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1865 March 25: News Tidbits on Frances E.W. Harper, Parsons Brownlow, and Bills Passed by Both Congresses

March 30, 2015

The following news tidbits come from the March 25, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.  Our other newspaper, The Prescott Journal, did not publish an issue this week due to lack of paper.

— Mrs. F. E. Watkins Harper,¹ a colored oratress, has taken the field, and is pronounced superior to Miss Dickenson [sic: Anna E. Dickinson].

— For the first time in the history of the State a negro testified against a white man, in the Recorder’s Court of St. Louis last week.

— After much tribulation, trepidation, and angry contention, the rebel Congress has passed the bill authorizing Jeff. Davis [Jefferson Davis] to place three hundred thousand negroes in the army.

— Seven young women were arrested recently in Chariton county, Mo., on various charges of disloyalty, and sent to St. Louis for safe keeping.—Four of them obtained their release by taking the oath of allegiance and marrying soldiers.

— Parson Brownlow [William G. Brownlow], Governor elect of Tennessee, has been awarded $25,000 in a suit, for damages inflicted by imprisonment and persecution at the hands of certain prominent rebels of Knoxville.  It is assorted upon the property of Ramsey, Sneed, and others, who were influential, in the early days of the rebellion, in getting the Parson into jail.

— The bill to establish a home for disabled soldiers passed both Houses of Congress.  It incorporates Lieut. General Grant and 99 others [Ulysses S. Grant].  The capital is to be $1,000,000, and is to be made up of military fines, deductions from pary [sic] and donations.—No direct expense is to be incurred by the Government, no small recommendation in these days of large expenses.

— A Richmond paper calls the Yankees a nation of hucksters and mechanics.  It sneers at their occupation.  Richmond may, before long, know more about Yankee ‘occupation’ than it does now.

Imaged of Harper used in several of her publications

Image of Harper used in several of her publications

1.  Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Frances E. W. Harper, or just Frances Harper (1825-1911) was an African-American poet, author, and orator, who advocated for abolition and education. As the daughter of free black parents, she was able to attend school as a child. Around 1845, her first poem collection, Forest Leaves, was published. The delivery of her public speech, “Education and the Elevation of the Colored Race,” resulted in a two-year lecture tour for the Anti-Slavery Society. In 1854, Miss Watkins published Poems of Miscellaneous Subjects, which featured one of her most famous works, “Bury Me in a Free Land.” She also became an in-demand lecturer on behalf of the abolitionist movement, appearing with the likes of Frederick Douglass, William Garrison, Lucretia Mott, and Lucy Stone. In 1860 she married Fenton Harper and withdrew from public life. In 1864, after her husband’s death, Mrs. Harper returned to the lecture circuit. Harper published her most famous novel Iola Leroy in 1892. Four years later, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Women with Ida Wells-Barnett, Harriet Tubman, and several others. The organization sought to improve the lives and advance the rights of African-American women.

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