MONDAY EVENING, MARCH 23, 1863.
SALISBURY, N. C.
Between 40 and 50 soldier’s wives, followed by a numerous train of curious female observers, made an attack on several of our business men last Wednesday, whom they regarded as speculators in the necessaries of life, for the purpose, as we are informed, of demanding an abatement in prices, or forcibly taking possession of the goods they required. The first house visited was Mr. M. Brown’s. They demanded he should sell them flour at $19.50 per barrel. This he declined to do, alledging that his flour had cost him more than twice that sum. They then said they were determined to have the flour, and would take it, unless he would sell it to them at the price the government was paying for it; and accordingly went to work with hatchets on his store room door. After some time spent in vain efforts to open the door, a parley was had, and Mr. Brown agreed to give them free of charge, ten barrels, if that would satisfy them. They accepted the offer, the flour was rolled out and hauled off.
They next visited Mr. John Enniss of the firm of Henderson & Enniss, and made a similar demand on him. He gave them three barrels of flour.
They next called on Mr. Frankford, who, it is reported, told them he had not been speculating in provisions, and that he now had nothing in his store but himself. He stated, “So ladies if you take any thing here, you will have to take me, yes, take me. I’ll go with you any where you please.” They next called on Mr. H. Sprague. Mr. S. received them in his usual calm and courteous manner, and gave them a barrel of molasses.
They also called on Mr. David Weil, whom they charge with having run up flour from $40 to $50, and who was supposed to have a large lot at the depot to be shipped South. It turned out however, that he had none within their convenient reach. He gave them a sack of salt.
They next called on Mr. Thos. Foster, who was advertising salt on consignment. He told them the salt belonged to a man in Wilmington, and that he had no interest in it beyond that of an agent. That he felt it to be his duty to protect it, and that rather than they should take it, he would give them $20 out of his own pocket. Someone in the crowd answered, ”we will take that, and the salt too.” Mr. Foster replied that he would take the responsibility of also giving them one sack of salt. They accepted his offer and left.
They also called at the door of a building formerly occupied by Mr. Simmons; but we think they found nothing there.
And finally they visited the North Carolina depot, in search of flour supposed to belong to Mr. Weil, and other parties believed to be speculators in this and other provision articles. They found, and took forcible possession of, ten barrels flour belonging to some one in Charlotte.
This completed the day’s work. The next morning was spent in settling the question of division a delicate, and as it proved, a difficult question. There was some disputing, flashing of eyes, and some angry words. It was, however, accomplished, whether satisfactorily to all or no, we cannot say.
This movement was aimed as a blow at the practice of speculating in provisions. Whether or not it fell on proper subjects is not for us to determine. Indeed, that is a question which none should presumptuously decide.
These proceedings were also caused, in part, by pinching want. It is said there are many families in this town and vicinity who have not tasted meat for weeks, and some times, months together. Of course they have had no butter, molasses, or sugar. Many of them have no gardens and consequently no vegetables of their own raising; and the scarcity and high price of potatoes, peas, beans, render it extremely difficult if at all possible, for them to obtain these articles. What, then, have they to support life? Bread and water! Bread is the only thing with their limited means they could provide for themselves; and at present prices, it is not very easy for even the industrious poor to provide this. They certainly cannot afford to buy flour at $50 per barrel. Fortunately, our soil is (…) adapted to corn, which is not excelled in the world. And we believe there is enough of this invaluable grain in the country to save us from suffering. The only difficulty about it is in distributing it among the people. Speculators must be prevented from sending it out of the reach of our needy people. Avaricious horders of grain and other provisions, for high prices, must open their eyes to the danger of their selfish and covetous practices. It is impossible for the poor to endure the hardships (..) these two classes have imposed upon them. (…) Speculators must stop their operations or they will ruin themselves and everyone else. Those who have surplus provisions must make up their minds to put themselves on short allowance for the sake of the common good, and sell their surplus not to those who can pay the highest prices, but to those whose wants are most pressing. The darkest days of our struggle are coming on. The times which try men’s souls are at hand, and cursed be he who is not willing, not only to stake his property, but his life for the sake of our cause. (…)
Citation: “A Female Raid,” Carolina Watchman, March 23, 1863. https://digital.ncdcr.gov/Documents/Detail/a-female-raid-from-the-carolina-watchman-march-23-1863/592974. Accessed 21 August 2023.
- Was the Salisbury Bread Riot successful? Why or why not? Use textual evidence to support your answer.
- From the article, what conclusions can you make about the difference in speculator and government prices?
- From the last paragraph, what conclusions can you make about the actions of the speculators in regards to selling provisions to the townspeople?
- In the last four sentences, what message is the author trying to convey? Do you think the author is agreeing with the actions the women took at the Salisbury Bread Riot? Explain your thinking.
Alleging: claiming someone has done something wrong
Vain: little to no result
Parley: discussion of terms between conflicting parties
Consignment: batch of goods delivered to someone else
Presumptuously: saying or doing something without right or permission; overstepping
Industrious: very productive; hardworking
Excelled: exceptionally good
Invaluable: so valuable it cannot be measured
Avaricious: extreme greed
Horders: collects large amount of something to keep for themselves
Covetous: desire to possess something that is owned by someone else
Surplus: excess of a desired good