The Battle of Liberty Place

After reading more of Joe Gray Taylor’s Louisiana Reconstructed, I learned that there was quite an audience watching the battle: “thousands of spectators watched from windows, rooftops, and boats on the Mississippi” (Taylor 294). I suppose it must have been a spectacular sight to see such a large fight break out in downtown New Orleans. I also learned that Longstreet and Badger’s forces faced a much larger regiment of troops with the White League commanding around 8,400 men while Longstreet and Badger had about 3,600 men. As Taylor notes, the casualties on both sides were relatively light considering the number of men involved and the rather close quarters fighting in downtown New Orleans. The Republican side lost eleven men with sixty others wounded, while the White League lost twenty-one men with nineteen wounded.

Joe Gray Taylor. Louisiana Reconstructed 1863-1877. Louisiana State University Press, 1974.

Al Spalding Father of Baseball

A major person in Al Spalding baseball career was William Hulbert. William Hulbert was the founder of the National League of baseball. He determined that the League should be founded on square dealings, recognition of contracts, and business integrity along with a more orderly game on the field through prohibitions on drinking, gambling, and Sunday baseball. He was also the owner of the Chicago White Stockings. Hulbert was able to get Al Spalding away from the Boston Red Caps with a huge contract and with him he gained few other players from Boston. William Hulbert’s Chicago White Stockings one the first National League championship.

William A. Hulbert, president of National League

William A. Hulbert, president of NationalLeague,The A. G. Spalding Baseball Collection at Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=137670&imageID=56505&total=10&num=0&word=national%20league%20of%20baseball&s=1&notword=&d=&c=&f=&k=1&lWord=&lField=&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&sort=&imgs=20&pos=2&e=r&cdonum=0

Al Spalding and the beginning of the National League

When looking up information about Al Spalding I found a lot of  interesting stuff, particularly about how baseball leagues functioned at the time.  The National League was established in 1876.   William Hulbert convinced great players to switch teams. In 1876, the National League had eight teams in it, four from the East and four from the West. Surprisingly I also found out that teams were named after the socks they wore, like the Boston Red Stockings and St Louis Browns. In March of 1876, Hulbert convinced three other players to move to Chicago but I am having trouble on finding how much they made.

Boston Red Stockings, DATE. Photographer. Collection. Link.

Al Spalding (center) and the Boston Red Stockings, DATE. Photographer. Collection. Link.

Al Spalding

Al Spalding, The A. G. Spalding Baseball Collection at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=137988&imageID=56180&word=albert%20spalding&s=1&notword=&d=&c=&f=&k=1&lWord=&lField=&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&sort=&total=575&num=0&imgs=20&pNum=&pos=13

Al Spalding: Father of Baseball

While studying Al Spalding, I have learned much about how baseball became the sport it is today. Before 1876, baseball was a fairly corrupt sport. The creation of the National League helped to create a governing body over all the teams, removing the gambler’s influences, stabilizing franchises and ending the dominance of the Boston Red Stockings. Why would it matter if the league did not have central authority? Well, without some authority governing the league teams they would break commitments to play other teams, for instance, if they knew they would not have a chance to win the championship. It would be like the Jacksonville Jaguars refusing to travel to the West Coast to play. After the 1876 season, two teams were expelled from the National League for refusing to travel to the West to play their road games during the season. When Al Spalding left Boston for Chicago, it demonstrated that even popular and great players could switch teams and make a difference. Al Spalding’s move was quick and sudden, and the move had an influence on other players. With players switching teams, all the teams became more equally good. In Al Spalding’s career, we can see the end of Boston’s dominance in the league and the rise of other national teams.

With the creation of the National Leagues, baseball became a fairer sport. The League is now over hundred years old and running strong with fifteen teams, arguably with no team having clear dominance over the others. With the creation of the American League, the National league began playing a championship World Series in 1903.

Some stats on Spalding:

During the 1876 season, Al Spalding could be seen as the MVP. During that year  as a pitcher he played in 61 games completing 53 games of them and played in 528.2 innings. He faced 2,219 batters with only allowing 542 hits with 6 home runs. During those games he had 39 strike outs allowing 226 runs but had 8 shutouts and 7 double plays.  Overall he won 47 games. As a batter with 292 at bats during 66 games, Spalding had 75 singles 14 doubles 2 triples and zero home runs. He had also 91 hits and was shuck out 3 times and got out 201 times. He also made 54 runs and batted in 44 other players to make runs.

Battle of Little Bighorn: The Education of Marcus Albert Reno

Portrait of Marcus Albert Reno, Western History Department, Denver Public Library, format photo on glass plate, contributor Barr D.F., 1874

Marcus Albert Reno studied at West Point military academy. He was quite the trouble maker in his tenure at the school. He was placed on probation and had to sit out for two year-long stints. You would think someone in the military would not be defiant of the rules but Marcus finally graduated in 1857. As an officer in the military he was commended for his bravery and during the Civil War where he was a captain in the Union Army. Among his troops, however, he was found to be a unpleasant person to be around and some called him a heavy drinker. The more I look into this guy the more I realize why people did not like him.

Cayetano Mariotini: The 19th-Century Circus & Cayetano’s Tour

This week I am trying to focus on the importance of the circus in the 19th century.  During the 19th century European circuses and American circus began to diverge.  The circuses in Europe, continued on in much of the same manner as before, using a single ring.  The towns were relatively closer together in Europe, which allowed traveling shows to use horse drawn carriages as they made their way around the country. European tent shows were compact as the audiences, who would come from surrounding villages, tended to be small.  In the United States, however, conditions were very different.  The distances between communities were much longer.   The new railways allowed  for the traveling shows to cover greater distances more efficiently – and  the great train shows were born. Also, as the shows tended to be tied to the railway lines, they drew crowds from larger areas.  To accommodate the larger numbers, circus owners added extra rings with bigger and bigger tents – or “tops”. The small circus show became an event with a large cast of performers, more extravagant animals, production numbers, and side shows. From this point forward the United States led the way and European shows, though still tending towards a single ring, began to follow with their own more extravagant productions. With the increased cost of production came an increased awareness for the need to publicize the show more effectively. An advance crew would arrive well ahead of the show to post advertisements for the upcoming event.

Cayetano Mariotini (a.k.a Gaetano Mariotini) immigrated from Cuba to New York in 1809.  I have found him referenced by both names in various publications.  I have also found that he may have immigrated to Cuba from Italy.  He ran a circus with Jean Baptiste Casmiere Breschard and Victor Pepin. The circus traveled around the eastern seaboard. Their circus moved on west to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1814. Breschard and Pepin soon went back east, while “Mr. Cayetano” operated his own circus in what was then the West (Ohio and Kentucky).  Cayetano performed as a clown, an acrobat, and a horse rider.  On June 25, 1812, he was the first to exhibit an elephant (named “Old Bet”) in the United States.  Cayetano worked his way south along the Mississippi River, performing in Natchez, Mississippi, from October 1815 through February 1816.  From Natchez, his company went to New Orleans.

Below is a broadside from Cayetano’s circus when it appeared in Montreal, Canada in 1812. I am still trying to find this image in higher resolution in order to read the full  text.

http://www.friendsoflibraryandarchivescanada.ca/en/acquisitions_summary.php

Louisiana Woman – A Daughter’s Death

Source:  Illustrated Guide and Sketch Book to New Orleans (New York, 1884).

Caroline had four children, her oldest daughter was Laura and her next was Clara and she had two sons, David and Edwin. Her children all grew and married and were very close to her.

Laura was married in their home on Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans. She married Louis J. Bright and would have three children. Caroline and her family would spend summers alternately in Myrtle Grove and the North, or the Virginia Springs.

She writes of her insight as a mother very beautifully. She says, “It takes love and wisdom and proper environment to bring both to their best; but sometimes evil hereditary and vicious social institutions prove stronger than all of these combined forces of the home. The nation can never know the power and beauty of the mother until it evolves a true protective tenderness for the child, and encompasses it with safest conditions for its development.”

She goes on to say when her daughters won friends it was gratifying to her. She was proud when her daughter visited her on her reception day: “I should be happy to claim a half-hour of my mother’s society if she were not related to me.” Caroline was very content with her two happily married daughters settled near to her.

Tragedy would come. On September 1, 1878, while in the North for the summer, she received a telegram saying, “Laura died at 12 o’clock.” Caroline had pled with her to leave New Orleans with her for the summer. As Laura and her husband were very devoted to each other, they did not like to be apart. Unfortunately, she fell victim to the yellow fever epidemic which ravished New Orleans.

The last thing Laura wrote her mother was, “Fear not for me, dearest mother,”was on her last postal card. “My trust is in God.” Her husband Louis was frantic. He had the added pain of knowing it might have been different had she not stayed that summer. He said “I shall never grow accustomed to the hard fact that her bright and heavenly presence must be forever wanting in her own home, and shall never again grace mine. She died saying, ‘Jesus is with me!’ ” There was no one too old or too poor, or too uninteresting to receive Laura’s attention.  She was ever active in charities and a useful director of St. Ann’s Asylum (picture above) located at 1823 Prytania Street, New Orleans.  It still stands today.

There could be no greater loss of a mother than to lose a child.   It was after Laura’s death her husband encouraged her to do something for women, to help turn her grief into action.   Early in the year 1897 a State Constitutional Convention assembled in New Orleans.  The Board of Control of St. Ann’s Asylum, an institution for the relief of destitute women and children, was given $1000 by a German inmate on her deathbed.  Mrs. Elizabeth L. Saxon was going to speak as well.   Mrs. Saxon encouraged Caroline to appear and speak of the women’s grievances.  Mrs. Saxon told her, “Instead of grieving yourself to death for your daughter who is gone, rise up out of the ashes and do something for the other women who are left!’

It is through this event she began to spend her future days fighting for Women’s Suffrage.  Ultimately, her crusade continued the rest of her life.  She was president of the New Orleans, and state of Louisiana chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.  In 1892, she organized the first women’s suffrage association in Louisiana and helped form a State Woman Suffrage Association with her as president.

Sources: Caroline Merrick. Old Times in Dixieland, (New York: The Grafton Press, 1901) and Samantha LaDart, Caroline Merrick and Women’s Rights in Louisiana.

The Battle of Liberty Place: Previous Interpretations

In regards to both my microhistory and my master’s thesis, I think I have found some encouraging signs in regards to my topic. I could certainly be wrong, but in all of my research on the Battle of Liberty Place, I have found only one book that is entirely based on the battle and it is The Battle of Liberty Place by Stuart Omer Landry published in 1955. I did find a doctoral dissertation by Jacob Wagner published in 2004 that talks about the monument that was dedicated to those who fought at the battle and how the battle has been remembered in public memory. Wagner’s dissertation does touch on some topics I would have liked to have brought up, but after skimming Wagner’s work it seems that he chose to focus on public memory in the twentieth century whereas I am more interested in the battle itself and its immediate repercussions. One of the reasons I initially became interested in the Battle of Liberty Place is how such an important conflict has been forgotten in today’s society. Stuart Omer Landry complains in his introduction that people have already forgotten the conflict by the mid 1950’s.

I have also found another excellent resource in Joe Gray Taylor’s book Louisiana Reconstructed. After reading a bit of Taylor’s book, I learned that the conflict began when the metropolitan police stopped a shipment of guns from landing in New Orleans. The guns were for the White League and the police were trying to prevent the league from arming. This act was the last straw for the White League, and on September 14, 1874 tensions came to a boiling point and the Battle of Liberty Place broke out.

Louisiana Woman – Laundry Chores

The young housekeeper--Washing day

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/00651073/

The young housekeeper–Washing day, c. 1870. F.L. Stuber, photographer. Bethlehem, PA. 1 photographic print on stereo card : stereograph.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

While reading about Caroline Merrick and researching, I came upon the subject of doing laundry.  This was very much a part of nineteenth century living for women in the North.  I believe many women in the South had slaves that probably did all of the washing as most women lived on plantations.

The task of doing laundry was so laborious and burdensome; I have decided to include it in my final paper.  In considering how we do laundry today and reading about past methods, it seems unfair to complain about it with our modern conveniences.

For instance, women in the nineteenth century who labored as domestic workers (as we’re reading in Martha Hodes’s The Sea Captain’s Wife)  did not simply dust the knick-knacks in middle-class parlors. They also had to clean grime from fireplaces and clean mud tracked inside from the unpaved streets.

Washing clothes was done most frequently and was the most burdensome.  First, the soap had to be made.  This involved melting and boiling cooking grease and lard, ashes and lime.  Then it was cooked over fire until it hardened.  After this the water had to be hauled, a fire built to heat the water, then soaking, stirring and scrubbing the clothes against a washboard.  Finally, rinsed, wrung and hung to dry individually.

With all our modern conveniences today, there is no comparison to what the women of nineteenth century had to endure.

Source: Hodes, Martha. The Sea Captain’s Wife. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007.

Astor Place Riot – Edwin Forrest as Emblem of the Middle Class

So if you’ve been following this particular blog, you’ve noticed how relevant I think class structure is to the culmination of the Astor Place Riot. In a somewhat tabloid-y account published about the event recently after it occurred, evidence of this idea can be observed and used to back that claim.

For instance, when the “horrors of that night” are described, one of the details given is that “An aged mother found her only son, the sole support of her declining years, in the agonies of death.”

Why would the writer deem it necessary to include that part about the “sole support” ? Because it was a common situation that readers could recognize? Was it just to create a more dramatic story for selling more copies of this piece? Why would that be a dramatic detail? It can’t be dramatic unless people care about it, and people aren’t really going to care about it, unless it can potentially affect them in some way, right?

This seems like a situation that could potentially be available to members of any class, which is important when you’re trying to sell as many papers to as many people as you can. Immediately after this, though, an introduction and description of Edwin Forrest is given, that leads me to interpret this detail in a more class-oriented way.

It is a pretty favorable report of his life before the riot. We learn that “he was born in humble life, and worked his way up from poverty and obscurity to wealth and fame, by the power of genius [italics mine].” Is this not the very definition of what it means to be “middle class” in the nineteenth century?  Well, even beyond that, really. This is the basis of that whole “American Dream” idea, which is maybe why patriotism seemed to play such a big role in this event as well.

In fact, in the very next paragraph, the writer informs us that one of the reasons Forrest became so famous was because he was “puffed in all the papers as the Native Tragedian — the patriotism of New-Yorkers was appealed to.”  When the description of Macready follows, it is notably shorter and less flattering.

Almost immediately the writer conveys the story about how there was a big stink made about how he had off-handedly insulted the entirety of America by making some comment about how he couldn’t get a certain kind of arrow that he needed for a prop in a performance.  This exploded in the papers. Such sensitive patriotism! It’s as if people are SO aware of WHO they (and everyone else) are (or are not) that everyone is primed and ready for immediately being on the defensive. People are very touchy about identity, which makes sense when considering the importance given to who gets to be a member of which social class (and who doesn’t).

Here’s a picture of some “Forrest Medals.” A few included phrases? “Born in the city of Philadelphia, PA” and “rose by his own efforts”:

Forrest Medals, Samuel Sartain, 1830-1906, printmaker.  line engraving ; image approx. 8 x 5 in., Forrest medals [graphic], Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection, http://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/detail/FOLGERCM1~6~6~272676~118972:Forrest-medals–graphic—-Samuel-S?sort=Author%2CCD_Title%2CImprint%2CImprint&qvq=q:edwin%2Bforrest;sort:Author%2CCD_Title%2CImprint%2CImprint;lc:FOLGERCM1~6~6&mi=35&trs=51

Edwin Forrest Medal, Copper, Joseph H. Merriam Medals Collection, http://www.medals4trade.com/collections/displayimage.php?album=1215&pos=9

Extras:

  • If you don’t know about this, you should. It’s a really useful tool for browsing primary sources in libraries all over the world: https://archive.org/