1. First quote: Critic-Record, Washington, DC, September 12, 1873, second quote: Report of Committees of the House of Representatives for the Second Session of the Forty-Second Congress. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1872. [See Shiner testimony on pages 471-473.]
2. District of Columbia Department of Education, Special Report of the Commissioner of Education on the Condition of Public Schools in the District of Columbia, Submitted to the Senate June 6, 1868 and to the House with Additions June 13, 1870. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1870): 215, 221.
3. Significant racial tension was evident at the Washington Navy Yard from its beginning as the Navy Department attempted with limited success to manage a workforce consisting of white mechanics and laborers, free African Americans and significant numbers of slaves. See Dudley, page 524 and Sharp pages 16-17.
4. Commandant Isaac Hull's letter to the Naval Board of Commissioners, dated 5 April 1830, National Archives and Records Administration RG 45.
5. Commandant Isaac Hull's letter to the Board of Naval Commissioners, dated 8 May 1829, National Archives and Records Administration RG 45.
6. Navy Yard Hill was for most of the 19th century the residential area immediately around the Washington Navy Yard. Capitol Hill was the name for the area as far east as 6th Street Southeast, after which it was called Navy Yard Hill.
7. The Congressional Cemetery was established in 1802. Among the cemetery founders was Commodore Thomas Tingey. Many of the early employees of Washington Navy Yard are buried within its grounds, including Thomas Howard, Michael Shiner's master. The cemeteries of Washington DC, like nearly everything else in the District were strictly segregated with African Americans excluded until well into the 20th century. Michael Shiner was buried in Beckelts Cemetery on January 17, 1880, Archives of the District of Columbia, District of Columbia, Death Certificate, number 22895.
8. Lloyd Pumphrey, 1795 -1838 the son and heir of William Pumphrey was a District of Columbia building contractor.
9. The United States Army in June 1812, totaled just 6,744 officers and men. While the Congress had authorized a greater force for later that year, the country still relied on the militia system of uniformed state citizen-soldiers who were all volunteers with their own elected officers. Uniforms and weapons were supplied either by the men themselves or by their officers. The Washington Navy Yard had its own Navy Yard Rifle Company (later named Stull's Rifle Company), but like most militia companies, the Yard's unit had more enthusiasm than military skill. Benjamin Latrobe who knew the Yard well wrote (1807) that "Upon the whole I find that Navy Yard cannot produce a single good rifleman" See 1834, page 57 of the diary for Michael Shiner's comments on another group of District militia.
10. Wheelers Ferry was located across the Anacostia River.
11. Commodore Joshua Barney 1759-1818 was born in Baltimore, MD. He fought in numerous engagements in the American Revolution. Barney also fought in the War of 1812 and took part in the defense of Washington. He was badly wounded at the Battle of Bladensburg and taken prisoner by the British. Barney died in 1818 while traveling to his new property in Pittsburgh, PA.
12. The Battle of Bladensburg, MD, was fought on 24 August 1814. During the engagement the American militia and regular army units were defeated by British troops, and British forces were able to enter Washington, DC and burn the Capitol and White House. Commodore Thomas Tingey and other Navy Yard employees burned the Washington Navy Yard less it fall into British hands. The battle was derisively referred to as the "Bladensburg Races" due to the overwhelming British victory and hasty American retreat.
13. The Congreve rocket was named for the inventor William Congreve. The rocket consisted of an iron case of black power for propulsion and either an explosive or incendiary charge. The warheads were attached to wooden guide poles and were launched in pairs. They could be fired up to two miles although at any range they were fairly inaccurate and had a tendency to prematurely explode. They were as much a psychological weapon as a physical one for they were rarely if ever used except alongside other types of artillery. They were used at Battle of Fort McHenry, hence the "rockets' red glare" in our National Anthem.
14. The freezing cold and disease Michael Shiner refers to is confirmed in local and national records. In 1815 Mount Tambura on the island of Sumbawa (modern Indonesia) erupted killing perhaps 100,000 people and throwing immense amounts of ash and volcanic particles into the earth's atmosphere which led to drastic changes in weather patterns around the world. The year 1816 became know as "the poverty year," "eighteen hundred and froze to death," and "the year with no summer." Temperatures in Washington DC in June and July of 1816 were only in the low 60's. The damage to local crops and livestock caused by killing freezes in July and August drove farm prices up (e.g. oats went from 12 cents to 92 cents a bushel) and caused wide spread hunger and malnutrition among the poor of the District, leading to outbreaks of disease. The situation did not begin to improve until 1817.
15. Descriptions and records of weather occupy a large portion of Shiner's manuscript and were a major interest, and an important factor in his work life, and that of his colleagues. Changes in weather were crucial since most Washington Navy Yard employees worked out of doors, especially laborers and slaves. The workforce was primarily composed of per diem workers, and the practice at Washington Navy Yard and other federal shipyards was to retain only the absolute number of these men necessary for a given shop to operate or complete a ship repair. Accurate weather observations were therefore useful in projecting the number and types of workers required. Cold weather meant that large numbers of laborers (unlike carpenters painters and blacksmiths who could work indoors in a shop or shed) would be laid off until warmer weather made outdoor projects feasible. Early records reflect this trend as work was often reduced by 20% or more during the winter months (American State Papers, Volume 1: 848). Commandant Isaac Hull recognized this as a problem and did his best to keep as many laborers on the station rolls through the winter as possible observing that: "They have large families and can not make a cent to support them except what they receive from their labor at this yard. If I discharge them now I see no way for them to live through the winter." Maloney, Linda M. The Captain from Connecticut: The Life and Naval Times of Isaac Hull. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1986 p. 422.
16. The Reverend Payton's full name was Yelverton T. Peyton (1797 - 1831). He was the pastor of the Ebenezer Methodist Church in 1822 and 1823 when Michael Shiner attended the watch service he records. Lloyd Pumphrey and various members of his family were members of Ebenezer Methodist Church. Phillis Shiner and her children were slaves of the Pumphrey family. The Ebenezer Methodist Church was locate between 4th and G Streets. A "watch meeting" also known as a watch night service, is the New Year service where the many Methodist and other District churches congregations met to pray in the New Year. This information was kindly supplied by Ms. Gale Munro; see also Ferguson, W. M. (Rev.), Methodism in Washington.
17. Colonel William Doughty 1773 -1859 worked for many years as a naval constructor (similar to naval architect) at the Washington Navy Yard. He was popular among many Washington Navy Yard mechanics and laborers, and was supportive of the 1835 strike. That same year, Washington Navy Yard Commandant Isaac Hull appealed to the Board of Naval Commissioners unsuccessfully to have Doughty removed. William Doughty's career as a shipbuilder was long and very successful. In 1850 his real property was stated to be worth $35,000 (Source: 1850 US census of Washington, DC.).
18. Benjamin King (1764-1840) was for many years the Washington Navy Yard's Master Blacksmith. King was born on the Isle of Man and immigrated to the United States as a young man. King was first appointed Master Blacksmith in 1804 by Commodore Thomas Tingey and by 1817 his annual salary was $1,500.00 per year. King did much of the early iron work for the nation's capitol and held numerous District public offices. As Master Blacksmith, he supervised the anchor shop, which employed as many as 19 slaves (including 5 owned and leased to Washington Navy Yard by King). In 1830, Washington Navy Yard Commandant Isaac Hull unsuccessfully appealed to the Board of Naval Commissioners to remove Benjamin King for alleged incompetence. Benjamin King was later demoted to a non-supervisory position. King died in 1840 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
19. The Long Bridge was built in 1808 and was a toll bridge. The bridge was nearly a mile in length and by the late 1820's, the time of Michael Shiner journey, the bridges wood supports had begun to rot, making walking precarious.
20. The Washington Navy Yard Daily Log for 1827 provides the official Yard account of the fire at Alexandria, Virginia, Thursday, 18 January 1827 - These 24 hours fresh gales from the N.W. very severe cold frost morning. Laborers Riggers Ordinary Men Carts & Oxen working as above until half past 11 o'clock A.M. when Bell rung a letter from the Secretary of the Navy read aloud to the Workmen requesting Commandant Tingey to send all the force within his power to Alexandria to extinguish a large fire that took place there; the men took two fire engines and proceeded to Alexandria where they arrived about two o'clock; at about 3 o'clock they had orders from Capt. Booth to proceed home with the fire engines as all fire was extinguished by the exertions of the people of Alexandria City of Washington & Georgetown; they got the engines back to the Navy Yard about 5 o'clock PM. One of the Engineers got broke in some respect in going down but was temporary mended.
21. The mizzen mast was the after most mast in a three masted ship. The shrouds were standing rigging which stretched from the side of the ship to the mast, which, together with the staysails, held the mizzen mast vertical.
22. Rigging Screws were used to hold rigging. This was the general name used to hold masts, spars.
23. Samuel Southard was Secretary of the Navy from 16 September 1823 to 3 March 1929.
24. "[Page 20] Friday - Independence Day Chesapeake and Ohio Canal commenced. . .Between seven and eight this morning I went with my son John to the Union Hotel of Georgetown where were assembling the President and Director of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, the Mayor and Committees of the Corporations of Washington, Georgetown and Alexandria. The Heads of the Departments, foreign ministers and a few other invited persons. About eight o'clock a procession was formed and proceeded by a Band of music to the wharf where we embarked in the Steam boat Surprise; followed by two others we proceeded to the entrance of the Potomack Canal and up there on canal boats . . . to a spot selected for breaking the ground. The President of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal with a very short address delivered to me the Spade with which I broke the ground addressing the surrounding auditory consisting perhaps of two thousand persons. It happened that at first stroke of the spade it met immediately under the surface with a large stump of tree, after repeating the stroke three or four times without making any impression, I threw off my coat and resuming the Spade, raised a shovel full of the Earth, at which a general shout broke forth from the surrounding multitude, and I completed my address which occupied about fifteen minutes. . . [Page 21] . . . The incident that chiefly relieved me was the obstacle of the stump, which met and rejected the spade and my casting off my coat to overcome the resistance - It struck the eye and fancy of the spectators, more then all the rhetoric in my speech and diverted their attention from the stammering haste taken of a deficient memory."
John Quincy Adams diary 36, 1 January 1825 - 30 September 1830, pages 20 and 21 [electronic edition]. The Diaries of John Quincy Adams: A Digital Collection. Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2004. [Available online at http://www.masshist.org/jqadiaries.]
25. Commodore Thomas Tingey (like many prosperous naval officers) owned a number of slaves. In the 1820 District of Columbia U.S. census, he is described as owning five slaves. His slave footman was not the first to feel his wrath. Tingey was a rough and even brutal master; something of his attitude toward his slaves can be glimpsed in his 1821 reward notice for his runaway slave, Sukey Dean:
Whereas my servant Surrey calling herself Sukey Dean is strolling about the city, or in the vicinity sometimes attempting to hire herself out as a free women asserting she has my assent to do so; neither are true. She is short thick women of a yellow complexion now advancing to forty years of age, is a very good family cook, washes and irons well and understands the management of same - in short if her tongue were safely extracted she would be a most excellent servant. She has been a short time at the residence of Samuel H. Smith Esq. but finding that I assented to her remaining there immediately left. But whosoever will secure her in jail or otherwise of the three days advertisement in the city newspapers sells her at public venue for cash shall have on fourth of what she sells for in full cash less any charges.
Navy Yard Washington
16 August 1821)
26. At sea the boatswain would use a "starter," which was the end of thickly mounted rope to hit, whip or strike sailors to induce them to do something. In this instance it clearly appears to have been used to discipline Washington Navy Yard slaves.
27. Commodore John Rodgers (1772-1837) had a long and distinguished naval career. He served in both the Quasi War with France and in the War of 1812, and was later President of The Board of Naval Commissioners. The Board was a United States Navy administrative body in existence from 1815 to 1842, with responsibility for the Navy's material support. Commodore Rodgers was President of the Board from 1815 to 1824 and again from 1827 to1837.
28. The 1870 report on District of Columbia Schools (see page 274) gives the location as near "Eight Street between N and O Street in the Northern section of the City a location known as 'Nigger Hill' at that time center of a large colored population."
29. The Piscataway Creek is a tributary of the Potomac River located in Prince Georges County, Maryland.
30. From the Washington Navy Yard's surviving Daily Station Logs for the year 1828 there are two entries recording Michael Shiner activities. For Saturday 27 December1828, the officer of the watch, recorded: "Michael Shiner who has liberty out from Wednesday till Friday Morning has not come to the yard" Again on Sunday 28 December 1828, we read: " This day pleasant airs from the SW and fair weather. Michael Shiner got home this evening."
31. Traditionally the term Jolly Boat refers a boat carried on a ship, powered by 4 or six oars and occasionally yawl rigged sails.
32. Salvadore Catalano was a native of Palermo, Sicily. He served as pilot to Captain Stephen Decatur during the Navy's burning of Tripoli during Barbary Pirate Wars. On Captain Decatur's return to the Washington Navy Yard, Catalano chose to stay with the US Navy and was promoted to sailing-master. He worked for many years at the Yard and Michael Shiner would have known him well. He died 4 March 1846.
33. Commodore Isaac Hull commanded the Washington Navy Yard from 31 March 1829 to 1 October 1835.
34. The new Yard Commandant, Isaac Hull, made many changes upon assuming command in 1829. Isaac Hull was a former Captain of the USS Constitution and hero of the War of 1812. He was known for running a "tight ship", in contrast to Commandant Tingey (who was popular with the men) and was of a more taciturn disposition. In 1835, he was nearly 60 years old and suffering from acute hearing loss due to his many exposures to cannon and shell noise. After his appointment as Commandant, Hull rapidly found that mechanics at the Yard enjoyed many freedoms he was unfamiliar with in setting work priorities. Hull's subsequent actions to restrict the mechanics' customary practices, combined with the Washington Navy Yard mechanics' demand for a ten hour work day, led to the strike of 1835.
35. This solar eclipse was widely seen in the United States and for many people was a sign of dread and foreboding. An unsuccessful motion was even made in the U.S. House of Representatives to adjourn for the occasion. The black enslaved preacher Nat Turner saw this same eclipse as a vision from God of a "black angel" overtaking a "white angel." Turner's slave rebellion gained impetus among other slaves and, on 13 August Turner saw yet another spectacle - a sunspot visible to the naked eye. His rebellion began on 21 August but was quickly crushed and he and some of followers were executed. See: Lewis P Masur 1831: The Year of the Eclipse.
36. Basil Brown was born in Maryland in 1803. He manumitted prior to 1850 and worked as a laborer. He is listed in the 1870 Washington, DC census, which states that he then owned property worth $3,000.00.
36a. Camboose is an older nautical term for a metal ship's kitchen constructed to prevent a fire aboard wooden war ships. These kitchens were constructed at Washington Navy Yard.
37. The "Ordinary house" is where the ordinary seamen were lodged when stationed at a naval yard or in transit to another station.
38. In hitting his master back, Michael Shiner risked at the very least, a severe beating, but by playing "crazy" he managed to convince Captain Aulick (and apparently Thomas Howard) not to discipline him. See page 37 of the Diary where Michael Shiner adopted a similar strategy when he struck Clement Hewitt, a District magistrate.
39. Captain John H. Aulick was the Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard from 7 March 1843 to 21 February 1841.
40. Thomas Howard, Sr. was the Washington Navy Yard's Chief Clerk. Howard was Michael Shiner's owner from 1828 to 1832. The Thomas Howard family had at least four other slaves in addition to Michael Shiner, they were: Louisa Barton, John Davis, Maria Cartwright and Maria's two children Ann Sophia and Joseph Cartwright. Source: Will of Thomas Howard, of Washington Co., DC, dated 18 Nov. 1832, probated 21 Dec., in Book 4, pages 172-173(173-174), located in Record Group 2, Records of the Superior Court, District of Columbia Archives; also see District of Columbia Government, the Congressional Cemetery, 1621, Box 11. Thomas Howard's mother was in her 70's in 1831. The Howard residence was located on the northeast corner of 3rd and E Street.
41. In 1832 cholera was a relatively new disease, having just arrived in the United States from Asia by way of Europe. While there is no exact mortality figures for Washington, DC, in 1832 the disease killed over 3,000 people in New York and over 4,000 in New Orleans.
42. Michael Shiner is referring to the "Nullification Crisis" which was initiated by South Carolina's threat to succeed from the Union. President Jackson's strong response (which Shiner supported) ended the crisis.
43. John Armfield and Isaac Franklin were the nation's most notorious slave dealers. The firm's slave pen was located at 1315 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia, and managed by John Armfield. Isaac Franklin established and ran the firm's markets at Natchez and New Orleans. By the 1830s they were sending more than 1,000 slaves annually from Alexandria to their Natchez and New Orleans markets to help meet the demand for slaves in Mississippi and surrounding states. Franklin and Armfield's procedure was to send an annual overland coffle, or slave caravan, from Virginia to their Forks of the Road market near Natchez, Mississippi. If Phillis Shiner and her children had not gained their freedom they would almost certainly have been forced into a slave coffles leaving Alexandria,VA, in mid to late summer and forcibly taken through to Natchez, Mississippi, and the Forks of the Road slave market where they would have been sold to the highest bidder. During such overland marches male slaves were usually manacled and chained together in double files and were under the close supervision of mounted drivers. Women such as Phillis Shiner would have walked while their children and injured slaves rode in the wagons that accompanied the coffle. The white males guarding the coffles were normally armed with both guns and whips. In the period between 1825 and 1830 the average price for young adult male slaves in Virginia was $400. In contrast, Isaac Franklin sold four slaves (sex unspecified) at the Forks of the Road in 1826-27 for $700, $600, $500 and $450.
44. The proper reference is to a writ of attachment, which is a court order allowing a party to seize to take into custody another person's property (in the case of slavery, another person's slave).
45. The manumission reads as follows,
Know all me by these presents that I Levi Phumphrey of the city of Washington in the District of Columbia for divers good and sufficient causes me thereun to moving have manumitted emancipated set free and relieved from Slavery a negro women named Phillis and her three children named Ann Harriet and Mary Ann purchased by me at the sale of my father’s property the said Phillis being at the time age about twenty five years and her three children aged as follows Ann about four years - Harriet about three years and Mary Ann about four months the said Negro women Phillis is in good health and entirely competent to obtain livelihood for herself and children by her own labor. And that I do by these presents manumit emancipate set free and discharge from Labor & Slavery the said Phillis and her three children. In witness whereof I have hereto subscribe my name and affix my seal the 11th day of June in the year of our Lord one Thousand - Eight Hundred and thirty-three. (District of Columbia Free Negro Registers 1821 1861, Volume 2, pp.255 -256, NARA RG 21.)
Levi Pumphrey’s former slave “Hanson”, remembered “I was owned by Levi Pumphrey an old man with one eye, a perfect savage; he allowed no privileges of any kind, Sunday or Monday.” (Stills, William, The Underground Railroad (Revised Edition), Volume 2, Philadelphia: William Stills, 1886, p.115.)
46. See footnote 39.
47. William Ellis, Washington Navy Yard engineer, was born in Pennsylvania in 1807. He moved to Washington, DC, and later ran a successful business with brother Jonas Ellis at which manufacturing steam engines.
48. Michael Shiner was observing the "Leonid Meteor Shower." Another observer noted, "On the night of November 12-13 1833 a tempest of falling stars broke over the Earth... The sky was scored in every direction with shining tracks and illuminated with majestic fireballs. At Boston the frequency of meteors was estimated to be about half that of flakes of snow in an average snowstorm. Their numbers... were quite beyond counting; but as it waned a reckoning was attempted from which it was computed on the basis of that much-diminished rate that 240,000 must have been visible during the nine hours they continued to fall." From: Agnes Clerke Victorian Astronomy Writer. [This information was supplied by Peter Jennisken, Ph.D., of NASA in an email to John Sharp, dated June 20, 2007.]
49. Joseph M. Padgett (1808 - 1865), Master Laborer, survived his fall to later become overseer of the yard laborers. Padgett was also one of the founders of Washington Navy Yard Beneficial Society, an organization which helped Yard workers with funeral expenses and provided for their widows and orphans. He is buried at Congressional Cemetery. His son (also named Joseph M. Padgett) worked at the Washington Navy Yard for over 50 years, retiring in 1920.
50. The orders to which Michael Shiner refers to are as follows: " The Mechanics and laborers employed in the Yard with the exception of the Anchor Smiths & Engineers are prohibited entering the Workshops Ship houses and other places where the public property tools are deposited during the hours allotted for meals. The Mechanics & laborers are forbidden to bring their meals into the Yard either in baskets bags or otherwise and none will be permitted to eat their meals within the Yard unless specifically permitted by the Commandant. The Anchor Smith Foundry men & attendants of the Steam Engines are so permitted wherever their fires are kept during meal hour " General Orders for the Regulation of the Navy Yard, Washington, DC (circa 1833 - 1850 Washington Navy Yard, orders no. 13 and 14].
51. Israel Jones lived in Baltimore, Maryland; his residence was on Forest Street, North of Douglass. Jones was a free black and foremen of the Baltimore-based caulking crew that Commandant Isaac Hull had brought to the Washington Navy Yard.
52. Michael Shiner refers here to the strike for a ten hour workday that took place that year at most federal shipyards. This movement began in the Philadelphia shipyard and rapidly spread down the eastern seaboard. While the Washington Navy Yard strikers failed to win a ten hour day that year, their names were later restored to the yard rolls and President Martin Van Buren in 1840 issued an executive order placing all federal shipyards on a ten hour workday.
The Yard strikers (as Michael Shiner wrote) blamed Commodore Isaac Hull for bringing in black caulkers from Baltimore, Maryland. These strikers believed that black workers were to be used to break their strike. This and other incidents exacerbated always simmering racial tension in Washington, and Washington Navy Yard white mechanics and laborers went on a three day rampage in which they threatened blacks and broke up their businesses and property. After days of disorder and riot, President Andrew Jackson ordered a company of US Marines to restore order.
52a. The "young mulatto" man was Arthur Bowen, 18 years old, and a slave to Mrs. Anna Thorton. Based on Mrs Thorton's accusation that Bowen tried to murder her, Arthur Bowen was tried and convicted of attempted murder. The prosecutor in the Bowen case for the District of Columbia was Francis Scott Key, the author of the "Star Spangled Banner." Mrs. Thornton eventually had second thoughts regarding her accusations and wrote to President Andrew Jackson a long letter, urging Jackson to pardon Bowen, which President Jackson did on 4 July 1836.
53. American historians have pointed out that the year 1835 saw more urban riots (53) than in any year prior to the Civil War. As in the case of the Washington DC riot described by Shiner, most of these riots were the result of white mobs attacking blacks or as in the Baltimore City riot of that same year, mobs attacking "foreigners" (i.e. Irish Catholics). See Daniel Howe, page 431.
54. James Marshall was a Washington, DC, Ward 6 blacksmith who also acted as a Justice of the Peace.
55. The Judge is here issuing a threat to the attackers. As a slave Shiner had virtually no legal rights as an individual and was considered an item of personal property. Although Shiner had no rights of redress personally against his attackers, his owner, Thomas Howard, had the right to bring civil legal action for compensatory damages against Shiner's attackers for any injury received by Shiner.
56. Captain John Gallagher relieved Commodore Isaac Hull as Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard. Gallagher served as Commandant from 1 October 1835 to 1 March 1836.
57. Captain Henry E. Ballard was Commandant of Washington Navy Yard from 1 October 1849 to 15 October 1852.
58. Captain Daniel Patterson was the Washington Navy Yard Commandant from 1 March 1836 to 25 August 1839.
59. In 1840 President Martin Van Buren, by Executive Order changed work hours in federal naval ship yards from 12 to 10 per day. The order as implemented on the Washington Navy Yard stated "By Direction of the President of the United States all public establishments will hereafter be regulated as to working hours by the "ten hour System". The hours for labor in this Yard will therefore be as follows viz: From the 1st day of April to the 30th day of September inclusive from 6 o'clock a.m. to 6 o'clock p.m. -- during this period the workmen will breakfast before going to work for which purpose the bell will be rung and the first muster held at 7 o'clock -- at 12 o'clock noon the bell will be rung and then home from 12 to 1 o'clock p.m. allowed for dinner from which to 6 o'clock p.m. will constitute the last half of the day.
From the 1st day of October to the 31st day of March the working hours will be from the rising to the setting of the Sun -- the Bell will then be rung at one hour after Sunrise that hour being allowed for breakfast -- at 12 o'clock noon the bell will again be rung and one hour allowed for dinner from which time say 1 o'clock till sundown will constitute the last half of the day. No quarters of days will be allowed." General Orders for the Regulation of the Navy Yard Washington DC. (Circa 1833 - 1850, order numbers 29).
60. Phillip Inch, Master Painter at the Washington Navy Yard (1794 - 1844) was born in Plymouth, England. Inch was Michael Shiner's supervisor for many years. He is buried at the Congressional Cemetery.
60a. Michael Shiner's diary refers to three different ships called Water Witch. The first Water Witch was a steamer built in 1844-45 at the Washington Navy Yard. She was originally designed to serve as a water supply vessel, but was unable to do so as her draft was too deep to pass through the locks of the Great Dismal Swamp. After attempting to convert her to a harbor vessel or tug was also unsuccessful, she was condemned and sent to the Philadelphia Naval Yard where her hull was extended by some 30 feet and she was refitted. Because of the extensive renovations to her hull, the ship was deemed a new ship and became the second Water Witch. Water Witch  saw action in the Mexican War, but developed problems with her hull and propulsion systems. In 1851, her hull broke down while sailing from Norfolk, Virginia. She was towed to the Washington Navy Yard and was placed out of commission on 25 April 1851. Her machinery was removed and her hull was used for gunnery practice (See page 111 of the Diary). A third Water Witch (a wooden-hulled, side wheel gunboat) was built at the Washington Navy Yard in 1851 (See page 106 of the Diary). Interestingly, the third Water Witch was siezed by the Confederate States Navy in the Civil War and burnt to prevent recapture by the United States Navy.
61. On 28 February 1844, the Screw Steamer USS Princeton departed Alexandria, Virginia, on a pleasure and trial trip down the Potomac River with President John Tyler and his cabinet and approximately two hundred guests on board. After the final firing of Commodore Stockton's Peacemaker cannon, the defective gun finally burst, which instantly killed Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur; Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer; Captain Beverly Kennon (Chief of the Bureau of Construction Equipment and Repairs); Rep.Vigil Maxey of Maryland (Chargé d'Affaires to Belgium 1837-42); Rep. David Gardiner of New York; and the President Tyler's valet, a black slave named Armistead. The explosion also injured about 20 other people, including Stockton.
62. Gustavo's Higdon was the owner of a dry goods store on L Street. He did a lot of business with the Washington Navy Yard and probably knew Michael Shiner through these transactions.
63. Starboard is the right side of a ship or vessel.
64. Commodore Charles S. McCauley was Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard from 1 September 1846 to 1 October 1849.
65. On 9 August 1849 Michael Shiner married Jane Jackson (Feb. 1834 - April 21, 1884) in Washington, DC. Michael Shiner's diary does not have any reference to his second marriage or what became of his first wife, Phillis. His Diary is simply silent as to his family life with Janet Jackson, and the couple's children.
66. The 1850 US census for Washington, DC, 6th Ward, reflects that Michel Shiner was born in DC (1860 census states Maryland, as does the 1880 census for his daughter Mary, where she listed her father's birthplace as Maryland). The 1850 cenusus states that he was then 46 years old and lived with Jane Jackson Shiner, 19 years old, daughter Sarah E., 12 years old, son Isaac M., 5 years old and their infant son Braxton, 6 months old. Michael Shiner's occupation is listed in 1850 as painter. The census taker has listed Michael as black and stated that he is unable to read or write. Phillis Shiner (Michael Shiner's first wife) most likely died sometime after 1833, but there is no record reflecting the event. Based on the ages of the children, a date of circa 1848 seems probable. The 1850 census listed the total population of the District of Columbia as: 51,687, consisting of: White 37,941; Free Negro 10,059; and Slave 3,687. The Sixth Ward where Michael Shiner and his family resided had 46 male and 64 female slaves.
67. Joseph Mundell was born in Antrim County, Ireland, in 1809. He emmigrated to Philadelphia in 1827. Mundell enlisted first in the United States Army, serving eight years. He later joined the United States Marine Corps, where he served 25 years. Mundell served in both the Florida - Seminole and Mexican Wars. In all, he served for 33 years, rising to the rank of Marine Corps Quartermaster Sergeant. After his retirement he lived in Washington, DC, Ward 6 and went to work at the Washington Navy Yard as watchmen. He and his wife Martha had 11 children. Two of his daughters, Ellen and Anna, later worked for the US Treasury as currency folders. In 1851 in a notorious case referred to in Michael Shiner's Diary (see page 107), Joseph Mundell's 14 year old son Samuel Mundell was murdered by William Wells Marin in a dispute during a hunting excursion. Two of Joseph Mundell's other sons, Joseph Jr. and Jared Mundell, both served in the Civil War. After the war, Joseph Mundell's son, Jared, also went to work at the Washington Navy Yard where he labored for over half a century before retiring in 1920 as the yard's oldest male employee. Joseph Mundell died of consumption on 9 September 1874 and is buried at the Congressional Cemetery (R35/ 178).
68. Henry E. Ballard was Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard from 1 October 1849 to 15 October 1852.
Lajes Louis Kossuth 1802-1894 was a noted Hungarian patriot who led a failed revolution against Russian rule. After the 1848 Hungarian Rebellion he went into exile and visited the United States. Kossuth was immensely popular and given an enthusiastic reception in Washington, DC.
69. The Marine Railway was invented by Commodore John Rodgers in 1822 at the Washington Navy Yard. Basically the railway was a rail track used to move a vessel from the water. In Michael Shiner's era, manpower alone was used to move a vessel or ship up the railway, like iron rails to a ship house. This procedure was later mechanized with steam winches providing the motive power.
70. Captain Charles W. Morgan was Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard from 15 October 1852 to 5 January 1853.
71. In 1852, then Secretary of the Navy John P. Kennedy, arbitrarily attempted to set aside President Van Buren's 1840 ten hour workday order, and in order to increase production at Charlestown and Washington Navy Yard issued his own order to begin the workday at both yards an hour earlier, or from sunrise to sunset. This effectively extended the workday to eleven hours. At the Charlestown Navy Yard, Secretary Kennedy's order resulted in a strike of three hundred mechanics and laborers. At the Washington Navy Yard, employees also began work stoppages. Secretary Kennedy's order was quickly rescinded just forty-eight hours after it was issued and both yards returned to work.
72. Charles King was 19 years old. His father Martin King was a successful merchant.
73. John Rose was appointed to his position before the War of 1812. He was paid a salary of $1,500.00 per year.
74. George Edwards was a US Marine Corps' musician, 41 years of age, and lived in the 6th Ward with his wife Mary and three children. The George Edwards family lived one house away from Michael Shiner.
75. John H. Peake was Michael Shiner's Forman after the death of Phillip Inch. John H. Peake was born 1817 in the District of Columbia. In the 1850 census for the District of Columbia, Peake stated he owned his own residence (which was valued at $900.00) in Ward number 6. Peake was married, with one child, and continued to work for the Washington Navy Yard for many years. Peake later opened a paint store and (according to the 1870 census), by 1870 he owned real estate valued at $6,000.00. He died sometime after 1880.
Captain Hiram Paulding was Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard from 21 January 1853 to 30 June 1855.
76. Philip Barton Key was born in 1818, in Georgetown, in the District of Columb, and died 27 February 1859, in Washington, DC. He was the son of Francis Scott Key, the author of the lyrics to the National Anthem. Philip Barton Key was for a number of years the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. In 1859 Congressman Daniel Sickles shot and killed Phillip Barton Key for having had an affair with his wife, Teresa Bagioli Sickles. The murder took place on Lafayette Square, just across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. Sickles was acquitted on the basis of temporary insanity in one of the most controversial trials of the 19th century.
77. On Christmas Day, 1853, the San Francisco, was disabled and on 6 January 1854, she foundered with a loss of more than 200 lives. Upwards of 500 passengers were saved principally by the splendid work of the following ships: The Three Bells of Glasgow, the Antarctic from San Francisco and the Bark Kilby.
78. Many shipyard families maintained a tradition of working at Washington Navy Yard. The McCathran family served at the Yard until the 1940s.
79. Casting was always dangerous at Washington Navy Yard since super heated metals could crack the mold or slop over and burn the workers and destroy the cast.
80. Commodore French Forrest was the Commandant of Washington Navy Yard from 30 June 1855 to 15 August 1855.
81. The snowfall of 17 January 1857 affected many of the cities of the eastern United States. Washington, DC recorded a snowfall total of 24 inches. This storm, as Michael Shiner notes, was unique for its extreme cold and very high winds.
82. The "Plug Uglies" were an urban gang affiliated with the "Know-Nothing" Party. They were based originally in Baltimore, but spread rapidly to Washington, DC and other cities. In 1857 the Plug Uglies were brought to the District where they instigated a bloody riot involving over one thousand people in the District of Columbia. They were trying to prevent Irish-Americans from voting in Washington, DC's municipal elections. Ultimately six people were killed and many wounded before the Marines were able to suppress the fighting. According to one historian the Plug Uglies took their name from the large plug hats they wore.
83. Bell Boats were the design of James Buchanan Eads, one of the most outstanding civil engineers of the 19th century. Eads is noted for his development of diving bell techniques to salvage sunken steamboats. Eads' attention was attracted by the numerous losses of boats and cargoes. In 1842 he patented an adaptation of the diving bell and engaged in the salvage business. He built the first of a series of "bell boats" bearing the name Submarine and became very successful. The Navy Department used these boats to clear channels of underwater obstructions.
84. William Walker (1824-1860) was a physician, lawyer, and soldier of fortune who attempted to create an empire in South America. He overthrew the government of Nicaragua in 1856 and was briefly president of that country. Walker later attempted a similar venture in Honduras that resulted in his capture and execution by firing squad. William Walker held racist views and advocated setting up an agricultural empire based on slavery. His rash actions in Central America were lauded by many in the southern states where he was perceived of as man of destiny. Michael Shiner's praise for his former Washington Navy Yard Commandant, Commodore Hiram Paulding, stands out since Shiner seldom discusses his own political views. Commodore Paulding was the subject of severe criticism by southern senators once word of his arrest of William Walker reached Washington, DC.
85. Phillip Otterbach (1796-1858) was a butcher and resident of the 6th Ward. Otterbach was German immigrant who ran a very successful business. The 1850 Washington, DC Census indicates that he owned real estate valued at $125,000.00. His relationship to Michael Shiner is unclear.
86. Captain Ellie A.F. Lavellette was Commandant of Washington Navy Yard from 15 August 1856 to 14 May 1858.
87. The comet Michael Shiner observed was comet C/1858 L 1 (Donati) discovered in June, 1858 and widely visible during September, 1858. [Source: Email to John Sharp from Dan Green, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, dated 21 February 2007.]
88. Captain Franklin Buchanan was Commandant from Washington Navy Yard from 26 May 1859 to 22 April 1861. Shortly after the events Michael Shiner recounts, Captain Buchanan resigned his commission and joined the new Navy of the Confederate States, where he became a Rear Admiral.
89. John Brown was often called "Osawatomie Brown" because of his leadership of an anti-slavery group, which defended Osawatomie, Kansas (a town founded by abolitionists) against pro-slavery attackers on 30 August 1856. When Brown's "Army" was dispersed, the pro-slavery attackers destroyed the town. For more information on John Brown and the Battle of Osawatomie, see http://kansastravel.org/johnbrownmuseum.htm.
90. The 1850 U.S. Census for Washington, DC lists Michael Shiner as living in the 6th Ward, 55 years of age with his wife, Jane Jackson, 29 years old; daughter Sarah E., 21 years old; son Isaac M., 6 years old; daughter Rose Ann, 8 years old; and daughter Jane M., 3 years old. Michel Shiner is listed on the 1850 Census as a painter, with property worth $800.00. The 1850 Census lists Michael Shiner as being born in Maryland. The same census shows all of Michael Shiner's immediate neighbors being white.
91. Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren was the Washington Navy Yard's Commandant from 22 April 1861 to 22 July 1863.
92. The 1861 oath reads as follows: "I do solemnly swear that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully without any mental reservations against all enemies or opponents whatsoever; that I will observe and obey orders of the President of the United States and the officer appointed over me; according to the rules and articles for government of the United States." In all, over 400 Washington Navy Yard workers swore allegiance, while 37 chose not to take the oath and were dismissed.
93. The 1860 US Census for DC listed a total population of 75,080. Of this total, the inhabitants were broken down as follows: 60,764 White; 11,131 Free Negro; and 3,185 Slave. In Michael Shiner's immediate neighborhood,Ward 6 (where his family resided), the 1860 Slave Census listed 32 male and 48 female slave inhabitants.
94. Commodore John B. Montgomery was Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard from 31 December 1863 to 13 October 1865. Rear Admiral L. M. Goldsborough was Commandant of Washington Navy Yard from 14 October 1870 to 1 October 1873.
95. On the day of Lincoln's second inaugural, Noah Adams, another observer, noticed the same phenomena as did Michael Shiner. Adams recounted that as President Lincoln rose to speak: "Just at that moment the sun which had been obscured all day burst forth in its unclouded meridian of splendor and flooded the spectacle with glory and light." Quoted in Ronald C. White, Lincoln's Greatest Speech The Second Inaugural (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005): 42.
96. On Good Friday in the late afternoon, President and Mrs. Lincoln went for a drive. They stopped in the Washington Navy Yard to view three monitors recently damaged in engagement in Fort Fisher, NC. The President talked of the time when could return to Illinois and live quietly. Pratt, Personal Finances, page 124; Rufus R. Wilson ed. Intimate Memories of Lincoln. (Elmira, NY: Primavera Press, 1942) 430.