A Primer for Union children: The Union A, B, C

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#1
4085.jpg


600. Delightful Civil War-era child’s primer, “The Union ABC”, published in Boston by Degen, Estes & Co. [n.y], 12 pp., bound in thread. This patriotic booklet, measuring a healthy 6 x 8 1/2”, is printed in red and blue and was meant to teach youngsters the alphabet and a history lesson, as well. Some of the entries include: H is for Hardtack you scarcely can gnaw, J is for Jig which the Contrabands dance, N is for Negro no longer a slave, P is the President who ruled the great nation, T is a traitor that was hung on a tree, and U is the Union our Soldiers did save. The back cover advertises Toy Books, Games (“Patriot Heroes: Or, Who’s Traitor.”), Union Reward Cards and the Chicken Little Series. Utterly charming; evocative of Civil War society. Cover has two edge tears internally repaired with period paper tape. Generally in excellent condition. (Est. $200-300)

From the collectibles site RailSplitter.com.

A copy of this book is in the Library of Congress.

- Alan
 

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Drew

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#2
I've been reading slowly through James Marten's The Children's Civil War, which presents "The Union ABC" and further addresses school texts, many of them quite amusing.

A word problem from a Southern schoolbook:

"If one Confederate soldier can whip 7 Yankees, how many soldiers can whip 49 Yankees?"

And this, from an 1864 text published for black students:

"If the Freedman should kill, or take prisoners, 394 of the Rebels who numbered 462, how many would be left to run away after the battle?"

It's a relief to know we were able to encourage our youngsters in their study of arithmetic without value judgement.
 
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I was going along with it just fine until I got to "T is a traitor, hung on a tree". That's kind of grim for a kid--not to mention teaching grossly over-generalized character judgements. In Missouri, plenty of innocent civilians were lynched by both sides, simply because they were accused of favoring whichever side didn't happen to be in town that day.
 

ole

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I was going along with it just fine until I got to "T is a traitor, hung on a tree". That's kind of grim for a kid--not to mention teaching grossly over-generalized character judgements. In Missouri, plenty of innocent civilians were lynched by both sides, simply because they were accused of favoring whichever side didn't happen to be in town that day.
Yah, Patrick. I guess it could be grim for today's children. To a farm kid from the sticks, not so much.
 

YankeeDoodle

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#7
Also from the reader:

union-a-b-c.jpg


That last image is kind of brutal for today's children, I guess not so much for kids back then.

- Alan
Yes the final one is not the kind of thing that we think should be taught to kids today...
 
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#8
Yes the final one is not the kind of thing that we think should be taught to kids today...
Some recent discussions of lynchings have observed that in the 19th century, public executions (legal and extra-legal) were not uncommon. Their performance varied over time and space, but in many places these killings were public events which women and children might attend.

Thus, the image of a man hanging from a rope might not been seen as barbaric or cruel.

- Alan
 
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#9
I wonder if the reader is actually dated 1864-65 as advertised. What caught my attention was the Letter M for Monument. I'm going to assume this is the Washington Monument in D.C. It sure looks like it does now.
4085.jpg

But during the Civil War the Monument actually looked like this:

Washington_Monument_circa_1860_-_Brady-Handy.jpg



Unfinished, less than 1/3 of it's ultimate height, it had been sitting that way since construction ceased in 1854-55 and would stay that way until 1879 when construction resumed. The capstone was set in 1884.

The original design featured a grand colonnade around the base:

03714v-e1341262604768.jpg


This idea was scrapped after Congress in 1876 authorized construction money for it's completion. So why does the M for Monument drawing, supposedly published during the Civil War, picture the Washington Monument as it is today and not per the design at the time, or how it appeared at time, like a stump?

All I will say is that if this ABC Reader is not actually dated it was not published until nearly 1880 at the earliest, when the final plan was revealed and construction actively progressing.
 
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Lnwlf

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#14
The pages did not copy and paste as well as I had hoped, but did give some examples. It is not as colorful, but it does convey a message that would have been easily grasped by young learners.
 
#15
I thought I would look further into ABC books for children. Good article at:

http://www.faqs.org/childbook/A-Ar/ABC-Books.html

It does mention the Union ABC of 1864.

I guess the M could have represented an idea of monument and not George Washington monument as later built.

Here is an enlargement of the monument's base and it does not resemble the Washington Monument as it appears today or was envisioned by its designer:

monument.jpg



It could have represented a monument in a cemetery.
 
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#18
Here is an enlargement of the monument's base and it does not resemble the Washington Monument as it appears today or was envisioned by its designer:

View attachment 59802


It could have represented a monument in a cemetery.
Agree, I don't think that is the Washington Monument or an imagining thereof. I do think it is meant to represent a soldier's monument, at a cemetery or somewhere else.

lmc-us-army-colored-troops-memorial-1.jpg

Civil War Monument at Lincoln Cemetery in Portsmouth, Virginia


westpoint-colored-troop-monument-norfolf1.jpg

The West Point Monument, also known as the Norfolk African-American Civil War Memorial, in Norfolk, VA

- Alan
 

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