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150 Years Ago: Tuesday, July 9, 1861

In the U.S. Senate, Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull submits a resolution to honor the late Senator Stephen A. Douglas. It has been over a month since Douglas died, but House and Senate members will spend the next few days giving addresses on “The Little Giant” and his impact on the country.

During a drill at Camp Clark a caisson explodes, killing two men and wounding three others. To the volunteers, it’s the first time they see the true effects of gun powder.

The U.S. House of Representatives passes a resolution that “In the judgement of this House it is not part of the duty of the soldiers of the United States to capture and return fugitive slaves.” This is the first movement of the Union towards emancipation. However, it is only a resolution and is not binding. This means Union officers and soldiers can still enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which returns runaway slaves to their owners. Many military officers will react positively to this resolution, as they are already dealing with hostile slave owners demanding that the Union military track down and return runaway slaves.

Tonight, U.S. President Lincoln and his wife Mary host a White House reception. A newspaper reports that “The military display was very brilliant, and the ladies never made a finer appearance. Mrs. Lincoln attracted universal attention by her graceful bearing and high social qualities. Generals and Colonels were as thick as blackberries.”

A mother of four girls, Rose O’Neal Greenhow, was born a Marylander but is now a part of high society in Washington City. Her father had been killed by his slaves in 1817; her husband, who at one point had worked in the State Department, had passed away a few years ago. Since that time she had befriended Presidents, Senators and high-ranking military officers. One of her closest companions is John C. Calhoun, a leading politician from South Carolina and an ardent supporter of the Confederate cause. Today, Rose passes a secret message to Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard. The message contains critical information regarding a plan of attack by Union General Irvin McDowell, which is to soon take place at Manassas.

Daily Civil War Calendar

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