Specializing in Authentic Civil War Artifacts
  • Civil War Patriotic Envelope

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    Civil War Patriotic Cover/Envelope - Unused cover in very fine, clean condition. Cream colored envelope with likeness Parson Brownslow.  The Right to the Last.  "We are on the side of the Government in which we live.  We are for the old American union, and desire the success of her arms over all who have rebelled against the laws of the land." William Gannaway "Parson" Brownlow was an American newspaper editor, minister, and politician. He served as Governor of Tennessee from 1865 to 1869 and as a United States Senator from Tennessee from 1869 to 1875. He rose to prominence in the 1840s as editor of the Whig, a polemical newspaper that promoted Whig Party ideals and opposed secession in the years leading up to the Civil War. Brownlow's uncompromising and radical viewpoints made him one of the most divisive figures in Tennessee political history and one of the most controversial politicians of the Reconstruction-era South.

    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 048