Justin A. Nystrom’s book New Orleans After the Civil War has given me a lot of good information so far. I learned that the Battle of Liberty Place struck a great blow against the Republican Government of Louisiana and also the state militia, which was disbanded just a few years after the battle. I also found out that Algernon Sidney Badger was wounded more seriously than I initially thought. He was shot four times and only survived because his enemies admired his courage and brought him to a hospital. Not only that, a former member of the Metropolitan Police, who was fighting under Badger at Liberty Place, attempted to murder Badger in his office in the Customs House several years after the battle. A final interesting note I discovered was that the heaviest fighting during the battle took place where Harrah’s casino now stands.
National Anti-Suffrage Association, 1911 (?). Harris & Ewing, photographers. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
In looking up more information on Caroline Merrick, I found an article by Samantha LaDart called “Caroline Merrick and Women’s Rights in Louisiana” published in Loyola University (N.O) Student History Journal. As it turns out, Merrick is somewhat famous not as obscure as I hoped. But, just the same, I believe most people would not be that familiar with her unless they have studied much about women’s rights.
LaDart begins by spelling out how the southern woman was expected to be a model of virtue, a guardian of youth. Also, she points out that the ideal woman in the South differed from her counterpart in the North. As we have been reading in class, Northern women in the nineteenth-century experienced a shift of the female power in the home, to make the home a haven from the workplace. LaDart explains the woman’s weakness in the South is her strength and her only right is to be protected. With this right to protection she is obligated to obey. So the southern woman was expected to be nervous, fickle, and delicate so the man will worship and adore her. (Scarlet O’Hara?)
The article by LaDart, explains the feminine ideal was an essential part of the psychology of the institution of slavery. This struck me as I never associated the two, i.e., women’s rights and slavery. Submission to the master from the household was expected by all family members so as not to threaten the whole and therefore slavery itself.
However, the Civil War challenged the “right to protection” and the “obligation” that went along with it. During the war and Reconstruction women in Louisiana took on new roles for the first time. LaDart brings out how these changes in roles began Caroline Merrick on the road to lead women’s rights in Louisiana.
Merrick did many things during the war such as nursing the sick and wounded for both sides. She would often take dangerous voyages on the river for supplies. Additionally, she nursed her family and slaves on the plantation during the war years. Caroline Merrick enjoyed these new duties and she felt she had to use every faculty of her mind.
As an outcome of these new roles, women in Louisiana pushed for more responsibilities after the war; they could not go back to the pre-war days. Merrick pushed for the rest of her life for women’s rights and they were slow in coming. But progress she did make. She fought for women’s representation and the right to vote. She was the first woman to organize a woman’s suffrage association in Louisiana. It was called the Portia Club.
I plan to go more into this very important part of her life in the final blog. Hopefully, this whets the appetite. Also, please note the picture above how men were opposed to women’s rights!
I have been trying to find additional primary resources on Cayetano while I am patiently waiting for some secondary books about the circus in the early nineteenth century to arrive. I did some digging on Ancestry.com, and only found two records, but I have been debating whether or not to purchase the subscription. I found a slave purchase record and a death certificate which I can not look at until I purchase the subscription. This find led me to another website: http://www.ibiblio.org/laslave/ where you can access a lot of (FREE) information regarding slaves, for anyone who may need and/or are interested in this information.
Unfortunately, much of the primary information that I have found on Cayetano is pretty repetitive. I hope when I finally get my hands on one of the books that I have ordered, that I may find something new (fingers crossed).
According to Gwendolyn Midlo Hall’s database Afro-Louisiana History and Geneology, 1718-1820, Billy was a black male of unknown age, sold by Joseph Saul to Cayetano Mariotini. Billy was sold by himself (without other enslaved people or family members) for $800 on July 20, 1816.
Document Location: Orleans (including Chapitoulas).[Jefferson 1825]
Document Date: 1816-07-20
Document Number (from the document): 413
Notary Name: Lynd
For the full record see:
Heather S. Nathans in the theater department at the University of Maryland makes some good points about how these actors’ styles can represent and develop the whole British vs. America thing in the build up to the riot. Edwin Forrest’s style was this sort of “open and honest” way of performing that was much more emotionally accessible than the traditional English sort of “cold and removed” sort of way that William Macready used in his performances. This ends up translating into the way the actors are represented in a social context as well.
Nathans points out that Forrest “appealed to a kind of American sense of manners and naturalness and emotional accessibility, the same way that Andrew Burstein writes about in Sentimental Democracy, when he talks about these kinds of virtues of emotional openness coming to embody Jeffersonian democracy. You move away from the intellect, because intellect, not everyone can access. But honest, deep emotion—that, everyone can access.”
Forrest actually hisses during one of Macready’s performances (sort of an embodiment of that “American” passion) which is kind of the starting point of the ensuing public battle and one of Macready’s reactions is to write in his diary about how trivial and annoying that was (which kind of shows the more British subdued emotional coldness and withdrawal).
Then she goes on to say that “the performer who is touching these emotions—the performer who seems genuinely in touch with his passions and can unleash those in this unrestrained way on stage—he can embody these kind of ‘American’ virtues, whereas someone like Macready, who has a more formal aspect to him, and maybe is a more intellectually driven performer, doesn’t appeal in the same way and seems cold, seems restrained.”
The reason I think it’s important to note these things is because it really illustrates that, when things are building up to the riot, America is representatively pit against the British and by association, the oppressors against the repressed and the rich against the poor.
I really like the way Bruce McConachie, chair of theater arts and professor of theater arts at the University of Pittsburgh, kind of brings these ideas together. Some of the staunchest Forrest supporters are Tammany Hall Democrats, and their voters were “working class voters [that] think of themselves as strongly patriotic” and in some of the propaganda they produced they referred to Macready as the “pet of princes” and “denounce [him] as a symbol of aristocratic oppression. Not simply English oppression, but the oppression faced by working men, patriotic working men, by their employers.”
The image below pretty clearly, I think, shows the difference between who was on which side. The men on the side with the militia are very obviously better dressed than the working-class-looking men that are being shot at. (So it wasn’t just acting style vs. acting style, or even British vs. American, but very much rich vs. poor. You can SEE it in the picture that was published to portray the current event!)
Also, as it turns out, many of the people killed were Irish immigrant members of the working poor. (Remember that these are the people who are Edwin Forrest supporters and are feeling the most patriotic about being American.) This is fairly ironic, then, considering that Macready is actually Irish as well. I feel like this really just further demonstrates how this violence and protest really weren’t just about a preferred actor or even nationality, but about the inequality of the class structure and exploitation of the poor in the burgeoning American economy of the urban Northeast.
After reading some more of Justin A. Nystrom’s book New Orleans After the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom, I learned more about Algernon Sidney Badger’s role at the battle of Liberty Place and I also found Republican Governor Henry Clay Warmoth to be a fascinating character as well.
With A. S. Badger in command, the metropolitan police force was extremely well armed with not only a few Gatling guns and cannons, but a gunboat as well. I also discovered that A. S. Badger was fairly seriously wounded at the battle of Liberty Place.
Henry Clay Warmoth was the Governor of Louisiana from 1868 until 1872 and during this time it seems he caused quite a stir in Louisiana and New Orleans politics. Despite shady political tactics and questionable morals, Warmoth was able to create quite a following during his reign. I am quite interested to learn more about Henry Clay Warmoth and his political rise and fall.
Published by The Grafton Press, New York, Copyright by Caroline Merrick, 1901
Please note above the debut picture of my subject, Caroline Merrick.
While reading through her memoirs, Ms. Merrick’s life spanned through the Civil War. There are chapters in her book which express her experiences and feelings with slavery, living through the Civil War and the oppression of women as well as slaves. It seems women did not have much more freedom then some of the slaves.
One of her chapters named War Memories: The Story of Patsy’s Garden was quite sad. She tells the story of her neighbor, Mr. Thornton and his daughter Patsy. Patsy’s one love was growing a garden of flowers which she was very good at gardening. However, during the war such trivial things as a garden did not seem important to her father. But Patsy was given fifty bulbs of lilies and other flowers and prepared the soil herself and planted the flowers. Her father would not allow one of the slaves, named Tom, to help her as he felt it was more important that he work in the cotton field.
This garden, which Patsy prepared on her own, flourished and brought forth beautiful flowers and she took pride in setting them around the house. One day her father noticed a young man watching her in the garden and thought it dangerous to her well-being, and that perhaps she would become involved with this young man. So that night her father pulled up all her flowers and destroyed the garden. Needless to say, she was devastated. Not but a few days later, her father said a certain Doctor in town wanted her hand in marriage and it was his request that she accept his proposal. However, Patsy was in love with another whom he did not approve of. Well, Patsy eloped with him in the middle of the night. Her father later was sorry. But this is a prime example of the control the Patriarch of the family had over the women.
So I’ve been looking more into the riot as a cultural event and I started to notice that there are a LOT of THEATER historians out there. I know that theater has long been a major cultural forum. I guess I just didn’t put together that there’d actually be several people dedicating their lives to the specific history of theaters. Seems obvious when I think about it, but still pretty interesting to me.
One of the people I ran across while trying to find out a little bit more about just how “common” these riots (mentioned in my earlier post) really were is Bruce McConachie, a professor at the University of Pittsburg who has published on the American working-class experience of theater. He claims that the riots were actually intended to “oppose a specific policy at the theater, not always a rival actor, sometimes a stage manager or even a piece of music that might have been played and ruffled the patriotic feathers in the audience” and says that this particular one just happened to get out of hand.
The fact that there were protests against certain policies a theater might implement is interesting to me because it seems to call attention to the value working-class urban dwellers placed upon knowing where they stood in the world as well as the importance of staking one’s place within urban society, in this time of growing class distinction. The emergence of a middle class, as we know, was central in this period and this event really highlights the struggle that many Americans encountered in regards to self-definition and upward mobility (or lack thereof). Basically what happened with the Astor Place riot was a class war acted out in physical violence. This is powerful information in terms of understanding the urban American experience and the circumstances surrounding such intense reactions to something so seemingly innocuous as what style of theater will be performed.
I found a list of the people who died that was composed by Pat Pflieger, an English professor at West Chester University (I put a link to some of her stuff in the “extras” part later in this post), that is really detailed and is exciting in that there is so much information offered. Here are a few examples:
22 years; grocer; shot through the breast. He died in the 15th Ward station-house, in presence of his aged mother.
19 years; laborer. The deceased was residing with his mother, in the rear of No. 107 West Thirteenth-street, and died soon after being brought home.
Known as “Harry Bluff,” lived at 410 Pearl-street. Ball grazed the neck, went into the right shoulder, coming out behind the right arm. Died of his wounds at the hospital.
Irish; 30 years old; shot in the leg, just below the knee. She was two blocks off, walking with her husband on their way home, and fell into his arms. Died after amputation.
In my next post, I’ll include more on Edwin Forrest because I feel like this is a good point to start getting more into what his specific experience was. One historian I found talks about his acting style and why it appealed to an American audience.
- REALLY useful person to use as means of finding a resource or browsing a topic: Pat Pflieger. She has purchased, transcribed, and made public a significant number of primary sources, as well as bibliographies and scholarly works.
- This is actually a review of the above mentioned site if you’d like to get more of an understanding for what she has to offer:
- This is a link to an image of the event that was in the newspapers, but I couldn’t figure out how to look at it more closely. I’m including it here anyway because it’s one I hadn’t seen before in other searches:
As I continue to read Caroline Merrick’s memoir, I find that she narrated many aspects of her life. She wrote of her home life, rumors of Civil War and there are personal accounts of living under Union occupation. She also mentioned her relationship with the enslaved people in her household. One day, for instance, Caroline’s nine-month-old needs to nap. She handed her child over to the nurse, a slave, to put the child down to sleep. The baby was evidently fussy and would not oblige the nurse. Merrick went into the room at the moment she caught the nurse, named Julia, inflicting a hard blow to the baby. Merrick immediately grabbed the child and told the slave never to touch her again. What was interesting about the sad event is Ms Merrick, “You are free from this hour!” That seemed strange to me that to free her was her punishment.
Some days later Julia, the nurse, begged Merrick to take her back. After two weeks of Julia crying and begging, Merrick took her back in. Julia even had other slaves approach Merrick to let her back in the household instead of taking off with her freedom. However, it took awhile for the child to want to be near the nurse. This just seemed as a different sort of account between a slave and the mistress.
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.