This week’s “150 Years Ago…” column features two primary sources: one from the North and one from the South. Though this week’s column does not directly affect the state of Arkansas in 1860, it does, however, give a very good indication of the state of affairs in August, 1860. The first primary source is out of Leavenworth, Kansas. Ft. Leavenworth will play a major role in the Civil War in Arkansas in the coming months and years. It is interesting to note that during this week 150 years ago, the campaign season for the 1860 election was in full swing as a local man created the modern-day equivalent of a campaign button for Lincoln, Breckenridge, Douglas, and Bell- the political candidates for president in 1860 (Note: Arkansas voted for Breckenridge, as Lincoln was not even on the ballot):
DAILY TIMES [LEAVENWORTH, KS], August 7, 1860, p. 3, c. 2
Campaign Medals.—Our friend Tom Hazen, always up with every new invention, and distinguished for his enterprise in keeping up with every new feature, has a complete variety of campaign medals. Lincoln, Breckenridge, Douglas and Bell may be found at the Post Office Depot, all in picture done up in a button. Patriotic individuals will take notice.
Another very interesting primary source includes quite a mundane reference to straw hats being manufactured in the North. What strikes me as most interesting about this article found in a South Carolina newspaper is the fact that economically, it appears that the Unites States has already been fractured into two separate financial districts: the industrious North and the financially weak South which, in August, 1860, has to pay “importing rates” for something as cheaply made as straw hats. This type of economic fracture will cause a political and social
schism in the Country that will lead to the eventual secession of the Southern states:
CHARLESTON MERCURY, August 9, 1860, p. 1, c. 3
Where Our Bonnets Come From.–There are six or seven millions of women in the United States, and each woman considers herself an injured individual if she don’t [sic] have at least four bonnets a year. Now, did all these followers of fashion ever stop to reflect where the multitudinous chapeaus [sic] come from? We think we can enlighten them. Foxboro, in Massachusetts, is, probably, the largest place of straw manufacture in the world. At one factory, three hundred girls and two hundred and seventy men are employed outside of the factory, and fifteen thousand hats and bonnets are manufactured per day. Very little of the straw goods used are plated in this country, the wages being too high here to afford it at the importing rates.