The issue of slavery divided the country under Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency. The national argument was simple: either keep slavery or abolish it. But Abraham Lincoln, known as the Great Emancipator, may have also been known as the Great Colonizer when he supported a third direction to the slavery debate: move African Americans somewhere else.
Long before the Civil War, in 1854, Lincoln addressed his own solution to slavery at a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois: “I should not know what to do as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” While Lincoln acknowledged this was logistically impossible, by the time he assumed the Presidency and a Civil War was underfoot, the nation was in such duress that he tried it anyway.
By early 1861, Lincoln ordered a secret trip to modern-day Panama to investigate the land of a Philadelphian named Ambrose Thompson. Thompson had volunteered his Chiriqui land as a refuge for freed slaves. The slaves would work in the abundant coal mines on his property, the coal would be sold to the Navy, and the profits would go to the freed slaves to further build up their new land.
Lincoln sought to test the idea on the small slave population in Delaware, but the idea met fierce … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on December 1, 2010, under - Civil Rights, - Civil War, News and Events.
Tags: abraham lincoln, american history, civil war, discovering the civil war, emancipation and deportation, lincoln on slaves, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, National Archives Official Blog, odd history, Pieces of History, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, random history, slavery, strange history, was lincoln racist, weird US history
According to Army Regulation 670-1, a soldier can now receive 31 military decorations “as a distinctively designed mark of honor denoting heroism, or meritorious or outstanding service or achievement.” During the Civil War, there was only one: the Medal of Honor.
The U.S. Army does not have a longstanding history of handing out awards. During the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington handed out exactly three awards to recognize “any singularly meritorious action.”
Certificates were handed out for soldiers who distinguished themselves during the Mexican-American War, but that was discontinued when the conflict ended. At the start of the Civil War, there was no way to recognize the merit of the nation’s soldiers.
Gen. Winfield Scott approved of this. He believed medals smacked of European affectation.
By the summer of 1861, however, Congress had approved a medal of valor for the Navy, and within a year the Army had followed suit with a medal of honor “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldierlike qualities, during the present insurrection.” By 1863, Congress had modified the law to include officers and expanded its tenure beyond the Civil War.
In 1862, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton gave out about 300 of the medals to troops who extended their military tours to protect the nation’s capital. More than … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on November 30, 2010, under - Civil War.
Tags: american history, discovering the civil war, history of military decorations, history of the medal of honor, medal of honor and civil war, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, National Archives Official Blog, Pieces of History, Prologue magazine, random history, us history, weird US history
Here, in short, are the documents that made Thanksgiving.
On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789, as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks.” The nation then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution.
On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln made the traditional Thanksgiving celebration a nationwide holiday to be commemorated each year on the fourth Thursday of November. In the midst of a bloody Civil War, President Lincoln issued a Presidential Proclamation in which he enumerated the blessings of the American people and called upon his countrymen to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November to lengthen the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy which was still recovering from the Depression. This move, which set off a national debate, was reversed in 1941 when Congress passed and President Roosevelt approved a joint house resolution establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
Posted by Rob Crotty on November 24, 2010, under - Civil War, - Constitution, - Revolutionary War, News and Events.
Tags: abraham lincoln, american history, Constitution, fdr and thanksgiving, george washington, history of thanksgiving, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, odd history, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, thanksgiving, weird US history, why is thanksgiving the last thursday of november
In 1952, the chief of the Still Photo section at the National Archives, Josephine Cobb, discovered a glass plate negative taken by Mathew Brady of the speaker’s stand at Gettysburg on the day of its dedication as a National Cemetery. Edward Everett would speak from that stand later in the afternoon for two straight hours. Moments later, a tall, gaunt Abraham Lincoln would stand up and deliver a ten sentence speech in two minutes. It was the Gettysburg Address.
Lincoln delivered his famous speech 147 years ago today. His speech is revered as one of the greatest in American history, yet until Josephine Cobb looked closer at that Mathew Brady photo in 1952, it was thought that no photo existed of the Great Emancipator at Gettysburg on the day he delivered that address.
Based off the placement of people, the slight elevation of a few in the center left field of the photograph, and where the crowd was looking, Cobb bet that Lincoln would be in the photo. Photo enlargement later proved her theory true, making this the first–and possibly only–photograph of Lincoln at Gettysburg.*
Cobb estimated that the photo was taken around noontime, before Edward Everett arrived, and about three hours before Lincoln delivered his famous address. Below is the original, uncropped photo.
*It’s possible that three other photos all taken around the same … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on November 19, 2010, under - Civil War, Rare Photos.
Tags: abraham lincoln, discovering the civil war, Gettysburg address, Mathew Brady, NARA, national archives, photo hunt, photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg, Rare Photos
Today Part Two of “Discovering the Civil War” opens at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The exhibit is divided into a few sections, the last of which is entitled “Endings and Beginnings,” a reference to the end of the Civil War and the start of Reconstruction. As to the beginning and the end of the Civil War itself, there is only one man who book-ended it so literally. His name was Wilmer McLean.
On July 18, 1861, Confederate General Beauregard had sat down for supper in the home of a Manassas local when a cannonball pierced through the house and landed in the kitchen fireplace. It was something of a surprise, but not so overwhelming as to ruin Beauregard’s sense of humor “A comical effect of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fire-place of my headquarters at the McLean House,” he wrote in his diary. Perhaps the shell would have been more of a shock had it not been just one of many volleys in the first major campaign of the Civil War: the Battle of Bull Run.
The house belonged to a man named Wilmer McLean, who had purchased the property in 1854. Beauregard had commandeered the property—and McLean’s well-situated house and barn—as his headquarters and, later, … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on November 10, 2010, under - Civil War, Myth or History.
Tags: american history, appomattox, bull run, civil war, discovering the civil war, NARA, national archives, Pieces of History, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, random history, strange facts, things you didnt know about civil war, us history, weird but true, weird US history, wilmer mclean