Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Millerites and Judgment Day, 1844

Judgment Day, Oct. 22, 1844

People took their religion seriously in 1844, and some of the most serious were the Millerites, followers of the Rev. William Miller of New York.  Miller had been studying parts of the Bible and had calculated that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would take place on October 22, 1844.  His followers were so thoroughly convinced that this would happen that some sold their houses and their businesses, and made no plans after October 22. 
It was a big disappointment to Millerites when nothing happened on Oct. 22, but writers to The Gleaner had a field day.  The October 26 issue had four letters ridiculing the gullible followers in four different towns around Manchester, NH, reporting how the Millerites had been so surprised.  In the Nov. 2 issue, a letter to the editor from Haverhill, MA complains about Millerism  "gulling the weak and credulous out of their money"…
Old newspapers give you a wonderful view of life in another time, and they give it as it rolls along, without the wisdom of a historian, just as reporters see it at the moment. You see mention of things that the observer thinks are interesting at the time, but all these years later, mean nothing. And, you see the first mention of events that grew and grew in importance over the years.

I read about the big Judgment Day of Oct. 22, 1844, and it surely sounded like the one coming up on May 21, 2011.
Mill Girls at Looms

Manchester in 1844 was a brash young town, with a rapidly growing population, most of the people engaged in the growing wool and cotton mills that used the power of the Merrimack River to spin acres of fabric for customers all over the United States and Canada.  Just six years before the Amoskeag textile manufacturing company was formed, and a sleepy farming village of some 125 souls began to grow, the State of New Hampshire incorporated it as a city in 1847, and by 1850 there were 13,932 people in Manchester.
Laborers extended the canals providing more water power from the Merrimack River, and mill buildings began to go up rapidly.  By 1844 two buildings were operating over 20,000 spindles and some 545 looms.
Farmers all over New England and New York, faced with tough times keeping their families clothed and fed, found that with more than one woman in the home, there wasn’t enough spinning, weaving, butter churning and such to justify another mouth to feed, and so they sent their daughters down to work in the mills of Manchester, for a dollar a week.
Immigrants from French Canada and Ireland also began to stream into town.
The Gleaner was an irreverent weekly paper of four pages per issue, loaded with snide remarks, insults, sneaky questions and innuendo.   With a town full of young, single mill girls, living in boarding houses many miles from their families for the first time, local men saw an opportunity for illicit affairs.
Many of these girls, all who worked perhaps six 12-hour days a week in the mills, came from God-fearing homes, but there were many stories of local Lotharios who succeeded in seducing some of them.
The Gleaner of Sept. 28, 1844 published a poem that captured the sense of the times:
                                                                                          "The Factory Girls Soliloquy-- Oh were my dwelling far remote, From men of evil minds; Away in some secluded spot, Or on some lonely mountain top, Where sol forever shines…."; 
There are numerous mentions of various males having questionable appointments with young mill girls.

            The Gleaner’s readers kept this weekly paper well supplied with juicy gossip, offered as “Gleaner pills.”  It seems that there was always someone around to observe men or women engaged in a bit of extramarital activity, or who were observed drinking or getting drunk; probably as often as not, people made up scandalous behavior for publication in this little paper.
In 1844 the Temperance movement was up to full steam, and with it came letters to the Editor of The Gleaner, noting which members of a temperance society were consuming alcoholic beverages, or even selling them.

In the Nov. 9, 1844 issue of The Gleaner, an editorial notes that Manchester's only bookbinder is a "tyrant", a "jackass" and an "ignoramus".   In that issue election news reported the status of electors voting for Clay and Frelinghuysen or Polk and Dallas, and predicted that next week should reveal who will occupy the White House for the next four years. [It was James Knox Polk.]
In the March 8, 1845 issue, there is more innuendo about activities at the mills: Letter from Exeter: Exeter wants to know if that swell head, E. Tuttle has told all he knows?"..."Ask E.T. if he did not get a dollar for telling a lie about a web he found on fire in the weave room?" "Wants to know how much the quaker, J.S. makes by keeping soap, combs, &c. to sell to the girls in the card-room?" 
Advertisements in The Gleaner give more color to the picture.
Announcement of New Oyster Saloon in Manchester, oysters and clams kept constantly on hand; also fruit, confectionary, nuts, cigars, &c.
—Sam Coulbourn

And now….here are some items I’m offering…

 Manchester NH, City of; and Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. Picture Book 1912 Manchester, NH: Manchester Chamber of Commerce. ~90 pp. 19.5 x 14.7 cm. Interesting collection of photos of Manchester, NH and of Amoskeag Mills, largest industry in Manchester. Amoskeag employs 15,000 people, who earn $150,000 weekly. Population of city in 1910 was 70,000.  Photo of graduating class of High School clothed in Amoskeag Gingham. Cover shows color picture of Indian looking out over Amoskeag Falls.           Paper booklet, moderate wear, inside front and back hinges repaired with cloth tape. Good. (7479) $49.00. Travel/Manufacturing     

Booth Shoots President Lincoln

Manchester Daily Union, Manchester, N.H. Tuesday, May 16, 1865  Manchester, NH: Campbell & Hanscom. By telegraph from Washington:  The assassination trial is open to reporters of newspapers. It is supposed that Jeff Davis will be brought to Washington and tried for murder. The Negro Problem in Kentucky is one of great practical moment. Negroes are leaving their homes by the thousands and are crowding into the towns, demoralizing and being demoralized.... the plantations are without labor, and crops cannot be grown. Uncertainty and confusion take the place of order, and poverty and disease must follow upon idleness and dissipation.  Negro Suffrage--the Abolitionists, not content with negro freedom, are clamorous for negro suffrage. Continued account of Assassination Trial...Mr. Lloyd, who kept a hotel at Surrattville, testified that several weeks before the assassination Booth and his accomplices came to his house, and brought two carbines and a rope... Testimony of Mrs. Surratt... Booth and Harold came to the hotel soon after midnight; Booth said, "I will tell you some news; I am pretty certain we have assassinated the President and Secretary Seward."  Commentary on Mission of the Democratic Party. Adv. New Dress Goods; Mourning Goods; Carpeting and Housekeeping Goods at Barton & Co., East Side Elm Street. 4 pp. 32 x 47 cm. Newspaper, some perforations in spinefold, good. (8030) $30.00. Civil War/History

Manchester Daily Union, Manchester, N.H. Wednesday, May 17, 1865 Manchester, NH: Campbell & Hanscom. By telegraph from Washington:  Assassination Trials. Members of the Military Commission met in Ford's Theatre this morning to view the premises. The military and civil authorities in Washington are still at variance. Report that the President has under consideration a new amnesty proclamation which will announce what classes of rebels are to be held for treason. John M. Buckingham, doorkeeper at Ford's theatre said Booth came in about 10 o'clock .. he then walked up the stairway leading to the dress circle, and that was the last time I saw him until he jumped upon the stage... James P. Ferguson: "About ten I saw Booth pass the open door leading to the boxes. I did not see him any more till he fired his pistol and jumped to the stage..."  More detailed testimony of trial. Wm. A. Browning, secretary to Pres. Johnson, testified that he went to Kirkwood House  between 4 and 5 in the afternoon of the murder and saw in Mr. Johnson's box  a card written by John Wilkes Booth. 4 pp. 32 x 47 cm. Newspaper, some perforations in spinefold, good. (8031) $30.00. Civil War/History

Manchester Daily Union, Manchester, N.H. Thursday, May 18, 1865 Manchester, NH: Campbell & Hanscom. By telegraph from Washington:  The Assassination Trial proceeds slowly. Jeff Davis will not be tried with the assassins now on trial for the murder of Mr. Lincoln.  It is expected that nearly all the rebel governors will be captured and tried. The Nashville Press learns that Gen. Forrest has been killed by Capt. Walker of the rebel army to revenge the killing of his son by Forrest. Editorial detects a "streak of bad faith" in the present treatment by the Johnson administration  of the Southern people. President Lincoln's assurances of fair treatment of Southerners did much to hasten the end of the war.  A delegation of negroes called upon Andy Johnson (President)  and got, we reckon, more than they bargained for."Some think they had nothing to do but fall back on the Government for support, in order that they may be taken care of in idleness and debauchery... 'Freedom' simply means liberty to work..." the President said.  One-and-one-half columns on continuing details of Assassination Trial.   4 pp. 32 x 47 cm. Newspaper, some perforations in spinefold, good. (8032) $30.00. Civil War/History


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