• Civil War: Abolitionist Maj. Winthrop, Likely Killed by Slave; Yale Student Attends Funeral; Wooden Spoon Ceremony

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    ARTHUR GOODENOUGH (May 13, 1838-February 9, 1921) was a divinity student at Yale University during the Civil War. He graduated in 1865 with a Doctor of Divinity Degree.  His obituary is included.

    Goodenough writes a lengthy 4 pp, 5” x 8” ALS, June 21, 1861, to his girlfriend Amelia providing her with details of the ritual The Yale Wooden Spoon, which was a joke and has been written about extensively (his copy of the Spoon brochure is included with this lot) and details of the funeral of Maj. Theodore Winthrop (aid-de-camp to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler).  Winthrop, who graduated from Yale, was killed at the Battle of Big Bethel, considered the first large battle of the Civil War. He was one of the first officers killed in the Civil War.  Winthrop was a staunch abolitionist and, ironically, was likely shot by a slave of a Confederate officer. His funeral service was conducted at Yale and Goodenough attended.  Goodenough writes that seven or eight city militia formed a procession eight abreast and a quarter of a mile in length. He begins by talking about The Yale Wooden Spoon.

     “My heart was cheered three days since the receipt of another of your excellent letters. Such occasions are indeed like oasis in the desert of life. Times of refreshing to the weary traveler. It is my custom to answer all letters at my first leisure, but as you kindly promised to defer writing next time so as to vie me a full account of doings at F. I thought that I could do not more than give you a description of the great events taking place here. We had on Tuesday evening the Wooden Spoon Exhibition conducted by the then junior class & Wednesday eve the freshman year class. I find myself now more than ever embarrassed for I find it impossible to give an entire history of events, as I could not afford the requisite amount of paper & postage & detached facts possess no such peculiar interest as enables me to make a selection but I will simply state that when you have possessed the highest ideal of an intellectual feast, combining good taste with richness, the fairest & 6 naïve type of comicality with the successive extremeness of sublimity, you will still be far short of the proper conception of the truly magnifique achievement of the juniors; while all contrived your imagination is not gross enough to comprehend la grassierete, the coarseness, la bassesse, the vulgarity…of these contemptible wretched, ignorant freshmen. On Wednesday, the seniors had their presentation…In the forenoon they had a poem… in the chapel together with Latin salutations by Prof. Thetpher & Prof. Woalsey. In the afternoon they formed a circle on the college green & passed the time until six o’clock in speaking & reading the histories of their classmates who were absent. At six they planted the ivy; saluted the college buildings & then forming a circle again took solemn leave of each other by shaking hands. The last was deeply affecting, there was scarcely a dry eye in the class among the spectators. Thus I have now attained to the position of a senior.

    “9PM I was called away by the bell for  noon recitation before I finished & then was ordered to attend with my class the funeral of Major Winthrop, Aid De Camp of Gen. Butler, who was formerly a graduate of this college. I have just returned, considerably fatigued from the march, but thought I must finish this before supper time.  Besides the five military companies from the college there were I think seven or eight of the city militia forming a procession eight abreast of about a quarter of a mile in length. I know little of the service, but a good deal of the exercises from the fact that after reaching the cemetery they kept us performing all the evaluations in tactics some besides to get us near the grave but my company did not succeed in getting sight of it. I see that the daily papers give an account of our Yale College exercises which if I had known I would not have written what I have…I would like to write a good deal more but have not time today, so I will send you some programs instead (included in this offering)…”

    Folds, toning, but in excellent condition and a very nice lot of items.  Beautiful patriotic cover included.

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