Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mr. Rosenbaum's Chess Painting. Part 10: And Now Mr.S.

Last week, in episode 9, we discovered that Anthony Rosenbaum, the painter of the 1874-1880 picture of Chess Players, hailing originally from Hamburg, living in Hull in 1851, had been involved in the damaging enlistment affair that unfolded in the US in parallel with the Crimean War of 1854-56.

Anthony Rosenbaum in 1883 (left), and 1880 or earlier (right)

Rosenbaum had been a recruiting agent for the British in 1855, but had given State’s evidence for the US authorities who suspected the Brits of violating their neutrality. After giving an account of his activities in the British operation, which we described in the last episode, he faced hostile cross-examination by Counsel out to protect the interests of Her Majesty's Government.  As the court transcript below shows, there was some mud-slinging, with Rosenbaum trying his best to dodge it.

Unfortunately the transcript is sometimes less than precise, but note, by the way, that the charges against Carstensen, a Dane who was a paid recruitment superintendent in the British Foreign Legion, and the other defendants, were all dismissed.

 Charge of enlisting for the Crimea – complaint dismissed. 

 THE UNITED STATES vs Carstensen, and others. August 2. The state’s evidence, Anthony Rosenbaum, was cross-examined at considerable length, and availed himself of the privilege of declining to answer certain questions. He said that he had twice been arrested before he communicated the facts to the district attorney ; he was under arrest at the time he made the communication ; he had been in prison about fourteen days ; he had no written contract with the men he took to Boston ; he gave them no money. I am a native of Hamburg ; I am in this country about sixteen months ; went from Hamburg to England, and then came to New York ; I was in a great many places in England ; I was an artist, and painted likenesses ; I was in the commission business in German goods.
So (pausing for reflection) the arrests to which he refers must have been those in June that year after which, as we noted in the last episode, he was remanded in New York's Eldridge Street Gaol. As for the recruitment business: Rosenbaum is not the one on trial of course, but he pleads here that he had no contracts directly with the recruits themselves, hence his hands were clean. It sounds like he was well briefed.

What is especially tantalising about his testimony from the art-history point of view is that he says he was "in a great many places in England", where he had been an artist painting “likenesses” - which renews our hope that there may accordingly be a great many of his "likenesses" awaiting rediscovery in a great many places (and that, by the way, might also include the US).

As for when he had set foot in the States: if his recollection was accurate it would have been say March 1854 – and here is a passenger arrival record from the 8th March that year for an A. Rosenbaum, aged 25, arriving in NewYork from Liverpool on the good ship "Saratoga" - it is the last entry below.

This Mr Rosenbaum also came from Hamburg, and the generalised profession of "merchant" fits with our Mr. R.'s line of business; though when the latter is asked below about his earlier time in England he becomes less than fulsome. It seems that his cross-examiner knows something about a brush with the law, but Rosenbaum is evasive, although unfortunately the intended meaning of the transcript (or Rosenbaum himself) is unclear here or there...    
Q. Were you not engaged in smuggling in England?
A. I decline to answer. I was not in prison in England for that offence.
Q. Did you not run away from England to avoid arrest?
A. I object to that. I was never engaged herein the business of smuggling : I was the manager of business for Baldwin & Co., Philadelphia, jewellers.
Q. Did you not, as their manager in importing, defraud the government?
A. I refuse to answer.
Q. Who was Mr. Baldwin?
A. A gentlemen of my acquaintance.
Q. Were not you Mr. Baldwin?
A. I cannot be acquainted with myself ; I was never in the employment of any emigrant forwarding-house here.
("I cannot be acquainted with myself" ?! Who is this wise guy...another smart Alec? )
Q. What business have you been in since you came from Philadelphia besides engaging men for the Crimea?
A. I refuse to answer ; I know the premises 75 Bowery ; I never occupied any part of them ; I have taken meals there, and paid for them.
Q. Did you ever receive any money that was paid there for the business of the house?
A. No ; I never was engaged in the business of keeping girls, or a house of prostitution there, nor at any other place in the city of New York.
Q. Have you ever been engaged in a gambling house here?
A. I refuse to answer : I know the gentlemen present, (Mr. Brendt;) I never was in partnership with him in the house 75 Bowery.  

So, Rosenbaum explicitly denies involvement with prostitution and the emigration/immigration trade, but refuses to be frank otherwise with his inquisitor – and strictly speaking we shouldn’t make any inferences from his refusal to confirm or deny involvement in smuggling or gambling, or that he had been arrested, and maybe imprisoned, for something other than recruiting. No, we most certainly shouldn't. Absolutely not. The attorneys acting for the British obviously hoped to discredit Rosenbaum as a witness, and not for the last time in his life had he to try and rebut, or otherwise evade, damaging insinuations.

Arrested twice in June for "recruiting" and detained in Eldridge Street Gaol, Rosenbaum may have been, in view of his own immigration status, susceptible to pressure or other inducements, but his avowed justification for turning against the British was reported back in England in the Freeman's Journal of 31 July 1855. It quotes from a letter of his that had been rather conveniently published, in the US, saying he had been told that the recruits ("his fellow countrymen") had been underpaid, that their "conditions [in the Legion] were worse than slavery" and, to top it all and maybe more to the point, "the English did not put themselves to the slightest trouble about the confinement of myself."

New York County Jail in Ludlow Street.
It replaced Eldridge Street Gaol in 1862
All in all the record of Rosenbaum's involvement in the recruitment adventure adds to the impression gained from our examination in episode 8 of the record of his dealings two decades later. He then appeared ambiguous, if not a touch slippery. Now we know about the goings-on in the US we can pose it more starkly: was he an idealistic adventurer, forsaking his German homeland for artistic and commercial opportunities in foreign parts (Britain first, then the US, returning eventually to this sceptered isle), putting his trust in the nobler motives of his fellow men and the beneficence of Lady Luck; or was he a chancer and a fixer, a wheeler and a dealer, an opportunist running with the fox and hunting with the hounds looking for grass ever greener?
A biography of  Anthony Rosenbaum?
If Rosenbaum is difficult to pin down, what about the central issue of whether or not the British enlistment operation was actually in breach of US law? The US politicos and senior law officers took that as read (though the judges showed proper and commendable independence). The Brits saw the niceties of the legal argument differently. Crampton, the British Minister to Washington, ruefully noted subsequent to the affair in a private letter to Clarendon, and in undiplomatic language most unbecoming:
"as evidence of [illegal recruitment] can at any time be obtained by giving a dollar to some half-stewed German there is no lack of arresting and bailing – but they have not got a single conviction."    
It was in the ring of international politics that punches were landed. The critical diplomatic exchanges between Marcy and Clarendon in May 1856 are prolix and nuanced, and both sides appear anxious on the one hand to avoid a complete breakdown, but on the other not to be the first to blink. The Americans were careful not to accuse Clarendon himself, the Foreign Secretary, of complicity and he never conceded that HMG intended to violate US neutrality. OK, said the Americans, any miscreants (if there had so been) must have exceeded their instructions, about which you Brits had been less than frank, and someone has to carry the can. Crampton, the British Minister in Washington (aka "The Envoy Extraordinary"), was declared persona non grata, and US dealings with him were terminated, the Brits having refused to recall him as demanded.

Other scalps for Cushing and Marcy were the three British Consuls in Philadelphia, Cincinnati and New York, who also had their credentials cancelled. In response the British rendered any further diplomatic relations decidedly interruptus, and it was only when Pierce himself withdrew in the following year from Presidential office that normal service was resumed.

One member of the British diplomatic corps was, however, pulled before he was pushed. He had been an attach√© in the New York Consulate intimately involved in the machinations of the initial recruitment and payments, the panic of the about-turn and cover-up, and the subsequent recriminations over derelictions, defaults and legal costs. Perhaps he had been injudiciously enthusiastic, loose-tongued even, as there was damaging testimony that "he was a hard-drinking man, easily excited by liquor, and when so excited, is very communicative." Suits were filed, and warrants issued for his arrest. His name was in the press for all the wrong reasons, and he was "suddenly called home by his Government", as reported the New York Tribune of 22 March 1856 adding, deadpan, that he was "to receive promotion for his eminent services in the enlistment business".

He was Charles H. Stanley, remarkably sometime "the strongest player" in the United States.

Charles Henry Stanley (1819-1901)
American Chess Magazine 
via Moravian chess publishing and Chess Archaeology 
Chess sources on the internet (for example herehere and here) provide a decent amount about him, and this section of the story is indebted to them: just a few points (not enough to do his story justice) before we conclude.

He was born in Brighton, on the south coast in 1819, and went first to the States in 1843. There he beat the U.S. Champion in a match in 1845, the same year as he started America's first newspaper chess column. By 1847 he was editing the American Chess Magazine.

A decade later, in the same year as he was embroiled in the enlistment farrago, he was also organising a problem tournament in the States. This is an a propos observation by Max Lange (given by Batgirl): "It is well known he suffers a defeat with as much equanimity as he announces a victory"...which would be the mark of a gentlemen at the chess board no doubt, and quality he would sorely need in his trying days at the New York Consulate. Undeterred by that experience he was in the States again in 1857 appearing at the 1st American Chess Congress in New York later that year.

Stanley is 4th from left in the back row.
 From the American Library of Congress 
The New York Times 10 October 1857 reported that his "reputation as a chess-player has been universal for the last twenty years...[but]...He was scarcely in a fit state for mental fatigue, having been unwell for the past three days, yet he gave six hours' hard fighting to his antagonist Theodore Lichtenhein, esq., and only resigned after his opponent had got to queen."  Stanley was eliminated 2-3 in the first round of the knock-out won eventually by Paul Morphy in the ascendant. Lichtenhein was a German immigrant (but hey; no hard feelings). Here, is one of Stanley's two victories.
Stanley and his wife named their daughter Pauline after Morphy, whose own appetite for the game had been whetted, as a boy, watching the Stanley-Rousseau match earlier in 1845. In the 1860s Stanley was in England again, editing a chess column in the Manchester Guardian and playing competitively. Then, Atlantic-hopping back to the States, he played into the mid 1870s, finally languishing for some years in institutions on Ward's Island, dying there in 1901. It was the booze ("he was a hard-drinking man") that had been Stanley's demon, though whether or not he remained an unredeemed alcoholic to the end is contested here.    

And just one final speculative leap back to where we started: Anthony Rosenbaum. What became of him after his day in court in 1855? He returned to England eventually, as we know, maybe remaining in the jewellery trade, which he had said was his business in Philadelphia. If that was so, was this him below, in 1859 in court again, this time in London - and for bankruptcy? Nothing, now, would come as a surprise.

From Perry's Bankrupt Gazette, Saturday 5 March 1859, page 6.

Sources and Acknowledgements

The US documentation on the Cessation of Intercourse:
Senate Executive Document Number 1.  Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. December 1855. Digitised here.
Executive Documents printed by order of the Senate of the United States. First and Second Sessions, 34th Congress 1855-56. Digitised here. Rosenbaum's testimony appears around p345 by the Google page counter.

Parliamentary Debates:
Hansard record of the Our Relations With the United States debate 30 June/1st July 1856 is here.

There are also commentaries and analyses in:
 Barnes, J. J. and P. P. (1993) Private and Confidential: Letters from British Ministers in Washington to the Foreign Secretaries in London, 1844-67. Associated University Presses, Inc. Digitised here. 
Van Alstyne, R.W. (1936) John F. Crampton, Conspirator or Dupe? American Historical Review. Vol 41, No. 3, pp 492-502. Via JSTOR .  
Dawson, David (2010) Paul Morphy: The Pride and Sorrow of Chess, here (for the Morphy watched Stanley anecdote).
Batgirl's extensive research and blogging about Morphy can be accessed here.  

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1 comment:

Martin Smith said...

I have just stumbled on a link to an exhibition on American Presidents and Chess here. It looks like Pierce didn't play.