A Fly on the Wall at Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech…

March 11, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

How often have we all said, “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.”? This week, as I helped a customer with an order, I was struck again with how often that statement is uttered here in our RareNewspapers office. This gentleman was beside himself over an issue we had obtained covering Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Speech (see image below). Hearing him excitedly describe the content soon grabbed my imagination as well. As I finished his order and set the phone back into the cradle, I dug in to find any additional issues we may might still have highlighting this historic speech. Reading aloud (yet quietly to myself), I was transported to the scene. Follow me for a few moments to this history defining moment in time, picking up at the end of William Cullen Bryant’s (American poet & editor of the NEW YORK EVENING POST) introduction of this great American Hero…

“‘I have only to pronounce his name to secure your profoundest attention’ [Prolonged applause, and cheers for Lincoln]. Mr. Lincoln advanced to the desk, and smiling graciously upon his audience, complacently awaited the termination of the cheering and then proceeded with his address as follows…”. What followed was the speech that triggered Lincoln’s famous quote: “Another Republican Orator on the Stump.”

So many current phrases could be used to describe this moment in time: “A Star is Born”, “For Such a Time as This”… but for me, all I could think of was, “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall”, and I’m so grateful to the THE NEW YORK TIMES reporter who helped me to be one on February 28, 1860.

Earliest Lincoln letter published in a newspaper?

December 14, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Finding the earliest mention of notable people in period newspapers, long before they would become national figures, is a quest of many. Such nuggets–when found–can become treasured pieces for any collection.
We recently discovered what, by our research, is the earliest letter signed by Lincoln to appear in a newspaper. The “New York Weekly Tribune” of July 8, 1848 printed a letter signed A. Lincoln from when he was a representative from Illinois in the national legislature (see photos).In our 44 years of experience this is the earliest we have encountered. One would think letters may have appeared in his local Springfield, Illinois newspaper but lacking the holdings to do such research we can only speculate.

Are any collectors out there aware of an earlier published letter signed by Lincoln? Let the collecting world know!

I’m New Here: Week Thirty-Nine…

November 27, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes rabbit trails lead to revised destinations – particularly those that meander through the annals of history.  This week is a big deal on the US calendar because of colonists and survival and a heritage of gratitude…and I am a person full of thanks this year, as I have been much of my life.

I obtained permission from Guy to be a bit personal in my post, which he graciously granted, but a communication with a favorite collector in NYC derailed my reflection.  Ms. P told me about Evacuation Day, which commemorated the rousting of the British troops from their occupation of New York City following this nation’s fight for independence from England.  I had never heard of the liberation of NYC, let alone the celebrations that occurred annually until Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation co-opted the seasonal celebrations.  To be honest, I had never considered the duration of conflict following the 1776 declaration.  Anyway, this information came to light in a peripheral way, and the collector who brought it to our attention, attended this year’s anniversary hoopla in the city that was liberated.

It’s a privilege to learn from the staff here, as well as those who are ordering papers.  The collecting community is made up of a broad spectrum of interest and study, and I get to glean from the riches that move through the Rare and Early Newspapers archives.

I am thankful for the people who envisioned the United States of America — this great experiment.  I am thankful for those who kept their convictions through a long, wearying stretch of conflict, and I am thankful for families and communities who continued to manage the stuff of life through the political upheaval.

If you have some time over the upcoming holiday, our catalog is much more fascinating than any Black Friday special.  Whether you find the perfect gift for yourself or another, the time spent perusing the pages is a treat all by itself.

Cheers!

I’m New Here: Week Thirty-Six…

November 1, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

This week I discovered another section of the archives previously unexplored — actually, I didn’t even realize it was there.

The walls in these connected buildings are shelved from floor to ceiling, as are the aisles and corridors.  Inside those rigid 15′ dividers are movable racks that provide another layer of coordinates for filing archival folders of old and rare newspapers.  It was here, highlighted by the angle of the tag, that I saw the title and date of voices for abolition.  The Liberator  issues that are housed here go as late as 1865, but I was interested in the ones that preceded the Emancipation Proclamation. What was being written and discussed by this publication from the “Anti-Slavery Office” in Boston in 1859?  What was the tone prior to that April bombardment that marked the start of the Civil War?

The rag paper is full-sized (“folio”, in fact) and consists of four pages, mostly devoted to telling the stories of injustice and accounts that should provoke outrage.  Headed by an illustration intricately representing people divided into groups based on the color of their skin, a banner curves along the bottom proclaiming, “THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF” while a sign above a wooden structure crowded with human beings advertises, “Slaves, Horses & Other Cattle In Lots To Suit Purchase.”  I feel the effectiveness of the graphics, of the pleading tone in the “Letter to Southern Ladies” and the headline which queries, “Shall Massachusetts Be Slave-Hunting Soil?”  But what surprises me the most in this new acquaintance was the attitude toward the forerunner of Abraham Lincoln.  A full front-page column is headed “PRESIDENTIAL FALSIFICATIONS”, and pulls no punches in its criticism of James Buchanan’s avoidance of the situation with the Free State Men of Kansas and the powerful politicians whose support of Slavery  led to an effort summarized with, “The Missourians openly exulted in the sure prospect they had of making Kansas a slave state, in spite of the Free State men.”

I am looking forward to delving into the dates that discuss the events that followed — in all the permutations and compromises and regrets and triumphs.  And I can’t help but wonder how much of a change anyone could have honestly expected after such a long period of such passionate division.

Snapshot 1862… Civil War inner-family strife takes its aim at Lincoln…

June 11, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

The following snapshot comes from The Crisis, Columbus, Ohio, dated May 7, 1862, which printed the death report of Abraham Lincoln’s brother-in-law, and includes considerable Lincoln-directed angst.

 

Snapshot 1864… Washington and Lincoln for President…

August 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The following snapshot comes from the New York Tribune, November 11, 1864…

 

Political bias no stranger to today’s newspapers…

October 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It seems the polarizing of day’s media is greater than ever, but it is certainly nothing new under the sun. Practically since the creation of the first newspaper political opinion was a focus the publisher, supporting or opposing the efforts of those in power. And as popular as we view Abraham Lincoln today (he consistently ranks among the top three in scholarly polls) he was not liked by all during his time in office.

The World” newspaper from New York City was the leading democratic organ at the time, while Lincoln was a Republican. In their issue of March 6, 1865 which reported his inauguration & inaugural address the editorial page contained at least two biting commentaries.  One includes in part: “It is with a blush of shame and wounded price, as American citizens, that we lay before our readers to-day the inaugural address of President Lincoln…But we cannot hide the dishonor done to the country we love by withholding these documents from publication…The pity of it…that the life of this Chief Magistrate should be made precious to us by the thought that he at least excludes from the most august station in the land the person who defiled our chief council chamber on Saturday with the spewings of a drunken boor…”.

The other can be seen in the photos.

The best of the best from the mouth and/or hand of Abraham Lincoln…

September 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

What is Abraham Lincoln’s most noteworthy speech, proclamation, letter, etc.? The Emancipation Proclamation? His Thanksgiving Proclamation or proclamation for a National Fast Day? Perhaps it was his 1862 Annual Message to Congress, his 2nd Inaugural Address, or his last public address in 1865? Of course the “go to” answer is often what we now refer to as The Gettysburg Address. The choices are almost endless. However, below is a candidate which appeared in an issue of The Crisis (Columbus, Ohio, May 4, 1864) I’d like to throw into the mix. Why it flies under the radar of notoriety and has never received more recognition is rather perplexing. What are your thoughts? Note: I’d like to thank a friend of Rare & Early Newspapers for suggesting I take a 2nd look.

Fake Lincoln Proclamation… An attempt to profit in the gold market…

July 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Boston Daily Courier” of May 19, 1864, contains a fascinating sidebar in American history, the printing of a “fake” Lincoln Proclamation which appeared in two New York newspapers but was ultimately determined to be bogus. The “proclamation” is prefaced with a cautioning statement: “The document which made its appearance yesterday, purporting to be a proclamation of President Lincoln, is copied for the information of our readers:”, then the full text (see below).
This was a scheme by Joseph Howard, a newspaper journalist and a bit of a prankster throughout his career. Howard and an acquaintance had hoped to make a profit on declining gold prices if news from the front was bad. They acquired the stationery and other items necessary to make it look as if a story had come in on the wires to the headquarters of the Associated Press of New York, the clearing house for official wire stories coming from Washington. They forged the Proclamation from the president, which called for the drafting of an additional 400,000 soldiers, obvious evidence the war wasn’t going well. It was delivered to the offices of various New Your newspapers. Only two actually published the story but it caused such that Howard was arrested two days after the story appeared and placed in Prison. He was released on Lincoln’s personal order on August 24, 1864.

Discretion was the better part of valor…

January 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Wounds from the Civil War were still very fresh in the hearts & minds of the Southerners in the months after the Civil War, and perhaps sensitivities were no more acute than among the residents of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy up to the closing days of the war.

blog-11-14-2016-richmond-timesWith this in mind, a new newspaper was begun in the city of Richmond during the closing day of April, 1865, the same month the capital fell to the Yankees. The newspaper was announced in the April 20 issue of the “Richmond Whig”, the announcement headed: “A New Morning Paper – The Richmond Times” and the text including: “…The paper will be under the exclusive editorial charge & control of Mr. H. Rives Pollard, late of the Richmond Examiner, and the first number will appear on Friday…will be devoted to the honor and interest of Virginia…For the present at least–until Virginia shall have emerged from the existing chaos and confusion–the Times will studiously refrain from all editorial comment & will be devoted exclusively to the news of the day. It must be obvious to every reflecting mind that the present is no time for editorial comment or stricture, and that it would only serve to fan the flame of excitement…”.

It is nice to read that there was compassion among the victorious Yankees as the occupied Richmond. There were certainly options that could only have hurt the cause of reunion, but the publisher wisely opted to consider discretion as the better part of valor.

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