1863 · Providence, RI
Pledge and original membership roll of the Loyal League of Providence, Manuscript Document Signed, with 161 signatures, ca. January 1863, [Providence, RI]. 2 pp., 7¾ x 22¼ in.
Loyal Leagues (also often known as Union Leagues) were men's clubs established during the Civil War. They usually consisted of the professional, merchant, and artisan classes in northern cities. The first such club formed in Philadelphia in 1862.
Many of the signers of this membership roll were born between 1844 and 1850, and many were probably students at Providence High School. In 1861, students from the high school organized into a militia company called the "Ellsworth Phalanx," in honor of the New York Zouave commander Elmer Ellsworth, killed in May 1861, in Alexandria, Virginia. They drilled and paraded in Providence throughout the winter and into the spring of 1862.
After Confederate General Stonewall Jackson routed Union General Nathaniel Banks' forces at Winchester, Virginia, and pushed them back across the Potomac River in May 1862, urgent calls went out for troops to defend Washington, D.C. In response, Governor William Sprague of Rhode Island ordered the organization of the 10th Rhode Island for three months' service. Company B was recruited almost entirely from the ranks of the High School and University companies and commanded by Captain Elisha Dyer, former governor of the state. At least one of the signers here, William H. Hawkes, served in Company B in 1862, and another, Harry A. Richardson, had served in Company K of the 9th Rhode Island in the summer of 1862.
The likely author of the pledge and first signer on the right column was Granville Budlong (1844-1909). The first signer in the left column was Lewis G. Janes (1844-1901), son of prominent abolitionist Alphonso Janes. Other signers included Arthur Lincoln, son of a professor at Brown University; and William E. Cushing (1844-1880), who became an architect and designed the city's baseball stadium in 1878. At least two signers, Frederick Metcalf and Eugene F. Granger, were killed later in the war while serving in the military. Metcalf was only seventeen when he died of disease in South Carolina in 1864 after a year in the service. Granger, the son of a Baptist minister, joined a New Hampshire regiment and died in a Confederate prison in North Carolina. His younger brother Edward V. Granger also signed this roll. Other signers were the sons of merchants, railroad agents, carpenters, tin platers, and masons in Providence. Several went on to graduate from Brown University in the late 1860s and early 1870s.
On March 19, 1863, the New York Times reported that in Providence, Rhode Island,
"Only two weeks remain before the election. The Republicans and those loyal men of other parties who have united with them are diligently at work in canvassing the State. They are marking those "peace" men who … are expressing sympathy with the rebellion. The Democrats are really very unfortunate. They can't find one of their own party who wants office. They have been trying a month to get a Governor, but no Democrat will accept their nomination…. When bad men combine, good men must unite. So the loyal men of all parties are coming together in solemn league to support the Government, and to give all their energies to the vigorous prosecution of the war. The "League" in this city is composed of some two thousand loyal names. It is fast increasing in numbers and is extending its spirit and influence throughout the loyal portions of the State."
Originally two joined leaves. The topmost portion of the sheet lost, allowing the title, "Pledge," to just be made out. Conservation repairs of fold separations. Strong signatures in various color inks, continuing and with docketing on verso. (Inventory #: 24584)