United states history

JOHN BROWN'S LAST SPEECH, November 2, 1859

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JOHN BROWN'S LAST SPEECH, November 2, 1859
John Brown, the New York abolitionist who moved to Kansas in the 1850s and participated in the territory's civil war, was arrested in 1859, tried and convicted of attempting to seize the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry to gather arms to support a large scale slave uprising in the South. Brown offered no defense at his trial other than his desire to end slavery.
I have, may it please the Court, a few words to say.

In the first place, I deny everything but what I have all along admitted,  the design on my part to free the slaves. I intended certainly to have made a clean thing of that matter, as I did last winter, when I went into Missouri and there took slaves without the snapping of a gun either side, moved them through the country, and finally left them in Canada. I designed to have done the same thing again, on a larger scale. That was all I intended. I never did intend murder, or treason, or the destruction of property, or to excite or incite slaves to rebellion, or to make insurrection.

I have another objection: and that is, it is unjust that I should suffer such a penalty. Had I interfered...in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so called great, or in behalf of any of their friends,  either father, mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class,  and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment...

This court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament. That teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further, to 'remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.' I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say, I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered...in behalf of His despised poor, was not wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments,  I submit; so let it be done!

Source: Leslie H. Fishel and Benjamin Quarles, The Negro American: A Documentary History, (Glenview, Ill., 1967), p. 207.

Abraham Lincoln writing to his friend, Joshua Speed, in 1852 offered the following explanation of his political views. Lincoln's ambivalence about his political affiliation reflected the increasing political confusion brought on by the slavery question. Within two years Lincoln and thousands of other Americans would create the Republican Party to articulate their views and advocate the changes they felt were vital to the nation's interests.

You enquire where I now stand. That is a disputed point. I think I am a whig, but others say there are no whigs and that I am an abolitionist... I am not a Know nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people?

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of living liberty  to Russia, for instance, were despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hyprocracy [sic]."
Source: William E. Gienapp, This Fiery Trial: The Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln, (New York, 2002), p. 37.

Here is part of the platform of the Republican Party when it nominated Abraham Lincoln for President. Much of that platform was unacceptable to the South and Lincoln's election precipitated the secession of a number of Southern States which later formed the Confederacy.
Resolved, That we, the delegated representatives of the Republican electors of the United States, in Convention assembled, in discharge of the duty we owe to our constituents and our country, unite in the following declarations:
1. That the history of the nation, during the last four years, has fully established the propriety and necessity of the organization and perpetuation of the Republican party, and that the causes which called it into existence are permanent in their nature, and now, more than ever before, demand its peaceful and constitutional triumph.
2. That the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the Federal Constitution, "That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." is essential to the preservation of our Republican institutions; and that the Federal Constitution, the Rights of the States, and the Union of the States, must and shall be preserved.
3. That to the Union of the States this nation owes its unprecedented increase in population, its surprising development of material resources, its rapid augmentation of wealth, its happiness at home and its honor abroad; and we hold in abhorrence all schemes for Disunion, come from whatever source they may...
4. That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State in order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of powers on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depends; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.
5. That the present Democratic Administration has far exceeded our worst apprehensions, in its measureless subserviency to the exactions of sectional interest, as especially evinced in its desperate exertions to force the infamous Lecompton constitution upon the protesting people of Kansas; in construing the personal relation between master and servant to involve an unqualified property in persons; in its attempted enforcement, everywhere, on land and sea, through the intervention of Congress and of the Federal Courts of the extreme pretensions of a purely local interest; and in its general and unvarying abuse of the power intrusted to it by a confiding people...
7. That the new dogma that the Constitution, of its own force, carries Slavery into any or all of the Territories of the United States, is a danger­ous political heresy...is revolutionary in its tendency, and subversive of the peace and harmony of the country.
8. That the normal condition of all the territory of the United States is freedom; That as our Republican fathers, when they had abolished slavery in all our national territory, ordained that "no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law," it becomes our duty...to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it; and we deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial legisla­ture, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the United States.
9. That we brand the recent re opening of the African slave trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity and a burning shame to our country and age; and we call upon Congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total and final suppression of the execrable traffic.
11. That Kansas should, of right, be immediately admitted as a State under the Constitution recently formed and adopted by her people, and accepted by the House of Representatives.
12. That, while providing revenue for the support of the General Govern­ment by duties upon imports, sound policy requires such as adjustment of these imposts as to encourage the development of the industrial interests of the whole country...

13. That we protest against any sale or alienation to others of the Public Lands held by actual settlers, and against any view of the Homestead policy which regards the settlers as paupers or supplicants for public bounty; and we demand the passage by Congress of the complete and satisfactory Homestead measure which has already passed the house.

14. That the Republican Party is opposed to any change in our Naturaliza­tion Laws...and in favor of giving a full and efficient protection to the rights of all classes of citizens, whether native or naturalized, both at home and abroad.
16. That a Railroad to the Pacific Ocean is imperatively demanded by the interests of the whole country; that the Federal Government ought to render immediate and efficient aid in its construction; and that, as preliminary thereto, a daily Overland Mail should be promptly established...
Source: Richard N. Current and John A. Garraty, ed., Words that Made American History, Vol. I, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1965), pp. 522 525.

Popular Electoral % Pop.

Candidate Party Vote Vote Vote
Abraham Lincoln Republican 1,865,593 180 40%

Stephen A. Douglas Northern Democrats 1,382,713 12 30%

John Breckenridge Southern Democrats 848,356 72 18%

John Bell Constitutional Union 592,906 39 12%


Terms for Week 4
Fort Sumter
Jefferson Davis
New York City Draft Riot, 1863
Robert E. Lee
Ulysses S. Grant
Emancipation Proclamation, 1862
Battle of Vicksburg
Battle of Gettysburg
Sherman's March to the Sea
Stand Watie
Appomattox Court House
Congressional Reconstruction
Radical Republicans
Radical Republican leaders:
Senator Charles Sumner Massachusetts

Congressman Thaddeus Stevens Pennsylvania
Andrew Johnson

Reconstruction Amendments
Thirteenth Amendment

Fourteenth Amendment

Fifteenth Amendment

Freedmen's Bureau
Black Codes
Mississippi Vagrancy Act, 1866
Ku Klux Klan
Sunday School League
Mississippi Plan
Compromise of 1877
"Birth of A Nation"
grandfather clause
Ben Tillman

The Civil War was second only to World War II as the bloodiest military contest in which Americans have been engaged. Nearly 365,000 men, women and children were killed between 1861 and 1865 compared to the 405,000 American deaths in World War II. However because the population of the U.S. in 1860 was 31 million and in 1940 it was 132 million, the Civil War's impact on the nation was far greater. The vignettes below describe the carnage that became so typical of Civil War battles. The first is a descrip­tion of the 1862 Battle of Antietam by future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and the second is Walt Whitman's description of the Battle of Chancel­lorsville (Va.) in 1863.
Holmes: On coming near the brow of the hill, we met a party carrying picks and spades. "How many?" "Only one." The dead were nearly all buried, then, in this region of the field of strife. We stopped the wagon, and, getting out, began to look around us. Hard by was a large pile of muskets, scores, if not hundreds, which had been picked up, and were guarded for the Government. A long ridge of fresh gravel rose before us. A board stuck up in front of it bore this inscription, the first part of which was, I believe, not correct: "The Rebel General Anderson and 80 Rebels are buried in this hole."

Other smaller ridges were marked with the number of dead lying under them. The whole ground was strewn with fragments of clothing, haversacks, canteens, cap boxes, bullets, cartridges, scraps of paper, portions of bread and meat. I saw two solders' caps that looked as though their owners had been shot through the head. In several places I noticed dark red patches where a pool of blood had curdled and caked, as some poor fellow poured his life out on the sod.

Whitman: The night was very pleasant, at times the moon shining out full and clear, all Nature so calm in itself, the early summer grass so rich, and the foliage of the trees  yet there the battle raging, and many good fellows lying helpless, and every minute amid the rattle of muskets and cannon the red life blood oozing out from heads or trunks or limbs upon that green and dew cool grass. Patches of the woods take fire, and several of the wounded, unable to move, are consumed  quite large spaces are swept over, burning the dead also. Then the camps of the wounded. There they lie, from 200 to 300 poor fellows  the groans and screams, the odor of blood, mixed with the fresh scent of the night, the grass, the trees  that slaughter house! One man is shot by a shell, both in the arm and leg  both are amputated  there lie the rejected members. Some have their legs blown off  some bullets through the breast  some indescribably horrid wounds in the face or head, all mutilated, sickening, torn, gouged out  some mere boys.
Source: Stephan Thernstrom, A History of the American People, Vol. I, (New York, 1989), pp. 389, 395.

Lincoln's election in 1860 moved the nation toward division. In the following letter from Edward Barnell Heyward, a South Carolina planter to his friend, James A. Lord in Connecticut, Southern fears of a Republican administration are explained. This letter was written one month before South Carolina seceded from the Union.
November 20, 1860

My Dear Jim:

...it might interest you to hear how I am living and what my occupations may be, and also to hear from a State which just now by her political position is somewhat the object of attraction in this country. In January next we shall take leave of the Union and shall construct with our Sister Cotton States a government for ourselves. Whether the other Slave States will join seem very uncertain at least for the present. The condition of affairs at the North since the election of an Abolitionist for President makes it necessary for us to get away as quickly as possible. We have on hand about three million Bales of Cotton and plenty to eat & clothe ourselves with, and what is most important our working population have masters to take care of them and will not feel any pressure such as will soon come upon the operatives in the manufacturing States at the North. Of course we shall declare free trade with the whole world and having no manufactures to protect we shall bring about such a competition with the manufactures of this Country and those of Europe that the profits in such business at the North will be seriously reduced. In the Country here the planters are all quiet and our crops going to market as usual. If there is no money in the banks we can go without it till England and France and perhaps the North send the gold for the cotton which they must have or go all to ruin. I have about 130 Bales of Cotton on my plantation to sell, and about 3000 bshls of corn and one hundred Hogs now fattening for the negroes to eat and their winter clothes I will get in a few days. I have plenty of Beef & mutton to feed my family upon and I think I and all around me could stand hard times better than some of the rich abolitionists of your part of the World. If you were a rich man Jim I should advise you to quit the North &and come here and live in quiet, but you have nothing to loose by the Revolution that I suppose must ensue upon the present overthrow of our beautiful government. The Northern men must rouse themselves and shake off the Tyrants who now rule over them, or they will soon be numbered among the Nations which have over them, or them will soon be numbered among the Nations which have been! You live among a manufacturing people and you know better than I what the conditions of things would be in case the operatives were all dismissed, or put on starvation prices for the next year. If times get very hot you had better come on here, & try farming where there is a distinction between a white man and a black one, which is not found in Connecticut.

Do write me as before, care of Messrs. Wm. C. Bee and Co., Charleston, S.C. soon and tell me what is going on at home and about at the North. When next I write I shall belong to another government for which I shall be thankful...

Yours most Affectionately, E.B. Heyward
Source: Stanley I Kutler, Looking for America: The People's History, Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), p. 399.

Seceding State Date of Secession
South Carolina December 20, 1860

Mississippi January 9, 1861

Florida January 10, 1861

Alabama January 11, 1861

Georgia January 19, 1861

Louisiana January 26, 1861

Texas February 1, 1861

Confederate Government Organized in

Montgomery, Alabama February 4, 1861
Confederate Bombardment of Federal

Garrison at Fort Sumter, South Carolina April 12, 1861

Virginia April 17, 1861

Arkansas May 6, 1861

North Carolina May 20, 1861

Tennessee June 8, 1861

Susanna Sparks Keitt, a South Carolinian whose husband had participated in the state convention which voted to secede, wrote her Philadelphia friend, Mrs. Frederick Brown, on March 4, 1861, explaining why the Southern states left the Union.
My Dear Friend

You must believe me when I say we did not break up the Union you so much love nor bring about the crisis you so much deplore. 'Tis true we have refused to accept Lincoln for a president. What of that? Did you think the people of the South, the Lords Proprietors of the Land, would let this low fellow rule for them? No! His vulgar facetiousness may suit the race of clock makers and wooden nutmeg vendors  even Wall Street brokers may accept him, since they do not protest  but never will he receive the homage of southern gentlemen. See the disgusting spectacle now presented to the world by the Federal government. The President Elect of the American people, on his triumphal march to the Capitol, exhibits himself at railway depots, bandies jokes with the populaces, kissed bold women from promiscuous crowds, jests with [prize] fighters.... Oh, shame, shame. Should we submit to such degradation?

Who are these Black Republicans? A motley throng of...infidels, free lovers, interspersed by Bloomer women, fugitive slaves, and amalgamists. What are...the doctrines they teach? Equity and justice? Peace and Good Will toward men? No, but the Jesuitical dogma of the expediency of crime when a doubtful good may come. Such crimes as murder, arson, perjury, and theft find ready absolution if the record be accompanied by a stolen slave, and have the red seal of southern blood...

With a rancor and hatred worthy of a foreign foe, the Republicans prepare for a war of extermination. Yes, extermination, for they know as well as we do that thus only can they conquer us. See their bloody programme. The dykes [sic] of the Mississippi must be cut, and the minds of our happy slaves poisoned of thought of murder and conflagration. How can you counsel submission to such a people? We loved the Union; but our lives, homes, and kindred are dear to us and cannot be sacrificed to a Memory....Yes, war let it be if war they desire. And the Stars and Stripes will shame their ancient glories when the "Southern Cross" takes the field. And if the fate of Carthagenia be ours, we women, like those of old, will cut our hair for bowstrings to plague the enemy as long as possible.

You still hope for reunion. A vain hope unless our conditions be accepted. Here they are: Hang all your...Garrisons, Greeleys, and Ward Beechers, incarcerate your Garret Smiths, unite your Sumners and Sewards to ebony spouses and send them as resident ministers...to Timbuctoo and Ashantee [African kingdoms]. Purge the halls of Congress and the White House...of their presence, and attach the death penalty to all future agitation of the slavery question. When these things are done, then, and not till then, will we consider the question of reunion.

Our relations have been so pleasant it would pain me to see them altered, but I must candidly say that I can make no distinction between at cost of war Union Lovers and ultra Black Republicans. The matter of our continued friendship must now be decided by you.

Source: Stanley I. Kutler, Looking for America: The People's History, Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), pp. 403 406.

Union Confederacy
Number of States 24 11

Population 23,000,000 8,700,000*

Real and Personal Property $ 11,000,000,000 $ 5,370,000,000

Banking Capital $ 330,000,000 $ 27,00,000

Capital Investment $ 850,000,000 $ 95,000,000

Manufacturing Establishments 110,000 18,000

Value of Production (annual) $ 1,500,000,000 $ 155,000,000

Industrial Workers 1,300,000 110,000

Railroad Mileage 22,000 9,000
* 40% were slaves, 3,500,000

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, had a profound effect on the Union, the Confederacy, and of course, black Americans. Part of the document appears below.
By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation
Whereas, the twenty second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty two, a proclamation was signed by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the persons whereof shall then whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, henceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to suppress such person, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom...
And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are and hence-forward shall be free, and that the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that in all cases when allowed they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed services of the United States to garrison forts, position, stations, and other places and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment and mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God...
Source: John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), pp. 532-533.

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