Tag Archives: Artifacts

1851 (Fighting for Liberty) Dickinson Gorsuch

Dickinson Gorsuch (House Divided)

The key primary sources on on Dickinson Gorsuch and the Christiana Riot are William Still’s The Underground Rail Road (1872), David R. Forbes’ A True Story of the Christiana Riot (1898), and Jonathan Katz’s Resistance at Christiana: The Fugitive Slave Rebellion, Christiana Pennsylvania, September 11, 1851: A Documentary Account (1974). Important secondary sources include William Uhler Hensel’s The Christiana Riot and the Treason Trials of 1851: An Historical Sketch (1911),  Thomas Slaughter’s Bloody Dawn: The Christiana Riot and Racial Violence in the Antebellum North (1991), and Fergus M. Bordewich’s Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America’s First Civil Rights Movement (2006). You can also read Mark G. Jaede’s short essay about the riot in the Encyclopedia of Slave Read the rest

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1854 (Arguing for Justice) Moncure Conway

Moncure Conway (House Divided)

Though his family connections alone guaranteed a bright legal future, the young Moncure Conway was an indifferent law student. Despite the urging of his numerous cousins to take up his place as an active defender of the South, he was already having significant problems justifying his beloved Virginia’s maintenance of slavery. Despite this, he served in 1850 as the secretary of the Southern Rights Association in Warrenton, and seemed in his momentary embracing of the recently published racial theories of Louis Agassiz to be searching for any justification for human bondage. Despairing of the law, he pleased his parents at last when on his nineteenth birthday he became a Methodist circuit rider preacher, assigned to the Rockville, Maryland area. During … Read the rest

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1858 (Arguing for Justice) Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (House Divided)

Life & Family
Abraham Lincoln was a southerner who led the North during the Civil War. Born on February 12, 1809, the same day as scientist Charles Darwin, Lincoln began his life on a farm in Kentucky before moving as a young child to Indiana and eventually to Illinois. He settled in Springfield, married Mary Todd, and raised four boys (two of whom died before he did). Lincoln was six-feet, four inches tall and weighed about 180 pounds. He was well respected as a politician and attorney and well-liked for his story-telling abilities. Lincoln served one term in Congress where he gained notice for opposing the Mexican War but otherwise had no experience in Washington before becoming president. During the 1850s, … Read the rest

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1859 (Fighting for Liberty) Dangerfield Newby

Dangerfield Newby (House Divided)

Important primary sources on Brown’s Harpers Ferry raid include James Redpath’s The Public Life of Capt. John Brown (1860), Franklin B. Sanborn’s The Life and Letters of John Brown, Liberator of Kansas, and Martyr of Virginia (1885), and Richard J. Hinton’s John Brown and His Men; With Some Account of the Roads Traveled to Reach Harper’s Ferry (1894). Osborne Anderson, who participated in Brown’s raid but managed to escape, also published his account  in 1861: A Voice from Harper’s Ferry: A Narrative of Events at Harper’s Ferry. Important secondary sources include Benjamin Quarles’ Allies for Freedom; Blacks and John Brown (1974), Paul Finkelman’s His Soul Goes Marching On: Responses to John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid (1995), … Read the rest

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1860 (Arguing for Justice) Edmund Ruffin

Edmund Ruffin (House Divided)

Life & Family
In late 1860 South Carolina Governor Gist William Henry Gist referred to the “John Brown Pike” in his message to the state legislature. As the Charleston (SC) Mercury reported, Ruffin gave this pike to South Carolina to display in January 1860 and included a note which read in part: “Sample of the favors designed for us by our NORTHERN BRETHREN.” When John Brown attacked Harpers Ferry in October 1859, he brought pikes with him as a way to arm the slaves who rebelled.

Key primary sources include Ruffin’s The Political Economy of Slavery (1857), William K. Scarborough’s three volume Diary of Edmund Ruffin (1972-89), and David F. Allmendinger’s Incidents of My Life: Edmund Ruffin’s Autobiographical EssaysRead the rest

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1861 (Fighting for Liberty) James Smith Colwell

James Colwell (Cumberland County Historical Society)

James Smith Colwell, who worked as a lawyer in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was one of the men who answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers after Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Colwell joined the Carlisle Fencibles, a local volunteer company under the command of Robert Henderson, as a first lieutenant. Six weeks later the Fencibles left Carlisle for Camp Wayne in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where they received training and were designated Company A of the 7th Regiment, Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. His wife, Ann, had not been happy with that decision. “You left me without talking about it,” as Ann reminded him. While James admitted that “[he] err[ed] frequently,” … Read the rest

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1863 (Fighting for Liberty) Francis A. Donaldson

Francis A. Donaldson

The best source on Donaldson is J. Gregory Acken’s Inside the Army of the Potomac: The Civil War Experience of Captain Francis Adams Donaldson (1998). For more information on the regiments that Donaldson served in, see History of the Corn Exchange Regiment: 118th Pennsylvania Volunteers (1888) and Antietam to Appomattox with 118th Penna. Vols (1892). In addition, you can learn more about other soldiers’ experiences in the Charles S. Swain collection at the University of Michigan, which has a scrapbook of material related to Swain’s service in the 118th Pennsylvania.

Places to Visit
The 118th Pennsylvania Infantry’s monument at Gettysburg National Military Park was built in 1889 and is located on Sickles Avenue. See this page to learn more about this … Read the rest

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1863 (Fighting for Liberty) Samuel Wilkeson

Lieutenant Bayard Wilkeson leading Battery G, 4th U.S. Artillery at the Battle of Gettysburg

Sam Wilkeson was a war correspondent for the New York Times who had sons in the Union army, including Lt. Bayard Wilkeson, an artillery officer who was mortally wounded on the first day at Gettysburg. The story of Bayard’s death became a northern sensation since he was one of the youngest artillery officers in the army, the son of a prominent journalist and also because he died in a particularly heroic fashion. The young lieutenant covered the retreating forces from the Union XI Corps on the battle’s first day and reportedly had to amputate his own shattered leg when doctors were forced to flee in the face of the … Read the rest

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1863 (Fighting for Liberty) Taylor Brothers

Taylor Brothers (National Park Service)

On July 2, 1863 at 5:40AM Isaac Taylor recorded in his diary that his regiment, the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, had arrived at Gettysburg. “Order from Gen. [John] Gibbon read to us in which he says this is to be the great battle of the war & that any soldier leaving ranks without leave will be instantly put to death,” as Taylor noted. By the end of the day 215 of the 262 soldiers in the regiment had been killed or wounded. While Isaac had died, his brother, Patrick Henry Taylor, apparently made it out of the battle without injury. Patrick added the final entry to the diary, which explained that Isaac had been “killed by a shell … Read the rest

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