Juneteenth Revisited – “The rest of the story”…

June 27, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Roughly a week ago we were observing the most recent addition to our list of Federal Holidays: Juneteenth, which commemorates the day when Union troops marched into Galveston, Texas and Major General Gordon Granger informed the people of Texas that all enslaved people were now free. His General Order (No. 3) stated: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free…”. However, what is that at the end? Dot, dot, dot? There’s more?

His full order reads as follows: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” In other words, “You are free, but if you think the government is going to support you if you leave your new ’employer’, think again.” For many, this would be analogous to someone who was bound, kidnapped, and being transported by airplane to some horrible location having their bindings removed and told they were welcome to leave any time they want (albeit, at 10,000 feet without a parachute). While this Order is quite historic, and the day does deserve to be celebrated, there is a whiff of Hotel California in the air: “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

Am I exaggerating – misrepresenting the circumstances? One might think so, but an article I recently discovered within a July 16, 1865 issue of The New York Times which printed a follow-up Order by General Granger given approximately one week later begs to differ:

Even when granted with good intentions, freedom needs to be embraced – and the “doing so” is often fraught with hardship. However, while the struggle continues, taking time to celebrate this momentous occasion (along with the many victories which have occurred since June 19, 1865) is worthy of our unified, citizen-wide efforts – regardless of our racial, social, political, religious or economic differences. The intrinsic hope of “We The People!” must ever be before us.

A woodcut masthead is worth a thousand words… Slavery…

May 16, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

A few weeks back my favorite person posted: Take a Closer Look … The Delicate Details of Woodcut Prints… 

Such prints are truly amazing. However, as is the case with (most?) works of art, to some degree they tell a story. One such story is that of “Slavery – The Cry for Emancipation”, as told through the masthead of The Liberator. While we have many historic newspapers containing articles chronicling the path from the horrors of slavery, through emancipation, then on to suffrage and beyond, few rival what is communicated through this most-amazing, intricate, illustration which was present at the top of nearly every issue. At a distance its beauty speaks to the eyes, but a close-up view shouts to the heart: ENOUGH!

See for yourself:

Snapshot 1879 – A former slave’s trek from bondage to bounty…

January 24, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

As I was reading interesting articles regarding Mormons, Frederick Douglass, and other news of the day in a January 19, 1879 issue of The New York Times, a somewhat nondescript heading caught my attention: “A COLORED MAN’S HISTORY”. Knowing (second-hand at best) a bit about the struggles of being Black during this post-Slavery era of American history, I was quite surprised by what I read. His trek was certainly not the norm, and it in no way negates the horrors experienced by far too many who had once been in bondage, however, I could not help but be inspired by the brief account of his life. Please enjoy.

Snapshot 1864… Confederacy’s fight – for independence or slavery?

December 20, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

In grade school back in the 1960’s/1970’s I was taught that the Civil War was fought between the Northern (Yankee) States who wanted to free the slaves and the Southern States (Confederates) who wanted to keep the slaves in bondage. Bad Southerners! Perhaps if I had been born in The South my education would have been bent in a different direction, but through my teenage years I assumed this was the accepted “truth”. When I moved on to college… and then graduate school, my assumption of such a simplistic view was challenged by my enlightened (now I think they would be called “woke”) professors who informed me of the true reason: The Southern States merely wanted to exercise their right to self-government (i.e., “State’s Rights”)… to not be controlled by a federal government whose reigns were largely in the hands of the Northern States and their own interests… the right to separate (succeed)., while the Northern States wanted nothing more than to preserve The Union (largely for selfish reasons). Bad Northerners!

Of course I now know the reasons were varied and complex, but by far the most important result was in fact the Emancipation of enslaved blacks. After all, how could “We The People” possibly stand the test of time without embracing (to the core) the self-evident truth that “all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”?

However, I digress. Circling back to the divergent views I was taught…

As I was perusing a Sacramento Daily Union (Nov. 3, 1864), the heading of a front-page article caught my attention: “The New Agitation in the South – Slavery as Well as Separation the Ultimate Object of the Rebellion”. It turns out that while revising history to meet a specific narrative may be the order of the day, the historical perspective regarding this particle issue may not be a victim of these Orwellian efforts.  The article (in full) is as follows:

 

 

 

 

A Thankful Heart from the Mouth of Babes…

September 20, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes an image perfectly captures an emotion or a moment in time. Sometimes that moment is in the present but sometimes it won’t be noticed for decades. Recently, as I was putting together issues for one of our collectors, I came across an image on the front of a Harper’s Weekly dated January 4, 1902 which was that perfect snapshot. Our culture seems to have gotten murky and a bit hard to decipher at times., but on the front of the photo of a little boy captured the simplicity of his life. He was thankful for a man who had sacrificed greatly to make his life better. Perhaps, as a way to cut through the muck and mire of our time, a thankful heart is just what our culture… what we… what I need.

I’m New Here: Week Forty…

December 6, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

At the start of this week, I was a bit hard-pressed to think of something new I learned.  Winter dramatically closed the Thanksgiving celebrations in our part of the world, and I spent two days trying to determine the best window for travel within two storm systems.  Consequently, I arrived halfway through the day Monday and have been scrambling to catch up with the December crush of orders ever since.  Yesterday I decided that this was a good time to reflect on all the things that have become old hat to me, and how much I enjoy the rhythm of this world of old newspapers and the folks that value and collect them.  However, the end of the day brought home a new lesson.

A quick search of the internet archive yields a total of 1,355 works that are about Harriet Tubman.  Many titles are children’s books, by which young people have learned of Tubman’s many missions to liberate somewhere between 70 and 300 slaves, with heroic disregard for her own precarious freedom.  Her name is closely associated with the Underground Railroad, and she is credited with the altered route into Canada in response to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.

And yet.

This week we discovered a report of her death in “The Omaha Bee” for March 11, 1913, out of Nebraska.  It is outrageously brief, and bewilderingly sparse in its acknowledgement of the North American 1800’s “Moses”.

The following is what Tim wrote for an upcoming catalog listing:

Page 3 has a somewhat inconspicuous report on the near death of the famed Harriet Tubman.
The report is headed: “Aged Negress Friend Of Abraham Lincoln Dying” and reads: “Harriett Tubman, a colored woman 95 years old, who is said to be a friend of Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward, and who was associated with John Brown in anti-slavery work, is dying here of pneumonia.
A curiously brief report giving her extraordinary life. A notable that of the many volumes of newspapers in our inventory this is the only report of her death (or nearly so) that we could find.

The new thing I learned this week is that a newspaper can only report on things to which the editorial staff is paying attention, or finding noteworthy.  This seems more than a bit disconcerting, but then again I may have had too many Thanksgiving treats.

They Put It In Print… Black Americana……

February 25, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Few nations can boast of a peaceful trek from being a slave state (at least in part) to the enslaved people-group holding the highest position in the very land that had once enslaved their ancestors. Whereas there is still much work to be done, the United States’ governmental structure allows, and even promotes such progress. Since much of these historic events were put in print, the link below is able to provide a chronology of many of the highlights of this amazing, albeit bumpy road. Since the link only provides a snapshot of each issue’s content, in order to view the related coverage you may need to click on the item number of several in order to view the item’s full description.

BLACK AMERICANA (and more)

Note: While perusing the issues shown in the link above, one might wonder why a link to a chronology of “Black Americana” issues includes those from outside the United States. Answer? Life rarely happens in a vacuum – and this is equally true with the trek shown above. Both the related tragedies, atrocities,  and eventual progress which transpired outside the U.S. were often foundational in the thinking of those within. As a result, they have been included.

The aftermath of the Civil War… July, 1865

July 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-7-3-2015-ConspiratorsWhat news was reported in July, 1865 – 150 years ago? The horrors of the Civil War were now in the past, but the emotions and sorrow of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln were still fresh. Where would the nation go from here? How would we move forward? Was unity possible?
Such a walk back in time through the eyes of those who read the daily and weekly newspapers of the period can be quite revealing. This is why we often say, “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.” The following link will take you back in time to show the available newspapers from the Rare & Early newspapers website. There’s no need to buy a thing. Simply enjoy the walk back in time:

July, 1865

A sampling of what you will find may include articles and info regarding: The end of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the hanging of the Lincoln assassination “conspirators”, the capture of Kirby Smith, P.T. Barnum’s tragic fire, the emancipation of slaves, the return to a degree of normalcy as shown through interest in post-war sports (baseball and others), and more. Please enjoy your travel into the past as you browse through the currently available original newspapers!

You’re Now Free – so get to work and don’t expect help!

November 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Major General Granger’s General Order #3, which appeared in the July 25, 1865 issue of Flake’s Daily Bulletin, provides contrasting news for the newly freed slaves. Good News: You are now free!  Bad News: Get to work and don’t come crying for help! I wonder how we would handle this same situation if it were to happen today???Blog-10-27-2014-General-Order-No-3-Granger

The Traveler… The Emancipation… the last look… and today…

January 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

This week I traveled 150 years back in time and through the activities of the Civil War via the Harper’s Weekly dated January 24, 1863. This issue contains a double-page illustration by Thomas Nast entitled “The Emancipation of the Negroes, January, 1863 – The Past and The Future.” Mr. Nast shows their present life in the center circle, of a happy home including a picture of President Lincoln hanging on the wall. The illustrations to the left show obstacles they had to endure — being sold at auctions and separated from loved ones, beatings, and being chased (if running away). The illustrations to the right show what they are looking to in the future with the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation — owning a home, children going to public school, being treated fairly by the employer and being paid for working.

This illustration has an accompanying article that describes the illustration and also includes text from the Tribune of March 11, 1859, which dealt with the largest single sale of humans (slaves) in the United States. Mr. Pierce M. Butler of a city near Savannah, Georgia, sold 486 slaves — men, women and children — to pay his debts. This gives a prospective of what the slaves had to endure as they were being separated from each other as family members and long term friends.

As a contrast , this issue also presents a look into the past with an illustration and small article, “A Slave-Pen at New Orleans – Before the Auction. A Sketch of the Past.”

Today we also celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Let us all remember his famous words… “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty we are free at last.

~The Traveler

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