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[From the Charleston News and Courier, January, 1898.]
JUDAH P. BENJAMIN.
[See Ante, pp. 297-302.]
We are indebted to the Hon. James Sprunt, of Wilmington, N. C., for another interesting contribution in regard to the early life of Judah P. Benjamin. He is confirmed in his opinion that Mr. Benjamin lived in Fayetteville, N. C., and attended the "Fayetteville Academy," where he attained distinction in his studies, and was prepared for college. His conviction is based upon "the competent testimony of the venerable R. C. Belden, Esq., of this State" (North Carolina), "who was an intimate friend and schoolmate of young Benjamin." We publish both Mr. Sprunt's letter, and Mr. Belden's statement to-day.
In the absence of other testimony, we would say that Mr. Sprunt had made out his case; the most that we can concede, however, in view of abundant testimony upon the subject, is that Mr. Benjamin may have been a pupil at the Fayetteville Academy for perhaps a year. Indeed, this is all that Mr. Belden claims. It is admitted generally, that the Benjamins came to the United States when Judah was only four or five years of age, and Mr. Ezekiel says that the time of their immigration was 1815. Mr. Belden says that Judah and his brother Solomon, and his sister Hannah, "came to Fayetteville in 1825, lived with their uncle and aunt, and became pupils in the Fayetteville Academy," and that "Judah was a classmate of mine during his stay in Fayetteville." Continuing, Mr. Belden says: "Mr. Levy" (Judah's uncle), "desiring to enlarge his business, removed with his sister" (Mrs. Wright), "and the Benjamins to New Orleans, in 1826.
If they prove anything, these statements prove that Judah could not have been in Fayetteville much more than one year; if, indeed, he were ever there at all, except with the Confederate Cabinet on its flight from Richmond at the close of the war in 1865. If he arrived in Fayetteville on January 1, 1825, and departed thence on December 31, 1826, he could not have been in Fayetteville more than two years. It is admitted by Mr. Belden that the Benjamins came to Charleston from the West Indies, and the time of their arrival here,
as nearly as can be reckoned, was in the year 1815. He did not go to Fayetteville, if at all, until 1825, and must have been fifteen years old that year, and must have lived in Charleston for at least ten years before he became Mr. Belden's classmate, unless it shall transpire that Mr. Belden really attended school with Judah at the old brick school-house in St. Michael's alley, Charleston.
There is no doubt that Mr. Benjamin lived in Charleston, and went to school in this city. He told Mr. Levin that such was the case. Mr. B. C. Hard, of Williamston, S. C., who is still living, says that he was in Judah's class; that Judah was a very bright pupil, and quoted Shakespeare while playing marbles; that his teacher was Robert Southworth. Among his classmates, or school-fellows, were N. Russell Middleton, T. Leger Hutchinson, W. J. Hard, Mitchell King, Wilson, B. C. Hard, Stephen Thomas and others—all for many years residents of this city. The Hebrew Orphan Society paid for his schooling. The store in which his father did business was situated in King street, near Clifford street, and his aunt, Mrs. Wright, as we were told yesterday upon good authority, also did business in this city. Probably when she moved to Fayetteville, in 1825, she took her nephew and niece with her.
If further evidence were needed to prove that the Benjamins lived in Charleston it can be found in the records of the United States Court in Charleston, which show that the elder Benjamin obtained his naturalization papers here. After the war, when Judah wished to enter the English Bar, it was necessary for him to prove that he was born a British subject, and the proof of his father's application for American citizenship was found on file in the United States Court at Charleston.
Mr. Benjamin was a great man, and we are not surprised that many cities should claim the honor of his residence. We hope that the Hon. Francis Lawley, of London, will not omit Charleston from his story of the "Life of Judah P. Benjamin." But for the care which was taken of his friend and confidant in this old town, probably the world would never have known him; the world, as we all know, is full of "mute, inglorious Miltons."
[From the Baltimore Sun, November 2, 1897.]
FREEDOM FOR THE SLAVES.
How President Lincoln was Brought to the Point of Issuing His Proclamation.
It was in the closing days of September, 1862, says the New York Mail and Express, that Abraham Lincoln formally announced that on the January 1, following, he would declare all slaves free in the States then at war with the government. To Frank B. Carpenter, the artist, Lincoln gave a very interesting account of the manner in which he prepared and submitted to the cabinet the proclamation.
"It had got to be," he said, “midsummer, 1862. Things had gone on from bad to worse, until I felt that we had reached the end of the rope on the plan of operations we had been pursuing; that we had about played our last card, and must change our tactics or lose the game. I now determined upon the adoption of the emancipation policy, and, without consultation with, or the knowledge of the cabinet, I prepared the original draft of a proclamation, and, after much anxious thought, called a cabinet meeting upon the subject. This was the last of July, or the first part of the month of August, 1862. This cabinet meeting took place, I think, upon a Saturday. All were present excepting Mr. Blair, the PostmasterGeneral, who was absent at the opening of the discussion, but came in subsequently. I said to the cabinet that I had resolved upon this step, and had not called them together to ask their advice, but to lay the subject matter of a proclamation before them, suggestions as to which whould be in order after they had heard it read.
"Various suggestions were offered. Secretary Chase wished the language stronger in reference to the arming of the blacks. Mr. Blair, after he came in, deprecated the policy on the ground that it would cost the administration the fall elections. Nothing, however, was offered that I had not already anticipated and settled in my own mind, until Secretary Seward spoke. Said he: Mr. President, I approve of the proclamation, but I question the expediency of its issue at this juncture. The depression of the public mind, consequent upon our repeated reverses, is so great that I fear the effect of so important a step. It may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government-a cry for help; the government stretching
forth its hands to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the government.' His idea was that it would be considered our last shriek' on the retreat. 'Now,' continued Mr. Seward, 'while I approve the measure, I suggest, sir, that you postpone its issue until you can give it to the country supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war.'
"The wisdom of the Secretary of State struck me with very great force. It was an aspect of the case that in all my thought upon the subject I had entirely overlooked. The result was that I put the draft of the proclamation aside, as you do your sketch for a picture, waiting for a victory. From time to time I added or changed a line, touching it up here and there, waiting the progress of events. Well, the next news we had was of Pope's disaster at Bull Run. Things looked darker than ever. Finally came the week of Antietam. I determined to wait no longer. The news came, I think, on Wednesday, that the advantage was on our side. I was then staying at the Soldiers' Home. Here I finished writing the second draft of the preliminary proclamation; came up on Saturday, called the cabinet together to hear it, and it was published the following Monday."
An incident of the last-mentioned cabinet meeting not mentioned by Lincoln was related to Mr. Carpenter by Secretary Chase. The President, he said, began by remarking that the time for the annunciation of the emancipation policy could no longer be delayed. Public sentiment, he thought, would sustain it, many of his warmest friends and supporters demanded it, and he had promised his God that he would do it. The last part of this was uttered in a low tone, and appeared to be heard by no one but Mr. Chase, who was sitting near him. He asked the President if he correctly understood him. Mr. Lincoln replied: "I made a solemn vow before God that if General Lee were driven back from Pennsylvania I would crown the result by the declaration of freedom to the slaves."
[From the Richmond, Va., Times, Jan. 30, 1898.]
THE CONFEDERATE DEAD.
A Beautiful Poem by A. C. GORDON, of Staunton.
To the Editor of the Times:
In reading the excellent address of Capt. R. S. Parks to the veterans [see ante pp. 354-364], as reported in your paper, and the beautiful and fitting verses with which he closed, it occurred to me that you would enjoy, if you have never seen it, or read it, the entire poem as delivered by the author, the Hon. A. C. Gordon, of Staunton, Va., upon the occasion of unveiling the monument erected to the Confederate dead at Staunton, Va., and I enclose you a copy. The late Professor George Fred. Holmes told the writer of this that he considered Mr. Armistead Gordon's poem "the finest on such an occasion he had read since the war." With many other distinguishing qualities, I am happy that Virginia has in this son one who writes so beautifully in verse.*
Waynesboro, Va., January 25, 1898.
G. JULIAN PRatt.
THE CONFEDERATE DEAD.
"The grief that circled his brow with a crown of thorns was also that which wreathed them with the splendor of immortality."Castelar's "Savonarola."
Where are they who marched away,
Sped with smiles that changed to tears,
Glittering lines of steel and gray
Where are they these many years?
Garlands wreathed their shining swords;
They are gone so many years.
* He has written as well in prose, it may be assumed, for, as fellow student with Thomas Nelson Page at the University of Virginia, he yielded to the latter (it has been admitted), some conceptions-upon which our dialect writer rose to fame and wealth.