Sunday, January 15, 2012

Governor Isham G. Harris, for real and lampooned

Which is reallly the more, intentionally or unintentionally,
satirical? Why?  How do you rate Harris on the basis of these newspaper
items? Arf, arf!!!

This will be on the test! [Please be sure to point out typos for extra credit.]

       October,25, 1862,  "What if I did take $2,000,000 of the School Fund?
That's nothing, many a man has stolen more than that and died
respectable." A Lampoon of Isham G. Harris's speech at Murfreesboro

Our friend, Mercer, of the Nashville Union, has a spiritual medium
reporter, through whose agency he obtained the following speech of
Ex-Governor Isham G. Harris, at the Confederate muster at
Murfreesboro, on Wednesday, Oct. 15, in advance of all other papers,
which is no doubt all correct "in my mind's eye, Horatio."
We arrived at Murfreesboro, according to promise, at 9 o'clock, A.M.,
precisely, and being attired in a full suit of "butternut" with an
old-fashioned seal-skin cap, took a seat on the stand without any
molestation whatever. Gov. Harris appeared on the platform, erected
for that purpose, at half-past ten o'clock; he was welcomed with loud
cheering by the crowd which numbered about one thousand persons. Most
of the audience belonged to some military company, and the flags were
variously inscribed: "Possum Hollow Guards," Rutherford Jayhawkers,"
"Rattlesnake Invincibles" and the like expressive and euphonious
titles. Governor Harris wore a splendid suit of white linsey breeches
a good deal worn, adorned with a patch of black cloth on the left
knee, and another of red flannel in the rear, a vest of green-curtain
calico flowered with pink, and, a graceful butternut roundabout, the
right sleeve being pieced out with blue linsey. A pair of cowhide
shows, without socks, leaving an interval of six inches between their
tops and the hem of his pantaloons, completed his classic, graceful,
and highly picturesque costume. After a series of bows he began:
Ladies and Gentlemen: In looking over this mighty assemblage,
announced but a few days by the public press to convene at this place,
my breast swells with emotion which can find no adequate expression in
words. As well might I attempt to describe in an address the wild
upheavings of a volcano, when the chained Titan rises from his long
agony of three thousand years, and thrusts his hand of flame
throughout the crate of Mount Aetna, while Sicily trembles to its
centre, as to essay on this occasion to do justice to the glorious
enthusiasm in the cause of independence which now fires with noble
rage the breasts of Southern people. [Tremendous cheering, during
which the Governor took a drink of "old Robertson" (whisky made in
Robertson county,
Tennessee, said to be the finest in the state)  from a gourd
bottle in the hands of Andrew Ewing. ] We are going to recapture
Tennessee and retake Nashville.
That's so! This sort of peregrination over hills and hollows isn't
what I expected, it don't agree with my constitution, and by ___ I am
not going to stand it [Shouts of "Bully for you, old fellow!"] I want
to get back to that splendid Capital, and I am going to d it or burst
my boiler! [Long applause!] What if I did take $2,000,000 of the
School Fund? That's nothing, many a man has stolen more than that and
died respectable. I was out of funds and bound to have the money, and
I've spent it, too, but I'll pay it back when I'm Governor of
Tennessee – won't I Andy? [Yes, yes, you will, Isham!] My friend, Andy
Ewing, says I will, and who knows better than he? Many is the toddy we
have swallowed together, and often as we have walked the streets,
mutually supporting each other, we have been forced to exclaim with
the Pslamist, "United we stand, divided we fall' [Tremendous applause,
and another swig from the gourd]. My enemies are always accusing me of
making a "midnight Treaty." Well, wasn't I your Governor, and wasn't I
elected to protect your interests, and if I believed it was to your
interest to make a treaty with Jeff Davis, would I a right to do it?
Answer me that. [Shouts of Yes! Yes! During which the governor took
another heavy pull at the gourd.] Laze and gem'men (hic), And Johnson
says I made a secret treaty (hic) d__n Andy Johnson! I'll make as many
se'treaties [sic] as I want to! I'll make hive hun'erd [sic] thousand.
If anybody says I shan't make se'treaties [sic]  I'll shoot him
through the head. 'At right, Andy Ewing? Ain't I con'st'utional?
[Exactly so!] Andy Ewing says I'm right – who says Andy Ewing's a
liar? (hic) Anybody say it? [Cries of 'No! no! no!] Well, you'd better
not say it, for I've got five Alabama regiments to settle if you dare
say it. I'm for free principles, free discussion, free stealing, free
religion, and free whisky! I'm ruining my constitution and health
forever by exposure to the weather and lying out, Bill Stokes's
jayhawkers keep me dodging like a didapper [?] all the time. Last
night I slept in a tobacco barn, the night before in a sheep-pen, and
three nights before that among the hazel bushes. Your folks are
grumbling about losing a little forage, What's that, I'd like to know,
to the loss of my salary, my position, my rank, my official
importance, my wine parties and whisky? I used to be drunk all the
time, and now I think I'm lucky if I can press whisky enough to get
drunk once a week. "My sufferings is intolerable," as a great man once
said. I want to see Nashville. I want to see beer-shops and
groggeries, and billiard rooms, and Forrest's faro-bank, and the
race-track, and those jolly old cusses of the Methodist Publishing
House, who offered to publish a Confederate Bible for me that hadn't
the Ten Commandments in it. They told me the Ten Commandments were
played out, and behind the times. I want to see the stately palaces on
the Square, looking like big houses, which had come out from
Cincinnati on a bust, and the little shops around them, which look
like delegates that had come up from the country towns to persuade
them to settle and make themselves at home. [Another tremendous drink,
which emptied the gourd.] And Ewing, you're a dog. You've been
drinking (hic) out of my gourd! You're a d___d Lincolnite. Laze and
Gem'men, I'm for free religion! Lincolnites have locked up all my
preachers in Nashville, and conshequently [sic] religion is all played
out. It's awful to thin (hic) Nashville's got no relilgion [sic].
Felleer-citizeds [sic] Let's go and give Nashville more religion
[sic]! [Just here a cloud of dust was seen in the distance, out of
which a bare-headed courier soon burst at full gallop, and dashing up
to the crowd announced that Colonel Stokes was approaching with ten
thousand cavalry, all riding horses bigger than elephants. The militia
tumbled over the benches and scattered in all directions; several
young ladies, who sat on the plat form representing the seceded
States, in attempting to jump down go their calico hitched on some
planks, and with their dressed completely reversed, swung back and
forth in the air kicking and squalling. Crises of "Bill Stokes is
coming" There's General Negley!" "That's Andy Johnson!" filled the
wood in all directions. The last we saw of Governor Harris he was
fighting with a big nigger [sic] for a sorrel mule, which he want to
impress for the occasion.
Louisville Daily Journal, October 25, 1862.

Overland Trip to Mexico-Studying Spanish Under Difficulties-In the
Halls of Montezuma-Interview with the Emperor and Empress-Confederates
in Mexico-Invitations to come to Mexico—Inducements-Commodore
Maury-Commissioner of Civilization-The Lands Intended for
Emigrants-The Climate-The Products-Coffee Culture-Fruits-A Home of
Beauty and Fragrance-Ice in the Distance-Among the Ruins of the Old
Haciendas-What Produced the Ruins-Former Buildings-Prominent
Confederates Colonizing-Growing Prospects-Lazy Mexicans-"Mexican
Times"-Governor Allen of Louisiana on the Tripod Situation of Cordova.
Through the kindness of Mr. George W. Adair, of the firm of Clayton,
Adair & Purse, we are permitted to make the following extracts from a
letter recently received from Hon. Isham G. Harris, Ex-Governor of
Tennessee, who is now at Cordova, Mexico. The letter is highly
Cordova, Mexico, Nov. 12, 1865
George W. Adair
My Dear Sir – I lingered near Grenada, endeavoring to arrange some
business matters, until the fourteenth of May. In the morning of the
fourteenth I embarked, some six miles east of Greenwood, and set sail
for the trans-Mississippi, the party consisting of Gen. Lyon, of
Kentucky, myself, and our two servants. We navigated the backwater for
one hundred and twenty miles, and on the morning of the twenty-first,
just before daylight, I crossed at the foot of Island No. 75, just
below the mouth of the Arkansas river; proceeded westward as far as
the backwater was navigable, and on the morning of the 23d I left my
frail bark, bought horses, mounted the party, and set out for
Shreveport, where I hoped to find an army resolved on continued
resistance to Federal rule; but before reaching Shreveport, I learned
that the army of the Trans-Mississippi had disbanded, and scattered to
the winds, and all the officers of rank had gone to Mexico
Having no further motive to visit Shreveport, I turned my course to
Red River county, Texas, where a portion of my negroes and plantation
stock had been carried some two years ago. I reached there on the
seventh of June; I was taken sick and confined to my bed for a week.
On the fifteenth of June, with my baggage, cooking utensils and
provisions on a pack mule, I set out for San Antonio, where I expected
to overtake a large number of Confederate, civil and military,
officer, en route for Mexico. Reached San Antonia the twenty sixth,
and learned that all Confederates had left for Mexico some ten days or
two weeks before. On the morning of the twenty-seventh, I started to
Eagle-Pass on the Rio Grande-the Federals holding all the crossings of
that river below Eagle Pass. I reached Eagle Pass on the evening of
the thirtieth, and immediately crossed over to the Mexican town of
Pledras Negras. On the morning of the first July, set out for Montery
[sic]; arrive there on the evening of the ninth. Here I overtook Gen
Price and Ex. Go. Polk, of Missouri, who were starting of the city of
Mexico the next morning, with an escort of twenty armed Missourians.
As I was going to the city, and the rip was a long and dangerous for
me to make alone, I decided to go with the, though I was literally
worn out with over fifteen hundred miles of continuous horseback
travel. I exchange my saddle horse, saddles, etc., for an ambulance;
but my two mules to it, gave the whip and lines to Ran, bought me a
Spanish grammar and dictionary, too the back seat, and commenced the
study of the Spanish language. We made the trip at easy stages of
about twenty-five miles per day, and reached the city o f Mexico on
the evening of the ninth of August. The trip was one of the longest,
most laborious and hazardous of my life, but I will not tax your time
or mine with its details, many of which would interest you deeply if I
was there to give them to you.
Our reception upon the part of the Government officials here was all
that we could have expected or desired. We were invited to an audience
with the Emperor at the Palace, the far-famed Halls of the Montezumas.
At the time fixed, we called and were most kindly received by the
Emperor and Empress, and were assured of their sympathy in our
misfortune, and of their earnest hope that we might find homes for
ourselves and friends in Mexico. The Empress was our interpreter in
the interview. She speaks fluently the French, Spanish, German, and
English languages, and is in all respects a great woman.
We overtook at the city of Mexico, Gen. Magruder, Commodore Maury,
Gov. Allen, of La.; Judge Perkins, of La., Gove. Reynolds of Missouri,
and Gov. Murrah and Gov. Clark of Texas, with many other and lesser
Confederate lights. On the 5th of September the Emperor published a
decree opening all of Mexico to Immigration and colonization, and
Commodore Maury and myself and other Confederates were requested to
prepare regulations to accompany the decree, which we did, and which
were approved by t he Emperor on the twenty seventh. The decree and
regulation offer very liberal inducements to immigration among which
are a donation of public lands at the rate of six hundred and forty
acres to each head of a family, and three hundred and twenty to each
single man, a free passage to the country such as are not able to pay
their own expenses, freedom from taxation for one year, and from
military duty for five years, religious toleration, etc.
Commodore Maury has been appointed Imperial Commissioner of
Colonization, which makes his authority in the matter of colonization
second only to that of the Emperor. Gen. Price, Judge, Perkins and
myself were appointed agents of colonization, and requested to examine
the lands lying upon and near the line of railroad, from the city of
Mexico to Vera Cruz, for the purpose of determining whether they were
suited to American colonization. We are engaged at this time in the
discharge of that duty. We find in the vicinity of this place the most
beautiful, and all things considered the best agricultural country
that I have ever seen. The climate is delightful, never hot, never
cold, always temperate, always pleasant. The soil richer and more
productive than the best of the prairie lands of Mississippi in the
Okalona country, yielding large crops of corn, barley, rice, tobacco,
sugar cane and coffee, with all the fruits of the tropics and the best
that you ever tasted. You can raise two crops of corn on the same land
each year. The usual mode of farming here is a crop of corn and a crop
of tobacco, on the same land, the corn ripening always before time to
plant tobacco, and ten miles from here, in the direction of the coast,
you strike as good a [word obscured] country as can be found in the
The most profitable crop here is coffee, you plant about six hundred
or seven hundred trees to the acre, it begins to bear at two and
produces a full crop at four years old, you can always calculate
safely on an average of two pounds to the tree, though there are
instances of a tree's bearing as high as twenty-eight pounds. The tree
is hardy, and will live for as long as five hundred years. It takes
about as much labor to cultivate and put into market as an acre of
coffee, as it does an acre of corn in Georgia.
The coffee plantation, with its shade of bananas, figs, oranges,
mangos and zapotes [sic], with the walks fringed with pine apple, all
in full bearing, is the richest and most beautiful spectacle upon
which my eyes have ever rested. I have inspected [?] six hundred and
forty acres, about ten miles from here, where I propose to surround
myself with eh coffee plantation, in the midst of which I will nestle
down, constantly inhaling the odors of the rich tropical fruits and
gaudy colored and fragrant, tropical flowers, in an atmosphere of
perpetual spring, yet turning the eye of the Northwest, you constantly
behold the snow capped peaks of Orezrijba [?] and the Popocatapreti
[?], from which I can draw my ice at all seasons of the year.
There are about thirty Confederates now here all of whom will locate
their lands and commence the work of settlement within a week of ten
The place where we begin the first colony was highly improved and in a
high state of civilization a hundred years ago. The extensive ruins of
what was once magnificent structures show that these Hacienda were
highly productive and the homes of wealth, luxury and refinement, but
about fifty years since slavery was abolished in the State of Vera
Cruz and the proprietors of these magnificent estates left the country
with the large fortunes the had amassed. The church seized lands and
allowed them to lie idle and go to ruin. The buildings on these places
must have cost from one hundred to five hundred thousand dollars. The
church held the property for about five years since when it was taken
by the Government and the Government now sells it to us for
colonization at one dollar per acre in quantities of six hundred and
forty acres for each head of a family and twenty dollars each single
man on a credit of one, two, three, four and five years. This is the
beginning of the first Confederate colony in Mexico. Among those who
propose to settle immediately are Gen Price and Gen. Shelley from
Missouri, Judge Perkins of Louisiana, and myself. The resources of
this country are such as to insure fortune to the energy and industry
that has usually characterized our people. The wonder is that they
have been permitted to remain undeveloped so long, but this is the
most indolent, lazy and worthless population on earth. * * * * *
Will many people of the Southern States feel inclined to seek new
homes or will the follow the example of Lee, Johnston and others?
Mexico presents the finest field that I have ever seen for the
enterprise of our people, and now that slavery is abolished in the
South, hired labor can be much more easily procured here and made more
profitable than any part of the United States. I do not propose
however to urge or even advise an one to come, I only propose to give
them facts and leave them to decide for themselves as I have done for
myself, such as feel inclined to come will be received with open arms
and cordial welcome. But enough of this.
Where is Forrest, and what is he doing? And where and how is every
body else? For I have heard from none of our friends since I left
Give my kind regards to Mrs. Adair, Robbin, Jack and Forrest, and kiss
Mary for me, and tell her that it would give me great pleasure to have
a romp with her this evening.
Write me fully and do your best at penmanship, so that I may be able
to read the greatest part of the letter. I sent you a copy of the
Mexican News, an English newspaper edited by Gov. Allen, about a month
ago. I hope you received it, though there was very little of interest
in it, except that it shows the fact that we have started an American
newspaper at the city of Mexico. I neglected to say to you that this
place is situated on the line of railroad from Vera Cruz to the city
of Mexico; seventy miles west of Vera Cruz. The railroad is now in
operation to within eighteen miles of this place, and all the distance
to the city of Mexico is under contract and the work rapidly
progressing. It is a few hours' run by rail from here to Vera Cruz;
fro Vera Cruz it is three days by steam to New Orleans, and fro New
Orleans it is three or four days by rail to Atlanta, so you see that
we are still neighbors, even if you should remain in Georgia. The road
is owned by an English company, but is almost entirely in American
My health is excellent, and I feel that it cannot be otherwise in this
charming climate. Direct your letter to me at Cordova, Mexico, and in
conclusion, let me beg you to excuse this horrid and disjoined letter,
as it was written in the midst of a crowd, half of whom were
continually talking to me and compelling me to talk to them.
Very truly your friend,
Memphis Daily Appeal, December 15, 1865

       Dec. 7, 1864 -  Speech of Governor Isham Harris's Speech to Hood's
army as it approached Nashville
GOVERNOR ISHAM G. HARRIS'S LAST.- The following proclamation, issued
by Governor Harris, was picked up on the battle-field, in front of
Nashville, on Saturday last. From what has occurred in the past few
days, it is evident that the Governor was slightly mistaken in his
TENNESSEE, DEC. 7, 1864.
TENNESSEEANS: The Confederate army is here for the purpose of driving
the invader from our soil, and relieving you from the rule of the most
absolute and lawless despotism – planting on the dome of your capital
the flag of the government of your choice, and securing to you the
protection of law and civil government.
For near three years the rod of the tyrant has been over you. While
the hired minions of a wicked despotism have outraged every right,
laid waste to our farms, burned our houses, stolen our property,
murdered our citizens in cold blood, dragged to loathsome prisons our
people, suppressed the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press,
exacted the most odious and disgusting oaths, and heaped every insult
that malice could invent upon our mothers, wives, sisters, and
daughters, and even now in the wantonness of their supposed power,
they coolly debate the mode of apportioning our lands between our
salves and their vandal soldiery, whose hands are yet red with the
blood of our gallant sons.
We have driven the enemy in confusion to your capital, and now stand
before the bristling fortifications which surround dit. He can, must,
and will be driven from this last stronghold, and beyond the limits of
our State. We are here for the purpose of redeeming and protecting
Tennessee or finding graves upon her soil. There is no fate so
revolting to freemen as the degradation of tyranny and oppression.
Let none doubt or hesitate as to the ultimate success of our cause.
There is not an instance in the history of the world where ten
millions of people, occupying such an area of country, with such soil,
climate, and resources as ours, have been conquered.
The subjugation of such a people, deeply resolved upon their
independence, has never been, never can be accomplished.
Under the providence of God our fate is in our own hands; our generous
soil and genial climate has exploded the idea that we can be starved
into submission. Our fields are teeming with abundant supplies, while
our resources in arms, ammunition, and all the munitions of war are
sample and fully equal to our necessities, and we have to-day within
the limits of the Confederacy, a million of men capable of bearing
The independence of our young republic is as certain as the inevitable
decrees of Him who determines all things in favor of the just and
We have all the resources necessary to its achievement; it is only a
question of time, perseverance, and endurance. If there is manhood
enough in the country to deserve free government; we must, we will be
free. But he is unworthy of free government who will not fight for it;
unworthy of independence who will not defend it with his life.
I trust there is no citizen of Tennessee so lost to himself and a
proper sense of duty to a country as not to prefer death in any form
to a life of dishonor, degradation, and political slavery. There can
be no end to this struggle while there is a hostile foot upon our
soul; no peace while the arrogance of unlicensed despotism seeks your
degradation and enslavement. The distinct issue is independence or
Our glorious old regiments which volunteered at the beginning of the
war have proudly borne the banner of the country over many a
hard-fought and bloody field, and added new luster to the high
character of the State by their chivalrous and noble deeds of daring;
but the hardships and exposures of the camp and the casualties of the
field have sadly diminished their numbers. They return to you after an
absence of near three years, with their time-honored, war-worn, and
battle-tattered banners, and appeal to you to join them and their
gallant comrades from our sister States, and aid in the glorious work
of driving the vandals from Tennessee and planting our flag upon the
banks of the Ohio.
No higher or holier duty ever devolved upon man than that of instantly
responding to this appeal; you owe it to the country, to your gallant
brothers who have so long maintained this struggle for your
independence; you owe to yourselves, your wives, your children, to the
memory of the gallant dead and to the cause of civil and religious
I appeal to you by every consideration dear to freemen; by your
personal honor; your love of liberty; the safety of your families; the
protection of your property; your political equality, and your
national independence. I appeal to the old and to the young, to every
man who can carry a musket or wield a sabre, to rise up in the majesty
of your power, put forth your whole strength, fill those old regiments
to the maximum, and strike for your independence, your altars, and
your homes; strike like men who deeply feel the gross wrongs they have
and strike like men who know their rights, hazard; [sic] strike like
men who have [will live as] freeman than live as slaves.
Under the acts of Congress, all able-bodied white men between the ages
of eighteen and forty-five are made Confederate soldiers. The
President has ordered you to the field. It is important that both to
yourselves and the country that you report at once. By doing so you
come as volunteers, and have the right of selecting the infantry
regiment with which you will serve, while, if you delay, under orders
of the military authorities you will be conscribed, arrested, and
assigned for duty to such Tennessee regiment as they may think proper.
I trust you will not allow Tennessee to lose the proud name of the
"Volunteer State."
Those between the ages of 17 and 18, and 45 and 50, constitute the
reserve corps of the State. The President has ordered your immediate
enrollment and organization; ;you have the right to organize
yourselves into companies of not less than sixty-four men; by the
election of company officers, proper officers will be assigned to the
duty of organizing those companies into regiments, &c. Your failure to
enroll yourselves in the reserve corps renders you liable to be
conscribed and placed in the regular service. Enroll and organize at
once; the arms are here for you, and your services are necessary to
the defence of you State, you families, and your homes.
I appeal to those who are improperly absent from their commands to
return without a moment's delay, and by a full and faithful discharge
of duty in the future, redeem the error of the past.
I am authorized by the commanding General to assure you, that all who
voluntarily return to duty before the first of February next shall be
fully pardoned for past offences, while those who have to be arrested
and brought back to their commands will be charged and tried for the
crime of desertion.
To the speedy and successful accomplishment of these ends I earnestly
invoke the zealous cooperation of the patriotic fathers, fond mothers,
and fair daughters of the State, upon them the country must rely in a
great measure for that moral support, without which our efforts can
never be entirely successful. Let no one, whose age or conditions
excludes them from actual service in the field forget or neglect the
high and sacred duty which devolves upon them of laboring within their
respective sphere, earnestly and zealously for the promotion of our
cause, upon the success of which depends all that is dear to an
enlightened, free, and brave people.
From the beginning of this bloody struggle you have presented the
sublimest spectacle of civil and religious liberty and national
independence. You have not only generously fed and clothed, but your
example and influence has nerved the heart and arm of the soldier in
the field. Continue to fan the flame of patriotic ardor and determined
and uncompromising resistance to oppression. Send every man to the
from who is capable of bearing arms; give neither countenance or
shelter to those who would shrink from the contest and linger at home
when duty calls to the field.
Much as you have accomplished and much as you have suffered, your
duties have not ended, nor can your efforts cease until we have massed
all our available resources, and concentrated all of our powers. This
done, we may confidently look forward to an early day when the invader
will be driven in confusion from our territory: the independence of
the Confederate States acknowledged by the governments of the
civilized world, and our gallant soldiers disbanded and returned to
the comforts and endearments of home and the pursuits of peace.
Isham G. Harris, Governor of Tennessee.
Louisville Daily Journal, December 23, 1864.


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