Slave Children


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 30, 1864

This site features an online archive of our collection of original Harper's Weekly newspapers. Harper's weekly was the most important source of news during the Civil War. Today, these newspapers are used by serious students and researchers go gain deeper insights into the war.

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Slave Children

Slave Children

Gilmore Shells Charleston

White Slavery

Armstrong Gun

Armstrong Gun

Rebel Submarine

Rebel Submarine

Launch of the Minotaur

Remington Revolver Ad

Soldier in the Snow

White Slaves

White Slaves

New York's Central Park

Central Park






[JANUARY 30, 1864.





WHAT are the prospects of the rebellion? The year opens upon our firm hold of our advanced lines, but from beyond them comes no sound or sign of submission from the leading rebels. These leaders, of course, contemplate exile as the last resort. But in the mean while what are they waiting for?

The actual situation of affairs within the Confederacy, as we may conveniently call the area of the rebellion, is easily comprehended from any intelligent witness. We had lately the pleasure, for instance, of talking with a Mississippi merchant who left his home at the end of last September. He says that the disappointment in the result of the rebellion is universal. The Southern people had been deluded into the belief that secession was the easiest thing in the world, and that peace and prosperity would wait upon the unfolding of the Confederate flag. But they have discovered that a war, which is now more hopeless for them than ever, has already ruined them. Trade is at an end. Money is worthless. All industrial activity of every kind is devoted exclusively to the army. In every little hamlet throughout the spare population of the South there is a perfect system of military despotism—the Provost Marshal and his guards exercising a direct supervision over the conduct of men who are individually known, so that the Union men have a tacit understanding only, and every man must always seem zealous in support of the rebel Government. The conscription has swept away every body who can go, and our informant left to avoid being forced into the rebel army. The slaves, who are not ignorant of the reason, are drawn toward the interior; and throughout the rebel domain a terror prevails as absolute as that of France in the worst days of the French Revolution.

Meanwhile the leaders, seeing these things, knowing that general gloom is settling upon the hearts of their followers; that their army is suffering, complaining, and deserting; that the tenacity of the North begins to tell fatally upon the ardor of the South; that the English Government clearly believes the rebel cause to be hopeless, and no other friend yet appears—still doggedly persist, nor even try the experiment upon the North of a bold offer of negotiation.

What is the ground of this persistence? The late correspondent of the London Times in this country, the Chevalier Galenga, said that the rebels were desperate, and that it is desperate men who work miracles. But their position is not difficult to comprehend. The leaders know that the condition of their section could not be more wretched than it is. Their army is now the supreme dominant power, and that removes the fear of popular disturbance. While the army is faithful they are safe from revolution; and as the entire industry of the section is tributary to the army, and the army, composed of the poor whites, is well subordinated to its chiefs, so long as those chiefs are faithful the fidelity of the army is tolerably secure. The pledge of the chiefs' fidelity is in their allegiance to their own class, the slaveholders, for whose interest the war is waged, and in their personal peril. The real leader of the rebels, therefore, is General Lee, who is called "the great Captain;" and if he should declare himself Dictator there is no personal hold upon popular affection or enthusiasm which could save Jefferson Davis, who is regarded as a cold, aristocratic man, whose ability has not been demonstrated by the event of the war.

The rebel leaders, thus comparatively sure of the army, and consequently of the domestic quiet secured by a military despotism, count further upon the ultimate fatigue of the North in waging so costly a war, upon the natural reaction which always follows a prolonged tension of the public mind, and upon the financial confusion which they believe will presently overtake us, as it has already overwhelmed them. They count upon the old prejudice against color and the name Abolitionists, to which the Northern allies of the rebels constantly appeal in the effort to prove the war an "Abolition war;" and upon Copperhead success in persuading the people that if the war is constitutionally waged it is impossible to subdue "our Southern brethren," while if it is not constitutionally waged, then the rebels are no more traitors than we.

To these grounds of rebel persistence must be added the expectation of aid from Louis Napoleon, arising from the necessities of his Mexican conquest. For if the Government of the United States subdues the rebellion the French Emperor can not suppose it will remain utterly indifferent to the success of an enterprise undertaken in the full expectation of the overthrow of that Government. But snubbed abroad by Earl Russell in the affair of the European Congress, politely threatened at home with a stoppage of supplies by Thiers, can he retire from Mexico without a loss of prestige fatal to his future? On the other hand, can he remain there upon any terms so sure as the division of this country; and can that be secured so effectively as by direct recognition, treaty as a

preferred power, and forcing the blockade? If Europe were likely to assent to such a course he would hardly be deterred under the circumstances by the prospect of a war with this country, because he would rather take the chance of helping the rebels fight us, than of withdrawing from Mexico and fighting Europe to recover his prestige. In pondering the question, the struggle of England would be between the immediate aggrandizement of France if she assented, and the threatening victory of republican principles in this country if she refused to assent. Her political instinct leads her to fear our success; but her present position would be imperiled by a policy which planted France upon this continent, giving her the mines of Mexico and the cotton of our Southern States. And as England always acts upon present and not upon future contingencies, we may believe that she would not favor French interference in our struggle.

It is in such considerations that we find the explanation of rebel persistence after their cause is apparently lost. And they point very plainly to our duty. It is to destroy their armies in the field, and the system for whose defense those armies were raised. For the system is radically and absolutely incompatible with free popular government, and is therefore perpetual rebellion. The war is the proof of it. For whether the Abolitionists or the Secessionists are responsible for it, there would have been neither Abolitionists nor Secessionists without slavery. Every good man and faithful American citizen, therefore, rejoices that to save the Union it was necessary to destroy slavery, and in destroying slavery to pierce the heart of rebellion.


"IF you can succeed in putting your new army in the field," said a rebel Georgia officer lately to a loyal Captain, "we shall have nothing to put against it." If the Georgia prisoner could take a run through the western part of the State of New York he would not doubt that the new National army was coming; for the enthusiasm of enlistment is as great and universal as it was at the beginning of the war. At every military post the crowds are constantly arriving, and the men who are joining the army are of the very best kind. This is true not only of this State, but, as our readers will have seen, of other States, from Vermont to Indiana. The prolongation of the time for paying the bounties is a wise deference to the activity and spirit of the people, and unless something should check the present feeling, no draft will be needed.

What a splendid and imposing testimony this is to the character of the people! What an evidence, which no foreign statesman and no student of men and history can overlook, of the tenacity and strength of a popular Government! It is the third year of the war; we have spent enormous sums; we have endured disasters, delays, and dangers of every kind; we have seen the noblest and best of our youth lay down their lives for the country and human liberty; every call of the lawful authorities has been seconded by the popular heart the draft, a measure alway disagreeable, however necessary—after one desperate movement of resistance in the city of New York, which was utterly quelled—has been peaceably enforced every where according to its terms;—and now the whole people rises to respond to another call, cheering for the American Union and Liberty until the air rings from the ocean to the Mississippi!

Let us hope that the great shout may be heard by the hearts of the betrayed and deluded citizens of the Southern States, who, under the lead of despotic chiefs, have taken up arms against the Government of their country. For however deep and just and enduring may be the national indignation with those leaders; however firm may be the national resolution that the cause of rebellion shall be destroyed at the same time with its armed hand, in order that the great mass of Southern men, of every kind and color, may enjoy all their rights and peace be permanent, there is not, we sincerely believe, even in the hearts that have been wrung and broken by the chances of this war, any feeling of hostility to the citizens of the South. Of slavery, which has perverted the Government, and which has left those citizens poor and ignorant and wretched, there is now an intelligent and therefore an immortal hate in the breast of the American people. But the cause of the masses of the country in the North and the South is really one, and therefore it is that we hope the present may be not only an uprising of the North, but an awakening of the South, and consequently a final victory of the people over oligarchs and traitors.


WHEN the war began two things were inevitable: first, that the loathsome secret history of the slave system in this country would be exposed; and, second, that the appalled and indignant common sense of the people would see that no honorable peace was possible except upon condition of the annihilation of the system. Indeed all that the friends of liberty and human rights in this country have ever asked is the freedom

of speech. In the days when the Abolitionists were hunted as wild beasts they said calmly that if they were only allowed to speak and tell the truth their victory was sure. And because through fires of hate and rage they persisted in speaking they are the saviours of American liberty. The slave-drivers and their political allies at the North knew equally well that if the constitutional right of discussion were allowed the horrors of the system would be known, and the outraged decency and humanity of the American people would sweep away the iniquity in a flood of wrath. So at the South these gentry hung, and burned, and tarred and feathered, and mobbed every citizen who chose to speak or was suspected of wishing to speak; while at the North the panders of slavery denounced the discussion of the subject, incited mobs against the speakers, and driveled through all their papers and speeches, smooth and dreary slop about the Christianity, and fraternity, and simplicity of "the institution," until people who were prevented by these same efforts from hearing the facts of the case really believed that a society planted upon slavery was a kind of scriptural idyl and patriarchal Arcadia.

The moment these gentry saw political power pass from their hands they knew that the terrible truth would be told, and annihilate their "institution," and therefore they made their grand and desperate movement to destroy the Government and plunge us all into common ruin. And they are right so far as they anticipated the consequences of a popular knowledge of slavery. The war has brought the people of this country face to face with this unspeakable infamy of slavery. The working-men of the Free States, now soldiers in the field, no longer owe their knowledge of it to what Governor Seymour, or Mr. S. F. B. Morse, or Judge Woodward, or Bishop Hopkins, or any newspaper chooses to say of it to advance a political party; they see the thing itself as Mrs. Kemble describes it, as Mr. Olmsted describes it, as Thomas Jefferson describes it, as John Randolph describes it; they see it, indeed, as no human pen can describe it, exactly as General Butler, so long its apologist through ignorance and party-spirit, found it in New Orleans, and as it is in every State, in every city, on every plantation, a double-handed curse, smiting both slave and master.

A terrible illustration of this truth of the outrage of all natural human affections we present today in the engravings, from photographs, of slave children upon page 69 of this paper. These are, of course, the offspring of white fathers through two or three generations. They are as white, as intelligent, as docile, as most of our own children. Yet the "chivalry," the "gentlemen" of the Slave States, by the awful logic of the system, doom them all to the fate of swine; and, so far as they can, the parents and brothers of these little ones destroy the light of humanity in their souls. Then, lest the "chivalry" that sells its children, and the "gentlemen" who seduce the most friendless and defenseless of women, should withdraw their custom, the St. Lawrence Hotel, in Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, turns the children—flying not for life only, but the girls for their honor, and the boys for their manhood—into the street; upon which they were received and kindly welcomed at the Continental. At a time when, to perpetuate the system which defies the law of God and the instinct of man, the slaveholders are destroying loyal men, noble sons of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania with the rest, the St. Lawrence Hotel strives to propitiate those at the South who do this iniquity, and those at the North who support them in it, by refusing to receive the children whose portraits we give. So every where humanity falls at the touch of this "institution." And so, by God's blessing, the humanity and wisdom of the American People is at this moment touching Slavery to its destruction. Little children like these in the picture this country no longer turns away into untold horrors and despair; but its heart whispers to them, gently, "Suffer little children to come unto me!"


THE passengers from Boston by the night train on Saturday the 16th January were due in New York early on Sunday morning. The train reached New Haven at half past two in the morning, where it should have met the train upon the Shore road, and the same locomotive would have drawn both to New York. The Shore train was not there. It did not arrive for more than five hours; and during all that time the passengers were detained in the cavern called a station at New Haven, simply because the New Haven Company does not choose to provide for the most common occurrence, namely a delay upon the Shore road. Arriving in New York toward Sunday noon, about six hours late, there was not the slightest provision at the station in Twenty-seventh Street for the convenience of the passengers. There was not a carriage to be found, and even the luggage was carried off into the Harlem station.

The overcrowding of the cars upon this road is notorious, and is the subject of indignant but

fruitless complaint in the daily papers; but such an outrageous delay as that of Saturday night, caused by the stinginess and total want of consideration for the public convenience upon the part of the management of the New Haven Company, ought to be universally exposed. The poor conductor was badgered with every form of impatient complaint, but his instructions, he said, were imperative, and he could not disobey them. Some of the passengers, hearing that one of the directors or managers of the road lived in the city of New Haven, proposed a call upon him before light on Sunday morning; but the conductor declined to tell where he lived. There was in fact no remedy whatever; for the instructions are that the Shore train shall be waited for on Saturday night at New Haven until such an hour as enables the conductor to push on to New York in time to return on Sunday evening.

We doubt if there be another great line in the country which can match such a want of honorable enterprise; and we warn every passenger who proposes to make the journey on Saturday night by rail from Boston to New York, that he is exposed to the risk of this grievous delay at New Haven.


LET US hope that Mr. Randall, of Pennsylvania, and all other gentlemen in Congress and elsewhere, will spare us any further propositions that the Government of the United States shall ask the rebel chiefs what kind of Union prisoners they are willing to exchange. For the rebels have but one kind of prisoners, namely, United States soldiers. To allow them to say that they will not exchange young men, but that we may have all the old men; that they will not exchange Frenchmen, but we may have as many Irishmen as we want; that they will not give us white men, but we may take as many colored men as we choose, or vice versa, is simply to offer to the rebel leaders a decision, which, until a Government is utterly humiliated, it always retains. It is for us to show rebels that when we choose to accept the service of a soldier we guarantee him a respect and protection exactly equal with that of all other soldiers. Mr. Randall and his friends will probably learn that truth before long, as well as Mr. Jeff Davis and his friends.


MR. JOSEPH DURHAM, the sculptor, has begun a marble bast of Thackeray for the Garrick Club. It seems that Thackeray had been long subject to severe spasms in the stomach, and Mr. Sala says that his life has hung by a thread, and that, in his smiling way, he used to say that his machinery seemed at such times to stop and go on again, but that some day it would stop and not go on. On the night of his death his mother, who slept in the room over him, heard him moving in his chamber, as she often did when he was ill. In the morning his valet came in and saw Thackeray lying quietly upon his back. He put some coffee upon the table by the bedside, and upon entering again and finding it untasted, saw that it was not sleep but death.

The funeral was a noble tribute to the beloved friend, the great author, the simple-hearted, affectionate man. All the famous men in literature and art were there; and his daughters broke through what the Spectator truly calls a "senseless and decaying etiquette," and came with their father's body to the grave, and saw the last that human eye shall see of that fond parent. Long ago, in his first American visit, he took out his purse one day, and holding up a bright gold dollar, said, tenderly, "That is the first money that I touched in America for my work. That goes to my girls! Don't I wish to see them!"

Thackeray was buried in Kensal Green. It was a general feeling that Westminster Abbey should have been his monument, as it is of so much else that has been illustrious in England. But it matters little. His grave will be a shrine of affectionate pilgrimage wherever it is. Could there be better words written upon the head-stone than those he wrote in the beginning of his lecture upon Swift? "The humorous writer professes to awaken and direct your love, your pity, your kindness—your scorn for untruth, pretension, imposture—your tenderness for the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the unhappy. To the best of his means and ability he comments on all the ordinary actions and passions of life almost. He takes upon himself to be the week-day preacher, so to speak. Accordingly, as he finds, and speaks, and feels the truth best, we regard him, esteem him—sometimes love him. And, as his business is to mark other people's lives and peculiarities, we moralize upon his life when he is gone—and yesterday's preacher becomes the text for to-day's sermon."


DEAR MR. EDITOR,—We often hear of the good Samaritan—I saw him the other day in a Jersey ferry omnibus. When I took my seat, I found on the other side, near the door, there was a sick soldier. Very ill, wan, and emaciated he looked, with dark circles round his eyes, and the cape of his overcoat put up over his cap to keep off any breath of air, while his thin hands were bare to the winter cold.

Some one got out who sat next him; immediately the place was taken by a man from the opposite side, who pulled off his own warm gloves and handed them to the soldier. He feebly attempted (Next Page)




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