Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

The Little Joker for the Benefit of the Verdant

July 17, 2010

The “Little Joker.”

EDS. NEWS — When I was more a juvenile than I now am, I occasionally played what was called seven up. In that game the queen ranked the jack, the king captured the queen, and the ace was the boss of the concern.

I was then told that the cards represented the potentates of the world — the jack taking the place of the premier, the queen and king representing the monarchs of that name, and the ace stood forth for His Holiness the Pope — all of which then seemed, and still seems, plausible.

But, since the days of Richelieu, Gortschakoff and Bismarck, the game of euchre has been invented, in which the gentleman in boots not only has the impudence of pretending to be superior to his mistress and his master, but can bid defiance to the descendant of St. Peter. I very seldom play at cards, and know just enough about euchre to get beat and pay for the cigars.
So much for preliminaries.

Coming down from Houston on the boat the other night, after the usual splendid supper, it being suggested that the nightmare, or sea-horse, or sea-serpent, or some other varmint might visit us if we went to bed on “an unbounded stomach,” a la Cardinal Woolsey, it was proposed that we have a game at euchre.

Like truthful James, “in the scene that ensued I did not take a hand,” but noticed that they played with one card white on its face, in addition to the old usual number, and that this card was not only superior to queen, king, ace and both bowers, but was always trump.

The called it the JOKER. Upon inquiry I was told that this variation of the old game was invented during the time Mr. Lincoln was President of the United States, and was called the Joker to signify that a government based upon republican and democratic principles was superior to any one administered by pope, priest, potentate or any other power.

Supposing that some of your readers, and perhaps yourself, may be as verdant as myself, I write for their and your benefit.


Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Nov 25, 1874

Some useful information about playing cards from SNOPES, of all places. It has a brief, easy to follow rundown.

The Union Pyramid

April 27, 2010

TO BE READ ASCENDING or descending:

Heaven sent,
Ruling our land,
With cautious hand,
Maintain   thy   stand;
No    crawling    partisan:
Firm,  genial, earnest  man,
Striving   our   land   to   save,
Great  patriot,  true  and  brave,
Quenched    by   thy   patriot    fire,
Base   faction’s   baleful   lights  expire
Making   the  nation   hopeful  of    futurity,
By  exercising  thy  great  power  with  purity,
Our country’s trust,  midst hours  of perils sent;
All good men  pray for thee,  O upright  President!

The Golden Era (San Francisco, California) Feb 1, 1863

The End of It All

April 9, 2010

Grand Review of Union Troops

This image and others from the Civil War, can be found at The Civil War Photo Gallery.

The End of It All.


Jame Franklin Fitts

(Image from Fitts link above.)

To one who was in active service almost four years, there was something in the closing scenes of the war, in and about Washington, that powerfully stirred the dramatic side of the soldier’s nature. Many thousands of the veterans who were there will read this sketch; and while it tells them nothing new, they may feel that their comrade has conferred a favor by reminding them of incidents, dimmed by distance of time, and perhaps forgotten, which attended the “wind-up at Washington.”

On the morning of April 15th, 1865, our division was at Summit Point, Virginia, midway between Harper’s Ferry and Winchester. The war seemed about over, and here were, perhaps, six thousand soldiers who felt that they had done their share, and were impatient to be released.

The spot was a magnificent one. The meadows and woodland sloped gently away from a high ridge, giving a prospect for miles. On the high ground was the mansion of Mr. Willis, an obstinate secessionist, where the General had taken up his quarters. Our staff-tents were in the yard, and the camps of the infantry dotted the slopes pleasantly with white tents. Near by was the railroad from Harper’s Ferry to Stevenson, near Winchester.

Old Willis — for I must affirm that even after the lapse of twenty-tow years I can’t speak with any respect of a man who had not learned through four years of war that the United States was just what God always meant it to be — one country — Old Willis, I say, was in a high state of mind during the two weeks that we occupied his property, and must have been thankful when we left him. The truth is, his farm was well-fenced, and a large flock of sheep was grazing in the meadows. Rails and mutton! He knew little about soldiers, if he thought they could be kept away from such things. Half a dozen times a day he came to the General, his fat face quivering with rage, to report that some Yankee soldier had carried off a fence-rail or a fat lamb; and then the General would issue stern orders against all such depredations, and not trouble himself very much about enforcing them.

On the morning of April 15 I walked over to my regiment and went into the Colonel’s tent. A group of officers stood and sat about, silent, sorrowful, some of them actually tearful.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Don’t you know? President Lincoln was assassinated last night at Washington.”

President Lincoln's Funeral Procession

There may be pens that could describe the woeful scenes in those camps during the next few days; mine cannot. The blow fell nowhere with more stunning force than in the army. The soldiers loved him; many of them had seen him and heard his kind, quaint speech. They mourned for him as for a father. They thronged the out-door religious services that were held to express the universal sorrow at the bereavement, and joined fervently in the prayers and hymns.

Soon after came the order for the division to proceed to Washington with all haste. We did not know what the occasion was, nor was it our place to know. As usual, we obeyed without asking.

Such dispatch did we make in getting to Washington that at the Relay House, below Baltimore, we met the funeral train of the illustrious martyr, and our train was run off on a siding while the other went by.

The great unfinished dome of the Capitol came in sight; the train halted, the soldiers poured out of the cars, the staff were busy, and soon our long column was treading the streets of Washington, arms at “right shoulder shift,” the banners proudly displayed, rent and torn by the havoc of real war, and the fifes and drums briskly filling the air with “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again.”

We marched out on the north side of the city in front of Fort Saratoga, and here we learned why we had been brought here. The division was to picket a long stretch between that fort and Fort Stevens. The orders were to let any citizen in, but to allow no one to pass out. For three or four days this duty was kept up, and a severe strain it was in the warm weather. Hundreds of people were turned back with the sole explanation: “You can’t go out; it is our orders.” There seemed to be at least a suspicion on the part of the military authorities at Washington that the assassin was still in the city. When it was positively known that he was not, the pickets were drawn in, and we had rest again, in a pleasant camp.

A few days later came the day when, by order of the War Department, a hundred guns were fired in memory of the illustrious dead. It was a deeply solemn ceremony. Washington was completely girdled by fortifications, and around the whole vast circle, in regular time and succession, the heavy guns boomed out a nation’s sorrow for the dead.

And now Washington was a gigantic camp. The armies of the East and West were concentrated there, preliminary to the final break-up, by rail, by steamer, some marching. Corps after corps, division after division, poured in, and were encamped everywhere in the suburbs, till the military population exceeded the civil at least thrice.

In those days the streets of the capital were thronged. It seemed as if the population of the country was being turned that way. With the others came the blacklegs, the sharpers, the disreputable classes, the whole making such a daily panorama as Pennsylvania avenue may not witness again. And it is unnecessary to say that the shopkeepers of Washington throve and fattened, and swindled the soldiers in the most barefaced manner.

The 23d and 24th days of May, 1865 — the grand review that fitly ended the great tragedy of four years’ war! It quickens the pulse to think of it.

Two hundred thousand veteran soldiers, the saviors of this country, marching from the Capitol past the President’s house, with burnished arms, proud banners, with one incessant and prolonged burst of military music! The firm tread of legions of infantry, the clatter of hoofs, the rumble of artillery! March, march, march! — mile after mile of those grand columns, hour after hour, for two entire days, passing in review before President, Cabinet, great General, and the Diplomatic Corps!

They passed in review before the people, too. They were there — the people — other hundreds of thousands of them. Along the avenue, from housetops to gutter, there was literally a mass of spectators, a glowing sea of faces. Flowers were thrown and scattered upon us by the ton. One rolling cheer, one roar of acclamations, which was not allowed to pause or fail, shook the air. It was the nation gathered to salute its soldiers. It was the last march of the armies; they proudly marched thence into history!

So it all ended; and we who had been mercifully spared saw home again.

One of the minor incidents of the grand review, which was told at the time, will bear repeating. A tall, broad-shouldered veteran, who for some reason was not on duty, had established himself in a good place to see the sight, and kept his footing while the crowd wedged about him.

“Sir,” said somebody behind him, “don’t you know you are directly in front of us?”

It was a dapper little clerk, who was striving to get a sight for himself and his girl.

The veteran turned his head, and contemplated him with cool disdain.

“Yes, I’m in front of you — just as I have been for four years!

There was nothing more to be said.

Carroll Sentinel (Carroll, Iowa) Oct 28, 1887

Abraham Lincoln: He Franked for Them

February 14, 2010

Abraham Lincoln (Image from



An Envelope That Is More Valuable Than the Best Stamp In Any Collection — The Soldier Who Wouldn’t Tell Lincoln a Lie.

“Let this go.     A. LINCOLN.”

Unless it has been destroyed there is a home in Fond du Lac county, Wis., a soldier letter in an envelope bearing the above words, signed by the great war president.
Frank King was a Lamartine boy, fresh from the farm, and a character our whole company took to kindly from the first.

When the army was camped in Virginia, near Washington, the winter of 1861-2, it was a common practice with the soldiers, when they got a pass, to visit the city to buy a package of envelopes and call at the capitol, send in for their senator or representative and get him to frank them.

One of our boys came back to camp in high feather. He had two packages of envelopes — one franked by Senator James R. Doolittle, now a Chicago lawyer, the other by the late Senator T.O. Howe, who succeeded Captain James as postmaster general in President Arthur’s cabinet. For 20 years senators and members have been giving a good deal of their time to helping soldiers with their pension claims. If they have done it as willingly and pleasantly as they used to frank envelopes for the boys, they must be pretty nearly angels.

“You fellows, there, are making a big blast over getting a couple of senators to frank your envelopes,” said Frank King. “Just you wait till you see me come back from Washington with the president’s name on some letter covers.”

Within a few days Frank King and Harry Dunn, who for years after the war was a Chicago business man, went to the city. They called at the White House. It was easier to see the president then than it is now. At certain hours of the day a soldier could reach the chief executive with fully as much ease as a senator can in these later years.

King was the ringleader. Approaching the guard, he said: “We want to see Mr. Lincoln. Please stand aside and let us pass.”

“Who are you, and what is your business?”

“You tell old Abe we have charge of a regiment over on Arlington Heights and want to see him on an important matter. He’ll let us in.”

“Where are your shoulder straps?”

“We came over in our everyday clothes. Come, we are in a hurry. Let us go in and see Mr. Lincoln.”

The parley had attracted the attention of the president. The door swung open and the good natured chief of the nation smiled upon the cheeky young fellows and bade them step right in.

“What can I do for you, my men?”

“Mr. Lincoln, I want you to frank these envelopes,” said King.

“Better get your congressman to do that.”

“I’d much rather have you do it, Mr. Lincoln. The folks at home would like to see your name on my letters.”

“I’ll fix one of them. Take the rest to your congressman. Who is he?

“I don’t know.”

“Where is your home?”

“Lamartine, Fond du Lac county, Wis.”

“That is my friend Scott Sloan’s district. You go to Mr. Sloan. He will fix the rest of them.”

The president shook hands with the two privates, asked them to be brave soldiers and wished them a safe return to their western homes.

Frank couldn’t make his tentmates believe that the president had written:

“Let this go. A. Lincoln.” But the next day he wrote a letter to his father. The name of Lincoln was personally examined by all of the neighbors.

In January, 1864, our regiment was in Washington on the way home, having re-enlisted — “veteranized,” as they call it. In company with two others I went to the White House. The president shook hands with us, thanked us for swearing in for three years more and expressed the hope that we would have a nice visit on our veteran furlough.

“Mr. President,” said Jones — Ed Jones — “you franked a letter for one of the boys in our company, Frank King. I wish you would frank one for me.”

“Odd as it may seem, you are the second soldier to make such a request. So both are of the same company? Very well.”

On Jones’ envelope he wrote “A. Lincoln, President,” and as he handed it back he asked what had become of that other man who had asked him to pass a letter.

“He was killed at Gettysburg.”

I shall never forget the look of sadness in the president’s face when the answer was given, and it had not disappeared when we left the room.

“Jones, what did you tell him about King for? Did you see how it pained him?

“What did he ask about him for? Do you suppose I was going to lie to a man I would die for? was Jones’ indignant reply.

— Chicago Times-Herald.

Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois) Jan 15,  1897

Gettysburg - July 1, 1863. The 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment charges the 2nd Mississippi Volunteer Infantry Regiment in an attempt to capture the Southern forces sheltered in an abandoned railroad cut.

Image (by Dale Gallon,)  from Perfect Frames Military Gallery


U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles

Name: Frank King
Residence: Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin
Enlistment Date: 22 Jun 1861
Side Served: Union
State Served: Wisconsin
Service Record:     Enlisted as a Private on 22 June 1861.
Enlisted in Company E, 6th Infantry Regiment Wisconsin on 22 Jun 1861.
Killed Company E, 6th Infantry Regiment Wisconsin on 1 Jul 1863 at Gettysburg, PA.


Abe Lincoln’s Birthday: 1909

February 12, 2010

SOMEWHAR down thar round Hodgenville, Kaintucky,
Or tharabouts, a hundred year ago,
Was born a boy ye wouldn’ thought was lucky;
Looked like he never wouldn’ have a show.
But * * * * I don’ know.
That boy was started middlin’ well, I’m thinkin’.
His name? W’y, it was Abraham — Abe Lincoln.

PORE whites his folks was? Yes, as pore as any,
Them pioneers, they wa’n’t no plutocrats;
Belonged right down among the humble many,
And no more property than dogs or cats.
But * * * * maybe that’s
As good a way as any for a startin’.
Abe Lincoln, he riz middlin’ high, for sartin!

SOMEHOW I’ve always had a sort o’ sneakin’
Idee that peddygrees is purty much
Like monkeys’ tails — so long they’re apt to weaken
The yap that drags ’em round. No use for such!
But * * * * beats the Dutch
How now and then a lad like Little Aby
Grows up a president — or govnor, maybe.

Indiana Evening Gazette (Indiana, Pennsylvania) Feb 12, 1909

When, back in the middle of the ’50s, Abraham Lincoln was a plain lawyer, practicing in Springfield, Ill., he appears to have indulged but one office luxury — an office boy, Epenetus McIntosh, aged 10.

McIntosh afterwards became a drummer boy in the civil war, rose to the rank of major, and survived Andersonville and the great Sultana disaster to become prominent as a poet, writing a book of Grand Army songs.

Major McIntosh, now of Omaha, Neb., was the first to enlist in the first Grand Army of the Republic post ever formed — that at Decatur, Ill. — and he is now the only survivor of that post.

Neither Lincoln, who was regarded by his office boy as merely a good lawyer, nor Epenetus McIntosh, who was regarded by his employer as only a good office boy, could foresee that the one was to become the greatest figure in the nation’s history, while the other was to write one of the most remarkable human-interest views of the martyred president ever printed.

Today, 100 years after the birth of Lincoln, Major McIntosh tells his story for the first time in any publication. He wrote the following exclusively for this newspaper, and it is a document that will endure among the more personal annals of America’s greatest chief executive.



Lincoln’s First Office Boy.

The fact of which I am proudest in all my long life is that I was Abraham Lincoln’s first office boy.

The one possession which I treasure above all others is a little drum which Lincoln gave me.

It was not much of a job. And it was never much of a drum. But they were enough to keep my life sweet at its core.

I was the first office boy Lincoln ever had; at least I never heard of his having had an earlier one.

Just as office boys anywhere do today, I then thought myself the important member of the establishment. Mr. Lincoln seemed to think well of me, for he kept me two years, gave me much advice of the direct homely sort, such as only Lincoln co[u]ld give, and he gave me the drum.

I must tell of the drum first, because it came first, and has been treasured to the last.

A dozen or so of us urchins were playing soldier in my father’s yard, which was across the street from Lincoln’s office. I was the drummer boy, using a tin pan and a couple of sticks. The lawyer, whom we even then regarded as a great man, looked over the fence and said to us:

“Boys, train up right; we may need you some day.”

Christmas came soon after and with it a little drum. Upon that drum I learned to play; and seven years afterward, when Lincoln was president and called the nation to arms, I, a well grown youth of 17 and a good drummer, was the first man to take my stand in front of the old court house at Bloomington, Ill., and then I beat the roll which called for volunteers. It was not the little old drum I used that day, but a new one that could be heard all over town.

I have both drums yet, and I have the precious memory of marching off to war as a drummer beating steps for the troops.

But this has carried me ahead of my story. an old man must be pardoned if he rambles as he writes of matters so close to his heart.

With the little drum Mr. Lincoln gave me I drummed myself into his further notice, and one day he offered me the job of whitewashing his fence, I did it well; and as he stood admiring my work, he asked me if I cared to be his office boy. I eagerly accepted, and remained with him until my father moved to another town.

I have always remembered one of the first things Lincoln said to me. It was:

“Work hard, be honest; never gamble; keep smiling, and you will succeed.”

He had many quaint sayings about cheerfulness. One I remember was this:

“The world has no use for a grumbler who always keeps his head down and always sees the dark side of life.”

Another was this:

“If a cow kicks over a bucket of milk, just milk the next cow and keep on smiling. Smiling will get you more milk than kicking back.”

He was never so at ease as when tilted back in his chair with his big feet resting on the table. In that position his great length seemed even greater than it was. It may not seem possible to connect the Lincoln so revered today with an attitude so undignified; but I have often seen him so, and the natural ungainliness of his lank figure rendered him very ludicrous.

His only chair was a Windsor of the hard, rugged, old-fashioned sort, as different as could be imagined from the elegantly upholstered chairs in the offices of leading lawyers today. For visitors there was an uncushioned bench along one wall.

I have heard many stories of his bringing his lunch to the office and eating it off the office table while discussing cases with clients; but I never saw him do that and do not believe he ever did it. But he liked to work in his shirt sleeves when alone in the office.

I have no recollection of any tilts with my boss. He was always kind and good-natured.

He had little respect for smokers. He once remarked of a pipe: “A fire at one end and a fool at the other.”

Another recollection I have of him is that he shaved himself and always came to the office with a perfectly smooth face except in winter, when he allowed his whiskers to grow.

I cannot better close my reminiscences than by quoting a saying which I have heard him utter to many people, which I have never seen in print:

“Keep a stiff upper lip and a steel backbone, and don’t let any one discourage you.”

It healed the heart wounds of many a worried client.

San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas) Feb 12, 1909

Lincoln Memories by Persons Who Knew Him

February 12, 2010

Abraham Lincoln

The following news clips, including the one above, are from The Fitchburg Sentinel’s (Fitchburg, MA) February 13, 1923 newspaper, commemorating President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

Cornelius Cole


Epetenus Washington McIntosh

*** I will be posting another article about  Abe Lincoln’s office boy, Mr. E.W. McIntosh.

J.G. Couch


Chauncey Depew


Mrs. Mary Thompson


Cornelius Savage


John Fulwiler

*** You can read Lincoln’s “Lost Speech” online:  Internet Archive LINK

Mrs. Sarah Whitney

Henry J. Stahle: New Year’s Address – 1861

January 1, 2010

Henry J. Stahle (Image from


The Carrier of The Compiler.
Jan. 1, 1861.


I am here again this morning —
Is the Carrier “all forlorn,” —
To give you all fair warning
That another year is born.

I am weary, very weary,
And my heart is almost broken;
Ah! this world is very dreary
Without a friendly token.

I have come again to greet you,
And to drive your cares away,
And, my friends, I hope to meet you
In a brighter, happier day.

Image from

But there is a certain matter
That pains me very much:
Just present me with a Quarter,
And my feelings you will touch.

All hail! all hail! auspicious day!
Thou day of joy and gladness!
Thou hast returned to chase away
Our sorrow and our sadness.

Without thee, what were life on earth
But one grand scene of trouble?
Without thee, all our moral worth
Were but an empty bubble.

Another twelvemonth has gone by
Since last we has a New Year,
Another season has drawn nigh
When we should make good cheer.

Said one of old — and he well knew, —
“There is a time for all things,”
So let us then our duty do,
And condescend to small things.

O, how many weary journeys
Has the Carrier made through town,
With his brief for lean Attorneys,
And his nonsense for the Clown.

With his “Markets” for the Merchant,
And his “Married” for the single;
With his “Deaths” for skillful Doctors,
And his Stories a la Cringle.

In return for this great favor
It is me?t that you should buy
An Address from this young shaver,
And light up his youthful eye.

In the year that’s just departed,
Oh, how many ties were riven;
Oh, how may plans were thwarted,
and how many farewells given!

The deed is done! let angels weep,
And clothe themselves in mourning;
Our blessed UNION now is rent, —
Let future States take warning.

Distracted are the councils now
Of our beloved nation —
There’s trouble in the workshop North,
And on the South plantation.

Our fate no human eye can see,
Whether weal? or woe shall come, —
May kind Heaven keep in peace and free,
This broad land — for all a home.

Black Republicans are making
A terrible commotion;
When asleep, and when they’re waking,
They hold the foolish notion, —

That the glorious Constitution,
Which our wise ancestors framed,
Is a useless institution,
And ere long will be disclaimed;

That there’s a “higher law” than all, —
The “law” of anti-slavery; —
A “law” involving Freedom’s fall,
Ignoring all true bravery.

1860 Japanese Mission to U.S.

Image from MIT

The Japanese — that jealous race —
Who live beyond the oceans,
Came over here, with friendly face,
And brought us sundry notions.

Tateishi "Tommy" Onojirou Noriyuki (Japanese Translator)

Image from Lock Haven University (Bob Sandow)

The fairest one of all the Japs
Was one whose name was Tommy;
The ladies slyly gave him slaps, —
They loved this little Tommy.

But the wonder of the season
Was that great and mighty ship,
Which, for no especial reason,
(Ere she made her trial trip.)

The English named Great Eastern, Sirs,
Regarded as a sailer,
It may in truth be said that hers
Is quite a total failure.

But hark! a sound that charms the ear,
‘Tis music on the waters;
The Prince of Wales is coming here
To court our Yankee daughters.

The day is fine; breezes gently
Waft his bark to this fair clime;
All are eager — eyes intently
Gaze upon this royal cyme[or maybe]

See! how lightly through each figure
Of the gay and sprightly dance
Trips the Prince, with all the vigor,
Of an Emperor of France.

To have a tilt at this young lion
The ladies all were eager;
But their chances for the English cion
Are very, very meagre.

Old Jenkins says that some e’en went
And kissed him for his mother, —
That certain damsels kindly sent
Some sweetmeats to his brother.

Sayers - Heenan Fight 1860

Image from Seaford Photographers

John Heenan and Tom Sayers,
Two pugilistic rowdies,
Made up their minds to fight like bears,
As sometimes do the dowdies.

Of our town and its improvements
It behooves me next to sing,
And recount the movements
That were made since early Spring.

First and foremost in importance
Is the Gas we burn at night;
Would you raise a great discordance?
Just deprive us of this light.

The richest thanks that we can give
Are due to the contractor,
For long as these Gas Works shall live,
He is our benefactor.

The population of our “city,”
By the Census M.’s return,
It two thousand ccc, ninety, —
Cut that rhyme will hardly turn.

The Railroad still is doing fine,
And daily making money;
But where it goes, should I divine?
And that seems rather funny.

Whichever way our eyes we cast
New buildings meet our view;
The outskirts of our town, at last,
Are growing wider too.

Image from

The Court House now is finished quite,
Surmounted by its steeple;
The town-clock too keeps going right,
Keeps going for the people.

Our County still is right side up, —
Vide how the “Star” men squirm, —
Except that Mister Mo?? fried up
To serve another term.

What he will do in these two years
We can’t with safety say;
He may (or not) shed copious tears,
And see about his pay.

John Covode (from Wiki)

Yes, more may this young member do; —
He’ll aid Covode & Co.,
He doubtless will spit out a few
Harangues for sake of show.

‘Twas said that Becker could not fail
The Sheriff to become;
But Samuel Wolf was sent to jail,
And Becker staid at home.

Old Metzgar said that he would bet
That Wolf said so and so,
By which he thought some votes to get,
But is was all no go.

Though Bailey and Martin outrun
Gentlemen of high desert,
We Eichholtz and Gardner won,
Millet, Pfoutz and Dysert.

Abe Lincoln Election 1860

Image from House Divided – Dickinson College

The field of November was gained
By Abe and his “Wide Awake” force —
The Union, thus struck at and maim’d,
Is stopped in its onward course.

Let patriots pause — think and pause!
By justice let peril be stayed —
In fairness and love let the laws,
ALL, be fully obeyed.

So now, my friends, I leave you,
I leave you with regret;
May naught occur to grieve you,

Or in any manner mar the pleasures not only of this festal day, but also of the year upon which we have just entered. Through the evil actions and still worse counsels of a certain dare-devil party of the North, rendered desperate by the desire of plunder, our once glorious country, purchased by the blood of many of Freedom’s gallant souls, is now rent in twain. That kind Heaven may avert the dangers that now menace us, and disperse the black and ominous clouds which obscure our political, social and financial atmosphere, is the earnest with of THE CARRIER.

The Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jan 7, 1861


Henry J. Stahle photo essay: Gettysburg Daily website

John B. Weller: Gold Rush Era Politician

April 28, 2009
John B. Weller (Image from

John B. Weller (Image from

While searching for “California Gold Rush” news articles, I ran across and transcribed the following article, assuming John B. Weller was was of the many “49’ers” who hailed from Ohio. However, after a little research, I realized he went to California for a different reason. As it turns out, he was an Ohio politician, who seemed to be in the midst of a scandal, which might have been the push needed to go elsewhere. Fortunately for him, the scandal didn’t follow him, and he eventually became the fifth governor of California.

First, some background on John B. Weller:

In this Ohio government biography, it states he was married four times! His wives seemed to just keep dying, although that was NOT the scandal I mentioned. I just thought it was interesting. This is a pretty good biography, although it seems to be written with a rather positive slant.

From the “Governors of California” bio, which is quite short, I quote the following interesting tidbits (emphasis mine):

He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, served in the Mexican War, and was U.S. Commissioner of International Boundaries. …[Later, after a scandal] he was removed from the commission by President Taylor. Somehow recovering from the scandal, Weller entered politics in California first serving as State Senator. As Governor, he intended to make California an independent republic if the North and South divided over slavery, and he personally led an assault on San Quentin Prison to take back possession of it from a commercial contractor.

This Journal News article (1990) gives a good time line of his life, including the following:

In two of his three House elections, Weller defeated Lewis D. Campbell, who had been his roommate when both first came to Hamilton. Weller declined to seek a fourth term and returned to his law practice in Hamilton.

When the Mexican War started in May 1846, Weller enlisted as a private, helped raise troops in Butler County and rose to colonel and commander of the Second Ohio Regiment when its colonel was killed in the Battle of Monterey Sept. 24, 1846.

After the war, he was the Democratic candidate for governor in 1848, but lost to Seabury Ford, a Whig, during a questionable vote count. One tally gave Weller a 259-vote victory. But the version accepted by the Ohio General Assembly Jan. 22, 1849, made Ford the winner by 311 votes.

While the election was in doubt, Weller’s third wife, Susan, died in Hamilton Dec. 22, 1848, and was the second person buried in the new Greenwood Cemetery. (His first wife, Ann, also was reburied there.)

**The one above about his wife dying, is particularly of interest, given the mean-spirited poem written about the Weller family that you will find posted further down.

In January 1849, two months before the end of his term, President James K. Polk, a Democrat, appointed Weller chairman of the commission to determine the boundary line between the United States (California) and Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Political changes in Washington led to Weller’s recall in 1850 by the new president, Zachary Taylor, a Whig.

In 1851, the California legislature elected him to the U. S. Senate as a Union Democrat to succeed John C. Fremont. In the Senate from Jan. 30, 1852, until March 3, 1857, Weller supported building a Pacific railroad and homestead bills and was regarded as a pro-slavery Democrat.

In 1867 he moved to New Orleans to practice law. He died there of smallpox Aug. 17, 1875. The body of the former Hamilton lawyer was returned to San Francisco for burial.

Finally, from the National Governors’ Association comes this:

Weller also dealt with an ongoing feud between opposing factions in the Democratic Party, which was led by U.S. Senator David C. Broderick and U.S. Senator William M. Gwin. The feud culminated in September 1859 when David S. Terry, a former judge of the California Supreme Court, killed U.S. Senator Broderick in a duel.

Now, on to the newspaper articles, this first one being the one I mentioned at the beginning of the post:

From California.

We give the following extract from a letter dated San Francisco, Sept. 15th, 1850.

We have had a hard time of it here in the money market, during the past month, and many large houses have failed. The credit system is creeping into the profession, and although business is plenty, it is more difficult to collect. I have now three cases on hand, where success in either would give me as much as I want.

This city is improving more rapidly than any city in the world — the most extensive improvements have been made in every direction since you left. The city is fast running out into the Bay, and large and extensive business houses erected 500 yards from the shore on a line with the principal streets. And yet while all this is going on, money commands 10 and 12 per cent per month.

The miners are not so successful this year as last. Upon some of the rivers nothing is found. I doubt very much whether the average will be $2 per day — this may perhaps have a salutary effect upon the State, as it will drive the mechanics to their trades, and the farmers to agriculture. Thousands are leaving the mines and seeking employment in the cities.


Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Nov 19, 1850


Some further research turned up the following articles that give some political background, although it should be noted some are written by the opposing political party newspapers. In contrast, the article from the Mountain Democrat is from a “friendly” paper.

The Youth of Weller.

When a man by the aid of his genius, the lustre of his acts, or the force of circumstances, is ushered very prominently into the public view, his personal history becomes a topic of interest from his youth up, and a host of literary gossips are sent down to search out all the leading events of his babyhood.

As Mr. WELLER has been taken up by the Locofoco party of this State, for the purpose of making him a very great man, in short a Governor, it is proper to investigate his biography a little, in order that we may understand how his past achievements, are to coincide with his future honors.

We clip the following “incident” from a file of ’44 campaign papers, which was first published in the Richmond Palladium, of course sometime before Mr. WELLER was thought of in either of his military characters, as the Hero of Monterey or Generalissimo of the Revolutionary Forces in Ohio. We add to it another chapter, which is going the rounds of the press, and we presume that other chapters will come to light, until by the time that their interesting subject is comfortably seated in the gubernatorial chair, we shall receive from the hands of some publisher, an elegant edition of “The Youth of Weller,” complete in one volume, which will fit, in all our public libraries, cozily and decorously beside “The Youth of Shakespeare.”

AN INCIDENT. — Some ten or twelve years ago, a young man dressed in the tip top of the fashion of that day, with his ruffles floating at his breast, his fingers engemed with rings, his hat cap-a-pie, and the airs of the dandy pervading the whole of the thing called a man, appeared in the town of Centerville, as our hero no doubt thought, much to the astonishment of the natyves. He soon found his way to the Courthouse, which was then occupied by the circuit Court. He pompously entered within the bar, and seated himself among the lawyers. After a while a case was called, wherein Mr. A. of the State of Ohio, had sued Mr. B. of this county on a plain note of hand. Our hero, the dandy, appeared as Counsel of the plaintiff, and stated to the Court that he presumed there would be no difficulty in the case, it being a plain and simple obligation to pay money. —

One of the Whoosier lawyers, having a little fun in connection with his other qualifications, concluded to contest the case, and put in various pleas containing several foolish and untenable positions. Our hero, arose in surprise, and stated that he was not prepared to meet the case nor form the issue, as he had not anticipated any opposition, and concluded by asking a continuance of the case. It was continued by our hero paying the cost. At the next term of the Court, our county was again honored with the presence of the Ohio dandy. His case was again called, and he was about to proceed with it, when the impudent Whoosier asked permission to file some additional pleas, equally foolish with the first, saying that certain facts had come to his knowledge since the last term, which it might be important to have brought forward in his case; he was permitted to file them. Our hero, being thus nonplused again, asked for a continuance of the case until the next term. The next and third term of the court arrived, and with it, our effeminate, and astonishingly fine dressed hero. He was this time accompanied by his client, a plain and highly respectable man. The case was again called, but our fun loving Whoosier lawyer again rose to file more pleas. The client of our hero, fearing that his attorney would again be foiled, applied to one of the lawyers then residing in Centreville, to attend to the case, saying that he was under the impression that his attorney was not acquainted with the practice in this State. The lawyer thus applied to after pocketing a pretty fair fee, went into Court, and asked that the case might be brought up. —

The lawyer who had been putting in pleas, immediately rose and said that he confessed judgement! So ended the case; and our chop-fallen, peacock hero, dropped his feathers, and skulked out of town, and did not for some years show his face in the town of Centreville, and in conclusion we are compelled to say that our coxcomb hero, was a Mr. WELLER.

WHO IS JOHN B. WELLER? A writer in the Cleveland Times attempts to tell the public the answer to this mighty question. And the Telegraph, in its simplicity copies the article for the enlightenment of the people in this region who have been endeavoring for the last fifteen years to find out who is John B. Weller.

The writer tells us that Col. W. was born in Hamilton county, and has his home there; and then he tells us how the said Weller has been often elected in Butler county; that he was elected Prosecutor in 1835 by an overwhelming majority, over a very popular opponent, and re-elected the next term by acclamation, “no one being found willing to run against an individual so endeared to the people!!!” —

The people here recollect something like this:

–Mr. Weller was a very forward young man who studied law with Jesse Corwin, and was a Whig, and was Secretary of a Clay meeting as soon as old enough; but on entering business he turned Loco, and run for the office of Prosecutor, against his benefactor, Mr. Corwin, and in a county giving some 1500 majority, he was elected by the overwhelming majority of seventy-five!!! If the people did not remember this they might ask, who is John B. Weller?

He then run for Congress, says the narrator and was elected by a large majority, and in 1840, re-elected by a large majority. This majority, was just 57!! where two years before he received 800! But the people in this district were beginning to know “who is John B. Weller?”

In the late history of the Lieutenant Colonel his biographer seems better informed, and he tells how the Colonel volunteered as a private and was elected Captain, then Lieutenant, and went to Mexico; to which he adds much of the glorifying usually claimed for him here. —

But some how or other he has either forgotten or never heard all about the Colonel in Mexico. He never tells anything about the way he domineered over the men, and assumed airs of consequence, and rendered himself ridiculous generally — nor does he mention the great prudence of the Colonel in choice of positions, and a variety of other things that must yet be told in answer to the question, “who is John B. Weller?”

As material for another writer, it might be said that Lieutenant Colonel Weller has never run up with his party, in any instance when he was a candidate — that he is reserved and haughty in his demeanor, and anything but a favorite with the people — a demagogue of the most unmitigated character. But he is known here and may be known pretty well over the State this year. After the knowledge is attained, we trow no Locofocos will enquire “who is John B. Weller?” (Hamilton Intelligencer.)

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) May 9, 1848


A Locofoco Jewel.

“Consistency is a jewel,” and so is the Sandusky City Mirror. When the Baltimore nominations were received, it sturdily refused to support Gen. Cass, because he was a doughface, or Gen. Butler, because he was a slave-holder. We notice that it has just unfurled the Barnburner flag, for VanBuren and Dodge; but it is patched with a most unseemly accompaniment —

After a conscientious delay of several moons’ duration, it has at last put up the name of Col. Weller. as its candidate for Governor; a man who has been the most abject slave of the slaveocracy that ever shamed the halls of Congress!

The fact has raised a difficult issue in our mind, which we will leave out to a baker’s jury of one dozen — which is the greatest doughface, Lewis Cass, John B. Weller, or the Editor of the Mirror?

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 4, 1848


COL. WELLER’S DEFENSE. — The Commissioners of Butler county filed their bill in Chancery against John B. Weller, charging him, as one of the commissioners of the Surplus Revenue Fund, with being indebted to that fund in the sum of eleven thousand dollars and interest, which he does not pay, &c. &c.

To this Col. Weller comes and defends. And in what does that defence consist? Why, Col. Weller does not deny that he has the money. He does not traverse the facts set forth in the bill. But he says that he ought not to be called upon to answer the charges and allegations of the complainant’s bill, because, he says the said suit was commenced by and in the name of the commissioners of the county of Butler, whereas in fact said suit ought to have been commenced by and in the name of the Procecuting Attorney of said county.

He stands up to the fight at law, just about as well as he did in the wars.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Aug 1, 1848


Colonel Weller
Has been into Clermont county, and he made a speech there which did not very much “astonish the natives.” The Courier thus sums it up:
The positions assumed, and the sum total of the speech, were as follows:
1. Abuse of the Whigs generally.
2. Abuse of General Taylor.
3. Abuse of Seabury Ford.
4. Polk did not annex Texas.
5. The war was brought on by Mexico.
6. Abuse of Senator Corwin.
7. Laudation of John B. Weller.
9. The “mouse in liquor,” like Weller at Montery.)
10. The dying soldier’s request — tears &c.

1. The Eleven Thousand Dollars Defalcation! Forgot that entirely!
2. The Ohio Banks, and the Hard Money issue.
3. The Tax Law.
4. The Dorrite proceedings of the 10th of May, for which he took strong ground at the opening of the campaign, urging his friends to be prepared to march to Columbus next winter, and, if need be, drive the Whigs out of the State House “at the point of the bayonet!”
5. Cass’ Federalism.
6. Cass’ extra pay.
7. Cass’ bill reducing the allowance of the volunteers from $3,50 to $1,91 per month.
8. The much talked of “principles” of the party.

Not one of these subjects was deemed worthy of notice by Col. Weller, in his speech to the “democracy of Clermont.”

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Sep 8, 1848


Keep it before the People,
That John B. Weller declared that the Apportionment Bill, passed at the last session of the Legislature, should be modified, if it had to be done at the point of the bayonet!

That John B. Weller is in favor of abolishing every Bank in the State, and of Hard Money Currency.

That John B. Weller was one of the Fund Commissioners of Butler county, and that he is now a defaulter to the amount of eleven thousand dollars!

That John B. Weller compared all men who are in favor of Free Soil to “Ragged and Scurvy Sheep.” and said that he would not thank them for their votes!

That John B. Weller, while a member of Congress, voted against the right of petition! Can the people of Ohio vote for such a miserable doughface? —Tusc Advocate

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Sep 11, 1848


**This is the poem I mentioned earlier in the post:

From the Zanesville Courier.
AIR — Governor Tod.

Colonel Weller ran home in a hurry,
The Locos were shouting like fun;
Said he, Mrs. Weller, don’t worry,
I’m Governor! sure as a gun.

The cannons were booming like thunder,
The rockets went off in a whiz;
Said she, My Dear Colonel, I wonder
If me you aint trying to quiz?

Oh no! said the Colonel; keep shady —
I pledge you my honor upon it —
Now, since you’re the Governor’s lady,
My Dear, you must have a new bonnet.

And you must be dressed in the fashion,
In silks and in satins so fine;
A shawl you must have of Circassian —
The Governor’s Lady must shine.

But spoke Mrs. Weller, contending,
Our children must have some new clothes;
Their trowers I’m tired of mending,
Their shoes are all out at the toes.

The Colonel was highly excited
When each little dirty nosed Weller
Came running — their Papa, delighted,
Wiped each little Governor’s smeller.

Come, hold up your heads, little “fellers,”
And play with your neighbors no more;
These children of Governor Weller’s
“Must slide on their own cellar door.”

Be still, boys, don’t make such a racket,
And you shall be dressed in new suits;
Long tails shall be put to your jackets,
High heels shall be tapped on your boots.

We’ll start for Columbus soon — “may be;”
So children, look very sedate;
Your “Ma” is a Governor’s Lady,
And I’m the big man of the State.

A shout — a Whig shout — comes astounding,
Great “noise and confusion” was heard
High o’er the hill-tops resounding,
Hurra for Old Cheesebury Ford.

Colonel Weller he heard it, astonished;
Mrs. Weller she said with a tear,
Naughty fellow, you ought to be punished,
“Such castles to build in the air.”

So, smoothing her apron so tidy,
At the Colonel she looked with a leer —
“I have a queer sort of an idea,
You’re not yet a Gov’ner, my dear.”

The Colonel was left in great trouble —
The little young Wellers looked sad,
For they all got spanked with a shovel,
And squalling they ran off to bed.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Nov 21, 1848


The California fever is raging here to a considerable extent, three companies are forming to start on the 1st of April next, and some of the best citizens of Columbus are of the number; they all take the overland route.
Colonel Weller starts from Cincinnati next Wednesday and proceeds to New Orleans, where he will make the final arrangements for his expedition. He goes first to Santiago on the Pacific, I believe, and takes with him a company of 36 Engineers, Surveyors, Clerks &c., among the number is H.H. Robinson, of the Eagle, who goes as Secretary. I wonder if that nice Silk Hat won’t go without brushing — that near setting coat won’t get a little rumpled, that fine satin vest, and snowy shirt bosom won’t get a little soiled, those tight pants won’t want another pair of straps on, and if his boots won’t want heel tapping before he gets back; I think, myself, quite likely they will.

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Feb 10, 1849


Colonel Weller, with his surveying party, left Cincinnati on Saturday morning on the “Daniel Webster,” for New Orleans. The Nonpareil says he proceeds direct to San Diego, to meet a similar party from the Mexican government, and from thence they run the boundary line between the two countries.

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Feb 27, 1849


We learn from the Cincinnati Enquirer that Colonel Weller and suite left that city on Saturday last, on board the steamer Daniel Webster, for Mexico. — Ohio Statesman

We suppose, of course, this is the same suit that has been so long pending against the Colonel in Butler county for those $11,000, and that since his defeat for Governor, he has concluded to “change the venue.” — Dayton Journal.

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Mar 1, 1849


From his time in California:

John B. Weller.

We have, for some time past, says the Sierra Citizen, been intending to speak of the services of this retiring Senator in behalf of the State he so ably represented, when the following statements, made by a correspondent of the San Francisco Herald, writing from Washington, met our eye; and embodying, as it does, an undisputed record of the acts and doings of this faithful servant, during his stewardship, we substitute it with pleasure for any remarks we had intended to make of our own. We must, however, be allowed to say, in this connection, that we have known John B. Weller from our boyhood, — we know his faults, but we know his virtues as well, — and to those acquainted with our relative positions, anything we might say in this connection will have doubly the weight that parties not cognizant of our relative positions, in our intercourse in the Atlantic States, will accord it.

We are familiar with the personal and political history of John B. Weller ever since he entered upon his public career, which was as the State’s Attorney in a County in Ohio, where all our own brothers and the greater portion of our own relatives reside. A warm friend, he was ever open and generous, — bitter, it might be, in the advocacy of his party’s interests, and unsparing in political warfare — he was ever generous even to his opponents, and, although possessing faults, no one was more popular in his private relations. Although time, that softens all bitter feelings — that in the end “makes all things even,” — has mellowed down much of his party acerbity, — yet John B. Weller, when the question was vital between his personal and his party’s interests, never hesitated to sacrifice himself upon the altar of his party. Had he, like his opponent of the Gubernatorial Chair of Ohio, in 1848, caught at and pandered to the popular “isms” of the day, he would have made his “calling and election sure,” beyond all doubt or cavil, but he spurned the idea, and, as the standard-bearer of the true in contradistinction to the bastard Democracy, that went astray after false Gods, he preferred an honorable political defeat to a victory won by dishonorable sacrifice.

Now that John B. Weller is a private citizen, all parties unite in according to him that mood of justice which his services deserve. He has signified his intention to resume practice of his profession, and retire for a season, from the political arena, in which he has figured through life. But, if there is anything in the gift of the people of the State of California that he will accept, it is his, beyond all doubt or peradventure. If he prefer, however, to retain that “post of honor,” — a private stations, — it may be said of him, as of the Roman Patriot:

Alone, more proud the great Marcellus feels
Than Caesar with the Roman Senate at his heels

*The article goes on to talk about the money he brought to the state and the bills he tried to get passed, but I didn’t transcribe that part.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) May 30, 1857

Ex-Senator Weller Wants to be a Commodore.
{From the Seneca (Ohio) Advertiser.}

While in Washington we heard a good story in regard to Uncle Abe and John B. Weller, “the Mexican killer.”

Weller was at Washington settling his accounts as Minister to Mexico. After their adjustment, he concluded to pay his respects to Mr. Lincoln, with whom he had served in Congress. He called at the Presidential mansion, and was courteously received.

“Mr. President,” said Colonel Weller, “I have called on you to say that I most heartily endorse the conservative position you have assumed, and will stand by you so long as you prosecute the war for the preservation of the Union and the Constitution.”

“Colonel Weller,” said the President, “I am heartily glad to hear you say this.”

“Yes, Mr. President,” said Weller, “I desire an appointment to aid in this work.”

“What do you want, Colonel?” asked Abraham.

“I desire to be appointed Commodore in the Navy,” said Weller.

The president replied:

“Colonel, I did not think you had any experience as a sailor.”

“I never had Mr. President,” said Weller; “but judging from the Brigadier-Generals you have appointed in Ohio, the less experience a man has, the higher position he attains.”

Lincoln turned off, with a hearty laugh, and said — “I owe you one, Colonel.”

Davenport Daily Gazette (Davenport, Iowa) Feb 11, 1862

If you are interested in reading more about David Smith Terry, the politician with a temper, try these links:

The Virtual Museum of San Francisco

Dateline Sunday U.S.A.