Northern Images of the South at War's End

Page Overview: As the war came to a close, there was outrage in the North over the treatment Union soldiers had received at Andersonville and other prisoners, and many people called on the government to severely punish the former secessionists. However, the devastation visited upon the South in the closing months of the war by Sherman's march and the fall and burning of major cities led some in the North to begin to see their former foes in sentimental terms. Images of smoking Southern ruins published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper were typically accompanied by commentaries that suggested that the secessionists had already paid a heavy price for their transgressions. Viewing the South in a sentimental light made it possible for the North to create a script for reconciliation that still promoted a spirit of triumphalism but translated it into culturally-acceptable terms. In the images and texts below, the South is represented as a ruined but chastened "sister," while the North is represented as a force for culture and benevolence ready to raise up the prodigal.

Click on any link in the summary above to go directly to a discussion of that topic.


A Vision of a South Deserving of Punishment



Wilmington, N.C.
A Mournful Spectacle.

We need not call attention to the appalling spectacle our Artist has depicted on page 49, with sickening fidelity. We shall not dwell on a theme so repugnant to every American—the charitable supposition is that the cruel treatment our brave boys met with at the hands of their brutal captors was the result of Southern destitution, although Helper, in his searching book called the “Impending Crisis,” says that “Slavery has so debased, degraded, and brutalised the Southern mind as to leave it scarcely the attribute of a responsible humanity.” It is impossible to contemplate such frightful scenes as many of those already published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, without silently acquiescing in his opinion.

The group our Artist has drawn, represents a squad of re-captured Union soldiers, who were found in a prison-pen about 12 miles from Wilmington. Of this wretched group three had become idiots from sheer horror and destitution—while all of them looked more like skeletons than living men. Among this awful band our Artist found one of his old schoolmates—but so changed in three years that he was barely recognisable. They had been formerly confined in Millen, but as Sherman’s giant tread shook the rebel heart, thesse unhappy haptives had been dragged from one hell to another, till death or idiotsy came to their relief. Let us hope that no irrational or imbecile haste to close the war will induce President Lincoln to wave the and of oblivion over the heads of the chief offenders in this worst of all possible crfimes, a rebellion against Right and Justice.

--"A Mournful Spectacle," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, April 15, 1865, image page 49, text page 55




Reconstructing the Cultural Contexts of Reconstruction:
Sentimentality as a Way of Seeing


When Northern readers opened their copies of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper in order to read about the progress of the war, they saw more than just information about battles.

The front page of Frank Leslie's usually included a large image depicting a recent noteworthy political or military event and a feature story on the same subject or another issue of importance. For example, the cover of the April 22, 1865 edition featured a picture of Lincoln being cheered by African-Americans as he visits the recently captured city of Richmond, and includes an article entitled "The Death Blow of the Rebellion."

After catching up on the war news and other matters of national importance on the first two inside pages, the reader would have opened to pages four and five, which had a different type of layout and content. The fourth page was typically devoted to a large picture; during the war years this was almost always an illustration of a battle or troops. As the war ended, the illustrations usually offered views of the devastation in the South.

The facing page usually included some smaller pictures--sometimes related to the larger one--and sentimental poetry and fiction, usually with accompanying illustrations.

The drawing to the left appeared in Frank Leslie's on June 24, 1865 to accompany the story, "A Modern Cinderella."

Thus, directly facing the images of the ruins of war would be sentimental images of orphaned children or women in need. Did the readers bring different sensibilities to the way they responded to the pictures and stories about the war and the way they responded to the sentimental stories, poems, and pictures?


The sentimental has been described by Laura Noble as a means of bringing about "political transformation through feelings." Shirley Samuels has described the sentimental as "a set of cultural practices designed to evoke a certain form of emotional response, usually empathy, in the reader or viewer." Both of these commentators analyse the way that sentimental literature was used by abolitionists to forge a bond between white readers and the slaves who were the subjects of the writing. However, in the Frank Leslie's stories and illustrations depicting the ruined south, one sees and hears echoes of the sentimental.



A Vision of a Hungry, Ruined and Chastened South


They tell of naked human beings curling down by the side of their once prosperous and comfortable homes, now reduced to nothing save the roots of an old brick chimney; or, sleeping in sheds sometimes, and eating only what they can beg, steal, or pick up.

--American Union Commission, The American Union Commission: Its Origin, Operations and Purposes, 1865


"May we not infer that it is a rebuke of Divine Providence against a proud and imperious class when we see that their city was entered by colored troops?"



A Gothic Vision of Southern Ruins (and Savage Blacks?)




The panoramic sketch we publish to-day of Charleston is the most eloquent sermon against rebellion ever preached. Our Artist says:

"My sketch is taken from the top of the Mills House, looking N.N.W., up Meeting street. This is the best locality from which to view the burned district. The fire occurred Dec. 13, 1861, and the burned district remains in its charred and desolate state. On the lower right hand corner of the picture are the ruins of the South Carolina Institute, in which the Act of Secession was passed. Next to that, on the extreme right, is St. Phillip's church, whose tall white spire stands amid the ruins, and desolation around it, like some mammoth sepulchral sentinel. In the rear of this church is stationed the new Custom-House, which is yet unfinished. On the right side of the city flows the Cooper river, while the Ashley river bounds it on the left. I have seldom looked upon a more dismal sight than Charleston is now. We must at least give its citizens credit for the fortitutde with which they have endured their siege, for most certainly our officers were not aware of one-half the damage our fire had inflictd."

French Huguenot Churchyard.

The sketch we present showing the effect of our shelling upon the churchyard of the French Huguenots in Church street, will give our readers a correct idea of how far-reaching our missiles were. It speaks for itself.

Interior of State Bank of South Carolina.

Our Artist found this once wealthy bank in ruins, the furniture destroyed, the wlls disfigured by our shells, and the literary matter of the establishment, as cheques, and blanks of various kinds, given over to the cunning artificers of rats' nests and crows' nests. The confederate credit is very fairly indicated by our picture of the bank at Charleston.

EGYPTIAN TROOPS.--There is a batalion of Egyptian troops serving with the French army in Mexico. This corps is composed of 600 volunteers and was offered by the Viceroy of Egypt to the Emperor Napoleon to take part int he rude warfare in Mexico. These terrible black soldiers speak neither French nor Mexican. They only obey their own officers, but their discipline is marvellous. They are cruel towards the guerillas, whom they tie to trees, and whose heads and hands they cut off, and whom they kill with yatagans in reprisal for the death of one of their comrades, who was surprised at Chicqueille, and was cut in pieces, and scattered about their camp by the guerillas. This cruel act has excited the rage of the black soldiers, and furnishes the explanation, if not the excuse, for their conduct. They are on detached service in the hotter regions, and they occupy a position in the shape of a large crescent. At the least sound of alarm they turn out as sharpshooters, and advance bravely, even if it is one against 50. They are as active as panthers, nothing checks them, neither thickets, ravines, nor the escarpments of mountains, nor works constructed by military science. In an incredibly short time they will cover the astonishing distance of 15 leagues without halting. They are faithful to their Mahometan creed, and never drink fermented liquors. They have been extremely obliging, towards the French army, and have done the most laborious fatigue work, such as pitching tents, cutting wood for fuel, and brining water from long distances for the camp.

--Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1866



"Before Secession, After Secession:
The South as Secession Found It, The South as Secession Leaves It,"
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
, December 12, 1863, 183

A larger version of this graphic can be found here, or you can see larger versions of the individual images by clicking on the relevent portion of the picture.

The two-page spread "Before Secession, After Secession" contrasts images of a pre-war south in which slaves work efficiently to help bring cotton to market and dance happily and socialize in their free timewith a post-war south in which desperate looking white parents clutch at their children and look back mournfully as flames engulf their home.

The images in the center of the engraving contrast the refined life of the plantation of pre-war days with the smoking ruins of later times, while other images in the border illustrate the violence of war and the sadness left in its wake.

By focusing attention on the homeless family immediately to the left, and on the woman and children clinging desperately to their husband and father as he is unwillingly led away by the Confederate army to fight in the war, this and similar illustrtions use traditional sentimental devices to provoke pity for Southerners.


"At the Eleventh Hour We Came to Forgive and Restore"

Our large engraving is no merely ideal picture--it is the ilustration of a sad story which is told in the words of our artist, whose words are copied below. It is only one of the ten thousand sad and sorrowful stories of private ruin which this accursed war has brought upon the people of the unhappy South.

In our picture, besides the main incident, are shown the advancing Union army--the rebel officer inducing the old man's sons to leave their home--the battle wherein they are killed--the black and desolate night after the battle, etc.

--from "The Penalties of Treason," The New-York Illustrated News, June 14, 1862, 91


A Vision of an Ignorant South--And an Educated North


 Freedmen versus Southern Whites

In natural tact and the faculty of getting a livelihood the contrabands are inferior to the Yankees, but quite equal to the mass of the Southern population. It is not easy to see why they would be less industrious, if free, than the whites, particularly as they would have the encouragement of wages. There would be transient difficulties at the outset, but no more than a bad system lasting for ages might be expected to leave behind. The first generation might be unfitted for the active duties and responsibilities of citizenship; but this difficulty, under generous provisions for education, would not pass to the next. Even now they are not so much behind the masses of the whites. Of the Virginians who took the oath of allegiance at Hampton, not more than one in fifteen could write his name, and the rolls captured at Hatteras disclose an equally deplorable ignorance. The contrabands might be less addicted than the now dominant race to bowie-knives and duels, think less of the value of bludgeons as forensic arguments, be less inhospitable to innocent sojourners from Free States, and have far inferior skill in robbing forts and arsenals, plundering the Treasury, and betraying the country at whose crib they had fattened; but mankind would forgive them for not acquiring these accomplishments of modern treason. As a race, they may be less vigorous and thrifty than the Saxon, but they are more social, docile, and affectionate, fulfilling the theory which Channing held in relation to them, if advanced to freedom and civilization.

--Edward L. Pierce, "The Contrabands at Fortress Monroe," Atlantic Monthly, November, 1861

THE thrift, industry, and general prosperity exhibited by the colored freedmen in many-quarters of the South, during the last three or four years, have surprised many. It is beginning to be seen that it is not the poor blacks but the poor whites whose disinclination to labor, whose ignorance and degradation, bid fair to unfit them for universal freedom.

--"The Freed Colored People," The Freedmen's Record, October, 1865.

All well and flourishing at the Laboratory, where the Stars and Stripes are now thrown to the breeze every morning at sunrise. The little "secesh" who left "the white school" in disgust when the flag first went up, has not yet been reconstructed, and so remains at home in his  ignorance, " a true son of Virginia."

--Bessie L. Canedy, "Extracts from Teachers' Letters," The Freedmen's Record, February, 1866.



A Vision of a Hungry South and a Benevolent North



"Sowing and Reaping. Southern Women Hounding Their Men on to Rebellion. Southern Women Feeling the Effects of Rebellion and Creating Bread Riots," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, May 23, 1863, 141


"The War in Virginia--Farmer's Families On Their Way to the Union Commissioners for Food.--From a Sketch by Our Special Artist." Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Nov. 28, 1863, 152


On Their Way to Union Commissioners for Food.

The people of the North first heard of the rebel families applying to Government commissaries near Vicksburg, but this was not an isolated case. With desolation is the land made desolate on all the borders of those ill-starred States. The pictures of Western families showed still a bravery of mien and attire; but Virginia has been so crushed and impoverished by war that to reach the distant post where they hope to get food, the families harness up their ill-fed oxen to a cart and make their way as best they may, showing in their equipage, attire and countenance the poverty and misery of the land. Two of the three great evils that men implore the Almighty to ward off—war and famine are upon them; if pestilence too joins them and stalks through the land, the desolation will be unparalleled. And yet these people, defiant and rebellious, are fed by our Government which they hate and despise, at the very moment when they are murdering by starvation and brutality our unfortunate soldiers that fall into their hands.

--"Virginia Farmer Families on Their Way to Union Commissioners for Food," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Nov. 28, 1863, 155




"Richmond Refugees on Board the United States Sanitary Commission Boat, at City Point, Virginia.--Sketched by J. R. Hamilton.--[See Page 700,] Harpers Weekly, October 29, 1864, 701. Text (below): "Refugees at City Point, Harpers Weekly, October 29, 1864, 700

As our military lines draw closer each day around the doomed cities of Richmond and Petersburg, the effect is seen not only in the number of deserters from the rebel army, but in the quantity of refugees that come into our lines, glad of any opportunity of escape from the horrible scenes of desolation hitherto surrounding them.

We give on page 701 a representation of the interior of the United States Sanitary Commission Boat at City Point, Virginia, at a time when a number of these refugees from Richmond are availing

themselves of its hospitable shelter. In speaking of them our artist says : "The people here represented appear to belong to two distinct classes. One family seemed to be of what is known as the 'poor whites' in the South ; the other family, if not exactly belonging to the `Chivalry,' were evidently of a different and higher class. While they were staying on board, previous to their departure North, and during which time they received every atten-

tion and kindly consideration not only from the officials of the United States Sanitary Commission, but from all who came in contact with them, many opportunities were afforded for eliciting their opinions respecting the state of things between North and South.

" The only man among them the head of the family, represented in the extreme back groundwas apparently a simple hearted, ignorant fellow, who was inclined to be very communicative, and who seemed never to have entertained any ill feeling toward our section — content if people would only allow him to cultivate his little patch of ground in peace and safety. The women through-out, however, and even the little children — doubtless well taught hitherto to look upon the Yankees as a set of bugaboos — were surrounded, seemingly at any rate, by an air of restraint and haughty dependence, as if they were as much hurt as pleased by the kindnesses showered upon them. When the man was asked by a by stander what object he had in coming North, and if he would not have preferred staying South, one of the young women replied for him, in a rather pert manner: 'The only thing I came away for was them nasty guns you kept firing !' When asked again what notion they had of the Yankees before they saw them, the same young woman replied : We thought you was coming to kill us all and use us bad.' Some one said : `How could you imagine such a thing?' to which she replied : ` How could we know any better? every body said so!"

"Not one in this family, confessedly, could read or write, except the man, who said he could read `print' a little. The women and children had all very nice and regular features, and your artist must not think that the pipes I have put in the mouths of some of the former is a matter of fancy. All the women smoked, and common clay pipes were to be seen sticking out of lips far too pretty for such occupation.

"Whatever these people may have originally thought of the North and its inhabitants, it is evident that they are now becoming but too glad to exchange for a hideous life in the South the chance of pursuing their future career among us as independent free men and women, even though the insensate prejudices of a life may still cling to them a little longer. Certainly such treatment as these outcasts received from the United States Sanitary Commission at City Point, and as they will doubtless receive every where else could it only be known among their deluded people would be enough to open the eyes of the most ignorant, and to touch the hearts of the most vindictive among them." As an episode to the picture there is introduced in the foreground the figure of a wounded man, attended by Doctors McDONALD and SWALM, of the United States Sanitary Commission—an extraneous and voluntary work which these gentlemen are not unfrequently called on to perform, in addition to their other multifarious and charitable duties.

Since GRANT'S last movement the number of desertions from the rebel army has greatly increased.



"Slaves Escaping to Wilmington," and "Feeding the Needy at Charleston," Frank Lelie's Illustrated Newspaper, June 17, 1865

Feeding the Needy at Charleston, S. C.

It will ever be a great satisfaction to the North that during the long and sanguinary struggle that we have just passed through, whatever may have been the isolated and exceptional excess of individuals, the conduct of the Government at Washington, and of all the military commanders ahs been dictated by a forbearance which has no parallel in the history of the world. Our Artists have, in their sketches, repeatedly illustrated the fatherly care which Uncle Sam has displayed towards his rebellious and profligate sons of the South. We give to-day an interesting sketch of a scene at the corner of Calhoun and Lucas streets, in Charleston, S.C., where the Federal authorities had established a depot for feeding the needy and destitute enhabitants of that haughty city.

--"Feeding the Needy at Charleston, S. C.," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, June 17, 1865, 205.


There is a distinct contrast between the top and bottom images on the page of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper reproduced directly above.

Although the upper image depicts African-Americans escaping from slavery, the picture might well have had an almost nostalgic air by the time it was published, as slavery had already been abolished. In addition, the people in the picture seem to be a family grouping nestled snugly together in a canoe; according to the acccompanying text, "the mother nurses her small picanninny, the father paddles sturdily along," and together they look forward to "manhood and liberty," and perhaps eventually "citizenship and the vote."

Contrast this with the images of the needy citizens of Charleston frantically pursuing food from Union soldiers. A mother clutches at a young child with one hand while gripping an empty sack with the other. An elderly woman hobbles along on a cane, trying to keep up with the young men nearby who seem nearly to have broken into a run. Bodies are tilted forward, hands are outstretched, faces look desperately ahead or turn backwards to urge loved ones to press on.


"The Wives, Daughters and Servants of the Chivalry of Savannah Accepting Aid from the U. S. Commissary--Street Scene--Sketched by Our Special Artist W. T. Crane," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, February 25, 1865, 364.


The Bazaars of Cake.

It is painful to witness the humiliation of any, more especially those who were once our sisters, and whom we hope soon will be so once more, but if ever God chastened a rebellious people, he has visited our erring brethren. Our sketch represents one of these signal rebukes. It is tantamount to our Astors, Belmonts, Haights, Stevenses, Stewarts and Lorillards turning cake-vendors here to gain a little Confederate scrip. Our Artist says: " I have sent you a sketch of painful but most righteous retribution. It represents a scene of daily occurrences in Savannah. In front of some of the finest residences in the city, whose upper storeys are closed entirely, you will find in the basements elegantly dressed ladles and servants disposing of cakes and other delicacies to our brave boys, who invariably give postal currency and greenbacks for these luxuries, prepared under the superintendence of the fair daughters of chivalry. I could not help saying as I gazed on this curious change in the whirligig of time, 'How are the mighty fallen!' I need not add, that some of these fair cake-vendors are very charming women—also, let me say, they are treated by our gallant boys with the most scrupulous respect." * * *

As a companion picture we give a sketch of the

Arrival of the Rebecca Clyde,

laden with good things from New York for the destitute citizens of Savannah—a, noble, a spontaneous and a cordial gift from a forgiving brother to his prodigal Junior. Having already dwelt upon this in a previous number, we have only to remark, that the value of the provisions and other supplies sent to our Savannah brothers and sisters in the three steamers amounted to considerably over $100,000 There is every reason to believe that the gift was gratefully received. Such acts light up the stern face at war, and stand in silent contrast to the prison horrors of Andersonville and Milken. . . .

The Citizens of Savannah Supplied by the North.

The picture on page 304 is very significant, although it is merely a companion to that of the arrival of the Rebecca Clyde. It represents the systematic distribution of the supplies contributed by the cities of New York and Boston, whose advent, we have already recorded in another sketch. The correspondent of the N.Y. Times thus describes the scene

"A store on the corner of Bay and Barnard streets, near the old stone market, has been taken as the depot. I have passed the entire morning in witnessing the distribution. Stand with me there in imagination, and behold the scene: The air is keen. Ice has formed in the gutters, and some of the jolly young negroes who have shoes to their feet are enjoying the luxurious pastime of a slide. Those who are barefoot cuddle under the sunny side of the buildings. There is a motley crowd in the street, which, in time of the carnival, can exhibit no such spectacle. There are two doors to the store, one on Bay and the other on Barnard street, affording entrance and exit. Several hundred persons of both sexes, all ages, sized, complexions, costumes; gray-haired old men, with canes, with bags, bottles and baskets; old 'Uncle Neds,' who, just before death gives them liberty from hardship and suffering, are made freemen by the mighty; march of events: well-dressed women wearing crape for their husbands and sons, who have fallen while fighting against the old flag, with pale and sunken cheeks, stand there patiently waiting their turn. There are women with tattered dresses—old silks and satins, which years ago were in fashion, which were laid aside, as useless, but which have become valuable through destitution. There are women in linsey-woolsey, demi-white women wearing negro cloth, negro women dressed in gunny cloth; men with Confederate uniforms, men with butternut clothes. There is a boy in a crimson plush jacket, made from what was once the upholstering of a sofa.

There are old men in short jackets, little boys in long ones—the cast off overcoats of soldiers, the rags which have been picked up from garrets—wearing the boots and shoes which have been kicked off and thrown aside, down at the heel, out at the toes, open on the instep. There are old bonnets of every description; some with white and crimson flowers, some with ribbons once bright and flaming, but faded now and worn. There are Shaker bonnets, 'sugar-scoops,' 'coal-scuttles,' hats of every description, size and shape worn by both sexes—woman wearing men's hats of palm-leaf or felt, men wearing battered stove-pipes, felt, slouched and torn, ventilated by accident and not by patent ventilators. There is one which had no crown, worn by a man who has red hair, reminding one of a chimney on fire and flaming out at the top. It is the ragman's fair—rather the ragman's jubilco and day of rejoicing, for Charity, like a kind angel, has suddenly stopped in to word off the wolf which is howling at their doors.

They come with large baskets and bottles, each with a ticket. Thus roads one: 'City Stores, Mary Morrell, 12 lbs. flour, 7 lbs. bacon. 2 qts. vinegar, 2 lbs. salt.'"

--Excerpt from "Sketches in Savannah, GA.," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, February 25, 1865, 361


 One Teacher's Sympathetic View of the South

I have finally decided that the best way to make a person feel kindly toward the Southerners is to send them to the South. Mother, if you were here, you would never utter such bloodthirsty denunciations of Jeff. Davis. It is really terrible to see the desolation, or rather hear of it, for of course I see nothing except the ruin of the city which is bad enough. Just think what a blow it must be to these haughty southerners--their cause lost, their own chance for political distinction gone forever, and they and their families dependent on government for support. It is a fact that numbers of the most aristocratic and wealthy families in South Carolina are actually drawing rice to save themselves from starvation. For my own part I can't help getting infuriated to hear people down here speak of hoping that the rebels will get punished some more; they haven't had half enough;--as if any punishment could be anything to such men as Lee and Davis compared with their present humiliation and despair. I tell people fairly that I dont believe they would have been an atom better if they had had the same temptations, whereupon they regard me with a look of pious horror & depart wondering, I suppose, if Miss Allen has any relations in the rebel army! As for some of the Northerners down here they are fast ruining my disposition and teaching me hypocrisy too.

--Gertrude Allen, Charleston, May 16, 1865


Massachusetts Responds to the South:
A Pre-War and Post-War Version of A "Magnificent Revenge"

"Massachusetts to Virginia,"
John Greenleaf Whittier, 1864

The blast from Freedom's Northern hills, upon its Southern way,
Bears greeting to Virginia from Massachusetts Bay:
No word of haughty challenging, nor battle bugle's peal,
Nor steady tread of marching files, nor clang of horsemen's steel,

No trains of deep-mouthed cannon along our highways go;
Around our silent arsenals untrodden lies the snow;
And to the land-breeze of our ports, upon their errands far,
A thousand sails of commerce swell, but none are spread for war.

We hear thy threats, Virginia! thy stormy words and high
Swell harshly on the Southern winds which melt along our sky;
Yet not one brown, hard hand foregoes its honest labor here,
No hewer of our mountain oaks suspends his axe in fear.

Wild are the waves which lash the reefs along St. George's bank;
Cold on the shores of Labrador the fog lies white and dank;
Through storm, and wave, and blinding mist, stout are the hearts which man
The fishing-smacks of Marblehead, the sea-boats of Cape Ann.

The cold north light and wintry sun glare on their icy forms,
Bent grimly o'er their straining lines or wrestling with the storms;
Free as the winds they drive before, rough as the waves they roam,
They laugh to scorn the slaver's threat against their rocky home.

What means the Old Dominion? Hath she forgot the day
When o'er her conquered valleys swept the Briton's steel array?
How, side by side with sons of hers, the Massachusetts men
Encountered Tarleton's charge of fire, and stout Cornwallis, then?

Forgets she how the Bay State, in answer to the call
Of her old House of Burgesses, spoke out from Faneuil Hall?
When, echoing back her Henry's cry, came pulsing on each breath
Of Northern winds the thrilling sounds of 'Liberty or Death!'

What asks the Old Dominion? If now her sons have proved
False to their fathers' memory, false to the faith they loved;
If she can scoff at Freedom, and its great charter spurn,
Must we of Massachusetts from truth and duty turn?

We hunt your bondmen, flying from Slavery's hateful hell;
Our voices, at your bidding, take up the bloodhound's yell;
We gather, at your summons, above our fathers' graves,
From Freedom's holy altar-horns to tear your wretched slaves!

Thank God! not yet so vilely can Massachusetts bow;
The spirit of her early time is with her even now;
Dream not because her Pilgrim blood moves slow and calm and cool,
She thus can stoop her chainless neck, a sister's slave and tool!

All that a sister State should do, all that a free State may,
Heart, hand, and purse we proffer, as in our early day;
But that one dark loathsome burden ye must stagger with alone,
And reap the bitter harvest which ye yourselves have sown!

Hold, while ye may, your struggling slaves, and burden God's free air
With woman's shriek beneath the lash, and manhood's wild despair;
Cling closer to the 'cleaving curse' that writes upon your plains
The blasting of Almighty wrath against a land of chains.

Still shame your gallant ancestry, the cavaliers of old,
By watching round the shambles where human flesh is sold;
Gloat o'er the new-born child, and count his market value, when
The maddened mother's cry of woe shall pierce the slaver's den!

Lower than plummet soundeth, sink the Virginia name;
Plant, if ye will, your fathers' graves with rankest weeds of shame;
Be, if ye will, the scandal of God's fair universe;
We wash our hands forever of your sin and shame and curse.

A voice from lips whereon the coal from Freedom's shrine hath been,
Thrilled, as but yesterday, the hearts of Berkshire's mountain men:
The echoes of that solemn voice are sadly lingering still
In all our sunny valleys, on every wind-swept hill.

And when the prowling man-thief came hunting for his prey
Beneath the very shadow of Bunker's shaft of gray,
How, through the free lips of the son, the father's warning spoke;
How, from its bonds of trade and sect, the Pilgrim city broke!

A hundred thousand right arms were lifted up on high,
A hundred thousand voices sent back their loud reply;
Through the thronged towns of Essex the startling summons rang,
And up from bench and loom and wheel her young mechanics sprang!

The voice of free, broad Middlesex, of thousands as of one,
The shaft of Bunker calling to that Lexington;
From Norfolk's ancient villages, from Plymouth's rocky bound
To where Nantucket feels the arms of ocean close to her round;

From rich and rural Worcester, where through the calm repose
Of cultured vales and fringing woods the gentle Nashua flows,
To where Wachuset's wintry blasts the mountain larches stir,
Swelled up to Heaven the thrilling cry of 'God save Latimer!'

And sandy Barnstable rose up, wet with the salt sea spray;
And Bristol sent her answering shout down Narragansett Bay!
Along the broad Connecticut old Hampden felt the thrill,
And the cheer of Hampshire's woodmen swept down from Holyoke Hill.

The voice of Massachusetts! Of her free sons and daughters,
Deep calling unto deep aloud, the sound of many waters!
Against the burden of that voice what tyrant power shall stand?
No fetters in the Bay State! No slave upon her land!

Look to it well, Virginians! In calmness we have borne,
In answer to our faith and trust, your insult and your scorn;
You've spurned our kindest counsels; you've hunted for our lives;
And shaken round our hearths and homes your manacles and gyves!

We wage no war, we lift no arm, we fling no torch within
The fire-damps of the quaking mine beneath your soil of sin;
We leave ye with your bondmen, to wrestle, while ye can,
With the strong upward tendencies and God-like soul of man!

But for us and for our children, the vow which we have given
For freedom and humanity is registered in heaven;
No slave-hunt in our borders, - no pirate on our strand!
No fetters in the Bay State, - no slave upon our land!

Miss STEVENSON, — It has been so strongly impressed on my mind all day, that I cannot fobear making it the subject of a special letter to you, — what a magnificent revenge Massachusetts has now an opportunity to have upon South Carolina, and especially Boston upon Charleston, for all the sneers and insults heaped upon them by this Southern State and city, — for the expulsion of Judge Hoar, for the betrayal of Daniel Webster, for the beating of Charles Sumner, and for the numberless indignities which the oligarchs of Carolina have delighted to cast upon the sons of the old Bay State.

Right from the shadow of the monument of Bunker Hill, where Toombs was one day to call the roll of his slaves, came to me, the other day, a large box full of new, children's clothes; and the next afternoon hundreds of freed children, clad in these tokens of genuine practical philanthropy, inarched in procession through the streets of Charleston in honor of one of Massachusetts' noblest sons, General Saxton, shouting as they went, in triumphant chorus, "Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!" and acknowledging the kindness of the Northern ladies, as they passed my office, by loud cheers of gratitude.

I couldn't but think then, that those cheers were the proudest answer Boston could make to the threat of the slave statesman, and to the accusation of empty fanaticism, with which the names of her abolitionists have long been associated at the South.

And it has now been impressed on my mind all day, that Boston ought to claim the privilege, above all other places, of clothing every needy black child in Charleston, suitably for the schools where are taught those glorious principles of liberty and loyalty for which Boston has stood up so long and manfully, through good and through evil report.

Oh! for one hour of the wizard's cunning, to evolve the spirit of Calhoun from the trance of death, and show him the thronging thousands of the people he despised as brutes, crowding around the schoolhouse doors, in rags borrowed from fathers and mothers, begged from friendly soldiers, picked up in the streets, — aye, and stolen from the deserted garrets of their former masters, — eager at all events, and at every sacrifice, to learn to read!

And then to show him the stores of goods sent down from the friendly hands busied around countless firesides at the North, proving that love is the inspiration of liberty, and brotherhood the basis of Christian civilization.

And then to tell him that these things came from the New England which he hated; from Boston, which he reviled; and from the abolitionists whom he detested; and that this is the answer Massachusetts makes to South Carolina.

Would this punishment be too severe even for his crimes? Not greater at any rate than that which his misguided disciples are suffering here every day. . . .

The building next the Relief Office was fired Sunday last with the evident design of destroying our building; but was fortunately extinguished in time to save it.

Yours very truly,

--"Extracts from Teachers' Letters," The Freedmen's Record, May, 1865

New England Branch Freedmen's Union Commission, Nov. 1, 1866



Things to transcribe from New York Times, 1866—

Church Troubles in Montgomery Country, Maryland
A correspondent of the Baltimore American states that a riot occurred at the Methodist Episcopal Church, near Browningsville, Montgomery county, Md., on Sunday, Oct. 7.  Two weeks previous it had been announced by Mr. L. M. BROWNING THAT Rev. MR. HALL, a Southern preacher, would preach in the church o that day, but this was objected to by the Trustees, on the ground that all the members of the church, except MR. BROWNING, were opposed to MR. HALL’sS occupying the desk.  The lock to the church door was, however, bored out, and the door itself broken in pieces before the Sunday mentioned, and the Trustees applied to Capt. Fox, of New-Market, and others for the protection of the church.  On Sunday afternoon Capt. Fox and the rest arrived at the church, and the Trustees took up their position on the steps of the church to await the result.  Soon after 3 o’clock a company of Southern sypathizers from Hyattstown and vicinity appeared, armed with clubs, and ttempted to rush in the door.  Capt. Fox took his position in the door, and told them that they could not come in, when the women rushed to the door to come out, and in the confusion the Trustees were dragged from the steps and roughly dealt with.  The correspondent says: “Bogth parties then commenced with clubs and stones, and for a while a lively and dangerous fight was carried on; but at last the rebels got the advantage, and the Union men had to retreat, running in every direction to keep from being killed, followed by the rebels.  Three pisol shots were fired, but to no effect.  The wounded of the rebels were G. LAWSON, who was knocked down in the first of the fight by a blow on the back part of the head with a club, his tow rothers, who were wounded in the arm, and a man named G. PRICE, who commenced the attack, and was badly wounded form a blow in the side from a club.  The wounded of the Union men were J>H> PURDUM, from a blow struck on the back of the head, making a small gash in his head, and Mr> runkles, WOUNDED IN THE HIP.  The rebels then gathered at the church door and swore that the crowd could take Europe, and that black republicanism had playhed out in the State of Maryland.  Some of them then went into the church and danced, and some swore they had come there for a fight.  Then they struck up and sung hurrah for ANDREW JOHNSON, “Don’t you grieve atter me.”  They then left the church, swearing that the members should not hold class meeting nor preadchching any more in the church.—New York Times, Saturday, October 20, 1866, 1.



American Antiquarian 
Society logo

An American Antiquarian Society Online Resource
Curated by Lucia Z. Knoles, Professor of English, Assumption College

All primary sources in this exhibit are in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society.
This site and all contents © 2006 American Antiquarian Society