The Traveler… “Don’t give up the ship”…

October 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I journeyed to Baltimore, Maryland, through The Weekly Register (dated October 9, 1813).  As Commodore Perry commenced battle on Lake Erie, he raised a flag with the infamous words “Don’t give up the ship” on it. “…They speak of the battle as being one of the hottest ever fought…” (see below).

In the report of the Battle on Lake Ontario, Commodore Chauncey references the news of the battle on Lake Erie. “…There is a report here, and generally believed, that Capt. Perry has captured the whole of the enemy’s fleet on lake Erie. If this should prove true in all its details (and God grant that it may) he has immortalised himself and not disappointed the high expectations formed of his talents and bravery…”

~The Traveler

The Traveler… deaths of General Pike and Major Stoddard… recruiting…

June 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I traveled to Hartford, Connecticut by the way of the American Mercury dated June 1, 1813. There I found  an extract of  letter from an officer to his father. He writes from Sacket’s Harbor pertaining to the Battle of York, “We arrived at this place last evening from Niagara. The body of General Pike was with us. He was killed by the explosion of a magazine, on which a vast collection of stones, shots, and other missiles were collected. I was wounded; but, thank God, not dangerously….”.

Also reported in this issue is the Siege of Fort Miegs and the death of Major Stoddard. “…I am sorry to inform you that Major Stoddard died the night before I left the Rapids, of a lock-jaw, produced by a slight wound from a fragment of a shell which struck him on the thigh…”.

The back page of the issue carries a “New Corps Enlisted For One Year!!!” advertisement. This contained a quote from an European political writer “…The Americans are active in their person: they are enterprising; they are brave; and, which is of vast consequence, they are, from education and almost from constitution, SOBER, a virtue not at all less valuable in the Army than it is in domestic life…”.

~The Traveler

Collecting 19th Century… Pre-Civil War… Hidden gems abound…

May 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

An era rich in history… with hidden gems throughout…

Many rare newspaper collectors focus on the more memorable eras of history such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, or World War II. Brief date periods –as war events tend to be—can allow for a more concise collection without becoming unduly large if one concentrates on just the major events.  Consequently, less notable eras often get over-looked without realizing there is a treasure trove of events which are both fascinating and historically significant found in period newspapers, and well within the range of the average collector.

One such era would be the 1800-1860 period which we designate on our website as the “Pre-Civil War Era”. This was a transitional time in American history as the events of the Revolutionary War and the struggles with creating the federal government gave way to a more secure nation and a more independent America as the nation grew in both size and complexity.

This sixty year era offers a great wealth of events which were formative for the American landscape. The century began with continual coverage of the funeral of George Washington who died less than 3 weeks before the new century began. Thomas Jefferson was the first President to be elected in the 19th century and he did not escape the headaches of war, as the “Barbary Wars” fell within his tenure. He also lead the charge for the Louisiana Purchase which more than doubled the size of the nation and would be home, in full or in part, for 15 new states that would eventually join the Union. Newspaper reports on the Lewis & Clark Expedition were few and far between, but finding even brief mentions in a period newspaper can be quite a thrill.

As the country grew a wealth of notable events transpired & were noted in newspapers of the day. Presidential elections and inauguration are always popular, and there were many in this era: Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, and of course Lincoln, who was elected in this era, but would be inaugurated in the “Civil War Era”, a fascinating chapter of American history onto itself. For those who like to have :complete” collections, finding every election and inauguration is  a doable quest.

The War of 1812 falls within this era and provides an opportunity for a sizable and notable collection on its own, from the declaration of War to the many naval battles, the attacks on Baltimore & Washington, the significant battle of New Orleans, and the treaty which ended the war. Collectors like that war events typically allow for collection “bookends” (war declaration and treaty of peace), between which they can become as focused as their budget will allow in collecting the major events.

The slavery issue would remain a stain on the American fabric during this era, with events such as the Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner insurrections, and the more notable John Brown raid at Harper’s Ferry, as lead-ins to the Civil War. Abolitionist newspapers would be created, including the Liberator & the Emancipator among others, and names such as Frederick Douglass, Dred Scot, and William Lloyd Garrison would make their marks in American history forever. And it was very much a political issue as well with the Missouri Compromise being just one of several federal decisions which had slavery as a basis. Relations with the Native Americans were troubling also, with the Seminole War, the “Trail of Tears”, and the many broken treaties commonly reported in newspapers of the day.

The Texas Revolution of 1835-1836 has a spice of historical romance similar to the events of the Old West, as both were dramatized in movies. The memorable Battle of the Alamo (starring John Wayne on the big screen) and its fiercely heroic soldiers & citizens, who knowingly faced death to establish the independence of Texas, remains a proud moment in not just Texas but American history. The battles which lead up to that event, and those which followed can be found in newspapers of the day, and mention names we remember from history books including Sam Houston and Davy Crockett.

The Mexican War was another event which resulted in the expansion of the nation with all the major battles reported in newspapers of 1846 to 1848. Just a few years latter attention focused once more on the West with the California Gold Rush and all the romance of a nation heading west to find their fortune. The newspapers reported those thrills, but also reported the struggles & hardships which would befall the many on the trek to the West. Newspapers of the day were more frank than were history books 100 years later.

Westward expansion wasn’t limited to the battle fronts or the quest for gold, as the Missouri River Expedition, The Yellowstone Expedition, the Rocky Mountain exploration, and reports on the Santa Fe Trail were all reported as the adventurous were discovering and creating history—and reported first in newspapers of the day. Such expansion was responsible for states to be created, and reports of statehood for Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois among others were detailed in newspapers, as were reports of changes needed in the United States flag to honor such additions.

The Erie Canal, creation of the cotton gin and the Pony Express were notable events during this period. Famous names were commonly found as their reports were making history & reported in newspapers as such, including the likes of  Daniel Boone, John Jacob Astor, Bolivar, John Jay, Henry Clay, Horace Greeley, and Kit Carson to name but a few. Of special intrigue is finding reports of famous names before they became famous, such as inconspicuous mentions of Abraham Lincoln from 1848 when he was a member of Congress, or Jefferson Davis from 1833, nearly 30 years before becoming President of the Confederacy.

Judaica interest, reports of pirates, the Black Hawk Indian War, runaway slaves, William Henry Harrison’s one month Presidency, and the earliest reports of the Mormons and the journey across the country provide fascinating reading in newspapers of the pre-Civil War era.  The Monroe Doctrine is just one of an endless list of historical documents and landmark Supreme Court decisions which were reported in newspapers of the day. Early newspapers from Hawaii, Florida, and Kentucky among others, more commonly found after the 1870’s  are a special treat when found before the Civil War. And more than American history found their way into American newspapers. The Battle of Waterloo and the other Napoleonic Wars with mention of Buonaparte, Wellington and other key European figures put world history into perspective when such reports are found alongside notable events in American history.

If capturing history in the pages of the nation’s newspapers is your hobby, certainly there is much from the 1800 – 1860 period to excite any historical hobbyist. Do not overlook this fascinating era in the growth & development of the United States of America.

The War of 1812… through contemporary newspapers and more…

May 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Rare & original newspapers have always been an excellent resource for capturing the context, contemporary response, and details of historic events. This truth was brought home recently via Todd Andrlik’s, “Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News“. Moving slightly into the future, Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (retired) George W. Emery does the same in his work, “In Their Own Words – The Navy Fights The War Of 1812“. Yet again we are reminded that “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.” Additional details worth exploring may be found at:

In Their Own Words: A New Look at the Naval War of 1812

Thanks for this latest contribution which brings the past into the present through the eyes of those who experienced the War of 1812 first-hand.

The Traveler… three cheers…

April 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, through the Independent Chronicle dated April 22, 1813. There I found Commodore Bainbridge was addressing the sailors of the Constitution as they had been invited to the Theatre. “Sailors, In the action with the Java you shewed yourselves men. You are this ev’ng invited to partake of the amusements of the Theatre. Conduct yourselves well… Let the correctness of your conduct equal your bravery, and I shall have additional cause to speak of you in terms of approbation.” He then informed them that on Monday morning,  “pay to them the prize money in consideration of their good conduct in the actions with the Guerriere and Java. The crew received the information with great satisfaction, and gave the Commodore three cheers.”

The article has a concluding paragraph from a correspondent who had observed the attendance of the sailors and the comments to their appearance and behavior.

Blessed are the feet of those who bring good news – for a change.

Regarding the remainder of the issue, I wonder if James Madison suffered from writing cramps after all his signing???

~The Traveler

The Traveler… USS Constitution defeats HMS Java… River Raisin…

February 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

This week I traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by way of the Aurora dated February 19, 1813. Here I found the report of “Another Naval Victory!” being reported “… On the 29th of December, off St. Salvadore, the Constitution, capt. Bainbridge, fell in with the British frigate Java, of 38 guns (mounting 49) and 400 men. After an action of one hour and forty-five minutes, the Java struck, with the loss of 60 killed and 170 wounded. The Constitution had 9 killed and 25 wounded… The Java was so much damaged in action, that it was deemed impossible to fetch her in, and by order of captain Bainbridge she was burnt…”.

Also in this issue was the report of the battle at river Raisin, including the killing (scalping) of General Winchester and the further mutilation of his body. It is so hard to imagine what they went through in those battles. So much for nostalgia.

~The Traveler

The Traveler… Captain Hull honored…

January 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I traveled to Hartford, Connecticut by way of the American Mercury, January 6, 1813. There I found that Isaac Hull, commander of the United States frigate Constitution, was being honored in New York City. He was being presented the  freedom of the city “…for his gallantry in capturing the British frigate Guerriere…”. He was presented with a gold box, richly set with emeralds, representing the action between the two frigates, and the arms of the city. Mr. Clinton delivered the speech, Captain Hull replied to the address and “…on descending the steps from the Hall was greeted with three cheers as a brave and faithful public servant whom all ‘the people delight to honor.'”

Also in this issue are several military recruitment advertisements, one which is illustrated for the Dragoons.

~The Traveler

The Traveler…Frigate President makes a capture… newspaper proposal…

November 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I traveled through Boston, Massachusetts, by way of the Independent Chronicle dated November 19, 1812, where I found an Official report from John Rodgers. The U. S. Frigate President had captured the British Packet Swallow and the rank of the commander of the vessel being the master and commander in the navy. “… She had no cargo in, except eighty-one boxes of gold and silver, amounting to between one hundred and fifty and two hundred thousand dollars…”. I would say that was a pretty nice cargo!

Also within the issue was the proposal of a new newspaper, that being the Baltimore Patriot. In slightly less than two years, this publication would be the first newspaper to publish The Star-Spangled Banner on September 20, 1814 (Note: Just for an FYI, it appeared within a week in a Washington, DC paper as well).

~The Traveler

Identifying newspaper reprints… a collector’s story…

October 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

We recently received an e-mail from a collector who informed us that she had used information from the Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers website which enable her to identify (unfortunately) that an issue she had obtained (Baltimore Patriot & Weekly Advertiser, September 20, 1814) was a reprint.  While disappointed, she decided to post her experience on the web to help educate (and protect) others.  Rather than us tell her story, please allow her to share her experience in her own words:  OH MY GOSH…I FOUND A REAL TREASURE!

The Traveler… Surrender of Detroit… New Orleans takes a blow…

September 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

This week I am traveling through Boston, Massachusetts, via the Columbian Centinel dated September 26, 1812, where I found the reporting on the “Surrender of Detroit” and “Gen. Hull’s Official Account”. The Surrender report is a “Letter of Col. Cass, of the army late under the command of Brigadier-General Wm. Hull, to the Secretary of War…”. Gen. Hull’s report includes “…The surrender of Michilimackinae opened the northern-hive of Indians and they were swarming down in every direction… the Wyandots, Chippewas, Ottawas, Pottawatamies, Munsess, Delawares, etc. with whom I had the most friendly intercourse, at once passed over to Ameherstburg, and accepted the tomahawk and scalping knife…” “…On the evening of the 7th and morning of the 8th inst. the army… recrossed the river, and encamped at Detroit… Nothing, however, but honor was acquired by this victory; and it is painful consideration, that the blood of 75 galiant men could only open the communication as far as the points of their bayonets extended…  On the 15th, I received a summons from him to surrender fort Detroit, of which the paper marked A is a copy. My answer is marked B… On the 15th, as soon as Gen. Brock received my letter, his batteries opened on the town and fort, and continued until evening… It now became necessary either to fight the enemy in the field; collect the whole force in the fort; or propose terms of capitulation… I feared nothing but the last alternative…” and more.

There is also an article pertaining to New Orleans. It seems that what may had previously been reported in earlier newspapers as a tornado hitting the city is now being reported as “…one of the seven year hurricanes of that country — but its effects were more destructive than any of the preceding ones…” . The article continues with further information on the destruction in the city, ships, surrounding areas and loss of lives.

~The Traveler

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