Item #010106 1861 – The most spectacular anti-secession patriotic envelope published during the Civil War. Harbach, Brothers.

1861 – The most spectacular anti-secession patriotic envelope published during the Civil War

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1861. Unbound. This unused patriotic propaganda envelope is known as “the Snake of South Carolina.” It was produced and sold by Harbach & Bro. of Philadelphia early in 1861.

The design is printed in five colors: red, blue, brown, green, and purple. It features a bald eagle in the midst of killing a nest of vipers while standing in front of the National Colors and upon a ripped and torn Confederate flag. Fort Sumter can be seen in the distance along with small portraits of President Andrew Jackson and his Vice-President John C. Calhoun. Text on the reverse reads in part:

“The destruction of the Snake of South Carolina / Nullification and Secession, and all her progeny by the / NATIONAL BIRD. / To portray the ultimate overthrow of the evil power, which strikes at the like / of the National Government, is the object of this cut. . ..”

. Very good. Item #010106

The use of Jackson and Calhoun images along with the term “nullification,” harkens back to Jackson’s tumultuous presidency which presaged the Civil War. While too complex to detail here, the pair soon came to detest each other shortly after their inauguration over spats between their wives, social insults, pork barrel politics, and the revelation that during the First Seminole War Calhoun had led an attempt to relieve Jackson from his military duties. However, it was Calhoun’s support of states’ rights and Jackson’s disavowal of the same that fractured the Executive Branch. In 1828 and 1832, Congress passed two laws imposing tariffs that aided the North’s economy while harming that of the South. Calhoun resigned his position as Vice-President to campaign against the tariff acts and urging their nullification by the Southern States. Under his leadership, South Carolina passed an ordinance declaring those acts unconstitutional and ordering no such taxes were to be collected in the state. In response President Jackson deployed several warships and an army force under the command of General Winfield Scott to Charleston to ensure federal laws were enforced, after which, South Carolina suspended its nullification ordinance. Precedence had been set by force; all states were required to enforce federal laws even if they found some detrimental to their interests. Jackson’s actions prevented bloodshed over states’ rights, but only until the issue boiled over thirty years later with regard to slavery.

This envelope is exceptionally scarce and considered the most desirable patriotic cover issued during the Civil War. A postally used example, one of only a few known, sold at a 2016 Seigel philatelic auction for $14,000. While unused examples are not so rare, they only infrequently appear at auction or for sale.

(For more information, see Long’s “Jackson vs. Calhoun” at the Ohio State University’s eHistory website, Lane’s American Philatelic Society Handbook “The Harry F. Allen Collection of Black Jacks,” and auction results at the StampAuction Network, all available online.


Price: $200.00

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