- US CIVIL WAR
- Civil War Generals-Commanders
- 1891 General Sherman Union League Club New York City History Society Vintage
This historic 123+ year old ORIGINAL vintage article, General Sherman at the Union League, was carefully removed from the Illustrated American Magazine, published in 1891. Article is 3 pages with 1 illustrations / engravings. Page size is 9 x12”. (IA00149) 3/14
Condition: Very Good Condition with some light toning and soiling to the pages due to age.
- General Sherman's chair at the Union League Club
- The Union League Club
The club dates its founding from February 6, 1863, during the Civil War. Tensions were running high in New York City at the time, because much of the city's governing class, as well as its large Irish immigrant population, bitterly opposed the war and were eager to reach some kind of accommodation with the Confederate States of America. Thus, pro-Union men chose to form their own club, with the twin goals of cultivating "a profound national devotion" and to "strengthen a love and respect for the Union."
The Union League (also known as Loyal Leagues) was actually a political movement before it became a social organization. Its members raised money both to support the United States Sanitary Commission, the forerunner of the American Red Cross, which cared for the Union wounded following battles, and the Union cause generally.
The New York League was founded by four prominent professionals and intellectuals: Henry Adams Bellows, Frederick Law Olmsted, George Templeton Strong, and Oliver Wolcott Gibbs. The men, all members of the United States Sanitary Commission, desired to strengthen the nation state and the national identity. They first aimed to recruit a coalition of moneyed professionals like themselves. Strong believed that the club would only thrive with a respectable catalogue of moneyed men. Olmsted especially desired to recruit the new generation of young, wealthy men, so that the club might teach them the obligations and duties of the elite upper class.
The founders aimed to established a political governing elite in support of the Union. They recognized that a centralized government was essential to their prosperity. The national government enforced contracts, tariffs, and an expanding infrastructure, all in the best interest of the professionals in the merchant, financial, and manufacturing classes. These professionals also had a great economic interest in the federal government, because as the war progresses, New York City's elite bore a disproportional amount of the nation's debt. As they bought more and more war bonds, the wealthy had a great economic interest in the success of the Union.
The club held its first official meeting on March 20, 1863. At this first meeting, Robert B. Minturn, head of the nation's second largest shipping firm, was elected president. Some of the elected vice presidents included William H. Aspinwall, Moses Taylor, and Alexander T. Stewart.
It did not take long for the club's enemies to make their displeasure felt with the new organization. On July 13, 1863, just five months after the club's foundation and only days after receiving word of the twin Union victories at Gettysburg and at Vicksburg, the New York Draft Riots exploded right in the club's backyard. The Union League Club was high on the vandals' list of targets, but members kept them at bay by maintaining an armed vigil in the locked and barricaded clubhouse on East 17th Street, just off Union Square Park.
A few months later, the members decided to make an unmistakable gesture that they had not been intimidated. The club decided to recruit, train and equip a Colored infantry regiment for Union service. The 20th U.S. Colored Infantry was formed on Riker's Island in February 1864. The next month, it marched from the Union League Club, down Canal Street and over to the Hudson River piers to embark for duty in Louisiana. In spite of numerous threats, the members of the Union League Club marched with the men of the 20th, and saw them off. During World War I, the club sponsored the 369th Infantry, the famed Harlem Hellfighters, which was commanded by William Hayward, a club member.
During Reconstruction, Union Leagues were formed all across the South. They mobilized freedmen to register to vote. They discussed political issues, promoted civic projects, and mobilized workers opposed to segregationist white employers. Most branches were segregated but there were a few that were racially integrated. The leaders of the all-black units were mostly urban Blacks from the North, who had never been slaves. Foner says "virtually every Black voter in the South had enrolled." Black League members were special targets of the Ku Klux Klan's violence and intimidation, so the Leagues organized informal armed defense units.
After the end of Reconstruction, the Union League Club of New York devoted itself to civic projects and clean government. It and its members helped to found the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and assisted in building the Statue of Liberty and Grant's Tomb.
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