Charleston riot

Last updated
Charleston riot
Part of Illinois in the American Civil War
DateMarch 28, 1864
Location
Parties to the civil conflict
Casualties
6 soldiers killed
1 Republican shopkeep killed
2 Copperheads killed


.

The Charleston riot occurred on March 28, 1864, in Charleston, Illinois, after Union soldiers and local Republicans clashed with local insurgents known as Copperheads. By the time the riot had subsided, nine were dead and twelve had been wounded. It is generally thought that one of the events that triggered the riot was the treatment of Judge Charles H. Constable by Union soldiers. The soldiers humiliated Constable by making him swear allegiance to the federal government, due to his decision to allow four Union deserters to go free in Marshall, Illinois. When the riot began, Judge Constable was holding court in Charleston. [1]

Charleston, Illinois City in Illinois, United States

Charleston is a city in and the county seat of Coles County, Illinois, United States. The population was 21,838, as of the 2010 census. The city is home to Eastern Illinois University and has close ties with its neighbor, Mattoon. Both are principal cities of the Charleston–Mattoon Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Illinois State of the United States of America

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It has the 5th largest Gross Domestic Product by state, is the 6th-most populous U.S. state and 25th-largest state in terms of land area. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in northern and central Illinois, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, contains over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to other global ports around the world from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean; as well as the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway on the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

Union (American Civil War) United States national government during the American Civil War

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the Union, also known as the North, referred to the United States of America and specifically to the national government of President Abraham Lincoln and the 20 free states, as well as 4 border and slave states that supported it. The Union was opposed by 11 southern slave states that formed the Confederate States of America, also known as "the Confederacy" or "the South".

Contents

Copperheads

The Charleston riot took place around this courthouse Ctownchouse.jpg
The Charleston riot took place around this courthouse

The news coverage of the event stated that the Peace Democrats were responsible for beginning the event. One such news source, from the Chicago Tribune , later reprinted in the Charleston Courier, labeled Nelson Wells as the instigator of the conflict. Most articles published from the time, insist that the whole event transpired as a more spontaneous event and was not directly prompted by any one individual. The most likely explanation is that the event occurred because a sizable presence of both Copperheads and Union soldiers had been in town that day. Also many sources speculate that a sizable portion of the participants, at least on the side of the Peace Democrats, had been drinking quite heavily all day, and this led to the outbreak that resulted in the confrontation. At any rate, the fighting only lasted a few moments. But by the time the affair was over, the Copperheads had been run out of Charleston. Rewards had been issued for the capture of any of those whom fled the scene. Included in those who left town, was John O’Hair, the leader of the Copperheads, who had been the sheriff of Coles County. Out of those killed, only two had been Copperheads, Nelson Wells and John Cooper; the other participants had been either captured or escaped. Other Union troops were called in from Mattoon to assist the soldiers fighting in Charleston, but by the time their train arrived, none of the instigators were left in the town. Fifteen prisoners were eventually held for seven months, initially in Springfield, Illinois. President Lincoln, whose father and stepmother had lived in Coles County, waived the prisoners' right to Habeas Corpus and ordered their removal to Fort Delaware in the East. He ordered their release on November 4, 1864. Two of the prisoners had been indicted for murder and were exonerated by trial in December, 1864. Twelve other Copperheads had also been indicted for murder. They were never captured, and the indictments were annulled in May 1873.

<i>Chicago Tribune</i> major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The Chicago Tribune is a daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, United States, owned by Tribune Publishing. Founded in 1847, and formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper", it remains the most-read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region. It is the eighth-largest newspaper in the United States by circulation.

Mattoon, Illinois City in Illinois, United States

Mattoon is a city in Coles County, Illinois, United States. The population was 18,555 as of the 2010 census. The city is home to a Burger King that is not related to the worldwide Burger King chain.

The terms Copperheads and Butternuts were used to describe the larger movement, which has been known as Peace Democrats. This political affiliation which stirred up support, as David Montgomery points out in Beyond Equality: Labor and the Radical Republicans, by incorporating the fears that the federal government’s war effort sought to usurp the constitution. The copperheads incorporated a racial component to their disdain for the Northern war effort, as Montgomery points out, that emancipated Negroes would flood the North, because of the Emancipation Proclamation. Using racially charged rhetoric, Copperheads sought to unite opposition to the Radical Republicans. This had become a national phenomenon during the American Civil War. Southern sympathizers were battling to keep their country from becoming, in their eyes, too radical.

Emancipation Proclamation executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 that freed Southern slaves

The Emancipation Proclamation, or Proclamation 95, was a presidential proclamation and executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. It changed the federal legal status of more than 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in the designated areas of the South from slave to free. As soon as a slave escaped the control of the Confederate government, by running away or through advances of federal troops, the former slave became free. Ultimately, the rebel surrender liberated and resulted in the proclamation's application to all of the designated former slaves. It did not cover slaves in Union areas that were freed by state action. It was issued as a war measure during the American Civil War, directed to all of the areas in rebellion and all segments of the executive branch of the United States.

Rhetoric art of discourse

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. Along with grammar and logic, it is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the capacities of writers or speakers needed to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. Aristotle defines rhetoric as "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion" and since mastery of the art was necessary for victory in a case at law or for passage of proposals in the assembly or for fame as a speaker in civic ceremonies, calls it "a combination of the science of logic and of the ethical branch of politics". Rhetoric typically provides heuristics for understanding, discovering, and developing arguments for particular situations, such as Aristotle's three persuasive audience appeals: logos, pathos, and ethos. The five canons of rhetoric or phases of developing a persuasive speech were first codified in classical Rome: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U.S. history. Primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people, war broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

Coles County

Coles County, Illinois, 1875. Colesco.jpg
Coles County, Illinois, 1875.

The Copperheads represented a political affiliation that was staunchly opposed to President Lincoln, the draft, and abolition of slavery. This group favored an armistice to end the Civil War because they opposed the war itself. Most components of Copperhead ideology centered on the mistrust of the implications the war presented to American society. In particular, the aim to free the slaves had become an issue that some white natives of Illinois took issue with. The Civil War had split the country into factions, either side chose to support or oppose the aim to reincorporate the Southern states back into the Union. The Copperheads believed the Lincoln Administration had been out of line by abolishing slavery. Some citizens of Coles County accepted the ideology that it was not in the best interest of the country to free the slaves. Although the exact number is hard to gauge it has been estimated, by Victor Hicken in Illinois in the Civil War, that Coles County had been a significant pocket of Copperhead sympathizers. This idea is supported by the fact that John O’Hair, the leader of the Copperheads, had been the sheriff of Coles County during the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln 16th president of the United States

Abraham Thomas Lincoln was an American statesman, politician, and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War, its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. He preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the U.S. economy.

Conscription in the United States "The draft" in the United States

Conscription in the United States, commonly known as the draft, has been employed by the federal government of the United States in five conflicts: the American Revolution, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. The third incarnation of the draft came into being in 1940 through the Selective Training and Service Act. It was the country's first peacetime draft. From 1940 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the United States Armed Forces that could not be filled through voluntary means. The draft came to an end when the United States Armed Forces moved to an all-volunteer military force. However, the Selective Service System remains in place as a contingency plan; all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register so that a draft can be readily resumed if needed. United States Federal Law also provides for the compulsory conscription of men between the ages of 17 and 45 and certain women for militia service pursuant to Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution and 10 U.S. Code § 246.

Abolitionism in the United States Movement to end slavery in the United States

Abolitionism in the United States was the movement before and during the American Civil War to end slavery in the United States. In the Americas and western Europe, abolitionism was a movement to end the Atlantic slave trade and set slaves free. In the 17th century, enlightenment thinkers condemned slavery on humanistic grounds and English Quakers and some Evangelical denominations condemned slavery as un-Christian. At that time, most slaves were Africans, but thousands of Native Americans were also enslaved. In the 18th century, as many as six million Africans were transported to the Americas as slaves, at least a third of them on British ships to North America. The colony of Georgia originally abolished slavery within its territory, and thereafter, abolition was part of the message of the First Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s in the Thirteen Colonies.

In the end, the Charleston Riot provides a good example of how local events of Coles County history have fit into national currents as well. The Copperheads of Coles County had been different from other dissenting groups from around the country, in that they chose to use physical violence as their method of dissent. By killing Union soldiers, who had become the emblem of Federal government control, the Copperheads were attempting to project their anger toward the government. The draft, a strong central government, and racism fueled the Copperheads support within the county. In March 1864, these national tensions boiled over in the small town of Charleston, creating one of the most interesting events in the history of the county.

See also

Notes

  1. Towne 2006 , p. 43

Sources

Related Research Articles

1864 United States presidential election

The United States presidential election of 1864, the 20th quadrennial presidential election, was held on Tuesday, November 8, 1864. In the midst of the American Civil War, incumbent President Abraham Lincoln of the National Union Party easily defeated the Democratic nominee, former General George B. McClellan, by a wide margin of 221-21 electoral votes, with 55% of the popular vote. For the election, the Republican Party and some Democrats created the National Union Party, especially to attract War Democrats.

In the 1860s, the Copperheads, also known as Peace Democrats, were a faction of Democrats in the Northern United States of the Union who opposed the American Civil War and wanted an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates.

The Radical Republicans were a faction of American politicians within the Republican Party of the United States from around 1854 until the end of Reconstruction in 1877. They called themselves "Radicals" with a sense of a complete permanent eradication of slavery and secessionism, without compromise. They were opposed during the War by the moderate Republicans, by the conservative Republicans, and by the pro-slavery and anti-Reconstruction Democratic Party as well as by conservatives in the South and liberals in the North during Reconstruction. Radicals led efforts after the war to establish civil rights for former slaves and fully implement emancipation. After weaker measures resulted in 1866 in violence against former slaves in the rebel states, Radicals pushed the Fourteenth Amendment and statutory protections through Congress. They disfavored allowing ex-Confederates officers to retake political power in the south, and emphasized equality, civil rights and voting rights for the "freedpeople", i.e. people who had been enslaved by state slavery laws within the United States.

David Tod American businessman, lawyer, diplomat and railroad executive

David Tod was an American politician and industrialist from the U.S. state of Ohio. As the 25th Governor of Ohio, Tod gained recognition for his forceful and energetic leadership during the American Civil War.

The ten percent plan, formally the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, was a United States presidential proclamation issued on December 8, 1863, by United States President Abraham Lincoln, during the American Civil War. By this point in the war, the Union Army had pushed the Confederate Army out of several regions of the South, and some rebellious states were ready to have their governments rebuilt. Lincoln's plan established a process through which this postwar reconstruction could come about.

Richard Yates (politician, born 1815) 1842-1873 American politician and lawyer; father of Richard Yates

Richard Yates was the Governor of Illinois during the American Civil War and has been considered one of the most effective war governors. He took energetic measures to secure Cairo and St. Louis against rebel attack. Nicknamed the "Soldiers' Friend", he helped organize the Illinois contingent of Union soldiers, including commissioning Ulysses S. Grant as a colonel for an Illinois regiment. He supported the Emancipation Proclamation. He also represented Illinois in the United States House of Representatives (1851–1855) and in the U.S. Senate (1865–1871). As a Senator, he voted and spoke in favor of removing of Andrew Johnson from office.

National Union Party (United States) political party

The National Union Party was the temporary name used by the Republican Party for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election which was held during the Civil War. For the most part, state Republican parties did not change their name. The temporary name was used to attract War Democrats and border states, Unconditional Unionists and Unionist Party members who would not vote for the Republican Party. The party nominated incumbent President Abraham Lincoln and for Vice President Democrat Andrew Johnson, who were elected in an electoral landslide.

Popular opposition to the American Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, was widespread. Although there had been many attempts at compromise prior to the outbreak of war, there were those who felt it could still be ended peacefully or did not believe it should have occurred in the first place. Opposition took the form of both those in the North who believed the South had the right to be independent and those in the South who wanted neither war nor a Union advance into the newly declared Confederate States of America.

Lambdin P. Milligan American lawyer

Lambdin Purdy Milligan was a lawyer and farmer who was known for his extreme opinions on states' rights and his opposition to the Lincoln administration's conduct of the American Civil War. Believing that the Confederate states of the South had the power under the U.S. Constitution to secede from the Union, he opposed the war to reunite the nation. Milligan became a leader of the secret Order of American Knights and advocated violent revolution against the U.S. government. U.S. Army forces arrested him at his home and tried him and other conspirators by military commission for disloyalty and conspiracy. Found guilty, he was sentenced to death. A habeas corpus appeal made its way from the federal circuit court in Indianapolis to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1866 ruled that the application of military tribunals to citizens when civil courts are open and operating was unconstitutional. See Ex parte Milligan 71 U.S. 2 (1866). Following the Court's ruling on April 3, 1866, Milligan and the others were released from custody. He returned home and practiced law in Huntington, Indiana, where he later filed a civil suit claiming damages for the military arrest and trial. On May 30, 1871, the jury found in Milligan's favor, but federal and state statutes limited the award for damages to five dollars plus court costs.

Maryland in the American Civil War

During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Maryland, a slave state, was one of the border states, straddling the South and North. Because of its strategic location, bordering the national capital city of Washington D.C. with its District of Columbia since 1790, and the strong desire of the opposing factions within the state to sway public opinion towards their respective causes, Maryland played an important role in the American Civil War (1861-1865). Newly elected 16th President Abraham Lincoln, suspended the constitutional right of habeas corpus in Maryland; and he dismissed the U.S. Supreme Court's "Ex parte Merryman" decision concerning freeing John Merryman, a prominent Southern sympathizer from Baltimore County arrested by the military and held in Fort McHenry. The Chief Justice, but not in a decision with the other justices, had held that the suspension was unconstitutional and would leave lasting civil and legal scars. The decision was filed in the U.S. Circuit Court for Maryland by Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, a Marylander from Frederick and sometimes in Baltimore and former protege of seventh President Andrew Jackson who had appointed him two decades earlier.

New York City in the American Civil War

New York City during the American Civil War (1861–1865) was a bustling American city that provided a major source of troops, supplies, equipment and financing for the Union Army. Powerful New York politicians and newspaper editors helped shape public opinion toward the war effort and the policies of President Abraham Lincoln. The port of New York, a major entry point for immigrants, served as recruiting grounds for the Army. Irish and Germans participated in the war at a high rate.

Orlando Bell Ficklin was a U.S. Representative from Illinois.

Indiana in the American Civil War

Indiana, a state in the Midwest, played an important role in supporting the Union during the American Civil War. Despite anti-war activity within the state, and southern Indiana's ancestral ties to the South, Indiana was a strong supporter of the Union. Indiana contributed approximately 210,000 Union soldiers, sailors, and marines. Indiana's soldiers served in 308 military engagements during the war; the majority of them in the western theater, between the Mississippi River and the Appalachian Mountains. Indiana's war-related deaths reached 25,028. Its state government provided funds to purchase equipment, food, and supplies for troops in the field. Indiana, an agriculturally rich state containing the fifth-highest population in the Union, was critical to the North's success due to its geographical location, large population, and agricultural production. Indiana residents, also known as Hoosiers, supplied the Union with manpower for the war effort, a railroad network and access to the Ohio River and the Great Lakes, and agricultural products such as grain and livestock. The state experienced two minor raids by Confederate forces, and one major raid in 1863, which caused a brief panic in southern portions of the state and its capital city, Indianapolis.

1864 National Union National Convention

The 1864 National Union National Convention was the United States presidential nominating conventions of the National Union Party, which was a name adopted by the main faction of the Republican Party in a coalition with some War Democrats after some-Republicans nominated John Fremont over Lincoln. During the Convention, the party officially called for the end of The Civil War, the eradication of slavery and the adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Harrison Horton Dodd was a founder of the 1860s-era OSL, a paramilitary secret society which was a continuation and/or extension of the KGC. The basic goal of members of the OSL was to thwart the war efforts of the Union military forces, while remaining citizens of the United States.

War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were members of the Democratic Party who supported the Union and rejected the policies of the Copperheads. The War Democrats demanded a more aggressive policy toward the Confederacy and supported the policies of Republican President Abraham Lincoln when the American Civil War broke out a few months after his win in the 1860 presidential election.

Illinois in the American Civil War

The U.S. state of Illinois during the American Civil War was a major source of troops for the Union Army, and of military supplies, food, and clothing. Situated near major rivers and railroads, Illinois became a major jumping off place early in the war for Ulysses S. Grant's efforts to seize control of the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers. Statewide, public support for the Union was high despite Copperhead sentiment.

Charles H. Constable Illinois politician and judge

Charles H. Constable was an American attorney, Illinois State Senator, judge, and real estate entrepreneur. He was raised in Maryland and graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Law. After settling in Illinois, he married the oldest daughter of Thomas S. Hinde, a pioneer and real estate developer. Initially, he practiced law in Mount Carmel, Illinois, the town founded by Hinde. He managed the business and real estate affairs of his father-in-law until Hinde died in 1846.