A Stated Meeting of the Society was held, by invitation of Mr. Henry Herbert Edes, at No. 62 Buckingham Street, Cambridge, on Friday, 26 April, 1918, at eight o’clock in the evening, the President, Fred Norris Robinson, Ph.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The President appointed the following Committees in anticipation of the Annual Meeting:
To nominate candidates for the several offices, — Messrs. Frederick Jackson Turner, George Parker Winship, and Edward Kennard Rand.
To examine the Treasurer’s accounts, — Messrs. Winslow Warren and William Crowninshield Endicott.
Mr. Albert Matthews communicated the following paper:
Though half a century has elapsed since the close of the Civil War, during which the above terms (in the sense here discussed) arose, yet even now their origin and history remain obscure. Indeed, Butternut is sometimes wrongly explained by historians, and has received scant attention from lexicographers and writers on Americanisms; while the origin of Copperhead is still a matter of dispute. Hence an investigation into the history of the terms will prove instructive and of interest both in itself and as showing the curious ways in which words undergo changes in meaning.
In their American History, published in 1914, Arthur C. Perry, Jr., and Gertrude A. Price write:
There were many people even in the North who did not believe in the war. They really sympathized with the South and rejoiced when the Federal arms met reverses. These people were given the name of Copperheads because many of them wore as a badge the head of the Goddess of Liberty, cut out of an old-fashioned copper cent.
Quoting this passage in the Nation of February 28, 1918, W. P. Reeves said:
Such a perversion of notorious facts, with the implication that the Copperheads wore a badge of loyalty made of a Federal coin, requires proof. A questioning child, referred to the usual explanations of terms to be found in such available authorities as Webster’s “International,” the “Century,” the “International Encyclopedia,” and the “New English Dictionary,” will find nothing to suggest, much less substantiate, this origin of Copperhead. Will Mr. Perry, or any one else who believes his statement, kindly print his proof?508
On March 14 Mr. Perry replied as follows:
I have noted the letter by W. P. Reeves in the Nation of February 28, 1918, questioning the statement in Perry-Price “American History,” Second Book, page 198, that many Copperheads of Civil War times wore as a badge the Liberty head cut out of an old-fashioned cent.
The statement is confirmed by Bassett, “Short History of the United States,” p. 582; Hart, “Essentials in American History,” p. 472; Hosmer, “Outcome of the Civil War,” p. 4; Rhodes, “History of the United States,” IV, p. 247.
Moreover, the International Encyclopaedia, to which Mr. Reeves appeals, in its new edition of 1914, Vol. VI, p. 61, says:
“Another explanation of the name is that it came from the habit of the extreme opponents of the war wearing as a badge a button cut out of a copper cent on which was the head of the Goddess of Liberty.”509
It is to be noted, however, that while Messrs. Hart, Hosmer, and Rhodes do confirm the statement that such badges were worn,510 neither of them offers any opinion as to the origin of the term, and that Mr. Bassett is the only one who maintains that the Copperheads were so called because they wore such badges.511 Thus the statement made in American History is corroborated by Mr. Bassett’s assertion, but the latter is unsupported by proof. Nor, it may be observed, do the extracts quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary, in Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms, in Thornton’s American Glossary, or in Farmer and Henley’s Slang and its Analogues, throw any light on the origin of the term.
The examination here undertaken not only places beyond dispute the origin of Butternut and Copperhead, but introduces us to two or three expressions which have apparently escaped historians and lexicographers alike. The subject may be divided into three sections: (1) the words Butternut and Copperhead; (2) the Butternut and Copperhead badges; and (3) Copperhead snakes and Black snakes. No hard and fast line can be drawn between the sections, which naturally overlap one another to a certain extent; but the division will prove convenient.
The Words Butternut and Copperhead
The Chicago Tribune of September 24, 1862, printed this item: “☞John Pettit has been nominated for Congress by the Copperheads of the 8th Indiana district” (p. 2/5); and the same paper of September 29, under the heading “What a Democratic Journal Thinks,” stated that “The Carbondale (Jackson county) Times takes strong grounds against the recent Copperhead convention of this state” (p. 2/2). The word also occurs in the Cincinnati Commercial of October 1512 and 14.513 On October 15, under the heading “Butternuts,” the Columbus Crisis asked: “Will the Cincinnati Commercial and Gazette inform us who are the ‘Butternuts’ now? Any boobies about those offices?”514 In the Cleveland Herald of October 16 appeared these items:
a butternut lament.
A Democrat this morning, in looking over the returns from the Toledo District, discovered that had the Democrats all through the district stuck to Phelps, he would have been elected. Our “butternut” friend exclaimed: “What a pity we lost that district.”515
Who threw that brickbat? One of our most prominent Democrats, on hearing from the Lorain District, instructed one of the hatters to import immediately a large invoice of “butternut” colored hats.516
The Democrat who sent us that pair of butternut breeches is politely informed that we don’t wear breeches; we have put on sackcloth.517
butternut a fast color.
That’s what a straight out Democrat said this morning. And, by the way, the color is striking in on some of those Democrats who have favored the Union movement. We begin to think butternut is a fast color, it is spreading fast just now, and Democrats who on Monday were Union men, are now claiming to be the original butternuts.518
In the Crisis of October 22 appeared the following:
The Ohio State Journal, true to its instincts, denominates the Democrats of Ohio in its election tables “Butternuts.” We said all the time, that the election was white vs. black. White walnuts against black walnuts. The Journal now admits the race to have been one between the negroes and white men.519
The Commercial no Prophet.
In the Cincinnati Commercial of the 14th, the morning of the election day, we have the following editorial:
“The Way it Looks — It looks very much as if the Trinity of the Adoration (we borrow a phrase from the Hon. George H. Pendleton,) of the Copperheads of Ohio, Vallandigham, Pendleton and Cox,520 would be obliterated by the election of this day. . .”
Now, I would propose a slight amendment of the above, which, being adopted, might still save the reputation of the Commercial as a good judge of men, and wisely gifted in the sequence of events. Instead of calling these gentlemen “Copperheads to be elected and stay at home and sweat,” that it read, three good Copper bottoms selected not to stay at home &c.521
The Dayton Empire of about this date asked:
Does the Commercial remember anything about the Fourth of July Convention, of which it said Vallandigham and Medary were the “ruling spirits;” that Convention of “Butternuts,” if you please, over which Sam. Medary presided, and at which Vallandigham was the principal speaker?522
The following appeared in the Ashland (Ohio) Union late in October or early in November:
The “secessionists” have carried Ohio by several thousand.
The “Copperheads” have carried Pennsylvania by several thousand. The “Knights of the Golden Circle” have carried Indiana by several thousand.
We use these epithets in order to make the Republicans blush, in the light of the election returns, for their infamous abuse of the ever-patriotic and loyal Democracy.523
Under the heading “The Ohio State Journal Joining the ‘Butternuts,’” the Crisis of November 5 remarked: “The following is about as severe a commentary on the heartless conduct of the authorities at Washington as anything we have seen in papers the Journal delights to call ‘secesh.’ Had it appeared in The Crisis, the Journal and such like papers would have cried out’ suppress the secesh sheet.’”524
The November elections caused the Copperheads much rejoicing. “This county,” said a letter dated Majority Point, Sumpter Township, Cumberland County, Illinois, November 6, “gives the Democrats 5000 majority. Greatest Democratic majority ever given in this county. This township gives 119 Democratic majority. Hurrah for the ‘Butternuts.’”525 The Holmes County Farmer thus described an entertainment at Millersburg, Ohio:
Great Democratic Jubilee! — Little Holmes on a “Bender!”
. . . But we have not touched upon the fantastics. — This was a procession representing men and women, black and white, masked, with all kinds of odd clothing, on their way from Oberlin up Salt River. A big transparency was carried in front: “Oberlin Republicans.” Then came a host of transparencies with the following mottoes: “For Salt River.” “Poor Massa Welker.” “Damn de Butternuts.”526
Our next extract brings prominently upon the scene one who was not only the head and front of the Copperheads, but also the one to whom was largely due the later adoption of that name by the Copperheads themselves, and from a speech by whom the hint was taken of a copperhead badge. This account is taken from the Dayton Empire:
Ladies’ Compliment to Mr. Vallandigham.
A “Butternut” Party — Cane Presentation.
At a handsome entertainment given on Friday evening, November 21, by Judge Morse, at his residence near Dayton, an elegant gold-headed cane, with a suitable inscription, was presented by the ladies to the Hon. Clement L. Vallandigham. . . .
At the conclusion of the ceremonies the ladies and gentlemen partook of an elegant supper worthy of the host and accomplished hostess, and of the good old “Butternut” hospitality of former days.527
Reviewing the evidence thus far given, we see that, as applied to Democrats, Copperhead was used in September and Butternut in October, 1862; that both words were originally employed by the Republicans in contempt; that, doubtless largely owing to the success of the Democrats in the October and November elections, the word Butternut was more or less humorously adopted by the Democrats themselves; but that the use of the word Copperhead was still confined to the Republicans. Early in 1863 the word Copperhead, which until then had perhaps been confined to, or chiefly employed in, Illinois and Ohio, rapidly spread and soon became general. An editorial in the Chicago Tribune of January 6, 1863, reads in part as follows:
LITTLE FEAR OF THAT.
The friends of the country, hence the enemies of the rebels and the rebellion, annoy us with an expression of their fears that the Illinois Legislature, now about organizing, containing, as everybody knows, a considerable majority of our political opponents, will attempt some lawless and violent revolutionary movement, having for its double object the destruction of the power and influence of the Federal Government in the State, and the nullification, if not the complete overthrow, of the authority of the State Administration. . . . We do not doubt, and have not for a long time doubted, that there are certain “copperheads,” a few of whom are in the assembling Legislature, whose venom is so rancorous, whose scruples are so few, and whose sense is so little, that they will do anything or dare everything which promises them an opportunity to wreak their vengeance on the policy that they hate and on those by whom that policy is to be carried out. . . . The knowledge that an outbreak in the North would bring upon those engaged therein an avalanche of troops, to whom a “copperhead” is only another name for a rebel, . . . will cause many a malignant who has treason and murder in his heart, to be content with impotent gnashing of the teeth and muttered curses that he dare not embody in deeds (p. 2/1).
“But we have yet to see,” said the same paper of January 7, “the ‘copperhead’ journal that is not filled, day after day, with articles bitterly denunciatory of the President, his Cabinet, the Republican Party, the War Democrats and the Abolitionists, for their alleged violation of the ‘Constitutional rights of the South’” (p. 2/2). Under the heading “New Jersey,” the New York Tribune of January 12 said that “The more malignant Copperheads of this State are calling upon their new Legislature to prohibit the immigration of slaves whom the war has converted or may convert into freemen” (p. 4/6). “For all we can learn,” stated the Chicago Tribune of January 20, “Copperheadism takes an even more sneaking shape in Indiana than in this State” (p. 2/1). A cartoon in Harper’s Weekly of January 31 represents Vallandigham, James Brooks, and John Van Buren before a door labelled “J DAVIS,” and underneath are the words:
RECEPTION OF THE COPPERHEADS AT RICHMOND.
Copperhead Spokesman. “Be so good as to announce to President Davis that a few of his Northern friends wish to see him.
Pompey. “De President desire me to say dat you is mistaken, Gemmen. He have n’t got no friends at de Norf; and when he wants any, he won’t choose ‘em among de Peace Sneaks.”528 [Exeunt Copperheads considerably abashed.] — (Vide Davis’s Message.)529
The Cincinnati Daily Gazette of February 5 asserted that the rebels “hope for a co-operation from the ‘copperheads’ of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, to whom, through the prostituted medium of the Legislature they always send their traitorous greetings” (p. 1/3); and, under the heading “What the Rebels Hope of Northern Copperheads,” said that “The Richmond Dispatch is much pleased with the election of the Copperhead Richardson530 as United States Senator from Illinois” (p. 3/2). An editorial entitled “The Copperhead Conspiracy,” and a news item headed “The Illinois Copperhead Legislature Rampant,” appeared in the New York Tribune of February 14 (pp. 4/2, 5/3). In an editorial in the New York Times of February 13 entitled “The Western Copperheads — Duty of Loyal Men,” the terms “Copperhead majority” and “Copperhead movements” were employed. This item appeared in the New York Herald of February 16: “Meeting of the Extremes.—The Tribune (abolition radical) thinks that Mr. Seward would have done well to accede to the peace conference with the rebels, and the World (democratic copperhead radical) is of the same opinion” (p. 4/6). The following interesting essay is taken from the Crisis of February 25, 1863, reprinted from the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Politics and Science — Butternuts and Democrats.
It has been the custom of late, among a certain class of abolitionists, to call the Democrats by the name of “Butternuts.” This nickname is likely to be of as much advantage to our party, as the epithet Quaker and Methodist has been to the once despised, but now influential, religious bodies bearing these titles. There is something in the word, “Butternut,” that is rather pleasing; and there is much in the historical associations connected with the White Walnut tree, of which Butternut is the synonym, to endear it to the backwoodsman. When the writer was a boy, this tree supplied the coloring matter for nearly all the fabrics worn as clothing by the western people. Imported dyes, like imported wearing apparel, were then equally unknown in the West.
When the midnight war-cry of the Indian roused the mothers in Ohio from their slumbers, it was the brave “Butternut-clad sons of Kentucky” who rushed across to the rescue. “Butternut” was then no epithet of reproach in the West.
This costume is still worn in the mountain ranges of Kentucky and Tennessee, and in Southern Illinois and Missouri. On the gathering together of the soldiers, at the outbreak of the war, the fresh recruits from these districts appeared in the ranks with garments of Butternut-colored cloth. In derision their “store-clothed” companions called them“Butternuts;” and, as they were mostly Democrats, from Democratic districts, the name, ere long, was applied, by the Republicans, to the whole Democratic party.531
But this Butternut costume was not limited to one side, it being common to both rebels and loyal soldiers. The epithet was used with the greater zest by the Abolitionists, because the earlier rebel prisoners were dressed in “Butternut,” and its application to the Democrats, they expected would not only fasten upon them an opprobrious name, but convey the impression also that they were in sympathy with the rebels.
So much for history. Let us now examine this term of reproach in the light of science.
The White Walnut tree has the generic name in Botany of Juglans, or the Tree of Jove.*
*Juglans (Lat. Jovis glans,) i.e., the Nut of Jove: a name given it by way of eminence. — Wood’s Botany, page 640.
We thank our Abolition neighbors for this name. It indicates that the “Butternuts” are the heaven-ordained party, deriving their power and influence from Omnipotence. But not only is the tree significant of the near relation of the Democrats to the power that controls the fate of nations; the fruit is also emblematic of the innate sentiments and affections of the party. On removing the outer hull and sawing the nut into two parts, near the center, the most elaborate ornamentation is presented. The annexed stereotype cut is taken from the surface of a section of the nut itself, without alteration from its original structure. It exhibits the typical form of the species:
[Cross-section of the Butternut, exhibiting its interior structure].
Look closely at the central area. It presents two hearts, united at the base, and may well justify the exclamation uttered when the discovery was made:
“Two hearts — the Northern and Southern — united at the base, and bound together indissolubly only in the ‘Butternuts!’”
Again we thank the Abolitionists for bestowing this name upon us. “Old Hickory” was not more potent, as applied to General Jackson, than will be, in the future, the term “Butternuts,” as applied to the Democratic party. Our tree designates us as the favorites of Heaven, while we are represented in its fruits as uniting the Northern and Southern hearts; and thus are we foreshadowed, in the “Butternut,” as destined to restore the Union and the Constitution, as formed by the great hearts of the North and the South at the Revolution. This glorious work, now every-where prayed for by a suffering people — but impossible in the hands of those who are clamoring for the shedding of additional rivers of blood — can only be accomplished by the “Butternuts.”
Look also at the rampart surrounding the central area, and see how its jagged buttresses render it impenetrable to an assailing foe, and give perfect security to the united hearts intrenched within. So is it with the Democratic party. It has the rights of the people enshrined in its heart, and will resist the aggressions of every foe to constitutional freedom, and present an impenetrable barrier against foreign assaults.532
Up to the middle of February — or nearly five months after its first appearance — the use of the word Copperhead seems to have been confined to the Republicans. But in a speech made at Newark, New Jersey, on February 14, Vallandigham said:
There are those here who can testify to the iniquitous despotism of this administration. . . . They are here free as air — no bastiles confining them. New Jersey has spoken on these questions. The people of the Northwest I am not fearful of. There are others here from the Northwest, all “Butternuts,” “Copperheads,” like myself (cheers), who can speak of the public opinion of that section.533
Vallandigham’s adherents were not slow in following his example. The Crisis of March 11 remarked:
The editor of the New York Express, who has had twenty-five years’ experience of fighting the Democracy, says:
“If there be anything the Democrats can stand, without wincing or wilting, it is hard names: and what is curious, these hard names become the slogans of their party, and afterward intensely popular. . . . Now, the Abolitionists are christening the Democrats ‘Copperheads,’ and if they persist in it, we should not be at all surprised to find Copperhead a word as popular as Democracy, for whatever Abolitionism clings to or embraces it kills, and whatever it nicknames it makes a shibboleth in popularity of. We, old line Whigs, then, and Democrats, accept the name of ‘Copperheads.’ Consider us ‘Copperheads.’ Call us ‘Copperheads.’”
Copperheads, then, let it be! It’s a very expressive designation.534
A letter dated Glens Falls, New York, March 4, said that “The entire Democratic ticket for village officers was elected by an average majority of 40. ‘Copperhead’ stock is rising and ‘Leatherhead’ falling.”535 In the Crisis of March 25 appeared the following:
Resolutions of the Democratic Club at Zanesville.
Whereas, Colonel Connel did say, at a meeting held in this city, at Oddfellows’ Hall, on the 13th of March, that “such men as Vallandigham and Dr. Olds536 should not be allowed to speak;” and
Whereas, Major Muse did, at the same time and place, say that “Northern Traitors [an Abolition nick-name for Democrat, alias Butternut, alias Copperhead, alias Secesh, &c] ought to be hung up at their door-posts;” and
Whereas Captain Geary did, at the same time and place, say that the “Butternuts deserved to be placed on the rack, and to have their eyes plucked out, their tongues cut out, and their finger-nails pinched off;” and
Whereas, This was applauded by those sympathizing with this language; therefore, be it
Resolved, by this meeting, that we hold up these men to the contempt of all peace-loving, law-abiding citizens. . . .537
In the New York World of March 18 (p. 4/3) appeared the following:
The Times defines Copperheads thus:
Every American, whatever his opinions about slavery, who is for maintaining the unity of the country at all costs, is literally and truly a loyal man. All others are Copperheads.
On March 19, a New York Senator said: “If there is any one on earth who will need the money, it is this class; and if the copperheads don’t run, and are drafted, I am willing they share in the bounty.”538 A speech made by the notorious Jim Lane at Washington on March 28 was thus reported in part:
There is an animal in this country that I despise much more than the traitor in arms.
(A Voice. “The Copperhead!”)
No! I mean the cowardly skulk, the dirty miserable puppy, who will remain in the loyal States receiving protection from them and yet striking at the heart of the country.539
A letter dated Jackson, Ohio, April 7, stated that “The ‘Butternuts’ covered themselves with glory yesterday in this (Lick) township with their ‘usual ability.’ . . . ‘Butternuts’ and ‘Copperheads’ are far above par down in these hills.”540 A letter dated Palmer, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, April 7, said that “Our election in this township yesterday resulted in the entire success of the straight ‘Butternut,’ ‘Copperhead,’ Democracy.”541 Amid the deluge of abusive language indulged in by both sides, it is pleasant to find a lighter touch introduced into an article in Vanity Fair of May 2:
THE ORIGINAL COPPERHEAD
Although Copperheads, as a political sect, are of very recent date, readers of romance will recollect that the first Copperhead of whom we have any documentary evidence was the creation of Cervantes. When the doughty Knight Errant, Don Quixote, was hard up for a headpiece, his constructive mind suggested to him the possibility of adapting one out of a copper basin belonging to his barber. With this utensil strapped firmly on his head, he performed great feats of valor, . . . [The writer goes on to say that the Don was worsted in his fight against “Wind-mill,” who “battered his copper head.”] . . . It might be well for our Copperheads here to take warning from his great prototype.542
The Milwaukee News late in April or early in May printed this item:
A Live Copperhead. — A regular live American eagle — the eagle of classic fame and the national emblem of liberty — has found its way to this city, and has been purchased by one of our prominent citizens, for presentation to the Milwaukee Democratic Club. The head of the bird is a shining copper color, and he measures eight feet from tip to tip.543
The Crisis of May 13 stated that “When this immense crowd of ‘Butternuts’ came together” at Somerset, Perry County, Ohio, “to hear the Hon. C. L. Vallandigham, the purpose for which they had left their fields at this busy season of the year, it was estimated at from eight to ten thousand people.”544 On July 3 an “inflammatory placard,” signed “One of the People” and dated June 30, was posted about New York city and “hung up in conspicuous positions in some of the hotels:”
Attention! Major-General Halleck: . . . P.S. If you had hung Vallandigham (as you ought to have done) and sent him to be Governor of the copperheads in the infernal regions, you would not have been troubled by the traitorous, cowardly, miserable sneaks and poltroons, who are boring about him.545
This section may well end with an extract from the Crisis of November 18:
WHAT IS A COPPERHEAD?
The Hon. Levi Bishop, of Detroit, recently gave the following plump answer to this question:
We often hear it said of Democrats, “He’s a Copperhead, he’s a bitter Copperhead, shun him, cut him, don’t countenance him, don’t give him business, ruin him, crush him, for he’s an inveterate Copperhead.” Well, what is a Copperhead? Our opponents are very fond of coining names which they imagine to be severe or opprobrious. . . . The term “Copperhead” is one of their choicest epithets.546
Butternut and Copperhead Badges
Though the etymology of Yankee has never been determined, it is well known that the word was for about twenty years before the outbreak of the Revolution applied in derision to the American colonists. After the battle of Lexington, the Americans adopted it themselves, and, in order to prove that the word was in reality one of distinction, some imaginative person invented a tribe of Indians named “Yankos,” who were at last subdued by the New Englanders, and so, “agreeable to the Indian custom,” had their name transferred to their conquerors.547 Thus the pleasing conclusion was reached that Yankos, corrupted into Yankee, meant “invincible;” and by this easy method, what had hitherto been a derisive epithet became a complimentary one. Similarly, the Copperheads, having adopted that term, felt impelled to seek a more honorable origin for their nickname than a snake.
The Butternuts and Copperheads had been so called for nearly six months before there is any trace of their wearing a badge. But in March, 1863, both butternuts and copperheads were worn as badges. Quite possibly the use of a butternut as an emblem had begun before this in Ohio, but the earliest allusion I have found is the following:
MASS MEETING OF THE DEMOCRACY IN HAMILTON, BUTLER COUNTY.
An Immense Assemblage of the People!
. . . The Democratic mass meeting in Hamilton, Butler county, on Saturday, March 23, was an immense ovation, the people, male and female, attending from all parts of the State, . . . the meeting reminded us of the log-cabin demonstrations of 1840, when national ensigns, flags and banners flaunted to the breeze with Buckeyes attached, the difference being the substitution of Butternuts instead of the Buckeye.548
As for the copperhead badge, its invention was presumably suggested by a passage in a speech made by Vallandigham in New York city on March 7:
We hear much about state rights. Here is a piece of coin from the mint of the sovereign State of Connecticut, coined by her, thus exercising the highest power of the Constitution, and bearing date 1778.549 When the confederation was dissolved that state reverted back again to sovereignty and coined money. I don’t think it ever coined any greenbacks. (Laughter.) They were a later invention. It is a copper coin, with a copperhead550 upon it. (Applause. Three cheers for the copperheads.) But it is a head of liberty. (Applause.) It has the superscription and the image of freedom. It says: “By the authority of the State of Connecticut.” That was its warrant for circulation.551
To some enthusiastic devotee, doubtless acting on the above hint, occurred the idea of cutting out the head of Liberty from a copper coin and attaching a pin to it. But this process was naturally laborious, and the next step was the manufacture of Copperhead badges in large quantities. The following advertisement was printed in the New York World of March 26:
THE COPPERHEAD, or BADGE OF LIBERTY. NOW READY. “Copperhead!” is it? Let every White Man accept “the insult,” and wear the grand old emblem of Liberty — the Copperhead I Mailed, post paid, on receipt of 15 cents, or $10 per hundred by express. All orders out of the city should be addressed at once to the manufacturers,
BROMLEY & CO.,
Box 4265 New-York Citv.
☞B. & Co. are allowed to refer to the editors of the New-York Caucasion All city orders should be left with P. J. Coyans, wholesale agent, No. 122 NASSAU Street, where they are now ready for delivery to city customers.552
The Crisis of April 1 stated that Vallandigham was presented with “a box, inside of which was a string of handsomely polished butternuts interwoven by evergreen and red, white and blue ribbons;”553 and on its own behalf it acknowledged the receipt from a correspondent in Mifflin township of “a powder keg full of butternuts.”554 In the same issue appeared the following:
☞The Bridgeport Farmer says they are going to make Copperheads in Waterbury. — New Haven Paper.
By “Copperheads,” politicians must not be understood, but a sort of copper badge, representing the head of Washington for example. No doubt they will be in demand. — Journal of Commerce.
These Copperhead breastpins now sell rapidly for a quarter, but costing only three or four cents. The Democratic party unanimously is adopting the “fashion.”555
In the same paper of April 15 we read:
As the Abolitionists gave the Democrats the name of “Copperheads” for a mere, as they supposed, political effect, and to throw a stigma upon opponents, it does not appear that they are making much out of it.
Copperheads have become objects of great value — emblems of liberty — historic — classic — patriotic. The attempt to cast odium on the Democrats is in this, like all other attempts of the kind, a complete failure.
At a sale lately in New York of a large collection of old coins, emblems of our patriotic fathers, the “Copperheads” created the greatest interest. We extract from a description of the sale, that part which relates to copper cents and half cents: . . .
That will do for “copperheads.” A person just from Philadelphia says that the young men of that city are giving as high as ten dollars a piece for these old copper coins, which they have made into breast pins, preserving the Head of Liberty in full view on the pin. Try again, black snakes,556 and see if you cannot get something to suit yourselves if not us. These “copperheads” of Liberty are the true emblems of the spirit and principles of our noble, fathers and the natural enemies of the “Loyalists” of that day, as they are of this. “Copperheads” and “Loyalists” are the old terms, and exactly applicable to the present times and designations of parties.557
A letter dated Brimfield, Ohio, April 7, said:
Yesterday the election went off finely in this Copperhead town — 120 Copperhead votes to 69 Union-Republican or Abolition votes. The small boys here are making Copper-heads by taking old copper cents and cutting away all but the head, which leaves a copper head with the word Liberty stamped upon the forehead. A very good representation of the Democratic party.558
On April 29 the Crisis acknowledged, “from a young Democrat of Connecticut, the receipt of a copperhead emblem of Liberty, nicely cut from an old cent. It is cut out very neatly.”559 In a New York magazine appeared these definitions of political terms:
Copperhead, Mulatto and Greenback Democrats.
There are now three kinds of democrats, according to the newspapers:
1st. The Copperheads — the original, simon pure kind — who are so called from the copper head of liberty on the old cent of the United States, which they have adopted as a fitting badge of their principles.
2d. Mulatto democrats, so called from the fact that they are a faded type of black republicans.
3d. Greenback democrats, a set of political camp-followers, who follow Lincoln for whatever spoils he may, from time to time, throw down to them.560
A correspondent who signed himself G. Fritz thus complained in the Crisis of May 6:
On the 24th of April I was maliciously robbed of a butternut by one of the black Abolition clerks in Randall & Aston’s Book Store. . . . This butternut I carried for the good old principles which it represented — union of hearts. And since we love the good old Union as our fathers made it, and as the butternut represents that Union, we, as Democrats, both high and low, rich and poor, are not ashamed to bear it on our persons; because those who wear it desire the South united with the North, and not inhumanly whipped out of the Union, as this Abolition Administration has endeavored to do from the beginning. And I therefore call this dastardly, impudent puppy of a clerk in the above named book store a follower of tyranny and disunion.561
On May 1 occurred at Mt. Vernon, Ohio, the meeting at which Vallandigham made the speech which caused his arrest. The Crisis of May 20 thus reported the meeting in part:
AN EXTRAORDINARY MASS MEETING
DEMOCRACY OF KNOX COUNTY, OHIO,
Mt. Vernon on the 1st inst.
From 15,000 to 20,000 Present!
The People Demanding their Liberties!
Mt. Vernon, Ohio, May 2, 1863.
To the Editor of The Crisis:
The Democracy of this county held a great Convention here yesterday, . . . Between ten and eleven o’clock, the long township processions began to make their appearance. These were formed of wagons, carriages, buggies, &c., . . . A pleasing feature of each procession, was the very many elegant flags on hickory poles — such as the Democracy have always carried — the beautiful and glorious “Stars and Stripes,” without the obliteration or obscuration of a single star. — A rather novel and amusing, as well as significant and appropriate feature of each procession, was the profusion of Butternuts, in wholes and in sections, attached in a great variety of ways to the dresses of the men and ladies, and of the boys and girls, to the horses and the banners. The “Copperhead,” or Liberty Pins, were another noticeable emblem in the procession. Strange to say, the wearers of these things seemed wholly unconscious of treason (as defined in the Constitution) in thus exhibiting them.562
Question by J. A. — What other flags or emblems were used in decorating the stage?
Ans. — There were banners made of frame work, and covered with canvas, which were decorated with butternuts and bore inscriptions. One banner, which was carried at the head of a delegation which came in from a town in the country, bore the inscription, “The copperheads are coming.”
Mr. Vallandigham. — The South never carried copper cents.
Judge Advocate. — But butternuts are a Southern emblem.
Mr. Vallandigham shook his head, and said they were not
Quest, by J. A. — Did you see any persons have emblems on their persons?
Ans. — Yes, I saw hundreds of persons wearing butternut and copperhead badges.
Mr. Vallandigham. — The copper badges were simply the head cut out of the common cent coins, with pins attached.
Mr. Vallandigham. — Did you notice what inscription those copperhead badges bore?
Ans. — No, I did not look at them.
Mr. Vallandigham. — The inscription on them was “Liberty.”563
Ques. — Did not one of the banners you refer to as decorated with butternuts, bear the inscription, “The Constitution as it is and the Union as it was?”
Ans. — The banners were numerous. One of them, I believe, did bear that inscription.564
WINNING AND WEARING.
Doubtful Citizen — Sir, do you sell Copperhead Badges? I want one.
Patriotic Storekeeper — This is the only badge you Copperheads deserve. (Doubtful Citizen wears it for some days.)565
This section may appropriately end with an account, taken from the Mt. Vernon Banner, of a —
Disturbance in Brownsville.
We had intended to make no reference to the late disturbance in Brownsville, this county, inasmuch as the matter will probably be brought into Court; . . . the facts . . . are simply as follows: It appears that some Democratic boys who were in the village, wore on their coat “butternut” badges, (two hearts united in one, emblematic of the re-union of the North and the South under Democratic rule) were assailed by Abolitionists, who were manly enough to attack boys, but too cowardly to go to war. . . . Miles Deakins, Esq., soon appeared in the crowd . . . ordered the people to disperse, and took the Democratic boys away. The Abolitionists, who were bent upon a muss, instead of obeying the orders of the Justice, commenced abusing him in the most scandalous manner, calling him a “butternut,” “secessionist,” a “Knight of the Golden Circle,” &c.566
Two contemporary representations of the copperhead badge are here reproduced. One, facing this page, is a cartoon from Charles Godfrey Leland’s Ye Book of Copperheads, probably drawn in or about May, 1863;567 the other, on page 229, is an advertisement on the fourth page of the cover of “Copperhead Minstrel: A Choice Collection of Democratic Poems and Songs, for the use of Political Clubs and the Social Circle,” published late in 1863 at New York.568
“So much dishonor my fair stars.”—King Richard III., IV. 1.
The traitor our Common Cents mars, And on Liberty Plainly he wars,
Taking Freedom away from the Union, I say,
When he cuts our her head from the stars.
CARTOON IN YE BOOK OF COPPERHEADS, 1863
engraved for the colonial society of Massachusetts from a copy in the boston atheæum
It is obvious that a badge which was not invented until March, 1863, could have had nothing to do with the origin of a word which had been in use since the previous September at least. Hence we must look elsewhere for the origin of Copperhead. That the name was derived from the copperhead snake may be inferred from the fact that it was a term of opprobrium and for five months was employed only by the Republicans. But we are not left to conjecture on this point. Elated by the results of the fall elections, some of the Democratic papers came out with a rooster on the front page. The Crisis did not follow this good old custom, but on October 22, 1862, its editor acknowledged the receipt “by Express” from certain admirers “of three splendid WHITE ROOSTERS, full of crow and full of pluck!”569 That the name Copperhead was derived from the snake is proved by the unimpeachable evidence furnished by a Copperhead paper. The Crisis of November 19, 1862, contained this extract:
☞The Logan (O.) Gazette gets off some excellent hits. In a late number is a cut of a pole with a copperhead snake wound round it, and underneath is the following:
Copperhead! Copperhead! Where are you going?
I’m climbing this pole to see the cocks crowing.
Copperhead! Copperhead! what do you see?
Butternuts! Butternuts! thick as can be!570
It is not a little curious that the many extracts before me from Republican papers make no mention of the snake until Vallandigham in his speech of February 14, 1863, gave rise to the adoption of the name by the Copperheads themselves. After that, there is indeed no lack of references to the copperhead snake, and in retaliation the Copperheads, in obvious allusion to the term Black Republican,571 dubbed their opponents Black Snakes. This extract is from the New York Tribune of February 16, 1863:
The Express572 accepts and rejoices in the name “Copperhead,” and desires that it may be applied to the entire Democratic Pro-Slavery party. It is apt. The Copperhead is described by naturalists as “an American venomous serpent, the most dangerous after the rattlesnake.” This is perfectly true, in letter and spirit; the rattlesnake represents South Carolina — see the first Palmetto flag; the Copperhead represents your Northern traitor. The rattlesnake, with all its venom, has one virtue — it never strikes without warning; that inevitable rattle gives you timely notice of danger; but the Copperhead gives no sign of attack — it is in verity a snake in the grass. South Carolina gave long warning of her purpose to strike — she shook her rattles and bared her fangs for years before she made the spring at Sumter. Your Copperhead is no such chivalrous foe; for he hides in the grass, silent and treacherous, springs upon you unawares — no rattle, no hiss, but a lurking watchfulness and a leap at your throat, that might, for its perfect surprise if not its success, excite envy in the breast of an Indian Thug. . . . There is remarkable fitness in the name — let the traitors be called “Copperheads” (p. 4/5–6).
Mr. Clement Vallandigham, member of Congress from Ohio, made a speech last week in which he avowed himself a “Copperhead.”573 Certain editors nearer home have likewise rejoiced in the title. It becomes interesting to inquire what it means, and how it came to be applied to a class of politicians.
A “copperhead,” according to the American Cyclopedia, is “a venomous serpent . . . the head is thick . . . the neck contracted, and its scales smooth; there are no rattles, the tail being short . . . near the flanks are rounded dark blotches it prefers dark and moist places It gives no warning of its proximity . . . feeds on mice, small birds, etc., and seldom attacks man it is slow and clumsy in its motions, and a very slight blow suffices to kill it . . . It is also called ‘chunk-head,’ and ‘deaf-adder.’”
It can not be denied that the analogy between this loathsome creature and the mean, sneaking politicians who are now distracting the Northern mind with cries of peace is quite striking. Like the copperhead, the peace party are “venomous” in their attacks on the nation; like it, their “head” is undoubtedly “thick;” like it, their “neck” and reach are “contracted.” Their “scales,” too, are “smooth;” and they have no rattles to warn the honest traveler of their insidious approach. Like the copperhead, their character is “stained by dark blotches;” and, like it, they “prefer dark places” to the light of day. Like that sneaking reptile, their prey is “small, feeble creatures;” and they “seldom venture to attack a man.” If we add that our political Copperheads, like their reptile type, are so “slow and clumsy in their motions” that they deserve the additional cognomina of “Chunk-heads” and “Deaf-adders,” and that “a very slight blow” makes an end of them, we shall have made the analogy complete. It is creditable to the discernment of our Western fellow-citizens that they so quickly realized the resemblance between the copperhead snake and the peace politician, and baptized them by one common appellation.
We shall not waste time in arguing with the copperheads. Men who are capable of justifying the rebels and espousing their cause when the blood of some member of almost every Northern family reddens Southern soil, and the bones of Northern soldiers are worn as ornaments by Southern women, are not likely to be convinced by argument, or to be pervious to any thing short of a bayonet thrust.
But one suggestion we will make. If Mr. Vallandigham, or any of his fellow-copperheads, will visit any large camp of loyal troops, either in the East or in the West or in the South, and will, in presence of the soldiers, express the sentiments they have uttered at Newark, New York, and elsewhere; and if, without the protection of the generals and provost-marshals, whom they so heartily abuse, they succeed, after delivering their speech, in making their escape alive, and without a coat of tar and feathers, we shall agree that Copperheads may fairly be tolerated. Our soldiers are anxious to have the challenge accepted.574
CARTOON IN HARPER’S WEEKLY OF 28 FEBRUARY, 1863, VII. 144
engraved for the colonial society of Massachusetts from a copy in the boston athenæum
A letter dated Chittenango, Madison County, New York, March 4, printed in the Albany Argus and Atlas of March 6, is headed: “‘Copperhead’ Victory in Sullivan! ‘Black Snakes’ Cleaned Out.”575 These items were printed in the Crisis of March 18 and April 1:
A Democrat said the other day to a Republican: “If it has come to snakes, I would rather be a copperhead than a black snake.”
So much for the snake question.576
From Portage County, Ohio.
(Extract of a Letter.)
Gov. Medary — Dear Sir: . . . The Abolition Black-snakes are now using every effort to obtain subscribers to a new ism that Greeley has put forth, which they denominate the “Loyal National League.” . . . The Black-snake editors appear to be urging their followers up to “blood letting” among us. We are dubbed Copperheads and Traitors, and the same hatred of Democrats is instigated as has for many years been instigated against Southern men and their institutions.577
A letter from Wood Grove, Morgan County, Ohio, April 7, said: “I tell you that we just completely skunked the Black Snakes — they did not even get a supervisor elected;” and ended: “Give the Black Serpents thunder.”578 A letter from Brimfield, Ohio, April 7, stated that “We held our annual election on Monday, and elected our Copperhead ticket clean through, whipping the Blacksnake ticket by some 52 majority.”579 A correspondent writing of the election from Linnville, Ohio, April 7, said: “We do not feel like doing without your Copperhead paper, as it is termed by the (dis)-Union party. . . . One hundred and thirty-three Copperheads formed in line of battle. But to our great disappointment not one Black Snake appeared against us.”580 A letter from Milton township, Jackson County, Ohio, April 9, declared that “The ‘Copperheads’ wiped out the Black Snakes (or Black Republicans) on Monday last. . . . The following are the names of the men elected, all regular built’ Copperheads.’”581 “In the days of ‘Bleeding Kansas,’” remarked the Darke County (Ohio) Democrat, “the Black Snakes were the champions of ‘Free Speech.’”582 The Crisis of April 22 contained this passage:
The Viper Stinging Itself.
When we see Abolitionists raging and foaming about Democrats wearing butternut emblems of “two hearts united in one,” and copperheads of “Liberty,” we are reminded of the viper in the circle of fire stinging itself to death.
Who applied the “butternut” and “copperhead” designation to the Democrats? Not the Democrats themselves, most assuredly. It was these black (snake) Republicans, and the Democrats, instead of getting mad at the intended blackguard terms, took it in good humor by turning it off as a joke, and then the black snakes got “all fired riley” at their own villainous acts! That’s the true story.583
In the same paper of April 29 was this paragraph:
Our New Names. — The name “Butternut,” applied to Democrats is the reverse of any offensive appellation. The butternut, when cut into two parts, near the centre, presents a perfect picture of two hearts, united at the base — typical of the North and South united together, under the rule of the Butternut Democracy. As to Copperheads, that reptile is inoffensive except when trod on, or in the month of August. In either case it is dangerous.584
In the Old Guard for April is a description of a “Great Lincoln Picture Gallery,” No. 21 being “A copperhead chasing a huge black snake, which is running away with affrighted velocity;”585 and in the same number is this item: “Copperheads and Black Snakes. The republicans call democrats ‘copperheads’ — the democrats retort by calling republicans ‘black snakes.’ If the snake family ever get to fighting, save us from the fate of the black snakes, say we.”586 A paragraph headed “Swearing Rattlesnakes,” printed in the Chicago Tribune of May 5, begins: “Still at the work of swearing Rattlesnakes. . . . But with chagrin they now see the mailed hand open again, and these Copperheads gliding safely away” (p. 1/1). A letter from Concord township, Champaign County, Ohio, stated that “The Blacksnakes held what they called a loyal war meeting here a few days since.”587 Our extracts are brought to an end with the following vigorous and amusing retort from the Crisis of May 6:
Copperheads vs. Blacksnakes.
The Black Republicans, excessively fond of applying pet names to their opponents, are now very industriously applying the term “Copperheads” to the Democrats. We like it much. There is an applicability about it which speaks out boldly and has a palpable meaning.
The “Copperhead” is peculiar to this country — a fearless, independent snake that knows its power, and when disturbed or interfered with, uses it. It is a brave snake, and, therefore, naturally tolerant, harmless and passive; but take care you do not trample upon it, for it never runs except to attack its foe, and its bite, when once aroused, is awful.
Now, the representative of the Republicans, opposite to the Copperhead, is the Blacksnake. And here, too, the analogy is complete. The Blacksnake is a cowardly, hissing, thieving reptile. He possesses somewhat the power to charm, but he always charms the innocent to destruction. — He robs bird’s nests, visits barn yards and sucks hens’ eggs, and will often be found coiled around the legs of a cow, sucking her milk, just as Black Republican contractors, jobbers, and office holders are now doing with Uncle Samuel’s cow.588
The earliest cartoon I have seen in which a snake is represented is in Harper’s Weekly of February 28, 1863, reproduced facing page 232.589 The same illustration was used in a broadside entitled “Copperheads vigorously Prosecuting Peace. Resolutions of the Hartford Convention, Feb. 18, 1863. Woodcut. Large folio, 2 columns. (Hartford, 1863).”590 In Vanity Fair of May 2 is a cartoon labelled, “Lord Lyons: In full regalia, as he appeared on the occasion of being chosen Chief Moderator of the Copperhead or K.G.C.”591 The British Minister at Washington has on an apron on which is depicted a snake, and in his hand is a caduceus (with two snakes). In the same paper of May 9 is a cartoon labelled “Manton Marble: The Man of ‘The World;’” and underneath the words “The World” is a snake.592 Charles Godfrey Leland’s Ye Book of Copperheads, the title-page of which is also here reproduced (facing this page), was probably published about June, 1863. In his Memoirs, published in 1893, Leland said:
I was very busy during the first six months of 1863. . . . I also wrote and illustrated, with the aid of my brother, a very eccentric pamphlet, “The Book of Copperheads.” When Abraham Lincoln died two books were found in his desk. One was the “Letters of Petroleum V. Naseby,” by Dr. R. Locke, and my “Book of Copperheads,” which latter was sent to me to see and return.593
TITLE-PAGE OF YE BOOK OF COPPERHEADS
engraved for the colonial society of Massachusetts from a copy in the boston athenæum
In 1863 there was also published at Philadelphia a skit entitled, “Ye Sneak Yclepid Copperhead. A Satirical Poem. I do not like ‘em — sneaks, I mean.” On the title-page is a cut of an eagle seizing a snake in its talons, and there are seven illustrations, in all of which a snake is depicted.594
Reviewing the evidence as a whole, it appears that Butternut and Copperhead — like Whig, Tory, Yankee, Brother Jonathan, Uncle Sam, and scores of other terms — take their place among the designations which have been accepted by those to whom they were originally applied in contempt or in mild derision.
Mr. Julius H. Tuttle exhibited a volume containing two tracts, and spoke as follows:
Often in the wills made in colonial days bequests were made of one or more books which were considered valuable possessions. If these small collections should be counted among the libraries of that period they would make interesting additions to their number. Now and then a single work fortunately comes to light, but most of those mentioned have long since disappeared from view. Such books were kept, not probably for their literary or historical value, but more likely for their restraining influence on the rising generation.
One of such a group has been discovered in the library of the Dedham Historical Society, where it has long been in its possession as a Dedham relic. It has two tracts bound together in the original covers, the first without the title-page and the preliminary pages of signature A, and the rest, somewhat mutilated, containing 155 pages. This title is found to be:
Rebels no Saints: / — / or, a / Collection / of the / Speeches, Private Passages, Let- / ters and Prayers of those / Persons lately / Executed, /
. . . / — / By a Person of Quality / — / . . . / London . . . 1661. 16mo. pp. (2), 155.
When signatures E and F were printed the sheet was not turned, so that pages 50, 51, 54, 55, 58, 59, and 62, 63, were not printed. These blank pages were supplied in writing. Benjamin Simon in 1664 left his autograph signature at the top of page 63.
The second tract in the book is thus described:
Murderer Punished / and / PARDONED: / or, / A true Relation of the Wicked Life and Shamefull / Happy Death of Thomas Savage, Imprisoned, just-/ ly Condemned, and Twice Executed at Ratcliffe, for / his bloody Fact, in Killing his Fellow-Servant, on / Wednesday, Octob. 28. 1668. / — / By us, who were often with him in the time of his Im- / prisonment in Newgate, and at his Execution] /
/ — / To which is Annexed a Serm[on ] / at his Funeral. / — / The Twelfth Edition; with the Addition [ ] / Life and Shameful Death of Hannah [Blay ] / Condemned and Executed for being [ ] / bloody Murther committed by Thorn [ ] / other new Additions. / — / London Printed in the Year . 16mo. pp. 62, A in 8, B in 4, C in 8, D in 4, E in 7.595
This little volume came into the possession of the Society from an unrecorded Dedham source, and it was probably given in its early days. When I took the book down from the shelf and examined it I recalled the entry in Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary (II. 237) under Hezekiah Gay, born in Dedham, July 3, 1640, four years after the settlement of the town, the son of John Gay one of its founders. Savage quotes from the nuncupative will596 of Hezekiah drawn on October 25, 1669, only a few days before his death, in October or November, that he gives “My sister Whiting that new book concerning Thomas Savage;” and then James Savage writes “for which I fear, all search in bibliographical works will be vain.” All the circumstances connected with this book and its discovery point strongly to its identification as the one mentioned in the will, and seem to show that the Thomas Savage title was not known to James Savage. There is a copy, however, in the British Museum of this twelfth edition.
Hezekiah Gay also gave, in his will, to his mother, “Mr. Burrowe’s Book,” which was probably one of Edward Burrough’s works. The two books mentioned in the will may have been all the books that Gay owned, and the survival of one shows at least the kind of reading in one early New England home.
Mr. Chester N. Greenough read the following note —
Among the treasures of the collection recently given to the Harvard College Library by the widow of the late Frederick L. Gay is a unique copy of the first edition of a work usually ascribed to John Cotton:
Singing / Of / Psalmes / A Gospel-Ordinance / Or / A Treatise, / Wherein are handled these foure Particulars. / 1. Touching the Duty it selfe. / 2. Touching the Matter to be Sung. / 3. Touching the Singers. / 4. Touching the Manner of Singing. I By John Cotton, Teacher of the / Church at Boston in New-England./ London; / Printed by M. S. for Hannah Allen, at the Crowne / in Popes-Head-Alley: and John Rothwell at the / Sunne and Fountaine in Pauls-Church-yard./ 1647.
On the reverse of the title-page, in the handwriting of John Cotton, is a list of “Faults in ye Printing corrected” as follows:
Faults in ye Printing corrected,
is not ædefyed.
Prov. 9, 10.
2 Chron. 35:21, 22.
to ye Golden Calf
to ye making of ye Golden Calf.
left it to.
Partition of wall
in singing forth ye Praises of ye Lord, Adde, yet neither were their Psalmes types of ours but one & ye same: neither was their singing with voyces a type of ours: but both of them a Performance of one & ye same moral! Duety, the singing of ye Praises of ye Lord, so
Below this list of errata597 is a rather surprising memorandum, apparently in the handwriting of the younger Thomas Shepard (1635–1677), who graduated from Harvard College in 1653, and in 1659 was ordained teacher of the Church at Charlestown, where he remained until his death. Shepard writes:
Mr. Edward Bulkley pastor of ye Ch of Xt in Concord told me Sept. 20. 1674 that wn he boarded at mr Cotton’s house at ye 1st coming forth of this book of singing of psalmes, mr Cotton told him that my Father Shepard had the chief hand in ye composing of it, & yrfore, mr Cotton said, I am troubled that my bro: Shepard’s name is not praefixed to it.
The title-page of the Gay copy is also interesting. At the top, apparently inked over an older inscription, appears the autograph of Thomas Shepard, with the date 1655. Below that we find “Wm Brattle’s book March 23 1704/5.” Just above the words “By John Cotton” we find, apparently in the hand of the third Thomas Shepard (1658–1685), the words “my H[onore]d Grandfather Mr. Thomas Shepard pastor of Camb: as my Father told me Mr. Cotton acknowledged w[he]n it came forth.”
To decide from internal evidence whether John Cotton or Thomas Shepard is more likely to have written the Singing of Psalms a Gospel Ordinance is a task quite beyond my powers. I should suppose that the similarity of the two men in learning and in style would, in fact, make extremely difficult the work of anyone who should attempt to settle the matter on such grounds. I propose merely to record the existence of this odd bit of testimony to Shepard’s authorship,598 and then to attempt a partial answer to the question which one naturally asks, — namely, Why did not John Cotton take measures to see that Shepard’s name was prefixed to the work?
That this question suggests itself indicates that we naturally assume the seventeenth century author to have had the same control over his work as that enjoyed in our own time, — that is, we assume that he could make sure that title-page, front matter, and text were all as he wished them to be. Let me cite a few instances to show that the seventeenth century author was to a surprising degree at the mercy of the publisher.
George Wither’s Scholar’s Purgatory, undated, but published about 1625, contains a very interesting character sketch of a good stationer and another of a bad stationer.599 It must of course be remembered that Wither’s quarrels with the publishers somewhat injure the value of his very spicy testimony. Of the mere stationer Wither says that he —
. . . will not stick to bely his author’s intentions, or to publish secretly that there is somewhat in his new imprinted books against the state, or some Honourable personages; that so, they being questioned, his ware may have the quicker sale. He makes no scruple to put out the right author’s name, and insert another in the second edition of a book; and when the impression of some pamphlet lies upon his hands, to imprint new Titles for it (and so take men’s moneys twice or thrice for the same matter under diverse names) is no injury in his opinion.
If he gett any written Coppy into his powre, likely to be vendible, whether the Author be willing or no, he will publish it; And it shall be contrived and named alsoe, according to his owne pleasure: which is the reason, so many good Bookes come forth imperfect, and with foolish titles. Nay, he oftentymes gives bookes such names as in his opinion will make them saleable, when there is litle or nothing in the whole volume sutable to such a Tytle.600
It was probably somewhat more than forty years later that Samuel Butler wrote his character of A Stationer, concerning whom he finds nothing good to say:
When a book lies upon his hand and will not sell, notwithstanding all his lies and forgeries of known mens approbation, his last remedy is to print a new title-page, and give it a new name, (as mercers do by their old rotten stuffs) and if that will not do it is past cure, and falls away to waste paper. He makes the same use of mens names as forgers do, and will rob the living and the dead of their reputation by setting their hands to the frauds and impostures of false and counterfeit scriblers, to abuse the world, and cheat men of their money and understanding.601
These passages, of course, are written by satirists who were almost required by the rules to exaggerate the foibles of humanity. There are a number of cases in which the evidence is somewhat less open to doubt.
In 1646 The Perfect Diurnal, No. 185, which is dated February 8–15, contains (p. 1486) a note that “such hath bin the malice of some ignorant Anonymous” as to write a pamphlet “to scandalize and vilifie the army under his Excellency Sir Tho. Fairfax,” in which pamphlet he gives a false account of a murder “for the better vending of his pamphlet.”
Three years later the same periodical gives us another instance:
This is desired to be inserted; That Whereas there was lately printed, and put to publike sale a book called A discription of the Country and People of Scotland; That consisted of some invectives against that Nation which was entituled to Mr. James Howell, I do hereby declare and attest that He was not the Author thereof, nor had any thing to doe with it, and that there was use made of his name, not out of any designe to prejudice so well known and worthy a Gentleman, but to further only the vending of the thing; Therefore with all due respectfullnesse, I do hereby crave his pardon, and desire the world to take notice hereof.
London this 6 of July: 1649 per me I. Stephens.602
In 1649 The Perfect Diurnall for July 30-August 6, No. 314, contains on the last page the notice that “there is an excellent peece come forth entituled An hue and cry after Vox Populi, written by that learned and judicious Minister, Mr. John Collins in Norwich.” But a month later, in No. 319 (p. 2513), the editor found it necessary to retract, which he did as follows:
About a moneth since at the request of a Bookseller of Norwich, was incerted in the Diurnall that Master Collins Minister [sic, for Minister] of Norwich, had published a book intituled a hew and cry after Vox populi, the said Mr. Collins desires you to take notice, that he did not write or compose the said book, but utterly disclaims it.
On September 22, 1655, Lord Tweeddale wrote to Cromwell from Edinburgh, declaring that in a late pamphlet called A Short Discovery of his Highness the Lord Protector’s Intentions touching the Anabaptists in the Army, etc., his “name is used to a Forgery.”603
In 1659 Edward Reynolds found it necessary to declare that he did not write a certain book advertised as his. He inserted his disavowal as an advertisement in the Publick Intelligencer, No. 2, p. 380 (April 18–25, 1659):
‘Whereas in a Catalogue of Books Printed and sold by Henry Marsh at the Princes Arms in Chancery-lane near Fleetstreet, annexed to a Book of Edw. Leigh Esq; entituled, England Described, there is mention of a Book called, A Word of Caution to the present Times, in relation to the Atheists and Errorists thereof. By Edward Reynolds D. D. The said Edward Reynolds doth hereby declare, That he never was either the Author or Publisher of any such Book, but hath been herein wronged by the Compiler and Publisher of that Catalogue.
Although many other cases might be cited,604 perhaps one more will suffice; and this is a colloquy which appears in the course of John Tutchin’s trial for a libel (1704) entitled The Observator:
Mr. Mountague. The question I would ask you, is; do you, when you have a copy, strictly keep to the letter of the copy? Or do you, as you think convenient, alter it?
How. I have altered it oftentimes to make it safe.
Mr. Mountague. Then you do take it on you to alter?
How. To strike out a line, never to alter his sense.
Mr. Mountague. Do you not insert any thing?
How. Yes, frequently a word.
Mr. Mountague. Do you not take upon you to insert several words, and leave out several?
As may readily be imagined, New England authors were not less imposed upon than their English brethren by these conditions of publication. In the preface to A Disputation Concerning Church-Members and Their Children, London, 1659, the writer gives us, particularly in his last sentence, some astonishing light upon this situation:
And this is the rather said, because perhaps the Reader may have been deceived in some other Treatises, which have gone abroad, and generally been look’t upon, as the compilement of the Elders in New-England; whereas they had but one private person for their Author. So it is indeed in the 32 Questions, the Answerer whereof was Mr. Richard Mather, and not any other Elder or Elders in New England, who likewise is the Author of the discourse concerning Church-Covenant printed therewith, which latter he wrote for his private use in his own Study, never intending, nor indeed consenting to its publication, nor so much as knowing unto this day how the copy of it came abroad into those hands by whom it was made publick, save that he conjectures some procured a copy of it from Mr. Cotton, to whom (such was their intimacy in his lifetime) he communicated it, as he writes in a late Letter to a Son of his now in England who it seems had enquired of him concerning those Treatises; and much less is there any truth in that which is said in the Title page prefixed to the Discourse of Church-Covenant, as if it were sent over to Mr. Barnard Anno 1639; Mr. Mather having neither acquaintance nor any intercourse by Letters with Mr. Barnard.
The case of Edward Johnson’s Wonder-Working Providence of Sions Saviour in New England is sufficiently well known.606 It will be remembered that Nathaniel Brooke, who brought out in 1653, under date of 1654, the first edition of Johnson’s book, inserted the unsold copies as the third part of America Painted to the Life, 1659, and asserted that the whole was “written by Sir Ferdinando Gorges Knight.” Against this fraud the younger Gorges (grandson of the alleged author) protested in the following advertisement, which appeared in the Mercurius Politicus for September 13, 1660:
I, Ferdinando Gorges, the entituled Author of a late Book, called America Painted to the Life, am injured in that additional Part, called Sion’s Saviour in New England (as written by Sir Ferdinando Gorges:) that being none of his, and formerly printed in another name, the true owner.
Both Shepard and Cotton had suffered from this kind of vexation. Of his Sincere Convert Shepard is reputed607 to have written to Giles Firmin:
It was a collection of such notes in a dark town in England, which one procuring of me, published them without my will, or my privity. I scarce know what it contains, nor do I like to see it; considering the many Σϕαλματα typographica, most absurd; and the confession of him that published it, that it comes out much altered from what was first written.
“And this,” exclaims Albro,608 “was said in October, 1647, a year after the English publisher, in his fourth edition, declared that the book had been ‘corrected and much amended by the author.’”
Of John Cotton his grandson wrote that “few of John Cotton’s works were printed with his own knowledge or consent. . . . his printed works, whereof there are many, that praise him in the gates, though few of them were printed with his own knowledge or consent.”609 And of Cotton’s sermon on the Seven Vials, Lechford says: “Mr. Humfrey had gotten the notes from some who had took them by characters, and printed them in London without Cotton’s consent.”610
Some further light is thrown upon this question when we consider the printer of The Singing of Psalms. M. S., who printed the edition of 1647, is presumably Matthew Simmons.611
Of John Cotton’s works the following were printed by M. S. or by Matthew Simmons: in 1644, The Keyes of the Kingdom of Heaven was “printed by M. Simmons for Henry Overton;” in 1645, The Covenant of Gods free Grace was “printed M. S. for Iohn Hancock;” in 1645, The Way of the Churches of Christ in New England was “printed by Matthew Simmons;” in 1647, The Bloudy Tenent Washed was “printed by Matthew Symmons for Hannah Allen;” and in 1648, The Way of the Congregational Churches Cleared was “printed by Matthew Simmons for John Bellamie.”
With Thomas Shepard’s works the case is similar: in 1641, The Sincere Convert was “Printed by T. P. and M. S. for Humphrey Blunden;” in 1646, The Sincere Convert was again “printed by Matthew Simmons;” in 1648, Certain Select Cases Resolved was “printed by M. Simmons for J. Rothwell;” in 1648, The First Principles of the Oracles of God was “printed by M. Simmons.”
Whether Simmons did or did not print the second edition (1650) of The Singing of Psalms cannot be told from the title-page, the imprint on which runs thus: “London, Printed for J. R. at the Sunne and Fountaine in Pauls-Church-yard; and H. A. at the Crowne in Popes-Head-Alley. 1650.” Since J. R. and H. A. are presumably John Rothwell and Hannah Allen, the stationers for whom Simmons printed the edition of 1647, it is not unlikely that Simmons also printed for them the edition of 1650.
Whether Simmons printed the edition of 1650 or not, the fact that he occasionally printed works by Cotton and by Shepard after 1647 may suggest, though of course it does not prove, that these authors had no reason to be seriously annoyed at anything that occurred in connection with the publication of The Singing of Psalms in 1647.
It thus seems fairly evident that we should hesitate to give way to the impression that John Cotton was at fault for having failed to make sure that Thomas Shepard, if he was the principal author of the discourse on The Singing of Psalms, received credit therefor upon the title-page.
Mr. Clarence S. Brigham exhibited a photostat of an Elegy on Urian Oakes by Daniel Gookin, Jr., and spoke as follows:
Elegies and rhyming epitaphs constitute a fair share of the little poetry that was written by New Englanders in the seventeenth century. The Elegy upon Urian Oakes, President of Harvard College, written in 1681 by Daniel Gookin, Jr., which is now printed for the first time,612 adds another poem, as well as another poet, to the annals of our early American literature.
Moses Coit Tyler, in referring to Urian Oakes, says613 that his prose furnishes the greatest originality and breadth of thought of any sermon literature from the settlement of the country down to the Revolution, and furthermore that the one example left to us of his verse, his elegy upon his friend Thomas Shepard, reaches the highest point touched by American poetry during the same period. Shepard died in 1677 and within a few days of his death Oakes published his Elegy, a poem of fifty-two stanzas. Although marred by some defects in metre and by a little of the theological hyperbole so common to elegies, it is stately, flowing, and filled with imagery. The closing lines are especially impressive:
My dearest, inmost, bosom-friend is gone!
Gone is my sweet companion, soul’s delight!
Now in an huddling crowd I’m all alone,
And almost could bid all the world — Goodnight.
It is a far cry from such a beautiful verse to Daniel Gookin’s Elegy upon Urian Oakes. This Elegy was written soon after the death of Oakes, July 24, 1681,614 and was probably read in connection with one of the college services for the deceased. Oakes was graduated from Harvard in 1649, resided in England until 1671, was pastor at Cambridge from 1671 to 1681, and President of Harvard from 1675 to the time of his death. Daniel Gookin, Jr., was the son of Major-General Daniel Gookin, of Indian fame, was born at Cambridge in 1650, was graduated from Harvard in 1669, was instructor at Harvard from 1673 to 1681 and librarian during part of this period, was chosen pastor of the church at Sherborn in 1685, and died in 1718. No other examples of his versification are known. This Elegy, although filled with stilted religious imagery, bad rhyming and occasional startling departures from the metre, is a good example of the theological poetry of the period.615
engraved for the colonial society of Massachusetts from the original in the possession of the American antiquarian society
of the reverend, pious, incomparably learned, and faithful
servant of Christ, in the Work of the Ministry
Mr. Urian Oakes,
Pastor of the Church at Cambridge & President of Harvard Colledge;
Who left his Work to recieve his Reward July 24. 1681.
the 50th. Year of his Life.
T’was but the other Day when all that knew
The Wound that made poor Cambridge smart
(a Wound that reach’d her very Heart)
Bewail’d her State, she was forgot by few.
’Twas when (now blessed) Mitchel616 chang’d his Place
Left Earth, gain’d Heav’n, which only’s gain’d by Grace.
’Twas but ev’n now their Sorrow them forsook,
They’d hardly laid their Mourning by,
From Fun’ral Tears scarce clear’d their Eye,
And to themselves Garments of Gladness took.
They had with much ado recover’d Breath,
And for a little While took leave of Death,
With Hopes again of seeing Happy Dayes
(Blessing the courteous Waves and Wind
Confesing that they were most kind,)
When they might bring their Offerings of Praise
For the Rich Grant was made, which they did gain,
When Oakes came swimming to them through the Main:
He step’t ashore, and made a little Stay,
As Men that sojourn for a while
On some remote or foreign Isle;
Or as a Man that only miss’d his Way,
Or as a Traveller that’s far from Home,
Yet thither bends his Course, and hopes to come
(As Doth the sacred Text report
Of Antient Worthies in this sort)
He saught a City, far ‘bove Earth and Air,
A City whose Foundations are most sure,
Her Builder’s He that ever doth endure.
Thither he mounted born on Angels Armes
Elijah’s Coach convey’d him hence,
Elijah’s Guard was his defence
Att Length he safe arrives freed from all Harms,
Herein’s the only Diff’rence that we mind
He not (Elijah) left His Dust behind.
His Joy is not our Griefe, his weighty Crown
His Gain is not our Envy’s Food,
Or that he now enjoy’s all Good
It is not this that bears our Comfort down,
It rather helps to mitigate our Grief
And to our sinking Spirits, some Relief.
But when we look around on every side
And see the Tears of Harvards Hall.
The dewy Cheeks of Church and all,
(Their Mourning Vails can’t these from any hide)
When how We’re all bereft we see, and th’ Crown
That once adorn’d our Temples, now cast down.
This turns our Dance to halting, lames our Mirth
Untunes our Harps, our Hearts doth wound,
No Musick’s now in any Sound
Our Hopes are cover’d under Clods of Earth,
’Tis this that kills the springing joys we had
Not Heads, but Hearts, are now in mourning clad.
The Time doth signalize this fatal Turn,
’Twas when the Father of the Day
In hast was posting on his way
To bury Summer in th’ Autumnal Urn,
’Twas when (as loath to see this dismal sight)
Phoebus had coffin’d up himself in Night:
Which is a dagger to the Heart,
Which wounds and Stabs as doth a Dart;
This This (by Mans appointment) was the Day
When in a Figure the eternal Bread
Some hope’d to eat, and drink the Blood was shed,
In Gods Decree, before the World began,
Before the Mountains were begot,
While Earth and Heavens yet were not;
And att the last by th’ Hand of bloody Man:
Hereby they hop’d their Souls to satisfie,
But th’ Soveraign Hand snatch’d, all from Mouth and Eye.
A second Mitchel’s now laid in the Dust,
Who could have thought that such another
(As if he had not been another)
Should into Mitchels office Work be thrust:
They had like choice Indowments many Ways,
In naming one, we speak the others Praise.
When th’ ones rare, rich Accomplishments of Mind,
His Wisdom, Piety, and Love,
His thoughtfulness of Things above
We speak; the like or same in th’ other shined:
If in the scales of Learning they’d been laid
Hard ’twould have been t’ have Judged which out weigh’d
For Universal Learning th’ ones admir’d,
For his rare Skill in Tongues and Arts,
Of Natures Beings t’ unlock the Hearts,
Th’ other the like, by searching had acquir’d,
They spi’d the Motions of the heavenly Flames,
They only could not call them all by Names.
The ones admir’d as a most choice Divine
And likewise Systematical
As, also Casuistical
Adorned his Mind, did in his Doctrine shine
And if we give the other, his Just due,
Wee’l speak the very same, and yet speak true
(the Hungry Grave devours much good
And yet is never cloid with Food)
Until the Resurrection of the Just,
When Spirits and Dust of Saints shall joyn’d remain
T’ attend their King, who shall forever reign.
And then this blessed Saint among the high’st
Shall have his Kingly, Priestly Throne,
And be accounted then as one
Fit for to have his Seat among the high’st
Unto the Throne of the immortal King
To whom blest Saints sweet Hallelujahs sing.
We thus lisp out his Praise, but half his due,
If we should think to give ‘twould fill
Large Volumes & quite tire our Quill:
Hyperbolies are seldom (but here) true;
We leave the rest to Tongues of th’ Heav’nly Host;
Who preach his Worth, and of him make their Bost.
Daniel Gookin Junr