast Tuan defines place as a pause, as a space, which people endow with value through the process of reflection: “Place can acquire deep meaning for the adult through the steady accretion of sentiment over the years. Every piece of heirloom furniture, or even a stain on the wall, tells a story.” If we accept this basic division between space and place as applied to geographical principles, then why can not the same idea apply to abstract conceptions? Individual ideas of justice, fairness, beauty, and so on, it seems to me, operate similarly to Tuan’s conceptions of space and place. For example justice begins as an abstraction, a culturally derived idea in people’s heads which is rather nebulous. To place it in terms relative to Tuan’s thinking justice begins as a space, with not fixed pattern of established meaning, but through the actions of human mediators the undifferentiated space of justice, a rather nebulous concept at best, becomes a real tangible thing, when it is ensconced in an institution or made real through the manifestations of individual force or power. I see utility in this formulation for two reasons: First it helps to take abstractions down out of the ether, and distill them down into a usable form. Second, thinking of concepts as a place which is endowed with value through human interaction, through mediation, and through the use of force, coercion, or power helps one to conceptualize a different vision of pluralism.
The old idea of life in a pluralistic society, as comprising a marketplace of ideas, doesn’t really work, because it conceptualizes a platonic vision of ideological competition in which ideas contend and presumably the best idea, the one that is most in tune with the spirit of the times, or the one that is most beneficial wins out. Such is not the case, often those who seek to transfer their individual ideas or conceptions of Justice, or labor, or whatever else, into the realm of action—to make the transition between a conception which exists in space and a conception that exists in place—often fail because they do not have the necessary power, or because a different and competing conception gains the institutional or other levers necessary to compel others to mediate the experiential reality of a conception. A pluralistic competition of conceptual ideas in space is bound up with the necessity to make these ideas a reality in place. Furthermore, at various points in time, the old conceptual places inhabited by certain ideas are thrown off as the realities of power change. Times of social upheaval reveal new spaces, in which concepts have not yet translated themselves into places in the human mental universe. At present this is a bit vague, but as I delve more deeply into my topic, I hope the insights derived from Tuan’s book prove useful. More to follow.

Freedom’s Impressment: Coercion, State Power, and Freedom in Kentucky in 1865

July 4, 1865 dawned hot and muggy in Lexington Kentucky . Before a crowd of more than ten thousand people, sweating in the summer sun, Brevet Brigadier General James Sanks Brisbin, lately in command of the Fifth U.S. Colored Cavalry, sought to paint a vision of a reconciled, peaceful, happy nation that had just endured a terrible hardship: “After four years of flagrant war our country is again at peace and the sun in Heavan looks down upon a united and happy people. . . . All is peace. All is joy. Happy Day.” Brisbin was not alone in his proclamation of a unified, utopian republic smiling under the benevolent hand of a peaceful providence. On the same day the Frankfort Commonwealth explicitly connected the sectional conflict of the Civil War to the revolutionary struggle eighty-eight years before. Invoking the memory of a founding generation dedicated to liberty, and imagining the American Revolution as a sacred pledge, the paper wrote of the sectional struggle as an ordeal that had purged and re-unified the entire nation: “To-day after its terrible baptism in blood, the Union, renewed, strengthened, and purified, rejoices in its salvation and assured independence and liberty of conscience, of thought, of speech, and of person is proclaimed throughout the land. Then the pledge was made, in God’s name and with trust in God, to maintain liberty and independence. . . . Today that pledge has been redeemed.”

Both Brisbin’s peroration and the editorial in the Frankfort Commonwealth captured the wishes and hopes for reconciliation bequeathed by the deaths of more than 620,000 people in bloody conflict. Both earnestly sought the guidance and the help of divine providence in capturing an existential meaning out of a mutual, shared experience of revolutionary transformation. Moreover, both reinterpreted a political struggle enjoined through force of arms as laying the groundwork for a new political order founded upon a principle of liberty of conscience and of person. Yet, underneath the rhetoric of reconciliation and the creation of a new secular political creed surrounding the common valor of ordinary soldiers lay profound differences concerning the role of government, the appropriate use of compulsion, the meaning of freedom , and the place of minority rights in a reunified Republic. Furthermore, inherent in these issues lay an abiding question concerning the nature of justice in American society. What was it? Who should dispense it? Who would be its recipients? And, perhaps most importantly how would the question of justice broadly defined be reconciled with the urge for healing expressed by Brisbin and the Frankfort Commonwealth?

Across Kentucky current slave-owners former masters, refugees, recently freed slaves, those still in bondage, low-level policy makers, judges, and army officers, such as Brisbin, struggled to cope with the ambiguities of freedom and the results of the war. The root of these insecurities was the role of slavery and secession in causing the war. For men committed to the cause of unionism and emancipation, slavery represented an obstacle to national progress. Placing their faith in free-labor ideology and its notions concerning the ability of independent entrepreneurs and yeoman farmers to rise in the world through the practical application of the protestant work ethic, these individuals saw the war as a fundamental clash of civilizations, an irrepressible conflict caused by two competing systems of labor . On this, the national birth-day, Brisbin explicitly stated the Republican, free-labor vision concerning the origins of the Civil War: “Long Ago I saw at work in this country two systems of labor entirely different and antagonistic. The one representing Freedom; the other slavery; one justice and reward of labor; the other robbery of labor and wrong. . . .Slavery stood in the way of the nation and the nation trampled it down.” Even so, despite these proclamations of justice and the reward of labor, of national progress and slave-power opposition, the question of slavery in Kentucky, and its role in fermenting conflict remained to be settled.

If Brisbin’s opinions concerning justice and the place of labor were an outgrowth of northern Republican sentiment, there stood opposed to sentiments an equally coherent ideal justifying the system of slave-labor as a coherent, positive good. While the admission of the death of slavery could be stated by key officials in state government, such as Governor Bramlette, this acceptance was by no means universal, nor popular among the planters. On April 28, 1865 Governor Bramlette had stated his public support for emancipation in an open letter to General Brisbin: “As men of prudence and patriotism, we must recognize the logic of events and recognize existing facts. That slavery must end, I accept as one of the facts ordained by this revolution, wrought ought by rebellion.” Yet, the history of emancipation was not to be as unified or as broad based as Bramlette’s statements would lead one to believe. In Kentucky as in other parts of the South wherever possible slaveholders clung to their slaves, and their old prejudices with a foolish tenacity. Already in February of 1865 the state senate had rejected the thirteenth amendment to the constitution by a vote of 56 to 23. As later events concerning the fate of Sally Jones, a former slave whose husband was serving in the Union Army, would reveal, in many parts of Kentucky, slave-holders ended the war with the same assumptions regarding slavery and the place of African Americans with which they began the War . Only the repeated use of force, the same force with which, as we shall see, the slave population had been freed, could any hope of freedom and citizenship be maintained for the black population.

On the selfsame Fourth of July in which Brisbin spoke at Louisville, Kentucky the Louisville Weekly Journal spoke of the pro-slavery element as incendiary radicals bent on destroying the restored peace of the nation and the state: “These mischievous slavery agitators in the South, and especially in Kentucky—for here they seem to be more incurably and hopelessly blind to the direct and certain results of their acts than anywhere else—seem intent upon inviting the onset of these same radical infringes upon the restored peace of the Southern people.” Indeed, the question of how the pro-slavery elements would react to the eventual or continued freedom of their people underlay Brisbin’s Fourth of July oration at several points. To these individuals he spoke directly, saying that the nation had already rendered a verdict regarding the institution of slavery through four years of war: “There are some people stupid and foolish enough to believe that slavery still exists and that they can maintain it. We could not now maintain slaver if we could, and it is not desirable we should if we could. . . . For God being my judge after this day, whether [as] an officer or a citizen I will never for a moment recognize the right of property in man.” Underneath, Brisbin’s rhetoric lay the implicit warning that force, which had played such a crucial role in freeing the black population of Kentucky, would, if need be continue to be used to maintain the rights of freedmen and women.

Moreover, the service record of African American veterans in the conflict remained for Brisbin and others like him a crucial justification for maintaining the condition of freedom and for extending civil rights to the black population. In this vein, when he came to the plight of freed slaves Brisbin explicitly stated that military service was a fundamental path to citizenship, and that because of their service former slaves deserved the protection of the laws: “What is to become of the black people? Their baptism in blood has prepared them for a higher civilization and freedom.” Furthermore, he outlined that the African American population in Kentucky needed some sort of force, either military or political to guarantee a meaningful existence after slavery: “Now that the negroes are free, we must make them citizens, with rights in courts and fees simple to property. There are but two ways of defending liberty: with the bayonet and by the ballot; and we must give blacks one or the other.” It was this question of force, be it civil or political which shaped the all-consuming question of rights in a society undergoing massive social changes.

The story of the emerging contest over civil and political rights in Kentucky in 1865 shaped itself around three central factors. First was the urge towards a usable peace, and the need for the healing of the scars of conflict expressed so eloquently by Brisbin in his Fourth of July oration: “Providence has allowed you to behold this day that in the fullness of your gratitude you might with the poet exclaim: ‘great god, we thank Thee for this home:/This glorious birth-land of the free,/Where strangers from afar may come/And breathe the air of liberty.” Second was the need for justice. Of the three major groups contending for power in Kentucky: free-labor Republicans committed to Reconstruction, former slave-owners fighting to hold on to their property, and recently emancipated African Americans, each maintained a different conception concerning what justice was and how to implement it. To those such as Brisbin committed to ending slavery and possessing some idea of benevolent racial uplift, their ideas of free-market actors able to rise in the world unrestrained by the coercion of bondage had already been compromised by the means used to end slavery in Kentucky. On the other hand, former slave-owners, still committed to their old system of labor and possessing notions of African American inferiority, would call upon the power of the government to impose their vision of society. At the same time, the freed slaves would exercise their agency and try to carve out a life for themselves upon their own terms, all the while having to contend with racist assumptions concerning their place in the social order. Last, the competing quests for healing and justice, mentioned earlier, was bounded upon all sides by questions concerning the appropriate use of force and compulsion. The struggle to win the peace would be decided by the side which could most effectively coerce the others to give way. The quest for power, both the power to compel and the power to decide, shaped the struggle over rights in Kentucky, and until it was settled neither the prayers of those who wished for reconciliation, nor those who wished for justice would be answered fully.

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The debate over the appropriate use of compulsion and the question of African American rights in Kentucky began as an outgrowth of Union War policy. Three years before Brisbin’s Fourth of July Speech, under Section Thirteen of the Militia Act of 1862, Congress granted freedom to slaves, along with their wives and children, who provided service to the Union Army. Congress saw the Militia Act as a war measure—similar to the Second Confiscation Act of 1862—necessary to deprive the Confederacy of the manpower of its enslaved population. Until later expanded by an Act of March 3, 1865, which accepted the informal nature of the African American family structure, the Militia Act was noticeably vague on the precise role slaves were allowed to play in the Union war effort in border states such as Kentucky. Much as the Emancipation Proclamation was to do in 1863 only freed the slaves of the slave-owners in Rebellion. Even so, the Militia Act set a precedent, creating a liminal space in which military commanders on the ground could use the enlistment of African Americans—both in active federal service and in labor battalions—as a means to impose emancipation. Furthermore, because both the Militia Act and its extension tied the freedom of African American women and children to their status as dependents upon a male soldier, the process of emancipation became complicit upon the imposition of a white, middle-class standard of marriage. Representing a second form of gendered, or familial compulsion, the act bound African American freedom to prevailing masculine notions of wartime service and ideas of female domesticity . As the war in Kentucky ground to its inexorable conclusion—in the intervening middle-ground created by the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on January 31st, 1865 and its ratification by the states in December—these two forms of coercion, formal service for African American males and dependent domesticity for black women and children, provided a means for military commanders to create an a process of emancipatory confiscation on the ground without the benefit of Congress.

On February 5th, 1865, six days after Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment, Brisbin issued General Order Number Six, in which he attempted to deal in one stroke both with the problems of the huge numbers of refugees created by the war and with the recalcitrance of Kentucky Slave-owners. Additionally, the opening statement of the order reveals much about the nature of public policy implemented by intermediaries and the limits of free-labor ideology in a time of war: “It being known that many hundreds of negroes in Kentucky, who have left their homes, are lurking in the towns or roving about the state in small bands, pillaging and robbing the people, rendering no service to the community or government.” In keeping with the sentiments expressed by the Militia Act, and like so many of his generation, Brisbin conflated useful service to one’s community and government with freedom and citizenship. Likewise, if a core tenant of free-labor ideology was that the chief goal of a laborer was to achieve economic independence, then the full use of the coercive power of the military was justified when slaves failed to find gainful employment . The problem in Brisbin’s mind, and those who shared his sentiments, was not how to encourage African Americans taking the first step towards freedom by voting with their feet, but to find a means to compel the slaves to be of service to their communities. As such, the use of force he deemed so necessary to impose a policy of emancipation in Kentucky conflicted mightily with his goals of promoting a system of free labor.

The text of General Order Number Six divides into five distinct parts, and each section distinctly illustrates how the hard logic of total war created its own reality, which although it would ultimately lead to freedom for many slaves, stood opposed to the principles for which the Union fought. Part one ordered that Recruiting Officers and Provost Marshalls “shall arrest and enlist into the United States Service all negroes who have left their masters.” Part two stated that “negroes under twenty years of age and over forty-five are not eligible for draft, and masters can present all such for enlistment as substitutes.” Part three delineated the role of African American substitutes, explicitly privileging those outside the age requirements: “Negroes who are liable to draft may be presented as substitutes; but if such negroes be afterwards drafted the person for whom he was a substitute will have to put in another, or himself serve out the term of service for which the negro was enlisted.” Part four dealt with the enlistment of slaves and the system of quotas established for specific counties in Kentucky: “In all cases where negroes are presented for enlistment by the master a copy of the enlistment paper and a receipt will be given the master, and the negro will be credited in the quota of the county in which he was enlisted.” Part five reiterated the duties of Recruiting Officers and Provost Marshalls in promoting African American enlistment as a means of sparing the white citizens of the county from the pressures of the draft: “It is the duty of all Recruiting Officers and Provost Marshalls to encourage masters to put their negroes into the army, to persuade negroes to enlist and co-operate heartily with county authorities and people in [reaching] the quota so as to save the counties as much as possible from drafts.” Finally, an addendum to Brisbin’s order stated that “men can be furnished for labor in the above drafts from the Colored Invalid Regiments which were organized expressly for this purpose.” This last addendum would play a crucial role in the process of emancipation as a whole for it allowed the conscription of those who otherwise could not find employment by the military under ordinary circumstances.

Overall, General Order Number Six seemed a weak foundation upon which to construct a complete revolution in Kentucky’s social order. Yet, taken together its directives when coupled with the authority already given under the Militia Act of 1863, and its enlargement in May of 1865—four months after the order was issued—contained in germ the means to emancipate almost all of the slaves in Kentucky without the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. The express, compulsive enlistment of all African Americans who left their masters, the inclusion of men marked unfit for service into invalid regiments, when coupled with the enforced standard of marriage and domesticity created by the Militia Act and its subsequent addendum, created a revolutionary climate of compulsory freedom for the slave population. Ultimately, driven by the hard logic of total war, Brisbin created his own space, putting into practice a policy measure, which in more peaceful times would have been the sole responsibility of Congress and the States acting by Constitutional Amendment .

Several key letters and statements in the popular press reveal the reaction in Kentucky and across the nation to Brisbin’s actions in Kentucky. In a public letter to governor Bramlette published in the Frankfort Commonwealth on April 28, 1865 Brisbin stated his aims regarding the effects of his policy on the system of slave labor: “The master cannot hold on to his slaves, or depend upon their labor for a single day, so that producers cannot calculate their crops or pursue agriculture with any degree of certainty. . . From seventy to one hundred [slaves] enlist daily freeing under the law of March [3]d, 1865 an average of five women and children per man. Thus from 300 to 500 black people are daily made free.” In a letter written the same day and published in the Cincinnati Gazette around may 17th Brisbin was even more explicit in outlining the far-reaching effects of his ground-level policy of emancipation: “My Dear Sir,” Brisbin began, “I take pleasure in informing you that Governor Bramlette and the whole slave power surrendered to freedom at Frankfort, [Kentucky] on Sunday the 22nd.” He continued in the voice of a triumphant revolutionary, who has managed to create through coercion and force of arms all that could not be achieved in 1860 through legal and constitutional means:

When Secretary Stanton stopped recruiting there was much rejoicing among the slave owners of Kentucky, but I telegraphed the secretary and got permission. Seeing it was only a question of time: he surrendered and the legislature has been called for the 15th [of] May when the amendment will be put and papered. Our machine in Kentucky for ending slavery without the state action was complete. My able bodied regiment took the young men, and my invalid regiment the old men and boys: then came your law of March, and suffering the women and children who were all that is left to go on with the recruiting of slaves. Dismay then filled them. Bramlette complained to me that I was draining the state of the labor necessary to till the soil. I replied ‘free your slaves at home or we will free them for you in the army. He remonstrated and I told him that the hand of military power was on the neck of slavery and would not be slackened until life was no longer in it. [A]nd the work is done through the agency of the army.

In so many ways, Brisbin’s actions constitute a moment of creative destruction . The old monopoly on labor, maintained through the mastery of slave-owners over the bodies of their slaves had been destroyed through the more-powerful coercive power of the armed forces. In the process the former system, which was based upon the sale of individuals—what J.W.C. Pennington called the chattel principle—was being replaced by an ostensible system defined by the dictates of northern free-labor ideology . Yet, if the goal of emancipation was to create a system of yeoman farmers and small entrepreneurs in Kentucky it is notable that this process took place in a decidedly un-free manner defined by the compulsive enlistment of large numbers of African Americans.

Indeed, Brisbin’s letter to the American anti-slavery society provides several key insights into the process of emancipation in Kentucky. First, taken together the Militia Act of 1862 and its extension in March 1865, when coupled with Brisbin’s General Order Number Six, provided an effective means to force the realities of freedom upon recalcitrant slave-owners in the absence of a fully ratified Thirteenth Amendment. Second, the slave-holding interest in Kentucky still viewed African Americans both as units of Agricultural labor and as fully commoditized human beings, as chattel, in spite of the revolution taking place under their very noses. Third, the relentless logic of events on the ground, Brisbin’s “agency of the army” created situations that demanded a response both from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and state officials such as Governor Bramlette. Fourth, those who saw themselves as fighting on the side of freedom were not above using the tools of compulsion to bring about what they say as a great moral change in a society ruled by the slave power. Last, freedom in Kentucky when it arrived for African Americans was an experienced governed entirely by nineteenth century gender norms.

As previously stated, five women and children were freed per man on average. The fact that these individuals were dependent for their freedom upon the active enlistment of male soldiers into the army illustrates that ideals of citizenship and the exercise of freedom were founded upon the mutually compatible ideals of manliness and military service. The marriage of these two concepts would have a profound impact upon the meaning of freedom for African American women right up until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. Furthermore, the principle of manly valor, influenced later debates concerning the nature of voting rights, and shaped the questions of reconstruction well into the next decade.

Altogether, using these methods, some 28,818 African Americans enlisted, or were coerced into the army through the direct actions of General Brisbin. Additionally, Brisbin claimed to have freed 24,000 of the wives and children of colored soldiers pursuant to the act of March 3, 1865. In total 100,864 people were set free as a result of these actions in Kentucky. If one uses the 1860 census numbers of 225,483 as a basis for determining the total number of slaves in the region, this would mean that Brisbin’s forcible enlistment, enacted through General Order Number six, when combined with the individual actions of Recruiters and Provost Marshalls freed approximately forty five percent of the slaves in Kentucky. In short, this was a societal revolution in its most basic form brought about using the coercive power of the army to achieve a higher moral goal of universal freedom regardless of one’s previous condition of servitude. It would not be long until the conservative reaction tried to re-assert its old authority, calling into question both the motives and the means of men such as Brisbin.
Indeed, as so often happens, these complex issues regarding military service and manhood as a means to freedom, the question of compulsion, the attitudes of former slave-owners wishing to maintain power their property, the results of Brisbin’s General Order Number Six, and the question of women’s rights under an emancipatory policy tied to male enlistment, found expression in the Personage of Sally Jones. Not much is known of Sally beyond the bare facts of her case, a single poignant letter written to her husband, and his enlistment papers. Yet, what has survived regarding her is instructive regarding the course of emancipation in Kentucky in the liminal space created by Congress and Brisbin’s impressment policy. She represents in a single person the tenacity with which former slaveholders desperately tried to hold on to their property, the unintended consequences of vesting, however temporarily, the freedom of African American women in male military service, and the necessity of maintaining a compulsive system to guarantee the rights of former bonds-people. In studying what happened to her one may learn quite a bit concerning the relationship between compulsion, freedom, and justice.

On September 9th, 1865, Sally Jones wrote a plaintive letter to her husband Ephraim, who was one of the 28,000 soldiers enlisted by Brisbin. Although, Ephraim had enlisted in October of 1864 in the 6th U.S. Colored Cavalry, and was thus not part of the forcible enlistments mandated by General Order Number Six, he had subsequently married Sally. Pursuant to the modifications made under the Act of March 3rd, 1865 Sally was furnished with her free papers in June of 1865. According to her letter, she was “well at this time, but having a heap of trouble.” Apparently, Granville Pearl judge of the 12th circuit court of Kentucky in adjudicating an inheritance case in the Whitely Circuit Court had ordered the Master Commissioner to sell both the land and Mrs. Jones. Furthermore, in rendering his verdict Judge Pearl had stated that the Act of March 3rd was unconstitutional. As Sally poignantly stated in her letter: “The old judge says my free papers are not worth anything. I want you to write to me what to do. If you do not I am going to try to come to where you are.”

Sally’s letter to her husband illuminates how the process of emancipation through forcible enlistment actually took place, for she was not ultimately granted her freedom by means of her own agency and actions. Rather, Sally’s freedom was dependent upon her husband’s service in the military. Additionaly, the slave-holding interests in Kentucky still exerted enough power in the legal system to order her sold. Contrary to prevailing perceptions concerning the nature of emancipation, such a sale remained a viable possibility right up until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. The November 24th issue of the Western Citizen, advertised for sale in the public square on December 4th, 1865—two days before the ratification of the new amendment—“ to the lowest bidder, an idiot boy John.” Until the very day that news of final freedom reached the states, the forcible coercion and sale under the old chattel principle remained a very real threat to men such as John and women such as Sally. Whatever Brisbin’s successes in emancipating nearly half the slaves of Kentucky, these victories remained half-won without the continued use of coercive military power to stand behind the freedom of former slaves. Furthermore, in tying the freedom of African American women to their marriage vows, judges such as Granville Pearl could declare the dependents of servicemen still enslaved either by judicial review, as happened, or by calling into question the validity of the marriage. Finally, the distance involved, and the inevitable separation which follows military service precluded husbands from being present in defense of their wives.

The bare facts of the case were reported in the Western Citizen on November 17th, 1865. Although skeletal, the additional information provided illuminates the absolute necessity of maintaining the power of the army to act as a counterweight to the coercive power of the courts. Subsequent to Sally’s letter to her husband, Judge Pearl ordered the commissioner to proceed with the sale, and as a result Brisbin ordered Pearl’s arrest. An escort of six African American soldiers under the command of a white officer attempted to arrest the Judge as his home in London, Kentucky. Just as Brisbin had used the power of military coercion to create freedom for Sally Jones and thousands like her, he showed a willingness to continue to use this power when that freedom was called into question. Yet, despite the dramatic spectacle of six black soldiers showing up at home to arrest a sitting judge, Pearl was holding court in Perry County. On his brother’s promise to appear before the delegation departed. When the judge finally appeared on November 7th, almost two full months after he ordered the sale of Sally Jones, he found acting commander General Wade to be more sympathetic to his cause. The order of arrest was suspended, and the judge was allowed a peaceful departure. The ultimate fate of Mrs. Jones, and whether or not she was ever sold did not seem to be of interest either to the journalist or to Granville Pearl. Even so, the newspaper’s spare accounting reveals even more concerning the nature of justice and the use of force in Kentucky. First, while force was required to protect the interests of Sally Jones and countless other former slaves in her predicament, a double standard existed. In this case Justice was far from being a blind goddess, for while an armed escort was required to ensure Sally’s freedom, a simple promise from the Judge’s brother ensured his parole on good behavior. The judges word, as a white gentleman, was worth far more than the official papers of Sally Jones certifying her freedom. In so many ways, while coercion could create freedom it could not protect those rights without continued compulsory action on behalf of the military.

Moreover, the questions raised by the Sally Jones case illustrate several important verities about the course of emancipation in Kentucky. First, the liminal space created by Brisbin, his host of recruiting officers and Provost Marshalls, and the Militia Act of 1862 and its extension in 1865 was a precious commodity. Without enforcement of some kind the freedom won for and by African Americans, through the use of force faced considerable challenges from the forces of reaction. Second, the old-guard, antebellum power structure with its commitment to the commodification of African Americans still retained considerable force in Kentucky in 1865. Brisbin’s speech on the fourth of July notwithstanding, the potential for interference from activist judges and legislative bodies remained a very real threat right up until the final ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December, 1865. Third, the actions of six black soldiers showing up to arrest a federal judge was a revolution just as profound as the emancipation of 4.3 million slaves. Finally, old prejudices, combined with new ideas concerning the role of federal power would survive after the final ratification of the emancipatory amendment to shape the course of Reconstruction in Kentucky.

Ultimately the lessons presented by Brisbin’s experiences shaping a policy of emancipation on the ground illuminate a great deal concerning the process of manumission. Not only do they provide a window into how justice, force, freedom, and the question of African American rights played out during the second American Revolution, but they also offer a profound insight into the role of military force in promoting the rights of an oppressed minority. Additionally, these experiences illustrate how tenaciously slaveholders fought to maintain their former rights and privileges, even in the face of military compulsion. Furthermore, the actions of federal judges such as Granville Pearl, illustrate a picture of how older, Taneyesque views of the place of African Americans in American society persisted long after the course of the war determined a policy of emancipation. As Brisbin wrote to Thaddeus Stevens in December of 1865: “I tell you there is not as much loyalty in the South today as there was the day Lee surrendered to Grant. The moment they lost their cause in the field they set about to gain by politics what they had failed to obtain by force of arms.” The bayonet and the forcible enlistment of African Americans in Kentucky had earned former slaves their freedom. Yet, as events had shown the price of freedom was the armed vigilance of soldiers dedicated to protecting the rights of the recently freed. Without such vigilance the white population of Kentucky would seek mastery by other means. The stage was set for the emergent battle over Reconstruction.

Brisbin Draft: Paternalism, Coercion, and Emancipatory Impressment in Kentucky in 1865.

Hi all,

 

I seem to have written myself into a corner with this draft. I still need about 10 pages of text for the final version. I think there’s a good story to build on here but I am unsure how to continue. Any advice anyone may have would be most welcome.

Paternalism, Coercion, and Emancipatory Impressment in Kentucky in 1865.

July 4th, 1865 dawned hot and muggy in Lexington, Kentucky. Before a crowd of more than ten thousand people, sweating in the summer sun, Brevet Brigadier General James Sanks Brisbin, lately in command of the Fifth U.S. Colored Cavalry, summed up the course of the war and the consequences of peace: “After four years of flagrant war our country is again at peace, and the sun in Heaven looks down upon a united and happy people. . . . All is peace. All is joy. Happy Day!”[1]  Brisbin’s proclamation of a blissfully re-united nation smiling under the hand of benign providence in a land of freedom was far from accurate.

Across Kentucky current slave-owners, former masters, refugees, recently freed slaves, those still in bondage, low-level policy makers, Judges, and Army officers, such as Brisbin, struggled to cope with the ambiguities of freedom and the results of the war. In outlining the causes of the conflict, Brisbin was explicit in stating that he believed the war had been a fundamental clash of civilizations, an irrepressible conflict caused by competing systems of labor: “Long ago I saw at work in this country two systems of labor, entirely different and antagonistic. The one representing Freedom; the other slavery; one justice and reward of labor; the other robbery of labor, and wrong. . . .Slavery stood in the way of the nation and the nation trampled it down.”[2] Even so, despite these proclamations of a dead slave system and a justly triumphant free-labor democracy the question of slavery in Kentucky had yet to be settled. Already in February of 1865 the state senate of Kentucky had rejected the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution by a vote of 56 to 23.[3] There were still within the state a committed group of individuals dedicated maintaining their old relations of property in man. To these individuals Brisbin spoke directly saying that the nation had already rendered a verdict regarding the institution of slavery through four years of war: “There are some people stupid and foolish enough to believe that slavery still exists, and that they can maintain it. To all such I would say, four years of war has decided against you and you must give it up. We could not now maintain Slavery if we would, and it is not desirable we should if we could.”[4] Indeed, the same day that Brisbin spoke before ten thousand people in Lexington, the Louisville Weekly Journal spoke of these pro-slavery agitators as incendiary radicals detrimental to the South: “These mischievous slavery agitators in the South, and especially in Kentucky—for here they seem to be more incurably and hopelessly blind to the direct and certain results of their acts  than anywhere else—seem intent upon inviting the onset of these same radical infringes upon the restored peace of the Southern people.”[5]

At first glance it would appear that there existed broad agreement, both in the local press, and in the minds of Republican officials over the results of the war and the fate of the African American Population. As Brisbin said when discussing the fate of African Americans in Kentucky, “Their baptism in blood has prepared them for a higher civilization and freedom. . . . we must do with the black people what Jefferson Davis wishes us to do with his—“Let them alone.”[6] Yet, neither the pro-slavery agitators, who wished to keep the black population in chains, nor reformers such as Brisbin had been content in the past to merely leave the African American population alone. Nor would they be satisfied to practice a policy of benign, salutary neglect in the future.  Rather, it seemed on every hand there persisted a paternalistic perception of black incapacity, even when there was broad agreement over emancipation. Brisbin, before urging the people of Kentucky to leave the black population alone had emphatically stated: “We have so long kept the black man in ignorance and degradation that he is now incapable of self-government.”[7] Moreover, the Louisville Weekly Journal found it possible to express similarly paternalistic sentiments all the while decrying slavery agitators: “The Negroes here are good for nothing. They are as worthless here as are their brethren in Guinea and Caffraria. . . . We are surely under no obligation to continue to support, as nominal and legal slaves and laborers, creatures that are actually idlers and robbers.”[8]

What then, ultimately, were the uses to which white paternalism would be enlisted on behalf of the African American population in Kentucky? Would it take a benevolent form as argued for by Brisbin? Or, would white attitudes concerning black inferiority be used to hang on to the decaying body of slavery? Those previously enlisted in the cause of arming former slaves as soldiers in the Union Army, like Brisbin, sought to marshal their paternalistic feelings into a benevolent racial uplift arguing on behalf of eventual assimilation: “We must educate instead of agitating them: encourage instead of oppressing them Our people must hire them and pay for their labor; our ministers teach them truth, justice, religion and right reason; our philanthropists instruct them in letters, law, poetry, and arts; out economists teach them how to save and apply their money, and our statesmen expound to them the theories of government.”[9] On the other hand, those committed to slavery desired to maintain as much of the previous system as they were able. In this struggle, both sides would call upon the power of the government in order to impose their specific visions of a paternalistic order.  In so doing, the People of Kentucky would define the limits and the nature of freedom bequeathed by the war. While Brisbin might preach to them concerning how: “Providence has allowed you to behold this day, that in the fullness of your gratitude you might with the poet exclaim: ‘Great god, we thank Thee for this home:/This glorious birth-land of the free,/Where strangers from afar may come/ And breathe the air of liberty,’” both the realities of freedom and the air of liberty were far from being uncontaminated with the fumes of coercion.[10]

   The debate over the appropriate use of compulsion and the question of African American rights in Kentucky began as an outgrowth of Union war policy. Three years before Brisbin’s Fourth of July Speech under Section Thirteen of the Militia Act of 1862, Congress had granted freedom to slaves along with their wives and children who provided service to the Union Army.[11] Seen as a war measure similar to the Second Confiscation Act of 1862 the Militia Act, possessing all of the elegance of a grocery list, was seen as a means to deprive the Confederacy of the manpower of its enslaved population. Until later expanded by an act of March 3, 1865, which accepted the informal nature of African American family structure, the Militia Act was also noticeably vague on the process of the precise role slaves were allowed to play in the Union war effort in Border States such as Kentucky.[12]  Much as the Emancipation Proclamation was to do in 1863, the Militia Act only freed the slaves of slave-owners in rebellion. Yet, it set a precedent and created a liminal space in which military commanders on the ground could use the enlistment of African Americans both in active federal service and in labor battalions as a means to impose emancipation. As the war in Kentucky drew to its inexorable conclusion—in the intervening middle-ground created by the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on January 31st, 1865 and its ratification by the states in December—this was precisely what took place.[13]

On February 5th, 1865, six days after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, Brisbin issued General Order Number Six, in which he attempted to deal in one stroke both with the problem of the huge numbers of refugees created by the war, and with the recalcitrance of Kentucky slave-owners.[14] The opening statement of the order reads both as a striking statement of public policy and as a telling insight into the fears of a man such as Brisbin so committed to the cause of free-labor ideology: “It being known that many hundreds of Negros in Kentucky, who have left their homes, are lurking in the towns or roving about the State in small bands, pillaging and robbing the people, rendering no service to the community or the government.”[15] Tellingly, like so many of his generation Brisbin conflated useful service to one’s community and government with freedom and citizenship. Even in his desire to free the slaves there was little room for the actions of African Americans acting without the supervision of benevolent whites. His preamble to General Order Number Six revealed in rough form the sentiments of a man who would say a scant six months later concerning the role of African Americans in Reconstruction: “I do not think they should as yet hold office; but by and bye, when they become more refined and intelligent than now, when they understand thoroughly the theories of lay, liberty, religion and government, then they may be made eligible to office, and then will commence the great contest between races, which will result in the peaceful withdrawal of the black from among the white men, and the establishment of separate State governments with black governors, legislators, and law-givers.”[16]

The paternalist sentiment of Brisbin’s efforts to achieve emancipation through enlistment thus exposed, the text of General Order Number Six continues, dividing into five distinct parts. Part one ordered that Recruiting Officers and Provost Marshalls “shall arrest and enlist into the United States Service all Negroes who have left their masters.”[17] Part two stated that “Negroes under twenty years of age and over forty five are not eligible for draft, and masters can present all such for enlistment as substitutes.”[18] Part three delineated the role of African American substitutes, explicitly privileging those outside the age requirements: “Negroes who are liable to draft may be presented as substitutes; but if such negroes be afterwards drafted the person for whom he was a substitute will have to put in another, or himself serve out the term of service for which the negro was enlisted.”[19] Part four dealt with the enlistment of slaves and the system of quotas established for specific counties in Kentucky: “In all cases where Negroes are presented for enlistment by the master, a copy of the enlistment paper and a receipt will be given the master, and the negro will be credited in the quota of the county in which he was enlisted.”[20] Part five re-iterated the duties of recruiting officers and Provost Marshalls in promoting African American enlistment as a means of sparing the white citizens of the county from the pressures of the draft: “It is the duty of all recruiting officers and provost Marshalls to encourage masters to put their negroes into the army, to persuade negroes to enlist and co-operate heartily with county authorities and people in [reaching] the quota so as to save the counties as much as possible from drafts.”[21] Finally, an addendum to Brisbin’s order stated that “men can be furnished for labor in the above drafts from the Colored Invalid Regiments which were organized expressly for this purpose.”[22]

Overall, General Order Number Six seemed a thin reed upon which to create a revolution in Kentucky’s social order. Yet, the express use of compulsion of all African Americans who left their masters, and the inclusion of men marked unfit for service into invalid regiments contained, in germ if properly executed, the means to emancipate almost all of the slaves in Kentucky without ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. Ultimately, driven by the hard logic of total war, Brisbin created his own space putting into practice a policy measure which in more peaceful times would have been the sole responsibility of Congress and the States acting in unison.

In a letter written April 28th, 1865 to Henry Wilson, which was read at a meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in New York and published in the Gazette around May 17th, Brisbin outlined the fundamental and far reaching results of his ground-level policy of Emancipation. “My Dear Sir, Brisbin began, “I take pleasure in informing you that Governor Bramlette and the whole slave power surrendered to freedom at Frankfort, [Kentucky] on Sunday the 22nd.”[23] He continues in the voice of a triumphant revolutionary, who has managed to create through coercion and force of arms all that could not be achieved in 1860 by legal and constitutional means: “When Secretary Stanton stopped recruiting there was much rejoicing among the slave owners of Kentucky, but I telegraphed the secretary and got permission. Seeing it was only a question of time: he surrendered and the legislature has been called for the 15th [of] May when the amendment will be put and papered. Our machine in Kentucky for ending slavery without the state action was complete. My able bodied regiment took the young men, and my invalid regiment the old men and boys: then came your law of March, and suffering the women and children who were all that is left to go on with the recruiting of slaves. Dismay then filled them. Bramlette complained to me that I was draining the state of the labor necessary to till the soil. I replied ‘free your slaves at home or we will free them for you in the army. He remonstrated and I told him that the hand of military power was on the neck of slavery and would not be slackened until life was no longer in it. [A]nd the work is done through the agency of the army.”[24]

Brisbin’s letter to the American Anti-Slavery society provides several key insights about the process of emancipation in Kentucky. First, that taken together the Militia Act of 1862 and its extension in March, 1865, when coupled with Brisbin’s General Order Number Six, provided an effective means in the absence of a fully ratified Thirteenth Amendment. Second, that the slave-holding interests in Kentucky still viewed African Americans both as units of agricultural labor and as fully commoditized human beings. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the relentless logic of events on the ground, Brisbin’s “agency of the army,” created situations on the ground that demanded a response both from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and state officials like Governor Bramlette. Last, those who saw themselves fighting on the side of freedom were not above using the tools of compulsion to bring about what they saw as a great moral change in a society ruled by the slave power.

Altogether using these methods some 28,818 African Americans were furnished to the army through the direct actions of General Brisbin. Additionally, Brisbin claimed to have freed 24,000 of the wives and children of colored soldiers pursuant to the act of March 3, 1865.[25] In total 100,864 people were set free as a result of these actions in Kentucky.[26] If we use the 1860 census numbers of 225,483 as a basis for determining the total number of slaves in the region, this would mean that Brisbin’s forcible compulsion put in place through General Order Number Six and the actions of individual Recruiters and Provost Marshalls freed approximately forty five percent of the slaves in Kentucky.[27] In short, this was a societal revolution in its most basic form brought about using the coercive power of the army to achieve a higher moral goal of universal freedom regardless of one’s previous condition of servitude. It would not be long until the conservative reaction tried to re-assert its old authority, calling into question both the motives and the means of men such as Brisbin.               

On September 9th, 1865, Sally Jones wrote a plaintive letter to her husband Ephraim, who was one of the 28,000 soldiers enlisted by Brisbin.[28] Although, Ephraim had enlisted in October of 1864 in the 6th U.S. Colored Cavalry, and was thus not part of the forcible enlistments mandated by General Order Number Six, he had subsequently married Sally.[29] Pursuant to the modifications made under the Act of March 3rd, 1865 Sally was furnished with her free papers in June of 1865.[30] According to her letter, she was “well at this time, but having a heap of trouble.”[31] Apparently, Granville Pearl judge of the 12th circuit court of Kentucky in adjudicating an inheritance case in the Whitely Circuit Court had ordered the Master Commissioner to sell both the land and Mrs. Jones.[32] Furthermore, in rendering his verdict Judge Pearl had stated that the Act of March 3rd was unconstitutional. As Sally poignantly stated in her letter: “The old judge says my free papers are not worth anything. I want you to write to me what to do. If you do not I am going to try to come to where you are, with love, I remain, yours truly.”[33]

The bare facts of the case were reported in The Western Citizen on November, 17th 1865. Subsequent to Sally’s letter to her husband, Judge Pearl ordered the commissioner to proceed with the sale, and as a result Brisbin ordered Pearl’s arrest. As a result, an escort of six African American soldiers under the command of a white officer attempted to arrest the judge at his home in London, Kentucky. Conveniently, Pearl was holding court in Perry County but on his brother’s promise to appear the delegation departed. When the judge finally appeared on November 7th, almost a full two months after he ordered the  sale of Sally Jones, it was Brisbin’s turn to be absent. Finding the acting commander General Wade to be more sympathetic, the order of arrest was suspended, and the judge was allowed a peaceful departure. The ultimate fate of Mrs. Jones, and whether or not she was ever sold did not seem to be of interest either to the journalist, or to Granville Pearl.[34]

However, the questions raised by the Sally Jones case illustrate several important verities about the course of emancipation in Kentucky. First, the liminal space created by Brisbin, his host of recruiting officers and Provost Marshalls, and the Militia Act of 1862 and its extension in 1865 was a precious commodity. Without enforcement of some kind the freedom won for and by African Americans, through the use of force faced considerable challenges from the forces of reaction. Second, the old-guard, antebellum power structure with its commitment to the commoditization of African Americans still retained considerable force in Kentucky in 1865. Brisbin’s speech on the fourth of July notwithstanding, the potential for interference from activist judges and legislative bodies remained a very real threat right up until the final ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December, 1865. Third, the actions of six black soldiers showing up to arrest a federal judge was a revolution just as profound as the emancipation of 4.3 million slaves. Finally, old paternalistic prejudices, combined with new ideas concerning the role of federal power would survive after the final ratification of the emancipatory amendment to shape the course of Reconstruction in Kentucky.

Ultimately the lessons presented by Brisbin’s experiences shaping a policy of emancipation on the ground have much to teach us. Not only do they provide a window into how the uses and abuses of paternalistic sentiments shaped the question of African American rights during the second American revolution, but they also offer a profound insight into the role of force in promoting the rights of an oppressed minority. Furthermore, the actions of federal judges such as Granville Pearl, illustrate a picture of how older, Taneyesque views of the place of African Americans in American society persisted long after the course of the war determined a policy of emancipation. As Brisbin said when discussing the question of black suffrage in his Fourth of July speech: “A people will endure better to be deprived of all their liberties, than a part of them; and you cannot grant an enslaved people half their rights and withhold the other half. Now that the negroes are free we must make them citizens, with rights in courts and fees simple to property. There are but two ways of defending liberty: with the bayonet, and by the ballot; and we must give the blacks one or the other.”[35] The bayonet and the forcible enlistment of African Americans in Kentucky had earned former slaves their freedom. It yet remained to be seen how their rights would be protected in the emerging ambiguities of Reconstruction. 


1. James S. Brisbin, Speech of Brig. Gen. Jas. S. Brisbin: Delivered at Louisville, KY, July 4, 1865 ([Louisville]: N.P., 1865,), 2, Cincinnati Historical Society, Cincinnati OH.

[2].Ibid.

[3]. Lewis Collins and Richard H. Collins, Collins’ Historical Sketches of Kentucky (Covington, KY: Collins, &, 1874), 155.

[4]. Brisbin, Speech of Brig. Gen. Jas. S. Brisbin, 2.

[5]. M. L. Ogden, ed., “Monday, June 26 1865,” The Louisville Weekly Journal, July 4, 1865.

[6]. Brisbin, Speech of Brig. Gen. Jas. S. Brisbin, 3.

[7]. Ibid.

[8]. M. L. Ogden, ed., “Paragraphs Chiefly Original,” The Louisville Weekly Journal, July 4, 1865.

[9]. Brisbin, Speech of Brig. Gen. Jas. S. Brisbin, 3.

[10]. Brisbin, Speech of Brig. Gen. Jas. S. Brisbin, 2.

[11].  The text of Section thirteen of the Militia Act of 1862 reads as follows: “That when any man or boy of African descent, who by the laws of any State shall owe service or labor to any person who during the present rebellion has levied war or borne arms against the United States, or adhered to their enemies by giving them aid or comfort, shall render any service as is provided for in the first section of this act, he, his mother, and his wife and children, shall forever thereafter be free, any law, usage, or custom whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding.” John F. Callan, The Military Laws of the United States Relating to the Army, Volunteers, Militia, and to Bounty Lands and Pensions, from the Foundation of the Government until the Year 1863: To Which Are Prefixed the Constitution of the United States (with an Index Thereto), and a Synopsis of the Military Legislation of Congress During the Revolutionary War (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1863), 534.

[12]. The text of the resolution which expanded the Militia Act to the wives of African Americans unable to provide formal proof of marriage reads thus: “In determining who is the wife or child of any colored soldier, within the meaning of this Title, evidence that the soldier and the woman claimed to be his wife cohabited or associated as husband and wife, and so continued to cohabit or associate at the time of enlistment, or evidence that a form of marriage, whether such marriage was authorized or recognized by law or not, was entered into by them, and that the parties thereafter lived together as husband and wife, and so continued to live together at the time of the enlistment, shall be deemed sufficient proof of marriage; and the children born of any such marriage shall be taken to be the children embraced within the provisions of this Title, whether such marriage was or was not dissolved at the time of the enlistment.” William M. Mckinney, comp., Federal Statutes Annotated: Dairy Products to Internal Revenue, 2nd ed., vol. III (Northport, Long Island, New York: Edward Thompson Company, 1916), 410.

[13]. Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 66-67.

[14]. “General Order No. 6,” Headquarters U.S. Colored Troops, Lexington, Kentucky, James S. Brisbin, February 5, 1865, Record Group 94, Fiche: ACP 000023, Letters Received by the Appointment, Commission and Personal Branch, Adjutant General’s Office, 1871-1894, M1395, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.,(Hereafter Referred to as General Order No. 6.).

[15]. Brisbin, Speech of Brig. Gen. Jas. S. Brisbin, 3.

[16]. General Order No. 6.

[17]. Ibid.

[18]. Ibid. 

[19]. Ibid.

[20]. Ibid.

[21]. Ibid.

[22]. Ibid.

[23]. “N.T.,” James S. Brisbin to Henry Wilson, April 28, 1865, Record Group 94, Fiche: ACP 000023, Letters Received by the Appointment, Commission and Personal Branch, Adjutant General’s Office, 1871-1894, M1395, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C..

[24]. Ibid.

[25]. Independent Republican (Montrose, PA), August 15, 1865.

[26]. Ibid.

[27]. Jos C.G. Kennedy, Preliminary Report on the Eighth Census: 1860 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1862), 131.

[28].“N.T.” Sally Jones to Ephraim Jones. September 9, 1865, Williamsburg, Kentucky, Record Group 109, Roll 0148, Union Provost Marshals’ File of Paper Relating To Individual Civilians, M345, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. (Hereafter referred to as Sally Jones Letter).

[29]. “Declaration of Recruit Ephraim Jones,” October 1, 1864, Record Group 94, Roll 0101, Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the United States Colored Troops: 1st through 5th United States Colored Cavalry, 5th Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored), 6th United States Colored Cavalry, M1817, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C..

[30]. “Camp 1. C. Vol[unteers C[olored]. C[avalry].,” J. S. Malmsbury to James S. Brisbin, September 18, 1865, Camp Brisbin, Ky, Group 109, Roll 0148, Union Provost Marshals’ File of Paper Relating To Individual Civilians, M345, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C..

[31]. Sally Jones Letter.

[32]. B. F. Williams, W. K. Boal, and W. W. Wells, eds., “Arrest of Judge Pearl,” Western Citizen (Paris, KY), November 17, 1865.

 [33]. Sally Jones Letter.

 [34]. Williams et al, “Arrest of Judge Pearl,” Western Citizen (Paris, KY), November 17, 1865.

 [35]. Brisbin, Speech of Brig. Gen. Jas. S. Brisbin, 3.