Today in History, February 16, 1852:
The five brothers, Henry, Clement, John Mohler, Peter Everst and Jacob Franklin, had been taught the skill of wagon making by their parents, who had been taught by their parents, who had arrived in America in 1736.
They began their combined business on this date in 1852, and soon they were providing fully half of the wagons used for the migration west, and a quarter of those in the nation.
They made bank during the Civil War, selling wagons to the Union Army.
Their business continued to thrive…those beautiful red 1900 model wagons pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales…are Studebakers.
When motorized vehicles came to be, the Studebaker Company began making first electric and then gasoline cars. The company would last until 1957, having a reputation for quality and class in their cars.
Today in History, January 1, 1863:
President Abraham Lincoln signs the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring an end to slavery in the rebelling states.
The road to the end of slavery had been long and hard, and it wasn’t over yet. But this was the most definitive statement ever made in America about the evil and the demise it must suffer.
The founding fathers had known slavery was wrong; but they didn’t believe they could end it and still create the nation that would be America…the southern states depended on slavery for their economy. So they “kicked the can down the road”.
The nation continued to deal with the inequity of it’s principles and its sins through each administration. Andrew Jackson dealt with it during the Nullification Crisis; but again, half measures to keep the peace.
The Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act…our early history was juggling Abolition against the slave driven economy of the South on a continuous basis by some of the most talented people of the time.
The Republican party was born of abolitionist beliefs, but still, only half measures.
Even the Proclamation was a half measure. It only declared slavery ended in states in which it could not be enforced….Confederate states. But it made the war about the end of slavery, not only about the perpetuation of the Union. The dye was cast for freedom.
By the President of the United States of America:
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
“That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.”
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.
By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
Today in History, December 10, 1861:
Kentucky is accepted into the Confederacy by the Confederate government. However the act didn’t mean much.
When the war had begun, both sides very much wanted Kentucky, a well-positioned border state, contiguous with the Mississippi River, on their side.
However, it’s citizens were pretty evenly split in their allegiances between the North and the South, so they declared themselves neutral in the conflict.
President Lincoln very much wanted the state and it’s resources, but what he wanted even more was not to push them to the South, so he accepted their neutrality.
In September of 1861 the Confederacy, in the form of Gen. Leonidas K. Polk, violated that neutrality by ordering the occupation of Columbus and setting up a fort there.
Union Gen. U. S. Grant responded by occupying Paducah; Union assets had to be defended, and a strategic Confederate presence could not go unopposed.
The Kentucky assembly responded by issuing a proclamation ordering the Confederates out and the US flag to be flown over the capitol. Polk had chosen a side for them.
Soon a shadow government of Confederate sympathizers was formed, elected a governor, and applied for entry into the Confederacy, which was granted.
While Kentucky did have regiments on both sides of the conflict, the Confederate government of the state was impotent, soon having to leave the state, finishing the war by trailing the Army of the Tennessee around the South. Their elected governor was killed at Shiloh.
Today in History, November 27, 1868:
His story could make him the 19th-Century version of Joe Kennedy, Jr or John F. Kennedy. He was born in 1844 into a family filled with Secretaries of the Treasury and Secretaries of State, wealthy bankers, and his grandfather, Alexander Hamilton, was a Founding Father and the first Secretary of the Treasury in President Washington’s cabinet. And of course, Alexander Hamilton lost his bright future in a duel, killed by Vice-President Aaron Burr in 1804. Both the Hamiltons and the McLanes were well placed.
Louis McLane Hamilton had wealth, influence, a bright future, and according to his contemporaries, a high degree of character. Joe and Jack Kennedy had used their influence to get INTO combat during WWII. It cost Joe his life, and very nearly cost JFK his. Likewise, young Louis Hamilton used his influence to get into combat during the Civil War when he was 17 and 18. JFK had to use his father the former Ambassador’s influence to get an assignment in the Pacific. Louis had a letter from President Lincoln himself to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton recommending his commission as an officer. Louis didn’t waste what was given to him. He fought with distinction during the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Siege of Petersburg and Appomattox Courthouse.
After the war Hamilton continued his service, serving as a Lieutenant and a Captain in the 7th Calvary under Colonel George Armstrong Custer. Hamilton commanded Fort Lyon in Colorado for a time, and fended off an attack led by Chief Pawnee Killer.
On November 26th, 1868 he found himself assigned as “Officer of the Day”, an assignment which gave him responsibility for the 7th Cavalry’s supply train as Custer searched in Indian Territory for Southern Cheyenne warriors. As Custer planned a pursuit, some of Hamilton’s command was taken to bolster the assault’s numbers. True to his nature, Hamilton went to Custer and made his case…earnestly, insistently asking not to be left behind as his troops went into battle. Custer was sympathetic to the request…he would make the same request before the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Custer agreed to let Hamilton leave the wagon train and join his troops.
As a result, Captain Louis McLane Hamilton, Alexander’s grandson, was at the lead of his troops who, as it happened, were the first to attack Chief Black Kettle’s village along the Washita River.
“Keep cool, fire low, and not too rapidly” was the last thing Hamilton was heard to say before being shot in the chest, killed instantly, by one of the defenders firing from within a wigwam. Hamilton the first person killed in the battle.
Elsewhere on the battlefield was Chief Black Kettle and his wife. Not much is known about Chief Black Kettle prior to the mid 1850’s, but what is known that this leader in the Southern Cheyenne tribe often worked hard to keep the peace. In 1864 he and his band were in Colorado when some settlers had been attacked. The Governor declared any Indians who did not report to a military post would be considered hostile. Chief Black Kettle led his band to Fort Lyon and came to an agreement with the commander there for his Southern Cheyenne to camp along Sand Creek in eastern Colorado. This agreement didn’t prevent Colorado Militia Colonel Chivington, ambitious and about to lose his troops to the end of their enlistment, from attacking the peaceful encampment, which was complete with an American flag flying. Many were killed, but Black Kettle and his wife managed to survive.
He was encamped with his people along the Washita River in present day Oklahoma for much the same reason, with the same results. But this time his luck ran out. As he and his wife fled, they were shot down and killed.