Here are some of the books I’m reading for my next novel in my Dauntless Series. They focus on contemporaries of Susan B. Anthony’s brother Daniel Read Anthony, who lived and fought on the Missouri-Kansas border before the Civil War and in its early days. Annie Osborn Continue reading
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.
That is how Abraham Lincoln is said to have greeted Harriet Beecher Stowe when he met her many years after the publication of her shocking 1852 bestseller Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which gave slavery a face and a heart by telling it through the eyes of individuals. Read about Harriet, her book and its amazing success by clicking here.Even more popular than the book itself (which had sales in the 19th century second only to the Bible) were the stage renditions of her play.
It is probable that the Anthonys of Rochester and the Osborns of Marthas Vineyard were familiar with Stowe and her work. Harriet’s family of origin moved in the same abolitionist circles as the Anthonys. And Josiah Henson, the man who upon whom Harriet based her novel, made a notable appearance at the Methodist Camp Meetings that were held every summer on Martha’s Vineyard; the Osborns would likely have seen the publicity. In addition, the stage rendition of her story was one of the most popular theatrical renditions of its era.
Of her most famous book, Stowe said:
As a woman, as a mother, I was oppressed and broken-hearted with the sorrows and injustice I saw, because as a Christian I felt the dishonor to Christianity–because as a lover of my country, I trembled at the coming day of wrath.
For another look at her family, her other literary works, and her later years, visit the website of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.
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.
Thanksgiving is my favorite national holiday, perhaps because I lull myself to sleep nightly with a gratitude list. The Civil War was taking a toll when Abraham Lincoln in 1861 decreed that the entire nation should “count its blessings” on the last Thursday of November. Here is an excerpt of Lincoln’s gratitude list as enumerated by his proclamation: Continue reading