The Washington Post has offered a comparison of Lincoln’s speeches with Trump’s. It’s depressing reading – as one commenter puts it, “We’re comparing apples and feces, here.” – but maybe skip the Trump parts and revel in the beautiful humanity of Lincoln’s words. I particularly liked this quote about immigrants. As a Canadian living in one of the world’s most diverse cities, it rings true. Happy Canada Day!
I esteem foreigners no better than other people, nor any worse. They are all of the great family of men, and if there is one shackle upon any of them, it would be far better to lift the load from them than to pile additional loads upon them . . . If they can better their condition by leaving their old homes, there is nothing in my heart to forbid them coming, and I bid them all Godspeed.
Source: O Captains, My Captains – The Washington Post
I knew of the Confederados existence, but I hadn’t had the time to read much into the history of those Confederates who moved (with their slaves) to Brazil after the war. I’m horrified to find out their descendants celebrate the fact. What a strange, lingering aftereffect of the Civil War! This article was quite the eye opener.
As early as the 1860s, Brazil was actively recruiting Southern American plantation owners, part of an immigration policy aimed at attracting Europeans, European-American and other “white” migrants. According to historians Cyrus and James Dawsey, who were born and raised near Confederado communities in São Paulo, Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro II also promised cheap land to any American farmer who would come with a plow – a technology Brazil lacked.
Either way, thousands of white southerners made Brazil their new home after the Civil War. In São Paulo state, they established a somewhat closed and culturally homogeneous community that maintained its southern traditions for generations.
Source: Brazil’s long, strange love affair with the Confederacy ignites racial tension
Another great article from the reliably great Immigrant’s Civil War blog. Here’s Frederick Douglass speaking on the post-bellum efforts to curb Chinese immigration.
Douglass declared that the people of the United States were not racially, ethnically, or religiously homogeneous. Americans, he argued, are a “composite nation,” a people made up from many peoples. In recognition of this fact, he declared, “we should welcome to our ample continent all nations, …tongues and peoples; and as fast as they learn our language and comprehend the duties of citizenship, we should incorporate them into the American body politic. The outspread wings of the American eagle are broad enough to shelter all who are likely to come.”
Source: When a Ban on the Chinese Was Proposed and Frederick Douglass Spoke Out – Long Island Wins
The Washington Post offers an opinion piece on how Trump’s attack on the 14th Amendment severs the modern GOP’s connection to “The Party of Lincoln”.
Republicans intended for the birthright citizenship provision to ensure that African Americans’ citizenship rights could not be abridged by racist Southerners. It was meant to protect the rights of former slaves who had just recently been liberated from bondage, as well as their children. In this way, both the current generation and the next would be the inheritors of freedom.
Now the leader of that same party has proposed to destroy the essence of the 14th Amendment. Trump’s comments underscore how far the Republican Party has drifted from its roots. Ending birthright citizenship would create two separate classes of people: those with federally protected rights and those without.
Source: The end of the party of Lincoln
It’s the anniversary of Fredericksburg, that horrific and senseless battle in which Burnside sacrificed 10% of his army for nothing. I’ve read a little about the battle, but with the exception of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s recollections in the Ken Burns series, had never read a firsthand account of the fighting. Here’s one from a member of the Irish Brigade, who bore the brunt of the assault.
The Confederates were dug in on a ridge west of the city. They were behind a stone wall and sheltered by a sunken road from Union fire. They had weeks to fortify it and held it with tens of thousands of troops. While the Irish Brigade waited in the city to be called to battle, Private McCarter watched a Union division under General French move against the wall and come back “beaten crushed, demoralized.” When some of McCarter’s comrades asked a lieutenant of the Irish Brigade what was happening on the battlefield he replied: “Well boys, French is licked to beat hell… We are soon to go over the same ground and try the same job that he failed to accomplish.”
Source: Fredericksburg Was The Worst Day In The Young Life of Private William McCarter Of The Irish Brigade – Long Island Wins
Here’s a Lincoln law I’d not heard of before – the Act to Encourage Immigration. In this day and age of war, open borders, and refugees, there’s a timely exhibition being mounted by the Soldier’s Home.
Abraham Lincoln signed the Act to Encourage Immigration into law on July 4, 1864. The act was the first — and only — law to encourage immigration into the United States, as opposed to trying to control immigration. The American by Belief exhibit at the Lincoln Cottage museum gives a look at the immigration issue of the 1860s and balances it against today’s immigrations issues — and how similar the reasons for immigration were then and today. The museum was created in 2008, in a partnership with the Nationa
Source: In Petworth, an ode to immigrants – The Washington Post
I did a podcast on Brady, stating he was a New Yorker. It looks as though that information was incorrect. New documentation is pointing to the great photographer actually being Irish.
Harold Holzer, who has written or edited 50 books on Lincoln and the Civil War, said: “Brady is a guy who kind of defies place. He doesn’t belong anywhere. He belongs everywhere. He has ties to upstate New York, New York City, Washington, D.C. He does deserve the recognition anyone is willing to give him.”
via Missing Historical Marker Resurrects Debate Over Photographer’s Birthplace – NYTimes.com.
This article by the Irish Independent points out that the first Union private and the last Union general killed in the war were both Irish. It’s a brief look at the impact Irish immigrants had on the American cataclysm.
They reckon that 210,000 Irish soldiers fought in British uniform in the First World War, and that 49,300 were killed. Yet almost as many Irishmen fought in the American Civil War – 200,000 in all, 180,000 in the Union army, 20,000 for the Confederates. An estimated 20 per cent of the Union navy were Irish-born – 26,000 men – and the total Irish dead of the American conflict came to at least 30,000. Many of the Irish fatalities were from Famine families who had fled the desperate poverty of their homes in what was then the United Kingdom, only to die at Antietam and Gettysburg. My old alma mater, Trinity College Dublin, is collating the figures and they are likely to rise much higher as Irish academics mine into the American Compiled Military Service Records for the regiments of both sides.
via A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot – Comment – Voices – The Independent.
I was in Europe this year, and kept running into “Frederick Douglass spoke here” plaques. I didn’t see any in Ireland, though there are plenty of Daniel O’Connell commemorations. Turns out the two men had a very complicated relationship through the 1840s. Salon documents it and the Irish/American/Negro complications that came out of the troubles Ireland faced at that time.
Frederick Douglass’ four-month Irish sojourn – he traveled to Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Belfast in 1845, part of a two-year stay in the United Kingdom – has long fascinated historians and others who care about human rights. Douglass crossed paths with the great Irish “Liberator,” Daniel O’Connell, a champion of his own people and also an abolitionist, who the younger leader praised as a mentor and an inspiration throughout most of his life. He flourished in Ireland, where he was seen as a man, not “chattel.” Mixing with intellectual elites, he – and they – realized that the auto-didact and former slave could more than hold his own. A statue of Douglass stands proudly in Cork’s University College today.
“I can truly say,” he wrote to his abolitionist ally (and sometimes antagonist) William Lloyd Garrison, “I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life since landing in this country, I seem to have undergone a transformation, I live a new life.”
Yet comparatively little is known about what Douglass thought and felt about the most pressing Irish issues of that time – the fight to repeal the Act of Union with Great Britain, which had stripped the native Irish Catholic majority of many rights, and the gathering storm of the catastrophic potato famine. In the years around his visit, famine or its attendant diseases killed at least a million Irish and sent two million more fleeing the country. The potato blight was only a rumor and a worry when Douglass visited Ireland in 1845, but it was a crisis by the time he left England in 1847 to return to the U.S. How could such a towering human rights figure remain silent on the catastrophe, as it seemed he had?
via Frederick Douglass’ Irish sojourn: A bracing look at his encounters with poverty and prejudice across the Atlantic – Salon.com.
In Book 3 of his Narrative, Shelby Foote mentions that Lee’s lines around Petersburg were stretched so thin, he couldn’t even allow his Jewish soldiers time out of the trenches for Yom Kippur. I was amazed to think of Jewish soldiers, and even more amazed when I read about this website, which is commemorating the contributions of Chinese soldiers to the Civil War.
The silk and porcelain (china) trade brought Westerners in contact with the Chinese. Canton (Kwangchow), of Kwangtung province, became the center of foreign trade, in 1760. England led the western powers in “opening” China to trade. The Treaty of Nanking, after the Opium War (1839-42) opened five ports for commerce. Hong Kong (fragrant harbor) was ceded to the British. Extraterritorial laws were enforced. An indemnity of 21 million silver dollars was imposed. Taxes soared. Local cottage industry could not compete with imported manufactured goods. The result was disastrous to local economy. Furthermore, the Treaty of Tienjin added more indemnity and land Kowloon (nine dragons) to the English. The British and French occupied Canton between 1856 to 1860 and their presence made it easier to recruit peasant boys abroad as cheap labor. Christian missionaries engaged in preaching the gospels enthusiastically. It was under these circumstances that some missionaries and some sea captains “adopted” some small Chinese boys and raised them in North America. This was how the Chinese, boys Joseph Pierce, Antonio Dardelle, Edward Day Cohota and Hong Neok Woo ended up staying in America and served in the Civil War.
Association to commemorate the Chinese serving in the American Civil War.