Tag Archives: Nineteenth Century

“Burglarious Tools”

The police blotter headline caught by eye–Salem Police Nab Alleged Copper Thief on Flint Street–because, frankly, copper downspouts are far too vulnerable in Salem (and I have one right on the street!), but as I read the details, one particular phrase really captured my attention: At 10:18 a.m., police responded to a report of stolen copper down spouts on Flint Street. [The alleged thief] was arrested on charges of larceny over $250, malicious destruction of property valued above $250 and possessing burglarious tools. Burglarious!!! Is that really a word? Burglarious tools!!! I can only imagine. Is there a precise definition–lots of things could be considered “burglarious tools”, I should think. And is there really a law against possessing them apart from using them?

Well I went right to my legal history colleague who directed me to the statute to answer these questions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (along with several other states) does indeed have a statute regarding burglarious tools among its General Laws (Chapter 266, Section 49):

Whoever makes or mends, or begins to make or mend, or knowingly has in his possession, an engine, machine, tool or implement adapted and designed for cutting through, forcing or breaking open a building, room, vault, safe or other depository, in order to steal therefrom money or other property, or to commit any other crime, knowing the same to be adapted and designed for the purpose aforesaid, with intent to use or employ or allow the same to be used or employed for such purpose, or whoever knowingly has in his possession a master key designed to fit more than one motor vehicle, with intent to use or employ the same to steal a motor vehicle or other property therefrom, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than ten years or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars and imprisonment in jail for not more than two and one half years.

I’m no lawyer, but the key words here must be “knowing”, “knowingly” and “with intent”: you can’t just arrest someone for having a toolbox in their possession. I know that Massachusetts has long taken theft seriously (it was a capital crime from 1715 to 1839) but I presume that the “burglarious tool” law came later, maybe in the late nineteenth century, when there seems to have been a preoccupation with more deliberate, strategic, involved crimes, requiring some serious tools. I found an interesting article in the May 1874 issue of  Manufacturer and Builder on “Burglar’s Tools” which seems to present their manufacture as the dark side of the industrial revolution, and there are several other contemporary publications which seem to be a less preoccupied with the perpetrators than their paraphernalia (and, as several commentators have pointed out, more prescriptive than preventative!)

Burglarious Tools 1874 manufacturer and builder

Burglarious Tools 1875 Montreal NYPL

Burglarious Tools

Manufacturer and Builder, 1874; Aftermath of a Bank Robbery in Montreal, New York Graphic, January 9, 1875 (New York Public Library Digital Gallery);“Bank Burglars’ Outfit”, from George Washington Walling, Recollections of a New York Chief of Police. New York: Caxton Book Concern, 1887.


Assassins

I have been feeling a bit run down lately, which I attributed first to the typical murky New England spring weather and secondly to the end-of-semester rush, or some combination thereof. Then I realized it wasn’t just fatigue but also a certain sadness, brought on by the fact that I have been lecturing about assassinations all week. Teaching takes its toll! By coincidence, I was covering eras of extreme violence in two of my courses: a survey of the Renaissance and the Reformation and an introduction to European history. In the former, we’re in the midst of the religious wars of the second half of the sixteenth century, while in the latter we’re in the later nineteenth-century Belle Époque, which wasn’t all that belle if you ask me. So in just the last week, I’ve referenced the assassinations of  William I of Orange, leader of the Protestant opposition in the Dutch Revolt against Spain (1584), the French kings Henri III (1589) and Henri IV (1610), as well as (jumping forward three centuries) Tsar Alexander II of Russia (1881), U.S. President James Garfield (1881), President Carnot of France (1894), Prime Minister Cánovas del Castillo of Spain (1897), Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary (1898), King Umberto I of Italy (1900) and President William McKinley of the United States (1901). And then I woke up this morning to realize that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on this day in 1865–the icing on the cake.

Assassination Lincoln 1865 LOC

A pretty somber week indeed, but also an opportunity to explore the comparative natures of early modern and modern assassinations. I know the earlier era so much better, so it is easier for me to comprehend the religious environment that created the motivations and rationales for violent acts. This was a civil holy war between Christianity, and both sides were absolutely certain of the rightness and urgency of their cause. Nevertheless, in an age of divine-right rule, these assassinations were still shocking, particularly that of William of Orange, the first leader to be killed by a handgun.

Assassination William the Silent

PicMonkey Collage

Assassination Henri IV German Broadside 1610 BM

An 18th century image of William of Silent’s assassination, and variant covers of Lisa Jardine’s 2005 book:  The Awful End of Prince William the Silent. The First Assassination of a Head of State with a Handgun. German broadside illustration of the assassination of King Henri IV in 1610, British Museum.

As alarming as these murders were and are, it is the modern assassinations that I find even more chilling; even though they were targeting single individuals, they were seldom personal but rather acts of public relations–the propaganda of the deed.  Their frequency is equally chilling: in the last decade of the nineteenth century alone the leaders of nearly every western European nation were struck down, along with poor Empress Elisabeth (“Sisi”) of Austria, stabbed in the chest with a nail file while she was walking down a Geneva promenade accompanied only by her maid. Clearly no on was safe, and that was the central message that “organized” anarchism meant to convey.

Assassination Carnot 1894

Assassination Elizabeth

Aroused! Puck Magazine illustration with lady law and order preparing to slay the anarchist snake and President Carnot’s body lying in state, 1894; the front page of the San Francisco Call for September 11, 1898, reporting the assassination of Empress Elizabeth, both Library of Congress.


Matrimonial Maps

Consider this post a follow-up to last year’s Maps of the Human Heart, the most popular post of my blog so far, by far. I’m not tooting my own horn, but merely acknowledging how very popular maps are in general, and allegorical maps in particular. The other posts I have written about maps have been popular too, but artistic and metaphorical maps much more so than straightforward representations, historic or otherwise. The best allegorical maps fall in the period from the French Revolution to World War One; I think it’s really interesting that once the world was mapped scientifically there was a desire to distort and play with its representation for a variety of purposes, both political and personal.

Matrimonial maps fall right into this period; they are, for the most part, a nineteenth-century phenomenon. While I was searching through the archives of sold lots at Skinner’s site the other day, looking for recent prices fetched by fancy chairs, I came across a matrimonial map that I had not seen before, and that led to today’s post. This watercolor map was apparently painted in 1824, and its $400-$600 estimate was exceeded by a selling price of over $2000. People like maps.

Matrimony Skinner 1824 framed

Matrimony map Skinner

matrimony-map HBCA

The recently-sold Skinner 1824 map in its frame and close-up, and a similar hand-drawn Map of Matrimony from a nineteenth-century Canadian autograph book, Hudson’s Bay Company Archives.

United States of Agitation! Kingdom of Suspense! Land of Expectation and the Isles of Envy and Spinsters: the often-dangerous terrain and waters of matrimony. Let’s compare these early nineteenth-century matrimonial maps with those that came before and after. Everyone seems to agree that the first matrimonial map, or at least the first published matrimonial map was “A New Map of the Land of Matrimony”, dated 1772. The image below is from Katherine Harmon’s great book You are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (2004), which is a fount of information, imagery and inspiration, but the original map is in the collection of Yale University Library. The matrimonial fan-map was published in London about a decade later: less treacherous waters here, though there is a desert on one border of the “Land of Matrimony”.

A New Map of the Land of Matrimony 1772 Yale

Matrimony Fan

Also from Great Britain is the “Island of Matrimony” charted and published by John Thompson around 1810. I’m not really getting all of the (classical) regional references on this particular map, but the various water bodies have pretty straightforward designations: the Lake Content, Disappointment Harbor, Turbulent Ocean in the south, Ocean of Delights in the north. Everything is measured on the scale of “80 love links to the mile”.

Matrimony Island 1810

A Map of the Island of Matrimony by John Thompson, Edinburgh (?), 1810. Jonathan Potter, Ltd.

Beware of Divorce Island on the undated Matrimonial Map below, which features a “Lake of Contempt” rather then a “Lake of Content”. The routes toward happy and unhappy marriages are indicated on Philadelphia lithographer John Dainty’s novel & interesting game of matrimony, a more original take on cartographical matrimony.

Matrimonial-Map-NLI

Matrimonial Map Dainty 1845

Nineteenth-century Matrimonial Map, National Library of Ireland; The Novel & Interesting Game of Matrimony, lithographed and published by John Dainty of Philadelphia, Library of Congress.

In the later nineteenth century chromolithography is going to make everything more vivid, including matrimonial maps. The “Map of Matrimony” below, published by C.S. Beeching in London about 1870, retains the regions, references and tone of maps from a century earlier: the island of matrimony lies halfway between the Land of Spinsters and the Country of Single Men, surrounded by wavering waters of introduction, admiration, doubt, and felicity.

Victorian Map of Matrimony circa 1870


Definitive Duels

Living right next to the Samuel McIntire-designed Hamilton Hall, a virtual memorial to Alexander Hamilton, I am always semi-conscious of the man, his life, and his death:  208 years ago today in a famous duel with Aaron Burr.  I wrote about the duel and its cultural impact in a post from last year, so for this particular anniversary I thought I would look at some of the more famous duels in Anglo-American history.

A romanticized view of the Burr-Hamilton duel, July 11, 1804, from an 1890 American history textbook.

I’m going to start with some early modern English duels and then work my way forward towards the nineteenth century and America.  Duels are interesting little events in European history because they represent the remnants of early medieval judicial combat, as well as a tradition that early modern kings were intent on ending in order to establish themselves as the ultimate defenders of the peace.  I’ve seen images from as early as the fourteenth century of kings “overseeing” duels between their noble subjects, thus projecting the message that the ritual had royal sanction. By the early modern era, one which witnessed a great expansion of royal authority, duels were made illegal and participants were subject to prosecution, especially if a death occurred.  A case in point was the duel fought between the Elizabethan playwright Ben Jonson and his actor colleague Gabriel Spencer on 22 September 1598 in the sprawling Hoxton Fields northwest of London.  Spencer was killed and Jonson was sentenced to hang for murder, but managed to escape this fate by pleading the ancient privilege of “benefit of clergy”.  Spencer’s death left no mark on Jonson, who went on to fame, fortune and celebrity as the recipient of lots of royal patronage.

Several decades later one of the most interesting men of his age, Sir Kenelm Digby (natural philosopher, cookbook author, courtier, swordfighting cavalier) killed a French nobleman who had insulted King Charles I in a 1641 Parisian duel from which he emerged unscathed.  Back home, the fact that he had defended the honor of the King of England did not mollify his fellow Englishmen, who remained affronted by his Catholicism on the eve of the English Civil War.

The romanticized image of the duel envisions a fight over a lady, but it seems to me that most duels were either about politics or petty insults.  One exception was the duel fought in 1668 between George Villiers, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and Francis Talbot, the 11th Earl of Shrewsbury, over Anna Maria Talbot, the Countess of Shrewsbury.  The Duke and the Countess were brazen lovers, and Talbot seems to have challenged Villiers to avenge his own honor more than that of his wife.  To no avail: he died from injuries sustained in the duel and his widow was promptly installed in Buckingham’s new country estate, Cliveden House.  The Duke’s career was not tarnished by this particular episode, but Samuel Pepys, the diarist of the age, did note that “this will make the world think that the king hath good councillors about him, when the Duke of Buckingham, the greatest man about him, is a fellow of no more sobriety than to fight about a whore.

Anna Maria (Brudenell) Talbot, the Countess of Shrewsbury, 1670 by Sir Peter Lely, National Portrait Gallery, London.

The later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was a golden age of duels, fought for more petty reasons than previously. It is almost as if the professionalization of war led to the trivialization of duels.  Before I jump the pond, let’s briefly examine the “royal duel” fought between the Richard Lennox, the (future) Duke of Richmond and Governor General of British North America and Frederick, Duke of York, second son of King George III.  When royals get involved, dueling becomes “fashionable”, but compared to the seventeenth-century duels, this one does indeed seem a bit trivial:  the Duke of York was said to have made a passing remark about Lennox’s cowardly disposition, to which the latter took offense, and they met at Wimbledon Common with pistols on May 26, 1789. Lennox’s shot merely grazed the Duke’s hair, and the Duke refused to fire, and so the matter was settled.

I could go on and on with British duels in this period:  duels involving future and serving Prime Ministers, Cabinet members and Members of Parliament, peers, military officers, journalists, and even ladies!  But I’m going to leave duel-happy Britain and cross the Atlantic to put the Burr-Hamilton duel in a bit more historical perspective.  Just two years after Hamilton’s death, another scandalous duel had a very decisive end:  the future seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, fatally wounded Charles Dickinson in Kentucky on May 30, 1806.  Not being an American historian with the ability to recognize reliable primary sources from those prone to exaggeration, I must say that there are a variety of confusing accounts about this duel.  Here is what I understand, but I may be wrong:  Dickinson slandered his Nashville neighbor Jackson, then a country lawyer, over a bet on a horse race and threw in a slur on his previously married wife.  Jackson (who was apparently involved in anywhere from 13 to over 100 duels over his lifetime, depending on the source) took offense and challenged Dickinson, who accepted the challenge. When they met on the field of a Kentucky border town (because dueling was illegal in Tennessee), Jackson let Dickinson fire first, and received a bullet that would shatter two ribs next to his heart and remain with him for the rest of his life.  The wounded Jackson then fired straight at Dickinson, and his pistol either misfired or stopped half-cocked (depending on the source), so he fired again, and effectively killed him. Besides the bullet, nothing about this event hindered Jackson in any way:  he went on to become the “hero of New Orleans” and the President of the United States.

An illustration from the fictional author Major Jack Downing’s Life of Andrew Jackson (Boston, 1834); General Andrew Jackson, The Hero, the Sage and the Patriot, N. Currier lithograph, 1835 (Library of Congress).

My last duel has a Salem connection via Nathaniel Hawthorne.  As part of the notable Bowdoin College class of  1825, Maine Congressman Jonathan Cilley formed friendships with classmates Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and  Hawthorne, and the latter would memorialize him after his death from immediate injuries sustained in a duel with Kentucky Congressman William Jordan Graves in 1838. The cause of the duel was, again, politics, and the contentious Democrat (Cilley)-Whig (Graves) rivalry at the time; Graves, who is always described as an experienced “marksman” in the historical record, was standing in for the Whig New York publisher James Webb, whom Cilley had labelled biased and corrupt.  Months after the duel, Hawthorne published an earnest memorial/obituary in which the honor of New England is put forward as the greater cause of Cilley’s death, anticipating the larger conflict in years to come.

An 1838 broadside ballad, courtesy of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.


Remembering the 54th Regiment

Last year on Memorial Day, I wrote about Civil War remembrance in general; this year I’m following up with a specific focus on the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry Regiment, of Glory fame, and several Salem connections.  Thanks to the film, the story of the 54th is pretty well-known:  formed by Massachusetts Governor John Andrew after the Emancipation Proclamation in December of 1862, it was the first military unit consisting of black soldiers to be raised in the North during the Civil War. Governor Andrew chose Robert Gould Shaw, from a distinguished Boston family, to lead the Regiment, which formed a heroic storming column in an effort to take the Confederate stronghold at Fort Wagner in South Carolina, losing nearly half its soldiers in the process, including Colonel Shaw. Shaw and the 54th Regiment were immortalized long before Glory, most prominently on the bronze bas-relief monument of Augustus Saint-Gaudens (completed in 1897), located across from the State House on Boston Common.

Recruitment broadside for the 54th, Massachusetts Historical Society; the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial on Boston Common by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and a plaster casting at the National Gallery of Art.

Less well-known, in varying degrees, is the involvement of three Salem men with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment: Willard Peele Phillips, a prominent Salem businessman (who happened to live in my house at the time, or I live in his now) served on Governor Andrew’s recruiting committee for the regiment, Luis Fenollosa Emilio was a young captain in the Regiment, and later served as acting commander after he became the only officer to survive Fort Wagner, and Francis H. Fletcher, a clerk in a Salem printing office, enlisted in the Regiment and fought until the end of the war. Those are the bare facts, but the involvement of these three men runs deeper.  Phillips raised money, not only men, for the Regiment, Emilio later became the historian of the Regiment with the 1891 publication of The Brave Black Regiment.  The History of the 54th Massachusetts, 1863-65, and Fletcher protested the army’s unequal (or nonexistent!) pay system while still in service.

Transcription: You take a far more liberal view of things than you could in my situation. Just one year ago to day our regt was received in Boston with almost an ovation, and at 5 P. M. it will be one year since we were safely on board transport clear of Battery Wharf and bound to this Department: in that one year no man of our regiment has received a cent of monthly pay all through the glaring perfidy of the U.S. Gov’t.

Capts. Tomlinson and Emilio (center) with Lt. Speer, all of Company C of the Massachusetts 54th, May 1863, Library of Congress, Letter of Francis H. Fletcher to Jacob C. Safford, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

The heavy losses sustained by the 54th at Fort Wagner in July of 1863 (272 men were killed, wounded or captured, out of the 600 men who participated in the assault), along with young Colonel Shaw’s heroic death, captured some “glory” for the depleted regiment even in its own time. Harpers Weekly and Currier & Ives prints were disseminated to a national audience, engaged in this terrible war to a degree that doesn’t seem possible today.

Casualty List for the Mass. 54th after Fort Wagner, National Archives & Records Administration, Harpers and Currier & Ives lithographs of the Regiment, Library of Congress, tattered remains of the 54th Regiment’s flags displayed c. 1894, Massachusetts Historical Society.



Zouaves

This poster for the Watch City Festival this weekend in Waltham, a very happening city to the west of us, caught my eye not only because of its fetching image but also because of its reference to the Salem Zouaves, a reference I’ve seen quite a few times in these past few months.  Who or what are the Salem Zouaves, you may ask, a question I’ve been asking myself.  I think I’m going to use this post to try to figure them out.

It’s not too difficult to figure out who the Salem Zouaves are here in the present:  a reenactment group who “recreate the exotic, flashy drill and uniforms of the original Salem Zouaves, including our signature bayonet and sabre fencing.”  But who were the original exotic Salem Zouaves?  Apparently they were a Civil War incarnation of the Salem Light Infantry, and among the first responders to President Lincoln’s call for volunteer militias to defend the capital after hostilities broke out in April of 1861.  They were attached to the 8th Massachusetts Regiment, and spent several months guarding Old Ironsides in Baltimore Harbor before returning home.  I doubt that their sabres or bayonets left their sides. This is hardly heroic service deserving of reenactment 150 years later:  what’s the rest of the story?

I suspect the secret of the Zouaves’ appeal, then and now, lies more in their exuberance than their service.  They looked and acted in a dramatic, romantic, even theatrical fashion, and thus captured the imagination of those who wanted to believe that war was glorious.  The mid-19th century Zouave craze was inspired by the dashing exploits of French soldiers in north Africa who adapted the native attire for their own uniforms before and after the Crimean War (1853-56), which was the first war to be documented extensively by “foreign correspondents” for the major western newspapers, along with photographers like Roger Fenton, who had himself photographed as a Zouave on the front.  The majority of his striking Crimean photographs, including his famous “Valley of the Shadow of Death” can be accessed through the Library of Congress.

Roger Fenton in the Crimea, 1855 (Library of Congress) and a mid-nineteenth-century print of French Zouaves (New York Public Library Digital Gallery).

Roger Fenton did not want to offend early Victorian sensibilities by showing pictures of the dead and wounded, so the contemporary image of the Crimean War that emerged was one of dashing exploits in an exotic locale, symbolized succinctly by the Zouaves.  In America, several voluntary militia companies–still very much in existence after their colonial foundation–transformed themselves into Zouave regiments.  The key figure in the transformation of Salem’s Light Infantry into the Salem Zouaves was clearly Arthur Forrester Devereux, the son of a prosperous Salem family who became commander of the Infantry in 1859.  In his early career, Devereux lived in Chicago, where he became a close associate of the founder of the American Zouave movement, Elmer Ellsworth, a close associate of Abraham Lincoln who would also be the first casualty/martyr of the Civil War (in the process of taking down a confederate flag in Alexandria, Virginia spied from the White House).  Devereux seems to have been more fascinated by the precision drill tactics of the Zouaves than their uniforms, but his company was well-outfitted just the same.  Pictorial envelopes of the era, one of my very favorite visual sources for the Civil War, emphasize both Zouave distinctions:  they stand out among other regional regiments on the first postcard (the Salem Zouaves are #6, at right), and are able to deftly jump confederate cannonballs in one minute and form a human hanging post in the next!

I’m having a hard time reconciling these printed exploits with the reality of the war; the very existence of the dashing Zouaves seems to point to a clash between war expectations and experience. Harem pants just don’t seem to fit into my perception of the Civil War!  And we have seen that the Salem Zouaves did not last long nor did they see any real action:  though Arthur Devereux certainly did, commanding the 19th Massachusetts Regiment at Gettysburg. Perhaps the Salem company is not representative:  there were regiments like the 114th Pennsylvania and the famous 5th New York Volunteer Infantry of Abram Duryée that were thoroughly, and heroically engaged.

The 114th Pennsylvania at Brandy Station, Pennsylvania, in April, 1864 (Library of Congress); the 5th New York Voluntary Infantry in Virginia in the winter of 1862-63 as drawn by wartime illustrator Edwin Forbes (New York Public Library Digital Gallery).

Despite the service of the brave men in these companies, it’s still difficult for me to see the American Zouave movement as much more than fashionable , a perception that is reinforced by contemporary images such as those below:  a page from Godey’s Lady Book (of all places!!!) illustrating the new Zouave jacket in 1860, and Thomas Nast’s 1862 painting The Young Zouave.  But I could be wrong.


Camellia Craze

One associates the camellia more with the South than the North (at least I always have), but in the early and middle part of the nineteenth century there was such intense interest in the flower among the elites of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia that the term craze seems apt. Camellias are far from hardy up here, so the camellia craze coincided with a flurry of greenhouse building.  All around Boston greenhouses popped up in the 1820s and 1830s, each one producing a profusion of hothouse flowers for Yankee homes.  At an exhibition sponsored by the fledgling Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1836, Charles Mason Hovey, a local nurseryman and later a prominent horticultural publisher, showed 12 varieties of Camellia Japonica, one of which was named after him.

Herman Bourne, Flores Poetici, The Florist’s Manual (Boston, 1833); J.J. Grandville, Les fleurs animées (1847).

Another prominent Camellia enthusiast was Boston merchant Theodore Lyman, who commissioned Salem’s own Samuel McIntire to design a country house  for his property west of the city in 1793.  The Lyman Estate or “The Vale”, as it was called then and now, included not only the McIntire mansion (later considerably altered and expanded; you can see a great post on its later history and interiors here), surrounding grounds, and a beautiful carriage house, but also a chain of greenhouses.  The Vale remained the country seat of the Lyman family for over 150 years, and was conveyed to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England) in 1951.  Both the house and the carriage house are undergoing significant repairs at present but the greenhouses are open all year long, and I visited them last week, near the end of the annual “Camellia Days”.

The Vale in halcyon days, before its Victorian and Colonial Revival alterations (courtesy Historic New England) and last week, in the midst of roofing work.

There are four greenhouses at the Lyman Estate, the oldest one dating from 1804.  The “Camellia House” was built in 1820, right in the middle of the camellia craze in Boston.  I visit the greenhouses several times a year just to see the very established specimens within or for plant sales.  Even apart from the plants, the infrastructure is also very appealing, as is the juxtaposition of soft russet brick, Victorian steam fittings, and glass.  I have made it for the height of camellia season in the past, which is generally in February, but I was late in this busy year:  some of the camellias you see below are still blooming, but the general ambiance was one of faded glory.

The Camellia House is the last of the chain of greenhouses, so you go through glass rooms of tropical plants, fruit trees, succulents (!!!!), orchids, and then you’re there….


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