Artifact of the Month – Cigar Case

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The artifact of the month for January is one of the new pieces that came to us last year.  It is a cigar case constructed of two lacquered papier-mâché panels connected with an accordian-like fabric lining.  On one side is an image of Queen Victoria while the other side shows a sailor branding a slave, underneath which is written “Extinction of Slavery–Civilisation of Africa.”

Although not certain of the exact history of this particular cigar case and the purpose for the images, we do know that the image on this case very closely resembles Nathaniel Currier’s lithograph titled “Branding Slaves”.  Nathaniel Currier began the company that eventually came to be Currier & Ives, who were very well known for their lithographs.  It is thought that Currier’s lithograph was based on the painting “Scenes on the Coast of Africa” by François-Auguste Baird, who was an outspoken opponent of slavery and the slave trade.   Read more

The Difference Between Pirates, Privateers and Buccaneers Pt. 1

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Greetings readers, and welcome back to the Library blog. As we delve deeper into the realm of piracy, a lot of potentially confusing terms are used to make sense of the men and women who struggled over wealth in the late 17th and early 18th century Caribbean. Terms like Pirate, Buccaneer, and Privateer crop up with noticeable frequency, and are often used as synonyms. However, each of these terms has a separate and distinct meaning, even if the people these terms are applied to are too complex for any one title. Therefore, I would be happy to tell you the difference between a Buccaneer, a Pirate, and a Privateer.

Greetings readers, and welcome back to the Library blog. As we delve deeper into the realm of piracy, a lot of potentially confusing terms are used to make sense of the men and women who struggled over wealth in the late 17th and early 18th century Caribbean. Terms like Pirate, Buccaneer, and Privateer crop up with noticeable frequency, and are often used as synonyms. However, each of these terms has a separate and distinct meaning, even if the people these terms are applied to are too complex for any one title. Therefore, I would be happy to tell you the difference between a Buccaneer, a Pirate, and a Privateer.

New Civil War letter

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We recently unearthed another Civil War letter in our archives.  The letter was written by Charles Pye to Colonel Thomas Millar on October 4, 1862.  In the letter, Pye requests that his slave, oxen, and cart be returned to him after they were confiscated by Union cavalry.  Pye lived near Port Tobacco, Maryland and his slave was caught transporting supplies to a landing on the Potomac River in an apparent attempt to send them across the river to Confederates in Virginia.  A Union cavalry patrol seized Pye’s slave, cart, and oxen.  This letter represents Pye’s attempts to have his property returned to him.

Pye’s letter opens up many questions regarding the confiscation of slave property by Union forces.  This is especially true considering that Pye lived in Maryland which never seceded from the Union.   Read more