Brass Napoleon Award Black Southerners and the Confederate Cause--What the newspapers said: 1861-1865

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January 11 - The Evening Star article from Jan 5 was reprinted by the Delaware State Journal and Statesman, and the Baltimore Exchange gives us a story that probably originated from a South Carolina or Charleston newspaper, but I have not found the original. The edition of the paper that it appeared in may not exist any more. There are often gaps in what has been collected online from any given newspaper.

The daily exchange. (Baltimore, Md.) 1858-1861, January 11, 1861
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January 12 gives us yet another reprint of the Jan 3 Charleston Mercury article about the free black men of Charleston volunteering from the Sugar planter (West Baton Rouge [i.e. Port Allen, West Baton Rouge Parish, La.])

I haven't found anything for January 13 or 14, 1861.

January 15

An appeal for more workers for "the defenses of the State", and once again note I need to dig up the original Charleston Courier ad if I can. There are a number of stories or ads where all I've found are reprints. It makes me thankful so much got printed widely in various newspapers just because that preserved the information.

Evening star (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, January 15, 1861
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The other story from the 15th is a discussion from the SC House that thankfully went the right way. On the one hand, it's disturbing to see that someone actually wanted to sell all free black men in the state into slavery, but on the other hand the vote against it in committee was unanimous. And there is awareness here of just how hypocritical it would be for the state to be contending for its rights while turning right around and utterly denying the free black men theirs in this way. It's an interesting insight into a contemporary mindset.

Juliet Signal. (Juliet [i.e., Joliet], Ill.) January 15, 1861
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January 16th gives us a reprint of the "Faithful Servant" article in the Central Georgian. (Sandersville, Ga.), and a reprint of the Evening Star's solicitation for help on the defenses printed in the Richmond Daily Dispatch.

January 17 gives us a story about the free black population of Columbia following the lead of the FMC of Charleston and offering their services to the state. Columbia had the second largest free black population, which I think was about a third the size of Charleston's free black community.

The Anderson intelligencer. (Anderson Court House, S.C.) 1860-1914, January 17, 1861
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Nothing on January 18, and a mix of old and new for January 19.

First, two longer versions of the Columbia Carolinian article reprinted in the Jan 17th Anderson Intelligencer. These provide not just the news that the free black population offer their services, but also their motivation for doing so, something we do not see nearly often enough in reporting on the actions of black men in the South.

Rome tri-weekly courier. (Rome, Ga.) 1860-1881, January 19, 1861
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The North-Carolinian. volume (Fayetteville [N.C.]) 1839-1861, January 19, 1861
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Commentary on this offer of service, as reported by a different Columbia newspaper:

The daily sun. (Columbus, Ga.) 1855-1873, January 19, 1861
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The 22nd gives us a reprint of the Jan. 18th Columbus Sun article in the Weekly Sun. (Columbus, Ga.).

Nothing on the 23rd.

The 24th sees the Fayetteville observer. (Fayetteville, Tenn.) print the January 3rd Charleston Mercury article, 21 days after it first appeared. We're long before the 24 hour news cycle, and sometimes news is slow to spread.

On the 25th the Rome weekly courier prints the article about the free black men of Columbia SC volunteering.

The 26th gives us a couple of new items. Coastal defenses are being prepared in Florida, while in Mobile everyone is catching the secession sentiment, including the black population.

Daily morning news. (Savannah, Ga.) 1850-1864, January 26, 1861
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The daily sun. (Columbus, Ga.) 1855-1873, January 26, 1861 - posted
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No stories on the 27th and 28th that I've found, but the 29th of January gives us four articles, three from the Richmond Daily Dispatch.

Here is the first overt mention of fighting rather than labor, as a free black barber from Columbus Georgia offers to raise a company of free black men. Joe Clark is a veteran of the 1836 "Indian War", so he has already fought on behalf of his state, and he's ready to do it again.

The daily dispatch. (Richmond [Va.]) 1850-1884, January 29, 1861
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Meanwhile, labor towards shoring up the coastal defenses in Alabama and Florida continues.

The daily dispatch. (Richmond [Va.]) 1850-1884, January 29, 1861
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The daily dispatch. (Richmond [Va.]) 1850-1884, January 29, 1861
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The Weekly Sun gives us both the story of a planter offering his slaves for defensive work, and a less than flattering story about a black man misunderstanding a salute to the Confederate flag as a "Yankee attack".

The weekly sun. (Columbus, Ga.) 1857-1873, January 29, 1861
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January 30 - Just like the stories about the free black population of Charleston and Columbia volunteering, the story about Joe Clark was circulated quite a bit among the newspapers, often with the headline "A Nut for the Abolitionists". I've got a longer version of that somewhere which we'll get to in time, but basically it's posing a question: if the abolitionists claims are true, why would a black man volunteer to fight for the South?

Both papers below printed the same story.

Weekly chronicle & sentinel. (Augusta, Ga.) January 30, 1861
The central Georgian. (Sandersville, Ga.) 1847-1874, January 30, 1861
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The Charleston Mercury article of the 3rd appears yet again in the The Grand Haven news. (Grand Haven, Mich.). This is the eleventh appearance of the story in January that I've found.
 
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This is why it's almost impossible to post these in exact chronological order, though I think we're in good shape so far. I was doing a little digging earlier and ran across the earliest mention I've seen of the free black population in Louisiana. I had never seen this particular story before.

Cincinnati daily press. (Cincinnati [Ohio]) 1860-1862, January 05, 1861
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January 31, 1861

One new story about a slave donating money, and three appearances of the story about Joe Clark:
0131 - Weekly Georgia telegraph. (Macon [Ga.]) 1858-1869, January 31, 1861
0131 - Rome tri-weekly courier. (Rome, Ga.) 1860-1881, January 31, 1861
0131 - Yorkville enquirer. [volume] (Yorkville, S.C.) 1855-2006, January 31, 1861

Daily Constitutionalist (Augusta, GA), January 31, 1861
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So what would the readers of various newspapers in January 1861 have seen? Slaves put to work is nothing out of the ordinary, but what would likely make a few heads turn is the free black population in various cities volunteering to work for defense, and volunteering to fight. Some would see this as an attempt to avoid suspicion or an attempt to gain favor with the white population, or would see it as the free black population not really being given a choice at all, while others would see it as patriotism. We have very little from the black men themselves, though we do get a statement from the men of Columbia, and it's very likely that Joe Clark was motivated by past military service for his state to step up and volunteer again.

I don't know at this point how much the average northern (or southern for that matter) newspaper reader knew about the black population of the south, but as we'll see down the road, these types of stories made an impression and were remembered when the debate over whether or not black men were fighting for the South began. The very fact that they volunteered is seen as significant, whether or not any follow up stories every appeared about that volunteering being accepted or not. Given the foundation established here in the first month of 1861, it's little wonder the debate persisted across the four years of the war.
 
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February 1861 - The Confederate States of America will be formed later this month, and until then what we see is a focus on the states as individual states.

Two more reprints of the Joe Clark story:
Daily Ohio statesman. (Columbus, Ohio) 1855-1870, February 01, 1861
The Rome weekly courier. volume (Rome, Ga.) 1860-1887, February 01, 1861

Another large slaveholder offers his men for work, directly to the governor.

The national Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1860-1862, February 01, 1861
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No stories from the 3rd-5th that I've found. The 6th has yet another reprint of the Joe Clark story.

February 7th gives us the same story in two different papers involving what is probably slave labor, and given the date and attribution, both are reprints. If it's not clear by now, many newspaper accounts were widely circulated, north and south, and often commented upon. Newspapers were in many ways the forum for the national conversation.

Nashville union and American. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1853-1862, February 07, 1861
Chicago daily tribune. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.) 1860-1864, February 07, 1861
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February 1861 is a light month for stories related to the thread topic, and for the rest of the month I have stories for the 15th and the 21st, so I'll go ahead and post those. Three of them are further reprints of the Joe Clark story, one is a commentary on that story and the ramifications of it. The Richmond Whig uses the Joe Clark story to affirm what they see as the close relationship between the white and black populations of the South. The analysis would not prove to be 100% accurate, though at this point it's important to remember that the US Government was not openly abolitionist, and the abolitionists themselves attacked in the article were a small minority of activists, so the environment the Whig is commenting on will change drastically once the war starts and particularly after the Emancipation Proclamation is issued.

Holmes County farmer. (Millersburg, Ohio) 1857-1926, February 21, 1861
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The final article I've found for February is another mention of the free black population of Louisiana. We've seen a mention of them in January and in February, and it's clear they had picked a side before there was a war.

Times Picayune (New Orleans, La), February 21, 1861
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19thGeorgia

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February 1861 is a light month for stories related to the thread topic, and for the rest of the month I have stories for the 15th and the 21st, so I'll go ahead and post those. Three of them are further reprints of the Joe Clark story, one is a commentary on that story and the ramifications of it. The Richmond Whig uses the Joe Clark story to affirm what they see as the close relationship between the white and black populations of the South. The analysis would not prove to be 100% accurate, though at this point it's important to remember that the US Government was not openly abolitionist, and the abolitionists themselves attacked in the article were a small minority of activists, so the environment the Whig is commenting on will change drastically once the war starts and particularly after the Emancipation Proclamation is issued.

Holmes County farmer. (Millersburg, Ohio) 1857-1926, February 21, 1861
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The final article I've found for February is another mention of the free black population of Louisiana. We've seen a mention of them in January and in February, and it's clear they had picked a side before there was a war.

Times Picayune (New Orleans, La), February 21, 1861
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The FMC of New Orleans signed a document (April 22?) giving their reasons for joining the Confederate side. I'll try to find it or perhaps it's already been posted somewhere in the thread.
 
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Stories from this topic are a bit scarce in March 1861, but things will pick up big time in April, for obvious reasons.

The Constitutional union. (Des Arc, Ark.) 1860-1861, March 01, 1861 - reprint of the Joe Clark story

March 5 offers a long and detailed account of an incident from Virginia, in which a group of free black men head to work on defenses at Norfolk Virginia to much fanfare, much speechmaking, and the presentation of a Confederate flag to the group of 100 black men. And for once we even get a speech by one of the black men, Charles Tinsley, explaining why they are volunteering.

Gallipolis journal. (Gallipolis, Ohio) 1837-1919, March 05, 1863
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