The Plymouth Michigan Historical Museum is commemorating the Civil War Sesquicentennial with a new exhibition: PHM 150
"January 30, Wednesday: At Mobile Bay the U.S. Revenue Cutter Lewis Cass was surrendered to Alabama officers. Abraham Lincoln left Springfield to visit his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, in Coles County, Illinois." -- E.B. and Barbara Long, The Civil War, Day by Day, p. 30.
According to the New York Times:
"NEW-ORLEANS, Tuesday, Jan. 29.
The United States revenue cutter Lewis Cass to-day received orders to proceed to New-York, but Capt. BRESHWOOD refuses to take her out of the river."
"MOBILE, Saturday, Feb. 2.
The United States Revenue cutter Lewis Cass has been surrendered to the State of Alabama."
According to the online Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships:
"CSS Lewis Cass, originally the United States Revenue Cutter Lewis Cass, was seized by the Alabama authorities on 31 January 1861 and later turned over to the Confederate States Navy. Capt. J. J. Morrison, commanding the cutter Lewis Cass at Mobile, decided, like General Lee, to cast his lot with the Confederacy, and accordingly turned over his ship to Alabama, 30 January 1861. The crew remained loyal to the United States and made its way through the hostile South to reach Northern territory."
This news item first appeared in November '10 but bears memorializing since it is not time-sensitive:
Michigan preps for Civil War, again
By ERIC FREEDMAN, Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan is arming for civil war – and not between Tea Party conservatives and pro-union liberals.
Instead, the state’s prepping for a 5-year-long commemoration of Michigan’s role in the Civil War.
“In many respects, the issues that confronted us 150 years ago still confront us — chief among them, what type of society are we, a society of equal opportunity or a society of class structure?” said Jack Dempsey of Plymouth, vice president of the Michigan Historical Commission.
It was 150 years ago that Abraham Lincoln narrowly won the presidency in a four-way race. He carried Michigan and 17 other states but took less than 40 percent of the popular vote.
Lincoln didn’t campaign in Michigan in 1860 but had visited the state four years earlier to campaign for the nation’s first Republican presidential nominee, John Fremont, according to historian William Anderson, a former president of West Shore Community College and ex-director of the state Department of History, Arts and Libraries.
On that visit, Lincoln told an audience in Kalamazoo, “The question of slavery, at the present day, should be not only the greatest question, but very nearly the sole question. This is the question: Shall the Government of the United States prohibit slavery in the United States.”
Fremont carried Michigan but Democrat James Buchanan won the election.
Lincoln’s own victory in 1860 triggered the secession of 11 southern states and the Civil War.
Looking back at the state’s part in the bloody conflict, Dempsey said, “It was a difficult time, a tragic time.
“You see 90,000 soldiers march off to war, a government apparatus that is adamant we are going to save the Union, and three quarters of a million Michiganders who, by and large, kept electing leaders who did not want two American nations to exist on this continent,” Dempsey said
To make dusty history relevant, the commission’s Civil War Sesquicentennial plan includes a website for events around the state, classroom activities, programs at the Michigan Historical Center and development of a Civil War Heritage Trail.
How does the state intend to get children interested?
“By telling a great story and showing a great story,” not by burying them with dates, facts and figures, Dempsey said.
Telling great stories can range from historical reenactments to new technologies. One is a mobile phone application for self-guided learning opportunities – “maybe a battlefield, maybe a museum, maybe a park” – he said. “You can dive deeply into something.”
Some great stories involve little-remembered but intriguing Michigan personalities.
One was Sarah Thompson, who enlisted in a Detroit infantry unit under the name “Frank Thompson.” Disguised as a man, she participated in several battles, including Antietam, Fredericksburg and First Battle of Bull Run. She also served as a nurse and spy and infiltrated enemy lines 11 times.
Another was Elon Farnsworth of Green Oak Township, who was an Army general for only five days before being ordered on a “suicide charge” against southern troops at Gettysburg.
“His career was much abbreviated,” Dempsey said, noting that Michigan wants a monument erected in Farnsworth’s memory on the Gettysburg battlefield.
There also was West Point graduate Orlando Willcox of Detroit, who commanded the 1st Michigan Infantry, the first regiment from what was then the West to arrive in Washington.
Willcox was taken prisoner at the First Battle of Bull Run. Released more than a year later, he went on to fight at Antietem, Fredericksburg and other battles.
Other aspects of Michigan’s role in the war included its key stopping-points on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves, farms that helped feed Union troops and the Upper Peninsula’s expanding iron mining industry that bolstered the North’s industrial might.
The sesquicentennial celebration also provides opportunities for further research.
For example, a new book by Martin Bertera of Wyandotte and Kim Crawford of Clarkston dives into soldiers’ letters, diaries and other documents to retell the story of a Michigan unit that fought at Gettsyburg.
“We hope the picture that will emerge from these pages is not of marble statue heroes or nameless men in sepia portraits, but one of real people who walked the streets of your hometown 150 years ago, or farmed the fields where your neighborhood now stands – men who volunteered, got sick, suffered, died, did heroic things, and who were afraid and lonely,” Bertera and Crawford wrote in “The 4th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War” (Michigan State University Press, $44.95).
The 53rd annual Michigan in Perspective: The Local History Conference will be held March 25-26, 2011, at the Michigan State University Management Education Center in Troy.
Breakout sessions will cover topics such as local history, genealogy, women’s history, cultural diversity and industrial history. They include:
• Researching Your Civil War Ancestors: Overview of the Steps of Researching and Identifying Your Civil War Ancestors
• “The 4th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War” by Kim Crawford and Marty Bertera
• Civil War Sesquicentennial
For more information or to register online visit www.hsmichigan.org or call (800) 692-1828.
Today is the 174th anniversary of the day that Michigan became a State. Pretty significant for those of us here who would rather not be residing in a territory, and given these provisions of Article IV of the U.S. Constitution:
"Section 3. New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.
The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state.
Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence."
A bit of a difference, there.
Just as a bit of a difference can have enormous historiographical import: Lincoln pardon altered
One of the best Civil War movies is Glory, based on the story of the 54th Massachusetts. Mr. Broderick played its commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. At the time, he had no idea that, on his father's side, he had a Civil War ancestor, whose name was also Robert. If you haven't seen it, this episode of Who Do You Think You Are is well worth the 45 minutes: Who You Are
You only have til February 5 to watch. The new season starts on the 4th.
For those who say that history is boring and irrelevant ... just look around, and read or listen to the media. A few examples:
"Rick Snyder, the businessman who moved from the boardroom to the state’s executive office, called for historic changes in the government and culture of Michigan in his first State of the State address Wednesday." (Detroit News, 1/20/11)
In a story comparing Miguel Cabrera's stats at this point in his career to Hank Greenburg: "According to baseball historian Bob Broeg, 'Except for Ted Williams, no hitter of prominence lost as much time to military service as did Greenberg.'" (Detroit Free Press, 1/16/11)
"Among those who didn't pop out of their seats at the suggestion of a MBT repeal was one of the taxes' authors, Sen. Steve BIEDA (D-Warren), the House Tax Policy Committee Chair in 2007. Bieda said he'd like to see some changes to the MBT, too, but he said he wants to make sure that the business tax burden doesn't get put on the backs of ordinary citizens. 'I've heard this before with the Single Business Tax (SBT). They eliminated it without a replacement on the table and we ended up with the MBT,' said Bieda. 'I don't like to see history repeat itself.'" (MIRS 1/19/11)
"'In recent history, the opposing party used their response to criticize and undermine the governor. That's not why I am here tonight,'" said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) in the Democrat's formal response after the State of the State." (Gongwer 1/19/11)
Of course, we are making history right now -- with every moment that passes -- so it must be something important, right?
On This Day In Michigan History
On Jan. 19, 1864, the state's Legislature sat in an extra session to hear Gov. Austin BLAIR's call for a bounty to be offered to Civil War volunteers.
In Oct. 1863, President Abraham LINCOLN had asked each state in the union to summon 300,000 volunteers or face a draft. At the Jan. 19 session, Blair asked Legislators to legislate how bounties would be paid to these volunteers.
Source: Senate Journal, Extra Session, 1864 [from MIRS Capitol Capsule 1/19/11]