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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 7, 1863

This site features all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers can yield unique insights in the war, as they were created by eye-witnesses to the events depicted. You can watch history unfold before your eyes, week by week.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)

 

David Porter

Porter and McClernand

Wall Street

Wall Street

General Hooker

General Hooker Takes Command

Gun Boats

Gun Boats

Torpedoes

Civil War Torpedoes

Fredericksburg Poem

Battle of Fredericksburg Poem

War Atrocities

Atrocities of War

Fighting Joe Hooker

Fighting Joe Hooker

Monitor Sinking

Monitor "Weehawken" in Storm

Chivalry

Chivalry

Arkansas Post

Battle of Arkansas Post

River Torpedoes

River Torpedoes

Lavinia Warren

P. T. Barnum's "Miss Lavinia Warren

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[FEBRUARY 7, 1863.

82

LINES TU JEFF DAVIS.

Our trials have been converted into blessings." — JEFF DAVIS'S Message.

So yu kaount yure trials blessins? Why thet's jest what we hev told yu!

Evry lickin gi'n a rebbel is a blessin in disgise.

Yu air sot up as a sort ov mark fur the wurld tu behold yu,

And ponder the reward ov those whu scoff et good advice.

When yu tore aour starry banner frum the flag-staff and the steeple,

And raised a pesky rebbel rag tu be a guide insted,

Did yu think yu'd meet no warfare frum the hands ov honest peeple?

Had yu no feer ov the livin? no thorts ov the pattriot dead?

Trials, hev yu? I shoed like tu see yu git along withaout 'em!

They'll flock araound yure path es thick es 'skeeters flock in June.

Ef yu keep up yure present kourse yu'll nevver be withaout 'em;

They'll be the deth ov yu, in short, unless yu change yure tune!

Yis, yure trials air a blessin! Yu was rite in that, Jeff Davis,

But 't strikes me in annaouncin it yu've bin amazin slow.—

See Freedom's solgers shout hurrar whereso a traitor's grave is,

And yu'll find the North agreed with yu a long, long while ago!

         CHARITY GRIMES.

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1863.

WALL STREET.

THAT famous mystic spot, Wall Street, is going through one of those fevers which render it so terribly enchanting to persons of a speculative turn of mind. Stocks have risen enormously within a month, and fortunes have been made and lost as if by enchantment. Gold has advanced twenty per cent. in a few weeks or days, and the hook-nosed, long-bearded schpeculaders in the commodity have swelled their leetle monish accordingly. 'Tis a period which occurs but once in a century—perhaps but once in a couple of centuries.

Alison tells us that when the Bank of England suspended specie payments at the close of the last century speculation received a tremendous impetus. The business of the London Stock Exchange quadrupled in extent, and rendered it necessary for the members to secure additional accommodation. Fortunes were made by magic, and lands and stocks changed hands as universally as if the kingdom had passed through a revolution. The Normans swooping down on the fair fields of Kent and Devonshire, grasping whatever suited them best, and driving the Anglo-Saxon boors out to work or starve, did not cause more extensive mutations in the ownership of property. Creditors were cheated, debtors were relieved. Bankrupt corporations once more raised their head, and saw their stock at a premium. The battle raged fiercely, and, to superficial observers, with doubtful results; but in the end victory rested with the debtor class, and creditors went to the wall.

History does but repeat itself. What England experienced in 1787-1815 we are now going to attempt. There is this difference in our case. The Bank of England, under suspension, did not materially increase its paper issues. Our Bank—which is the United States Government—has already issued as much paper as there was afloat in the whole country in 1860, and is going to issue an indefinite number of hundreds of millions more.

We are witnessing the commencement of the new era. Gold has risen to 155. Stocks have risen 100 @ 200 per cent. The broker class has doubled in numbers. Instead of one board we have two, and each transacts far more business than was ever done in old times on the legitimate stock exchange. Speculators in stocks have increased in the ratio of the square of the brokers. If the latter have doubled, the former have quadrupled. In this era of newspapers, railroads, and telegraphs, intelligence is transmitted rapidly throughout the country: our stock exchange represents not this city alone but the whole country.

One of the largest operators of the day lives in Wisconsin, and operates by telegraph. We deem him to be a quiet, thoughtful man, who never reads any thing in the papers except the facts, and religiously declines to notice editorial comments and opinions. He is one of the few men of the present day who do their own thinking. He does not live in a city, and probably hears few opinions on current events. Hence his views are based on pure theory, and though the accomplishment of his predictions may be delayed, it arrives, sooner or later, with the unerring certainty of fate. He began business (in stocks) with a cargo of corn as his capital; he has already realized over a quarter of a million dollars. For, you see, he has this advantage

over city operators—that he is not swayed by the temporary and deceptive currents of Wall Street, arrives at his conclusions on abiding principles of political economy, and steadily adheres to them until they are realized.

Very different has been the course of our smart friend Whiskerandos. His misfortune has been that he knew too much. He had private advices from Mr. Seward that the "waning rebellion" would collapse in a few weeks, and operated accordingly. He was confidentially told by General Halleck that a million bales of cotton would be liberated by New Year, 1863, and sold gold short at 133 in enormous amounts. He was, from private friendship, allowed to know that old Jeremiah—the leading director of the great Painted Post Railway—was going to sell his stock, and he hastened to improve the information by putting out short contracts in Painted Post stock. What is the consequence? Whiskerandos is a bankrupt. He placed his trust in Seward, in Halleck, in our pious old friend Jeremiah, and the consequence is that all the money which he made last year, and which led to his being so generally envied in Wall Street, has vanished in smoke, and he is left a "lame duck." O! si non norit!

There is a man in "the street" who, three months ago, had a horse, and nothing more. Calumny alleges that the horse was spavined. One fellow hints that he was broken-winded likewise. Spavined or no, broken or sound winded, he proved a treasure to his master, who, desiring to purchase a hundred shares of Erie, put up the horse as margin, and deposited him at his broker's stable. The adventure proved profitable; was succeeded by others, equally successful: with increase of means, ventures increased; and so, at last, the owner of the spavined horse found himself, for the first time in his life, in possession of $20,000. You see, he had no private sources of information, and no sympathies.

Nothing is more fatal in Wall Street than sympathies. Jones had a brother a Brigadier-General in the Army of the Potomac: was consequently confident of victory because he wanted victory; operated on the confidence, and was so thoroughly used up in August, 1862, after the battles of the seven days—which were not quite so brilliant things in victories as he expected—that he was glad to enter the office of Smith as book-keeper. Smith was a man of a different stamp. His father, his brothers, and his cousins were in the rebel army. He had a sister who was a rebel in New York, an aunt who was a rebel at Philadelphia, and an uncle who was a rebel at Baltimore. The uncle communicated, by rebel post, with a relative at Richmond—sent him letters, pins, needles, opium, and quinine—and received intelligence in return—Smith paying the bills. This intelligence was quickly transmitted to the female rebel relative at Philadelphia, and by her to the other female rebel relative at New York, and so Smith had a monopoly, the possession whereof tempted him so to operate that in a few months he smashed to pieces. His sympathies and his private exclusive information always led him to expect that Stonewall Jackson would be in New York, or at least in Washington, on the Monday morning following; and, operating accordingly, he met his fate.

One remarkable fact about the late—or, perhaps, we should say the present—fever in Wall Street, is that the old experienced kings of that region have not profited by it. The patriarchs of Wall Street—whose experience dates back to the deluge—have always seen a rise followed by a fall. When the December rise occurred, they said to each other confidentially—wagging their wise old heads—there will be a fall in January! and acted accordingly. January has passed, and prices are considerably higher than in December. The wise men have gone home wiser and poorer; they had never seen a paper-money era before; and the fools—or, perhaps, we should say the new men who appreciated and realized the situation—have become mushroom millionaires.

How will this end? Echo answers—how? To make money by buying stocks and selling them at an advance corresponding to the depreciation of the currency is really not to make any money at all. Prices must eventually adjust themselves to the gold standard, and the "purchasing power" of $100 of paper-money with gold at par will ultimately prove the same as the purchasing power of $150 with gold at 150. The boy who thought he had made a sharp bargain by exchanging one $5 note for five $1 notes—his stock of paper having been quintupled—was not sillier than the Wall Street operators who fancy they are making money when they sell at 90 a stock they bought at 85, gold having, meantime, advanced ten per cent.

We must see, however, how the new financial scheme of Congress will affect Wall Street. That measure was designed to check speculation in gold and stocks, and was calculated to produce that end by creating a temporary stringency in the money market. If it succeeds, not a few of the nouveaux riches will realize the proverb about riches having wings. If the ingenuity of Congress can evade the inexorable law of political economy which declares that issues of irredeemable paper must cause that paper to depreciate steadily, and prices to advance in a corresponding

ratio, a triumph of no mean import will have been won.

THE LOUNGER.

RUSSELL'S DIARY.

THE Diary of Mr. Russell, "our own" correspondent of the London Times, which is just republished by the Harpers, is not a reprint of his letters written in this country, but literally his diary, his daily comments upon men, scenes, and affairs, as he moved rapidly through the country. His shrewd and observing eye, trained by most various experience, and a pachydermatous organization, which is invaluable to a special newspaper correspondent, because it enables him to bear and to repeat many things which a more sensitive nature could not, have given us a book full of value to the historian of the war. His Irish blood keeps him in the best humor possible under the circumstances. He sees for himself, and although being a product of the civilization of Ireland, he clearly despises the civilization of America; and although having seen the humanity and justice and national right of the British Government in India and the Crimea, he is profoundly convinced of the absurdity of the American Government's effort to maintain its supremacy over its own domain, yet his book is sure, although not so intended, to reveal the real character of the rebellion, and so to attract the sympathy of all friends of civilization and human liberty to the cause of the United States.

Mr. Russell was unfortunate in his first impressions of the country, and he never recovered from their influence. Upon his arrival in New York he fell into the hands of certain persons who breakfasted him and dined him, who had wealth and a certain social position; some of whom were foreign born and others Americans "in theory." In seeing these persons he had a right to suppose that he saw a fair representation of the general sentiment of substantial and respectable Americans in regard to the situation of their country. Had he come to London when the integrity of the British empire was threatened by an insurrection in Wales, which put forth no other manifest than that the right of universal freebooting was in danger of suppression by law, and the progress of society and civilization, and had been invited to breakfast and dine with the magnates of Lombard Street and Cheapside, be would naturally have been confounded to hear that the country was gone to the deuce—that Lombardy and Cheapside could not think of allowing the authorities to maintain order—and that although every donkey in every rubbish cart in London had the right of kicking when a fly bit his leg, the Government of the British empire had no right and no power to lift a finger to save itself from destruction.

This was the airy doctrine which Mr. Russell heard in bewilderment from the persons who hastened to call upon him, and to feast him upon his arrival in America. He did not then understand it, but History will explain it. These persons almost, if not entirely, without exception had been the recent political allies of those who were beginning the war. During the Presidential canvass just ended they had given their money and devoted their influence to the support of their party friends, who openly threatened to destroy the government if they did not carry the election. It was not carried, and those friends began their war. It had not, when Mr. Russell arrived, yet come to actual battle. The hope of the Southern leaders and of their Northern friends was, as Mr. Hunter, Mr. Slidell, and Mr. Mason privately stated in Washington—a hope publicly supported by their organ in New York—that the revolution would be peaceably accomplished; that the Government would quietly succumb without a blow; and that a new government would be constructed from the ruins which should secure a perpetual immunity for slavery, and leave New England outside, or admit her as a single State with two Senators. It was of the last importance that Europe, should suppose that the Government must yield; that the revolution was already in fact, if not yet in form, accomplished. To that end rebel emissaries had already poisoned the European mind with falsehood; and the official representatives of the Government virtually renounced it, and prophesied the inevitable dissolution of the existing Union. The point made was that the nature of the Federal bond, as it was called, did not allow the forcible coercion of a State. The sophistry and falsehood of the position were perceived by few Americans resident abroad, however patriotic; and the political argument went against the country, despite the noble efforts of Mr. Motley in England and a few others. But that there might be no doubt whatever remaining in foreign public opinion, it was essential that Mr. Russell, who was to speak to Europe through the London Times, should report that the revolution was already virtually successful, and had the assent of the better population of the free States. The allies of the conspiracy in the North hoped in this way to avoid two results—the appeal to force, in which case, as Mr. Barlow's letter to a Southern Senator, published last year, plainly shows, they were not so confident of the consent of the North to national ruin; and, secondly, the light that such an appeal must throw upon the real character of the Federal bond which they had so carefully misrepresented. These persons, therefore, took possession of Mr. Russell upon his arrival; reiterated the senseless doctrine of Mr. Buchanan's Message, that the Government had no right to save itself; and, says Mr. Russell, "although they admitted the Southern leaders had meditated 'the treason against the Union' years ago, they could not bring themselves to allow their old opponents, the Republicans, now in power, to dispose of the armed force of the Union against their brother Democrats in the Southern States."

These persons secured their point. Mr. Russell wrote that the Union was virtually dissolved. Europe sneered "Told you so!" and arrayed herself

more confidently and contemptuously than ever against this country. It is a result which the country owes, in great part, to those who successfully labored to prove to a foreigner that their country had neither a decent perception of honor, nor manliness, nor common sense, nor knowledge of the nature of its own government. But certainly it is not surprising that those who worked with the Southern leaders, after their plain declarations during the canvass, should have both hoped and believed in the utter pusillanimity of their fellow-citizens. Nor is it wonderful that the same persons, whose idea of nationality was the support of an oligarchy, which then used them as tools, should now, under the plea of conservatism, counsel submission to that oligarchy in rebellion, which now spurns them as cowards.

The opening chapters of this book are thus full of humiliation and shame for every honorable and earnest American. Mr. Russell was compelled to accept the character and opinions of the clique into whose hands he fell as those of the Northern people. That there was a true-hearted, clear-headed, patriotic people in this country which would accept the war, endure all its necessary reverses in the beginning, lavish its blood and money, and wage the war until the aristocracy was overthrown and the Constitution maintained and perpetuated in its original spirit—how could the bewildered Irishman suspect in the soft drawing-rooms where pretty ladies lisped disdain of the howwid vulgar wail splitter, or in the profuse dining-rooms where, upon the very brick of a fearful civil war which must involve their lives and their fortunes, bankers and lawyers, "all men of position in New York society had the same dilettante tone, and were as little anxious for the future, or excited by the present, as a party of savans chronicling the movements of a magnetic storm." Taking them as the representatives of the American people, the correspondent of the Times justly inferred that the destruction of the Government was already accomplished, and that the great Republic was an ignominious and farcical failure.

From New York he moved southward to Washington, and pressed on to New Orleans. His description of the general condition of society in the States unhappily cursed by slavery agrees with that of every intelligent observer. He saw too many patrols and sentries to guard against slave risings; he heard too many curfews to warn the slaves home; he heard too much of the "happiest and most contented race in the world" not to know the truth. His account of the extreme luxury of the life of the great planters, and the utter squalor, misery, and barbarism of the rest of the population, is not new, but, it will help open the eyes of thoughtful Europeans to the necessary state of a society which rests upon the glorious "corner-stone" of slavery. The London Atheneum, in alluding to this part of the book, remarks: "Deep drinking, swearing, incessant dueling, loud swagger concerning ancient pedigrees, are the ordinary characteristics of men whom it is the growing fashion of England to romance about as the descendants of the old English cavaliers. * * * Of New Orleans," continues the Atheneum, which has been bitterly hostile to us from the beginning, "Mr. Russell speaks in terms which lead us to believe that its present state, under the iron rule of General Butler, must be an improvement on its former condition. * * * Well may Mr. Russell exclaim, 'Shame and horror to a Christian land!' Such is the special correspondent's picture of the South—such his description of the Southerners whom Mr. Spence, a few months since, was painting as refined and chivalric gentlemen, anxious to till their ancestral acres in pastoral simplicity and be at peace with all the world."

Of course the reader will understand that Mr. Russell cordially dislikes us all, North and South. He believes that the Union is hopelessly severed, and that the free States will be greatly the gainers by the dissolution. But it is for his observation of life, not for his political speculations, that his book is valuable. It is also very instructive. It reveals the true character of men and parties. It helps us to decide who is and has been national in this country; who had been and are Conservative. It shows the oligarchy at the South politically claiming to be democratic and sighing for a foreign prince; and it exposes their allies at the North—with the affectations, but without the character of an aristocracy—also professing a fellow-democracy, and spurning the Irish "mob of the city," upon whose votes they rely for political power. The book shows very clearly, but quite unconsciously, that the war is truly a struggle of right against privilege—of the many against the few—of man against men—of Liberty and the people against Slavery and an oligarchy.

THE NECESSITY OF SUCCESS.

"DEAR LOUNGER,—I have been pondering your last week's article upon 'Reaction.' I observe that you merely state facts, you do not express an opinion. Let me ask, then, whether you doubt the issue? Do you think the reaction will prevail?"

Certainly not. For the war is controlled by fundamental principles, chief of which is the character of the Saxon race. If that is modified by the large Celtic element, it is again reinforced by the German which, like the Saxon, is Teutonic. The tradition of that race is personal Liberty. It will have free tongues, free pens, and free hands. Against that instinct nothing can stand. Thus in England, when Charles I., in 1628, began the invasion of those rights, the civil war began, and it lasted for sixty years, until, in 1688, the Bill of Rights settled the question and gave peace to England. Meanwhile there were the wildest and most stupid reactions; but the course of civilization could not be withstood, and every thing was uncertain until the guarantees of those rights were secured.

Now in our own war it is clear that, if the rebels will yield to reunion at all, it will be only upon condition of the amplest security for the slave system. (Next Page)


 

 

 

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