"Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North" marks the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War, 1981-1865. The exhibition is interesting and well organized, and it may be of particular interest to readers of this blog because of the position of Great Britain. Less than a century after separating from Britain, would the USA survive or break apart?
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, ca. 1855
Artist: Francis Cruikshank
British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) was said to be more sympathetic to the cause of the secessionist states, probably for several reasons, especially including the importance of southern cotton to the textile mills of Britain. Yet, the grains that traveled east across the Atlantic from Northern ports were of equal concern. Most of the controversy was played out in diplomacy concerning the shipping, blockades, embargoes, neutral rights, etc. on the high seas. President Lincoln needed to keep Britain on his side, or at the least prevent the British from directly supporting the Southern States
Samuel Colman Jr., Ships Unloading, New York, 1868
Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago
From the Library's Text Labels: "Samuel Colman’s Ships Unloading depicts a busy New York port, where a ship known as the Glad Tidings is docked. The ship’s most important cargo was cotton, the mainstay of the South’s slave economy and New York City’s most important export. But since the early war years, the Glad Tidings had been instrumental in facilitating a free labor model of the cotton trade that aimed to replace slavery with wage work. The crops the Glad Tidings brought to New York had been grown and harvested in the South by wage-earning ex-slaves. Colman’s painting is therefore a reminder of epochal historical change. In the foreground, a black worker and two white counterparts tend to a cotton bale that has spilled open, while a single white worker wrestles with another bale. On the left edge of the painting a banner reads “London and New York,” reminding viewers that the South supplied the vast majority of raw cotton for the English textile industry through the port of New York. Visible only under considerable magnification are the words “New York Petroleum Co.” painted across the head of the barrel facing the viewer, foreshadowing the presence of the commodity that would fuel the engines of American commerce, and warfare, for generations to come."
Albert Bobbett, Edward Hooper, and Louis H. Stephens, “Principle vs. Interest" from Vanity Fair
New York: Louis H. Stephens, April 13, 1861
Newberry folio A 5 .93 v. 3
Again from the Newberry's texts: 'In “Principle vs. Interest,” England’s John Bull casts a sidelong glance at the seated Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, who appears as a cotton broker. Bull turns his back on the black male figure, signaling that England’s abolitionist principles will not stop it from acting on its commercial interests. Characteristic of cartooning style at that time, the slave is literally encased and flailing helplessly in a cotton bale.'
Many other exhibits refer to activities in Chicago and elsewhere in the North during the Civil War.
"Group of Chicago Zouave Cadets" from
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, NY, July 28, 1860
According to the exhibition, 'More than 70 US Army volunteer regiments fashioned themselves “Zouaves,” borrowing the term and the uniform from French Army regiments serving in North Africa during the mid-nineteenth century. Instantly recognizable in their colorful garb, Zouave regiments sported tasseled fezzes, short, open jackets trimmed with braid and baggy pants, often in brilliant red. Sheet music, periodicals, and parades featuring precision drills contributed to the popularity of the Zouave regiments.
This Zouve-style silk dress worn by Sarah Cadwallader Logan Knowland, 1865-66, particularly interested me for the carefully stitched pleating and fine fabric. I find it interesting that military styles often influence women's fashions.
Dress, based on Zouave Style,
Chicago History Museum,