2009 Topps Heritage: the Civil War cards.

We find the 2009 Topps American Heritage cards to be beautifully rendered, and when taken thematically, they make for great learning opportunities with the kids. Taken subject by subject, such as explorers or artists, the set would also make for an excellent homeschool curriculum, with each lesson plan based on a single card or a related group. What follows are all the cards we found in the set (numbering 125) that relate to the Civil War. Please let us know if you think we missed any.

2 Harriet Beecher Stowe. Novelist. Topps text: “Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which first appeared in serial form in the abolitionist weekly paper the The National Era, became the first American novel to sell one million copies. Inspired by her indignation over the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, the work helped solidify militant antislavery sentiment in the North and was a significant factor in precipitating the Civil War.”

The book was seen as contributing to outbreak of the war because its drama and personal detail brought the evils of slavery to the attention of Americans in a powerful, emotionally truthful way for the first time. Legend has is that when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862 he said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War.” The fact is, Stowe was impatient with Lincoln and his insistence that the Union was as important as emancipation. Here is an excellent link to learn more about her life and work.

7 Walt Whitman, Poet. Topps text: “In 1850, Walt Whitman began writing his best known collection of poetry, Leaves of Grass. The first of several editions was published in 1855 and contained his longest and generally considered best poem, 'Song of Myself.'” His connection to the Civil War is not only through poetry (Drum Taps, 'Oh Captain! My Captain!' and 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d') but through action.

For example, he became a mainstay visiting wounded soldiers in hospitals, and wrote in one of his notebooks: “The expression of American personality through this war is not to be looked for in the great campaign, & the battle-fights. It is to be looked for...in the hospitals, among the wounded.” Here is a compelling source of information about the Civil War connection in Walt Whitman's life. (Whitman also is said to have liked the game of baseball, and in an an interview he referred to is as "America's game," adding that it has "the snap, go fling, of the American atmosphere—belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.")

45 Samuel Morse, Inventor. Topps text: “Known for his invention of the electric telegraph in 1836, Samuel Morse also was co-inventor of the worldwide language of telegraphy: Morse code.”

The telegraph of course became crucial to President Lincoln in the Civil War, during which mobile telegraph stations and quickly strung wires began to connect scattered military units. During the Seven Days' Battles in the summer of 1862, General George McClellan sent messages to the War Department telegraph office, and President Lincoln often went there seeking news from the front. The telegraph is also said to have contributed to the failure of a Confederate attack against the (Union) General Burnside when an assault force under General James Longstreet got tangled in Union telegraph wires that had been strung from tree stump to tree stump at Fort Sanders in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Library of Congress page about Samuel Finley Breeze Morse is very good.

47 Eli Whitney, American Inventor. Topps text: “Until Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, workers had to separate the seeds from the fibers by hand. Whitney’s time-saving discovery made the American South a more efficient, economically viable place.”

Although Whitney died 35 years before the Civil War, his most famous invention, the cotton gin, set the economic stage for war by making cotton production more efficient, fueling the need for more Southern slaves and enriching powerful planters. "Another Whitney invention—muskets with interchangeable components—inaugurated manufacturing systems for producing uniform parts," according to PBS, "without which the U.S. economy might never have produced enough weapons to fight such a lengthy war.”

53 Harriet Tubman, Civil Rights Leader. Topps text: "Abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet 'Moses' Tubman escaped from slavery in 1849, then dedicated her life to helping others do the same." She is the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad's 'conductors.' Over ten years she made 19 trips into the South and escorted more than 300 slaves to freedom. As she once pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she "never lost a single passenger."

She was known to have devised techniques to make her 'forays' successful, including using the master's horse and buggy for the first leg of the journey; leaving on a Saturday night, since runaway notices couldn't be placed in newspapers until Monday morning; turning and heading south if she encountered possible slave hunters; and carrying a drug to use on a baby if its crying might put the fugitives in danger. Tubman carried a gun, which she used to threaten the fugitives if they became tired or decided to turn back, telling them, 'You'll be free or die.' "

54 Frederick Douglass, Civil Rights Leader. Topps text: "Abolitionist, orator and journalist Frederick Douglass, who escaped from slavery in 1838, is known as one of the most prominent African-American figures in history." Known widely as a brilliant orator, Douglass was asked by the American Anti-Slavery Society to participate in a tour of lectures, and so became recognized as one of America's first great black speakers.

Douglass served as an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

59 Booker T. Washington, Civil Rights Leader. Topps text: “Educator Booker [Taliaferro] Washington, who as a child was freed from slavery, was selected at age 25 to head the newly established Tuskegee Institute….His autobiography Up From Slavery is still widely read today.”

During his later years, says Africa Within, "such black intellectuals as W.E.B. DuBois…denounced his surrender of civil rights and his stressing of training in crafts, some obsolete, to the neglect of liberal education. Opposition centered in the Niagara Movement, founded in 1905, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which succeeded it in 1910.”

67 Winslow Homer, Painter. Topps text: "Winslow Homer first gained popularity as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly

and contributed to the publication for more than 20 years....Scenes of farm life or coastal activities became his forte, but he also drew praise for his objectivity and realism in hs Civil War depiction, ‘Prisoners from the Front.' "

His early work captured the horror of the Civil War; it wasn't until toward the end of his life that his work captured the peace and serenity of the Maine Coast. Winslow Homer died on September 29, 1910. Prisoners from the Front, 1866, Oil on canvas.

68 Mathew Brady, Photographer. Topps text: "Mathew Brady is renowned for his photogrpahs of celebrities, U.s. presidents and Civil War officers and events....[he is] recognized as the 'father of photojournalism.' "

Brady studied photography under a number of teachers, including Samuel F. B. Morse. By 1844, he had his own photography studio in New York. In 1856, he opened a studio in Washington, D.C. At the peak of his success as a portrait photographer, Brady turned his attention to the Civil War. In 1862, Brady exhibited a series of photographs at his New York gallery, "The Dead of Antietam." The New York Times said Brady had brought forth "the terrible reality and earnestness of war." It was the first time an American battlefield had ever been photographed before the dead had been buried.

69 Thomas Nast, Cartoonist. Topps text: "Considered the father of the American cartoon, German-American Thomas Nast first gained notoriety for his illustrations that attached the corrupt New York City political boss William Tweed...contributing to Tweed's removal in 1872."

It's surprising that Topps does not mention Nast's Civil War works, which are numerous, including 'Army of the Potomac,' 'Civil War Drummer Boy,' 'The Halt,'

'Abraham Lincoln and the Union Christmas,' 'Cavalry Charge,' 'Battle of Vicksburg,' and many more. Nast print from the informative site Son of the South.

77 Charles Sumner, Massachusetts Statesman. Topps text: “Charles Sumner, born in Boston in 1811, was known for his powerful oratory in abolitionist speeches, notably ‘The Crime Against Kansas’ and ‘The Barbarism of Slavery.’ ”

He became a leader of the anti-slavery forces in the Senate.

Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina believed that Sumner had insulted his uncle in his Crime Against Kansas oration. In retaliation, Brooks used his cane to beat Sumner, who was seated at his desk on the Senate floor, to unconsciousness. The caning of Sumner became a symbol in the North of Southern brutality. During the Civil War, Sumner pushed for the emancipation of the slaves and introduced the 13th Amendment to the Senate in 1864.

81 Buffalo Bill Cody. Showman. Topps text: “ ‘Buffalo Bill’ ” Cody, born William Frederick Cody, earned his nickname by killing thousands of buffalo in the late 1860s to help feed railroad workers. As a former Pony Express rider and Civil War soldier, Cody later became well-known for his “Wild West Show” that began touring in 1883.”

During the Civil War, Cody served as a Union scout in campaigns against the Kiowa and Comanche. In 1863, he enlisted with the Seventh Kansas Cavalry, which saw action in Missouri and Tennessee.

88 Tony Pastor, Showman. Topps text: “Showman Tony Pastor, who appeared on stage from his childhood, became a longstanding acrobat, singed and comedian.”

He steadily performed (pro-Union) Civil War songs, including “March for the Union,” “We are Marching to the War,” “Ye Sons of Columbia” and his own compositions, including “The Monitor and the Merrimac,” “The Peaceful Battle of Manassas,” ‘Sumter, the Shrine of the Nation,” and “The Irish Volunteers.”

109 The Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Topps text: “Republican Abraham Lincoln and Democrat Stephen A. Douglas squared off in seven debates during the Illinois senatorial campaign of 1858. The slavery issue dominated the discussions, with Lincoln opposing the practice.” The debates between Douglas and Lincoln were held at seven sites in Illinois during the 1858 campaign for a U.S. Senate seat.

Lincoln held that the U.S. could not survive as half-slave and half-free states; the debates riveted the attention of the entire nation. Although Lincoln would lose the Senate race in 1858, he would beat Douglas out in the 1860 race for the US Presidency. Here is an excellent link about the debates from Civil War.

110 The Emancipation Proclamation. Topps text: “Emboldened by a Union victory at Antietam, President Abraham Lincoln introduced the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. The executive order announced that slaves in Confederate states not under Union control would be freed in 100 days. On January 1, 1863, those states were outlined.” Should the states in rebellion refuse to return to the Union by January 1, 1863, their chattels “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

As a family, we have visited many national parks, but Hagerstown Pike, Burnside Bridge, the Dunker Church, Bloody Lane, the Sunken Road, and the Sherrick and Otto Farms are among the most moving sites we’ve ever seen. Here is the National Park link for Antietam. If you visit, we recommend that you go in a slow month for visitors, such as March.

111 The Treaty at Appomattox Court House. Topps text: “On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army officially surrendered to the Union Army of Ulysses S Grant in a Virginia village known as Appomattox Court House. The signing of the surrender terms—conducted in the parlor of Wilmer McLean’s home—effectively put an end to the American Civil War.”

The formalities lasted four days. The men of Lee's army could return home in safety if they pledged to end the fighting and deliver their arms to the Union Army. The American Heritage card notes that the start of the talks on April 9; but it was on April 12, 1865, in a quiet and emotional ceremony, that Lee’s infantry surrendered arms, folded battle flags, and received parole papers that guaranteed them safe passage home.


dayf said...

Cool post. there's a lot of nifty connections in that set, one pack i got had a card of President Franklin Pierce and General Winfield Scott, his former commander in the Mexican war and opponent in the 1952 Presidential campaign.

Rod said...

This is my favorite set of 2009 so far. I would like to see Topps do this set every year

Kevin said...

This is a great post! I'm something of a US history buff myself, and I read an informative book about Lincoln and Douglas a few years ago (The Long Pursuit by Roy Morris, Jr.). It was fascinating to me that late in the 1860 Presidential campaign, Douglas resigned himself to the fact that Lincoln would win and spent the rest of his time stumping in the South to plead for national unity should Lincoln become President. It was a heroic gesture that's not widely known today.

MMayes said...

Everyone who has read this excellent post (which should be an early nominee for Post of the Year), should get 2 hours of American History credit at the college of your choice.

Linda said...

What a well-written post! I was not familiar with the Topps Heritage cards, but found your post through a Google alert for the word, "Appomattox." You've captured the essence of each event and person through your descriptions. Well done!