By Jonathan S. Jones
By Sandra Roff
Publishing periodicals was an exciting step in advancing knowledge and providing information to a news hungry audience. Philadelphia, Boston and New York in the early part of the 19th century established themselves as publishing centers and they all had newspapers, book publishers and an active periodical press. As their respective populations grew so did the demand for periodicals that were cheap, portable and served as an outlet for aspiring authors. These publishing centers as early as the late 18th century published magazines and journals many of which proved to be short lived. By the beginning of the 19th century the readership grew and so did the number of successful magazines.
While these three cities competed with each other for publishing prominence, there was another growing presence in the periodical world. Brooklyn, New York considered the first suburb of New York City was just a ferry ride across the East River and its population increased substantially during the 19th century leading to a demand for more intellectual pursuits. Spooner’s Brooklyn Directory for 1824/1825, listed the census of Kings County taken in August, 1820. Kings County consisted of Brooklyn, the Navy Yard, Bushwick. Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend and New Utrecht and had a total of 11,183 occupants.  As the county began to fan out and settle areas beyond Brooklyn Heights, the citizenry founded more libraries, literary societies, schools, clubs and other venues appropriate for new magazines and journals.
Excerpted from Lincoln and the Irish: The Untold Story of How the Irish Helped Abraham Lincoln Save the Union
with author's permission. Copyright © 2018 Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
By Wyatt Evans
In October 1862, the New York City Metropolitan Police held Mrs. Isabella Brinsmade for over a month without charge in the precinct house on West 47th Street. The twenty-year old Louisiana native had arrived in New York that August, sent by her merchant father who thought she would be safer there than in Union-occupied New Orleans. Her husband was away fighting in the Confederate Army, and she does not appear to have maintained any special affection for him. By all accounts Mrs. Brinsmade was intelligent, high-spirited, very attractive, and... liked to talk.
The most charitable explanation for her apprehension and detention is that the Metropolitan Police acted on orders from federal War Department agents. The feds wanted Brinsmade quarantined as a possible spy until she could be returned to New Orleans. The truth was more complex, with complicity on both sides. In the end Brinsmade was released unharmed and her ordeal became a cause célèbre in New York City for opponents of the Lincoln administration. The police commission hearings that followed her release were the first public airing of grievances against the government’s system of arbitrary arrests. “The Case of Mrs. Brinsmade,” as it was referred to in the press, sheds light on politics in wartime New York, police practices of the day, and the interaction of federal and local officials in the latter half of 1862.
By Holly Pinheiro
Prior to the 1960s, most white historians outright ignored the wartime experiences of African American soldiers. Few white historians, including Dudley Cornish, discussed United States Colored Troops regiments, and their analyses took a largely military focus by cataloguing a regiment’s mustering in and out process, military engagements, deaths, and causalities. These white historians opted to avoid any substantive discussion of African American military service. African American historians, conversely, began examining African American soldiers almost immediately following the war and continued long after. Historians, such as William Wells Brown, Joseph Wilson, and George Washington Williams, sought to rightfully place the wartime experiences of African American soldiers at the center of their monographs. These scholars sought to humanize African American soldiers’ experiences and highlight the fact that their service was not only masculine patriotism, but also legitimized their claim for citizenship rights while simultaneously participating in ending slavery. Even with the breadth of scholarship that scholars continue to produce on the topic of African Americans soldiers during the Civil War, obvious gaps in the historiography remain. Who were these soldiers long before their service? How did these young men, the families, and local communities combat the onslaught of racism in Northern society in the antebellum era? Did their motivations to enlist reflect the idealism that advocates of enlistment championed during recruitment campaigns? How did military service negatively impact the Northern African American families left behind? These are crucial questions that are at the center of my research, and until now, remained unquestioned and unanswered. My objective in conducting this research is to humanize the individual soldiers and their families to show how war affected the front lines and the home front simultaneously — thereby revealing how Northern African American families experienced the Civil War. This research focuses on African American New York soldiers and their families because their lived experiences deserve scholarly attention if we ever hope to understand how the war impacted Northern society.
This is an exclusive excerpt, adapted from the author's new book (released today!),
Dagger John: Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America, courtesy of Cornell University Press.
By Sandra Roff
Teaching as a profession aims to achieve the most noble of principles — educating children to be responsible, productive citizens. Unfortunately, the teachers hired in the early years of the new republic and well into the nineteenth century were usually untrained and unprepared for the job ahead. The civic-minded movers and shakers in New York City at the time were interested in the education of its youth, but the path to securing qualified teachers for the schools was slow to be realized.
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