Earning a Living – Liquor and the President

James’ employment history can be divided into two sections – before the Convention and after the Convention. Many in the South who openly supported the Union and universal suffrage, were rewarded with political postings; James included. There is very clearly a “before” and “after” for James and along the way he apparently rubbed shoulders with some political bigwigs.

Before the Virginia Constitutional Convention, James is living in St Louis, Missouri and listed as a drayman in the St Louis Directory.1)St Louis Directory, 1860, St. Louis, Missouri, R. V. Kennedy & Co Publishing, St. Louis, 1860; database, copyright 2007, Robert M. Doerr, (www.rollanet.org/~bdoerr/1860CyDir/1860CD-M.htm#M : accessed 26 Nov 2016), James Morrissey. Drayman were usually beer and liquor suppliers who delivered their products on horse drawn wagons.

This occupation is consistent with his life in Washington, D.C. where he is listed in City Directories2)Boyd’s Washington and Georgetown Directory, Andrew Boyd compiler, Washington, D.C., 1864, M, p 216, James Morrisey; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 Nov 2016), U.S. City Diretories, 1822-1995, Washington, D.C., 1864. and Tax Lists3)Records of the Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D.C., Record Group 58, Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for the District of Columbia, 1862-1866, NARA microfilm M760; digital images, Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 Nov 2016), U.S. Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918, 1863-1865, Jas Morrissey. as either a grocer, retail dealer or retail liquor dealer. And in Civil War draft registrations list him as a plasterer.4)Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865, Record of the Provost Marshall General’s Bureau, Record Group 110, v 5/5, NARA, Washington, D.C., digital images, Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 Nov 2016), U.S., Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865, District of Columbia, District 1, Class 2, James Morrissey.

political cartoon regarding the Richmond City delegates to the Virginia Consitutional Convention of 1867-1868 gives further confirmation of James’ occupation.5)“The members elect from Richmond city,” Southern Opinion, 7 Dec 1867, engraving by Torsoh; digital image, Encyclopedia Virginia, (http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/media_player?mets_filename=evr8202mets.xml : accessed 26 Nov 2016), Library of Virginia.

james-morrissey-treasury-dept-appointment
Certificate of Appointment, James Morrissey, Inspector of Customs, Richmond, VA, 4 Mar 1870 by J. M. Humphreys

While I suspect that James returned to Richmond shortly after the end of the war, it isn’t until the 1870 U.S. Census that a record lists his occupation as a “Customs House clerk.”6)1870 U.S. Census, Henrico County, Virginia, population schedule, Richmond City, Monroe Ward, p 208 [printed], dwelling 1131, James Morrissey; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 Nov 2016), citing NARA, microfilm M593, image 391405. James appears to hold this appointment through at least 1885.7)Official Register of the United States, containing a list of the Officers and Employees in the Civil, Military and Naval Service, Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., microfilm, Oregon State Library; digital images, Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 Nov 2016), U.S., Register of Civil, Military and Naval Service, 1863-1959, 1885, v 1, p 198, Customs Service, Richmond, James Morrissey.

Bertha Morrissey’s genealogy records reveal much more interesting facts about James’ employment history. James writes a letter on 9 Oct 1869 in application to the Commissioner of the IRS in Washington, D.C., for Richmond’s Tobacco Inspector.8)James Morrissey, Tobacco Inspector Application letter, 9 Oct 1869, Bertha Morrissey Collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia. In the older style of letters, it is one sheet measuring 9 3/4″ by 15 1/2″and folded in half. On the first page is James’ application letter. Page 2 are recommendations from H. G. Bond, Register of Banking, and B. W. Gillis, publisher of the Daily State Journal newspaper. Page 3 is empty. Page 4 are recommendations from a “James H. Platt Jr, MC” and Congressman Charles H. Porter. It is Mr Platt’s recommendation that draws the most attention. He writes, “I have known Mr. Morrissy for the past two years and believe him to be a most excellent man, he has been a hard working republican, and should be rewarded, he has suffered in person and estate for his political opinions, weilds a large influence here and will be compelled to leave unless he is appointed to position.” [All spelling and grammar mistakes are the original authors.] In researching Mr. Platt, I discover that he was a member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868 and a Congressman. The “MC”  suffix likely means “Member of Congress.”

Bertha Morrissey’s records also contains several photocopies of handwritten letters regarding James’ career. The first set in the series are regarding James’ appointment to Chief of Police of Richmond.

In an intimate letter dated 23 Feb 1969 from Washington, D.C. Hon. J.F. Driggs, a congressman from Michigan, writes to General O. B. Wilcox, “he was imprisoned by the Rebels during the war because of his unionism. He is strongly endorsed by Gov. Wells, by the Mayor of Richmond, and by all of the true men of the City.”9)J. F. Driggs letter to Gen. O. B. Wilcox, photocopy, 23 Feb 1869, Bertha Morrissey collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.

The Jefferson and Clay Ward Republicans Club in Richmond also endorse James for Chief of Police.10)Endorsement letters, Jefferson and Clay Ward, Richmond, Virginia, Bertha Morrissey Collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.

In October 1869, there is a series of letters regarding James’ appointment to Tobacco Inspector including those already mentioned. Notably, Richmond Mayor George Cahoon writes on 20 Oct 1869 to the Secretary of the Treasury, “Mr. Morrissey has labored faithfully, nobly and effectively for the union cause since the evacuation of Richmond, after having lost all that he had during the war.”11)Hon. George Cahoon, to Secretary of the Treasury, 20 Oct 1869, photocopy, Bertha Morrissey Collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.

james-morrissey-tobacco-inspector-letter-from-alex-sharp-to-gen-dent
Letter from Major Alexander Sharp to General F. T. Dent, 23 Oct 1869.

Among the name dropped letters appears the most interesting. On 23 Oct 1969, Major Alexander Sharp (signed Alex Sharp), U. S. Marshall for the District of Columbia (and former postmaster of Richmond) writes to General Frederick Tracy Dent (addressed to Gen. F. T. Dent), Military Secretary to President Ulysses S. Grant, regarding James’ appointment to Tobacco Inspector. He writes, “I desire very much, that Mr James Morrisy of Richmond Va, who was one, if not the most influential Irish Republicans of that city, should have a few minutes conversation with the President in reference to the appointment of Tobacco Inspector for which place I cordially endorse him. I shall speak to the Pres. myself at the first opportunity in Mr. Morrissy’s behalf.”12)Alexander Sharp to Frederick Dent, 23 Oct 1869, photocopy, Bertha Morrissey Collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.

This is a photocopied letter, but on the left side of the photocopy is another brief note. “Respectfully refered to the Com. of Int. Rev. U. S. Grant, Oct 23, ’69” In the letter from Maj. Sharp to Gen. Dent a meeting with the President is requested, but this brief note he passes along his endorsement as well.

james-morrissey-us-grant-recommendation-with-signature
Endorsement of President Ulysses S. Grant, 23 Oct 1869.

Finally, Hon. Lunsford Lomax Lewis who at the time was a Judge on the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals writes a letter of congratulations to James on 12 Sep 1889 for his newest appointment.13)Hon L. L. Lewis to James Morrissey, 12 Sep 1889, photocopy, Bertha Morrissey Collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.

So, while typical genealogy records can trace James as living in Richmond and Washington, D.C. during the Civil War, these personal correspondence give new insights into James’ experience during that era. He suffered physically and financially, was jailed, and lost all he had for the Union. And while he rubbed shoulders with Richmond area politicians, we have more evidence of James’ relationship with Ulysses Grant. James later writes that he “rendered valuable service of a private nature to Gen’l U.S. Grant.”

Next: James Morrissey’s Political Beliefs

 

 

References   [ + ]

1. St Louis Directory, 1860, St. Louis, Missouri, R. V. Kennedy & Co Publishing, St. Louis, 1860; database, copyright 2007, Robert M. Doerr, (www.rollanet.org/~bdoerr/1860CyDir/1860CD-M.htm#M : accessed 26 Nov 2016), James Morrissey.
2. Boyd’s Washington and Georgetown Directory, Andrew Boyd compiler, Washington, D.C., 1864, M, p 216, James Morrisey; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 Nov 2016), U.S. City Diretories, 1822-1995, Washington, D.C., 1864.
3. Records of the Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D.C., Record Group 58, Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for the District of Columbia, 1862-1866, NARA microfilm M760; digital images, Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 Nov 2016), U.S. Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918, 1863-1865, Jas Morrissey.
4. Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865, Record of the Provost Marshall General’s Bureau, Record Group 110, v 5/5, NARA, Washington, D.C., digital images, Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 Nov 2016), U.S., Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865, District of Columbia, District 1, Class 2, James Morrissey.
5. “The members elect from Richmond city,” Southern Opinion, 7 Dec 1867, engraving by Torsoh; digital image, Encyclopedia Virginia, (http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/media_player?mets_filename=evr8202mets.xml : accessed 26 Nov 2016), Library of Virginia.
6. 1870 U.S. Census, Henrico County, Virginia, population schedule, Richmond City, Monroe Ward, p 208 [printed], dwelling 1131, James Morrissey; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 Nov 2016), citing NARA, microfilm M593, image 391405.
7. Official Register of the United States, containing a list of the Officers and Employees in the Civil, Military and Naval Service, Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., microfilm, Oregon State Library; digital images, Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 Nov 2016), U.S., Register of Civil, Military and Naval Service, 1863-1959, 1885, v 1, p 198, Customs Service, Richmond, James Morrissey.
8. James Morrissey, Tobacco Inspector Application letter, 9 Oct 1869, Bertha Morrissey Collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.
9. J. F. Driggs letter to Gen. O. B. Wilcox, photocopy, 23 Feb 1869, Bertha Morrissey collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.
10. Endorsement letters, Jefferson and Clay Ward, Richmond, Virginia, Bertha Morrissey Collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.
11. Hon. George Cahoon, to Secretary of the Treasury, 20 Oct 1869, photocopy, Bertha Morrissey Collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.
12. Alexander Sharp to Frederick Dent, 23 Oct 1869, photocopy, Bertha Morrissey Collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.
13. Hon L. L. Lewis to James Morrissey, 12 Sep 1889, photocopy, Bertha Morrissey Collection, privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, Chesterfield County, Virginia.