SEPARATED AT BIRTH: Confederate general William Mahone and actor Hugh Grant
Photograph of Richard Toler, an ex-slave who lived at 515 Poplar Street, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio. He was born on Henry Toler’s plantation in Lynchburg, Campbell County, Virginia around 1837. This photograph was taken on June 17, 1937 by the Federal Writers’ Project photographer in District 12.
And this is from Toler’s oral history, taken and transcribed by Ruth Thompson:
They nevah mistreated me, neithah. They’s a whipping the slaves all the time, but ah run away all the time. And I jus’ tell them—if they whipped me, ah’d kill ‘em, and ah nevah did get a whippin’. If ah thought one was comin’ to me, Ah’d hide in the woods; then they’d send aftah me and they say, “Come, on back,—we won’t whip you.” But they killed some of the niggahs, whipped ‘em to death. Ah guess they killed three or fo’ on Tolah’s place while ah was there.
“I sho’ is glad,” he told Thompson, “I ain’t no slave no moah.”
From the Library of Virginia:
Virginia’s Third Revolutionary Convention met from July 17 to August 26, 1775, and authorized the issuance of £ 350,000 in paper currency to be printed for the payment of the expenses of the army it had created to defend Virginia. This two-pound note was printed as a result of that ordinance. Two pounds was equivalent to eight crowns or to forty shillings, and the amounts appear on the note. The signatures of William Norvell and Philip Johnson, members of the committee for James City County, authorized the note as authentic. The signers of notes were paid fifteen shillings for every thousand notes they signed.
On this day in 1862, the U.S. Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act, recognizing that all slaves working for Confederate masters aided the Confederate war effort, regardless of their specific tasks. The act authorized the slaves’ confiscation, declaring them “forever free of their servitude.” The more-restrictive First Confiscation Act (1861) had been passed in response to Union general Benjamin F. Butler‘s declaration that some escaped and refugee slaves, who had shown up at Fort Monroe, were actually “contraband of war.” A mini Monroe Doctrine, you could call it.
Best hair, strongest chin in Virginia history? William Mahone.
From Kevin Levin’s Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder (2012):
Three years later [in 1869], John Elder—who was present in Petersburg at the time of the battle working as an aide in the field and as a mapmaker—released his dramatic oil painting of the battle, which highlighted the importance of [William] Mahone’s counterattack. Elder depicted the fighting at close range in all of its gruesome detail, but the observer’s eye is drawn to the advancing tide of Mahone’s men in the Twelfth Virginia Infantry, who are poised to sweep the area and put an end to any planned Union advance. One art critic left a colorful review: “The suspense in this portion of the scene is fearful; and one dreads that the reinforcements will arrive to[o] late. But they are hurrying on. With their wild, impulsive yell, so characteristic of the Southern army, regardless of rank or line, in double column, Mahone’s brigade comes pouring in.” The success of Elder’s painting helped to shape the popular belief that Confederate victory could be understood by focusing on the contributions of Virginians.
A review of the book’s introduction and first chapter can be read here.
The idea of inoculating people for smallpox was passed on to Americans by their slaves. If you can fit it, file this under “I Had No Idea.” From Annette Gordon-Reed‘s The Hemingeses of Monticello:
There is no cure for smallpox, and throughout the ages populations across the globe had had to find ways of preventing its spread. Inoculation, also called variolation, after the name of the smallpox virus Variola major, was practiced in Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East. White Americans first became aware of the procedure from African slaves who described it to them. Cotton Mather brought it to the widespread attention of the American public after an African-born slave, Onesimus, told him that he had undergone the procedure while still in his native land and was thus immune to smallpox. In the mid-1700s, after much debate, the American colonies initiated the procedure with great trepidation.
IMAGES: Title page, Historical account of the small-pox inoculated in New-England, upon all sorts of persons, whites, blacks, and of all ages and constitutions. London: Printed for S. Chandler, 1726 (James Lind Library); Cotton Mather
On July 16, 1944, Irene Morgan was arrested in Saluda, Virginia, for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Greyhound bus bound for Baltimore. She was also charged with resisting arrest after a Middlesex County sheriff and deputy forcibly remove her from the bus. Virginia’s highest court later upheld Morgan’s arrest and eventual conviction, but in 1946 that decision was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in Morgan v. Virginia. Morgan died in 2007.
IMAGE: Front page of Washington Afro American announcing Supreme Court decision in Morgan v. Virginia (1946)
Sketch of General Washington stolen at Mount Vernon while he was looking to discover a distant vessel in the Potowmac in which he expected some of his friends from Alexandria.
From the National Archives:
The Telegraph dramatically increased the speed with which military officers communicated with each other and with civilian authorities. Newspapers also used the telegraph and rapidly delivered war-related information to readers. Early in war however, the Lincoln administration censored telegraphic communication, arguing that while news of the war could be delivered with great speed, military secrets could also be quickly divulged. There was a fine line between military necessity and censoring the merely embarrassing or politically disadvantageous.
On July 15, 1610, William Strachey dated a letter, addressed to an anonymous “Excellent Lady,” in which he spun his now-famous narrative of the Sea Venture shipwreck on the islands of Bermuda. This was actually the second of his two drafts. A first draft, the first page of which is pictured above, was started in Bermuda and finished at Jamestown. The second version was longer and more polished and begun after Strachey had become secretary of the colony.
Both drafts likely circulated among Londoners connected to the Virginia Company, and many scholars believe that William Shakespeare used one of them as a major source for his play The Tempest, thought to have been written in 1610 and 1611.
In one of the most famous photographs of the Civil War, three captured Confederate soldiers, likely from Louisiana, pose for Mathew Brady on Seminary Ridge on or about July 15, 1863, following the Battle of Gettysburg. The extraordinary clarity of the image allows viewers to study the soldiers’ uniforms and accoutrements, but the historian Shelby Foote has focused more on their body language.
“You see something in his attitude toward the camera that’s revealing of his nature,” he told the filmmaker Ken Burns, “… as if he is having his picture made but he’s determined to be the individual that he is.” Other scholars have challenged this romantic view.
Above is a screenshot of a very cool, interactive, digital map of Middle Earth based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series of novels. You can find an interactive map/time line here. Here at the encyclopedia, we’re always looking for forward-thinking, intuitive ways of presenting information, and this is something we love!
Click here to see a more old-school map of Middle Earth.
Confederate general Turner Ashby's hand-tinted pink cheeks belie the fact that this ambrotype was made after he died in 1862. Photographing loved ones after death was a common practice in the nineteenth century. (The Museum of the Confederacy)
Earlier this week we noted the anniversary of the Constitution of 1902, which disfranchised as many of Virginia’s black voters as the white delegates could get away with. All of this was done more or less out in the open; there was less of a tendency then to find euphemisms for racism. And as such, the state’s African Americans had a chance to appeal to the delegates.
It was not a pretty sight, as this story suggests. It appeared on the front page of the black-ownedRichmond Planet on July 13, 1901:
The Suffrage Committee heard addresses for two hours yesterday morning from representative colored men on the suffrage question. Not one of the speakers uttered an intemperate word or advance an idea except with Moderation.
While all of the six who spoke plead for equal suffrage rights, not one asked for the right to hold office, one of them saying there was no need of law to prohibit Negroes from holding office; it was done already and it would require a law commanding him to be put in office before such a thing happened, and Negroes did not expect that.
It was noticeable that all the speakers dealt in generalities, no statistics showing the progress of the race in material, social or political development being presented. Neither was any sentiment expressed that did not evince a spirit of willingness to abide by the judgment and wisdom of the convention. This was eloquently expressed by Rev. Z. D. Lewis when he said, “whatever you may do we will be submissive, satisfied that you will do what you think is best for us all, and we will patiently await developments and will be watching and waiting and hoping to see that it was God’s hand that guided you.”
Why, I wonder, did the newspaper writer make special note of the fact that the speakers did not present “statistics showing the progress of the race”? Perhaps because there had been such progress, more even than the speakers wanted to let on.