We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot

Welcome to Ten Roads! This blog is intended to be a place for me to share my (generally Civil War-related) thoughts and experiences. I try to update once a week at the very least. All comments and readers are greatly appreciated!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

"Which is Which?"

The good thing about working on this newspapers project for the CWI Office/Lincoln Bicentennial Commission is that occasionally I come across interesting and/or amusing items. Here is an article from the Philadelphia Press, January 19, 1861.

Which is Which?

The blunders of the English journals, when American topics are discussed, are frequent and amusing. At one time English editors declare that the President of the United States is elected by the rowdies of New York; at another, they acknowledge Mr. Bennett's Herald to be reliable and respectable; anon, they discourse of Ohio as margined by the Atlantic, and so on. We have now to notice their latest and most amusing error.
A London periodical, entitled "Once a Week," commenced eighteen months ago, to rival Dickens' "All the Year Round," has an article, in its number for December 29, called "Abraham Lincoln, President Elect of the United States." It commences thus, biographically.
"'Honest Old Abe,' as the Americans call Lincoln, was originally a farm-laborer in Illinois. Frederick Douglas, 'the Little Giant,' his defeated antagonist, was a cabinet maker."
Here be two pieces of exclusive news - that Frederick Douglass, the negro, was the political antagonist of Mr. Lincoln, and that the said Frederick bears the
sobriquet of "the Little Giant." In the innocence of our heart, we always thought that, not Frederick Douglass, but Stephen A. Douglas, stood in that position, and bore that familiar sobriquet. Moreover, we were certain - until corrected in our belief by "Once a Week," - that Stephen A. Douglas is a white man, instead of a black.
The English editor cannot plead, in extenuation, that Frederick was a slip of the pen, for a dozen lines lower down, he describes what Frederick Douglass said of Mr. Lincoln "in one of his stump speeches, when lately itinerating the northwest provinces." He adds that in 1858 this self-same "Frederick" was elected Senator for Illinois, and that the New York
Tribune is a "religious" paper. Nothing can be said to excuse the ignorance of a writer who confounds black and white in this odd manner - who supposes a negro eligible for the Presidency - and who speaks of the States of the Union as provinces. To carry on the joke, this very facetious and accurate English writer brags of his personal knowledge of America, its institutions, its people, its politics. "I," he says, "who have stood for hours and days watching the boatmen of these rivers [the Wabash and the Mississippi] know how laborious is their life," he alludes to the boatmen and so on. All this comes from people writing boldly about matters with which they are almost unacquainted. Not otherwise could any person have blundered so palpably as to confound the Hon. S.A. Douglas, the patriotic and eloquent Senator for Illinois, with Frederick Douglass, the negro.

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