Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

Maryland Man May Have Found Two Lost of Forgotten Photos of Lincon´s Funeral Procesion

Michael E. Ruane

Washington Post   March 19, 2014

In the first photograph, the crowd outside the church seems to be waiting for something to come down the street. Children stand up front so they can see. Women, in the garb of the mid-1800s, shield themselves from the sun with umbrellas. White-gloved soldiers mill around. And a few people have climbed a tree for a better view.

(Mathew Brady/The National Archives)

In this second shot, some heads are bowed. Men have taken off their hats. And the blur of a large black object is disappearing along the street to the left of the frame. What the scene depicts, why it was photographed, or where, has been a mystery for decades, experts at the National Archives say. But a Maryland man has now offered the theory that the two photos are rare, long-forgotten images of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession in New York City.

(Mathew Brady/The National Archives)

Paul Taylor, 60, of Columbia, a retired federal government accountant, believes the scene is on Broadway, outside New York’s historic Grace Church.

The day is Tuesday, April 25, 1865, 11 days after Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington.

 And the crowd is waiting for, and then seems to be paying homage before, a horse-drawn hearse, whose motion makes it appear as a black blur as it passes by in the second picture.

If Taylor is right, scholars say he has identified rare photos of Lincoln’s marathon funeral rites, as well as images that show mourners honoring the slain chief executive.

Plus, it appears that the photographs were taken from an upper window of the studio of famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, which was across the street from the church.

“It’s a big deal,” said Richard Sloan, an expert on the Lincoln funeral ceremonies in New York. “What makes it even a bigger deal is to be able to study the people. Even though you can’t see faces that well, just studying the people tells a story.”

Sloan added, “It’s as if you’re there, and you can see the mood.”

Many people, including children, are in their Sunday best. A few look up at the camera. Flowers are in bloom. But there is no levity.

Sloan said he is convinced that the pictures show the funeral scenes: “There’s no doubt about it.”

But experts at the Archives caution that although the theory sounds good, there could be other explanations, and no way to prove it conclusively.

The digital photographs were made from some of the thousands of Brady images acquired by the federal government in the 1870s and handed down to the National Archives in the 1940s, according to Nick Natanson, an archivist in the Archives’ still-picture unit.

Next year is the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination.

The two photos in question, both captioned “scene in front of church,” apparently had gone unnoticed for decades.

“We’ve had many inquiries about many images in the Brady file,” he said. “I can’t remember . . . any inquiries about these two particular images. I don’t think I ever noticed them before.”

But something about them intrigued Taylor when he saw them among the hundreds of Brady photographs posted on an Archives Flickr photo-sharing site in January.

Both were unusual four-image pictures — four shots of the same scene grouped together.

“I was just struck by the scene,” Taylor said. “That is not your normal scene in front of church. There’s just people everywhere: the streets, the sidewalks, the roof. They’re in the trees. This is not your normal Sunday.”

In the second picture, “I saw this black streak,” he said. “When I looked at it closer, I saw what it was. It was a funeral vehicle. . . . I knew it was Lincoln. It had to be. It couldn’t be anybody else.”

Natanson, of the Archives, was skeptical. “It still strikes me as odd that . . . there wouldn’t have been some mention or some hint [in the caption] of the monumental nature of the event,” he said.

There could have been other events, “maybe even other processions, maybe even other funerals” during that time period, he said. “I don’t think its possible to establish this without any doubt.”

But if Taylor is right, it could be an important discovery, Natanson said: “It isn’t as if there are dozens of images of the funeral procession anywhere.”

The funeral observances for Lincoln, who was assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, went on for more than two weeks. During that time, the president’s body was moved by train on a 13-day, 1,600-mile journey from Washington to Springfield, Ill., where he was buried May 4.

Along the way, the train stopped in over a dozen major cities, and his coffin was removed for numerous processions and elaborate tributes.

Washington historian James L. Swanson has called the funeral journey a “death pageant” that was viewed by millions of people and that helped create the image of Lincoln the martyred president.

New York was the fourth major stop on the journey, after Baltimore, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia.

The president’s coffin, with the lid unfortunately open, was placed on view in New York’s City Hall on April 24, according to Swanson’s account. Lincoln had been dead for 10 days, and his face was “not a pleasant sight,” the New York Times reported.

The next day, with the lid closed, the coffin was borne through jammed streets aboard a black hearse decorated with flags and black plumes and drawn by a team of 16 horses shrouded in black.

A half-million people lined the route, much of which was along Broadway.

“Thousands and thousands of these lookers on were too young . . . and were doubtless brought in order that in old age they might say they saw the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln,” the Times wrote the next day.

Taylor said his investigation of the photos began Jan. 4, when he first noticed them. The captions didn’t give him much to go on. The problem was that the original glass negatives probably didn’t have captions on them, said Brady biographer Robert Wilson. And by the time the government acquired the negatives, any caption information that went with them was probably lost.

Taylor turned to the Internet for images of historic churches, to see whether he could find the one in the Brady images. He looked up historic churches in Baltimore. No luck. Then he tried historic churches in New York.

That search brought up Grace Episcopal church, the 168-year Gothic edifice on Broadway at Tenth Street.

“I’m looking at it, and that was it,” he said. “I had it.”

He e-mailed his findings to the Archives on March 3.

Taylor, who said he has long been fascinated by historic photographs, said he does not think the images have ever been published before.

Bob Zeller, president of the Center for Civil War photography, agreed, but he wrote in an e-mail: “There is always a slim chance that somebody somewhere has recognized and printed [them] in some obscure . . . publication.”

“Either way, it’s incredibly historic, (a) totally fresh piece of our American photo history,” he wrote. “Even if someone materializes, that still means 99.9 percent of us, enthusiasts and historians, have never seen it.”

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Lincoln and the Cannibals

By Jeffrey Allen Smith

The New York Times  February 25, 2014

While America was embroiled in a bloody civil war for its very survival, a little over 5,000 miles away from Washington, in the middle of the South Pacific, the people of the Marquesas Islands were in a struggle of their own over slavery.

The American war, unsurprisingly, more detailed documentation. In the Marquesas conflict, differing witness testimony, secondhand accounts, various newspaper articles, translations and time all conspired to obscure details. Nevertheless, in sifting through the historical minutiae, a relatively clear picture emerged of an incredible series of events that ultimately came to the attention of President Abraham Lincoln in April 1864.

In 1856, slavery technically ended in Peru, but the need for workers to toil in slavelike conditions in the country’s tin and guano mines did not. As a result, “blackbirding” ships roamed the Pacific ensnaring unfortunate souls “by hook or by crook” to labor in Peru. The victims were often the peoples of the South Pacific.

In 1863 a Peruvian blackbirding ship sailed into Puamau Bay on the northeastern shore of Hiva Oa Island in the Marquesas. After opening fire on people gathered onshore, the slavers made off with all the Puamau men and women they could grab, including the chief’s son. Understandably distraught and angered by this atrocity, those who lived through the assault pledged to exact a frightful vengeance if foreign sailors dared show again.

Unfortunately, the crew members of the American whaling ship Congress from New Bedford, Mass., were the next foreign sailors to show. Capt. Francis E. Stranburg and his men were blissfully ignorant of the islanders’ oath of revenge and the raid on Puamau Bay when they casually dropped anchor there Jan. 13, 1864. For to the captain and crew, this was routine, just another stop to make repairs and obtain provisions. The sailors lowered two longboats loaded with trade goods, and a small detachment of men led by the first officer, Jonathan Whalon, rowed toward the beach in Puamau Bay.

Probably intoxicated by tales of Polynesian hospitality and the “custom” of offering attractive young females to traders, Whalon interpreted the hand gestures, broken English and disposition of the islanders who paddled out to greet them as signs of a people eager to trade. Foolishly, Whalon went ashore alone with the Marquesans, ordering the crew of the two longboats to stay back and wait for his return.

However, once well inside the tree line, the Paumau men seized Whalon, stripped him of his clothes and bound him. They took him to their village, where tribal members reportedly pinched him, tweaked his nose, bent his fingers back over his hands, menacingly swung hatchets at him and eventually began building a fire with which to cook him.

Back in Paumau Bay, more islanders were actively trying to entice the waiting sailors in the two longboats to come ashore. The whalers almost complied, and would have but for the efforts of a Marqusesan girl who ran out frantically shouting and waving her hands. The chaotic scene proved unnerving and unsettling to the sailors, so they returned to the Congress without Whalon.

By this time word had begun to spread on the island about the kidnapped American sailor. A Hawaiian missionary improbably named Alexander Kaukau (Kaukau is Hawaiian pidgin for “food” or “to eat”) and Bartholomen Negal, a local German carpenter, tried and failed to dissuade Mato, the Paumau chief, from killing Whalon. According to some reports, Kaukau pleaded with Mato for Whalon’s life but Mato replied, “The white men are wrong in kidnapping my son and carrying him to their land. I dearly love my son.” Again Kaukau implored Mato claiming that Americans were “good people.” Unpersuaded, Mato simply shot back, “They are all one kind, white men.”

However, fate interceded with the arrival of another Hawaiian missionary, James Kekela, the first Hawaiian ordained as a Christian missionary and Kaukau’s senior. He had fortuitously just returned from a neighboring island to reports of a “white man is about to be roasted.” After gaining what information he could, Kekela donned his black preacher’s jacket and, with only his bible in hand, set off for Mato’s village. The negotiations were tense, and at one point Kekela declared he would trade “anything and everything he possessed” for the sailor’s release.

But ultimately Kekela purchased Whalon’s freedom with much less: his black preacher’s jacket and prized whaleboat. In fact, some contend that the entire event was a ruse by Mato to get Kekela’s boat, given its high value in the islands. Nevertheless, Kekela returned Whalon to the waiting Congress, which sailed to Honolulu, where tales of “cannibals” capturing an American sailor and Kekela’s heroics prompted the American minister to Hawaii, James McBride, to write a note to Secretary of State William H. Seward.

McBride’s letter, dated Feb. 26, 1864, detailed the harrowing events in the Marquesas and requested that Seward “show to the world … we have tender regard for each one of our number, and that we highly, very highly, appreciate such favors.”

Taking almost a month to make its way across the Pacific, the letter arrived on Seward’s desk by April 18, 1864. Three days later Seward replied that he had submitted McBride’s account of the rescue to Lincoln and that the president had “instructions” for the diplomat. McBride was directed to “draw on this department for five hundred dollars in gold” to purchase presents for Whalon’s rescuers, and to engrave the gifts with the words: “From the President of the United States to – for his [or her] noble conduct in rescuing an American citizen from death-Island of Hivaoa-1863.” (McBride took it upon himself to correct the year to 1864.)

Roughly a year later, on Feb. 14, 1865, McBride sent word to Seward detailing the presents he distributed. He had sent gifts to the Hawaiian missionary Kaukau, the German carpenter Negal and even the young Marquesan girl who warned the sailors in the two long boats. He gave Kekela two new suits and a gold Cartier pocket watch with the inscription, “From the President of the United States to Rev. J. Kekela For His Noble Conduct in Rescuing An American Citizen from Death on the Island of Hiva Oa January 14, 1864.”

To express his gratitude, Kekela wrote a seven-page letter of thanks in Hawaiian to “A. Linekona” on March 27, 1865. Accompanied by an English translation, the letter opened with a short autobiographical sketch of Kekela before transitioning into a retelling of how he saved “a citizen of your great nation, ill-treated, and about to be baked and eaten, as a pig is eaten.” Kekela also commended Lincoln stating, “I greatly honor your interest in this countryman of yours. It is, indeed, in keeping with all I have known of your acts as president of the United States.” Unfortunately, Lincoln never read Kekela’s words. The letter did not reach Washington until almost two months after Lincoln’s assassination.

However, the impact of Kekela’s saving Whalon from “cannibals” and the gold watch Lincoln gave Kekela grew with time. In subsequent decades, newspapers reprinted and recounted Kekela’s actions, the gold watch from Lincoln, and Kekela’s letter to the president. The heartfelt prose in Kekela’s letter to Lincoln moved many, including Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote in his book “In the South Seas,” “I do not envy the man who can read it without emotion.”

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Jeffrey Allen Smith is an assistant professor of history at the University of Hawaii, Hilo. Research assistance for this article was provided by Samantha Aolani Kailihou and Noah Gomes.

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Hoy conmemoramos el sesquicentenario de uno de los discursos más famosos de la historia de Estados Unidos. Pronunciadas en honor a los caidos en la batalla de Gettysburg, las 272 palabras dichas por Lincoln el 19 de noviembre de 1863, se convirterion en un pieza clave de la historia política y la ideología republicana estadounidense.  Ciento cuenta años después, y en medio de una crisis económica, política y social, vale preguntarse si la democracia norteamericana atual se ajusta a la definición de Lincoln: el gobierno del pueblo, por el pueblo y para el pueblo. ¿Alguna vez fue así?

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863


Comparto con mis lectores una interesante selección de trabajos sobre el discurso de Lincoln publicadas por la History News Network.

HNN Hot Topics: Gettysburg Address

150 Years After the Gettysburg Address, Is Government by the People in Trouble?
by Drew Gilpen FaustHas America fallen short of being the “world’s best hope”?

NOVEMBER 17, 2013

Apology for Gettysburg Address remarks 150 years laterThe Harrisburg Patriot-News apologizes for calling the Gettysburg Address “silly” in 1863.

NOVEMBER 16, 2013

Abraham Lincoln Never Believed in Racial Equality
by Alan Singer“I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.”

NOVEMBER 5, 2013

Lincoln’s 272 Words, A Model Of Brevity For Modern TimesIt is difficult for those of us who write to say we need more words to tell a story when Lincoln did so much with just 272

NOVEMBER 5, 2013

– See more at: http://hnn.us/article/153972#sthash.9a5VCJSD.dpuf

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Escudo de la Confederación

No puede el terminar el año 2011 sin que le preste atención al sesquicentenario de la guerra civil estadounidense.  En 1860, la Unión norteamericana se quebró ante el peso de  la esclavitud. Tras décadas de tensiones regionales, los estados sureños decidieron separarse de los Estados Unidos y formar un país independiente y esclavista. El gobierno federal –el Norte– y su presidente, Abraham Lincoln, no aceptaron la decisión sureña. Tras intentos fallidos de negociación, la guerra civil fue inevitable. En abril de 1861 los sureños atacaron a las tropas federales acuarteladas en el Fuerte Sumter en la bahía de Charleston (Carolina del Sur), dando inicio a una carnicería que se extendió hasta 1865. Este fue el más terrible de los conflictos en que los norteamericanos se han visto involucrados no sólo por las 600,000 vidas que costó, sino también por la profunda cicatriz que dejó en la sociedad norteamericana. Tras cuatro años de combates fratricidas, los Estados Unidos permanecieron unidos y los esclavos alcanzaron su libertad. La guerra civil norteamericana es uno de los momentos más críticos de la historia de los Estados Unidos, pues estuvo en juego la supervivencia misma del país.

Como parte de las actividades celebradas en los Estados Unidos para conmemorar tan significativa fecha, el periódico New York Times ha desarrollado una bitácora titulada Desunion. En este interesante blog, historiadores, periodistas y escritores han publicado, a lo largo de todo este año,  artículos cortos dedicados a diversos temas relacionados con la guerra civil norteamericana.

Van Gosse

El pasado 29 de noviembre, el historiador estadounidense Van Gosse publicó en Desunion una corta nota titulada Beyond ‘Glory’.  Gosse, profesor de historia en el Franklin and Marshal College en Pensilvania, enfoca el papel jugado por los negros en la guerra civil partiendo de un señalamiento que me resultó particularmente interesante: la mayoría de los estadounidenses asocian la participación de los negros en la guerra con la película Glory (1989). Este largometraje protagonizado por Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick y Morgan Freeman, enfoca la historia del famoso  54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment compuesto por soldados negros. Comandado por oficiales blancos, entre ellos el Coronel Robert Gould Shaw, el Regimiento 54tuvo una participación destacada en la guerra y, en especial, en los intentos suicidas para tomar el Fuerte Wagner (Charleston) en julio de 1863.

Para Gosse, el principal problema con esta película es que da la impresión de que la participación militar de los negros era una idea nueva y radical. Nada más lejos de la realidad porque los negros habían combatido en todas guerras previas de los Estados Unidos.  No sólo habían participado, sino que estaban consientes de su papel histórico y lo usaban como argumento para reclamar derechos e igualdad en una sociedad esclavista y, por ende, racista.

Según Goose, los negros habían luchado en la guerra de independencia, en la guerra de 1812 y en la guerra con México. Tal fue su desempeño en la guerra de 1812 que el General Andrew Jackson lo reconoció públicamente.  En el periodo previo  a la guerra civil los negros  organizaron milicias en ciudades del norte (Cincinnati y New Bedford), a pesar de que no contaban con  el reconocimiento  ni  apoyo económico de los gobiernos estatales. Aunque tenían que tenían pagar por sus gastos y hasta comprar sus armas, los negros mostraron un claro interés de demostrar su patriotismo.

Cuando estalló la guerra civil, las milicias de negros se ofrecieron de voluntarios para combatir a los estados secesionistas, pero fueron rechazadas. Según el autor,  los negros no habían peleado sólo a favor de las causas estadounidenses. Miles de ellos apoyaron a los británicos en sus dos conflictos contra los norteamericanos.  Tal fue el apoyo de los negros a los británicos durante la guerra de independencia, que tras la victoria norteamericana 20,000 antiguos esclavos salieron del país con las tropas derrotadas. En el periodo previo a la guerra civil –lo que en la historiografía estadounidense se conoce como el antebellum– los esclavistas sureños explotaron la supuesta deslealtad de los negros, sentimientos que fueron compartidos por muchos norteños. Para Gosse, las dudas sobre su lealtad fue un factor clave para entender el rechazo a la participación de los negros en la guerra civil. Este argumento me parece interesante, pero me pregunto si el factor racial no fue más decisivo, ya que no se debe olvidar que aunque la esclavitud era menos importante en el Norte, esta región  no estaba libre de las mentalidades propias de una sociedad esclavista.

Soldados negros y blancos, 1861

A pesar de la resistencia oficial, algunos negros pudieron unirse a las fuerzas del Norte y participar en los combates. Prueba de ello es la correspondencia de dos soldados negros citada por Gosse: William H. Johnson y George E. Stewart. Sus cartas describen sus experiencias como soldados en los primeros años de la guerra y, por ende,  previa a la declaración de 1863 del presidente Lincoln autorizando el reclutamiento de soldados negro en el ejército de la Unión.

Gosse concluye que la participación de estos y otros negros entre las fuerzas del Norte sirvió para adelantar la causa de la abolición y para combatir la propaganda de la Confederación.

En  este interesante artículo, Gosse rescata la valiosa participación de los negros americanos en un conflicto que les era particularmente importante, pues entra las cosas que estaban en juego destacaba el futuro de  la esclavitud en Norteamérica.

No quiero terminar si hacer unos comentarios generales sobre la participación de los negros en la guerra civil. Cerca de 200,000 afroamericanos sirvieron en el ejército o en la marina de la Unión, y 37,000 de ellos murieron peleando. Éstos sufrieron los prejuicios raciales de sus comandantes y tuvieron que probar su valía en el campo de batalla. El valor de los soldados negros ayudó a cambiar la actitud de muchos oficiales de la Unión.

Los confederados odiaban y temían a los soldados negros por lo que les consideraban esclavos fugitivos sujetos a ser ejecutados de ser capturados. Sin embargo, los casos de fusilamientos de soldados negros a manos de los confederados fueron raros.

En el sur, los soldados negros fueron recibidos como héroes por la población esclava, impresionada de ver negros en uniforme militar. Es necesario señalar que los soldados negros no fueron tratados con equidad por el ejército de los Estados Unidos, pues éstos recibían una pagar menor que sus homólogos blancos y se les segregaba en campamentos militares separados de la tropas blancas.  Esto motivó protestas e inclusive el famoso Regimiento 54 de Massachussets se negó a recibir una paga menor que la de los soldados blancos. Su protesta surtió efecto y en junio de 1864 el Departamento de Guerra igualó el salario de los soldados blancos y negros.

El servicio militar de los afroamericanos cambio su estatus en la sociedad del norte. En algunas ciudades se abolió al segregación racial en los tranvías y se permitió que afroamericanos testificaran en corte o formaran parte de jurados en los tribunales de justicia. El haber peleado por la unión les garantizó a los negros su derecho a ser ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos.

            Norberto Barreto Velázquez, Ph. D.

Lima, 4 de diciembre de 2011

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