3D red/cyan anaglyph created from stereograph, courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Frederick Hill Meserve Collection, at: npg.si.edu/portraits
NPG Title: Margaret Julia Mitchell
Photo Date: Circa 1865
Photographer: Mathew Brady Studio
Notes: Maggie Mitchell, famous and beloved American actress, with a career that spanned over four decades during the second half of the 19th century. She was also, according to her own account, an intimate friend of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve read about a dozen of her obituaries from 1918, and oddly, not one mentions her association with Booth, who if not a love interest, was a fellow actor, whom she knew well, and crossed paths with many times.
Just about all the 1918 tributes include two incidents from her life; (1) her invitation from Lincoln to the White House, just before the assassination, which she asserted was the greatest day of her life; (2) that she was an “ardent Northerner,” and often told friends, with pride, that when the Civil War ended, she was the first person to raise the U.S. flag over the surrendered city of Mobile, Alabama.
One might suspect that the above stories were cultivated and nurtured by her over a lifetime for damage control – cover for her friendship with Booth, and the widespread accusations during the Civil War, that she had a secessionist bent. She was accused of cheering them on, and of actually trampling on the U.S. flag, while on stage in Montgomery, Alabama, before the war started.
For background, below are three newspaper articles that reference the loyalty issue. The third article, a letter with flowery over-the-top prose, seems to be speaking for her – perhaps she had a hand in it? I’ve also included a fourth article from the New York Sun, an obituary from March 23, 1918, which provides a summary of her life and extraordinary career.
St. Clairsville, Ohio
December 5, 1861
An Actress made to Show her Colors.
"Maggie Mitchell is now playing at Pittsburgh. On Monday night a Captain or Lieutenant Braun visited the theater, and raised a disturbance by accusing a gentleman present of having been a manager of a Southern theater. He was also excessively angry over the statement that the actress had sung the Southern Marseillaise during a recent visit to Secessia, and presented or received a rebel flag. Braun was finally put out of the house, but returned and demanded an explanation. The Dispatch describes the scene which followed:
When the curtain fell, the chivalric captain or lieutenant was boisterous in his calls for Miss Mitchell, who at length appeared before the curtain, escorted by Manager Henderson. Our hero demanded an explanation, whereupon the Manager stated briefly that the lady was too much agitated to speak, but that he was authorized by her to state that she had never trampled upon the American flag. This denial of a charge never publicly made against the lady, mollified Captain or Lieutenant Braun, and he testified his satisfaction in an emphatic manner."
The Local News
December 09, 1861
“Little Maggie Mitchell, the popular actress was hissed down by some Pittsburghers, last week, while playing at the Theatre in that smutty city, because it was reported she had sung secession songs, "down South," calling the chivalry "to arms." An explanation was subsequently made, and Maggie was allowed to proceed.”
Tuesday, March 1, 1864.
“Gilleflower” writes us a letter about Miss Maggie Mitchell and her loyalty. Just read what the enraptured chap has to say….
Chicago, Feb 29, 1864
Mr. Editor: As there is an erroneous opinion prevailing to a certain extent in Chicago, from the conversation at the various hotels, either maliciously or otherwise, concerning the real feelings of Miss Maggie Mitchell relative to this great struggle for the maintenance of the Union and the execution of the laws….articles, exceedingly detrimental to her as having southern sympathies have appeared in print, and have long since been authoritatively contradicted, yet she still seems to be looked upon as being one of doubtful loyalty.
Therefore, let this entirely obliterate all such doubts and prejudices from their minds. As this favorite actress has at no period of the contest entertained any disloyal sentiments whatsoever, but, on the contrary, her heart is deeply interested in our cause from pure and unselfish motives.
She desires a vigorous prosecution of the war, a speedy and permanent peace, that will bring gladness and consolation to many an aching heart.
She honors the brave soldier who has gone forth to battle for his nation’s cause and sacrifice himself upon the altar of his country; leaving happy homes and loved ones far away from the voice of a mother, which ever swells its heavenly cadence on the soul, and now watches with such anxiety and love the lives of them whom she fed from the store-house of virtue.
She also sympathizes with the suffering wounded and dying, and prays they may ascend the stairs of immortality to Heaven’s blue vaults, knock at the gates of sun-set and walk along the celestial lights, their path paved with sun beams, accompanied by the glittering stars and drink from the crystal fount that sparkles before the throne in the paradise of the blest, far beyond the skies. Respectfully yours, S. Arnold Gilliflower, Present.
The Sun, New York
Saturday, March 23, 1918.
MAGGIE MITCHELL, ACTRESS, IS DEAD
Famous Stage Star of Three Generations Still Young at the End.
ENTERTAINED BY LINCOLN
Graciousness to Sarah Bernhardt Brought Her Recently to Public Attention.
“….Maggie Mitchell did die yesterday morning in a bedroom of a large apartment house she owned at the southwest corner of West End avenue and 102d street. And although the little blond haired, gray eyed woman, whose acting and singing and dancing for almost two score years was the delight of millions of American theatergoers, was born back in the dim ages of 1837 – John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson didn’t die until years after that- she was still somewhere in her twenties when she died yesterday morning.
Ten years before the Confederates fired on Sumter Maggie Mitchell was an actress. A few days before Lincoln was shot the great President sent his own carriage to her hotel when she was playing in Washington so that he and Mrs. Lincoln might shake her hand inside the White House "and have a dish of tea," as Mrs. Lincoln put it.
Just before Grover Cleveland began his second term she was still the vivacious ingénue back of the footlights of Washington theatre, singing as merrily and flitting about the stage as lightly as in Lincoln’s day. And on the day that Woodrow Wilson was last elected President not in the 1912 election, but the election day of 1916 – she mounted her horse at her summer home, Cricket Lodge at Elberon, and went for an all day ride…..
"Most Remarkable Woman,”
Not long after she died yesterday one of the physicians who had attended her in her last brief illness spoke of her as “the most remarkable woman, mentally and physically,” with whom he ever had come in contact.
The last time her name appeared in New York newspapers—and there was a time when her name appeared daily in the papers—was an account a few months ago of a gracious little act she had done….at a semi-private matinee performance…in honor of Mme. Sarah Bernhardt….
But when Mme Bernhardt was carried to the box placed at her disposal she objected fervently to being seated in anything but the box nearest the stage. Whereupon Maggie Mitchell, whose keen “young” ears had sensed the cause of the commotion in the box behind her jumped up in chipper fashion and insisted that the Divine Sarah take the stage box….
Always a New Yorker
All America claimed her, but she was first and last a New Yorker. She was born on the Island of Manhattan on June 14, 1837, and therefore had reached her eightieth birthday almost a year ago. She first went on the stage here in 1842, when only 5 years old, to play "child parts," It was In Burton’s Theatre in Chambers street in 1851, just after her fourteenth birthday, that in a play called "The Soldier’s Daughter" she first played a part of importance. And up to the time of her death Manhattan was her real home, except for the time she spent at Elberon in the summers and autumns.
Scored Many Successes.
The first theatrical success which made the name of Maggie Mitchell nationally famous was "Fanchon the Cricket," in which she made her first bow as a star in New Orleans In 1861. A year later she leased Laura Keene’s theatre in Manhattan and produced "Fanchon," for the first time here with pronounced success. "Fanchon," "Lorie," ‘Mignon," "The Little Savage," "Pearl of Savoy" –one after another the diminutive blond haired actress brought out in turn, and with them she achieved the feat unheard of in these days; they were all great successes; not merely fairly successful but extraordinary successes, even from the financial standpoint.
She was an ardent "Northerner" during the civil war, nevertheless was being acclaimed in the last days of the war by Southern audiences. In the early spring of 1865 she was playing in Washington when one day a messenger came to her dressing room to say that President Lincoln would esteem it an honor if she would call at the White House the next day.
“And the President sent his own carriage for me," Maggie Mitchell would say as she often retold the great event. “And when I got there he shook my hand and looked at me steadily for a minute, and then he said, ‘I hearn of you so much, young woman, that I wanted to meet you here in our home. That’s the way he said It. ‘I hearn of you so much.’ And that was the greatest day of my life."
Also Maggie Mitchell was proud of something else in connection with her civil war memories. She had made a long jump to the South and was playing in Mobile when definite news reached the city that the war was over. Peace had actually been declared. Wherefore out upon the stage came the vivacious Maggie Mitchell and swung the Stars and Stripes above her locks. And so she always claimed that she was the first to raise the Stars and. Stripes in the South after Lee’s surrender. There is little doubt she was, and it is almost certain she was the first woman to do so.
Appeared Last in 1892.
She made her last appearance on the stage more than a quarter of a century after that, when she appeared in ‘The Little Maverick" at Hooley’s Theatre in 1892. Since then she has been in Manhattan and on the Jersey coast. She said herself she couldn’t cook and she couldn’t sew, her life work having been such that she had no time to learn these accomplishments.
"But I can keep my house running properly, and I can ride and walk and swim and read," Maggie would say. And she could do all these things and did them with much energy. During her long years on the stage, she had amassed a fortune, the extent of which cannot be put in numbers now. But it is known that she owned apartment house at 853 and 855 West End avenue and valuable real estate In upper Broadway, estimated to be worth at least $1,000,000.
"She wore her brain out," her physicians said yesterday when asked the cause of her death. A breakdown came to her toward the end of last summer. Four days ago she lapsed into a coma in the course of which she died just before daybreak yesterday morning.
She was married twice. Her first husband was Henry Paddock of Cleveland, Ohio, by whom she had two children who were with her when she died yesterday morning. They are Fanchon M. Paddock and Harry M. Paddock both of whom lived with their mother. Her first husband died many years ago. Then in June, 1889, she married her leading man and manager, Charles Abbott, who was also at her bedside when she died. Private funeral services will take place at her apartment in West End avenue on Sunday and she will be buried in Green-Wood Cemetery."
Findagrave Link: www.findagrave.com/memorial/63190530/margaret-julia-mitchell
Red/Cyan (not red/blue) glasses of the proper density must be used to view 3D effect without ghosting. Anaglyph prepared using red cyan glasses from The Center For Civil War Photography / American Battlefield Trust. CCWP Link: www.civilwarphotography.org/