Civil War Patriotic Cover/Envelope - Unused cover in very fine, clean condition. Cream colored envelope with likeness of General B. F. Butler. Benjamin Franklin Butler (November 5, 1818 – January 11, 1893) was a lawyer, politician, and soldier. Born in NEw Hampshire and raised in Massachusetts, Butler served in the Massachusetts legislature and as an officer in the state militia. During the American Civil War, Butler served as a major general in the Union Army, in which he helped create the legal idea of effectively freeing fugitive slaves as contraband in service of military objectives. That initiative by Butler eventually led to a political groundswell to include general emancipation and slavery's destruction as official war goals for the Union. However, Butler also became a despised figure in the South during the Union occupation of New Orleans. After the war, he was elected to the Unites States House of Representatives from Massachusetts, and later served as the 33rd Governor of Massachusetts from 1883 to 1884.
During the Civil War, private printers in both the North and South produced a vast array of envelopes featuring iconography designed to promote each side’s war effort. Many of these “covers” featured depictions of soldiers, prominent political leaders, Union or Confederate flags, Miss Liberty, Martha Washington, or even runaway slaves—at least fifteen thousand pro-Union and two hundred fifty pro-Confederate designs appeared between 1861 and 1865. Northern envelopes, typically document the centrality of the preservation of the Union as the key issue that, if unsuccessful, would lead to the destruction of United States, its Constitution, and its way of life. Confederate covers, by contrast, usually illustrate a competing vision of an independent republic free of the “tyranny” of the United States. Each side’s flags and presidents symbolize these two rival viewpoints. Images of presidents Davis and Lincoln, often portrayed as contestants in a boxing match, personalized the contest and served to rally citizens to the cause of southern independence or national preservation. In the course of depicting the events of the period, printers also revealed the impact of the war on females and African Americans. Some envelopes, for example, featured women on the home front engaging in a variety of patriotic tasks that would have been almost unthinkable before the war. African Americans, on the other hand, became far more visible in American popular culture, especially in the North, where Union printers showed them pursuing their own liberation from southern slavery. With more than 180 full-color illustrations, Patriotic Envelopes of the Civil War is a nuanced and fascinating examination of Civil War iconography that moves a previously overlooked source from the periphery of scholarly awareness into the ongoing analysis of America’s greatest tragedy.
These envelopes served as propaganda pieces to sway support for one side or the other, and to bolster partisan spirit among the populace. Patriotic envelopes were also used to educate the masses about the war, and, in fact, served almost a photojournalistic role. Printers would put together a packet with very ornately drawn covers, and they would sell you 10 envelopes and 10 letter sheets with comparable designs.
Inventory Number: DOC 045