History of April Fool's Day


This Site:

Civil War

Civil War Overview

Civil War 1861

Civil War 1862

Civil War 1863

Civil War 1864

Civil War 1865

Civil War Battles

Confederate Generals

Union Generals

Confederate History

Robert E. Lee

Civil War Medicine

Lincoln Assassination


Site Search

Civil War Links


Civil War Art

Revolutionary War

Mexican War

Republic of Texas


Winslow Homer

Thomas Nast

Mathew Brady

Western Art

Civil War Gifts

Robert E. Lee Portrait

Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 30, 1861

The March 30, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly featured a number of important Civil War news events.  We have posted the newspaper below.  Scroll down to see the complete page, or the Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the specific page of interest.


April Fool's Day 1861

April Fool's Day History

New Orleans

New Orleans

Jefferson Davis Veto of Slave Trade Act

Peter Cooper and the Cooper Institute

The Cooper Union

Vassar Female College

Vassar College

Founding of Vassar (Cont.)

Sam Houston

General Sam Houston

Biggest Gun

Biggest Gun in the World

Lincoln Cartoon

Abraham Lincoln Cartoon






[MARCH 30, 1861,



WE publish on the preceding page a picture of the morning of the 1st April, opposite the Astor House, on the Park, in New York City. Some of the personages in the picture are enjoying the usual frolics of the day.

The origin of this fool-making custom, like that of may other of our oldest customs, is involved in considerable doubt and uncertainty. It prevails, besides in this country, in Scotland, Germany, Sweden, and France—in which latter place the victims of the jokes are styled poissons d'Avril, or April fishes. But in none of these countries is its origin reasonably explained. Some suppose it to be derived from the abduction of the Sabine women by the Romans under Romulus, at the feast in honor of Neptune, which occurred on the 1st of April; others trace it from the mockery of our Saviour by the Jews ; while still others ascribe it to the act of old father Noah, in sending out the dove from the ark before the waters of the deluge had subsided.

The following extract from an old poem will certify to the antiquity of the custom :

"The first of April some do say Is set apart for All-Fools' Day; But why the people call it so

Nor I nor they themselves do know. But on this day are people sent

On purpose for pure merriment;

And though the day is known before, Yet frequently there is great store

Of these forgetfuls to be found,

Who're sent to dance Moll Dixon's round; And having tried each shop and stall,

And disappointed at them all, At last some tell them of the cheat, And then they hurry from the street,

And straightway home with shame they run, And others laugh at what is done. But 'tis a tiling to be disputed, Which is the greater fool reputed, The man that innocently went, Or he that him design'dly sent."

A city reporter says

" The number of tricks and hard practical jokes played upon unsophisticated persons, such as sending Jimmy for a bottle of 'stirrup oil,' dispatching Betty in search of a pint and a half of ' pigeons milk,' or requesting your illiterate friend to buy you a copy of the Life and Adventures of Eve's Mother,' in the Bowery, would require several volumes for their description. The most common methods of fooling people practiced in this city consist in pinning endless rag-tails to ladies' dresses, fastening paper appendages to the men's coat skirts, perpetrating cruel stories about the arrival of rich cousins from California with bags of the auriferous metal, and sending people extraordinary letters, containing extraordinary intelligence, and asking the most extraordinary things. Sometimes these nonsensical jokes result in the most serious consequences, and we have known 'pistols and coffee' for two to be the not unfrequent denouement. Latterly the sport of fool making is confined principally to little boys and girls, who indulge in a regular carnival of merriment. Those whose mammas and papas allow them ' the freedom of the city' kick up a most beautiful excitement among their grown-up superiors, while"—in-door young ones club their wicked wits, And almost frighten servants into fits."




OH, wistful eyes ! that will not cease From gazing sadly after one

Who went out in the dark, alone

Although ye say, "He is at peace!"

Oh, hearts ! that will not turn away,

But questioning, linger at the door;

He passeth through it—never more ! For he hath reached the perfect day.

Even when we thought him most our own

His crown was ready for his brow;

And he redeemed his early vow, And passed, with all his armor on.

He bent to clasp a shadowy hand—Unreal to our duller eyes ;

He saw the gleams of paradise Break through the twilight of the land!

His gain o'ermeasureth our loss;

We linger on these barren sands---

He is a dweller in the lands Bequeathed the followers of the cross !

ST. Loris, Mrssouri, March, 1861.   L. C. R.




THE Constitution of the Southern Confederacy has been published. It is a copy of the original Constitution of the United States, with some variations. The principal variations are :

1) In the preamble, the words "We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in .its sovereign and independent character," etc., are substituted for the old words, " We, the people of the United States," etc. The object of this change is to assert separate State sovereignty, which involves the right of secession at will.

2) In the article on the House of Representatives, it is stated that " no person of foreign birth, not a citizen of the Confederate States, shall be allowed to vote for any officer, civil or political, State or Federal." No such provision is found in the old Constitution, and owing to its omission the States of Michigan, Wisconsin, and others have granted the suffrage to

foreigners before naturalization. It was to guard against this abuse that the new proviso was adopted. If the Confederate States do not extend their borders the proviso will prove unnecessary.

3) In the section on the apportionment of Representatives, the word "slaves" is substituted for the old expression, "other persons ;" and it is stated that representation shall be in the ratio of not more than one Representative to every 50,000, instead of 30,000, as fixed in our Constitution.

4) The proviso of the old Constitution requiring Senators to have been nine years citizens is omitted in the Constitution of the Confederate States.

5) The new Constitution states that "Congress may, by law, grant to the principal officer in each of the executive departments a seat upon the floor of either House, with the privilege of discussing any measures pertaining to his department." This is borrowed from the British system. In England, ministers must be members of one or other House, and are expected to defend their policy in person. The obvious advantages of the method, both to the Government and the opposition, commended it to the adoption of the Southern Congress. If, however, the right of occupying a seat is merely a privilege of which the Cabinet officer may avail himself or not as he pleases, the opposition will gain little by the change.

6) Power is given to the President to approve certain appropriations, while disapproving others in the same bill. This is an obvious improvement upon the present system, which often operates to compel the Executive to sanction appropriations of which he disapproves for fear of defeating others which are necessary.

7) It is expressly stated that the revenue to be raised by taxes and imports shall be "to pay the debts, provide for the common defense, and carry on the Government of the Confederate States." In our Constitution no restriction is laid upon Congress as to the manner in which the revenue may be employed. It is further stated that "no bounties shall be granted from the Treasury, nor shall any duties or taxes on importations from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry." Thus the axe is laid at the root of the fatal protective system which has done so much injury to this country. Again, to the clause respecting commerce, the new Constitution adds that "no clause . . . shall ever be construed to delegate the power to Congress to appropriate money for any internal improvement intended to facilitate commerce, except for the purpose of furnishing lights, beacons, and buoys, and other aids to navigation upon the coasts, and the improvement of harbors and the removal of obstructions in river navigation, in all which cases such duties shall be laid upon the navigation facilitated thereby as may be necessary to pay the costs and expenses thereof." This again is a blow at the old theories of internal improvements, which have proved so fruitful of corruption, and have militated so gravely against the satisfactory working of our system of government.

8) It is expressly stated that " no law of Congress shall discharge any debt contracted before the passage thereof."

9) It is provided that "the expenses of the Post Office Department after March 1, 1863, shall be paid out of its own revenues." This section opens a wide field of controversy. We have always held, in this country, that as it was politic to tax the people at large for the maintenance of schools, so it was wise to tax them for postal service on unproductive routes. In the South they think otherwise. We are inclined to the opinion that the difference grows out of the different condition of the two peoples. In the South, the class which requires the Post-Office is small, and can afford to pay high rates of postage. In the North, every body uses the Post-Office, and low rates are essential. The new regulation will operate against popular education in the Confederate States.

10) We now come to the most important innovations attempted at Montgomery. The old Constitution, as every body knows, avoided the use of the word " slave," and called slaves " other persons." The framers of the old Constitution — Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Adams, etc.—were all heartily ashamed of slavery, and desired to see it abolished. The framers of the new Constitution entertain no such scruples. We have enumerated above one mention of the word slave. In the clause respecting fugitive slaves, which is otherwise copied from the old Constitution, the same word is used. The following are other clauses bearing, upon the subject of slavery :

The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same..

Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.

The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States, and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.

The Confederate States may acquire new territory, and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States lying without the limits of the several

States, and may permit them, at such times and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial Government, and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.

These clauses require no comment. They embrace the principles embodied in the Breckinridge platform, and would doubtless constitute a formidable objection to the adoption of the new Constitution by the three million eight hundred thousand voters who voted against that platform at the last election.

11)Permission is given to lay export duties on articles exported from any State by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses. This is of course in order to lay an export duty on cotton.

12) In order to provide against the corruptions and lobby schemes which have disgraced Congressional legislation in our time, the following clauses are added to the old section providing that no money shall be paid except under an appropriation :

Congress shall appropriate no money from the treasury except by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses, taken by yeas and nays, unless it be asked and estimated for by some one of the heads of department, and submitted to Congress by the President; or for the purpose of paying its own expenses and contingencies ; or for the payment of claims against the Confederate States, the justice of which shall have been judicially declared by a tribunal for the investigation of claims against the Government, which it is hereby made the duty of Congress to establish.

All bills appropriating money shall specify in Federal currency the exact amount of each appropriation and the purposes for which it is made; and Congress shall grant no extra compensation to any public contractor, officer, agent, or servant, after such contract shall have been made or such service rendered.

13) In order to defeat the tacking of lobby riders to appropriation bills, by which method many corrupt schemes have recently been forced through Congress, a clause states that "every law or resolution having the force of law shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title."

14) The new Constitution fixes the Presidential term at six, instead of four, years, and renders the President ineligible. These innovations will commend themselves to the approval of all who have watched the mischiefs produced by the too speedy recurrence of elections, and by the manoeuvres of acting Presidents for reelection. They would be gladly adopted by the people throughout the Union. The new Constitution declares that the President must have been fourteen years a resident of the Confederate States ; the old Constitution contains a similar provision — the word "united" being used instead of " confederate."

15) In order to guard against the gross abuses arising from the rotation in office at present established, the new Constitution contains the following section :

The principal officer in each of the executive departments, and all persons connected with the diplomatic service, may be removed from office at the pleasure of the President. All other civil officers of the executive department may be removed at any time by the President, or other appointing power, when their services are unnecessary, or for dishonesty, incapacity, inefficiency, misconduct, or neglect of duty; and when so removed, the removal shall be reported to the Senate, together with the reasons therefor. If this section be faithfully carried, the chief source of corruption in our political system will be stopped.

16) By the old Constitution Congress has

power to admit new States. The Southern Congress requires a vote of two-thirds of both Houses to admit a new State.

17) By the old Constitution Congress has

power " to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States." In the Southern Constitution the words " the territory or" are omitted—thus removing the territorial question from the control of Congress.

18) Under the old Constitution amendments can only be proposed by two-thirds of both Houses of Congress, or two-thirds of the State Legislatures. Under the Southern Constitution any three States may propose amendments. The ratification by nine of the old thirteen States was required to establish the old Constitution. The Southern Constitution requires only the ratification of five out of seven. We have thus enumerated the principal alterations in the Constitution effected by the Congress at Montgomery. Most of them would receive the hearty support of the people of the North. But further comment is supernuous at the present time.


THE Committee on Insurance Companies in the State Legislature have reported favorably a bill to the effect that no costs exceeding $10 shall be recovered in any action brought or to be brought by Receivers of Mutual Insurance Companies. The object of this is to deprive the public of a remedy to which they are entitled. Under the Act of 1849 a large number of Mutual Insurance Companies were formed in various parts of this State, and notes given for policies of insurance—said notes being, under the law and several judgments of Court, legally and equitably applicable to the payment of losses. Within the past six or eight years several of these Companies have failed, and Receivers have been appointed who have proceed-

ed to sue on the notes. These suits have been strenuously resisted in Court after Court ; and now, after many years of litigation, just as the creditors of the broken Companies are about to collect the amounts due to them, this bill steps in to cheat them of their costs. Will not some honest man in the Senate or Assembly just state the facts respecting this bill, so that members who support it may know what they are voting for ?


LAYING ANCHORS TO WINDWARD—AN EPISODE. PLAY-ACTORS perform their parts with the full consciousness that they are known to be acting. But there are comedies of which the comic point is that the excellent and respected actors pretend that the spectators do not know that it is all a pretty play.

When the Prince of Wales came last autumn, some worthy American citizens, who were born in Ireland, refused to parade as a military company in honor of the guest. It was a question of taste. It might have occurred to them, as it did to the great mass of the American people, that it was very proper to honor one of our most faithful and friendly allies in the manner proposed. Still, these citizens took a different view, as they had a right, and they staid severely at home. It has since been made a question of military law.

The whole thing was unimportant. Do you think so, gentle reader ? Alas ! you do not know the political playwright; you do not know that there is no nut so unpromisingly empty that he will not get a dinner or, at least, a lunch or a supper out of it.

So, upon a recent evening, the excellent citizens who sympathized with those who staid at home when the little Prince drove up Broadway, assembled to express their sympathy and to present a sword and flags in token of it. That was all pleasant. There was a band of music ; there were lovely ladies; there was a fine military array; there was an enthusiastic crowd; and then the most distinguished sympathizers stepped upon the stage, or, more properly, advanced to the foot-lights, there was a thrilling roll of drums and rattle of presenting arms. The sword of honor was presented and received in glowing and, eloquent addresses ; then the flags of sympathy were brought forward, and that excellent citizen and fluent orator, Mr. Meagher, appeared to make an address. When the "shouting plaudits" of the audience had ceased, he began. He said that his words should be few and plain—that the language of soldiers was direct and brief, and he should emlate it. And he added that he said so much to repress " the inordinate expectations of rhetoric" which might be indulged by some of the audience. Skirmishing, at first, with the light rapier of ridicule at the princely ovation, he proceeded to graver work, and held the strict legality of the commander's conduct; and then, passing to the immediate ceremony, he presented the flags, and ended in a "few plain words," evidently meant to squelch those luckless and untimely " expectations of rhetoric :" " I do so with the assurance that the superb gift passes into the hands of soldiers who will never permit the gold with which it abounds to be tarnished by cowardice, insubordination, or neglect of duty—who will never permit the green field, which to-night looks so ample and luxuriant, to lose its freshness and deep wealth of color, if love of country and jealousness of its honor will perpetuate it—and who will carry it into the battle, wherever the Eumenides wave their torches and the trumpet of Alecto peals, nerved and quickened by the faith that the stn, bursting from it in a flood and storm of glory, will maintain its light, as did the sun of victory over the mountains of the Amorrhite."

There was more music, more sympathy, more congratulation, and good feeling, and the satisfied company separated.

Do you think that was the whole play ? Do you think the excellent citizens, Mr. Stout, Mr. Chanler, Mr. Hearne, Mr. Maguire, Mr. J. Henessy, " Dunphy,"* Mr. Alderman Farley, and others, who were received with the thrilling martial salute, as they bounded upon the stage, were moved solely by sympathy with the severe staying at home of the gallant Sixty-ninth? Perhaps that was the sole reason, for it was surely sufficient, which brought them there. But wouldn't it be very droll if these citizens chanced to be statesmen, and the regiment chanced to comprise several hundred most desirable voters, whose laver might be wooed and haply won by a little gush of timely sympathy ? And if those statesmen chanced to have political projects of any kind, wouldn't it possibly be convenient to have propitiated the worthy voters of the Sixty-ninth ?

Is there any objection to laying anchors to windward? Not the least. Only don't suppose that the spectators shut their eyes. In " Cranford" Mrs. Forrester had her little householding hum-bugs ; but then "she knew and we knew, and she knew that we knew, and we knew that she knew that we knew, she had been busy all the morning making tea-bread and sponge-cakes." The political world is wonderfully like Cranford ; and the shrewdest statesmen are those who behave like Mrs. Forrester. If you have a wart on your nose, it is not advisable to brush at it casually, as if it were a fly. If you are a great statesman, don't look so very innocent as if you supposed that we outsiders believed you to be so. When you present swords and rout rhetoric, we shall all believe that it is pure sympathy with the hereditary scruples of the Sixty-ninth, if you are of the same blood as the regiment. If you are not, we shall believe in as much pure sympathy as we can—Liebchen was willst Du mehr?

* See the Times report.



site stats


Site Copyright 2003-2018 Son of the South. For Questions or comments about this collection,

contact: paul@sonofthesouth.net

privacy policy

Are you Scared and Confused? Read My Snake Story, a story of hope and encouragement, to help you face your fears.