I’m still not 100% sure, but I think I want to do my microhistory on Union officer A. S. Badger. After reading some of Stuart Omer Landry’s book The Battle of Liberty Place, I learned that A. S. Badger was stationed in New Orleans as a Colonel in the Union army during the City’s occupation, and would move to New Orleans after the war (Landry 77). During the battle of Liberty Place, Badger was in command of a force of Police officers that were stationed at the Cabildo, fighting on the side of William Pitt Kellogg and the Republicans (Landry 96). After a bit of digging, I found Justin A. Nystrom’s recent book, New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom. Nystrom mentions that Badger led the Rex parade on more than one occasion, and I would like to see if I could find more on this part of Badger’s life (Nystrom 134).
I have been reviewing questions on the life of military men in this day of age. How did they live, travel, eat, and fight. The research has been intense. I have not found a photo of Major Marcus Albert Reno yet, but I should have one by next week. I am trying to focus on the mind set of the men that followed Custer and what they thought of him. Likes and dislikes, were they in it for the pay check or did they believe in the cause? Maybe they did not like the war with the Indians.
Well, I had decided on a topic but hadn’t yet settled on a person to concentrate on. I’ve been looking at the Astor Place Riot of 1849. I was attracted to it because of the issues involving class structure that led up to such violence. Basically what happened was that two famous Shakespearean actors were pitted against each other because they’d come to represent the privileged elite on one side and the common working man on the other.
William Charles Macready was an English traditionalist when it came to performing and Edwin Forrest became popular by performing in a less formal American style. When Macready was headlining, the Astor Place Opera House began requiring a dress code including kid gloves and they charged a much higher entrance fee for exclusionary purposes. Because of this, Macready’s performance becomes representative of aristocratic privilege and oppression of American laborers. There is a very public back-and-forth between the actors in the newspapers, and eventually things became so heated that a riot ensued.
I was surprised to learn that this wasn’t really atypical. Supposedly, riots were generally planned ahead of time. Here’s a flyer for this particular one:
What’s different about the Astor Place riot is that it turned out to be very deadly because the recently-formed police force and state militia (that were controlled by the powerful elite) was given access to and instructed to use their weapons. This was the first time government authorities had ever fired live ammunition into a crowd of citizens in this country, and this was the result:
As I said earlier, I haven’t necessarily decided on a specific person to focus on, but I’m leaning towards Edwin Forrest, the American actor.
He was supposed to be popular partly due to his rugged good looks.
This is what he looks like:
- This is a link to a bunch of pictures that may help you get a feel for what the neighborhood looked like: http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2012/10/24/chronicling_astor_places_evolution_in_25_historic_photos.php
- This guy is selling the actual newspapers that have the stories printed in them. Here’s one mentioning the riot and other current topics like “The Slavery Question in Kentucky”: http://www.rarenewspapers.com/view/594703
I’m doing my microhistory on Al Spalding. He became a huge sports icon in the nineteenth century. I am going to be focusing on his career in baseball from when he started until he ended his career. But he is known today more for making sport equipment for all kinds of sports. Many sports players use his equipment nowadays but know little about the man who made them. In the nineteenth century he was a great player.
So far, I have found two biographies of Al Spalding as well as his “Hall of Fame” page. A stat sheet of Al Spalding from his years from playing baseball also survives. I’ll also use sources on the history of sport and baseball in the nineteenth century.
I think I am going to change my microhistory a bit and instead look at the Battle of Liberty Place as a whole from the perspectives of not only James Longstreet, but also Republican Governor at the time William Pitt Kellogg and the opposing White League leader, John McEnery. In my research thus far, it seems that not much has been written on not only the views of these men, but also the battle itself. I have also been reading up on the Colfax massacre and I was thinking of maybe taking my microhistory in that direction somehow. In any case, I have found that Reconstruction violence in 1870’s Louisiana to be a deeply fascinating subject.
Cayetano Mariotini, a Cuban immigrant, brought his circus to New Orleans in the early 1800s. He set up his tents on South Rampart Street in the spot known variously as Place des Nègres, Place Publique, later Circus Square–and finally by its current name, Congo Square. Cayetano and his wife entertained the residents of New Orleans with equestrian acts. In 1816, Cayetano built the Olympia Theater, adjoining his circus. The new theater was not a successful, and he soon found himself in significant debt, so much so that he had to sign over his ten horses, a “jackass”, and an enslaved man named William to his creditors as security. When he died in October 1818, his debts still unpaid, the creditors brought suit against his estate, asking that the property he had signed over to them be sold. Thus, Cayetano’s horses went on the block. Below are the court documents in which Cayetano’s estate was sued to pay the $10,000 worth of debt left after his death and an excerpt from a book regarding a song that Africans in the square sang about him (which I found to be rather interesting).
According to Herbert Asbury, “The ire of the Governor had been thoroughly aroused by one of the most flagrant of all the rowdy exploits of the flatboat crews–an attack upon Cayetano’s Circus, which had been showing in New Orleans so long–apparently it first appeared in the city soon after the American occupation–that it had become almost an institution. Its many wonders were celebrated in a song, of innumerable verses, which the Negroes sang on the streets and in the market-places. It began”:
‘Tis Monsieur Cayetano
Who comes out from Havana
With his horses and his monkeys!
He has a man who dances in a sack;
He has one who dances on his hands;
He has another who drinks wine on horseback;
He has also a pretty young lady
Who rides a horse without bridle or saddle.
To tell you all about it I am not able–
But I remember one who swallowed a sword.
. . . .
Herbert Asbury. The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underground. New York: Capricorn Books, 1936, p. 97
A record of the property sold at a court-ordered sheriff’s sale to settle a debt of more than $10,000 left by the late Cayetano Mariotini, 1818.
As I mentioned in my last post, I have come across a woman by the name of Caroline Merrick in a book I found at the New Orleans Historic Collection. Since that time, I have gone to the UNO Library and found out they have all of the books there that I found at the HNOC. One of the books can actually be checked out so I did just that. The name of the book is Old Times in Dixie Land, A Southern Matron’s Memoirs. Ms Merrick wrote much about her daily life and feelings in the book. I must add she writes very well and it is an enjoyable read.
I feel fortunate to have found such a book written by the person herself. I am making notes as I start reading hoping that I may formulate a topic so as to start an outline soon. There is also a picture of Ms Merrick in the book and I will try to post it to the blog by next week.
I feel keeping with a schedule may be very helpful toward reaching the goal of the final project.
I have been researching the battle of Little Big Horn. I have found the man about whom I am going to write my paper. Major Marcus Albert Reno was a part of General George Custer’s army at the Battle of Little of Little Big Horn. He was born in Carollton, IL in November 13, 1834.
My primary interest is in deviant behavior in New Orleans in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, so I intend to look further into prostitution. In preparation, I have reread Al Rose’s Storyville and Alicia Long’s The Great Southern Babylon. My next step will be to take a half step or so back in time, to the time before Storyville with Judith Schafer’s Brothels, Depravity, and Abandoned Women: Illegal Sex in Antebellum New Orleans and Emily Landau’s Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans, which covers about thirty years prior to the founding of Storyville as well as the history of the district itself. I am hoping to find a particular woman, or girl, to follow more closely in the archives, either through court documents, a journal or diary, or letters, possibly even mentioned in some doctor or charity hospital records, since these women were frequent visitors to the free clinics and emergency room in many cases, as a professional hazard.
My microhistory will be on Confederate General James Longstreet’s life in New Orleans after the Civil War. More specifically, I want to look at Longstreet’s role at the Battle of Liberty Place and how he was viewed by both sides of the conflict. I find Longstreet very interesting because he became a Republican after the war and lost a lot of respect from his fellow Confederates. I am anxious to find out how Longstreet’s political views changed after his conversion to the Republican Party.
As for my sources, I have a three biographies on Longstreet that were all written within the past 26 years, and Longstreet’s autobiography he wrote several years after the war. I also found a book at the UNO library on the Battle of Liberty Place which should contain a lot of crucial information. Tulane’s special collections have some letters that Longstreet wrote to local newspapers and magazines of the time and will hopefully prove to be a fantastic primary source.