Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tolstoy’s Prophecy

THE story of Tolstoy’s Prophecy was a hoax of unknown original purpose, appropriated by the American or British governments of 1917. It may have been among the pamphlets and leaflets prepared by Harmsworth [Director of Propaganda to enemy countries in 1918] which were dropped over enemy lines to demoralize the German army. The story first emerged in the United States in 1913 and my account of its origins and the prophetic text [possibly altered to suit American propaganda purposes] is drawn from The Lawrence Journal of 15 May 1915.

As the story of its origin has it, shortly before his death in 1910 Tolstoy made the prophecy at the joint request of the Kaiser and the King of England, regarding future events on the continent. Accordingly, a few weeks before his death, Tolstoy dictated the prophecy to Countess Nastasia Tolstoy, “his favorite amanuensis. Tolstoy is said to have been in a condition of semi-trance at the time — a condition which overcame him when deep in literary composition.” 

Nastasia Tolstoy then passed the prophecy to the three monarchs, George, Wilhelm, and Nicholas. One of Tolstoy’s relatives leaked the story to the public through Associated Press Sunday Magazines, issued 23 Feb, 1913. If this is true the story was circulated well before the start of war in 1914. “This much is certain,” said the 1915 Lawrence Journal account, “that it has been in circulation in print for two years three months.” The so-called prophecies read:

“This is a revelation of events of a universal character, which must shortly come to pass. Their spiritual lifelines are now before my eyes. I see floating upon the surface of the sea of human fate the huge silhouette of a nude woman. She is with her beauty, her poise, her smile, her jewels – a super Venus. Nations rush madly after her, each of them eager to attract her specially. But she, like an eternal courtesan, flirts with all. 

In her hair ornament of diamonds and rubies is engraved her name: ‘Commercialism.’ As alluring and bewitching as she seems, much destruction and agony follow in her wake. Her breath, reeking of sordid transactions, her voice of metallic character, like gold, and her look of greed are so much poison to the nations who fall victim to her charms.

And behold, she has three gigantic arms with three torches of universal corruption in her hand. The first torch represents the flame of war that the beautiful courtesan carries from city to city and country to country. Patriotism answers with flashes of honest flame but the end is the roar of guns and musketry.

The second torch bears the flame of bigotry and hypocrisy. It lights the lamps only in temples and on the altars of sacred institutions. It carries the seed of falsity and fanaticism. It kindles the minds that are still in cradles and follows them to their graves.

The third torch is that of the law, that dangerous foundation of all unauthentic traditions, which first does its fatal work in the family then sweeps through the large worlds of literature, art and statesmanship.

The great conflagration will start about 1912, set by the torch of the first arm, in the countries of South-eastern Europe. It will develop into a destructive calamity in 1913. In that year I see all Europe in flames and bleeding. I hear the lamentations of huge battlefields. But about the year 1915 a strange figure from the North – a new Napoleon – enters the stage of the bloody drama. 

He is a man of little militaristic training, a writer or a journalist, but in his grip most of Europe will remain until 1925. The end of the great calamity will mark a new political era of the Old World. There will be left no empires or kingdoms but the world will form a federation of the United States of Nations. There will remain only four great giants – the Anglo-Saxon, the Latins, the Slavs, and the Mongolians.

After the year 1925 I see a change in religious sentiment. The second torch of the courtesan has brought about the fall of the Church. The ethical idea has almost vanished. Humanity is without moral feeling. But then a great reformer arises. He will clear the world of the relics of monotheism and lay the cornerstone of the temple of pantheism. God, soul, spirit and immortality will be molten in a new furnace, and I see the peaceful beginning of an ethical era. The man determined to this mission is a Mongolian Slav. He is already walking the earth – a man of active affairs. He himself does not now realize the mission assigned to him by a superior power.

And behold the flame of the third torch which has already begun to destroy our family relations, our standards of art and our morals. The relations between man and woman is accepted as a prosine (positive?) partnership of the sexes. Art has become realistic degeneracy. Political and religious disturbances have shaken the spiritual foundations of  all nations. The race wars of Africa have strangled progress for half a century. 

I see a hero of literature and art rising from the ranks of the Latins and purging the world of the tedious stuff of the obvious. It is the light of symbolism that shall outshine the light of the torch of commercialism. In place of the polygamy and monogamy of today there will become a poetgamy – a relation of the sexes based fundamentally upon poetic conceptions of life.

And I see the nations, growing wiser, and realizing that the alluring woman of their destinies is after all nothing but an illusion. There will be a time when the world will have no use for armies, hypocritical religions and degenerate art. Life is evolution, and evolution is development from the simple to the more complicated forms of the mind and the body. I see the passing show of the world drama in its present form, but how it fades like the glow of evening upon the mountains. One motion from the hand of commercialism and a new history begins.”

Count Lyoff Tolstoy drawing by George T. Tobin,
based on a photograph, from The Century,
February 1911.
A strange and badly written farrago to pin on one of the giants of literature is it not? 

The hoax had actually been exposed on 15 December 1914 in a letter to the New York Times by Vladimir Tchertkoff, Tolstoy’s literary representative, who wrote that the article appeared first in a Swedish newspaper under the title “A World-Wide Prophecy,” then was reprinted in English American and Russian newspapers. “I feel it my duty to state that Tolstoy never wrote anything of the kind, and that the attribution of this article to him is an absolute invention.” 

Whatever the fraud’s original purpose it was put to use on 2 January 1917 in the American Tacoma Times to associate Alfred Harmsworth, than visiting America, as “Tolstoy’s Man of Destiny.” There were other candidates for the “Man of the North.” Another article on 10 July 1917 in The Day (New London, Connecticut) asked “Is Kerensky Tolstoy’s “Strong Man from the North” who will end War?”

The hoax had wings and the flight was sustained through ‘prophecy’ letters to the newspaper editors in England, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia.

The Day, August 13, 1914.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Circulation of Newspapers

Illustration by William Boucher, 1879
Here is a rare and useful clipping of circulation figures (accuracy not guaranteed) for British periodicals published September 26, 1889, including comic journals. I don’t recall which newspaper the list was published in. The second clipping on Harmsworth’s periodicals is from the Pall Mall Gazette published May 24, 1892. For American circulation figures see my previous post American Comic Journal Circulation HERE.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Max Bachmann, Political Cartoonist in Clay – 1896

Leslie’s Weekly, June 18, 1896. [#1] Hon. Thomas Platt: “Weighed and Found Wanting.

by Richard Samuel West
Max Bachmann was born in Brunswick, Germany, in 1862, emigrated with his family to New England, and was living in New York by the mid-1890s, the city he would call home for the rest of his life. Somewhere along the line, he received training in the sculpting arts. Though some of his pieces had been displayed at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, he was little known in 1896 when he began contributing political cartoon sculptures to Leslie’s Weekly Illustrated, which printed them large scale on the front page.

While we know the sculptures were made of clay and then photographed, and that they were so hastily done that the backs of the sculptures remained unfinished, we do not know anything about their size. Were they one foot high? Four feet high? Leslie’s Weekly never says. Bachmann’s contribution was special. Political cartoon sculptures were never a featured part of an American political campaign before Max Bachmann’s work and have never been a featured part since.

Leslie’s Weekly, June 25, 1896. [#2] William McKinley: A Man Wanted and Found. / Leslie’s Weekly, July 2, 1896. [#3] Mr. Cleveland and his Boom.
His first sculpture, depicting New York Republican boss Thomas Platt, appeared on the cover of the June 18, 1896, issue. Thereafter followed twenty-three cartoon statues, one every week. Three depicted a heroic Republican presidential nominee William McKinley, but many more (a total of fifteen) were reserved for demonizing or belittling the Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan.

Leslie’s Weekly, July 23, 1896. [#6] The New [Not the True] Democracy Unmasked. / Leslie’s Weekly, August 6, 1896. [#8] A Hopeless Case.
Bachmann’s broadsides were a major part of a much larger campaign conducted by almost the entire journalism community (Hearst’s New York Journal was the only powerful exception) to paint Bryan and his followers in the most extreme light and frighten undecided voters away from the Democratic party. Bachmann’s sculptures and the larger effort were successful. McKinley won in a landslide. Bachmann’s work was recognized as groundbreaking by the press of the day. 

Leslie’s Weekly, August 20, 1896. [#10] A Modern St. George and the Dragon. / Leslie’s Weekly, September 3, 1896. [#12] A Sure Winner if Bryan is Elected.
The New York Mail and Express wrote: “Leslie’s Weekly’s unique and telling statuary groups on its first page have proved a novel and valuable contribution to modern campaigning.” 

The New York Tribune said, “Perhaps the most novel feature of this year’s caricature has been its expression in sculpture… While many of [Bachmann’s sculptural] arguments have been self-evident, they have doubtless had a considerable influence by their effect of sculptured permanence; as if, after each week’s puzzling argument in the daily papers, some clear voice rose above the clatter and said in a downright way: “But the fact remains!” 

Leslie’s Weekly, September 17, 1896. [#14] Thou Shalt Not Kill. The Vain Attempt of the Popocratic Presidential Candidate to Kill the Bird that Lays the Golden Egg. / Leslie’s Weekly, October 1, 1896. [#16] United for the National Honor.
As a coda to the campaign, Bachmann contributed one last cartoon sculpture in December on the plight of Cuba under Spain’s harsh rule. It would prove to be the starting gun in the next great contest: the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Leslie’s Weekly, December 10, 1896. Another Spanish Victory.
After his stint with Leslie’s Weekly, Bachmann gained a reputation as an architectural sculptor. In 1899 Joseph Pulitzer commissioned him to design allegorical figures representing the seven continents for the Pulitzer building on Park Row. His busts of an American Indian (1902) and of Lincoln (1905) are still widely celebrated. From the earliest days of filmmaking he was called on to supply work for the movies. In the midst of an active and successful career, he died of pneumonia in January 1921 at the age of 58.

Leslie’s Weekly, October 15, 1896. [#18] Cutting the Dinner Pail in Two. / Leslie’s Weekly, November 5, 1896. [#21] Little Billy Bryan and the Tantalizing Bee. (The bee is labeled Palmer, a reference to John Palmer, the presidential nominee of the Gold Democrats who bolted the party.)

* Richard Samuel West’s latest book ‘Iconoclast in Ink; The Political Cartoons of Jay N. “Ding” Darling’ can be purchased HERE.

Friday, January 25, 2013

It’s Tight Like That

[1928] Vocalion Records advertisement, December 1 

More pictures on another, freshly started blog, Doggone That Train, HERE.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Tying a Knot in the Devil’s Tail

[1] March 26, 1932. The singing cowboy of the rodeo, “Powder River” Jack Lee and his wife Kitty Lee entertaining children in a courtyard of Bellevue Hospital, New York City.

Wilf Carter (1904-96), also known as “Montana Slim,” is regarded as the father of Canadian Country Music. In 1932 he recorded ‘My Swiss Moonlight Lullaby’ and ‘The Capture of Albert Johnson’ for RCA Victor in Montreal. Clarence Eugene “Hank” Snow (1914-99) signed with the same company in 1934. His first recordings were ‘Lonesome Blue Yodel’ which Snow recalled as a “Jimmie Rodgers blues song” and ‘The Prisoned Cowboy’, a “story song.” These were released on RCA Canada’s Bluebird label. Both blue yodelers were natives of Nova Scotia.

Wilf Carter had a predecessor who I believe may qualify as the real father of Canadian country music, although you won’t find his name in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

JOHN L. “POWDER RIVER JACK” LEE, was his name, who is not identified as Canadian in the available literature of the singing cowboy. Jack Lee (1874-1946) made his first recordings in 1930, also for Victor’s Bluebird label (probably the American branch), and, like Carter and Snow, played widely north and south of the 49th parallel. Like Wilf Carter he made numerous appearances at the Calgary Stampede, indeed, he performed at the inaugural Stampede on Labor Day, September 2,  1912. The Calgary Herald’s magazine editor wrote
Calgary was bursting at the seams with visitors. They’d come from all over the continent with special trains from Cheyenne, Wyoming, from Pendleton, Oregon, and from Spokane.
The Pendleton Round-up Cowboys’ Band was brought in to head the opening parade. George Drumheller of Washington brought in his compete crew of cowboys by special car. Waddies checked in from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and a dozen other states.

Vaqueros came all the way from Mexico with Pancho Villa sending up his best steer roper.

Hundreds of cowboys were on hand from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan cattle country.

Indian tribes moved en masse to Calgary and some 2,000 Indians took part in the parade.
Some American newspaper sources said Lee was born in Montana, some said Cheyenne, Wyoming. Lee and Kitty had a residence in Deer Lodge, Montana. According to an article in the Calgary Daily Herald on June 27, 1932, ‘Canadian Cowboy Singer Arrives for the Stampede’, Powder River Jack Lee was born on Prince Edward Island in Canada. According to his tombstone he was born October 1, 1874. One newspaper article is not proof, however, and Jack Lee was widely known as a teller of tall tales.

“Powder River” Jack Lee recorded four songs in 1930 (Country Music Records; A Discography) when he was already 56 years old. Two songs were on the Bluebird label (also released on Electradisk and Sunrise): ‘The Old Black Steer (Old Cowboy Song)’ and ‘My Love is a Cowboy (Old Cowboy Song).’ For Victor he recorded ‘Tying a Knot in the Devil’s Tail’ and ‘Powder River, Let ‘Er Buck.’ Lee vocalized and played guitar and harmonica accompanied by his wife Kitty Lee on guitar. In 1936 he recorded two songs in Chicago, ‘The Santa Fe Trail’ and ‘The Cowboy’s Farewell,’ both unissued. He was said to have recorded ‘Strawberry Roan’ but these are his only known recordings. In 1966 the Library of Congress Archive of American Folksong acquired “songs and stories of “Powder River” Jack, recorded over 20 years ago in Virginia City, Nevada.”

[3] November 26, 1935.
Powder River Jack drew the ire of cowboy poets Gail Gairdner (‘Tying a Knot in the Devil’s Tail’ composer) and Curly Fletcher (‘StrawberryRoan’ composer) for claiming those songs as his own compositions. Lee would say anything to a reporter and once laid claim to authorship of ‘Red River Valley.’ Every reporter he met had a quote meant to establish Lee as the only “authentic” cowboy in show business. In Salt Lake City the “poet laureate of Montana … cowboy author and composer” told a reporter that modern melodies were “just a lot of drugstore cowboy singin’ ”
Nope, I’m again those whiny songs they sing so much. They’re not real cowboy songs. Why the feller who writes most of ’em has never been west of State Street in Chicago.
To a different Salt Lake Reporter he said
Cowboy singing is being ruined and lost through the radio singers who never saw a ranch. Such innovations as yodeling, which came from the Swiss Alps, and crooning which were never heard by the real cowboys are being introduced until the public thinks them a part of cowboy music.
On October 18, 1932 Lee was working for Colonel Bill Johnson’s rodeo at the Seventh Annual World Series Rodeo in New York. Colonel Johnson told a reporter
Powder River Jack isn’t so keen on radio singers who try to revive the old songs of the west.
They’ve tried to revive interest in the cowboys, but they get their words and tunes from Victrola records.
Lee was probably referencing Ken Maynard, the first singing cowboy of the movies, who recorded ‘TheLone Star Trail,’ a ‘Talkie Hit’ from Universal Pictures The Wagon Master for Columbia Records in 1930. Maynard, an alumnus of the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch, yodeled and sang to guitar accompaniment. The song can be heard on Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. With no hint of irony Smith noted “This passionate description of life is one of the very few recordings of authentic “cowboy” singing.”

[4] June 27, 1932, Calgary Herald.
Carl T. Sprague (1895-1979) recorded the first cowboy songs for Columbia in 1925 titled ‘When the Work’s all Done this Fall’ and ‘Bad Companions.’ He was inspired by Vernon Dalhart’s success with ‘The Prisoner’s Song’ and ‘Wreck of the Old ’97’ recorded in 1924. The best was Jules Verne Allen (1883-1945) another well-known cowboy singer who recorded for RCA. He was a man who worked in law enforcement before taking up the vaudeville stage. He was a sergeant in World War I and put on shows where he performed Negro melodies, and his own compositions, in blackface. He made a large number of recordings in April 1928 including ‘Little Joe the Wrangler,’ ‘Jack O’ Diamonds,’ ‘Po Mourner,’ ‘The Days of ’49’ and ‘Zebra Dun.’

Powder River Jack Lee wrote West of Powder River, tales of the far West told in narrative verse (HERE) in 1933. A songbook was published by the McKee Printing and Engraving Company at Butte, Montana, with illustrations by cowboy artist Charley Russell. He wrote and illustrated another book, The Stampede, tales of the old west, which mentioned his experiences as a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt, travels with Buffalo Bill Cody and friendship with Will Rogers. His wife Kitty was “one of the Miller girls of “101 Ranch” fame.”

[5] 1934 photograph.
Early in Powder River Jack’s rodeo career he may have worked as an extra on two of the earliest movies made in western Canada, Chip of the Flying U and His Destiny both starring Hoot Gibson and Virginia Brown Faire. Chip of the Flying U was first published as a novel by B.M. Bower in 1912 and first filmed in 1915 as a three reel comedy drama starring Kathlyn Williams. Both were filmed at the Stampede Ranch with the aid of rodeo cowboys. Gibson and Faire starred in an earlier film with the title The Calgary Stampede. Jack and Kitty followed the rodeo circuit until September when they would stay with friends at the Longview Ranch in Calgary before heading south for the winter.

Kitty Lee, born in Illinois, recalled meeting Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock as a child. She also met Powder River Jack while still a child. In 1893 she joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show as a trick rider, hurdle jumper and sharpshooter. Jack Lee joined Buffalo Bill soon after and the couple wed in 1896 and toured the world with Buffalo Bill until 1906. The duo toured in vaudeville for 15 years, two years spent in Hawaii. The next 22 years were spent traveling the U.S. and Canada working on radio, rodeos, charity events and bookings at hotels, resorts and dude ranches. She recalled giving command performances for five presidents and friendship with Will Rogers, Charles M. Russell, William S. Hart and Tom Mix.

One newspaperman wrote that Powder River Jack and Kittie Lee were “known to every cow-waddie from the Rio Grande to the Canadian border.” It was said that Lee worked for Buffalo Bill and punched cows and herded beef for the XIT – “the last herd to leave Texas and travel north on the old Kansas Trail.
 In 1934 Frederick Schweigardt, noted sculptor, exhibited life sized busts of Powder River Jack, Charles M. Russell and Einstein at a Hollywood studio at 5517 Careton Way. Lee’s bust was inscribed “The American Cowboy” and “Der Meister Singer.”

[6] Okeh Phonograph Records advertisement, circa 1925.
One Calgarian who didn’t share in the enthusiasm wrote the editor of the Calgary Herald in 1932 using the name ‘Canuck.’
Next we must turn to another imported artist, in the person of “Powder River Jack” and his partner “Kitty Lee.” They may be wonderful, unbeatable, etc., but the only type of remarks I heard were something of this nature, “They are certainly a washout aren’t they?” “They are a flop,” etc. “Powder River Jack” knows a great many old time songs and his voice can be heard from a great distance, but wouldn’t he make a better announcer for the midway?
On February 24, 1946, Powder River Jack Lee, “rodeo singer and composer of cowboy songs, was almost instantly killed tonight in an automobile accident on the Phoenix road about 23 miles north of here (Casa Grande, Arizona) and 15 miles south of Chandler. He and his wife Kitty had appeared for many years at the Pendleton, Calgary, Cheyenne and other rodeos as a singing team.” – Spokesman Review.

Lee was alone in the car, returning from the Tucson rodeo to Phoenix. His automobile rolled three times. His wife Kitty Lee, nearly blind, had been admitted to a hospital in Phoenix that day and was not notified of his death until later. John L. “Powder River Jack” Lee’s remains are interred at City of Mesa cemetery in Mesa, county of Maricopa, Arizona.

Vintage photograph of Jack and Kitty Lee at the Calgary Stampede can be viewed HERE.

The couple can be seen serenading James Roosevelt HERE.

‘Sierra Peaks’ can be heard HERE.

[7] Image from Charles Furlong’s “Let ’Er Buck, a story of the passing of the old west,” 1921.
Further reading
— 1950, Kitty Lee Recalls Life of Adventure, in Prescott [Arizona] Evening Courier, June 12

— 1961, A Cowboy's Dream, Waddie From Wyoming Founded Calgary Stampede by Denny Layzell, The Calgary Herald, July 8

— 1961, The Yodeling Cowboy; Montana Slim from Nova Scotia, by Wilf Carter himself, Ryerson, Toronto

— 1994, The Hank Snow Story; Hank Snow, the Singing Ranger, with Jack Ownbey and Bob Burris, University of Illinois Press, Published in association with the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

— 1998, Dixie Cowboys and Blue Yodels; the Strange History of the Singing Cowboy, by Peter Stanfield, in Back in the Saddles Again, New Essays on the Western, BFI Publishing

— 2002, Singing in the Saddle; the History of the Singing Cowboy, by Douglas B. Green, The Country Music Foundation Press and Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville. Doug Green is Ranger Doug from the Riders in the Sky band.

— 2002, Horse Opera; The Strange History of the 1930s Singing Cowboy, by Peter Stanfield, University of Illinois Press

— 2004, Country Music Records; A Discography, 1921-1942, by Tony Russell & Bob Pinson, Oxford University Press

Thursday, January 10, 2013


T HE world-wide chronicling of the history of comic art continues with a 520 page “paper-brick” of a book called fumetto! 150 anni di storie italiane [150 years of Italian stories], published by Rizzoli. The book has been compiled and edited by Gianni Bono and Matteo Stefanelli.  

Among the contributors are Alfredo Castelli, Fabio Gadducci, Luca Boschi, Alberto Becattini and a group of 30 scholars and critics. Their fumetto! is, strangely enough, the first book on the early history of Italian comics ever published, deepening our understanding of the comic strip form in nineteenth century Italy. The book is available HERE.

Co-editor Matteo Stefanelli said last Tuesday:

“Our fumetto! book has 
three different streams of content:

…a cultural history of Italian comics in essays…

…profiles of 114 artists, each with a biographical side, and a focus on their style…

…an “approfondimenti” appendix section, with profiles of influential non-artists who shaped Italian comics identity, plus short essays on the intersection between comics and other cultural fields, plus case histories of the Italian export success of comics…”

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Broadside Ballad and the New York Draft Riots of 1863

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, August 1, 1863.

by E.M. Sanchez-Saavedra

At a recent swap meet of American Civil War artifacts, I obtained a number of paper items, including some wartime newspapers and five broadside song sheets, one published by Henry De Marsan of New York City, and the remainder by Thomas M. Scroggy of Philadelphia, PA. The De Marsan broadside, ornamented by a crude pictorial “clown” border, is a frothy little number written and sung by popular entertainer and impresario Antonio “Tony” Pastor (1837-1908), entitled “Wait Till You Get It.” The title referred to a current slang expression of the 1860s. (A variant was “Don’t you wish you may get it!”)

‘Wait till You Get It,’ De Marsan song sheet, 1863.
The third stanza, which firmly dates the song to 1863-1864, reads:

A fellow gets drafted…he vows it’s too much;
He ain’t got “three hundred” – goes in for a crutch,
Saying: I must have exemption, you see that I’m lame;
But the keen Provost-Marshal is up to his game,
And Says: Wait till you get it,
Wait till you get it;
And if you don’t get it,
Just wait till you do!
(Collections of Tony Pastor’s songbooks may be downloaded HERE and HERE.)

‘I Am Not Sick’ song sheet, 1863.
Unfortunately, wars invariably last much longer than politicians and strategists envision. The American Civil War was no exception. President Lincoln’s initial call for 75,000 volunteers to “put down the Southern rebellion” set the term of service at a mere ninety days! The young patriots who flocked to enlist were soon disillusioned by hardship, disease and military defeat. Many served out their three months without ever seeing combat. Nevertheless, the Union army had no shortage of volunteers until the end of 1862, when the Southern Confederacy seemed to be winning on nearly all fronts. The frightful and needless carnage of Shiloh, Tennessee, the Seven Days’ Battles before Richmond, Virginia, and the fights at Antietam, Maryland and Fredericksburg, Virginia, plus the steady attrition of disease and wounds, forced the federal government to institute the first U.S. military draft. The Enrollment Act, which went into effect on March 3, 1863, held all able-bodied males between ages 20 and 45 liable for military service for three years. It negated the militia law of 1862, which allowed the federal army to appropriate troops raised by the individual states. Now the U.S. Army could conscript men directly. (The Confederate States government had instituted conscription nearly a year earlier, in April 1862. The C.S. act drafted males between 18 and 35, but provided for a wide variety of exemptions, including clergy, teachers, slaves, overseers, agriculturists, key railroad personnel, and so on.)

‘Wanted a Substitute.’
The Union conscription act exempted the under- and over-age and physically unfit (“goes in for a crutch”) BUT it allowed a significant loophole. If a citizen, prior to being drafted, could furnish $300.00 – approximately a year’s salary – to pay for a substitute, or could present a substitute in person, he was off the hook. This provision was to lead to a world of headaches for the authorities and created a lucrative underworld of substitute brokerages, fraud, “bounty jumpers,” and a groundswell of popular discontent. The phrase: “rich man’s war and poor man’s fight” quickly became a battle cry among those who couldn’t raise 300 cents, much less 300 dollars.

‘Wanted a Substitute’ song sheet.
A parody of James Sloan Gibbons’ song, “We are coming Father Abraham, 300,000 More” went:

We’re coming ancient Abraham, several hundred strong.
We hadn’t no 300 dollars and so we come along.
We hadn’t no rich parents to pony up the tin,
So we went unto the provost and there were mustered in.

Another popular tune was “Wanted – A Substitute.” Its sheet music contrasted two faces: a disgruntled one muttering, “I’m drafted” and a happy one declaring “I ain’t.”

New York Herald advertisements, November 30, 1863.
Adding to the toxic brew of resentment was the unforeseen negative reaction to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had gone into effect on January 1. Although at first it only affected slaves in the rebelling states and could not be immediately enforced, the measure raised the specter of a glut of unskilled labor overwhelming available jobs. A similar crisis had occurred during the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s that had created many of the New York and Boston slums. The bottom rung of northern society, still living in those slums and scrambling for employment, feared an influx of cheap labor, once large numbers of ex-slaves began fleeing north. This very real fear intensified extant racial prejudices to the breaking point.
New-York Tribune, Gettysburg Headlines, 1863.
To comply with federal manpower demands, city and county governments created local agencies to administer voluntary recruitment and involuntary conscription. The New York County Volunteer Committee was a bipartisan mix of city supervisors, including wealthy inventor and arms dealer Orison Blunt and his political opponent, “Boss” William Marcy Tweed. In their effort to raise the county’s quota of 30,000 troops, the committee exploited fears of the draft process by offering large cash bounties to volunteers. To the government the choice was simple – either join willingly and receive $677.00 up front, or be drafted and receive nothing but a paltry $13.00 a month in army pay. However, the authorities ignored the glaring third choice – draft resistance – at their peril.

The New-York Times, July 20, 1863.
During the Spring and hot Summer of 1863, a huge Confederate army under General Robert E. Lee invaded Maryland and Pennsylvania. After two years of military reverses, unimaginable casualties and inter-class resentment, the larger urban populations had become an unstable powder keg. In addition to the regular troops sent to the mid-Atlantic theater of war, numerous emergency militia units were hastily organized to meet the threat. This additional call for men tipped the balance. Prefiguring the divisions that the Vietnam conflict would engender a century later, a strong anti-war movement, led by so-called “copperheads” began to agitate for appeasement and “peace at any price.” Conspiracy theorists would claim that a strong fifth column of Confederate provocateurs was also active in the city, stirring up the poorer classes.

‘The Draft Riots in New York’ by D.M. Barnes, 1863.
Although it was North America’s largest city, New York was in reality a barely-cohesive and uneasy collection of mutually hostile enclaves, divided by ethnic, political and economic differences. (Under Mayor Fernando Wood, there had briefly been an impractical movement to secede from the Union, along with the southern states!) Mayor George Opdyke, elected in 1862, was a weak leader who could barely keep order among the brawling factions. (Even the police force was divided between the “Municipal” constables, hired by the city, and the “Metropolitans” under the control of the state government at Albany! The two forces often fought each other in the streets.) Martin Scorsese’s 2002 film, “Gangs of New York,” although seriously flawed, did an excellent job of reflecting the corrupt politics and tribal divisions within the city and the seething rage that finally erupted in July 1863. Mayor Opdyke’s heavy-handed implementation of the draft, coupled with an inadequate police presence, a large, discontented population, a handful of rabble-rousers and a brutally hot summer combined to produce the New York Draft Riots.

Bounty Scene, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, March 19, 1864.
The violence began when members of the volunteer “Black Joke” fire engine company raided a draft office at 46th Street, during the enrollment proceedings of July 13. Although a quick-thinking federal marshal locked the enrollment records in a fireproof safe, the office and several adjoining buildings burned down. Convalescent soldiers from the Invalid Corps relieved a squad of unarmed Metropolitan police and fired on the rioters, who turned on them and killed three.

New York Bounty Offer, November 30, 1863.
Although the initial targets of the mob’s wrath were the Provost Marshal’s office and the draft offices near the infamous Five Points, the city’s black population soon became the focus of pent-up hatred. Individual lynchings and beatings escalated to mass outrages such as the burning of the Colored Orphan Asylum. Outnumbered police constables and the Police Superintendent were also victims of assault and murder, as were innocent passersby. Mobs attacked the offices of the New York Tribune and the New York Times and many businesses went up in flames after being looted, notably Brooks Brothers clothiers. What began as a localized attack on draft enrollment soon became an outpouring of mob anarchy. Slum dwellers stockpiled paving stones (“Five Points confetti”) in their rooms and pelted policemen in the streets, while others erected barricades and prepared for combat.
Because it was spontaneous and disorganized, the rioting became sporadic as crowds came together, fought the police, looted and then dispersed. Many neighborhoods were untouched, while others were the scenes of incessant fighting. Governor Horatio Seymour came to the city and attempted to reason with the rioters, addressing them as “My friends,” a phrase which came back to haunt him. Eventually, state troops began to be deployed, the Metropolitan Police received firearms, and order gradually came to neighborhood after neighborhood. And no, unlike the climax of “Gangs of New York,” the U.S. Navy did not indiscriminately shell downtown Manhattan (home to the nation’s largest financial district.) At least 120 civilians died, scores more were wounded, and dozens of buildings burned or were otherwise wrecked in three days of terror. New York was not alone; several other cities experienced various degrees of violent response to the draft.

New York Herald recruiting ad, November 30, 1863.
(For a well-written and comprehensive study of the uprising, see Barnet Schecter, The Devil’s Own Work; The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America, New York: Walker & Co., 2005.)
Although New Yorkers were badly shaken, the draft resumed. The Volunteer Committee’s work eventually became easier as more volunteers chose the bounty option. A lively engraving from a sketch by George Law in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, March 19, 1864, depicts a recruiting depot in New York’s City Hall Park. Emblazoned across the top of the shed are the cash bounties for new recruits and veterans, and the reward for “runners” who brought in volunteers. (Also shown are billboards for various jewelers, a clothier and a tonic manufacturer, all of whom were regular advertisers in Frank Leslie’s publications.) From left to right, the artist has shown a group of immigrants, including a well-dressed German with a long pipe, an Irishman with a clay pipe, and a man with a goatee and imperial, being importuned by two cavalry recruiters. At center are two tattered men and a man leaning on a cane. Behind them are several men in army and navy caps, debating whether or nor to re-enlist. Behind the field piece is a “runner” in a loudly checked coat, dragging a slouching recruit. Leaning on the cannon’s wheel are a recruiting officer and a “hard case,” both puffing cigars. Two shabby men, escorted by a policeman, are approaching from the right, the central figure looking terrified.

New York Herald substitutes ad, August 29, 1864.
Perhaps they represent the Hobson’s choice expressed in Harrigan and Hart’s postwar song, 
The Regular Army, O!”

 We had our choice of going to the army or to jail, Or it’s up the Hudson River with a cop to take a sail; So we puckered up our courage and with bravery we did go. And we cursed the day we marched away with the Regular Army, O!
The accuracy of this scene is borne out by various advertisements in the New York Herald for November 30, 1863. (Note the misprint of $477 instead of the correct $677!)

New York Herald substitutes ad, August 29, 1864.
In addition to the recruiting ads, the newspapers of the day were soon flooded with want ads by and for substitutes. These examples from the New York Herald for August 29, 1864, are typical. Of interest is the notice that a collection of forged substitute documents “for sale by runners” was on display at the Seaman’s Bank in Brooklyn. Other ads stress that both the army and navy wanted “Aliens and Colored Men.” By this time, the County Volunteer Committee’s bounty had shrunk from $677.00 to a paltry $270.00, but independent brokers had taken up the slack and were offering $1,000.00 to men willing to enlist for three years. Other ads reflected the prevailing corruption and fraud: “Two veterans, who have honorably served for three years, are willing to go as substitutes for gentlemen and those only. No agents or runners will be treated with.” The official U.S. Recruiting Rendezvous, under Captain E. Combs of the 166th N.Y. Volunteers, promised “EVERY DOLLAR OF BOUNTY WILL BE PAID as promised by him, and NO FALSE REPRESENTATIONS WILL BE MADE. THOSE WHO WISH TO ENLIST BEFORE THE DRAFT ARE WARNED not to allow themselves to be defrauded by Sharpers around the various Recruiting Rendezvous of the city.”

New York Herald substitutes ad, August 29, 1864.
As it turned out, the recruiting sharpers and brokers were the least of the army’s enlistment worries. Large numbers of “bounty jumpers” volunteered, took the money and then deserted, often repeating the process several times. Needless to say, they were poor soldiers when finally corralled into a regiment and created most of the disciplinary problems in their units. Many were captured by the Confederates and survived by bullying and robbing their fellow prisoners at Belle Isle and Andersonville. Six of the worst of these “raiders” were tried by their peers and hanged for their crimes in the Andersonville, Georgia, stockade in 1864 and were buried in a separate plot in the national cemetery.

Raiders Graves, Andersonville Cemetery.
The Tony Pastor song sheet that triggered these ruminations about Civil War enlistment and civil disobedience in 1863, was one of thousands of penny broadsides hawked by itinerant vendors and sold in stationers’ and music shops. Henry de Marsan, successor to J. Andrews, published about 300 song sheets, “all of a patriotic character” during the war years. De Marsan, about whom almost nothing is known, billed himself in 1868 as the
“Publisher of Songs, Song-Books and Toy Books, Comic and Sentimental Valentines, Motto Verses, Stationery, Playing-Cards and other cheap articles for the Trade,” at “The Old Original Song-Depot, 60 Chatham Street … Established more than 25 years. Over 2,500 songs always on hand.” 
Henry De Marsan’s Singer’s Journal, 1868.
He also published about 200 issues of a “Singer’s Journal” in magazine format until about 1880, containing lyrics and some sheet music to popular songs. And from the beginning, people collected song sheets and patriotic ephemera.

‘The Corkers’ song sheet.
John A. McAllister, Jr. of Philadelphia began collecting ballads and printed ephemera during the Civil War and preserved them in scrapbooks. An illustrated catalog of the McAllister song sheet collection in the Library Company of Philadelphia may be downloaded HERE.

‘Jolly Jack the Rover’ song sheet.
The remaining four song sheets in my little group are from the press of Thomas M. Scroggy of Philadelphia, another shadowy cheap publisher. In 1863 he was a member of Company H., 45th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, a hastily-organized militia unit formed to repel Lee’s invasion of the state. Scroggy served from July through August 29, 1863, when the emergency units were disbanded. Although they are not specifically patriotic, they represent the popular music of the period – three comic ballads and a sentimental one.

‘The Grave of Bonaparte’ song sheet.
‘The Girl from Udall’s Mill’ song sheet.