Category: Uncategorized

James Miller McKim to Samuel May

McKim sent the following letter to Samuel May on April 9, 1862.

“Phila April 9/62

My dear May:

I have attended to the various [Illegible] Dickinson [illegible] you gave me and I believe all is [illegible] in that direction.

I don’t think we should have any more outbreaks at the north [illegible] abolitionism. Garrison is well & [illegible] but slightly timorous.

I had just remitted $5 to the advocate a day or two before the receipt of your letter informing me that Alfred Webb would now have this collection of publication.

R. D. Webb’s last letter, acknowledging the receipt of some papers I had sent him–did not especially please me. If my European correspondence affords me more pleasure or help at the other side than it does at times, it is hardly worth the time & postage.

I got fond of the English *[1] wonder at the [illegible] with which [illegible] to play, and then amazement at an idolatry of the Union.

Parker Pillsburg is the “clearest [illegible]” writer we have now, as fear from the other side. R.D.W. was delayed with the “[illegible]” of his views in a certain letter to the [illegible] & the Edinburgh [illegible] have [illegible] that letter as a supplement to their annual report. At least I have just rec’d a report upholding the letter as a [illegible] slip as I read the letter it contains statements calculated to make an erroneous impression, and at least one purpose which is therewithal is absurd, and basically must be [illegible]

I hope we will continue to hear good news from you too.

With best regards to Mrs. May and the rest

I am


M McKim”[2]


[1] *You call R.D.W. English-don’t-you?

[2] James Miller McKim to Samuel May, April 9, 1862, Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Manuscript Collection, no. 4601, Box 20, Folder 10, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. [PDF]

John Peck to McKim

John Peck sent the following letter to McKim on October 30, 1860.

“Pittsburgh Oct 30th 1860

Mr James M McKim

Esteemed Friend

I have just this morning succeeded in finding this family of Martin(?) of whome you wrote this story is strictly correct I [illegible] and with his Wife He however has returned however but keeps himself out of the way he is at present [illegible] gave his family street change not to tell his whereabout he is still in [illegible] of apprehension.

Send this letter by a Lady who has been a slave in Missouri and is now endeavoring to collect a sum of money to purchase her little Boys freedom Hers is a genuine case do what you can for her she is worthy of all that may be done for her

Yours as ever

J M Peck


I’m sorry it was not my power to attend the annual meeting of the anti-slavery society it would have given me [illegible] pleasure to have done so”[1]


[1] John M Peck to James Miller McKim, October 30, 1860, Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Manuscript Collection, no. 4601, Box 21, Folder 24, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. [PDF]

Revisions and Suggestions

On Tuesday, I submitted the draft of chapter two of my thesis to the History Department for my presentation on December 11. Even after spending the whole semester working on this chapter, upon rereading it, I realize there are still many parts that are unclear, confusing, and not as well-researched as they could be. When I give my presentation, I will be receiving questions and advice from the department regarding the challenges I am facing in this project. I am hoping that members of the department can advise me in answering the following questions:

  1. When I was looking at newspaper articles, I decided I wanted to use the phrase “the impending crisis” despite its original intent. How can I more clearly explain how the phrase applies to the abolitionists’ struggle between themselves as I move throughout the entirety of the chapter?
  2. I am struggling in switching back and forth between narrative, close reading, and historiography. One specific instance is my discussion of why McKim chose to leave the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. How can I improve my explanation of McKim’s reasons through intertwining these three elements?
  3. I chose to cover quite a few major events that occurred between 1859-1862. The main topics I wanted to cover were the abolitionists’ debates over John Brown’s execution/funeral, secession and the start of the war, and the results of the First Confiscation Act. Did you find these years and events effective, or was I trying to cover too much material? How can I better link these events together?


One of the main things I have struggled with is working on my thesis every day. Having such a large project looming over my head is intimidating, so I tend to deal with it by doing all my other work and then devoting all my time left to the thesis. The problem with that, however, is that by the time I get around to my thesis, the week is almost over, and I have five or six fewer days to do the work I was supposed to do over the course of seven days. Talking to other seniors with looming theses, I realized I am not the only student struggling to meet the demands of a thesis while also enjoying the process and not becoming overwhelmed. I attempted to work on my thesis every day for the past two and a half weeks, and it made such a difference. For fellow seniors or anyone with an impending deadline, here are some tips I have been working on to make the process less daunting.

  1. Try to do a little bit every day–I was not entirely successful in this endeavor, but working all but five days in the past two and a half weeks made a huge difference in my thesis and my overall mindset. I felt much more on top of my deadlines and am more confident in the work I produced.
  2. Create small tasks for each day–I struggled with working on my thesis the first few days mostly because I was forcing myself to do too much. I found that even just making small tasks for each day to keep myself thinking about the thesis was incredibly helpful because it made me realize I did not have to do everything each time I sat down to work on it.
  3. Not finishing each task is okay–Because I like to start and finish projects in one sitting and will work for hours straight to make that happen, I often have a hard time allowing myself to take breaks and to not finish a task in one day. Reminding myself that I can hold off on a task and work on another one instead or do half of one and half of another has allowed me to get more work done because the pressure to finish each task is not as high.
  4. Just write–I have a tendency to think about essays in my head and plan them out all in my head until I feel comfortable enough to write them out on paper or run out of time. This often leads me to procrastinate papers because even though I spend hours working on a paper way in advance, I rarely have much if anything on paper until the day or a couple days before a deadline. Professor Pinsker told me at the beginning of the semester that I need to get out of my head and just write, and that has honestly been some of the most encouraging advice I have received. I still have a lot to work on in forcing myself to just write, but I can already see a big difference in my work when I write in advance as compared to when I plan in my head until the deadline.
  5. It is okay to ask questionsIf you have a question, do not be afraid to ask. This has been another one of my main stumbling blocks because I try to solve problems and then if I cannot solve them, I push them off until I run out of time instead of asking for help or advice. There is nothing wrong in recognizing someone else’s expertise and asking them questions.

I am still working on each and every one of these pieces of advice. While I am making significant progress, I still have a long way to go. Hopefully these tips can help you as much as they have been helping me.

McKim’s Eulogy

In my research for this week, I attempted to find the eulogy McKim gave at John Brown’s funeral. While I have yet to find the eulogy itself, I did find some sources that quoted it. I searched through Dickinson College’s Jumpstart with keywords like “McKim,” “John Brown,” “funeral,” and “eulogy.” When that returned no helpful results, I went to Google Scholar and searched with variations of those keywords. Based on that search, I found two newspaper articles that discussed the funeral and a secondary source that quoted from his eulogy.


By searching through the New York Daily Tribune archives database, I found a transcript of McKim’s speech. While the article does not say what McKim said word for word, it provides a detailed summary of McKim’s eulogy. I found the December 12, 1859 article by searching for “McKim” and narrowing the date from December 2, 1859 to December 31, 1859. I only had a few results, so I searched through them individually until I found this article.