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The greatest catastrophe in the United States was that of the American Civil War. As the years have passed since this great disaster, much of the truth has been lost. A Patriotic Destiny will enlighten the reader as to the realities of this time period. It is based on actual letters and newspaper articles written just before and during the Civil War. The reader will travel with the 79th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment as they march through Kentucky and Tennessee in their quest to save the Union and defend the Constitution.
You will feel their fatigue as they march, their boredom and anxiety as they wait for orders and their fear as they go into battle. Most of all, you will feel their worry about their families and their longing to be with them. By reading this book you will be reminded of the devastation this country went through in order to be reunited once again.
When the Europeans first settled in South-Eastern Pennsylvania in the early sixteen hundreds, the land was home to the native-American Indians known as the Iroquois, Delawares, Susquehannocks, Shawnees and others. These first settlers were Dutch, Swedish and British and because of their liberal philosophy on religious freedom the Germans, Scottish and others soon followed.
In the early seventeen hundreds, townships started to appear and one such township was named Hickory Town after the abundance of hickory trees in the area, after all, Pennsylvania was named after William Penn and the Latin word "Sylvania", which stands for woods.
In the mid seventeen hundreds, Hickory Town became a borough and the name was changed to Lancaster by the city developers after Lancaster, England. During the Revolutionary War and for a short period of time, Lancaster was the Capital of the American Colonies as the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia after it's capture by the British.
In 1799 Lancaster became the Capital of Pennsylvania after it was determined that more of a central location was needed. In 1812 the Capital was moved to Harrisburg. Lancaster officially became a city in 1818, with a population of just over six thousand. America was now established but still a young nation as growth and expansion started to emerge.
During this time there was no transportation other then by horse, river barge and horse and wagon. Furthermore, there was no communication other then the U.S mail and town to town couriers. The local towns and cities were basically isolated and time passed for the news to come and go.
In the early 1800's, Lancaster prospered because of gristmills: water wheels that ground grain into flour, lime burning: where a kiln or oven was used to produce quicklime for mortar, water treating, bleaching, etc. , and iron processing as well as the manufacturing of Conestoga wagons, munitions and the Pennsylvania long rifle. These developments were of such magnitude that the Philadelphia and Columbia railroad arrived in Lancaster in 1834, as a leg between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania saw growth in the 1840's primarily due to the emerging of the telegraph and the appearance of the railroad in many of its towns. In the late 1840's, the Pennsylvania railroad was the biggest employer in Pennsylvania with thousands of employees creating new tracks and maintaining existing routes.
By 1850, with a population of twelve thousand, the city of Lancaster was well known in Washington D.C, being the home of Thaddeus Stevens, a well known Federal house member and a new rising local politician named James Buchanan; the same James Buchanan who defeated John Fremont, a Republican from New York and a retired California Senator, for President of the United States in 1856.
Within days of him taking office and partially through his influence, The United States Supreme Court handed down their decision on the case of Dread Scott. The result was that Congress had no Constitutional right to exclude blacks in the territories. Furthermore, this decision implied that African Americans were not protected by the Constitution, thus they could not be a citizen or ascertain the right to vote. This critical decision eased the tensions from the South's point of view, but it did the opposite in the North.
The majority of the Southern States believed in Total State Rights, in other words the Federal Government should stay out of their decision making in matters regarding their state.
In 1858, the Federal Elections gave more power to the new Republican party and this all but prevented decision making in the White House. Congress wanted President Buchanan to take more of an active role, but his position was to stay neutral, thus, irritating both sides. By taking this position he not only alienated himself from Congress but set himself up as a target for his political enemies.
President Buchanan was in a no win situation. He was basically powerless in trying to resolve the Border Wars in Kansas and Missouri. The conflict centered around the question: "Should Kansas be admitted into the Union as a free state or as a slave state?" Even the law that was set up to allow new states to make their own decision caused serious problems on the losing side.
This problem was compounded by John Brown and his band of Abolitionists. While Brown's actions were questionable from a legal point of view, he had Northern support, but was hated by the South. In fact, the South feared him and what he stood for, and thus started to establish local State Militias.
John Brown managed to stay one step ahead of the law in the west but he crossed the line of legality when he and his men came east and raided the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. President Buchanan ordered Federal troops for his arrest. While many Northerners did not see this as a real problem, the Southern States did. At his trial he was found guilty and sentenced to death. But there were many Northern sympathizers who wanted him freed. In fact, the following is a letter from Governor Wise of Virginia, to President Buchanan:
Sir: I have information from various quarters, upon which I rely, that a conspiracy of formidable extent in means and numbers is formed in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and other states to rescue John Brown and his associates, prisoners at Charlestown, Va. The information is specific enough to be reliable. It convinces me that an attempt will be made to rescue the prisoners, and, if that fails then to seize citizens of this State as hostages and victims in case of execution. The execution will take place next Friday as certainly as that Virginia can and will enforce her laws. I have been obliged to call out one thousand men who are now under arms, and if necessary, shall call out the whole available force of the State to carry into effect the sentence of our laws on the 2nd and 16th proximo. ..... there are desperados in nearby states, unobstructed by guards or otherwise, to invade this state, and we are kept in continued apprehension of outrage from fire and rapine on our borders. I apprise you of these facts in order that you may take steps to preserve peace between the States. I protest that my purpose is peaceful and that I disclaim all threats when I say, that if another invasion assails this State or its citizens from any quarter, I will pursue the invaders wherever they may go into any territory, and punish them wherever arms can reach them. I shall send copies of this to the Governors of Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
President Buchanan was well aware of the seriousness of the situation and a week later at John Browns execution there were two thousand federal troops present. The United States was in turmoil and it was only the beginning.
In President James Buchanan's speech made to the Senate and House in late December, 1859, he told of different and many blessings that the nation had received during the year, although he did not name one. He stated that the health of the country had been excellent with good harvest and prosperous smiles. The country's harvest was good but the smiles must have been from a selected few.
He further stated that the Union had been exposed to many "threatening and alarming difficulties", but on each occasion the discontent disappeared and the danger to the Union passed. He was quick to point out that he attributed this to a "special projection of the divine."
President Buchanan did not want to discuss Harpers Ferry, but he did say that events like this were symptoms of an incurable disease of the public mind, and could quite possibly cause further dissention and culminate in an open war by the North to abolish slavery in the South. He stressed that this was an omen, a warning of the dangers ahead.
In his own words he stated that "Our Union is at stake and of such value that we must remain constant and watchful vigilance for its preservation," in other words, we owe it to our fathers and their fathers to leave our country peaceful, prosperous, powerful and united.
He further stated the recent Supreme Court decisions concerning slavery in the territories were fair and just in allowing a new territory to decide their fate and that the people of this great land must abide by their decision.
President Buchanan concluded that Congress must work with his office to pass certain financial bills that were necessary to carry out the governments daily business, for without their passing the Army, Navy, Judiciary and every governmental department would no longer be able to perform their duties.
By the end of 1859, the country's political feeling was that the next Presidential Election, without a doubt, would be based on what to do with slavery in the states where it existed. The Republican leaders assuredly denied any intention of interfering with slavery in these states, but many politicians knew this was untrue.
Unquestionably, most Republicans sympathized with John Brown and what he stood for but quietly regretted his failure. With a gleam in their eyes they called him foolish as they knew the truth would come out in the next presidential election.
The city of Lancaster, like many cities in the Union, tried to go on with their daily business as the country was in turmoil. The majority of their leaders purported an overall Democratic faith, but this equated to being nothing more then a staunch Democrat. This was emphasized by the old time establishment as well as the local media, primarily the Lancaster Intelligencer.
This Newspaper was founded in 1794 by William Hamilton, one of the originating founding fathers. In January of 1860, George Sanderson, the Managing Editor, decided to run for city mayor. Using the paper to his advantage he won the election. It was an interesting election with the following positions being elected: High Constable, Selected Council, Common Council, Alderman, City Constable, Assessor, Judge and an Inspector.
The legislature of Pennsylvania was dealing with new business as well. The State was trying to come up with a law that would provide their residents with a Homestead Exemption. Most of the other states had passed such a law and the legislature was examining each. For example, in Ohio, their Homestead Exemption stated, "The family homestead of each head of a family not exceeding five hundred dollars in value, while the debtor, the widow or any unmarried minor child resides thereon, though the homestead may be built on land owned by another." In South Carolina, their Homestead Exemption stated, "The dwelling house and houses appurtenant thereto, of each family, together with 50 acres of land, not included with in any city or corporate town, to the value of 500 dollars."
While the Southern States had been forming additional militias, the Northern States had militias of their own. In Pennsylvania, the state militia had 17,500 uniformed men that were organized into volunteer companies. This was a small number as compared to many other states. For example, Massachusetts, a much smaller state, had nearly twice as many and Louisiana, with a much smaller population had a uniform militia over 90,000.
Pennsylvania wanted to increase the size of their militia, but there was more to it then just acquiring uniforms. The real problem was arming them. The Union only had two armories or weapon factories. One was in Springfield, Massachusetts and the other was in Harpers Ferry, Virginia and both were back logged with existing orders. All in all, most of the uniformed militias used their private arms and most were not fit for service.
While the Union was dealing with the strife between the Northern and Southern states, they were also dealing with an ongoing international problem on the high seas. At question was the legality of stopping neutral vessels that were suspected of carrying contraband. It was a complex issue and one that could not be resolved any time soon.
The citizens of Lancaster, like other citizens in the Union, were updated on national events not so much by the telegraph but by the exchanging of newspapers from one city to another that were sent by either train or stagecoach. In one such news article, it was noted that Joseph Smith, son of the famous Prophet, was in St. Louis receiving a delegation from Salt Lake who was trying to convince and persuade him to return and take the head of the Mormon Council. The feeling was that he was a good man and that he would reform the Mormons as he was against Polygamy. It was hoped that he would undertake the task and succeed in making Salt Lake the home of upright law abiding citizens, instead of a den of thieves. Curious to note, Joseph Smith never supplanted Brigham Young, as Young stayed the leader until 1877.
Another article told that while this was occurring, there was a sect of people in the District of Columbia trying to allow polygamy in the Nation's capital. Their hopes and ambitions were just impaired when the House passed a bill that would abolish polygamy. This Bill was now in the hands of the Senate
All mail from Northern Texas was bringing news of Indian raids and murders by small bands of scoundrels. During the past month no less than sixty murders have been committed by the Indians on the Northern frontier including a murder spree that wiped out six families in cold blood. The general feeling was that nothing can stop these raids except a force of trained mounted men with the ability to overcome the opposition. Texas was determined to take care of herself if the Union did not step in and help.
A subsequent article found in the newspaper from New Orleans, which received its news from Texas stated, "Governor Houston had received more than 80 applications from gentlemen desiring to raise volunteers." The Governor had advised these men to raise the companies in order to pursue invaders and thieves, whether Indian or Whites and exterminate them.
In another correspondence from Savannah, Georgia, an aeronaut and his companion made a balloon ascension. After leaving the city, the balloon entered an air current that forced them out to sea. They reached an altitude of about two and half miles at which time they lost sight of the ground below. They figured their speed at 3 miles to the minute. Fearing for their lives they opened the valve allowing gas to escape at which time they threw out a grappling iron which was attached to two hundred feet of rope.
The balloon descended rapidly and the anchor soon attached itself to a tree. Shortly the rope broke and the balloon shot back into the air and back out to sea. Opening the valve once again caused the balloon to crash into the sea like a cannonball. They both became submerged but were able to recover and were rescued by an overseer in a boat. They lost their balloon that was valued at seven hundred dollars. They were rescued forty miles from Savannah, as the entire trip took but thirteen minutes. Surely they were impressed with their speed but more impressed that they were alive.
In another article which appeared in the Lancaster Intelligencer was a rebuttal by Jefferson Davis on Senator Seward's speech which was made to a group in New York. The Newspaper quoted, "Senator Davis of Mississippi, one of the bravest and best men in our country, boasting of Senator Seward's ineptness at this recent speech." Throughout the North, Senator Davis was well known and admired, but there were those who detested his presence, his participation in the Mexican War and what he stood for. Withal Senator Davis was a Democrat and Senator Seward was a Republican.
Throughout the North, more and more sympathy meetings were held as a result of the executions of John Brown and his men. In one such Ohio meeting it was reported, "To those of you who are ready to imitate John Brown or his men, this only need be said: Be prepared; bide your time; ere long you will be called. For I tell you that the strangling of John Brown was not the death of his cause; and that, ere many more moons revolve, the slave will be offered succor again.. I give the slave driver a solemn warning to set his house in order, for his doom is pronounced ... he shall die and not live."
Excerpted from A Patriotic Destiny by Elwood Jones Copyright © 2010 by Elwood Jones. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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