The Anthonys on President Lincoln

On April 14, 1865 President Lincoln suffered a fatal gunshot wound from John Wilkes Booth. The news of his death reached D.R. Anthony, his wife Annie, and his sister Susan where she was visiting them in Leavenworth.

In her diary, Susan recorded that they attended different churches to hear the ministers’ pulpit commentary on the assassination. It’s likely that they felt the same kind of shock and dismay that mark our era’s reception of the news about President Kennedy’s assassination or the fall of the Twin Towers.

D.R. must have felt a special regret because he had known Lincoln personally and later taken a special interest in his safety. Lincoln spoke in Leavenworth during his presidential campaign trail in December 1859, and that night traded stories with Anthony and other friends, propping their feet up and feeding the fire as they swapped stories.

Two years later, after Anthony had fiercely defended Kansas against proslavery forces, he was invited to guard President Lincoln in the White House at the start of the Civil War. The city of Washington was isolated, surrounded by Confederate troops, and rumors spread that Lincoln would be abducted. Thanks for a shrewd intimidation campaign by Lincoln’s guards, rebel troops thought there were far more of “those damned Kansans,” many of whom had shocked the nation by fighting alongside the notorious John Brown. You can read more about this threat to Lincoln on my 3/16/16 post, “Saving Lincoln from Abduction.”

Ironically, Booth had performed in Leavenworth on the same stage where Lincoln had admonished Kansans not to resort to violence but to solve matters by voting.

 

 

 

Spymistress Elizabeth Van Lew

Today’s blog on one of my most-admired American women features my favorite historical novel (pictured) as well as a quiz on spies!

During the Civil War, Union Spy Elizabeth Van Lew lived in Richmond, VA, the very heart of the Confederacy. A wealthy churchgoing woman, she cited simple compassion for prisoners as her reason for visiting Libby Prison, six blocks from her home. Meanwhile, she was was exchanging valuable war secrets disguised in the soles of shoes and casserole dishes with secret compartments.

Even her rebel sister-in-law and neighbors did not realize she was against the politics of her city.

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Emancipation Proclamation-What Sort of Freedom

On January 1, 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in areas under rebellion.

Daniel Anthony had finished his military career by this point, but he would have grasped the mixed message that Lincoln was sending. In effect, the president was freeing people whom he did not even control because they were behind enemy lines. However, this may have encouraged African-Americans pressed into Confederate assistance to abandon their posts if they could reach the safety of Union lines, thus weakening the rebel cause. Fewer Southern whites would have been available to fight if they had to do the jobs that black men were forced to do.

Many Northerners, especially Susan B. Anthony, considered this document to have no teeth and pressed for an amendment to the Constitution to permanently outlaw slavery. That went into effect with the Thirteenth Amendment, ratified in December 1865 after the close of the Civil War and the death of Abraham Lincoln.

D.R.’s Pugnacious Temperament

I love the term “pugnacious,” which describes someone just itching for a fight. That seems a fair representation of Daniel Read Anthony of Leavenworth, who was descended from the same stock as Susan B. Anthony. While this brother and sister were both devoted to the abolition of slavery, she fought with words, attempting to change legislation, while he wrote fiery articles and backed them up with bullets. (Besides being a Union colonel and Kansas Jayhawker, he founded a newspaper dynasty whose owners were all named Daniel Read Anthony.)

Here’s an excerpt from a colorful account of several Kansas editors whose combative natures emphasized their verbal onslaughts:

Dan Anthony I of Leavenworth deserves top billing among the pistol-packing pencil pushers. He fought a duel, was shot at numerous times, was seriously wounded once and killed a rival editor in his own home town. All of these incidents occurred during the territorial or early statehood days, and he carried two big horse pistols for many years and to his dying day these lethal weapons, ready to go, laid on or in the top drawer of his desk. During the later period of forty years he never had occasion to use this armament, but it was well known that “Ole Dan” was always ready. He mellowed a good deal as he grew older and while his likes and dislikes were just as sharply drawn and aggressively supported or opposed he learned to temper his violence materially.

Another significant difference between them is that D.R. married and settled in Leavenworth, KS while Susan remained single and became a citizen of the world. Many years she logged 100 speeches–think of that, two a day–many of them in different towns.

The photo of D.R. above depicts one of his quieter moments. Despite his warlike nature, he died of natural causes at the age of 80. Read about his most deadly encounter in The Truth About Daniel, coming in January.

Saving Lincoln from Abduction

The 116

When the city of Washington was under siege at the onset of the Civil War, the White House feared that President Lincoln would be abducted. Read all about it in James Muehlberger’s excellent account entitled The 116: The True Story of Lincoln’s Lost Guard.

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Unexpected Civil War Loss

Model of a whaling ship seen at Martha's Vineyard. Photo by Jeanne Gehret

Model of a whaling ship seen at Martha’s Vineyard. Photo by Jeanne Gehret

In my last post I mentioned that Captain Abraham Osborn owned several whaling ships. One of these, the Ocmulgee, came to an untimely end early in the Civil War. Since the Ocmulgee was not a Navy ship, this was most unexpected. Continue reading