Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Captain’s Soulé’s Book

Lyman Soulé's Book
A neighbor came over with a book question. She was sorting through her library and came across an old Latin textbook with a publication date of 1844. “Was that right,” she asked? Yes. Gail was also curious if the markings an earlier owner had made in it could be made more easy to read.

What she could tell was that the book was once owned by Lyman Soulé, who also wrote that he lived in Newton Falls, Ohio. That was an easy bit of genealogy work. Lyman T. Soulé was born in Massachusetts in 1832, and he died in Newton Falls, Ohio in 1897. He would have been twelve when the book was published, which means it was probably the latest thing in Latin for students at the time.

The "Captain" comes from the Civil War. He was an druggest with no previous military experience. He enlisted as a First Sergeant on with the Ohio 171st Infantry on May 5, 1864, but less than a month later he was promoted to Captain (June 3, just over 150 years ago). He mustered out that August, with less than four months in the military.

She let me flip through the book. I noticed that he had dates in the margins. You could tell when he studied various lessons. (When she offered to loan me the book, I was tempted, as it would be interesting to see what other marginalia he made, but I’ve had too many distractions today as it is.)

I showed her that the marginalia could be made more readable by scanning the page. Looking at the page, I could barely make out the words. Scanned and enlarged, they were clearer. Enhanced, I could read more of what Lyman had written in his book. \
Now single—but—will soon have the “Matrimonial heart” so that it ever [unclear word] He [unclear]
Ah Love!!!
One of the Black republicans
Gail had wondered about one phrase, since Soulé had signed himself “one of the Black republicans.” I pointed out that this was a term that the Democrats had applied to the Republicans for their abolitionist principles. Once meant as a term of derision, Soulé was probably adopting it as a term of honor.

I’ve read some of the claims that Democrats made about abolition in the era before the Civil War. They made a lot of claims that probably even seemed ridiculous then (such as that the Republicans would be marrying the daughters of former slave owners to former slaves). In a way, these almost absurd apocalyptic claims remind me of some of the wild-eyed claims made by opponents of same-sex marriage (ranging from removing the tax exemptions of churches that won’t perform same-sex weddings to arresting clergy who won’t officiate). But just like the claims of those opposed to abolition, the claims of those opposed to same-sex marriage have shown to lack any merit.

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