Leonore (Ella) Wertheimer, the daughter of Adolph Wertheimer and Freda Lust Wertheimer, was born Melbourne, Australia, in 1898. Rosa had been born in 1895 and Rudi in 1897. Ella later wrote: "I was an avid tomboy, full of energy, climbing the highest branches, dreaming wild adventures to share with my gentle brother, who was just a year older... Rudi and I shared everything. Having learned to read at four, I could read aloud to him as we lay on our stomachs on the nursery floor."
When she was at junior school she experienced Anti-Semitism. When she asked her mother what was happening, she replied: "It's time for us to tell you, it wasn't untrue, we were Jewish but we had you baptized when you were born, and Father and I were, too. So we are not Jewish now... We did it because there was so much hatred of Jews in Germany. We thought, in a new country one should make a fresh start. Why should one suffer disabilities needlessly? Since neither Father nor I have any religion, why should you children suffer possible disadvantages and discrimination, especially in another country where no one knows us or our background?"
The family changed its name to Winter and moved to London in 1910. Ella attended the North London Collegiate School. "Teachers played an important role in our school lives... I developed a really serious crush that lasted the rest of school, when I venerated Miss Eleanor Doorly, a very tall, slender, blond-haired woman, with large features and limpid gray eyes. She had long slender hands, which she used as she read aloud verse or parts of plays; it was she who discovered for me the Brownings, Shelley, Coleridge, Addison.... When it was my turn to sit next to Miss Doorly at lunch, I suffocated and afterward suffered tortures because I hadn't known what to say."
While she was at school she discovered the work of Oscar Wilde: "I approved of every argument in The Soul of Man Under Socialism and recited all of The Ballard of Reading Gaol. How dreadfully they treated him! I treasured my volumes in their pale-blue bindings and asked only for Wilde as presents. I stood up for him against all comers; my friend had gone to jail, unfairly, I thought, and I was on his side." After reading The Soul of Man Under Socialism Ella considered herself a socialist.
On the outbreak of the First World War Ella Winter volunteered for war work: "During my last school summer vacation, sixteen of us went farming as war work. Debenham (the large British department store) owned farms in Dorsetshire, and we were to replace farmers who could then go to war. We were promised newly built stables to live in and would be paid fourpence a day... It wasn't quite as pictured. Our lodgings were stables, but cold, bare, with stone floors and walls, tiny bunks jammed together, no electric light, no furniture, and no privacy. We were also underfed. Ravenous from the unaccustomed physical labour, we had to write home for food parcels."
Marion Phillips, knew the Winter family when they lived in Melbourne. Phillips was now living in London. "We all admired her extravagantly - her brilliant mind and effectiveness as a speaker, her activities as suffragist, pacifist, labour organizer... It was a red-letter day for us all when Marion came. She was striking-looking, with black hair, small hands and feet, intense brown eyes - and a stout, uncorseted, ungainly body, which one forgot in the acute discussions she always brought into being. I sat on a hassock, ears and eyes glued to her, drinking in what she said about events, political personalities - she knew everyone - and policies. She made public questions so alive and fascinating that I am sure politics must fill my world; Marion lived as I wanted to live, I would pattern my career on hers. I would not need to marry, any more than she had. My life, like hers, would be in my work."
Ella Winter studied at the University of London and the London School of Economics. Her tutors included Harold Laski ("always invigorating and original, his acute mind could penetrate all one's defenses and make one feel small"), R. H. Tawney ("analyzed the acquisitive society and the economic role of religion in our world"), Sidney Webb ("short, stubby... with squat brown beard and a lisp, delved into his enormous array of facts and the panorama of colonial history), L. T. Hobhouse ("huge, lionlike... examined mind and morals evolving"), Graham Wallas ("his lectures dealt with a newspaper's everyday items"), Clement Attlee ("rather unimpressive... explained the usefulness of charity and took us to the slums") and Lilian Knowles ("a stout woman lecturer who looked like a provincial housewife, revealed to me the economic underpinnings of history").
Winter later admitted that all the writers she admired were "politically minded". This included H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, Arnold Bennett, Henry Nevinson, H. N. Brailsford, Henry J. Massingham. She added that Granville Barker and Lillah McCarthy "were explosive off stage or on". Winter observed that most of the "best journalists... held socialist or near-socialist views; hardly an intelligent person did not, it seemed."
In 1918 her tutor, Graham Wallas, told Ella that his friend, Professor Felix Frankfurter, was coming to London. "A good friend of mine has come to London on a highly confidential mission and asks me to suggest someone to help him... Felix Frankfurter is a professor at the Harvard Law School and Chairman of the War Labour Policies Board in America, and is here to learn what he can from England's experience. Would you like to work for him."
Winter met Frankfurter at Claridge's Hotel. "He was a short, mercurial man, with glasses and a cleft chin, who smiled, talked in quick staccato phrases, flung questions at one, while attending to twenty other matters at the same time. His smile showed a row of dazzling teeth. Even at rest he seemed in motion. He was warm, friendly, trusting, and assumed so immediately and unquestionably that I would do this job, indeed that I could do anything, that doubt, fear, hesitation vanished."
As a research assistant and secretary for Frankfurter, she attended the Versailles Peace Conference in December 1918. Frankfurter asked her to take a message to Lincoln Steffens. "He's a great wit, Steffens is, fond of saying things differently. He's an American newspaperman, much older than you, in his early fifties; he muckraked our cities, knows a lot about politics. You can learn from him, he'll give you a different picture than you got at the London School of Economics." Ella Winter later recalled: "The man was not tall, but he had a striking face, narrow, with a fringe of blond hair, a small goatee, and very blue eyes, and he stood there smiling. The face had wonderful lines... There was something devilish - or was it impish? - in the way this figure stood grinning at me."
Winter recalled that Felix Frankfurter seemed to know everyone at the conference. "Frankfurter had a foothold, or at least a toe-hold, it seemed, in about every delegation. He knew everyone and heard everything. People smiled when they talked of Felix - everybody called him that, so I adopted the habit, but not to his face. He was a magnet attracting politicians and statesmen, labor leaders, diplomats. As I went about his interests on practically a daily Cook's tour of the Peace Conference, I found friends, colleagues, and ex-students of his in almost every office. His name was an open sesame."
Frankfurter also introduced her to Prince Feisal and T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia): "The young, beautiful Prince Feisal was always followed by his group of tall, imposing, silent Arabs in long white robes and head dress, and by his shadow, Colonel T. Lawrence, also in native dress. Lawrence was short and fragile-looking, with a delicate, poetic face, but he appeared as much at home with the desert Bedouins and the prince he seemed so attached to as with European diplomats. Felix was as much intrigued by Lawrence's role in all the Middle Eastern politics as with his romantic appearance." Frankfurter told Winter: "Use every opportunity to meet people in person. The English are not very enterprising. You with your zip and energy belong to the United States: you ought to go there, but take my counsel now, use every chance to make personal contacts. They are what count in life. You never know when one may become important."
After her return to London she finished her studies worked for the Committee on Nationalization. An active member of the Labour Party, between 1920 and 1923 she was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliamentary Labour Party. During this period she became close friends with Beatrice Webb, Sidney Webb, Marion Phillips, Bertrand Russell and Josiah Wedgwood.
Ella Winter attempted to become a journalist. She was turned down by the Daily News because she was "too young and inexperienced". George Lansbury, the editor of the Daily Herald, offered her a job writing about "fashions or cooking". She rejected the idea and accepted a post teaching at the London School of Economics. She also lectured on behalf of the Workers' Educational Association (WEA) "explaining to tired clerks and office workers the magnificent benefits of socialism and nationalization, which they could not have cared less about".
At this time William Heinemann asked Winter to translate a German best seller, The Diary and Letters of Otto Braun. He was a poet and scholar who had been killed during the First World War. The preface was written by Havelock Ellis and Winter visited him a few times: "He was an astonishing old man, extremely tall and imposing, with a large head, white hair, and a bushy square beard. He lived alone in a small flat and, to my surprise, made the tea and carried in the tray." Ellis told her: "My wife lives in another flat, we feel that's better for our relationship." Winter pointed out: "When he discussed marriage, I kept very still lest he stop, but I was uncomfortable because he kept his eyes glued on the opposite wall and did not look at me. He developed this habit, I supposed, when he interviewed women about their sex lives for his Psychology of Sex. Presumably one talked more freely that way, but it gave me an eerie feeling. He did not ask me about my sex life. I was rather hurt."
In the 1922 General Election Ella agreed to help H. Wells, the Labour Party candidate for London University. One of those who helped him in his campaign was Ella Winter. She later recalled in her autobiography, And Not to Yield (1963): "The constituency consisted of London University teachers and students anywhere in the world, present and past; the campaign was carried out mainly by mail. I had known Wells slightly, but never before seen him troubled about the effects of his well-known unconventional behavior. Had we not regarded him as the apostle of women's rebellion and women's freedom? I was disillusioned when he wondered whether he ought to send out a letter justifying, possibly excusing, those actions. I was also surprised to find how little he knew of, and how childish he seemed about, practical politics." The campaign was unsuccessful and Wells only won 19% of the vote.
Whenever Lincoln Steffens came to London he spent a great deal of time with Ella Winter. After he returned from the Soviet Union, where he interviewed Lenin he said to Bernard Baruch, "I have seen the future and it works." Steffens admitted that "it was harder on the real reds than it was on us liberals". For example Emma Goldman, told him that she was strongly opposed to the communist government. "Emma Goldman, the anarchist who was deported to that socialist heaven, came out and said it was hell. And the socialists, the American, English, the European socialists, they did not recognize their own heaven. As some will put it, the trouble with them was that they were waiting at a station for a local train, and an express tore by and left them there. My summary of all our experiences was that it showed that heaven and hell are one place, and we all go there. To those who are prepared, it is heaven; to those who are not fit and ready, it is hell."
Winter became increasingly radicalised during this period. A visit from Marion Phillips, who was now a senior figure in the Labour Party, ended up in a heated discussion about the Russian Revolution. Winter later described the incident: "When the conversation turned to the Russian Revolution and Bolshevism, the evening, to my dismay, exploding into astonishing hostility and bitterness from Marion Phillips. Like the official Labour Party, she was implacably opposed to the Russian Revolution, but it did not occur to me that her enmity and personal rudeness may have been partly due to her realization that she was losing me."
In 1924 Ella Winter agreed to live with Steffens, thirty-two years her senior. They moved to Paris and spent some time with William Christian Bullitt and Louise Bryant, who had just got married. Bryant was the widow of John Reed. Winter later wrote in her autobiography, And Not to Yield (1963): "We saw much of Louise Bryant and Billy Bullitt, Louise very pregnant in an Arabian Nights maternity gown of black and gold that I thought could have been worn by a Persian queen. Billy hovered over her like a mother hen." A daughter, Anne Moen Bullitt, was born in 24th February, 1924.
The couple also spent time with Ernest Hemingway, a young writer he discovered. According to Justin Kaplan, the author of Lincoln Steffens: A Biography (1974): "Among the younger men Steffens saw in Paris, Ernest Hemingway appeared to him to have the surest future, the most buoyant confidence, and the best grounds for it." Steffens told Ella Winter: "He's fascinated by cablese, sees it as a new way of writing." Winter explained: "Stef loved anything new, original, or experimental, and he especially cherished young people. He was sending Hemingway's stories to American magazines, and they were coming back, but this did not alter his opinion." Steffens told anyone who would listen: "Someone will recognize that boy's genius and then they'll all rush to publish him." Hemingway also encouraged Winter to write: "It's hell. It takes it all out of you; it nearly kills you; but you can do it."
Ella Winter became pregnant. She later explained, "Steff wanted the baby, but not to be again a married man... Illegitimacy, so dread a concept to me, meant nothing to him; in fact, he regarded it as rather an advantage." He argued "love-children have always been the best, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Erasmus" and added "I'm an anarchist, I don't want the law to dictate to me." However, he changed his mind and they married in Paris when she was six months pregnant. Their son Pete Steffens was born in San Romeo, in 1924.
By this stage of his career Steffens found difficulty in finding magazines willing to publish his work. He believed it was because he had campaigned against the imprisonment of James and Joseph McNamara, convicted of the Los Angeles Times Bombing. Steffens complained: "Editors are afraid of me since I took the McNamaras' part ten years ago. I was condemned by everybody." He wrote an article, Oil and Its Political Implications , that he was very pleased with but could not find a publisher for it. He told Ella, "I don't seem able to state my truths so that they'll be accepted. I must find a new form."
Although they did not want his articles several publishers had offered him contracts to write his autobiography. He had talked about it, but the job seemed too vast. Steffens was also a perfectionist. According to Ella he "wrote on small pad pages by hand, wrote and rewrote" unwilling to leave a paragraph "until the prose sings". He insisted that "I can't leave a paragraph until it's perfect. That's how I trained myself to write."
In 1927 Winter and Steffens moved to the U.S. and settled in Carmel, California (Winter became a naturalized American citizen in 1929). Winter wrote: "Carmel had been created when a real-estate man decided to enhance the value of the land by developing it and offering free lots to any artist who would build. Among early settlers were George Sterling, the California poet, Jack London, Mary Austin, Ambrose Bierce... Now Carmel was an artists' colony, with painters, writers, musicians, photographers living in little wooden or stone cottages." During this period Winter and Steffens befriended a number of artists, journalists, and political figures, including Albert Rhys Williams, John Steinbeck, Robinson Jeffers, Harry Leon Wilson and Marie de L. Welch.
In 1930 Ella Winter visited the Soviet Union with a group of American politicians including Burton Wheeler, Bronson Cutting, Robert A. Taft and Alben Barkley. She wrote to Steffens in August: "The chief trouble with some Americans is that they bring their own economic ideas and judge Russia by them... I'm beginning to see that economic laws are dependent on time and place, too, and are relative, not absolute... Moscow is torn up, new paving being hurried through before winter. Everywhere new buildings - it's like New York. These new buildings are modern - of the sort that excited us so in Los Angeles... My room at the Grand Hotel is on the Square and the trams are noisy. Wheeler says there were practically no trams in 1923 - and you should just see the numbers of automobiles."
Winter later wrote about her first time to the Soviet Union: "The trip was a revelation. However much I had heard, I had not pictured the reality. These were still in many ways the early revolutionary days, with the fire and excitement, the hope and enthusiasm of the new young world. People were poor, certainly, poorly dressed, living in a single room, short of many things, with the shop windows exhibiting cardboard pictures of meat, vegetables, and eggs rather than the real thing. Yet millions of children, workers' children who before had had nothing and could hope for nothing, were eating, singing, dancing, holding hands in the new nursery schools, freed from squalor and disease and neglect. Health and education, literacy and knowledge were replacing the results of centuries of poverty and ignorance." Lincoln Steffens did not share Ella's enthusiasm for the Soviet form of government. He never joined the American Communist Party but Ella became an active member.
Steffens's memoirs, Autobiography, was published in April 1931. It was a great success and as Ella Winter has pointed out: "He had to talk everywhere, at bookshops, lunches, meetings, and autograph copies even for the salesgirls in bookstores... I couldn't help feeling proud. The six years' doubts, agonies, despairs had their reward. I felt Stef had done what he sought to do, showed in a wealth of anecdote and incident what he had learned and unlearned in the course of his life... He had told the stories he had been telling me for years and which had so opened my eyes." Steffens told Ella: "I guess I'm a success. I guess I'll go down in history now."
In 1931 Ella Winter visited Germany. She managed to obtain an interview with General Erich Ludendorff. He asked her what magazines she was working for. Winter replied, Harper's Magazine and Scribner's Magazine. Ludendorff commented: "In the hands of Freemasons, both of them; of course you know that... The Freemasons, the Bolsheviks, the world international financiers are trying to rule the world... They and the Jews." Winter later pointed out: "I had not heard such talk outside a mental hospital and did not know how to proceed with a supposedly rational political interview."
Winter also returned to the Soviet Union and was impressed by the progress the government was making: "As on my earlier visit, I was particularly concerned with the changes in the status of women, one of the most underprivileged sections of the old society. I found that part of the new Russian plan was the determined drive to get women out of the kitchen and into public life, the farm, industry, the professions. Soviet women were judges, doctors, engineers, editors, bricklayers, and were learning to utilize their new independence."
However, she found the country struggling to modernize. She wrote to Lincoln Steffens: "In the midst of the new and visionary I found an inefficiency that could drive one to desperation. I suppose it's because they've had to be so hurriedly trained and have no experience, and centuries of apathy to overcome, and perhaps just because they can get jobs whether they're good or not. But it takes days to get anything done. They never make an appointment, they tell you to come and then they'll arrange when you must must telephone again to ask for an appointment. Lifts are always out of order; a current anecdote has a 'lift factory' entirely devoted to manufacture of the notices LIFT OUT OF ORDER".
Ella Winter saw Maxim Gorky lecture on literature to students during a visit in 1932: "He (Gorky) was like a stringy poplar tree, tall and thin and frail, his face, with its big walrus mustache, paper yellow like old parchment. He looked as if he might topple over. But he talked for an hour, about writing and literary problems, and held his audience; some inner strength seemed to support him."
Winter's first book, Red Virtue: Human Relations in the New Russia, was published in 1933. It received some good reviews. The Chicago Tribune wrote that "the book becomes a presentation of the Russian Communist as a stumbling human being, as anxious as the next person to solve the urgent problem of human happiness... and an admirable study of people actually trying to change the processes of human nature, and who think they have." The New Yorker believed the "author maintains a degree of objective detachment that would do credit to the most austere sociologist".
Ella Winter went to interview Harry Bridges during the waterfront strike in 1934: "In San Francisco I went first to the longshoremen's headquarters on the Embarcadero and found Harry Bridges, the voluble and tough union leader, a wire spring of a man with a narrow, sharp-featured, expressive face, popping eyes, and strong Australian accent. He heartily greeted a fellow Australian, a limey, as he dubbed me, though I was a little taken aback at my first real taste of a worker's intemperate language." Bridges told her that previous strikes had been crushed and a company union set up: "The seamen couldn't get together because they were divided into so many crafts, machinists, cooks, stewards, ships' scalers, painters, boilermakers, the warehousemen on the docks, and the teamsters who hauled the goods. The bosses want to keep it that way so they can make separate contracts for each craft and in each port, which weakens our bargaining position. We're asking for one coastwise contract, from Portland to San Pedro, for the whole industry, and a raise too, but the most important thing we want is a hiring hall under the men's control."
Steffens also supported the strikers. On 19th July 1934 he wrote to Frances Perkins, the Secretary of Labor: "There is hysteria here, but the terror is white, not red. Business men are doing in this Labor struggle what they would have liked to do against the old graft prosecution and other political reform movements, yours included... Let me remind you that this widespread revolt was not caused by aliens. It takes a Chamber of Commerce mentality to believe that these unhappy thousands of American workers on strike against conditions in American shipping and industry are merely misled by foreign Communist agitators. It's the incredibly dumb captains of industry and their demonstrated mismanagement of business that started and will not end this all-American strike and may lead us to Fascism."
Peter Hartshorn, the author of I Have Seen the Future: A Life of Lincoln Steffens (2011), has argued: "The final agreement saw concessions made by both sides, with the result being the continued emergence of an organized labor voice in California and nationwide, an achievement in which Steffens took some consolation. Perkins herself did not ignore Steffens, inviting him the following year to attend a San Francisco meeting of West Coast leaders."
Steffens continued to help young writers. He wrote to his friend, Sam Darcy on 25th February, 1936, about the work of John Steinbeck and his novel, In Dubious Battle: "His novel is called In Dubious Battle, the story of a strike in an apple orchard. It's a stunning, straight, correct narrative about things as they happen. Steinbeck says it wasn't undertaken as a strike or labor tale and he was interested in some such theme as the psychology of a mob or strikers, but I think it is the best report of a labor struggle that has come out of this valley. It is as we saw it last summer. It may not be sympathetic with labor, but it is realistic about the vigilantes."
Lincoln Steffens, aged seventy, became very ill that summer. He was diagnosed as suffering from arteriosclerosis, but refused to leave his home in Carmel, California. He told his doctor: "I'd rather die sooner than leave my own home". He died on 9th August 1936. According to Ella Winter his last words were "No, no. I can't..."
Winter remained active in politics and was a founder member of the League of American Writers (LAW), an organization that attempted "to get writers out of their ivory towers and into the active struggle against Nazism and Fascism." She also wrote articles for the Manchester Guardian, The Nation, New Republic, New York Times, Daily News, Scribner's Magazine, Collier's Magazine and the Ladies' Home Journal.
At a conference in November 1937, Winter met the writer, Donald Ogden Stewart. She was introduced as the widow of Lincoln Steffens. Stewart later commented: "I dimly remembered from my youth Steffens' muckraking articles in father's bound volumes of McClure's magazine, and I awaited gray hair and a few sad but brave wrinkles. To my astonishment, there came to the front of the platform a handsome middle-aged brunette who had the most extraordinary black eyes, alternately luminous and flashing as she spoke in a charming British voice." In her speech she "welcomed especially the humorists who had come from Hollywood, because what the Movement needs is humor, humor and more humor," and added "Dorothy Parker and Donald Ogden Stewart in one sentence can help us more than a thousand jargon-filled pamphlets."
Ella Winter described their first meeting in her autobiography, And Not to Yield (1963): "He was tall and slender and very graceful, with blond hair and blue eyes that very often held a puckish look like that of a wise and naughty child. Humorous and gentle, shy and warmhearted, Don was strangely untouched by the Hollywood he had lived and worked in for some years.... He had lately become passionately interested in what was happening politically in Europe, the United States, Germany, California; he read hungrily, and was fascinated by my experiences."
In 1938 Stewart's wife, Beatrice Ames Stewart, divorced him to marry Count Ilya Andreyevich Tolstoy. "Bea meanwhile had successfully obtained a Florida divorce and I was free to marry Ella. There was, however, one small hitch: She wasn't in any particular hurry to get married. Her hesitancy arose partly out of concern over presenting without careful preparation her eleven-year-old son, Pete Steffens, with a stepfather. The relationship between Pete and Lincoln Steffens had been extremely tender and close." The couple eventually married in 1939.
In August 1939, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler signed the Soviet-Nazi Pact. Soon afterwards Hitler gave orders for the invasion of Poland. This forced Neville Chamberlain to declare war on Nazi Germany, therefore starting the Second World War. Three weeks later Stalin ordered the Red Army to invade Poland from the east, meeting the Germans in the centre of the country. The leaders of the American Communist Party accepted Stalin's message that the war was not against fascism but just another "imperialist war between capitalistic nations".
Under the influence of the American Communist Party, the League of American Writers supported Stalin's new foreign policy. Most members left the organisation in disgust but Winter and Stewart remained loyal. As Stewart explained in By a Stroke of Luck (1975): "I just couldn't be unfaithful to my friends or my side. So I didn't denounce any Communist-controlled organizations of which I was president or to which my name was helpful. My growing doubts about the American Communist Party's interpretation of Marxism didn't affect my belief in the superior wisdom of the remote Soviet Union which, being so distant, in no way challenged my personal ethics."
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan, Winter and Stewart were recruited by Archibald MacLeish, head of the Office of War Information. This included writing speeches for "War Administration big shots" and scripts for war propaganda radio programmes. Stewart was especially proud of a script he wrote for a radio documentary: "I chose as my subject an actual happening in a small Ohio town where, in a truly joint effort, each person contributed labor according to his or her ability. For the first few weeks, the war effort became democratic in the sense in which I hoped all of America might some day become, that is, of people working together in equality and for each other instead of competing in a rat race for financial security and status." However, it was considered too left-wing and was never broadcast.
In May 1944 Ella Winter was contacted by Ted Thackrey, the editor of the New York Post, and invited to be their Moscow correspondent. Winter agreed and in her autobiography, And Not to Yield (1963): "I went everywhere: to hospitals and farms, libraries, churches, rehabilitation homes for the blind and mutilated, psychiatric clinics, orphanages, the ballet, the children's theater. I discovered that when the Nazis entered a village, they hanged librarians and schoolteachers first. We were taken on trips to Leningrad, Minsk, Tallin in Estonia, and the Volga-Don canal. I interviewed tank drivers, farmers, women fighter pilots and snipers - even the famous girl sniper Pavlichenko, who had shot sixty men. I talked to an eighteen-year-old red-cheeked peasant girl who had fled from a German prison and spent three terrified weeks on the road."
On her return to the United States she published I Saw the Russian People (1946). As Donald Ogden Stewart pointed out: "It was an honest, moving account of the heroism of the common people during the war; it was equally honest about her discovery of certain disquieting developments since her original visit in the early thirties, which she had told about in her Red Virtue. Her book was unfortunately completed in the face of the growing fears and apprehensions of the Cold War. The heroism of Russian resistance to Hitler and the hopes of the war-time alliance were beginning to be overwhelmed by the post-war actions and reactions of East and West."
In June, 1950, three former FBI agents and a right-wing television producer, Vincent Harnett, published Red Channels, a pamphlet listing the names of 151 writers, directors and performers who they claimed had been members of subversive organisations before the Second World War. The names had been compiled from FBI files and a detailed analysis of the Daily Worker, a newspaper published by the American Communist Party. The list included Winter and Donald Ogden Stewart. A free copy was sent to those involved in employing people in the entertainment industry. All those people named in the pamphlet were blacklisted until they appeared in front of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and convinced its members they had completely renounced their radical past. Winter and Stewart were now blacklisted.
Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell were also on the list. The couple left Hollywood and moved back to New York City. In April 1951, Parker and Campbell were visited by two FBI agents. They asked if they knew Stewart, Winter, Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman, Ella Winter and John Howard Lawson and if they had attended meetings of the American Communist Party with them. The agents reported: "She (Parker) was a very nervous type of person... During the course of this interview, she denied ever having been affiliated with, having donated to, or being contacted by a representative of the Communist Party."
Winter and Stewart moved to England and rented the former house of Ramsay MacDonald at 103 Frognal, Hampstead. According to Norma Barzman, the actress, Katharine Hepburn, helped the Stewarts to renovate the house: "Its condition was so wretched the owners, the former prime minister's family, felt they couldn't ask for rent. Katharine Hepburn, the Stewarts' bosom friend for years, took one look at the house, said it was beautiful, came over every day for six weeks with a packed lunch from the Connaught Hotel, and helped Ella fix it up."
Over the next few years Ella Winter published The World of Lincoln Steffens (1962) and an autobiography, And Not to Yield (1963).
Donald Ogden Stewart died in London on 2nd August 1980. Ella Winter died two days later.
One Saturday morning, in the middle of November, I was in my office at Metro engaged in doing three rather contradictory things at once. I was trying to think of a scene for a film, the name of which I can no longer remember; I was reading the second volume of a history of the Russian Revolution by Leon Trotsky; and I was listening to the Yale-Princeton game on my radio. Usually a high-salaried screen writer doesn't go within miles of any studio on Saturday, but I was anxious to show Bernie Hyman that my political activities were not interfering with my devotion to good old M-G-M. Suddenly, just as Yale was on the eight yard line, the telephone rang and I cursingly answered. It was Dorothy Parker, and she wondered if I could fly up to San Francisco that afternoon to a Conference of Western Writers. Yale fumbled and lost the ball, and I said I would.
On the plane were fellow writers, Joel Sayre, Humphrey Cobb, Dorothy and her husband Alan Campbell. The conference was distinctly Left Wing, being run by sort of a Western branch of the League of American Writers, an organization set up in New York the year before "to get writers out of their ivory towers and into the active struggle against Nazism and Fascism." I didn't know anybody in the hall where the meeting was being held, or any of the speakers, but I was particularly impressed by the speech of a man who spoke with a sort of Cockney accent and whose name was Harry Bridges. He had been introduced amid tremendous enthusiasm as a Labor Leader, and I thrilled at the thought of such a man speaking to writers. This was getting closer to the real thing.
Then, with equal enthusiasm, there was introduced "the courageous untiring fighter against Nazism whom we all know, the widow of the great Lincoln Steffens, our beloved Ella Winter." I dimly remembered from my youth Steffens' muckraking articles in father's bound volumes of McClure's magazine, and I awaited gray hair and a few sad but brave wrinkles. To my astonishment, there came to the front of the platform a handsome middle-aged brunette who had the most extraordinary black eyes, alternately luminous and flashing as she spoke in a charming British voice. Her words were charming, too; she "welcomed especially the humorists who had come from Hollywood, because what the Movement needs is humor, humor and more humor," and added "Dorothy Parker and Donald Ogden Stewart in one sentence can help us more than a thousand jargon-filled pamphlets." By this time I was ready to help "our beloved Ella" do anything.
After the meeting we all met in a bar where she introduced me to Bridges, who instantly won my heart with his dry humor, his good sense, and his ability to drink large quantities of bourbon. Then Ella (she was "Ella" by then) took Harry and Dotty and the rest of our good old Hollywood delegation to the apartment of Paul Smith, a friendly young newspaper editor whose walls featured admiringly autographed photos of Lincoln Steffens and Herbert Hoover.
Next day came more thrills for the romantic convert when at Humphrey Cobbs' request we were taken over to San Quentin prison to interview Tom Mooney. The afternoon was featured by another meeting of the Western writers at which I pledged Hollywood's undying help, was promptly attacked as "just a giver of lavish publicity-seeking dances" by a furious all-out left wing writer and defended most ably by an even more furious flashing-eyed beauty named Ella Winter.
In Lincoln Steffens' Autobiography (which I promptly read) Ella is described as a "dancing girl," and I decided to see if he was as wise in that department of life as he was about politics. A month later Ella made a flying visit to Hollywood to raise money for a weekly magazine she was editing and after a try-out or two at the Trocadero I was able to give the Autobiography - and her - my unreserved admiration. This seemed to compensate somewhat for reports from Broadway that my play The New House was proving even more difficult to sell than Insurance. No reasons were give by Leland Hayward, other than "They just don't seem to care for the theme."
I do not suppose I could have been drawn to anyone who did not share my larger concerns. Don had become newly aware in the past few years of social questions, and it was all still fresh and challenging to him. He was tall and slender and very graceful, with blond hair and blue eyes that very often held a puckish look like that of a wise and naughty child. Humorous and gentle, shy and warmhearted, Don was strangely untouched by the Hollywood he had lived and worked in for some years. He was a gifted and humorous writer and talker, and he loved gaiety, cheerful people - a "gala" atmosphere, as he called it. He had lately become passionately interested in what was happening politically in Europe, the United States, Germany, California; he read hungrily, and was fascinated by my experiences. Radicals at this time were frequently charged with "boring from within," and when eventually Don and I began seeing more of each other, our friends were gaily malicious at what they thought of as the double success of my efforts -one was supposed only to influence ideas, not the holder of them.
Don was born in Columbus, Ohio, and he had characteristic American traits, from an outward conformism to a consuming interest in the World Series. But he had a rare courage and independence of mind, and a stubborn, almost puritan, integrity, which withstood all blandishments. (I soon dubbed him John Knox.) When he believed in something, he felt he must act on his beliefs. He was making speeches for the Hollywood anti-Nazi movement in out-of-the-way halls or on the piers of Venice or Santa Monica, unostentatiously and with an unconcern for possible effects on his Hollywood position. As the movement grew in the film colony, he was called on more and more to chair meetings - his spontaneous humor made him a witty, popular speaker and toastmaster-and to sign an increasing number of protests and petitions. His sponsorship of so many committees and delegations gave rise to a satiric story: when President Roosevelt awoke in the morning, he would ring for his orange juice, his coffee, and "the first eleven telegrams from Donald Ogden Stewart."
Bea meanwhile had successfully obtained a Florida divorce and I was free to marry Ella. The relationship between Pete and Lincoln Steffens had been extremely tender and close. So when I started on Love Affair, Ella brought Pete out and we took up trial residence in a small Westwood village house. Ames and Duck were entered at a boarding school in the Ojai Valley.
Beatrice had become the Countess Tolstoy. The only remaining problem of the changeover was the outcome of' my efforts to convert the son of Lincoln Steffens to the Stewart brand of paternity.
The problem was solved in a rather unexpected way. One evening in early March, 1939, Ella was helping Pete with his lessons when he suddenly looked up at her and asked: "Say, Mom, how long is it going to be before I can call this guy dad?" That did it, and we were married the next day at the court house in the nearby town of Ventura. That afternoon I made a speech before a Negro Youth Club and in the evening Joan Payson gave us a party at the Beachcombers, a new restaurant featuring a rum drink called a "Zombie."
I went everywhere: to hospitals and farms, libraries, churches, rehabilitation homes for the blind and mutilated, psychiatric clinics, orphanages, the ballet, the children's theater. I talked to an eighteen-year-old red-cheeked peasant girl who had fled from a German prison and spent three terrified weeks on the road.
"And what are you going to do now you're back?" I asked her. She lifted her weeping face, threw her head back, and in a sobbing voice cried, "I'm going back to my farm and I'm going to double my potato production!"
In a Leningrad orphanage I picked up a tiny three-year-old who had lost everyone - one of five thousand in that home. She put her arms tight around my neck. "Adopt me," she wailed, "please, please adopt me!"
One little boy told me he had "written Daddy again and again, and given the letter to a postman." It was addressed only by name, and when they asked where they'd find his father, the little boy said, "Oh, you'll know him easily enough from the hole in his shoe." And a child under drugs in a clinic, reliving the death by torture of his mother and a cherished uncle, cried out despairingly: "Grandmother, your heart can break with sorrow." The woman doctor found herself weeping as she wrote.
We saw fifty-seven thousand German prisoners marched silently through Moscow, with dulled, frightened eyes, their feet in rags, broken glasses lacking earpieces. People lining the route were silent. "Poor devils," one old woman said, "they couldn't help it, I don't suppose; they were forced into it like all the rest." When we interviewed the German prisoners and asked them why they had committed their outrages, they, one after the other, like mechanical toys, replied, "Befehl ist Befehl " ("Orders are orders").
Day after day in Russian cities or the rutted roads of villages I saw feats of endurance hard to conceive. In one village, where no men were left, the old women lived in holes underground, and smoke came out of the earth. I called on the mother of Zoya, the nineteen-year-old girl whom the Germans had tortured and hanged naked in the snow for her part in a partisan raid. The mother was in agony, but dared not give in. "If only my boy Shura lives!" she cried, "if only he be spared." He wasn't.
I went to a hospital where Doctor Frumkin, the surgeon who had cared for Lenin after he was shot, was constructing new sexual organs for mutilated soldiers. He told me about one young man so encouraged at the prospect of not being a eunuch that, under the guise of visiting a dying grandmother, he took a weekend off with his nurse "and tore my whole six-month surgical work to pieces." The doctor grinned. "But the young man didn't care, he was so jubilant that it had worked!"
© John Simkin, April 2013
Ella Winter - History
Source: History of Hancock County, Illinois, by Th. Gregg, 1880
Fractional township numbered 7-S lies above the bend of the river at Nauvoo, and is the northwest township in the county. It loses about one-third of its dimensions by the river one-third is broken timbered bluff land, and the remainder prairie. The south and south-eastern portions of the township are composed mainly of beautiful prairie land, embracing some fine farms owned by rich and properous farmers. Three or four streams enter the river from the south, heading out in the open prairie. Chief of these are Tyson and Rollosson creeks, which furnish considerable bodies of timber.
The early settlers were Edward White and Amzi Doolittle. Chauncy Robison was an early settler in the county, though not in this township till after the Morman exodus. The celebrated big prairie mound is located in this township, on section 25, on the summit of which the late Amos Davis built his fine residence,and where his widow still resides. The portion nearest to Nauvoo is partly settles by some German and French foreign immigrants, who came to the county after the Mormans left the city some of them belonged to the Icarian community. They are generally industrious and thirty citizens.
This township sports two towns, as yet very small ones. Appanoose, from which the township was named, was laid out by Edward White and Amzi Doolittle in 1836, nearly opposite Fort Madison, Iowa.
Niota, a later town, near the mouth of Tyson creek, also on the river, two miles below Appanoose, This was laid out by John H. Knapp, William Adams, George P. Eaton and J.P. Harper, in 1857.
Appanoose was named for an Indian chief of the Sac and Fox Indians, well known in those days about Fort Madison.
This township, lying on the river above the rapids, is supposed to have been the residence of several of the settlers previous to 1829, but who left the county at an early day. We know no one in the township who was there previous to the Black Hawk war. Many Mormons settled in this township and in Sonora, in the vicinity of Nauvoo, and since they left, their places have been supplied by newer immigrants.
Township officials - The town Officers that have served or are now serving this township are about as follows:
|James A. McCance||1850||I.D. Stone||1868|
|Fred R. Prentice||1852||Amzi Doolittle||1869|
|William Jackson||1853||I.D. Stone||1871|
|Wm. P. Logan||1858||Samuel Elliott||1872|
|William Jackson||1860||Hugh Jackson||1873|
|Samuel Elliott||1863||John Jackson||1874|
|Peter Wilsey||1866||George H. Rudisil||1876|
|Amzi Doolittle||1867||Leonard A. Hobbs||1878|
|George T. Thompson||1858||Charles G. Fish||1873|
|Hugh Jackson||1863||John Trouthart||1874|
|L.A. Hobbs||1866||Charles G. Fish||1876|
|Hugh Jackson||1869||John W. Bertchi||1879|
|Samuel V. Elliott||1870||Alexander Haymart||1880|
|Benjamin Ritter||1858||William Jackson||1863|
|Geo. T. Thompson||1859||Charles C. Ritter||1867-1880|
|Robert Mackie||1858||James Webb||1871|
|Gershom Pope||1863||James Hammond||1872|
|Robert Mackie||1864||Wm. G. Webb||1873|
|John D. Johnson||1865||Leonard A. Hobbs||1874|
|L.A. Hobbs||1866||George H. Rudisil||1875|
|Hugh Jackson||1867||Leonard A. Hobbs||1876|
|George Elliott||1870||John W. Bertchi||1877-1880|
Available biographies for this township are Amos Davis, Samuel T. Egan, Samuel V. Elliott, James Green, John Haigh, James Hammond, John Hobbs, L.A. Hobbs, Hugh Jackson, Robert Jackson, William Jackson, John Kennedy, James Lindsay Jr., James A. Ollis, Chauncy Robison, Lewis Sleight, James Webb, John Zingree.
Congressional, or surveyed, township number three north and range number five west of the fourth principal meridan (usually written 3n.5w., or 3-5 for short) is named Augusta, after the handsome and ambitious little city within its borders. The township is about one-third timbered land, the rest prairie the timber skirting the head waters of Panther creek in the northwest, Flower creek near the center, and William's creek near the south line. Augusta contains much valuable land and many fine farms. Many of its settlers are farmers of the first class-emigrants from the East and South, who came to the county to make permanent homes for themselves and their families.
The first settlers we can learn of in this township (and we cannot pretend to name them all, or in the order of their coming) were Alexander Oliver, Jesse and Shelton Phillips, Dr. Adolphus Allen, Benjamin Gould, Christopher E. Yates, George Sadler, Isaac Pidgeon, Solomon Stanley (these two last Quakers), Joel Catlin, Wm. D. Abernethy, Dr. Samuel B. Mead, Horace Mead, Alfred Mead and Jonathan Mead (the father died aged 87), James Bowman, P.P. Jones, Rober Ireland, Thomas Trimble, Thomas Rice, David H. Rice, John Wilson, P.P. Newcomb, Wm. Dexter, Wm. M. Dexter, Emsley Jackson, George W. Hawley, Benjamin Bacon, Alfred Skinner, Silas Griffith, John Jackson, George Jackson and E.S. Austin.
A number of these left the county again, while many of the more aged ones have gone to their reward.
Mr. Oliver settled over the line, in Adams county, but his land was in Hancock. He came in August preceding the "deep snow" (1830). He purchased his supply of provision for the winter in Rushville, just before the snow, and was not able to get them home till March, consequently hominy was the main support of himself, wife and eight children during the winter. His stock suffered severely, and he had to cut down bass-wood trees to keep his cattle from starving, tey eating the tops.
In July, 1832, during the Black Hawk war, Joel Catlin and Wm. D. Abernethy (brothers-in-law) came to "Oliver's Settlement," from Augusta, Georgia, though they were Eastern men. They located where the town of Augusta now stands, and gave the name to the place. Mr. Catlin resided there, an honored and influential citizen for a number of years, then removed to Jacksonville, where we believe he still lives at an advanced age. Mr. Abernethy was afterward Sheriff of the county, and subsequently went into business in Warsaw, where he died, about 1850, of cholera.
The Phillipses left early. One of them is remembered as being the manufacturer of the primitive mills for grinding corn, in use in those early days. He is not known to have ever patented it, so that any one is still at liberty to construct one for himself. We describe it for the benefit of our readers and for posterity. The mill was constructed in this wise: A boulder of proper size was obtained from Flower creek, or at any other creek, and made as level and flat as possible. It was then placed on top of a sawed log set endwise, or on a rude frame made for the purpose. This was then surmounted by another boulder of similar construction, set face to face, and these composed the upper and the nether millstones. They were held in place by a pivot in center, and made to turn as easily as possible. A hole was drilled in the upper stone near to one edge, into which a handle would be placed for turning it. The regular price for one of these mills was two dollars and a half.
Dr. Mead came to Augustaq in 1833 his father and brothers still later. He thinks he was, perhaps, the second practicing physician in the county, Dr. Isaac Galland being before him at Riverside, while Dr. John F. Charles came a little later to Carthage. See biography of Dr. Mead on a subsequent page.
In 1834 a postoffice was established at Augusta, W.D. Abernethy being the first postmaster. Elder Thomas H. Owen was contractor and carried the mail on route from Rushville to Carthage on horseback once a week. Dr. Mead was postmaster from 1840 to 1857.
In August or September, 1833, occurred the first burial in Augusta cemetery, the remains of Mr. John Anderson.
The first wedding that took place in the township, says Mr. Gould (and he is supposed to know), was that of Mr. Benjamin Gould and Miss Rebecca J. Jones, on Christman Day, 1833, Christopher E. Yates, Esq., performing the ceremony. "No cards."
The first 4th-of-July celebration is Augusta took place in the beautiful "Round Grove," which has since disappeared. This was in 1839 or 1840. Orator of the day, William N. Grover, Esq., of Warsaw.
Miss Ruth Bateman, sister to State Superintendent Bateman, taught the first school in 1835.
What was known in the early days as "Round Prairie," embraced a portion of Augusta township, a part of St. Mary's, and the adjoining portions of McDonough and Schuyler counties. This section, as a unit, ranks among the earliest settlements in the south part of the county, and embraces much beautiful country and many fine farms. It does not include the town of Augusta, and just how far it extends in other directions is not strictly defined. Like the "Great West," its borders are indefinite. Mr. Phillips, Mr. Yates, Dr. Allen, Mr. Bowman, Mr. Solomon Stanley and Mr. Pidgeon are perhaps the very first settlers in that part of Round Prairie belonging to Augusta.
Flour creek, now more properly written Flower , is said to have received its name from the following circumstance: In the turning from the Brooklyn mill with their grists one Sunday evening, when the "creek was up," crossing at the ford south of Plymouth with their ox team, a large and well-filled sack of flour was swept out of their wagon by the deep and rapid stream and supposed to be lost, but on the Wednesday following it was fished out, well preserved and in good order, except a thin crust next the sack -so saith the "oldest inhabitant," Mr. Allen Melton-- Young's Hist. Round Prairie.
How Panther creek obtained its title we can only guess but a fair presumption is, that animals of that name existed, or were suposed to exist, in its woods.
On Williams' creek, south of the town, are coal veins, which have supplied considerable quantities of coal for local use. But the vein is thin, and the cost of obtaining it too great and that article is now chiefly supplied from abroad by rail.
The town of Augusta was laid out by Joel Catlin, Wm. D Abernethy and Samuel B. Mead, Feb., 1836, and surveyed by James W. Brattle. Mr. Brattle was an early surveyor and an early settler in the county, now residing at Macomb, in a green old age. And right here we must tell an incident concerning him, related by Mr. Lawton, of Augusta township. Mr. B., old as he is, has not forgottten the business of his younger days and so, a year or two ago, Mr. L. had him re-establish some lines he had run 30 or 40 years ago. While so engaged, a young man of the vicinity came along, who did not know Mr. Bratte. The young man was asked if he knew who planted a certain stake. He replied, "I don't know unless it was old Jimmy Brattle." "This is Mr. Brattle," said Lawton. The young man look at him again: "I mean old man Brattle."
Augusta also contains the village of Pulaski, named for the patriot Polish count. It was laid out in 1836 by Alexander Oliver, Wm. McCready and Benjamin Bacon. Its growth has been very slow.
Mechanicsville, laid out in 1842, by Alanson Lyon, was also in this township. It was designed for a manufacturing center, and for a time bid fair to be a town of importance. But for some cause (probably the death of Mr. Lyon) it failed, and it is now one of the forgotten towns.
The first grist-mill in the township was established in 1833, by John Wilson run by horse-power.
The venerable P.P. Newcomb, born in Mass., 1804, and raised in Vt., came to Rushville 1830, to Augusta, 1836. The Rebellion dealt hard with this aged gentleman's family. Two sons went into the army the eldest, Wilbur Fiske, was wounded at the assault on Vicksburg under Grant, on 22d of June, and died 31st of June, on board the hospital boat J.C. Wood, at Memphis. The second, William L., was wounded Nov. 30, 1864, at Franklin, Tenn. was brought home and died 14th Jan., 1865 and his mother, Mrs. Ann (Munson) Newcomb died six days afterward from virus in dressing his wounds.
Dr. Adolphus Allen removed to Riverside and died many years ago Mr. Yates to Nauvoo, still living at an advanced age. Pidgeon went to Salem, Iowa Stanley back to N.C. The elder Mead and his sons Horace and Alfred, we believe are all deceased. So are Messrs. Dexter, Hawley, Ireland and Skinner. The latter was for many years one of the most active business men in the county. Mr. Bacon was a leading and honored citizen, resident of Pulaski, died much regretted many years since.
There are many other respected and honored pioneers of Augusta township, some of them still living, whom we would be glad to mention, if space would warrant. But a history of Augusta would not be complete that failed to name Eliphalet Strong Austin, the genuine, true-blue, whole-souled, musical Free-soiler, from the land of wooden nutmegs. Born in 1809, his parents removed to Ashtabula, O., in 1811, and in 1843 Strong came to Augusta. Was always an ardent Whig assisted in organizing the Republican party, and it is his boast to-day that he hesitated not to accept position as conductor on the U.G.R.R., and that no train under his care ever jumped the track or met with a smash-up.
Mr. A. married Miss Julia W. Hawley, in Northern Ohio, also from Conn. They have several children residing "out West" and it was while on a lengthy visit to these a few days ago, that Mrs. A. manfully marched up to the polls in Wyoming with other women, and deposited a ballot for the right. Perhaps she is the one solitary woman in Hancock county who has ever exercised the elective franchise.
Township officials - The town Officers that have served or are now serving this township are about as follows:
|James Stark||1850||James Stark||1876|
|P.P. Newcomb||1861||P.P. Newcomb||1877|
|Wm. H. Mead||1865||H.L. Beard||1880|
|Andrew J. Winfield||1874|
|Giles Hawley||1858||E.W. Wood||1871|
|I.B. Leach||1861||Eli Gillett||1874|
|William Cassaday||1865||W.H. Watson||1877|
|A.B. Crooks||1866||I.B. Leach||1880|
|Jas. C. Bertholff||1869|
|Giles Hawley||1858||E.P. Hawley||1868|
|J.R. Combs||1861||A.G. Bacon||1870|
|B.J. Long||1862||E.P. Hawley||1871|
|J.C. Berholf||1863||John W. Browning||1874|
|J.A. Dexter||1864||E.P. Hawley||1875|
|F.M. Kinsey||1865||John Avery||1876|
|Wm. Roland||1866||E.P. Hawley||1880|
|Wm. J. Pitney||1867|
|Benjamin Bacon||1858||Robert Booker||1875|
|E.P. Hawley||1861||A.J. Winfield||1876|
|Henry A. Young||1863||D.E. Belden||1877|
|W.J. Pitney||1864||Wm. McGilvery||1877|
|A.J. Winfield||1866||Abner Murphy||1878|
|A.L. Weed||1867||D.J. Kniss||1879|
|Wm. C. Cassaday||1872||A.J. Winfield||1880|
BEAR CREEK TOWNSHIP
Township 4-7 received its name from a crooked and ugly stream which meanders through it, heading in the township above the passing into Walker, enters Adams county, emptying into the Mississippi above Quincy. This, like St. Alban's, is about hald prairie and half timbered lands. The C., B.&Q. railroad passes about centrally through it from north to south. It contains its one village, Basco, lying on said road, near the center of the township, laid out Feb., 1871, by Wm. S. Woods. It occupies the same, or nearly the same, site as Somerset, a town laid out in 1853 by Abraham Baldwin, and since vacated.
Among the names of the earliest settlers in Bear Creek township, we recall those of James S. Kimball and his sons, Sidney A. Knowlton, Richard Wilton, Thomas Graham, Samuel Russell, Thomas Morgan, Nicholas Wren, Elijah Pike, John Pike, Moses Van Winkle, Robert Wilhite, Elder Addis, Jesse Carnes, John Carnes, Jesse Gordon, Thompson Frakes, Riley Young, Thomas and Edward Daw, James Tweed, W.A. Patterson, Andrew and Wm. S. Moore, James and G.W. Wedding, Mahlon Fell, Wm. Meredith, Vernon Doty, Peter and John Fry, James Boyles, Cornelius Elson, Lafford Totten, W.W. Mason, Hiram Sammons, Felix G. Mourning, Samuel McGee, Gulford Fuller, Henry Kent, David Cole, William George, James M. Charles, Dr. Alvin Thompson, William Wallace, John Pavy, Wm. B. Skinner, John Huff, David Bedford, Benjamin G. Wright, David Crow.
Of the above we note specially James S. Kimball and Sidney A. Knowlton, the former from New Hampshire and the latter from Ohio, who emigrated together in 1835. The Kimballs were Methodists, the Knowlton's were "Campbellites," but both subsequently joined the Mormans and removed to Salt Lake with them, leaving this county in 1847. Mr. Kimball died in Salt Lake ten years thereafter, and Mr. Knowlton at a later period, each near about the age of 70. Their widows were still living as late as 1875.
Richard Wilton will be remembered as having been elected School Commissioner of Hancock county in 1841, the first year of contest between the old citizens and Mormons. Mr. Wilton left the county a few years afterward. Subsequently his farm came into possession of Benjamin G. Wright, Esq., a native of Belmont county, Ohio. Mr. Wright was a remarkable man had been educated in the common schools only was possessed of a strong mind a deep thinker radical in his opinions, which he embraced without inquiry as to their populartiy or othodoxy. He did not remain long in the county. Desiring to settle his family where land was cheaper, he removed to Henry county in this State, where he procured a large body of land and settled his sons each on a farm around him. There he was residing when the Rebellion broke out. He had long ago embraced the doctrines of the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, and hence when these troubles arose he was strongly in favor of allowing "the wayward sister to go in peace." His opposition to the war and the war measures of President Lincoln became so violent as to render him extremely unpopular in his county. In 1872 he was put on the extreme Democratic bolters' ticket for Governor - of course, with no hope of an election. He received but 25 votes in this county. Mr. W. was still living Jan., 1880, at an advanced age of about 80 years.
The postoffice known as Sylvan Dale was established at his place and at his instance.
Many of the persons named in the foregoing list are long since deceased numbers of others have gone to newer States and Territories.
Township officials - The following is a list of the officers that have served this township since its organization, as far as could be obtained from the old records:
|Almon Thompson||1850||David W. Browning||1868|
|Felix G. Mourning||1853||D. McGinnis||1869|
|Thomas Logan||1855||W.C. Williams||1870|
|C.W. Baldwin||1858||Wm. P. Damron||1872|
|Wm. S. Moore||1859||Jameson H. Wetzel||1873|
|Chas. H. Steffey||1860||Jesse E. Gerard||1874|
|John W. Tatman||1861||Wm. P. Damron||1876|
|Wm. B. Skinner||1862||Wm. A. Anderson||1877|
|John R. McGinnis||1866||Constant Cacheaux||1878|
|Wm. B. Skinner||1867||James A. Anderson||1879|
|John G. Seger||1855||John G. Seger||1868|
|William Hawkins||1858||Albert Naegelin||1879|
|William Fleming||1865||John G. Seger||1880|
|John M. Wetzell||1855||James Anderson||1872|
|Andrew Moore||1858||Edward Harrison||1873|
|Charles W. Baldwin||1860||A.H. Caywood||1874|
|Elisha McGee||1862||Geo H. Damron||1875|
|John W. Tatman||1864||and A.H. Caywood||1875|
|Almon Thompson||1865||Clark Lewis||1876|
|C.W. Baldwin||1866||J.H. Wetzel||1877|
|Geo. C. Gordon||1867||John Daw||1878|
|E. Brown, Jr.||1869||Wm. G. Mott||1880|
|Wm. P. Damron||1870|
|William S. Moore||1855||G.C. Gordon||1870|
|J.G. Seger||1858||John D. Page||1871|
|Nicholas Wren||1862||John J. Hawkins||1872|
|J.R. McGinnis||1862||Nathaniel C. Caywood||1873|
|Charles H. Steffey||1864||Josephus Huff||1874|
|Wm. P. Damron||1866||G.C. Gordon||1875|
|J.H. Wetzell||1867||J.R. McGinnis||1876|
|William Dryden||1869||G.C. Gordon||1878-80|
Reveived its name from the county seat on its west line. It is numbered 5-6 is principally prairie land, but has bodies of timber on Middle, Prairie, Long and Rock creeks, tributaries of Crooked creek. Certain portions of this township are level and prairie, and consequently better suited to meadow and stock-raising than to grain. Large quantities of corn are grown, however, in all directions. This township has many finely improved farms and substantial and neat residences, owned by independent farmers.
Carthage, being in the midst of an extensive prairie, was not settled as early as the western and eastern portions of the county and had it not been for the fact that they county-seat was located in it, its settlement would have advanced no faster, perhaps, than those of Harmony, Prairie and Pilot Grove adjoining. We are not advised that it had an inhabitant within its limits (other than Elder Thomas H. Owen, who came in 1831), when in March, 1833, William Gillham and Scott Riggs located the county-seat on sec. 19. That event of course gave an impetus to settlement and we find that on April 2 of the same year a special term of the County Commissioners' Court was held there, at the house of Thomas Brewer, which, if not there before, must have been a temporary buildng hastily put up. At that meeting Thomas H. Owen was appointed to built a court-house , and it was to be finished before Aug. 25th! for the use of the Circuit Court soon to be held. Ex-Secretary O.H. Browning, then a young lawyer on the Circuit, attended the Court, as he had others before at Venus. Here is his account of that event, and description of Carthage at that time. We quote from his address delievered before the "Hancock County Pioneers' Association," in the court-house, June 15, 1869: "He said he rememberd attending the first Court held at Carthage. The Temple of Justice at that day was a log cabin of limited dimensions, roofed with clapboards. The Bench and Bar boarded with a family near the timber, and near the subsequent residence of Mr. Baldwin. The 'hotel' of Carthage was sort of rail-pen, 12 feet square, the provisions and whisky being dealt out through the cracks to the outsiders. The site of the present court-house was a frog-pond and yet this unpromising beginnng had culminated in the present town of Carthage, one of the neatest and prettiest villages he had ever visited."
As we have seen, the town site was pre-empted by the county, and the County Surveyor (John Johnson, of Riverside) employed to lay out the town at once, to be completed by May 1. This time seems to have been too short for him to do his work well, for we find that afterward a new survey was ordered and a new plat made. Clerk Williams immediately removed to the new town, and we find that a special term of the County Court was held at this house on the 3d of June. The regular term, Sept. 2, was held at the new court-house.
At this time that singular attorney at law, Louis Masquerier, was licensed to keep a tavern and also to sell goods. Counting the "boarding house," referred to by Mr. Browning as the first one, this tavern of Masquerier's must have been the second one in the town or township, and his store the first store. He was still there in 1836, but soon returned to New York.
Thomas Brewer must have emigrated soon, as we hear nothing more concerning him.
Among the early settlers of Carthage, as we remember them, were Gad Hamilton and his sons Artois and Canfield, Samuel Williams, Walter Bagby, Frederick Loring, Rev. John Lawton, Dr. John F. Charles, Louis Masquerier, James B., Hamilton C. and David W. Mathews, Senator Little Robert Miller, Joshua and Jonas Hobart, Elam S. Freeman, Homer Brown, Ellis Hughes, Capt Robert F. Smith, Ebenezer Rand, Franklin A. Worrell, Harmon T. Wilsn, Charles Main, Lewis Stevenson, Samuel Comer, Jesse B. Winn, George W. Thatcher, Miles B. Mann, James Baird, Isaac Galland, James W. Woods, James W. Brattle, Samuel Marshall, Malcom McGregor, Chauncey Robison, Sylvester Thompson, U.C. Taylor, John Wilson, John Wilson Williams, George W. Stigall, Dr. Barnes, Michael Barnes. In the vicinity were David Baldwin, Epaphra B. Baldwin, Williams C. Hawley, Michael Rickard, Richard Cannon, Allen McQuary, Thomas Metcalf, T. Gridley, Thomas J. Kimbrough, W.J. Dale, John Booth, Robert G. Bernethy, Norman Hobart, I.N. Cauthorn, George C. Waggoner, Samuel F. Pray, Alexander Barnes.
Of the foregoing 50 odd individuals, more than half are known to have died, numbers of them long years ago. Many others left the county, some of them still living. Several will be recognized as men of note in the county's history. Three-Little, Marshall and Worrell -met violent deaths, which are mentioned elsewhere.
Business of Carthage
The following men comprise the business circle of Carthage Chris Y. Long is Postmaster, and keeper of a book-store. Shultz & Son, Wm. T. Smith and Dwight Cutler are engaged in the drug business the latter also keeps a large stock of books and stationery. James Sample controls the furniture trade. Wm. Hughes has a large business in saddlery and harness. Dr. E.M. Robbins is the prominent dentist. The dry goods trade is represented principally by Wm. B. Bennett, J.C. Williams and J.W. Everett the latter has also a branch millinery department on the north side of square. Mr. Dale is also in the same business. Wm. H. Patterson is the oldest living merchant in the city, deals in grain, etc. Also J.B. Strader & Son have an extensive ware-house, and offer a specialty in fence posts and drain tile. Also Foutch & Shultz, Taylor Bros., in the same business. J. Mack Shollard and John Boyd control the hardware, and Charles G. Clark & Sons are extensive dealers in lumber. Stephen S. Wilson is the miller. W.P. McKee has a lucrative trade in agricultural implements. O.P. Carlton also in the grocery business. Jas. N. Currens runs a nice trade in boots and shoes. Will O. Sharp is the only photographer. J.S. Johnson, patentee on corn-husker, does a large manufacturing business. F.B. Miller & Co., located near the depot, are large grain dealers. Chas. E. Smale and John Helfrich both have a good market business. The lawyers are Judges J.M. Ferris, and T.C. Sharp, W.E. Mason, State's Atty., M.P. and O.F. Berry, W.H. Manier, Geo. G. Rogers, C.J. Scofield, T.J. Scotfield, A.W. O'Harra and others. Dr. J.W. Carlton, W.M. Kellog , R.C. Halladay, W.T. Hannan, W.D. Noyes, J.H. Callahan, are the physicians. Dr. Adam Spilter is a retired physician. The banking interests are represented by the Hancock County Bank, II. G. Ferris, President A.J. Griffth, Vice President William Griffith, Cashier. A second institution of the kind isrun[sic] by Sholl & Cherill. Henry C. Wilson and E.T. Dorothy have the trade for livery business. The Stevens House, located on the square, is being run by J. Jackson. The Rohrer House, two blocks northwest of the square, is controlled by C.G. Rohrer.
Township officials - We give a list of the Supervisors, Clerks, Assessors and Collectors who have served Carthage township since its organization, with the years of the beginning of their respective terms:
|James A. Winston||1850||J.M. Randolph||1871|
|John Booth||1851||W.C. Wiliams||1872|
|Claiborne Winston||1858||Melancton S. Carey||1873|
|Melgar Couchman||1862||Wesley H. Manier||1874|
|John W. Cherry||1864||Hiram G. Ferris||1876|
|Thos. C. Miller||1866||Melancton S. Carey||1877|
|John M. Ferris||1867||George J. Rogers||1878|
|Nathan Cutler||1868||Wm. H.D. Noyes||1880|
|John D. Miller||1869|
|Emanuel Showers||1858||Nathan Cutler||1872|
|Wiliam J. Dale||1859||Oscar W. Williams||1873|
|Emanuel Showers||1863||John Elder||1874|
|Huddleston M. Steater||1866||D.C. Cutler||1876|
|James Abbott||1868||John F. Scott||1878|
|E.T. Dorothy||1870||John K. Alexander||1880|
|John Carlin||1858||Thos. J. Kimbrough||1870|
|Melgar Couchman||1859||Ephraim P. Dorothy||1872|
|Chas. B. Ruggles||1862||Thos. J. Kimbrough||1873|
|Thos B. Griffiths||1863||Washington Martin||1874|
|William Ogilvie||1864||A.J. Carlton||1875|
|Jackson Shultz||1866||Wm. A. Cutler||1878|
|F.M. Fain||1867||Ste. S. Wilson||1878|
|W.H. Williams||1858||J.H. Kirkpatrick||1871|
|Walter B. Loring||1862||Washington Martin||1872|
|Charles B. Ruggles||1863||A.J. Carlton||1873|
|Jas. B. Crawford||1864||Stevens W. Merrill||1874|
|Daniel P. White||1865||Wm. A. Cutler||1876|
|Wm. Kimbrough||1868||George T. Proctor||1877|
|Asbury Ruggles||1869||Cicero L. Roll||1879|
|A.J. Carlton||1870||John Fletcher||1880|
Township 3-6 received its much-mispronounced name from the little village of Chili, near its southwest corner. This village was laid out by Elisha Worrrell, Esq., one of its early and much respected pioneers, in the year 1836. The township is composed mainly of prairie land, though the head waters of Bear and Panther creeks supply it with some small bodies of wood land. Conisiderable of it is rather flat prairie, while other portions are rolling and well drained. It contains much valuable farm land, and a large proportion of well-improved and productive farms. This township is settled by an intelligent and enterprising class of emigrants from many of the States of the Union.
Its only villages are Chili, before mentioned, and Bowen, of later origin built on the line of the Toledo, Wabash & Western Railroad. These towns are both in the midst of thriving communities. The former has grown but little and begins to show age, and proably contains no greater population that it did twenty years ago. Bowen was laid out in 1863 by Mr. Peter C. Bowen, from whom it derives its name. It is six miles due west from Augusta, and about fourteen southeast from the county seat.
The postoffice was established in Chili when Amos Kendall was Postmaster-General, Moses Stevens, postmaster, and Elisha Worrell assistant, and performing the duties. After him came George N. Crowley, then Alfred T. Dickinson for a year or so, then Mr. Crowley again for several years, then J. Clarkson Caine for a year or two, then Mr. Crowley again, who still holds the office, having held it for from thirty to thirty-five years-one of the oldest postmasters in the county.
Among the early settlers in this township we may mention Stephen Owen, Sr., and his sons Ainsley, John L., B.C., Archibald C., Isaac and William, who were immigrants of 1831 William Pike and his sons, John, Thomas, William and James, who were settlers of 1832 Joseph Stevens and his sons John, George, Joseph and Frank, 1833 S. Garner and Evan Bettisworth and his sons David, Charles and Evan, Jr., in 1833. Then we have among those whose date of settlement we cannot exactly fix, the names of Rev. Joseph Worrell, David F. Paker, and his son Samuel C. Parker Wm. Sullivan, Stephen Tripp, John Wilhite, Joseph Harter, David Todd, Alpha Forshthe, John and James Prutzman, Zachariah, Henry, David and Woods, and Geo. N. Crowley. There may be others whose settlement in the township was as early as some of these, but whose names we cannot now recall. Many of these pioneers are since deceased other have removed from the township to make homes elsewhere, while a few of the younger class, with here and there a white head among them remain.
Township officials - The town Officers that have served or are now serving this township are about as follows:
|Gilmore Callison||1850||Albert Holmes||1866|
|Elisha Worrell||1851||A.E. McNeil||1867|
|Levi G. Patchin||1852||T.C. Clayton||1868|
|Elisha Worrell||1855||Jos. C. Caine||1870|
|Milton K. Pomeroy||1856||Eugene B. Davis||1872|
|Levi W. Pomeroy||1858||Henry K. Ramsey||1874|
|Joseph C. Caine||1859||Joseph C. Caine||1876|
|George W. Murphy||1863||Mathias McNeall||1877|
|Levi G. Patchin||1864||Charles Cook||1878|
|Joseph C. Caine||1865|
|William Sulivan||1855||George W. Nash||1870|
|Nicholas Hanson||1856||Charles C. Marsh||1873|
|Jonathan W. Todd||1858||John f. Williams||1874|
|Gilbert Tillapaugh||1862||H.B. Nash||1876|
|Joseph Ivins||1864||Oscar Weisenberg||1877|
|L.W. Pomeroy||1864||H.B. Nash||1878|
|William Prescott||1867||T.N. Gillis||1880|
|Wm. J. Dimmock||1869|
|A.T. Dickerson||1855||Levi W. Pomeroy||1871|
|Levi Pomeroy||1856||Daniel Smith||1872|
|A.T. Dickerson||1858||Sam'l E. Elliott||1873|
|Geo. W. Stevens||1864||Benj. C. Edwards||1874|
|D.G. Todd||1865||David Van Brunt||1876|
|Samuel B. Elliott||1866||Wm.B Marvil||1877|
|Joseph C. Caine||1867||Clark Caine||1878|
|A. Holmes||1868||J.C. Caine||1880|
|John J. Worley||1870|
|A.T. Dickerson||1855||Jesse Palmer||1872|
|Levi Pomeroy||1856||John F. Williams||1873|
|A.T. Dickerson||1858||David P. Worrell||1874|
|Daniel Smith||1865||J.R. Fordyce||1875|
|Gilbert Tillapaugh||1866||C.B. Taylor||1876|
|A.T. King||1867||Oliver Stevens||1877|
|J.A. Cunningham||1868||Wm. Palmer||1878|
|Adam Reeves||1869||Henry Garner||1879|
|Isaac Newland||1870||Thomas Tateman||1880|
|David P. Worrell||1871|
DALLAS TOWNSHIP (see Pontoosuc and Dallas Townships)
There is probably no better township of land in the county than that numbered 7-6, and named Durham. It lies on the extreme north line of the county, and is chiefly prairie, though much of it is rolling and well drained. It has a small branch of Crooked creek on its east side, and a portion of Camp creek in its northwest corner, each of which are skirted by bodies of timber. All the railroad it contains is about a mile of the Burlington branch of the Toledo, from Disco across its northeast corner. Its northwest corner lies less than two miles from the river at Dallas City. Durham may be called the western extension of what in the early days was known as "North Prairie," a tract of splendid farming country lying north of La Harpe and extending into Henderson county. Disco, on the east line of the township, must be near the center of it. This town was laid in Feb., 1876, by John Shutwell, and is located on the line of Durham and La Harpe townships. It is young and small yet, but seems to be a aplace of considerable business as a railroad station.
Among the early settlers in Durham we have the names of Thomas Dixon, Sr., George Weaver, John Gilmore and brothers, of 1835 and Jacob Mendenhall, William Logan, Ferdinand Brent and son, James and Wm. Meeker, and Jesse Avise, of 1836. Among those the dates of whose emigration we are not advised, are the Boyses, Manifolds, Loftons, Harknesses, Wilsons, James Mills, I. Wimp, Wm. McGuire.
Among the first things in Durham township, we may mention: First school-house, of hewed logs, built in 1837, and called Camp Creek school-house first school taught by Mary Jane Jacobs, now of Washington Territory. First preaching by Rev. Wm. Johnson, Episcopalian first Sabbath-school by Wm. McGuire, at same place first M.E. preacher was Rev. Pool first P.O. was called Camp Creek, John L. Avise, P.M. Concerning this P.O. it was on sec. 18, west line of the top. when Mr. Avise died it was kept by his widow and when she married Mr. Lyman Harkness, he was made P.M.,-three in one family. It was afterward removed to Durhman Corners, and kept by J.Hugh McGuire.
FOUNTAIN GREEN TOWNSHIP
The beautiful village with fanciful name gave title to township 6n, 5w. It is agreeably diversified with woodland and prairie, and about evenly divided. Its timbered and broken lands lie along the several branches of Crooked creek.
The village of Fountain Green was laid out in 1835, by Jabez A. Beebe and Stephen G. Ferris, two of its early and enterprising settlers. The township also contains the town of Webster. This was originally a Mormon town, laid out in 1840 by Wm. Wightman, and called Ramus, or Macedonia. After they left, its name was changed to Webster. Its population in 1845 had reached about 600, mostly Mormons. The villages are only about a mile apart the first is much better built than the latter, and seems to be in a more flourishing condition.
The township now contains a large number of excellent and well-improved farms and substantial farmers, many of them descendants of early settlers who have passed away. A few of them are yet remaining, their heads whitened by the frosts of many winters.
The earliest settler in the township is supposed to have been Ute Perkins, who came in 1826. The next was John Brewer, in 1827, followed by Abrah, James adn Mordecai Lincohn, Benjamin Mudd, John Day, Andrew and Pittillo Perkins and Wm. Saylors, all in or about 1830. Then Wm. Duff, Jabez ? Beebe and Jonathan Prior, 1831 Stephen G. Ferris, 1832 Amos Hobart, 1833 Wm. Allton, 1834 Jary White, 1835 Martin Hopkins, 1836 Col. Thomas Geddes, 1836 David Allton, 1836.
James Lincoln was the first Justice of the Peace in the township, form 1832 to 1836. From his docket, still extant, in the hands of L. Vandyne, Esq., of Webster, we obtain the following additional names, either as parties in cases or jurymen: William Robertson, Eben Wiggins, James Gray, John Massingall, Nicholas Jarvis, Leney Boyd, Edward Shipley, Ira Gridley, Samuel Prentice, Evan Martin, John Shelton, Jacob Coffman, Jacob Clark, Thomas Whitaker, Samuel Brown, Daniel Prentis and Anson Hobart. Charles Hungate succeeded to the docket in 1836.
On the tombstones in the Fountain Green cemetery we find the following: (see Fountain Green Cemetery)
Some of the foregoing were very probably residents of other townships, and some may not have been among the pioneers.
The first child born in the township is said to have been Thomas J. Brewer, son of John Brewer, in 1829 the second, James Day, son of John Day, August, 1831 and third (perhap second, date not obtained), Alexander Saylors, also in 1831, son of William Saylors.
The first death was that of Pittillo Perkins, Sept. 15, 1834, who died from the effects of poisonous herbs taken for the ague. Wm. Duff died 1837, killed by a limb falling on him from a tree.
The Perkinses joined the Mormons at Ramus, and went with them to Salt Lake. Andrew Perkins was a County Commissioner at the time, and left his seat vacant.
The Lincoln brothers were from Kentucky, and were cousins to President Lincoln. They were connected by marriage with Day and Mudd. The latter left years ago for Missouri. All threee are deceased years ago Mordecai, the latest, in 1866. He had lived a bachelor.
David Alton was born in Connecticut about the year 1786, and was married to Luch Farwell, a native of Vermont. Mr. A. died at Fountain Green about 1850, aged 64 years. Mrs. Alton survived him till the month of May, 1880, when she passed away, at the advanced age of 92.
A postoffice was established two years before the town was laid out, in 1833, and Jabez A. Beebe appointed Postmaster. The first regular school-teacher is supposed to have been Judge John M. Ferris, son of S.G. Ferris, and now of Carthage. The first school house was erected about 1836.
Mr. Beebe was a New Yorker, born July 1, 1789 came to Fort Edwards previous to deep snow, and wintered on the Aldrick place in the vicinity in the spring settled in Fountain Green, where he died July 2, 1871, aged 82.
Who was first to open store in the village we are not advised but Martin Hopkins (at present living there), Mathew McClaughry and Stephen H. Tyler, junior, carried on general merchandising business there as a firm for many years. They were all prominent and much respected men in the community.
Wm. Saylors was born in Tennessee about 1802, came to Fountain Green with the Perkinses in 1830 died in 1850 aged 48.
John Brewer was a Kentuckian, died about 1852 was out in a campaign in the Black Hawk war.
Hickerson Wright, born in Virginia, 1791 came to the county in 1833 died, January, 1877.
Jary White, Sr., was born in Wales about 1790 came to America in 1811, and settled in Fountain Green in 1835 his death occurred September 8, 1844, aged 57.
John Day, born in Kentucky, 1796 came to Hancock in 1830 date of his death not given Mrs. D. still living at an advanced age.
Daniel Prentis, still living in the village, was a native of Vermont, son of a Revolutionary soldier, and was born in 1799 came to Fountain Green and settled in 1833 was engaged in merchandising in Carthage about 1835, and under the wild scheme of internal improvements had a contract with the State for grading a portion of the Warsaw & Peoria Railroad, in 1838-'9. "Prentis' Shanty," on the line of said road, was for years a well-known landmark.
Township 5-5, in the center, on the east line, and improperly named after the county, was for some time attached to St. Mary's and Fountain Green. It is largely timbered and broken, but has some beautiful prairie land and fine farms. The west branch of Crooked creek runs an extremely tortuous course through this tp., entering it at sec. 26 and crossing into McDonough from 36. From the northwest corner to 28 to the southeast of 26, less than three and a half miles, this stream meanders a distance of about 12 miles, at one point making a circuit of over three miles and returning to within 40 rods of its starting place. It is appropriately name Crooked creek. The east branch enters the tp. from McDonough county, and the united stream flows again into that county from sec. 36.
Among the pioneers of this tp,, we are unable to mention but a few viz., Major Williams, the Yetters, Wrights, Spangles, Longs, Anthony Duffy, Dr. Wm. Booze, James G. Smith, T,B. McCubbin, A.G. Botts, J. Lenox, T. Callifhan, Lewis Rhea, etc.
In al the earlier history of the county the people of this tp. were known as citizens of St. Mary's or Fountain Green, respectively, as they lived north or south of the center.
The mills on Crooked creek have, in the early days, supplied much of the lumber for the eastern portion of the county, and much of the flour and meal for their breadstuffs. But since the advent of railroads and the introduction of steam, and the gradual failure of the stream, they have fallen into decay. Timber is still plenty, and hard-wood lumber is still manufactured for local supply.
There is no village in the limits of this tp., neither is there a postoffice, the offices of St. Mary's, Fountain Green, Webster and Middle Creek supplying the habitantts with their mail facilities.
In the south part of Hancock tp. is a locality known to the earlier settlers at Black Hawk Ridge, or Black Hawk Headquarters, from a tradition that the old chief made it a frequent residence, during the Indian occupancy of the county. It has evidently once been an extensive Indian encampment, and even yet such relics as arrow-heads, stone implements, pottery and heads are found there. The forests and bluffs of Crooked creek and its tributaries are as much noted for these Indian remains as the bluffs along the river.
Officers - of Hancock township who have served, or are not in office:
|J.T. Spangler||1856||Joseph T. Spangler||1874|
|Peter E. Weakley||1861||Reuben Cravens||1875|
|Wiliam Booz||1863||Wm. Booz||1876|
|J.H. Folts||1868||George Brewster||1877|
|Peter E. Weakley||1869||J.T. Spangler||1878|
|Wm. Booz||1870||Peter E. Weakley||1879|
|John Denison||1856||Joel T. Booz||1874|
|F.E. Belknap||1863||Albert S. Bear||1875|
|John J. Grohegan||1864||John Martindale||1876|
|George W. Jones||1865||Levi J. Rhea||1877|
|Thomas McAvoy||1867||Jerome B. Jones||1878|
|Wm. M. Anderson||1868||John Campbell||1879|
|Jerome B. Jones||1871||James L. Martin||1880|
|Wm. M. Anderson||1873|
|A.G. Botts||1856||Levi Smith||1868|
|William Booz||1858||John H. Parker||1869|
|Jefferson Perkins||1860||Levi Smith||1870|
|J.H. Parker||1863||James G. Smith||1871|
|Levi Smith||1864||Thos. B. McCubbin||1874|
|William Long||1865||James G. Smith||1875|
|Thomas Cambron||1866||J.T. Spangler||1879|
|Wm. Long||1867||Geo. W. Green||1880|
|William Long||1856||John W. Huston||1869|
|Emanuel Jones||1858||James G. Smith||1870|
|William Long||1860||John Martindale||1871|
|Wm. Spangler||1861||Monroe Riggins||1872|
|William Long||1863||Samuel Duffy||1874|
|John H. Parker||1864||Stephen A. Kelly||1875|
|William Long||1866||Albert S. Bear||1877|
|Levi Smith||1867||C.L. Rhea||1878|
|Calloway L. Rhea||1868||Joel T. Booz||1879-1880|
Township 4-6, with a harmonious name, is seven-eighths prairie-land, there being a few sections of partly broken and rough-timbered land on the head-waters of Bronson's creek, and another small body on another tributary of Crooked creek. A portion of this township is rich flat prairie, valuable for meadow and a large part is sufficiently rolling for corn and grain. It has fine farms, and some rich and enterprising farmers. This township, being so largely prairie, was not settled as early as the townships surrounding it. It contains two villages on the T.,W.&W. railroad, Bentley and Denver, both small places but doing considerable local business.
Bentley lies ten miles west from St. Mary's and five southerly from Carthage, and was laid out in August, 1863, by John Sutton, Jr., and first called after his name, but for some cause changed to Bentley. It lies just south of the well-known Big Meadow. Postmasters in Bentley-T.J. Bates, A.R. Robinson, J.A. James, present incumbent.
Denver was laid out Jan., 1864, by S.C. Seybold and G.W. Bush. It is distant nine miles from the county seat, and ten miles due west from Plymouth. The P.O. was formerly called Rough and Ready.
Among the earlier settlers in this township we may name George M. Browning, Truman Hecox, E.S. Cannon, S.B. Walton, B.F. Tucker, George Langford, Samuel Ramsey, Isaac S. Burner, Samuel Dickenson, Larkin Scott, Wm. Pike, Mr. Peebler, Mr. Wedding, Mr. Collison, James Major, and the several sons of Samuel Ramsey-Enough, Henry K. and Samuel F.
Township Officials - The following is a list of the Supervisors, Town Clerks, Assessors and Collectors who have served or are now serving Harmony township, with perhaps some unavoidable omissions:
|Moses Scott||1856||Jefferson O'Hara||1865|
|Samuel Ramsey||1858||George M. Browning||1867|
|Samuel Grove||1859||Isaac S. Burner||1873|
|Corland Vandyke||1860||Enoch Ramsey||1874|
|Jeremiah M. Slusher||1862||Isaac S. Burner||1878|
|Joseph Massie||1863||George W. Shinkle||1879|
|James Dodd||1856||Thos. A. Thompson||1872|
|James Black||1858||W.A. Slusher||1873|
|Peter Comer||1860||Thos. A. Thompson||1875|
|C.T. Cannon||1863||Josephus Huff||1876|
|Isaac S. Burner||1864||W.O. Davis||1877|
|A.R. Coffman||1869||T.N. Kinbrough||1878|
|Thos A. Thompson||1870||H.R. Robertson||1880|
|Isaac S. Burner||1871|
|George W. Capron||1855||Sam'l S. Waggoner||1867|
|Isaac S. Burner||1856||Thomas M. Orton||1868|
|Joseph Massie||1858||Sam'l D. Wallace||1870|
|Peter Comer||1859||George W. Jones||1871|
|Isaac S. Burner||1860||Pleasant Cox||1875|
|Samuel S. Waggoner||1861||A.R. Coffman||1875|
|C.T. Cannon||1863||E.J. Bush||1876|
|George M. Browning||1864||Henry W. Shoup||1878|
|Samuel F. Ramsey||1865||E.W. McCoy||1878|
|Thomas Hardy||1866||Michael P. Shoup||1878-1879|
|Enoch Ramsey||1855||F.N. Pennock||1871|
|S.L. Symmonds||1860||Enoch Ramsey||1872|
|Aaron E. Byers||1861||James A. Mabry||1873|
|G.W. Ewing||1863||Dickerson Thompson||1875|
|T.M. Orton||1864||William A. Jones||1877|
|And. R. Coffman||1865||James A. Mabry||1878|
|Michael P. Shoup||1866||William Black||1879-1880|
LA HARPE TOWNSHIP
Township 7-5 occupies the northeast corner of the county. Nature has done much for it. It is well tiimbered, skirting two branches of Crooked creek, and it has as excellent a boyd of prairie land as can be found in the county. What is known as "North Prairie," lying in the north part of the township, has always been noted for its productiveness. Its settlers combine a goodly mixture of Yankee, Middle State and Southern blood. Time has been, before railroads changed things about, when La Harpe township sold more wheat in the Warsaw market than any other, except perhaps, Fountain Green, the north prairie being capable of 25, 30, and even 40 bushels per acre. It may take the lead still.
The name given, first ot the village, is that of one of the early French explorers, who traversed the Illinois wilderness and prairies 200 years ago. The town was laid out in 1836 by Major William Smith and Marvin Tryon previous to this date it had been called Franklin but was changed because Uncle Sam refused to give the postoffice that name, there being enough Franklins already. In 1831, Maj. Smith settled there from N.H. with a stock of goods, though to whom he expected to sell his goods is a mystery. Another member of the firm was Mr. Oliver Felt, at Montebello, with a portion of the stock. This can be understood, for all "along shore" were squatters and keel-boat men and half-breeds and whole breeds (red and white) for customers. Mr. Smith's was thus the first store in the township. The La Harpe concern only lasted about three years, the trade being too limited.
Louis R. Chaffin was the first Postmaster, a position which he held till 1846. When Mormonism spead itself over the county, Mr. Chaffin, among some others of La Harpe, embraced it and when they left, in 1847, he left with them, and the last his old neighbors heard of him he was a missionary of that sect, proselyting in the wilds of Australia.
La Harpe is well supplied with railroads, the Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw entering it from the east, and running to the city, where it divides, the Warsaw branch running southwardly, and that to Burlington taking a northwest course and crossing the line at Disco Station.
La Harpe is the only town in the township. It has become a place of considerable business, the business center for all the northeast portion of the county. It sports a bank, a good complement of well stocked business houses, and a proportionate number of tradesmen and manufactories and a newspaper. Its population is a stirring and intelligent class, and manages to keep well even with the people of other towns in the county.
Who succeeded to the office of Postmaster, after Louis R. Chaffin, we are not advised, though we find Henry Coulson in the office not long afterward. Then followed Mr. Bliss, Mr. Coquillette, Mr. John Warren, succeeded by his son, E.L. Warren, the present incumbent.
Among the first settlers we may mention Jacob Compton and Abraham Brewer, the former of whom sold to Major Smith. These settlements were made aobut 1830. After these come Wright Riggins, L.R. Chaffin, Mr. Hendricks, Mr. Hobraker, Jonathan Wassom, Job Clinkenbeard, John Scott, Mr. Robinson, Jesse Seybold, Isaac Sears, George Sears, Daniel Drake, Marvin Tyron, Samuel White, Lot Moffit, Jeremiah Smith, Lewis C. Maynard, Henry Comstock, Charles Comstock, James Gittings, Dr. George Coulson, Daniel N. Bainter, Hezekiah Lincoln, Jasper Manifold, John Warren, Benjamin Warren, Joseph W. Nudd, James Reynolds, Dr. Richardson, George Oatman, Mr. Johnson, Lyman Wilcox, Joel Bradshaw, W.C. Bainter, H.H. Barnes, Smith Bryan, Samuel Cogswell, L.S. Cogswell, John Manifold, Wm. F. Manifold, H.R. Painter, M.D. Sanford.
This city of "pleasant land" is a township by itself. It embraces two small fractional townships, lying in the bend of the Mississippi, and numbered 6 and 7 north, 9 west, the township line dividing them striking the river a little north of the extreme point of the bend, and dividing the city into two nearly equal parts. It embraces within its limits what was once the site of Venus, as well as the town of Commerce and the later Commerce City. The portion on which the Mansion House and famous Nauvoo House stand, is part of the farm originally pre-empted and owned by Capt. James White, the first settler and that on which the Temple stood was a portion of the farm of Daniel H. Wells, Esq., now Gen. Wells, of Utah. The stone from which the temple was built was obtained partly from the great quarry a little below the town in the river bluff.
We cannot learn from the records that there was ever any laid out town at Venus. The name was given to it perhaps by Mr. White, and that is the name Uncle Same used for the postoffice there, the first ever established in the county. It contained Alexander White's store, and the residence of his father, and of George Y. Cutler (in the same vicinity), but whether near enough together to consititue a village, is unknown.
Commerce was laid out by Joseph B. Teas and Alexander White, in 1834. Commerce City was laid out in 1837, by Horace R. Hotchkiss and John Gillett, two speculators from Connecticut, and lies a little above its namesake on the river. These plats seem not to have been vacated so that they are included in, but not a part of, the plat of the city.
Nauvoo was laid out in 1839, by Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon and George W. Robinson. Afterward, at intervals, down to May, 1843, it received as many as fifteen additions by Hiram and Ethan Kimball, Hyrum Smith, Daniel H. Wells, Davidson Hibbard, Herringshaw and Thompson, Geo. W. Robinson, Joseph Smith, James Robison's heirs, Benjamin Warrington and John T. Barnett.
The situation of Nauvoo is most commanding and beautiful. But few, if any, sites on the upper Mississippi can compare with it. The Mississippi, which opposite Commerce is over a mile in width , gracefully sweeps around its rock-bound shore in a semi-circle, then falls off to the first chain of the rapids. Above the city the river approaches in a westerly course below, it glides winding over the rapids southward, presenting a long reach of green and wooded bluffs on either side, to Keokuk and Hamilton, twelve miles below.
From the immediate bank of the river-some feet about high water mark- the ground is nearly level for six or seven blocks, when begins a gradual ascent to Temple Block, where, after a rise of 60 or 70 feet, it again falls off level, away back into the prairie. There are, however, some bad ravines and broken bluffs within the city limits, which break the monotony and give variety to the landscape.
The curve of the river around the city forms a somewhat pointed half circle. A straight line back of it, from where it intersects the shore above and below, will measure about four miles while the water-line measurement around its western side is nearly twice that distance. Some of the additions lie in Sonora township.
The towns of Commerce and Commerce City are laid out square with the shore opposite them but the whole of Nauvoo and all of its additions are laid out on due east and west lines. The streets of the city are named mostly after Morman dignitaries - as Sidney, Parley, Ripley, Kimball, Young, Knight, Hyrum, Carlos, Samuel, Robinson, Wells, Woodruff, Page, etc. Major General Bennett, Bishop Lee and Orrin P. Rockwell seem to have been slighted.
How many of the earliest settlers resided within the limits of Nauvoo, it is hard to tell. Mr. White and his sons were there George Y. Cutler and Davidson Hibbard were there Daniel Van Burkloe is supposed to have been there also (there was a Van Burkloe there when the Mormans came) but of all the other officers and jurymen at organization, none other is now known to have reside there, though numbers were in the vicinty.
The history of this city from 1840 to 1847 can be found in the chapter on the Mormon period.
After those people left, an entire new class of citizens apeared, from all parts of the country and from Europe.
Township officials - Nauvoo township has had the following officers:
|James Irving||1850||August Begar||1864|
|J.W. Phillips||1852||Milton M. Morrill||1865|
|George Kraum||1856||John Dornseif||1869|
|John B. Icking||1858||Alonzo W. Burt||1874|
|John Bauer||1862||Gustav Eberdt||1875|
|Adam Swartz||1863||John Bauer||1880|
|Ed. Farrell||1856||George Bratz||1872|
|John A. Hammond||1862||Wm. D. Hibbard||1879-1880|
|John P. Thomas||1864|
|Warrick M. Cosgrove||1856||John P. Thomas||1870|
|John F. Neibhour||1858||Anton Fisher||1873|
|J.B. Risse||1860||Andrew Heberger||1876|
|J.J. Heffleman||1865||Albert Person||1878-1880|
|John B. Risse||1866|
|Edward Farrell||1856||Gustav Eberdt||1870|
|August Begar||1858||John Machenheimer||1875|
|George Bratz||1863||Michael Baumert||1876|
|Anton Fischer||1866||Jacob Kemler||1879-1880|
PILOT GROVE TOWNSHIP
Numbered 6-6, was named for a grove of timber, which stood alone in the prairie, in the early days, near the old Indian Trail, or what we in Hancock county termed the "Rock Island Trail." This trail ran from point to point on the prairie, following the general course of the Mississippi, avoiding thus its many tortuous windings. In Hancock county it ran from Green Plains to Golden's Point, thence past this grove and through Durham, to some point in Henderson county, and so on to Rock Island. It had apparently been long traveled, and when the white settlements began, it became a much used local road.
This township was settled mainly by people from Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and New York. They are mostly a thrifty and hospitable class of imigrants, and have come generally to stay, as may be judged by the appearance of their farms and residences. They have a cemetery, but claim that it is seldom used, except for the interment of those who die of old age, or who come in from other parts of the county. What was a wide expanse of prairie, covered with ducks and deer and waving grass and wild flowers forty years ago, is now as one beautiful checkered farm, with not a single open quarter section. Grain and stock are the chief products, Peoria furnishing the principal market for both. Politically, this township has usually given from 20 to 40 Democratic majorities.
The first postoffice was called Pilot Grove, and was kept by Nelson Andrews afterward removed to the village of Burnside. The first J.P.'s were Isaac C. Howd, Nathan Mason and John Huckins. William Glaze is the oldest man in the township at this time, aged 86 and Mrs. Perkins is the oldest woman, aged 85. She says she came there early enough to have Indians about her door, and to have to hide her meat from the wolves.
Probably the first settler in the township was one Franklin, a few miles northeast of Carthage. This was about 1830. This claim was bought by Ephraim Perkins, in 1835, a son of Ute Perkins, who was about the first settler in Fountain Green. Among other early settlers in the township, we have the names of Neill McKay, Joseph Lionberger, Thomas Perkins, Elting Thompson, Wm. B. Wilson, Wilson Wright, John Hamrick, Ralph Gorrell, James Goldsburg, Mr. DeHart, Dr. Cheney, and Nelson Andrews - all now deceased. Among those living are, Merrill Andrews, Nathan S. Cheney, Isaac Cooper, John Bailey, Solomon Elifritz, Harry Earles, James Gibson, Wm. Gorrell, Isaac C. Howd, Mr. Hathaway, John Huckins, John Manering, Nathan Mason, Samuel F. Pray (now of Montebello), Neil Rice, John Roth, Joeseph Thompson, Geo. C. Wagoner, Wm. and L.V. Aleshire, Smith Howd, Benjamin and J.W. Lionberger, J.B. McMillan, Wm. G. McCubbin, William Tyner, Miles B. Mann, I.K. Jacobs, J. Hemmingway.
Pilot Grove stands well in the line of common schools. Her people are fully up to the standard in that respect. She now counts nine school houses used exclusively for that purpose. Beginning in the northeast, they are named - The Rock, Pilot Grove, Madison, Liberty, Burnside, Oak Grove, Cottage, Jubilee, and Grant. The Burnside school building has two departments, and is well suited to the wants of the people. This and the Cottage are mentioned as creditable to the community.
In Mormon times John Huckins formed a company of Anti-Mormon warriors, which was called the "Brick-Batters."
Pilot Grove sports one very pleasant little village on the line of the T.,P.& W. Railway, Burnside. It was laid out by J.B. McMillan in 1868. It now contains near 300 inhabitants. There are 10 business houses and one mill doing a good business. And far from the least item to its credit, it has no saloon, and few who would patronize one.
Another, La Crosse, also on the line of the railway, is on the extreme eastern edge of the township, on land owned by John W. Lionberger, who was its first P.M. It has but two or three business houses and thirty or forty inhabitants. Both La Crosse and Burnshide are surrounded by fine farms and thriving and enterprises farmers.
PONTOOSUC AND DALLAS TOWNSHPS
Forming together township 7n-7w, lie on the north line of the county and on the river, which cuts off about half of the upper tier of secions in Pontoosuc. The stream known as Snake Hollow (we never heard of any big snake story connected with it, though there must be one, of course) empties into the river at Poontoosuc. Camp creek runs northeastwardly through the southern portion of the township, into Durham. There is much valuable farm land in this township, and is well settled with an intelligent and thrify community.
The township is divided for political purposes, the two and a half tiers of sections on the east side being Dallas, and the three and a half on the west side comprising Pootoosuc.
The town of Pontoosuc is on the river and was laid out in April 1837, by Hezekiah Spillman, Marvin Tryon and James W. Brattle.
Dallas City is also on the river, three miles above, and was laid out Oct., 1848, by John M. Finch. This is a town of considerable trade, and has a population of perhaps 1,000 souls.
Colusa, on the C.B.&Q. railroad, in Dallas township, is a small village five miles south of Dallas City.
Perhaps the first settler in this township was Hezekiah Spillman, and one of the earliest permanent settlers in the county. The exact date we have not been able to fix, but he was a citizen when this was part of Pike in 1825. Spillman's Landing, on the river, has been a place of note among all the early settlers and it was here that he, with a few of his neighbors constructed a rude block house during the Black Hawk war. His death occurred 20 or 30 years ago.
Of the other early settlers we can name Mr. Yaple, Major John McAuley, Esquire Bennett, George Meyers, John Welch, Brant Agnew, Jesse Wimp, Elijah Pease, Johnson Clark, Thomas Harris, Edward Davis, Louis Smith, Thomas Stevens, Israel Atherton, Andrew Daubenheyer, John R. Tull, Reuben Tull, Aaaron Atherton, John R. Atherton, Wiliam H. Bennum, John Garner, Henry Wiliams, Mattias Allis.
The first postoffice in the townshp was caled East Bend, Thomas Stevens, first Postmaster. In 1846 Jeremiah Smith, since of La Harpe, was Postmaster at East Bend. At Dallas City, J.M. Finch was first Postmaster, succeeded by R.M. Brewer, he by Mr. Finch again, then G.H. Ames, then B. Mendenhall. The present one is Mr. Tandy.
The first common school taught in the Spillman's Landing settlement, was by Mr. Reuben Tull, in a little cabin near the river. In the fall of 1839 a hewed-log school-house was put up. This, like most other school-houses in those days, was used for meeting of all kinds, religious, political, social, etc.
Without a doubt the oldest person resident of Hancock county is Mrs. Lofton, the mother of Mr. N. Lofton, of Durham, and Mr. J. Lofton, of Dallas, and now residing witht the latter. We are reliably informed that she was 102 years old on the 14th day of February last (1880), having been born that day, 1778. It was only about two years ago that she was in any way afflicted mentally, and is yet in comparatively good health physically, but confined to her bed.
Township Officials - The Supervisors, Clerks, Assessors and Collectors of Pontoosuc township are about as follows:
|Joseph Kidson||1850||B.P. Hewitt||1867|
|H.C. McMurphy||1853||Henry Walker||1868|
|I.M. Agnew||1855||John S. Campbell||1870|
|B.F. Newton||1858||John W. Maxwell||1871|
|Henry Walker||1859||Samuel Lamb||1875|
|I.B. Agnew||1860||Thomas H.B. Walker||1879|
|Samuel Lamb||1861||William Riggins||1880|
|S.H. McDonald||1855||J.I. Lionberger||1869|
|E.M. Sanford||1856||Jns. L. Sanford||1870|
|J.H. Brooks||1858||John S. Harper||1871|
|E.S. McIntyre||1859||W.A. Feldhausen||1872|
|E.M. Sanford||1861||Wm. Englehardt||1873|
|John c. Wodworth||1863||Alexander Abernethy||1876|
|Henry Walker||1864||Riley Thomas||1878|
|Jacob Hettrick||1866||John Moyes||1879|
|Issac N. Fisher||1868||Wm. Englehardt||1880|
|James N. Johnson||1855||Robert Alexander||1867|
|E.M. Sanford||1856||John S. Campbell||1868|
|John R. Tull||1858||Waterman S. Wood||1869|
|John Bailey||1859||Riley Smith||1872|
|Henry Walker||1861||Joseph D. Riter||1875|
|John R. Tull||1862||Henry Walker||1876|
|Robert Alexander||1863||John Lamb||1877|
|Joseph D. Riter||1865||Franklin C. Little||1879-1880|
|John M. Schramm||1866|
|S.R. Fortua||1855||Samuel Lamb||1872|
|John H. McDonald||1856||J.W.S. Wood||1873|
|John Lionberger||1859||Jacob Hettrick||1875|
|L.C. Barker||1860||Thos. H.B. Walker||1877|
|Jacob Hettrick||1861||Samuel Wright||1878|
|John R. Newton||1866||Jacob Hettrick||1879-1880|
This township, 5-6, is, as its name implies, all prairie land, excepting about two sections of dwarf woodland on the breaks of Long creek. Lying so far inland, it was not settled as early as those portions of the county nearer the borders but later it began to fill up with enterprising farmers, and has now become one of the best improved townships in the county. It is favored with more railroad line than any other township. It has the T., W.&W. running across it from Elvatson to Carthage, six miles about the same length of the T., P.&W., northwestwardly and full seven miles of the Q., C.&B. running southwardly. There is no point in the township, except its extreme northwest corner, that is more than two miles from one of these roads.
Being in the center of the great Hancock prairie, it contains the highest land between the river and Crooked creek, and with Rock Creek township, constitutes the dividing line between those waters.
Its one village is the thriving and pleasant town of Elvaston, on its west line, laid out May, 1858, by Albert L. Connalbe and George B. Smythe, of Keokuk E.C.A. Cushman, of Hamilton, and W.L. Judson, of Elvaston.
Among the early settlers of Prairie (most of whom had previously resided in other townships) we name William R. Hamiton, Ebenezer Rand and his sons, James Tweed, Joseph W. Hawley, L. Wells, George Wells, William A. Moore, Henry Walker, John Lively, W.H. Moore, the Ewings, Rohrboughs, etc.
Township Officials - The Supervisors, Clerks, Assessors and Collectors who have served or are now serving Praire township are about as follows:
|Wm. N. McCall||1855||David Mack||1866|
|Dennis Smith||1858||William A. Patterson||1867|
|Lorenzo Wells||1859||Boyd Braden||1868|
|Wm. N. McCall||1861||Wm. R. Hamilton||1870|
|Lorenzo Wells||1862||J.R. Miller||1875|
|Wm. N. McCall||1863||Saml. P. McGaw||1876|
|Emore J. Rohrbough||1864||Wm. H. Moore||1879|
|Wm. N. McCall||1865||W.C. Williams||1880|
|Ebenezer Rand||1855||John Ashlock||1869|
|T.B. Wallace||1857||John R. Karr||1870|
|James S. Miller||1858||Hugh Markey||1873|
|Wm. M. Ewing||1860||J.H. Lemon||1874|
|Ebenezer Rand||1862||J.S. Spangler||1875|
|James M. McCall||1863||M.H. Cochran||1876|
|T.G. Moore||1865||John J. Randlemon||1877|
|John B. Henry||1866||M.H. Cockran||1878|
|Wm. N. McCall||1868||Washington Enlow||1880|
|D.W. McCall||1855||John R. Miller||1868|
|Henry Davis||1856||John Ashlock||1870|
|Thomas Gill||1858||David Miller||1871|
|D.W. McCall||1859||Wm. N. McCall||1872|
|James S. Miller||1860||James Tweed||1874|
|Charles Abbott||1861||E.J. Rohrbough||1875|
|D.W. McCall||1862||J.S. Spangler||1876|
|Wm. R. Hamilton||1863||Thomas G. Moore||1877|
|Joseph Miner||1864||James Tweed||1878|
|G.W. Zern||1865||John L. Rand||1880|
|Thomas P. Gill||1855||Wm. A. Moore||1868|
|D.C. Miller||1856||Thomas McFarland||1869|
|Wm. N. McCall||1858||A.J. Moore||1870|
|Orlan Abbott||1859||Isaac Roseberry||1871|
|Thomas T. Gill||1860||Henry S. Batchelder||1873|
|Wm. Rohrbough||1861||A.J. Moore||1874|
|Wm. N. McCall||1862||S.P. McGaw||1875|
|J.W. Ewing||1863||Thomas McFarland||1876|
|Wm. A. Moore||1864||Wilson M. Wetzel||1877|
|E.J. Rohrbough||1865||Thomas J. Ruddell||1878|
|A.E. Boude||1866||George S. Walker||1880|
ROCK CREEK TOWNSHIP
This township, 6-7, as elsewhere stated, is all prairie land. Larry's creek, emptying into the Mississippi, and Rock creek and Pilot Grove creek emptying into Crooked creek, all head within its limits, and yet none of them have any timber. It contains about three miles of the T.,P.&W. across its southeast corner, an six miles of the C.,B.&Q., on a due north line. The villages of Ferris and Adrian are two pleasant little places within its limits. The first laid out, June 1869, by Charles G. Gilchrist and Hiram G. Ferris, is at the crossing of the T., P.&W. and C., B.&Q. roads.
Adrian, on the latter, was laid out by Warren Yaple and G.W. Jacks, September, 1873, and named from Adrian, Mich., by Arthur Rice, son of Orrin Rice, then running as postal clerk on the C.,B.&Q. Railroad. Orrin Rice was born in New York, came from Cincinnati, O., about 1857, to Oakwood, and settled in this township in 1866.
Among the first settlers in Rock Creek township may be named the Ellisons, Lamberts, Saulsbury, Yaples, McCalls, Baileys, Abbotts, Alstons, Terrys, Thornbers, etc. Isaac Roseberry , George Singleton, Isaac Bellew, Jedediah Bellew, John Bellew, are old settlers in the neighborhood.
For the following statement concerning the first school taught in the township, we are indebted to Mr. M. Alston, a present citizen there. The first meeting held for the election of school officers, was at the residence of Mr. John Alston, a log cabin 15 feet square, located on the southwest quarter of sec. 9, now no more, having gone into stove-wood. [We have before us a sketch of this cabin for inserton, but must omit it, as we could print little else if we undertood to insert all the log cabins of 1847.] The meeting was held Oct. 16, 1847, nine voters present, electing Henry Thornber, Timothy Terry and Matthew Ellison, Sr., for Trustees, and John Alston, Treasurer.
After the election of officers, the next thing must be a school. But there was no school-house, and no funds to build one. So it was decided to employ Mrs. Ann Alston, wife of John Alston, school to be taught at their residence. A bargain was made for her to teach ten weeks for $20.00. School began in January and ended in March, 1848. The following are the names of the pupils, ten in number: Thomas Ellison, Margaret Ellison, Mary H. Ellison, Ralph Ellison, John Terry, Sarah Terry, George Terry, Ellen E. Terry, Matthew Alston, Ellen Jane Alston. The old original schedule of said school is still in possession of John Alston.
Our correspondent refers to this as a school of the "pioneer times," and it is for that prairie township but he will find mention herein of schools taught fifteen years earlier in the county.
There are a number of neat school buildings in this township at present, indicating that educational matters have progressed at even pace with other improvements form the first small beginnings.
ROCKY RUN TOWNSHIP
This township at the present writing (July 1, 1880) about half under water, embraces No. 3 north, 9 west, and what the Mississippi has left of 3-10. It receives its name from a stream that runs through it from the prairie of Walker township. Three-fifths of this township is bottom land, composing the rich alluvial bottoms bordering the river, and subject to overflow in seasons of high water. It is intersected by numerous bayous (called sloughs) from Warsaw down through Wilcox and Rocky Run, and emptying into a broad pond on the south line of the county, called Lima Lake. This bottom land is generally warm, sandy and rich and the best and most productive corn land in the county. A portion of it was covered with a fine growth of valuable timber, most of which has now been cut off by its owners, thousands of cords in old times having been sold to steamboats, or sawed into lumber.
An effort has been made to reclaim this land from overflow, by leveeing, under the State Drainage act, with encouraging prospects. In ordinary spring rises, this will be probably ample protection but when the Father of Waters gets on a boom, such as we have witnessed four or five times within the last forty years, it will be found that his efforts to spread himself will not be so easily controlled.
The portion of the township on the bluff is mostly broken timbered land, among which are some good farms and thrifty farmers. It is excellent for wheat, and cannot be excelled in the county for fruit, a fact which its citizens are not slow to profit by, as the increase of orchards there will testify.
Among the early settlers of Rocky Run may be named several who were in the county previous to organization viz., Luther Whitney (resided at one time in Montebello), Daniel Crenshaw, Davis Hill, Curtis Caldwell, Henry Nichols, Leonard L. Abney and Charles HIll others later are Henry Newton, Stephen S. Weston, Charles C. Stevens, Hiram Woodworth, John Banks, John Harness, Luther Perry, William Shipe, John A. Morrison, James Carmean, Daniel P. Clark, John Fletcher, A. Daughtery, Joseph Caldwell, the Jenifers, Fraziers, Fredericks, Bolts, Worthingtons, etc.
Andreas' Atlas of Hancock county states that Luther Whitney built the first house in Rocky Run in 1822 a statement that needs confirmation. That was two years before the evacuation of Fort Edwards by the soldiers and we nowhere met with any evidence of a settlement below the fort previous to that event. A relative of Mr. Whitney informs us that he came to the county just previous to the Black Hawk war, a statement wide of the mark, as he was a juryman in Adams previous to the separation, and had a ferry license granted him at Montebello soon after organization in 1829.
If, however, Mr. Whitney was a settler in 1822, he was the earliest one in the county of whom we have any account, antedating Col. Whipple of St. Alban's by one year, and Capt. White and John Waggonner, of the rapids, by two years.
The son, Edson Whitney, so long Sheriff of the county, resided for many years on a farm about nine miles below the fort, near where Judge Henry Nichols, his brother-in-law, also resided. The first marriage in the township is said to have been Mr. Nichols to Miss Sophronia Whitney. The Crenshaws were early settlers, the elder being one of the first officials' and the first death reported is said to have been a member of the family.
ST. ALBAN'S TOWNSHIP
Centrally on the south line of the county lies St.Alban's-numbered 3 north, 7 west. This township is pretty nearly equally divided between woodland and prairie-the former predominating in the west half, and the prairie over the east half. It contains many fine farms and much good farming land, and considerable bluffas and broken woodland. This last is to be found on the borders of the Bear creek branches. Its two towns are
Westpoint - laid out in March, 1856, by David Wigle and
Stillwell - laid out Dec., 1870, by Wm. H. Zinn and Arthur Stillwell both on the Quincy, Carthage & Burlington Railroad, and six or seven miles westwardly from Bowen, on the T.W.&W. The former road runs directly south through this township, near its center.
Among the early settler of the county, and who were here precedent to organization, we have the names of John Harding, and Robert and Aaron (Abel) Harding, who are supposed to have been his brothers or more distant relatives. John Harding transferred his claim, lying due west of and adjoining the village of Chili, to Elisha Worrell, Esq., in 1835, having occupied it for seven years. Through Mr. Worrell we have the statement that this same claim -north half of section 25, St. Alban's township-had been owned and occupied since 1823, by Col. Daniel B. Whipple, late of Adams county, at a date when his nearest neighbors were Fort Edwards, Rushville and Quincy. If so, Col. Whipple must have been one among the earliest settlers in Hancock county-indeed, the earliest of whom we have any account, if we except the officers and people at the fort. Col. W. and his uncle, Barnabas B. Whipple, were the patentees of the claim, having been in service in the war of 1812-'14, with Great Britain.
Among the other early settlers of this township were Garrett Bean and his brother-in-law, Mr. Mills, who came to where Mr. B. now resides in 1836. [For a very interesting narrative of Mr. Bean, see another chapter.] He resides below Stillwell on the county line. Mr. Mills moved to Missouri over 30 years ago, and is now deceased. Other pioneers were, Jonathan Todd, Wm. Pike, Jesse Richardson, Dr. Cook, Noah Stokes, John Slater, Wm. Bride, Benoin C. Bride, Truman Kinney, Joseph Kinney, James E. Moore, Wm. Owen, Eldridge Renshaw, C.W. Hicks, Alexander McDonald, David Wigle, Bradley Hecox, James Knott.
Township Officials -The Supervisors, Town Clerks, Assessors and Collectors of this township are as following: with perhaps some unavoidable omissions:
Living History: Della's article concludes, plus the magic of Ruidoso in the winter
A member of the Wingfield family, Ruidoso native William Morrison shares Ruidoso's oral history passed down to him by various family members. This week, the last of Della's article and the magic of Ruidoso in the winter.
From Della's article: "Dean's Drugstore, Harry Gottlieb Curios, Van Sickle Lumber, J.T Sayer's Service Station were some of the first businesses in the late 1920s.
H.A. Barchardin established an Odd Fellows camp in Cedar Creek in the early 1920s, and in 1926 Ike Wingfield gave 10 acres to the Southwestern Children's Home and buildings were constructed.
Children from the home enjoyed a summer outing for many years. The first rodeo was held about 1928 in what is now the Skyland area. Alfred Hale rented horses and sold firewood to summer visitors. Monte Gardenhire had rental horses for many years.
During the decade of the 1930s to present date, many have enjoyed these cool pines."
Well, that is what Grandma Della wrote down and passed on to me in a scrapbook with the family tree documented all the way back to her great-grandmas on both sides of her mom and dad.
And that leads me to Charlie, good ole' Charlie, who decided to stay the winter so long ago. He loved the winter. It was so serene, quiet and magical.
The snow pack is what soaks into the ground and becomes water, running down the mountain and across a flume to drop over the water wheel the mill. Water is the magic that does the work of cutting logs into lumber and grinding corn into meal and wheat into flour so we can build shelters to protect our family and food to sustain life.
It allows us to stay the winter in a wonderland in the pines.
What was the first winter like?
Producing enough food and adequate shelter to make it through the winter is the timeless test, from Sandia and Folsom, Anasazi and Apache, Spaniard and all others who have seen the mountain form a distance and come to the Ruidoso to stay the winter.
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The Murder of Elisabeth
It was July, 1918 when Lenin ordered the arrest of Elisabeth.
She spent a few days with other prisoners from Russian noble families before they were all carted to a small village with an abandoned mineshaft 66 ft deep.
She was beaten and hurled down the shaft.
Then the others followed and a hand grenade was thrown down to kill them, but only one man died.
According to one of the murderers, Elisabeth and the others survived the fall and after the grenade was tossed down, he heard Elisabeth and others singing a hymn.
Down went a second grenade and finally, brushwood shoved into the entrance and set alight.
After the revolution, her convent erected a statue of Elisabeth in the garden. It read simply:
Winter Walk History by Ellen Thurston
Winter Walk started in 1997 as a community event. The antique stores had moved onto Warren Street and it was felt that it would be a friendly gesture if shops would stay open, offering refreshments and entertainment. The whole scheme was hatched in Carole Clark’s restaurant, Charleston (now Baba Louie’s) where choreographer Abby Lappen’s dance company had staged an imaginative dance performance. From the first year, Abby’s dancers appeared in windows on Warren Street to the delight of children and adults.
Winter Walk was an instant success. Mayor Rick Scalera played Santa Claus. A beautiful horse and carriage clip-clopped up the street as just the right amount of snow fell. Antique dealer Byrne Fone dressed as Charles Dickens and read “A Christmas Carol” in his shop window. Saxophone Santa suddenly appeared from out of nowhere. Everyone seemed to join in the spirit of the season. Best of all, it reminded people of the time when all the stores on Warren Street were open on Thursday nights, and some likened it to “a high school reunion” where they saw people they hadn’t seen in years. That feeling of “community” still remains until this day, even though visitors from outside the County have swelled the ranks.
The first Winter Walk took place mostly in the 500 and 600 block. It was called “A Winter Walk on Warren Street.” It was hard to get the crowd to move below Fifth Street or above Seventh Street. But as the business district grew, expanding up and down Warren Street, over to Columbia and into the side streets, Winter Walk grew with it. The name of the event was shortened from “A Winter Walk on Warren Street” to “Winter Walk,” reflecting this growth, and making the name more inclusive. It was at this point that tourists and visitors from outside the region started to come. They seemed to like the combination of a small town celebration and the quirky and surprising entertainment that was offered. The star of the show, however, has always been the street itself—a mile-long parade of beautiful buildings beautifully decorated. And people seem to like walking down that street with a friendly crowd of people.
As the crowds got bigger, shops were overwhelmed with visitors, and efforts have been made to place more entertainment outside on the street. Also, entertainment that used to appear in empty stores, or in shop windows, has had to move outside due to lack of available spaces.
For a number of years, it was difficult, if not impossible, to get Winter Walkers to go below Third Street. The formation of the BeLo3rd organization had a lot to do with the development below Third Street, which is now populated with all kinds of businesses. Warren Street above Seventh Street is also now developing and changing at a rapid rate.
Winter Walk is now almost seen as a holiday. It has turned into a destination. Many parties and family gatherings are built around Winter Walk. B&Bs fill up that weekend, etc.
Winter Walk is weather dependent. It has been postponed only once, due to a monumental blizzard on the day of Winter Walk. Temperatures have varied from frigid to almost 60 degrees. In spite of the weather, some people take pride in saying that they have been to every Winter Walk.
I believe that fireworks (to end the event) were added in the second year of Winter Walk. They were shot off from Academy Hill above Rossman Avenue at the eastern end of Warren Street. When that area began to be developed, the fireworks were moved to Promenade Hill at the western end of Warren Street.
Winter Walk is, as it has always been, produced by the Hudson Opera House as a community event, with the added purpose of promoting business. From the beginning, other community organizations, public school art and music departments, the City Fire, Police and Public Works departments, and individual volunteers have participated and made it all possible.
Blizzard Of 1978
The first flakes fell just before noon. By nightfall, gale-force winds were sculpting massive snowdrifts.
Long Island Sound bucked and surged against the shoreline. Hundreds of cars were stranded along the state's highways, and thousands of people sought refuge in emergency shelters.
When the skies finally cleared 30 hours later, parts of Connecticut were cloaked in nearly 2 feet of snow.
The Blizzard of '78 wasn't the biggest snowstorm to strike southern New England. That distinction belongs to a ferocious, late-winter storm that brought as much as 50 inches of snow to the state in 1888.
But the harrowing nor'easter that blew into the region in 1978 remains etched in the memories of many New Englanders.
Statistics tell part of the story: More than $25 million in damage, hundreds evacuated from coastal areas, and four men dead of heart attacks while shoveling snow.
Gov. Ella T. Grasso shut down the state for three days, and President Carter declared Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts federal disaster areas. A contingent of 547 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, flew in to help National Guard crews clean up the mess.
Life's daily rhythms veered wildly off course. Mail delivery ceased for the first time in 40 years. Office buildings darkened, and roads became ghostly still. Even criminals hunkered down: Hartford police reported that major crime fell by one- third.
For some, the storm was nothing but a hassle. It left mountains of snow to shovel and turned even the simplest of tasks, such as a jaunt to the corner store, into an adventure. (Remember, this was the late 1970s, when sports utility vehicles were rare and four-wheel-drive was an anomaly.)
Many people grew stir-crazy after spending three days indoors. But for children, and adults who share a child's sense of wonder, it was an enchanted time. Instead of sitting in school, children spent the days sledding, sipping hot chocolate and climbing atop enormous snowdrifts.
"I remember it vividly,'' said Steve Orvis, who was 8 that winter and living in Farmington. "The whole town was a fortress of ice."
Orvis, now living in Southern California, said he misses the magic of a big blizzard. "When you get older, you don't appreciate winter like kids do,'' he said. "Back then, it was pure fun."
A 10-Cent Part
The Blizzard of '78 certainly didn't sneak its way into New England. Weather forecasters had been hyping the storm for several days before the snow began to fall. On Monday, Feb. 6, those somber warnings spurred schools to close and employers to send their workers home at lunchtime.
C. Wesley Greenleaf was scheduled to work until 4 that day at a marina on Fishers Island, N.Y. The 28-year-old Groton resident had been making the 3-mile trip across Long Island Sound since he was 10, so he wasn't too worried. Still, news of the impending storm prompted his employer to send him home at noon.
Greenleaf and a co-worker, Lance Elwell, set out on a 17-foot Boston Whaler. They had almost reached Noank, their destination, when the engine died. "We were going over some big waves and it just quit," he recalled. "We started drifting west and lost sight of all land."
Soon, the sky grew dark and the snow began to fall at a furious pace. "You couldn't see anything, not even a hand in front of your face,'' Greenleaf said. The roar of the wind made conversation impossible.
The men spent the night frantically bailing freezing water out of their boat. "It was something to do," Greenleaf said. They had to keep moving to fend off frostbite.
Greenleaf thought of his 1-year- old daughter. "It was tough,'' he said. "You would never believe how cold it got.''
Finally, at the break of dawn, Greenleaf and Elwell spied land. They swam a short distance toward an isolated beach on Long Island. After climbing over snow- covered dunes, they found their way to a cottage. A snowmobiler took them to a local hospital, where they were treated for mild exposure.
The ordeal lasted 19 hours. The men later learned that the boat's engine failure was caused by a break on the ignition switch, a part that cost a dime to replace.
The blizzard is a distant memory for Greenleaf, who now works as director of operations for the Groton school system. "I haven't thought about it in years."
"A Fountain Of Strength"
Traveling by car was also treacherous. It took Susan Abrams eight hours to drive from her office on Woodland Street in Hartford to her home in Vernon. Nine months pregnant at the time, she was in tears by the time she pulled onto her street.
In New Britain, another pregnant woman, Elizabeth Cassidy, was at her doctor's office with her 18-month-old son when the storm struck. "We had to leave the car there and hitchhike," she recalled. A passerby took pity on them waddling through the snowbanks and offered them a ride home to Kensington. Today, Cassidy still does not know whom to thank. "I don't know who that fellow was but we would have never made it home without him."
Cassidy wasn't the only one stranded by the storm. Gov. Grasso's car got stuck as she tried to make her way from the governor's mansion in Hartford's West End to the state's storm command center in the State Armory. She walked several blocks through the snow.
Once Grasso arrived at the command center, there was no question who was in charge. "She was a fountain of strength," said James F. Shugrue, who was state Department of Transportation commissioner at the time.
Grasso quickly seized on an offhand comment made by one of her staff workers. "Someone said, `Wouldn't it be nice if the roads were closed?' And the governor made her decision before the 11 o'clock news,'' Shugrue said. Grasso's ruling meant that DOT crews could get out and clear the roads without having to worry about traffic snarls.
Of course, some people had to venture out anyway. Susan Sposito of Glastonbury went into labor just as the storm was gathering steam. Her husband, Peter, placed chains on the family station wagon, and a neighbor came to collect the couple's three children.
Just in case, the Spositos asked a doctor who lived nearby to accompany them on the trip to the hospital. Peter Sposito also tucked a small bottle of scotch in the car. "I'm not sure why I brought the scotch," he said. "I guess I was thinking it might come in handy for medicinal purposes."
The police department arranged for a four-wheel-drive truck to escort the couple, and they made it to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford in plenty of time. Their son, Michael, didn't arrive until 7:29 a.m. the next day.
"Michael loves it when we tell the story," Susan Sposito said of her son, now a student at Fordham University in New York City." It makes him feel special."
Gallons Of Hot Cocoa
Along with the headaches and hassles, the storm spawned a sense of fun. Neighbors skied down city streets. Card games and jokes sustained strangers thrown together in shelters.
On college campuses, the atmosphere was festive. Beverly Truebig of West Hartford remembers watching fellow University of Connecticut students gleefully jump out of windows into piles of snow.
Edward J. Brown, chef manager at UConn, said stretching food supplies was a challenge. ``We had a lot of problems but we made do,'' he said. ``It was a big party atmosphere on campus and everyone came together.'' He offered hot soup and ``gallons and gallons'' of hot cocoa to the rambunctious students.
At Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, cafeteria workers rationed food. ``We all had enough to eat but there were no seconds,'' said Cindy Kramer of Burlington, who spent the blizzard holed up in her dormitory at Central. Her boyfriend had stocked up on beer before the storm. ``He was a pretty popular guy,'' she said.
Those stranded at work had to make do with less. Stephen Post and several co-workers spent five days at Capewell Manufacturing in Hartford. At first, they subsisted on candy and soda from company vending machines, but after two days, the provisions ran out. ``There was an old Polish woman across the street and she saw us shoveling,'' said Post, who lives in Manchester. ``She brought us a cake and sandwiches. That saved our lives.''
The storm produced plenty of heroes. Sometimes their exploits made the news, such as the 25 Milford firefighters who suffered frostbite fighting a house fire. More often the gallantry was anonymous. There werethe nameless workers who plowed the streets, ran the shelters, tended to the sick and assisted the elderly.
And just as a blanket of snow can turn the most squalid city street into an enchanted wonderland, a fierce storm can make heroes of ordinary folks -- John DeGennaro of North Branford,for example.
``The state was shut down and I was going stir-crazy at home,'' DeGennaro recalled. Against the orders of the governor, he jumped in his car and took a ride through Fair Haven, where he lived at the time.
DeGennaro saw an old man stumbling in the snow. ``He was trying to walk while juggling three bags of groceries,'' DeGennaro said. He offered the man a ride home.
4. Her first on stage performance was at the Apollo during Amateur Night.
Ella's name was pulled out of the weekly drawing at the Apollo, and she competed during Amateur Night -- not a bad way to perform on stage for the first time! And, fun fact, she was actually planning only to dance that night, but changed her mind when she saw the Edwards Sisters at the show. According to Ella's website, she said, "They were the dancingest sisters around." Ella ended up singing Hoagy Carmichael's "Judy" -- after which the audience wanted an encore.
19 Secession Winter
She was received as a commonwealth holding [annexed to U.S. in 1845], maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery–the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits–a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. — Texas Declaration of Causes [of Secession from the U.S.], 1861
The time between Abraham Lincoln’s election in November 1860 and inauguration in March 1861 is called Secession Winter, when the Confederacy formed and broke away from the United States. The Capitol Dome was under construction during Lincoln’s inaugural. The project symbolically stalled because Jefferson Davis, the Mississippi Senator in charge, was instead presiding over the Confederacy. The 1860 U.S. presidential election was a four-horse race, with Lincoln running as a Republican, John C. Breckinridge as a southern Democrat who opposed secession (the cousin, amazingly enough, of Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd Lincoln), and two compromise candidates from border states: northern Democrat Stephen Douglas of Illinois and John Bell of Tennessee. The election hinged almost entirely on the question of slavery’s expansion into the western territories. Bell mostly ignored the thornier politics of slavery while promoting union. Douglas continued to promote the right of western territories to decide slavery on their own through free sovereignty, but the “Little Giant” got virtually no votes in the South after the Democrats split up along regional lines during their summer convention in Charleston. Lincoln continued, officially at least, to support southeastern slavery while blocking its western expansion. He would outlaw slavery in the western territories just as Thomas Jefferson had suggested for the Northwest Territories in 1787, even if that happened under the Articles of Confederation rather than the Constitution.
Capitol Dome Under Construction, March 1861, Library of Congress
Lincoln won a plurality of the popular vote (39.8%) and a majority of the electoral votes. That was one of the reasons for Lincoln’s unsympathetic views toward secession. Since he’d won by the agreed-upon rules, he asked what gave an entire region the right to pack its bags and leave. If one region left after this election, then maybe another might leave in a huff the next time (e.g. the Midwest or Northeast), and soon the United States would cease to exist. He wouldn’t allow that, regardless of the constitutional legalities of blocking secession.
Most people expected the Republican’s leader, William Seward, to be the GOP candidate in 1860, but delegates hoped that Lincoln being from Illinois would help him secure the lower North, and maybe garner a few upper southern votes because he was born in Kentucky. But Lincoln threatened slavery’s territorial expansion and he got no electoral votes south of the Ohio River, despite some votes in the Upper South. Lincoln wasn’t even on the ballot in many southern states and received only 1.1% of the popular vote south of the Ohio River. Over 60% of Americans voted against Lincoln, making him the least popular winner in U.S. history. The 1860 election was the most regionalized in history. Lincoln’s hostility to western slavery was the source of the problem and the deciding factor that led the first seven southern states to secede. After Lincoln called on volunteers to subdue their rebellion, four more border states left the U.S. to join the new Confederacy. John Breckinridge tried to steer Kentucky toward neutrality, but reluctantly gave up and joined the Confederacy, for whom he fought and later served as Secretary of War.
As for Seward, who disrespected Lincoln, the new president was magnanimous enough to hire him anyway and make him Secretary of State, because he thought it gave the Union the best chance of surviving. He co-opted other rivals and critics as well, absorbing their advice and eventually winning them over. Stephen Douglas also sided with Lincoln after secession. At first, the Republicans expected Lincoln to be a figurehead while better-known operatives like Seward and Salmon Chase ran things behind the scenes, but they underestimated his political prowess. He clarified his policies as soon as he was elected because the sitting president, pro-slavery northern Democrat James Buchanan, just wanted to ride out his term. When Lincoln finally made his way from Illinois to Washington by train, security had to use doubles and switch him from car to car to avoid assassination. Death threats poured in by the thousands from the day he was elected, some with bullets and poisoned ink, and one with a dumpling full of spiders.
The Washington press derided Lincoln for covering himself with a woman’s shawl and a soft wool cap during the train transfer in Baltimore, but there were indeed people there trying to assassinate him, including a Corsican immigrant hairdresser named Cipriano Ferrandini (left). Ferrandini arranged to have eight fellow “patriots” kill him on the same night, with each thinking he alone had been awarded the honor. The Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad hired Allan Pinkerton, who founded the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, to protect Lincoln. Pinkerton’s first female detective, Kate Warne, went undercover as a Confederate sympathizer to foil the Baltimore Plot, stopping Ferrandini from “liberating the nation from the foul presence of the abolitionist leader.” They whisked Lincoln through town a day earlier than scheduled in a carriage and unlit passenger car amidst an elaborate series of bluffs and blinds. They gave a lot of attention to one box large enough to hide him in, making sure the railroad workers knew it was vitally important, and that it absolutely had to make it through to Washington that night. Inside assassins found a stack of unimportant papers. Lincoln skipped his scheduled stop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, leaving Mary Todd and the kids to face a disappointed crowd. To keep word of his absence from reaching Baltimore, Pinkerton’s men cut the telegraph wire. Had Maryland chosen to secede, which they were considering at the time, the president-elect would’ve steamed through the Confederacy on his way to Washington. For Lincoln, just showing up for work the first day was a major accomplishment.
Criticism about the shawl was a rude awakening, but Lincoln didn’t let the Washington press shape his image or dictate his agenda any more than he did GOP leadership. Like Ben Franklin, he could kick up his heels and play the frontiersmen whenever it suited him, spitting tobacco as he spun yarns, told off-color jokes or bragged about his 299-1 record in backwoods wrestling matches (he’s in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame), but Lincoln was no simple country bumpkin. He kept educated audiences riveted, as he did in his Right Makes Might Cooper Union Speech in New York that helped him seal the nomination and he gave away counterfeit tickets to the Republican convention to pack the hall with his supporters. The “Rail-splitter of the West” was skilled in the art of self-promotion. He made ample use of studios and had photographers airbrush out skin blemishes before shipping his portraits to the highest-circulation newspapers (those with steam-powered presses). Since Lincoln was thin, artists often superimposed his head on the bodies of other politicians — in one ironic case over the torso of the South’s most famous defender of slavery: John C. Calhoun.
One young girl from Buffalo, New York wrote the nominee a letter, saying he should cover his homely face. He took her advice and grew a beard and when his inaugural train stopped through Buffalo months later, he called the girl up on stage and told the humorous story. Once in Washington, he seized the initiative with the media by establishing his own press corps, pioneering a tradition that formalized in 1914 and continues to this day.
Sam Houston, by Mathew Brady, ca. 1861
Secession & the Constitution
Lincoln needed all the help he could get because he was facing the stiffest challenge of any president in American history. He would likely be either the country’s greatest president or its last. South Carolina led the charge against him, just as they had against Britain in 1776 when they were one of the first colonies to declare independence, before Continental Congress did. Ironically, South Carolinian Charles Pinckney had pushed the idea of putting the military in the national government’s hands rather than the states’ at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. That mattered now, more than ever. Mississippi exited next, which put pressure on Georgia and Florida in between South Carolina and Mississippi. The original Confederacy was the deep southern states stretching to Texas, where a spirited debate ensued among slave-holding cotton planters from the eastern part of the state and German immigrants in central Texas who believed in doing their own work. In Comfort, Texas stands the “Treue der Union” monument (transl. “loyalty to the union”) honoring 30 German-Americans slain by Confederates in the 1862 Nueces Massacre. Governor Sam Houston opposed secession on unionist grounds and Travis County voted 704-450 against secession. East Texas disagreed, though, and when Texas seceded, that made for seven Confederate states. Four more upper southern states – Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina – seceded after Lincoln took office and requested volunteers to help subdue the first seven. By then the Civil War had started with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina (next chapter).
The immediate Constitutional matter was whether states had the right to leave the U.S. Was the Union a voluntary compact, as South Carolina argued, or a permanent alliance as Lincoln proposed? The Constitution itself is ambiguous on the matter, perhaps since some Founders either presumed it wouldn’t happen or that anyone who wanted to leave wouldn’t care what the Constitution said. Article I, Section 10 says that states cannot have armies or “enter into treaties, alliances, or confederations” (Clause 1), but can raise militias (Clause 3). James Madison, a primary author of the Constitution, wrote that secession was just another name for revolution, “about which there is no theoretic controversy.” Yet, he also rejected a proposal permitting the national government to suppress seceding states. In his convention minutes, Madison wrote: “A union of the states containing such an ingredient (would) provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.” Historian Kevin Gutzman argued that, in Virginia’s case at least (Madison’s home state), their ratifiers understood the Constitution as a revocable agreement among sovereign states when they signed on in 1788. The ratification documents of two northern states, New York and Rhode Island, also expressed their understanding that they could dissolve their union with the United States. In Gutzman’s view, states were free to leave the union. There were some Southerners who either disagreed or wanted to clarify things further in 1860, though, because they tried to pass Constitutional amendments to allow for secession. Other amendment proposals included a three-headed presidency with at least one Southerner permanently among the three and all three having veto power.
Prior to the Civil War, there was as much states’ rights and secession noise in the North as in the South. Some New Englanders considered secession during the War of 1812 and some abolitionists discussed it in the 1850s. There was even talk at the height of the sectional crisis of a “central confederacy” composed of upper southern and lower northern states. Massachusetts exercised states’ rights when it, in effect, nullified the Fugitive Slave Clause in the mid-1850s. To be fair, South Carolina made it clear at the founding in 1776 and again at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that they had no interest in being in the country if it prohibited slavery. Yet, Lincoln’s election arguably didn’t pose an immediate threat to slavery in South Carolina.
James Buchanan, ca. 1850-68, Cropped From Matthew Brady Daguerreotype
Lincoln just wanted to keep the country together, regardless of what the Constitution said about secession. While it’s clear that he didn’t like slavery and was taking an unwavering stand against its expansion, he was willing to compromise and allow it to exist in the South. Lincoln believed the Constitution granted existing states the right to maintain slavery. Several times during the election season and Secession Winter, Senator John J. Crittenden tried and failed to get an amendment passed permanently shoring up the legality of southeastern slavery — a proposal Lincoln fully supported. The president-elect thought secession was a bluff and that the South just wanted slavery protected along with better enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. Lincoln reiterated his support for this “unamendable” amendment forever preserving southeastern slavery in his First Inaugural Address. Congress passed the amendment, in fact, but the states never ratified it. Ironically, given what we know about later events, that would’ve been the same 13th number used for the amendment that abolished slavery in 1865. President Buchanan also supported such a measure. The 1861 lithograph below lampoons Buchanan for not taking a firmer stance in the sectional crisis. The reason many historians rank him as one of the worst presidents of all time was his inability to act or take any meaningful stance on the biggest crisis in American history. As we saw in previous chapters, he tried to wiggle out of it by shoving the problem onto the Supreme Court or uniting North and South against a common Mormon enemy, but neither worked. The temperamentally unqualified chief executive was caught like the proverbial “deer in the headlights.” Buchanan opposed secession yet denied the Union’s right to stop secession. In his defense, we’ve likely had many presidents that would’ve been in over their heads with the sectional crisis and not known what to do, especially if they prioritized avoiding war. And, Lincoln (the anti-Buchanan) backed Buchanan’s efforts to permanently legalize slavery in the Southeast. Lincoln probably wouldn’t have supported the pro-slavery amendment if he wasn’t prepared to accept the consequences, which is why black abolitionist Frederick Douglass temporarily lost hope in him.
However, the South, or at least certain vocal and influential politicians who claimed to speak for the entire region, wanted no such deal. They saw no daylight between Lincoln’s opposition to expanding slavery and his willingness to acquiesce in its existence in the South. Their opposition blocked the amendment since ¾ of the states need to sign off. As for Lincoln, presidents aren’t formally involved in passing or repealing amendments. Confederates were determined to keep the West open for slavery, arguing that any infringement curbed their Fifth Amendment constitutional rights to not be deprived of property without due process of law, per Dred Scott. They also feared that Lincoln, despite his Thirteenth Amendment offer, was hostile toward slavery where it already existed. After all, in the 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas, he’d said the government “could not endure half free, half slave…it will be all one thing or all the other.” That same year, he famously said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Consequently, some southern states started to leave the U.S. upon Lincoln’s election, raising the question of whether it was allowable for them to leave.
Mathew Brady Daguerreotype of Joseph Story, 1844
Lincoln and others, including Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, argued for the illegality of secession via Article I, Section 10, barring states from forming confederacies or to “keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in a war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.” Events had transcended the law, though, at this point. It’s surprising the Confederacy even took the time to make their voluntary compact Constitutional case since they were leaving the country anyway. When Continental Congress declared independence from Britain in 1776, they didn’t concern themselves with the ins and outs of British law after they left, though Jefferson complained about transgressions in the Declaration of Independence. And why would the American Founders have included a provision for the breakup of their own experiment? Engineers don’t include instructions in their blueprints on how to demolish a building. At his Cooper Union address in 1860, Lincoln put the emphasis on Gouverneur Morris’ preamble to the Constitution with its mention of We the People, not the text. In his First Inaugural Address on March 4th, 1861, the incoming president bluntly said that the Union, which he defined as older than the Constitution, was perpetual. Either way, the question was more one of why the South was leaving and Lincoln’s cause was not letting it happen. Whether it was legal or not, he didn’t deem it desirable or justifiable. That brings us to the question of the Civil War’s ultimate cause. Secession was the immediate, proximate cause, but the ultimate, fundamental cause was the South’s reason for seceding in the first place: slavery.
Causes of Secession
The South, at least if narrowly defined by Confederate leadership, seceded from the U.S. because Lincoln’s election threatened slavery’s expansion. That doesn’t mean, though, that the North blocked secession for abolitionist reasons. The North, defined likewise by its leaders, responded initially only to keep the South from leaving, not to end slavery. These claims might seem backward to some Northerners reared in the myth that the Union fought to free slaves all along, and to some Southerners taught that the Confederacy seceded primarily to protest tariffs, because of economic differences, to defend its honor, or to support states’ rights (i.e. for reasons other than slavery).
Voices of Secession, Currier & Ives, 1861
On the 150th anniversary of secession in 2011, the Charleston Mercury (S.C.) commemorated the Lost Cause of the Civil War. In describing the war’s cause, they managed to pack several examples of bad argumentation into one short editorial. While they didn’t make a formal case against slavery having anything to do with the rise of the Confederacy, they argued by omission in celebrating its true cause as that of independence and governing as one would wish. They inferred that slavery couldn’t have been the motive because of northern racism, arguing for one that slavery existed longer under the American flag than the Confederate flag. That’s true, but the Confederacy only lasted four years, so it’s an absurd comparison. After all, the Confederate states spent most of their own post-colonial history under the U.S. flag. And the North was indeed mostly a racist society, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t threaten slavery or that the South didn’t want to defend slavery. That argument is a non sequitur (Latin for “it does not follow”).
Another pillar of the Mercury’s argument was that we shouldn’t apply modern moral standards to the 19th century. But anyone arguing that antebellum (pre-war) Southerners didn’t value slavery is the one projecting modern standards back onto the 19th century since they weren’t ashamed of slavery they were proud of it. Descendants of 19th-century Southerners shouldn’t bother shouldering that burden by needlessly superimposing their dislike of slavery onto their forebears. The Mercury’s main line of argument was that the North wasn’t primarily concerned with ending slavery and that emancipation was an ex-post facto (retroactive, or after the fact) justification for why the Union fought. Both premises are true, but it doesn’t follow from either one that the South didn’t secede to preserve slavery. For one thing, secession preceded the Union’s response to secession, so the Mercury’s chronology concerning their response is backward. The South, in other words, didn’t secede because the North blocked secession. Also, opposing sides in wars don’t have to fight over the same issue. In Vietnam, for instance, the U.S. fought to block communism, while many North Vietnamese fought mainly to gain independence and fend off imperialism. Country A could invade country B for resources, and country B could fight back out of self-defense or for religious reasons. The American Civil War is another example because, in a nutshell: the South seceded to defend slavery and the North fought to stop secession . There’s virtually zero debate on this matter among real historians, North or South, and, in under 140 characters, you can even fit this relatively simple concept into a Tweet®.
This is a good teaching moment, if you pardon the rather lengthy digression that follows, because in all of American history the cause of the Civil War is the topic that the public and historians disagree on more than any other. That’s complicated by non-historians in state governments dictating their needs to textbook publishers, in effect ordering up whatever interpretations they choose as if they’re at a lunch buffet. Big states like Texas can cause a ripple effect when they force 8th-grade textbooks to downplay slavery as a cause of the Civil War. In 2010, one member of the Texas State Board of Education said, “States’ rights were the real issues behind the Civil War. Slavery was an after issue.” However, for real antebellum Southerners, Confederate leaders, and historians who consult actual evidence, slavery was the before and during issue the after issue was rewriting history to pretend it wasn’t. Fortunately, publishers are starting to tailor their books digitally on a state-by-state basis, mitigating the damage caused by such unnecessary white-washing of reality, and Texas revised its curriculum to emphasize slavery as the war’s cause in 2018. Historians liken textbooks “balancing” other non-slavery interpretations to a science teacher balancing the heliocentric and geocentric models of the solar system. There’s no need to balance two interpretations if one is right and one is wrong.
Slave Market, Atlanta, Georgia, 1864, Photo by George N. Barnard
The vast majority of historians (not all), North and South, view slavery as the primary cause of the war, yet polls show that most Americans don’t, and young Americans are increasingly skeptical that slavery played an important role. One recent poll shows that only 8% of America’s 12th-graders can identify slavery as the cause of the Civil War. The pros are right in this case, for reasons we’ll unpack in great detail below. Many citizens learn fishy things in school or at monuments and museums through no fault of their own, while for others their hearts get in the way of their heads. It’s human nature to be more passionate about myths than facts. Despite America’s long military history, the only time its civilians have ever truly experienced sustained war on a collective scale is in the Southeast during the Civil War. That emotions are still raw after 150 years isn’t surprising and speaks to the war’s cataclysmic impact. Many modern Americans descend from ancestors who fought or suffered, some not realizing that they’re likely related to people on both sides. Ancestor worship is a universal instinct — even institutionalized in Confucianism — so people naturally want to believe that their relatives fought for honorable causes. But instead of confronting the war head-on, we’ve done ourselves a disservice by warping our collective memories in the name of pride and heritage. In the North, that warpage took the form of overlooking the region’s racism and projecting a purified abolitionist cause onto the Union’s agenda of blocking secession. In many southern states, conversely, it was illegal to even mention slavery in relation to the Civil War for nearly a century afterward. Remember that if you view the (optional) Ron Paul clip below and hear him say, “Every one of our public schools since [the Civil War], has preached and harped and pounded it into our students’ heads that slavery was the only issue involved.” Yet no one’s ever argued that slavery was the only issue involved and, more to the point, there’s a big difference between pounding something into students’ heads and not being able to mention it for a hundred years without being fired.
Today, many students have learned that the war’s causes were “complex,” which is true, but rate slavery as the third or fourth most important factor, which is flat-out wrong. While often an appropriate idea in academics, complexity, in this case, is a smokescreen for downplaying the most important factor. Thinking historically also involves simplifying by finding common threads amidst complex phenomena. A key step is deciphering what people mean when they ask what caused the war. Do they mean, Was Secession legal? Why did the South secede? Why did soldiers fight in the war? Why did the North challenge secession? Those are four different questions with four different answers. We’ve already examined the legalities surrounding the immediate, proximate cause of the war: the North blocking Southern secession and the constitutional questions that raised. Later, we’ll investigate why soldiers fought and why the North bothered to block secession. Now we’ll examine the South’s motives for secession, the most important of all these questions and the ultimate cause of the Civil War.
The biggest clue as to the importance of slavery isn’t what’s wrong with alternative explanations but rather that the entire history from the Mexican War to John Brown’s Raid in 1859 that you slogged through in the previous chapter centered on titanic struggles and compromises over slavery. But, for argument’s sake, we’ll temporarily feign amnesia and set aside the Sectional Crisis. As we examine some of the common alternative explanations for the war, we’ll see that tariffs were divisive but didn’t cause the war and that concerns over economic differences and violations of honor manifested themselves mainly in controversies over slavery. States’ rights wasn’t a principle Confederate leaders held to consistently except when it suited them in the defense of slavery or secession, and I will even “flip the script” and argue that the Confederacy seceded to oppose states’ rights. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said of human bondage that there was one overriding factor that “all knew…was somehow the cause of the war.”
Alternative Explanations for Secession (Besides Slavery)
Tariffs provide one popular alternative and, if Southerners hadn’t been concerned about them, the Confederacy wouldn’t have bothered outlawing them in their new constitution. Tariffs were divisive for good reason, as we saw a few chapters ago in our discussion of the Nullification Crisis in South Carolina from 1828-33. Import duties helped protect northern industry while hurting the exporting South, who only stood to suffer from retaliatory tariffs in Europe and artificially high prices on products at home. Tariffs, in effect, constituted a tribute payment from Southerners and northern farmers to northern manufacturers. The newly-formed Republican Party tried to smooth over any potential conflict between northern farmers and manufacturers by pushing for tariffs on agricultural imports, too. One of Lincoln’s 1860 campaign mottos in swing states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania was Vote for Farms, Vote for Tariffs, and the North raised tariffs during and after the war. The 1861 Morrill Tariff, passed after the secession of the first seven states just before Buchanan handed over the reins to Lincoln, extended protection to crops. But Congress didn’t raise the tariff before secession when Southerners still served in Congress and dominated the Supreme Court — quite the opposite. The two regions agreed on a compromise in 1846, a big reduction favoring the South, and another decrease in 1857. You’ll notice from the previous chapter that the topic didn’t arise during the sectional crisis from 1846-1860. Still, the South favored free trade and the North didn’t, so tariffs are rightfully considered an important secondary cause of the war instead of a mere red herring. One could argue that even the tariff controversy was indirectly tied to slavery through cotton production. But the gaping hole in any argument emphasizing tariffs as a primary cause is that no one went to war in 1861 to lower tariffs or, if they did, they kept it a secret while arguing incessantly about slavery.
Most of the other causes people cite aren’t so much wrong, as they are unnecessarily evasive, redundant, or indirect. Calhoun’s Fifth Amendment argument regarding property rights, for instance, is important only because slaves were the property in question. What about economic differences? Likewise, this overlaps with slavery. In the previous chapter, we talked about the traditional, static South versus the upwardly mobile economy of the North. The tension between these two systems grew in the 1850s, leading to the emergence of the Republican Party. Increased communication networks and voter participation increased tension all the more. For interpretations emphasizing the economic struggle, the type of workers in industry (wage workers) and plantation agriculture (slaves) is incidental the struggle is between industrial capitalism and plantation agriculture. This interpretation makes for strange bedfellows, aligning neo-Confederates with Marxist historians, and it was part of Karl Marx’s own take on the Civil War.
But purely economic interpretations of the Civil War oversimplify regional differences between North and South, depicting traditional agriculture versus industrial capitalism. The anti-industrial agrarian movement had proponents in both regions, and many Southerners advocated industry. Contrary to popular stereotypes, nearly half of Northerners in the mid-19th century were farmers rather than businessmen, clerks or factory workers, and many of them were states’ rights-leaning Democrats who opposed tariffs and national banks. That’s why Lincoln’s GOP had to work overtime to convince northern voters to support tariffs. At the time of the Civil War, over 45% of Northerners were farmers and the North grew most of the country’s wheat, corn, and oats. There was a lot of agriculture mixed in with northern industry it was just family farms instead of plantations and small family plots. If you could’ve gotten in a balloon and floated over the North at the time, you’d have seen mainly farms, not factories. In fact, the North’s superior ability to feed itself was a factor in them winning the Civil War. Moreover, some Southerners were Whig businessmen that supported a stronger, more interventionist national government. Either way, even if the North was 100% industrial (which it wasn’t), there’s no real reason the two regions couldn’t have co-existed, just as they had for a half a century leading up to the war. Southern slave-grown cotton had traditionally fed textile mills in the North, Britain, and Europe, and Northerners made more money shipping, financing, and insuring slave-grown commodities than they did in their other relatively small mills. Northern textiles and Southern plantations were all part of the same system. Why go to war over “economic differences”?
Southern plantation owners, meanwhile, could’ve given northern industrialists a lesson in Modern Capitalism 101. They speculated, excelled at converting labor into commodities, adopted technology, crunched financial data, manipulated “legalese,” and constituted the wealthiest Americans measured by total assets, including land and property (slaves). For capitalists in the Cotton Kingdom, the crucial metric was bales per acre per hand. Economic differences mattered, but the contentious (or divisive) economic difference between the two regions wasn’t agriculture vs. industry it was slavery versus wage labor. The question was which region would win the American future by spreading west, giving its political representatives a lock on power and backing their form of labor.
Jackson Plantation Home, Schriever, Louisiana, Photograph by Marion Post Wolcott for Farm Securities Administration, Library of Congress
What about honor as an alternative cause of the war? While no one would argue that honor isn’t a good thing, it’s a vague concept to cite as the primary cause of a war without more context. Disputes about honor are a result rather than a cause of disagreements. Once the disagreement turns into a war, both sides are always more “honorable” than the other side in their own minds. Having said that, there was a distinctive code of honor in the South that could be described, depending on one’s point of view, as either thin-skinned or chivalrous in the knightly sense of the word. The most popular southern author was Sir Walter Scott, a Romantic Scottish writer whose best-known work Ivanhoe (1819) depicts an honorable 12th-century Saxon stand against Norman tyranny. Southerners saw Yankees as tyrannical, undignified money-grubbers while Northerners saw southern elites as haughty and quick to take offense. Everyone thinks they have honor and their adversaries don’t, and these tensions mounted over the course of the 1850s as commentators and politicians on both sides exchanged insults. Imagine if the sort of “culture wars” we have today broke down purely along regional lines. The mood worsened considerably after John Brown’s failed raid in 1859 when some southern congressmen even advocated a shoot-out on the House floor.
Whatever honor means, in order to be a meaningful cause of the Civil War it would have to be a type specifically violated by Lincoln’s election, because that’s what triggered secession. Or, at least Lincoln’s election would have had to have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. What was it about Lincoln that made people fight to defend the “southern way of life?” The same goes for any other explanation, insofar as one has to connect back to November 1860. In matters like this, critical thinking requires asking questions, and chronology, context, and timing matter. What stands out about Lincoln? Many things, including his height and stovetop hat, but his distinguishing characteristic was that he was the first president in American history to oppose slavery, or at least its expansion. It would’ve been quite a coincidence for half the country to leave the U.S. upon Lincoln’s election if their reason hadn’t concerned this controversial and groundbreaking stance, especially given the enormous economic implications of abolishing slavery.
It makes sense, though, that Lincoln’s views on slavery may have violated some Southerners’ code of honor or threatened that aspect of the Southern way of life. One South Carolina family conveyed that sentiment as they sent four sons off to fight: “We…are contending for all that we hold dear — our property — our institutions — our honor…I hope it will end in establishing a Southern Confederacy who will have among themselves slavery, a bond of union stronger than any which holds the North together.” Like the economic-differences argument, the honor argument overlaps with slavery, completely so according to this letter.
Finally, what about states’ rights? This interpretive bugaboo is the most common if hornswoggling alternative explanation. As of 2011, a Pew poll showed that 48% of Americans (and 60% under age 30) see this as the primary cause of the war, with slavery second at 38%. We’ve seen above that states’ rights is relevant to the issue of secession, the immediate cause of the war. The liberty to join or leave the union at will is undoubtedly the most fundamental of all states’ rights, and once the war started that’s what it was about (especially in the first half, before the Union added abolition to its goals). And states’ rights sentiment had a long tradition prior to the Civil War, especially in the South, dating back to the creation of the national government in 1787. And states’ rights played a prominent role during Reconstruction after the war, as we’ll see in Chapter 22, because the Union Army occupied resistant southern states and tried to impose its will.
But what about the ultimate cause of the war in 1860? Why did the Southern states secede in the first place? Did they secede because the national government was becoming too powerful in relation to the states? This explanation seemingly has some promise, because Lincoln threatened an important right of incoming western territories. He rejected their right to legalize slavery, and it was during the territorial phase that territories drew up their future state constitutions.
But here’s the kicker: Confederates opposed the right of those same western territories to outlaw slavery. Here they agreed with Lincoln’s policy of the national government dominating the territories as they wrote up their state constitutions, except that they thought the national government should require that slavery be legal rather than illegal. Despite their many disagreements, Southern Confederates and Lincoln were in agreement that new states shouldn’t be empowered to decide for themselves on the contentious slavery issue. The only presidential candidate in 1860 that put a premium on states’ rights was Stephen Douglas of Illinois since he favored free sovereignty in the territories that were about to become states (see Douglas’ Freeport Doctrine). Unsurprisingly, he got zero southern electoral votes. The reason is that Confederates didn’t genuinely care about states’ rights or, if they did, it was easily (if subconsciously) usurped by their concern for preserving slavery. John Breckinridge, the southern Democratic candidate, had been a big supporter of Douglas’ free sovereignty idea in 1854 and continued to support territorial rights as VP under Buchanan. But Southern Democrats broke away in 1860 after Douglas refused to endorse a plank to their platform legalizing slavery outright in all territories, as ruled in Dred Scott. New Mexico and Utah had banned slavery during their territorial phases but, in order to prevent that from happening again, Jefferson Davis argued that the national government should buttress the Dred Scott ruling by reinforcing it with a federal slave code out west. By pushing too hard for a national slave code in their 1860 convention, they alienated northern Democrats who left the party because they supported states’ rights, paving the way for a Lincoln GOP victory by splitting the Democratic vote. When the southern faction nominated Breckinridge as their candidate, he had no choice but to abandon his commitment to free sovereignty and, by extension, states’ rights. The 1860 Democratic Convention provides a perfect litmus test for anyone questioning the Confederates’ priorities on the eve of the Civil War. Not only is the states’ rights theory malarkey, the very reason Southern Democrats broke away was their opposition to states’ rights on the issue that mattered most to them: slavery.
Like the Confederates-to-be, Lincoln also favored a blanket ruling for new western territories. At that point, the problem with the GOP wasn’t that it undermined southern states’ rights, but rather that its version of northern nationalism conflicted directly with southern nationalism. Then, and only then, did southerners use states’ rights to underpin the legality of secession by emphasizing the voluntary compact aspect of the original union. Tellingly, when the Confederacy wrote its own constitution, they didn’t give their states the right to decide slavery on their own the national government mandated that it be legal everywhere ( Article IV ). If states’ rights were more important to the Confederacy’s founders than slavery, then why not leave the slavery question to their own states? Finally, once war broke out, the Confederacy didn’t honor Missouri or Kentucky’s right to determine on their own whether or not they wanted to join the Confederacy or Union, attempting to take both by force.
In his Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce described politics as “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” Anyone whose judgment isn’t clouded by an emotional stake in the matter can see that the South’s passion for the principle of states’ rights was inspired mainly by, and limited to, their economic interest in slavery or defense of secession. Given Bierce’s background as a Union soldier and engineer who fought at Shiloh and Kennesaw Mountain, that very example might have inspired his cynical definition of politics.
You don’t have to inquire far to see that very few of us, save a handful of legal scholars, have much genuine concern for actual constitutional principles, and few did in 1860 either. For the vast majority, states’ rights is the sort of principle one employs only selectively as a means to an end, similar to one’s opinions on executive orders or judicial activism. To be sure, there are a few Tenth Amendment purists here and there who favor the amendment granting all powers not enumerated in the Constitution’s text to states. Such arguments and controversy could scarcely be avoided in a federal system designed to share and distribute power at multiple levels. But does anyone care passionately enough about centralization versus decentralization in their own right to fight a war over it? That war probably would’ve been fought in 1787-90, if ever, between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Texans were familiar with a more recent struggle against centralized Mexican authority from the 1830s (slavery was one reason for Texians’ fight against Mexico, for that matter, as we saw in Chapter 17).
As you can hear in the podcast from University of Texas professor George Forgie at the end of the chapter, saying that you’d fight for states’ rights is like saying that the underlying reason you are divorcing your spouse is that divorce is legal in your state. It leaves out the root cause of the breakup. Likewise, interpretations ignoring or downplaying slavery as the ultimate reason for secession — focusing instead on the right of states to secede — are essentially arguing that southern states seceded because of their constitutional right as states to secede. The Confederate statue on the capitol grounds in Austin says that Texas rebels died for states’ rights. Which ones?
Plaque on Confederate Statue @ State Capitol in Austin, Photo By Author
Presumably either the right of states to legally practice slavery or to leave the Union if the national government threatened that right. If that’s not the case, then the people who erected this statue did its honorees a disservice by not clarifying their cause more clearly.
To illustrate how vacuous the stand-alone states’ rights argument is as a cause of the Civil War, imagine the following scenario: what if Chief Justice Taney had taken things a step further in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1856) and ruled that no western territory or existing state had the right to restrict slavery because doing so violated the Fifth Amendment right to own property? Would eleven southern states have gone to war to break away from the U.S. to protest that case — because an overbearing national government was violating the right of states to restrict slavery? Would thousands of Confederate soldiers have risked their lives out of concern that states were losing their right to ban or abolish slavery within their jurisdictions? It beggars belief to imagine that happening.
While states’ rights wasn’t a cause of the war, secession itself directly concerned the right of states to leave the nation. After the war, Confederates continued to beat the states’ rights drum as a way to downplay their dedication to a cause that already seemed embarrassing even a few short years after emancipation. The Reconstruction era was fertile ground for that interpretation because, from 1865 to 1870, there was tension between the national government and southern states over Union Army occupation and the legality of southern states denying rights to their own citizens. That fight led directly to the Fourteenth Amendment, whereby states are obligated to honor (incorporate) most of the Bill of Rights within their own jurisdictions. The Fourteenth undermined the right of states to discriminate against targeted members of their populations.
Economic differences, honor, and states’ rights, then, are all roundabout ways of talking about complications arising from slavery. Don’t get bamboozled. No major non-slavery-related economic or states’ rights controversies had anything to do with the Civil War. Historical interpretation often requires complicating things but also requires seeing common threads. With the Civil War, Americans and education boards hide behind complexity as a way to avoid the proverbial elephant in the room. When historians point to slavery as the cause of secession, they’re not talking about the physical act of harvesting cotton or sugar they’re taking slavery’s broader economic, social, religious, and political implications for granted.
Independence Celebration in Savannah, Georgia
Confederates Explain Their Cause
Luckily, we have excellent primary sources at our disposal to help us get to the bottom of the Civil War’s causes. Let’s look at secession’s ringleader, South Carolina, and their 1860 Declaration of Causes, or Declaration of Secession. Did they have a problem with states’ rights in 1860? They sure did. States had too much power, insofar as northern states were defying the “General Government” by not complying with the Fugitive Slave Clause. Indeed, strengthening the Fugitive Slave Clause in 1850 was one of the strongest expressions of national power in American history up until then. It authorized the military and bounty hunters to run roughshod over unwilling Northerners, whose own appeals to state sovereignty fell on deaf ears. When it came to restrictions against harboring runaway slaves, South Carolina favored big government over states’ rights, but they supported states’ rights elsewhere in their 1860 Declaration of Causes. The first ¾ or so of the document discusses the relationship between the states, and between the states and national government in more general terms but, toward the end, it gets to why states’ rights were back on the table for the South. The state’s political leaders believed, accurately enough, that the incoming president’s (Lincoln) plan was to “put slavery on the path to ultimate extermination,” a suspicion confirmed by later events. Lincoln had used those very words in speeches, dating back to 1858. They also criticize what they saw as the erroneous religious beliefs supporting abolition that had taken root in the North, captured in this Uncle Tom’s Cabin painting:
Uncle Tom and Little Eva, Edwin Long, 1866
South Carolina wasn’t the only state to draw up a declaration of secession. These declarations, all based on the Declaration of Independence, are surely the best source out there regarding the causes of secession because Confederate leaders took the time to clarify their positions publicly. Can you imagine if we tried to understand why American colonists broke from Britain by ignoring Jefferson’s 1776 Declaration? The following group Ordinance links to fleshed-out explanations by South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas, and includes Kentucky and Missouri (neither of whom ended up in the CSA). Texas complains that the government hasn’t sufficiently protected them from Indian attacks and “forays of Mexican banditti” but doesn’t explain why leaving the country would offer them more protection or why this was suddenly a bigger issue once Lincoln was elected. The national government, after all, wasn’t prohibiting Texas from doing whatever it could at the state level to fight Indians. Why did Texas leave the United States? According to Confederate Texans, because northern states “demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the Confederacy.”
Three states mention the breakdown in justice after the John Brown Raid, when Iowa and Ohio harbored fugitives involved in the raid, illegally refusing to turn them over. Here again, southern states complained about states defying the national government. But more noteworthy is how alienated the South was at the new regional party system, with Republicans purely in the North. Arkansas, for instance, points out that a northern party had come into power (the GOP) that didn’t really even exist in their state, echoing their resolution from a month earlier when they’d declared their opposition to a party whose controlling idea was “hostility to African slavery.” While the trunk ordinance beats around the bush with a lot of legal jargon, the individual manifestos make no bones about preserving slavery as their cause for leaving the Union. There are various complaints, to be sure, but defending slavery is their prevailing theme and common denominator. The rest is seasoning and side dishes. Mississippi writes, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.” Georgia cites “numerous and serious complaints against non-slaveholding states with reference to the subject of African slavery.” Texas proclaims that the “servitude of the African race to the white” was a condition her citizens “intended to exist in all future time.” The people trying to “rewrite history” and “rob us of our heritage” are the cherry-pickers that left that off the plaque at the Capitol statue.
States’ rights and pro-slavery sentiment could overlap when convenient. For Confederate leader Jefferson Davis, the exclusion of slavery from the territories threatened to make “property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless” (Message to CSA Congress, 4.29.1861). His home state of Mississippi was on the verge of losing one of its most cherished rights as a state: that of excluding Blacks from their interpretation of the Declaration’s all men are created equal phrase (see paragraph 8). Even after the war, when Davis changed his mind and spun an interpretation minimizing slavery, his discussion of states’ rights always wound back to the right of states to maintain slavery. The same slavery-obsessed dialogue had been going on throughout the Sectional Crisis, dating back to the Mexican War. Georgia Supreme Court Judge Henry Benning advocated a “consolidated republic” as early as 1849, in order to put slavery directly under the control of those with a stake in it. Said Benning of the slippery slope of abolition: “Is it supposed that the white race will stand for that?… We will be overpowered and our men will be compelled to wander like vagabonds all over the earth, and as for our women, the horrors of their state we cannot contemplate in imagination.” Fort Benning was named in his honor since he served as a Confederate general. Ten American military forts are named for Confederates who fought against the United States.
Archivists have also compiled newspaper editorials from across the South explaining the secessionist cause. They, too, point to slavery’s preservation. The same Charleston Mercury that assured its readers in 2011 that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, said this in 1860 when owned by leading Fire-Eater Robert Rhett: “The issue before the country is the extinction of slavery…No man of common sense, who has observed the progress of events, and is not prepared to surrender the institution, can doubt that the time of action has come — now or never.” Fellow Fire-Eater William Lowndes Yancey, the “orator of secession,” led the southern defection from the Democratic Party at the Charleston convention in 1860. Collectively, the declarations and Fire-Eater editorials provide excellent primary sources and constitute a damning argument against those who deemphasize slavery’s role in the conflict. Southern politicians of the mid-19th century were at least refreshingly straightforward about their pro-slavery stance, especially in comparison with post-war defenders of the Confederacy.
Dwight Pitcaithley, former Chief Historian of the National Park Service, has gone beyond the secession declarations and newspapers and analyzed the minutes and amendment proposals of Confederate legislatures along with the commissioners sent out to convince other southern states to secede. It’s a dramatic illustration of the difference between research based on primary source evidence and popular mythology. Based on a quantitative analysis of these proceedings, instead of states’ rights, honor or economic differences, he ranks their concerns as follows:
1. The extension of slavery into western territories.
2. Complaints over the unwillingness or inability of northern states to turn over fugitive slaves.
3. Complaints that slaveowners couldn’t take slaves into Washington, D.C. and free states for as long as they chose if they called them “sojourns.”
Let’s remember that, in 1860 dollars, there was $3-4 billion worth of enslaved human beings in the South. Just to put some perspective on the cotton industry, the total invested in slaves and cotton was bigger in 1860 than all of the railroads, farms, and factories of the North combined. A southern politician or businessman would’ve been a real scholarly fellow indeed to care more about constitutional theory than slavery.
Why Soldiers Fought
The causes of the Civil War we’ve spoken of so far are why Confederate politicians chose to leave the U.S. and why Republicans chose to block them. We’re not generalizing about what motivated individual soldiers or citizens. There’s a big difference because common peoples’ reasons varied widely. Many Union soldiers disliked Blacks and some had owned slaves. Few Confederate soldiers owned slaves, including those memorialized on the Texas Capitol statue that explains “Why They Fought.” Confederate General Robert E. Lee was a lukewarm supporter of slavery and hoped that God would eventually abolish it after Lee was done profiting from it. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, who lived in the South but opposed secession, was likewise a lukewarm slavery supporter, agreeing with Lee that it at least benefited Africans. Among the soldiers and generals, we can genuinely say that motivations for fighting in the Civil War were complicated.
John Sylvester Strange, 49th Indiana Regiment
Many soldiers on both sides fought for God others joined the army out of boredom some joined up to impress a girl. Your author’s great-great-grandfather, John Strange, is a case in point. His writings don’t mention Unionism, tariffs, wage labor, slavery, or abolition — just a conversation his family had in April 1861 about a neighbor who shot his own foot to avoid serving. John’s wife said that she’d rather lose a husband than be married to a coward and he enlisted the next day.
Similar reasons prevailed among soldiers on both sides of the line. Some poor white Southerners dreamed of owning slaves, defending the institution the same way a working-class lottery ticket buyer would defend low taxes for the rich. Southern citizens were also more likely to have a genuine adherence to states’ rights than their leaders since it was a common sentiment in both the North and South. Sometimes leaders employ such arguments as a means to an end, but citizens take the idea to heart in a more meaningful way, and many wouldn’t have known about the Confederate leaders’ hypocrisy on the issue. As we saw way back in our discussion of the Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790s, early Americans were almost self-selected for rebellion against centralized authority, be it from London or Washington, with many having emigrated from the British Isles for more freedom. That was true enough of the many Scotch-Irish in the Confederacy. And as we’ll see in the next chapter, the Confederate government struggled to maintain authority over its states once the war began, politically and militarily. Likewise, unlike their leaders, some Northerners fought for abolition from the outset.
After the war began, many Southerners fought in self-defense since the Union Army invaded their region. There’s a telling scene in Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary (1989) when Memphis writer Shelby Foote recounts the story of a Confederate that Union soldiers passed along the road. When the Blues asked him why he was fighting he simply said, “Because, you’re here.” Historian Ashley Cruseturner writes that many Confederates fought for “home and kin and survival and the fellow alongside him in the trenches as well as, paradoxically, the seemingly very ‘American’ prerogative to conduct your affairs independently — even when in the wrong.”
In his classic memoir “Co. Aytch,” Maury Grays, First Tennessee Regiment (aka Side Show of the Big Show), Samuel Watkins (left) wrote that the Confederacy fought for states’ rights and doesn’t mention slavery. By the time he wrote it, he’d had time to marinate in 20 years of post-war revisionism. But also remember that, by the time he saw action, the CSA really was fighting for the right of states to leave the country.
Regardless of whether or not they supported slavery, and some didn’t, most Southerners naturally felt defensive once the war got going, especially when the Union shifted toward more scorched earth tactics from mid-1863 on, such as Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign and Sherman’s March through Georgia. But whatever their views on slavery, most at least saw it as an institution that kept a large and threatening black population in line. In other words, slavery was essential to maintaining social order. They looked, for instance, at Nat Turner’s Revolt in Virginia in 1831, when slaves killed 60 Whites with machetes. What would millions of free Blacks do to Whites if they were ever freed? And, as we saw in previous chapters, black subordination became a fallback source of pride among poor white Southerners.
Finally, another factor that compelled many to fight was simple coercion. By 1863, both sides were drafting most of their soldiers into service and many were afraid they’d be shot if they were caught deserting. Even at the beginning of the war, though, the majority of soldiers on both sides probably weren’t fighting mainly either for or against slavery. Most Confederates — including those memorialized on Austin’s Capitol grounds statue — were fighting for their region and most in the Union were fighting for just that: union.
It’s interesting to study why soldiers fight, but keep in mind that their motivations don’t provide a historical explanation for why wars happen in the first place. In this case, critics suggest that the common soldier narrative was intentionally forged as a ploy to divert attention from the Civil War’s real causes. As for some Americans’ reluctance to understand that Confederate leaders fought to defend slavery, there’s probably a silver lining in this cloud of denial. Mainstream Americans have condemned slavery outright and that rejection is behind their rejection of slavery’s involvement in the war that’s why they’ve cut that out of the scrapbook and flushed it down George Orwell’s memory hole. Make no mistake, the editorial staff running the Charleston Mercury in 2011 condemned slavery. While abolitionists were a minority in antebellum America, their views are nearly universally accepted at the beginning of the 21st century, even among the CSA’s latter-day Neo-Confederate fans.
Let me show the reader some mercy and end this long-winded diatribe so we can return to 1860 and see how Secession Winter unfolded. We’ll flog the interpretive horse some more when we get to Reconstruction. The Confederate States of America established its first capital in Montgomery, Alabama. You can still claim citizenship in the CSA today, an “occupied government” that condemns violence against any race. They wrote up a constitution very similar to the U.S. version except for its permanent legalization of slavery (Article IV) and outlawing of tariffs (Article 1-Section 8). As mentioned, they denied their states the right to decide slavery on their own. Per their longstanding dispute with the North over tariffs, the CSA included a commitment to free trade in their founding document.
The famous “Stars & Bars” that is controversial in modern times wasn’t the original Confederate banner, but rather the battle flag of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The first Confederate flags were variations of the three below on the upper left and bottom row, with the familiar Stars & Bars on the upper right.
Color Lithograph From 1896 Showing Four Versions of the Flag of the Confederate States of America, Library of Congress
It’s telling that the CSA chose red, white, and blue for their flag and included Founders like George Washington on their money because they considered themselves the real America. In many ways they were. Their name, the Confederacy, evoked the United States’ first government, the Confederation Congress that operated under the Articles of Confederation (1781-89). Southerners were at least the more traditional America whereas the Republicans represented an emerging sectional outlook. Slaves, also depicted on Confederate money, built much of early America and slaveholders founded America. Confederates understandably saw themselves as the rump state and the North as the new revolutionaries breaking away. Of course, rump states would normally be the ones operating within the established constitutional framework rather than committing treason against it. But for Confederate leaders, abolishing slavery would reverse the revolution of 1776 by denying property rights. After the Upper South seceded, the CSA hoped to coax Pennsylvania and New York into joining them, to isolate New England. New York considered secession, but only to start its own country called Tri-Insula (for Manhattan, Long Island, and Staten Island) that would continue to import cotton rather than to actually join the Confederacy.
Jefferson Davis, Photo by Mathew Brady, National Archives
In keeping with their centrist American spin, the CSA nominated a moderate as their president rather than a rabid pro-slavery Fire Eater: Mexican War hero, Secretary of War, and Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi. Davis was an old friend of Abraham Lincoln’s but became the leader of the southern senatorial faction after the death of John C. Calhoun in 1850 (also pictured on CSA money). Many Southerners were genuine in their belief that slavery was a benevolent institution, as are many of today’s neo-Confederates, despite copious and undeniable historical proof to the contrary. Davis came by that notion honestly because, on the Mississippi cotton plantation where he grew up, his parents treated their slaves with as much kindness and respect as possible given the circumstances. After the war, Davis wrote that slaves “increased from a few unprofitable savages to millions of efficient Christian laborers. Their servile instincts rendered them contented with their lot…Never was there a happier dependence of labor and capital upon each other.” To Southerners, slavery in its most idealized form imbued its masters with a sense of paternalism they felt was lacking in the money-grubbing North — nearly opposite the view Harriet Beecher Stowe expressed in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. To that end, Davis was a fitting leader of the new nation because he genuinely didn’t grasp the downside of slavery in all its forms and considered the institution “a blessing.” Well into the 20th century, Alabama textbooks taught students that slavery was an early form of Social Security. What wasn’t fitting about Davis as the CSA’s leader was that he opposed secession, at least up until the last moment. He agreed with Calhoun, though, that slavery was the key to white dignity. Said Davis:
“I say that the lower race of human beings that constitute the substratum of what is termed the slave population of the South, elevates every white man in our community … It is the presence of a lower caste, those lower by their mental and physical organization, controlled by the higher intellect of the white man, that gives this superiority to the white laborer. Menial services are not there performed by the white man. We have none of our brethren sunk to the degradation of being menials. That belongs to the lower race—the descendants of Ham.”
First inauguration of Jefferson Davis, 1861
For their VP, the Confederacy nominated another old Lincoln acquaintance, Alexander Stephens of Georgia. Stephens was more open about Confederate aims than Davis, who after the war seemed to think that Blacks enjoying slavery sufficed as a counter-argument to the idea that secession had anything to do with slavery (if anything, Blacks enjoying slavery, in combination with Whites profiting from it, would make the institution even more worth defending, making it even more likely to have been the cause of the war). Two months after Davis’ Farewell Address to the U.S., Stephens called slavery the “immediate cause of the late rupture and revolution.” His problem with the U.S.? It was founded on the false premise that all men are created equal and that slavery eventually would (and should) die away. “This was an error.” Conversely, the Confederacy said Stephens: “is founded upon exactly the opposite idea its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural condition. This our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based on this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth…It is upon this, as I have stated, [that] our social fabric is firmly planted.” CSA General Nathan Bedford Forrest was less verbose, stating, “We’re fighting to keep our n*****s.” Forrest went on to lead the Ku Klux Klan after the war. Unless the Confederacy’s vice-president was completely out of touch with his own government, Stephens’ “Cornerstone Speech” contradicts the notion that the CSA didn’t break away from the U.S. to defend and perpetuate slavery. And you can see why Thomas Jefferson wasn’t real popular on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line in the Civil War era, given his infamous flip-flop on slavery. Historian Ibram X. Kendi described Jefferson “ as both the inspirational relative and ideological enemy of the Confederacy.”
Did the South fight for white supremacy? No, that would’ve been impossible at the time because it wasn’t a contested issue the North already adhered to white supremacy. But the Confederate government, regardless of what their rank-and-file soldiers or citizens thought, made a hasty and ill-advised decision to fight for slavery. The Fire-Eaters’ overreaction went viral and moderates who understood that Lincoln’s Republican Party was willing to preserve southern slavery went along with the hysteria to maintain their popularity instead of pushing back. As we’ll see in the next chapter, secession ironically destroyed slavery.
Abraham Lincoln, November 1863, Library of Congress
Lincoln’s “Last, Best Hope Of Earth”
Was Lincoln fighting to free the slaves that Forrest wanted to keep? It wasn’t his top priority. It’s true he loathed slavery, often challenging its advocates to try it for a while if they liked it so much. But Lincoln’s overriding concern in 1861 was to preserve the Union at any cost, including acquiescing in southern slavery and enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act. As late as August 1862, Lincoln wrote Horace Greeley: “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it.” The “Great Emancipator” didn’t set out to be and assumed that the South would come to their senses and compromise. After all, they easily could’ve avoided war and kept their slaves. That’s why Lincoln offered to back the amendment legalizing slavery where it already existed. Was he bluffing? Lincoln went far enough out on a limb that he would’ve been forced to go along with it. It’s a tough pill to swallow for some Northerners reared in the mythology of the “Battle Cry for Freedom,” but the Civil War only morphed into an abolitionist cause midway through, and many people were ambiguous about it even then. By then (1862-63), abolitionism was defined more radically, as wanting to get rid of southern slavery rather than just stopping its western expansion.
While the CSA’s take on American history ran through the Constitution and the Founders as slaveholders, Lincoln’s ran through the Declaration of Independence and the idea that slavery was incompatible with its ideals of freedom and liberty. That’s why Lincoln inspired hope in Blacks and fear in Southerners despite his compromised official stance. He saw the South as extorting votes by demanding a pro-slavery national government under threat of leaving the Union. Importantly, Lincoln equated secession with destroying the Union whereas the South saw itself as simply exiting a voluntary compact. In his Second Inaugural Address four years later, Lincoln said, “Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the Union survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish.” Today, those words are etched into the walls of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. For Lincoln, there was no United States without the Southeast.
In the Cooper Union Speech, Lincoln said that the secessionist demand “could scarcely be distinguished in principle from that of a robber.” History itself was being stolen, along with U.S. property. What about all the military installations in the South? Hadn’t Americans, as a group, paid for them and fought for them together in the Revolution, War of 1812, and Mexican War? The South offered compensation but Lincoln wasn’t selling. For him, that would’ve been like baking a cake for 85 years then trying to remove the eggs and sugar. The American cake was already baked. While the Confederacy offered up learned theoretical arguments as to why secession was legal and constitutional, Lincoln’s true focus wasn’t on the Constitution so much as keeping the U.S. intact come hell or high water. The struggle presented “to the whole family of man, whether or not a constitutional republic can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against domestic foes.” Lincoln saw secession as on the slippery slope to anarchy.
1866 Treue der Union Monument, Comfort, TX, Honoring German-American Unionists Killed By Confederates In 1862 Nueces Massacre
The whole family of man phrase is key to understanding Lincoln’s position and why he differed from the millions of Northerners who said “good riddance…let the South go.” Regarding the question of the constitutionality of secession, the Detroit Free Press wrote: “If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861” (Feb. 19, 1861). But Lincoln saw America in an international perspective, calling the U.S. the “last, best hope of Earth” for representative government. History rarely proceeds uniformly and republicanism was waning in the mid-19th century. In the years after the American Revolution, democracy seemed to be the wave of the future, manifested most dramatically in the French Revolution of the 1790s. But France degenerated into a dictatorship even as it knocked off other monarchies across Europe and Europe as a whole reverted in a conservative direction after 1815. There was another wave of democratic uprisings in 1848, including one in France, but even those that initially succeeded sputtered by the 1850s. One reason the German-Americans in the Texas Hill Country were so devoted to Lincoln and the Union was that they’d emigrated after having failed to bring about democracy in Germany.
How many significant democracies were left in the world in 1861? The answer is roughly about as many as there are communist governments today – a movement most of us consider to have been virtually dormant since 1991. Today there are communist regimes in North Korea and Cuba (except for small stores) and party planners control more open markets in Vietnam, Myanmar, and China. In 1861, there were three major republics in the world — the U.S., Mexico, and Switzerland — and Lincoln was presiding over the biggest. Like communism today, most serious observers thought democracy circa 1860 had already been consigned to the graveyard of bad ideas. That’s why Lincoln called America the “last, best hope of Earth” for salvaging republicanism. Moreover, he saw slavery as making Americans hypocrites in the eyes of foreigners, depriving them of being more worthy examples. The last, best hope phrase came in an 1862 State-of-the-Union address concerning the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Union’s eventual victory in the Civil War is what compelled France to give the U.S. the Statue of Liberty, the parts of which were sent across the Atlantic on a boat and assembled in New York Harbor in the 1880s after being displayed at exhibitions around America and France. At the feet of the assembled “Lady Liberty” are the broken chains of slavery and it’s no accident that the statue faces east, toward Europe. Unbeknownst to most Americans, who identify the statue mostly with immigration because of its proximity to Ellis Island, Lady Liberty is really a Civil War monument and a beacon to future republicans in Europe.
Stereoscopic View of Hand & Torch of Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty, Philadelphia, 1876, Robert Dennis Collection
Lincoln thought democracy was an experiment worth continuing and resolved to preserve it by keeping the South in the U.S. rather than going forward with a smaller country. Thus ensued what the North called the Civil War because it didn’t recognize the CSA as a new country until 1863, and what the CSA called the Southern War for Independence. Had the CSA won, that’s what we’d call it in history books, as well. The reverse was true of the American Revolution when the British failed to contain what they hoped would go down as a civic uprising.
Midway through the war, at the dedication of Gettysburg battlefield, Lincoln said the Union fought so that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” The Confederacy’s variation in 1861 could have been so that “slavery of black people, by white people, for white people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Optional-Supplemental Musings on States’ Rights:
Like defenders of the South’s Lost Cause, people today argue on the fulcrum of states’ rights about issues they really care about, like gun rights, gay marriage, medical marijuana, Obamacare, abortion, end-of-life scenarios, pollution, education policy, etc. How many people do you know that, based on states’ rights, oppose same-sex marriage post-Obergefell (2016) that supported it back when it was decided state-by-state prior to 2016, or vice-versa? If a prominent defender or advocate of any of these issues died, would their obituary just say that they stood for states’ rights and leave it at that? There’s utility in knowing the legalities because judges consult the Constitution, but there’s no reason to beat around the bush clinging to inconsistent constitutional principles as we debate issues amongst ourselves. It’s mainly just obfuscation and exhibits a lack of self-awareness.
The familiar states’ rights theme runs through the following speech by Texan Ron Paul, a politician who was more consistent than most in his de-centralized approach. Paul harkened back to Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson in his suspicion of central banks, while being to the left of most Democratic politicians on war, and to the right of Republicans on shrinking government. In the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, he galvanized enthusiastic followers behind his isolationist libertarianism — a sort of hybrid between the younger, anti-corporate, anti-war Occupy Wall Street and the anti-establishment, but corporate-backed, socially conservative Tea Party. Paul was off his rocker, though, when he said here that the Civil War “literally canceled out the whole concept of individual choice,” leading to the problems we’ve had to live with since:
The abolitionist Paul mentions at the outset is Lysander Spooner, who advocated violence against the slaveholders themselves in the form of a John Brown-type insurrection. Spooner supported the Confederacy’s cause only insofar as he denied the Union’s right to use force to block secession. He obviously didn’t think the Confederacy was on the right side of the slavery issue otherwise, why would he have been a flame-throwing, pike-wielding abolitionist? Second, while it’s true that some countries got rid of slavery without war (the British West Indies, Cuba, and Brazil), it’s a myth that American slaveholders were willing to sell their slaves to the government. Lincoln made precisely such an offer and the Confederacy refused. Even if they had been willing, it’s debatable whether non-slaveholding citizens should’ve been compelled to finance compensation for slaveholders through taxes, land sales or tariffs (Lincoln signed such a bill for $300 to slaveholders in Washington, D.C.). It would’ve been better than war, true, but it wasn’t an option anyway. Compensated emancipation bills were introduced in some states, but they lost in Maryland, Missouri and, narrowly, Delaware (where Lincoln helped draft the bill).
While Paul was consistent in his own states’ rights position, he ignored the southern states’ inconsistency on that principle leading up to the Civil War. They favored a strong, pro-slavery national government up through 1860, and only supported states’ rights as a fallback position when, late in the game, they needed to justify secession constitutionally. Before that, they wanted what Paul called a “monolithic, more centralized government” — except that it was a pro-slavery monolithic centralized government such as that endorsed in the Democrats’ 1860 platform. They were libertarian only insofar as they supported the freedom of citizens to deny others’ freedom altogether by owning them. Paul was oblivious to the humanity of African Americans, who obviously wouldn’t look at the Civil War, which led to emancipation, as “canceling out the whole concept of individual choice.”
12 Fascinating Moments in Winter Clothing History
Nowadays, people have access to all sorts of high-tech fabrics to stay warm and dry in inclement weather. But people faced the elements without the aid of nylon for thousands of years. From cloaks banned by Augustus Caesar to dog-toting hand muffs, here are some of the more interesting moments in the history of winter wear.
1. The Inuits created the parka predecessor.
Faced with a harsh Arctic climate, the Inuit were experts at creating insulating clothing. They made the original waterproof parkas using the intestines of whales or seals. According to the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion, two parkas would often be worn at once to improve insulation and air circulation in subzero temperatures. Much like today’s parkas, Inuit parkas included drawstring hoods.
2. Augustus Caesar hated cloaks.
Ancient Romans wore a woolen cloak called a lacerna, made in a variety of colors, that was fastened at the shoulder using a pin or buckle. First used by soldiers, the coat gained enough popularity in the city to catch Augustus Caesar’s attention. Fed up with seeing too many citizens wearing the dark cloak in assembly, he issued an edict banning its use in the forum or circus.
3. Large fur muffs symbolized status.
Just as some of today’s starlets enjoy toting their dogs in status bags, French women during the reign of Louis XIV would stash small dogs in large hand muffs. According to the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion, the hand covering gained popularity in the 16th century and originally went by many names, including “snuffkin” in English. Muffs made of fur imported from North America were popular objects used to display wealth in Europe. Some muffs were even adorned with accessories such as a bejeweled animal skull attached with a chain.
4. The Mayans made latex boots.
In CentralAmerica, the Mayans took advantage of rubber trees to create a sort of customized boot. According to Scientific American, they made cuts in the rubber trees to extract latex. Then they coated their feet in the latex several times, until the coating formed a thick covering that functioned like a waterproof boot.
5. Vulcanized rubber boots helped advance rubber technology.
In the early 1800s, people began using rubber shoe coverings to protect their shoes from the water. But rubber at the time had a tendency to crack, and people began to lose interest. Tire manufacturer Charles Goodyear was determined to find a way to improve rubber, although his many failed experiments left him in debt. Undeterred, he continued experimenting. One day in 1839, spilled rubber, sulfur and white lead onto a hot stove. According to Scientific American, the substances, when mixed together, did not melt. He tweaked the combination of sulfur and rubber and named the process vulcanization after the Roman god of fire. The new formula was used to create waterproof boots.
6. The waterproof raincoat was invented to create a use for an industrial by-product.
Charles Macintosh invented a wearable waterproof fabric while trying to find a use for naptha, a by-product of coal-tar distillation. When he used naptha as a solvent for rubber, he was able to use the rubber solution to glue two layers of wool together. He patented his invention in 1823. Unfortunately, the fabric stiffened in cold weather and became sticky in hot weather. This problem persisted until vulcanized rubber provided a temperature tolerant solution.
7. Ushankas keep Russian heads and ears warm.
The famous Russian fur hat’s name literally means "hat with the ears." While fur hats have been in use since the middle ages, University of Chicago professor of Russian Valentina Pichugin told the Chicago Tribune that ear flaps originated in the 19th century and became popular in Russia in the 1920s. The quality of fur used in the hat revealed social status in the Soviet Era. According to Pichugin, some people even tried to pass off cat fur as rabbit fur. In a 1994 article, the Times of London reported that some Moscow residents bought ushankas lined with steel cages to provide protection from gangsters' bullets.
8. Pashmina shawls are valued as investments.
True pashmina shawls are made from the fur of pashmina mountain goats in Nepal, India, and Tibet. The fur comes from the neck and underbelly of the goat. According to The Christian Science Monitor, a single handmade shawl takes 98 workers an entire day to complete on wooden looms. In India and Nepal, pashminas are often part of dowries and are seen as an investment like gold.
9. The down coat was created after Eddie Bauer's brush with death.
In 1936, Eddie Bauer almost died of hypothermia when his wool coat froze on a fishing trip in Washington. This experience inspired him to create a lightweight down coat. His coat, patented in 1940, utilized goose down for its warmth and breathability. To keep the down in place, he used a diamond quilting pattern.
10. Up until the 18th century, sleeved coats were strictly working class wear.
According to the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion, sleeved outercoats only surpassed capes in popularity for men in the 18th and 19th centuries. The coat began to take its modern shape when the English tailored it to be worn over men’s suit coats. Jackets only gained popularity with the upper classes after they began using the coats for hunting in the late 18th century.
11. Polar fleece was invented in the 1970s.
Wool was a great source of insulation, but its tendency to absorb water and become heavy could be problematic. According to Gizmodo, Malden Mills Industries, which got its start making woolen swimsuits in 1906, began experimenting with plastic yarns. In the late 1970s the yarn was woven into a thin fabric and then brushed to separate the fibers into the thin loops that give the fabric its cozy texture without adding weight.