Tuesday, January 28, 2014

1/29/2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        29, "Working Men Read."

A correspondent of the Union and American[1] talks in the following plain and sensible terms to the working classes of the South. Let every mechanic, farmer, and all others interested in the prosperity of the South read and reflect:

An effort is being made in Tennessee to array the working classes against their more wealthy neighbors. The attempt runs on this wise: "The rich men of the South own the slaves -- they are the nabobs of the land -- they are interested in slave property -- the poor people are not personally interested [in slave property] -- let rich men do the fighting if collision must come -- if the rich were deprived of their negroes [sic], we would be on a level, and there would be more equality in society." Specious, but most fallacious arguments. I undertake to say that the laboring classes of the South are as much or more interested in the question [of slave property (?)] that agitates the country than the rich. It is a fact, first, that most of the slaveholders in Tennessee are among the laboring classes. There are only, comparatively, a few extensive slaveholders in the State. A large proportion of those who own negroes [sic] have from one to a half dozen slaves, while a few hold them in large numbers. The small farmers in the country have one or two or three servants each to aid them in cultivating the soil. With these slaves they and their sons toil in the same field, and feel no degradation. The abolition of slavery would seriously affect large numbers of this class.

Secondly. It is a fact that large slaveholders usually have wealth over and above their slaves. They generally own large tracts of land, stock of various descriptions, bank stock, money, etc., so that if their slaves were gone they would soon become landholders of the country, and would hold the poorer whites as tenants at will; and being proprietors of the soil they would soon prescribe the terms and conditions on which men without means should till the land.

Thirdly. The emancipation of slaves, and the flooding of the country with free blacks, would reduce the price of labor, and thus materially injure the prospects of white laborers. Who does not know that the price of labor in the South is above the wages at the North?[2]

Fourthly. The policy of the abolitionist is to drive out slave labor, so that our "sunny South" may be overrun with hordes of free laborers from the North and foreign countries, that they may reap the advantages now enjoyed by industrious working men at the South.

Fifthly. The policy is to make black men equal to white men, in all respects. They require that the free negro shall vote with the white man send his children to the same school; sit in the same pew at church; eat at the same table; sleep in the same bed; move in the same social circle; work in the same shop or field in equal rank, and finally, as advocated by some, intermarry, and thus become one race by amalgamation. Now, I ask the working men of Tennessee if they are ready to indorse all these sentiments? Are they willing that their children shall become the cstlers [sic],[3] shoe blacks, carriage drivers, washer women and become servants of wealthy land lords, the rich merchant the lordly bankers of the country, while they themselves shall be put on a level with free blacks?

It is a fact that no man can gainsay, that in the free States, especially in the older and more aristocratic, that as the rich grow richer the poor become poorer, and that property creates castes in society.

Let the working people of the South look well to their own interests, and not suffer themselves to be deluded by cunning politicians. This is the advice of One Raised at the Handles of the Plow.

Nashville Daily Gazette, January 29, 1861



29, Report on Widespread Alarm in Paris

~ ~ ~


The greatest excitement prevails at Paris, and the inhabitants are fleeing from certain destruction of Henry county in which Pairs is situated, is perfectly bare of military force, having sent two regiments into the field. Besides, the adjoining county is said to contain a large number of Union men.

Colonels J. Cook and Cummins, together with their families, and several hundred negroes, all from the neighborhood of Paris, arrived in the city last night, and represent that the greatest apprehensions exist in that vicinity. The prudent people are all moving their negroes off as there is said to be nothing in the way, except their cowardice, to prevent the Federals from coming over and possessing the railroad and the country in the vicinity. We cannot believe, however, that such an impression is correct, for as Generals are too sagacious to permit so valuable an artery as the Memphis and Ohio railroad to remain in an exposed condition.

~ ~ ~

Paris was in a perfect ferment of excitement yesterday, and many, anticipating an immediate descent of the army which the deemed themselves utterly powerless to resist, were preparing to leave with negroes and other property for various points southward. Mr. Wise informs us that one gentleman alone endeavored to obtain transportation on the train for seventy negroes fearing they would fall into the hands of the Federals.

~ ~ ~

Philadelphia Inquirer, January 29, 1862



        29, Patrols south of Collierville and East to Moscow

No circumstantial reports filed.

MEMPHIS, TENN., January 29, 1864.

Col. A. G. GRACKETT, Collierville:

Enemy are reported moving north. Keep patrols well out south and east as far as Moscow. Watch the bridge at Moscow for a day or two by patrols. Notify Col. McCrillis to do this when you have left. The First Alabama are at LaGrange and will come through to-morrow by wagon road. Notify Germantown to be vigilant; cavalry from the north are daily expected at Moscow.

B. H. GRIERSON, Brig.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. II, p. 258.

[1] There is no copy of the Union and American available for this date.

[2] His reference to the ratio of slave workers to free workers and wages was not a new one. For example, on May 19, 1831, the Nashville Republican and State Gazette featured a letter advocating the hiring of free mechanics, not slaves, to do construction work in Nashville. The fact that there were too few honest white mechanics in the capitol city was because "the influence of slavery may be mainly referred to as the source of this evil."

May 4, 1849, Nashville. A letter was printed in the Daily American which complained that journeymen mechanics were not getting as much pay as before because "Property holders complain that they are 'taxed to death'" and therefore must hold their houses and slaves at a rate sufficient to enable them to make a percentage on capitol so invested. The city's free and white working classes, said the letter, were usually renters and hirers and therefore they are in the end forced to bear all the burdens of taxation. "Only a few mechanics make over $10 a week and most with families not even one half that," the mechanics' advocate wrote.

May 5, 1849, Nashville. Yet another letter appeared in the Daily American complaining that "It is these capitalists that advance or hold up rents and keep wages down." White free masons had to compete with slave masons rented out by their owners at much cheaper wages. In many cases "white workmen are discharged and negroes employed..." The work of slaves was, according to the letter, shoddy and put free white masons out of work in Nashville. Slave owners and capitalists argued the letter writer, "will soon have nothing but themselves, their money and their negroes to look after-they are working a system which will surely drive off white mechanics and laborers because [slaves] work [for] so low [a wage] that they cannot afford to pay proper wages to a good journeyman."

[3] Most likely "coster," or "coster-monger," a British term for a hawker of fruits and vegetables

James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-532-1550  x115

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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