I have been interested in Galena History since I was very young. Living in a town where history surrounds you is a dream for many history students, but for me it is a reality. This past summer I had the opportunity to volunteer as a tour guide at Grant's Home in Galena, which I will once again partake in this summer.
Last summer went by so fast and filled with a lot of great people who have the same love for Galena and General Grant that I do. Terry Miller, Director of the Grants Home State Historic Sites (which includes Washburne House and the Market House along with Grants Home) has done a fantastic job of restoring Grant's Home and creating an attraction that allows people to learn the history of one of the nation's greatest generals. Jamie Loso, the curator of Grants Home State Historic Sites has also done a fantastic job and regularly gives tours as well.
The tour guides at the home are some of the most knowledgeable people I have known. Vinetta Stevenson, Ellen Bussan, Randa Stewart, Georgiann Wasmund (which happens to be my great-great aunt), and many others each add their own twist to their interpretation of the lives of the Grant family. These women have been working at the home for many years and have great knowledge that all visitors are amazed at. The three months I ahve spent at Grant's home last summer have inspired me to continue to volunteer at the Home and continue to give tours to those who have a wide range of knowledge on the subject. There have been guests who are history professors, and there have been some that know nothing about Grant, but each leaves the house with a new appreciation of General Grant.
If you are from outside of Galena and want to visit, I would strongly urge you to visit Grant's Home if you want a true and accurate account of the life of General Grant. Each worker strives to be factual on the life, unlike many other 'tour companies' that fabricate lies and tell their patrons how much Julia despised Galena (untrue!), the 'ghost' at Grant's Home (no one died in the house), and many other myths told by museums and tour companies in Galena. Also, Grant's Home does not throw away artifacts (I won't touch on this subject in this post) and 90% of the house contains artifacts of the Grant family, a lot more Grant memorabillia is kept at the Market House. Grant's Home is a excellent destination and I hope you take a tour there this summer.
Blogger's Note: This was not produced by Grant's Home and had no affiliation with them while writing this post, this is purely my views. If you do not agree with a sentence or two please contact me at email@example.com.
Monday, April 16, 2012
This reflection on General Grant can be found at http://www.granthomepage.com/intburke.htm. Melancthon T. Burke was a former employee of the Grant leather shop and his reflection is a very interesting depiction of the General from Galena.
Melancthon T. Burke (1831-1919)
Burke was one of the few people who knew Grant well during his year in Galena. Burke worked at Jesse Grant's leather store and was the son-in-law of Ulysses Grant’s aunt Mary. Grant biographer Hamlin Garland repeatedly tried to get Burke to write down his recollections, and after three years finally succeeded, though with the stipulation that they "not be published." Below are Burke's remarks, written in 1896:
The fact is that I am the only survivor of the few who were associated with Grant in the old Grant leather store, and this is the reason why I should now record my knowledge of Grant's Galena life before it is too late. I have often been tempted to publicly contradict many of the absurd Grant stories that have appeared since 1865, but I was always governed by Grant's own view expressed to me on many occasions that it was wise to pay no attention whatsoever to idle fabrications which, though annoying, were beneath his notice. To those of us who really knew Grant in Galena, we know of the utter absurdity of many of the stories told about him.
I first met Grant during the summer of 1841 in my native town of Bethel, Ohio, when he spent his furlough from West Point. He attracted some attention. At that time he was muscular but slim, indifferent and shy, but very friendly to those who knew him. He was "fairish," with sandy hair, stocky and active. He was rather unconscious of his appearance, as if he did not care or think how he looked. Young Grant made many visits to his lady friend, Kate Lowe. He made the ride on horseback 12 miles from Bethel to Batavia. Grant had known Kate Lowe as a cadet, because she was sometimes in New York. I remember distinctly his neat uniform, his erect carriage, pleasant face and his graceful horsemanship.
He made a lasting impression on the village boys principally because he was polite and a very nice young man without a trace of vanity. When on the street he was usually surrounded by a crowd of listeners to whom he freely talked about West Point. He was shy with strangers, but among his friends he was always known as being a very good talker. Jesse R. Grant, his father, was not a popular man at all in the village. He had many enemies, some of them justified. He was loud and bragged a good deal about his son. But there were also many small minded neighbors who were filled with jealousy and envy at Jesse's material wealth. He was the richest man in town, had a piano in the house, had gold spectacles and sent his son to college.
I saw Grant in Bethel again upon his graduation from West Point and when he brought home his bride in 1848. Throughout this time I knew his family well. Most of his family always expressed the opinion that Grant was careless with his salary and ought to be saving his money. I have heard his mother say in her quiet way that "Ulysses would cheerfully give his last garment to a needy friend." She may have seen at that time what it is now a matter of history that Grant's sympathy and generosity were not the least of the elements of his greatness.
Jesse Grant's leather business began in Galena in the early 1850's, and his second son, Simpson, was in charge. In the Spring of 1856 I was sent to the Galena store to take change of the office and in 1859, the youngest Grant brother, Orvil, arrived. I cannot go further without saying that Simpson possessed nearly as many manly qualities as Ulysses. Orvil did not possess them to the slightest degree. Simpson died, a victim of consumption, in the Fall of 1861.
Owing to Simpson's protracted illness, the conduct of the business fell mainly upon me and Orvil. Captain Grant's arrival in April, 1861, was a welcome addition to the store force. It has frequently been stated that Captain Grant occupied an inferior position in the Galena store and at a salary that did not enable him to live comfortably or pay his debts. Nothing could be further from the truth. He lived in a nice house and was able provide the essentials for his family. The Captain's work at the store was of a general nature. He waited on customers, filled orders and occasionally drove out to visit our country customers. He was favored mostly because he was able to weigh and handle the hides, some of which were in excess of 250 pounds. Grant was of great physical strength and I have seen him many times lift a hide that no ordinary man could manage. After tossing and weighing the hides, he would calmly walk over and wash his hands. Then he would resume his common position of reclining in a chair, feet on the counter. He was very relaxed in his habits and stance.
It has been said that Grant had no business sense, and in a way, this is true. He possessed such a high sense of honor himself that he was inclined to trust others. Some customers told him the wrong price of goods and Grant believed them when they were deliberately misleading him. A few experiences, however, along these lines, tended to remedy this virtuous fault. Once when a customer came in to collect a bill, Orvil made an excuse and said, "I wish you hadn't come." Grant was upset that his brother admitted this. "Did you intend to pay the bill?" he asked Orvil. "Yes,' Orvil answered. "Then why do you expose your weakness by saying you wished they hadn't come?"
Orvil's family did not like Mrs. Julia Grant, the Captain's wife. There were many little remarks and acts that I was witness to and which manifestly hurt Grant. He was devoted to his wife and his four children and I have seen him in his home environment on many an occasion. We played cards sometimes and also chess together. Grant always spent his evenings at home. He would eat supper with his family, put on his slippers, play with his children and smoke his clay pipe. He was like a boy himself with his sons and to his daughter, Nellie he was touchingly tender. He read aloud to Mrs. Grant a great deal. He was very sensitive about his wife and children. Most of the friction between Grant and Orvil and Grant and his father came from the fact they did not approve of Mrs. Grant. I have seen the Captain flare up when they made a remark about her that he regarded as disrespectful.
It was in 1860 that Grant made the acquaintance of his greatest friend and later his chief of staff, John A. Rawlins. Rawlins came to the store expressly to meet Grant because he had a pronounced interest in the Mexican War. He knew the Captain was a veteran. Grant was initially shy, but Rawlins seemed attached to Grant immediately, and with his customary zeal. They soon manifested feelings of mutual respect and admiration. Grant's quiet intensity were in marked contrast to Rawlins impetuosity, but they were both deep thinkers and had much in common. Grant's unusual conversational powers easily made him the prominent figure among those who frequented the leather store for the purpose of discussing politics and the turmoil in the southern states. Grant had a certain refinement of manner, even though he was rough in appearance. Rawlins was attracted to Grant from the beginning for his shy charm, his intensity and his background. It is safe to say that no man ever heard Grant utter an oath or repeat an obscene story. He tolerated and sometimes laughed at Rawlins language, which was frequently peppered with many an oath.
Rawlins made his great war speech at the big Galena meeting on April 18, 1861, at which Grant presided. It was probably this speech more than any other thing that influenced Grant to offer Rawlins a position on his staff after he was made Brigadier General. Rawlins came to the store to talk the matter over with me and he expressed his strong belief in Grant's great ability and he predicted he would advance rapidly if given the opportunity. I held the same opinion and being aware of Grant's admiration for Rawlins I urged him to accept Grant's offer of being a member of his staff. Rawlins' belief in Grant's military greatness began before Grant had even been tested, but this should silence the critics who profess to believe that "Rawlins made Grant." As a matter of fact Grant made every Galena man he touched and kept the good old town itself from sinking into oblivion.
After the war ended and Grant visited Galena, he was still the same modest, affable man. He was disinclined to visit the store however and did not come in frequently. He said to me, 'I like Galena, but there is nothing for me to do here. I must have something to do." After all he had outgrown the town and he had but little privacy here. He was always very approachable however, and I have seen him sign many an autograph and smile, a little weary, with a far-away look in his eyes, when people approached him.
I think this reflection is interesting because it shows the rarely known life of General Grant during his days in Galena prior to his second military career.
I would like to the staff of the Galenian for putting an article of mine from this blog into their publication. The article mentioned was the first of two on Grant that I published on this blog in December. You can pick up your copy at various retail outlets around Galena and the immediate area.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading!
Sorry for the delay in posts...I have been busy with school work.
While working in the Southwest Wisconsin Room I came across the Wisconsin magazine of History Spring 2012 edition. In this magazine I saw a article from a newspaper regarding Galena and people looking for pearls in our town in 1889 during the "Pearl Rush". Here is what it says "Galena, Ill, Aug. 20- The craze for pearl hunting has reached this section and bid fair to be as general as it has been in Southern Wisconsin during the past ten days or more. At the present time investigations are confined to the smaller tributaries of the Galena River, which abound in the shells in which gems are found, and many farmers and their families, excited by the stories of suddenly acquired wealth, have left their fields and are industriously searching for pearls, not a few being rewarded by really vulnerable discoveries. Galena river, which is really low, is said to be a prolific field for pearl hunters, and a large party are arranging to in invade that stream a few miles above the city. News reached here to the effect that at Darlington and vicinity the total value of pearls found will aggregate $10,000". This pearl rush took Wisconsin by storm in 1889 and many people flocked these small streams to try to hit the jackpot. Throughout southern Wisconsin the pearl rush allowed many to cash in big. This affected Milwaukee as well where the Sentinel reported on July 18, 1890 that in the Albany vicinity totals reached $300,000, almost $7,000,000 today!
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
|The home of Charles Hempstead at 611 South Bench Street.|
The following is a historical sketch written by Congressman Washburne at the time of Hempstead's death. Hempstead and Washburne were law partners for many years in Galena. I copied this article from the following website, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=moa&cc=moa&sid=95e3f6e828e116b80d4cccd93c806bc1&view=text&rgn=main&idno=ABT3917.0001.001. I apologize for some possible typos as this was transcribed from an earlier manuscript by the University of Michigan
"LETTER OF HON. E. B. WASHBURIE, UNITI/ED STATES MINISTER JANUARY 15 1875. to captain Daniel Smnith Harris, President of the Early Settler's Association, Galena, Jo Daviess Co., Illinois.
MY DEAR SIR:-We have intelligence of the death of Mr. CHARLES S. HEMPSTEAD, which occurred at Galena on tha 10th of December last. My personal, professional, and political associations with him for more than a third of a century impel me to write you some notice of his life which may go into the archives of your Association. At the timne of his death he was probably the oldest member of our Association, and there are few living twho settled in Joe Daviess Counlty at as early a period as Mr. Hempstead. lie had seen so much of the settlement and development of the country, was so intimately identified with all that pertained to its progress and improvement, and iad himself done so much to advance its interests, that there seems to be a propriety in addressing you, as the President of the Association, the paper which I propose. In illustrating the incidents of Mr. Hempstead's career, 1 may have o(casion to weave in notices of many persons with whom he was associated and which may add a certain interest to this sketch. Mr. HemIpstead was the son of Steplhen Iempstead, a native of New London, Connecticut, belonging to a family of the earliest settlers of that colony. On the breaking out of the revolution, the father joined the patriot army with the greatest ardor, and was with the first troops which assembled at Boston after the battle of Lexington, on tile 19th of April, 1775. lhe was with Washington and arrived at New York in July, 1776, when the Declaratioll of Independence was read to the troops. He witnessed the pulling down of the royal insignia when the words, " free sovereign and independent States" were repeated and acclaimed. In the sarme year lie was one of the forlorn hope sent on a perilous expedition in the' fire ships' that attacked the British frigates in North river. He was attached to the same company as Captain Nathan Hale, the "1 Martyr Spy," was his steadfast friend and accompanied him on his fatal mission. In 1811, he removed to St. Louis, Missouri, where three of his sons had preceded him, and settled on a farm a few miles from the present city..He was a man of great intelligence, of the strictest probity, of the purest character, and died universally respected and venerated by all classes of the community.
IIe and his whole family were always the firm fiiends of Col. Benton, and their friendship was filly reciprocated by that distinguished man down to the last day of his life. It was my fortune to serve in the House of Representatives with Co'. Benton in the Thirty-fourth Congress, and knowing nmy relationship by marriage both to the Hempstead and to the Gratiot families, who were equally his friends, as a young member of Congress, he always treated me with the utmost kindness and consideration. I recollect a call th;lt I made upon him on the evening of New Year's day, in 1856. I found him quite alone and in excellent spirits. lie commenced at once to speak of the Hempstead's aind the Gratiot's, and of the olden times in St. Louis. Of Mr. Hempstead, the father, he spoke in the most expressive and beautiful language. He said: "Mr. Hempstead was a true and brave man, a man pure and without reproach, fearing God and discharging every public and private duty with scrupulous exactness; he united benevolence with true ipiety, alld in him patriotism was sublimated to the highest degree. In the words of Scripture, he "has been blessed in all his generation." Missouri met with an irreparable loss when his son Edward Hempstead died. No man could have srood higher in public or private estimation, and had he lived hie would have received every honor that the State could bestow, and would certainly have been the first. United States Senator. He lost his life in serving a friend, Mr. Scott. I was with him the, night of hi;s death " Here he paused a moment, as if in thought, and then continued abruptly, " Sir, how we did things in those days i After being up with my dead friend all night, I went to my office in the morning to refresh myself a little before going out to bury him five miles from the town. While sitting at mny table writing, a man brought me a challenge to fight a duel. I told the bearer instanter, " I accept; but I must now go and bury a dead friend; that is mlly first duty, after that is discharged I will fight, tonight, if possible; if' not, to-morrow morning at day-break. I accept your challenge, sir, and Col. lawless will write tihe acceptance and fix the terms for me." 1 was outraged, sir. thlat the challenge should have been sent when 1 was burying a friend. I thought it might have been kept a few days, but when it came, I was ready for it." In this interview with Col. Benton, 1 was so strongly impressed by his forcible language, the touching tribute he paid to his friend and his characteristic manner, that when I returned to my room I put down his words in writing as I quote them to you now. The remark of Col. Benton that Edward Hempstead died in serving a friend, referred to the fact that while as (3 sisting his friend, Hon. John Scott, of St. Genevieve, then a candlidate for Congress. in a campaign, he fell from his horse and received a fatal injury. The challenge of which he spoke was from Capt. Charles Lucas. The duel grew nominaliy out of political differences, but really out of jealousy on the part of Lucas toward Col. Benton.
At the time of an election, Lucas, without cause, challenged the vote of Benton. Upon this, Benton turned to the judges of election and said, "Gentle!nen, if youi~ave questions to ask, I am prepared to answer, but I do not propose to answer charges made by any puppy who may happen to run across my path." Lucas challenged Benton, and they fought on Bloody Island, opposite St. Louis. Judge Lawless acting as second to Col. Benton. I do not know who was the second of Capt. Lucas. Lucas wan wounded at the first fire. Supposing the wound more dangerous thlan it proved, the seconds arranged for a cessation of the combat. Col. Benton acceeded with the understanding that Lucas should hold himself in readiness to again take the field whenever he, Benton. might demand it. It was believed that the matter would have dropped there, had it not been for the impudence of Lucas and some of Iiis friends who talked loudly and accused Col. Benton of taking an unfair advantagoe of Lucas' inexperience as a duelist. Shortly afterwards Col. Benton again called Lucas into the field, when Lucas fell dead at the first fire. -Mr. Charles S. Hempstead was born at Hebron, Tolland County, Connecticut, Sept. 10, 1794. His eldest brother, Edward Hempstead, who will be referred to hereafter, having removed to the then province of Louisiana, and settled in the little French village of St. Louis, in the fall of 1804. in 1809, when only fifteen years old, he and his brotler Thomas Hlempstead, determined to join their brother Edward. Up to this time, he had received the advantages of edtcation which could be had at the New London Academy.
There were at that time but two principal routes from the Atlantic States to St. Louis-the one by sailing vessels to Philadelphia, thence in Conestoga wagons over the mnountains to Pittsburg, thence by keel, flat-boat, or canoe down the Ohio river to its mouth, and thence up the AMississippi to St. Louis. The other, and the route that Mr. Hempsteadi and his brother took, was iby schooner to Alexandria, Virginia, thence overland by Conestoga wagons to sortic point on the Ohio river. They left New London in a schooner for Alexandria, in the latter part of August, 1809. From Alexandria they traveled via. Winchester and Romney, Harrison County, to Clarksburg, in Mresterll Virginia. Upon arriving at Clarksburg tlhey ascertained that the Ohio river was so low as to render navigation difficult, in consequence of which they were obliged to stop for a short time on their journey. A rise in the river having taken place, the two travelers took a canoe at Marietta. laid in the necessary supply of provisions and started for Shawneetown, Illinois, where they arrived safely in the latter part of O.ctober. Arriving at Shawneetown, neither saddle horses nor con. veyances of any kind could be obtained, and the only way the travelers could get forward was on foot, and they walked from Shawneetown to Kaskaskia, traversing the breadth of what is now the State of Illinois, a distance of 150 miles. On the 3rd of February, 1809, the same year, Illinois had been organized as a territory, with Kaskaskia as the seat of the territorial government, and Judge Nathaniel Pope, one of the territorial judges. The Judge warmly welcomed the two young travelers, for he was a warm friend of their brother Edward. Arriving at St. Louis in October, 1809, Mr. Hempstead immediately went into the office of his brother as a law student. At that time St. Louis contained a population of only about 1,500 souls, of whom not more than sixty families were English speaking. There was not even a single brick house, not even a brick chimney in the place. The town was then almost as thoroughly French as any provincial town of France to-day, with the French language, with French usages, habits and manners. The early French settlers were men of enterprise, intelligence and energy, an] preserved much of the polish and grace characteristic of their nationality. In that remote western village there were many families whose manners exhibited the refinement and polish of the most elegant French society. Edward Hempstead, the brother who has been alluded to, was one of the earliest and most distinguished settlers of the province of Louisiana. He had studied law and been admitted to the bar of Connecticut, his native State, in 1801, had afterwards removed to Newport, Rhode Island, where he became the law partner of Hon. Asher Robbins, a distinguished member of the Rhode Island bar, and sul)sequently one of the Senators of that State in Congress.
No sooner had our Government acquired thle province of Louisiana from France, than Mr. Heinpstead determined to remove to the west side of the Mississippi river. He finally settled at St. Louis. and entered at once into an extensive and successful practice of law in the counties of upper Louisiana adjacent to St. Louis, and in the counties of "the [llinois Country," on the Mississippi river opposite. le was appointed in 1804 by General Wm. 1H. Harrison, thep Governor of the Territory of Inldiana, and ex-officio Governor of Upper Louisiana, to several important positions in the latter territory. In 1812, when the territory of Louisiana was admitted to the grade- of territorial government and became entitled to a delegate in Congress, it was justly considered a most honorable distinction to be the first delegate from the west bank of the Mississippi, and Mr. Hempstead had the good fortune to be the choice of his fellow-citizens for that position. He served through one term of two years, and having obtained the passage of some laws of great importance for the adjustment of land claims, and for the defence of the exposed posts of Missouri Territory, he declined a re-election and returned to the practice of the law.
It was in 1817 he met with the accident before alluded to-falling from his horse-which put an end to his life. After pursuing his studies in the office of his brother Edward, Mr. Hempstead was admitted to practice law in the territory of Missouri by a license dated St. Charles, Missouri, Sept. 13th, 1814, signed by Alexander Stewart and John B. C. Lucas, Judges of the Supreme Court of Missouri Territory. At very nearly the same time, he was admitted to practice law in the territory of Illinois by a license signed by J. B. Thomas and Stanley Griswold, Judges of the District Court of said territory. After remaining in St. Louis about one year after his admission to the bar, he removed to St. Genevieve and entered upon the practice of his profession, and the discharge of the duties of Attorney General of the southern circuit of Missouri, to which position he had been appointed by the then Governor of Missouri Territory. St. Genevieve at that time was almost as important a point as St. Louis and was as completely a French settlement. It was the residence of imany distinguished men of the earlier days. Here lived John Scott, the distinguished lawyer, who was the first Representative in Congress from Missouri. General Dodge, afterwards the Governor of Wisconsin Territory, and the first United States Senator from Wisconsin, lived here at that time. Dr. Linn had already settled there as a young physician. The village was then the headquarters of the celebrated duelist, John Smith "'IT," whose nalne was for years the terror of the whole country. It is said that lihe killed during his life in duels and personal reneontres no less than fourteen men.
Remaining there until 1817, he returned to St. Louis in consequence of the death of his brother Edward, to take charge of his legal business and the settlement of his estate. In 1818-19, he was elected to fill a vacancy in the Missouri territorial legislature, which was the only legislative position he ever held-this not from want of opportunity and repeated solicitation, but from a decided aversion to political life. He continued to practice law in Missouri firol that time until the spring of 1829. During his residence in Missouri, Mr. Hempstead was the associate of many of the distinguished men of his time, and between him and them there existed the strongest ties of friendship. Among them were some of the most eminent statesmen, lawyers and politicians. There was Col. Benton, of whom I have spoken. There was David Barton, who was his colleague in the Senate —a man of extraordinary talent and eloquence, whose i)ame is cherished as a part of the history of Missouri. There were also Joshua Barton, his brother, an eminent lawyer; Josiah Spaulding, Henry S. Geyer,Iafterwards United States Senator; Edward Bates, Attorney General tinder Mr. Lincoln, who sprang into a national reputation by his single speech at the Chicago Convention in 1847; Hamilton Gamble, who became Provisional Governor of Missouri in 1861; Rufus Easton, a man of such unrivaled conversational powers, that none who ever met him forgot the fascinating flow of his words; Spencer Pettis, afterwards a i-iember of Congress, who fell in the dreadful duel with Biddle, when both were killed; Dr. Lewis F. Linn, of St. Genevieve, so long the colleague of Benton,.in the Senate. Dr. Linn was but a practicing physician in the remote and unimportant village of St. Genevieve, and was no ordinary man. To ripe learning and rare intelligence he united the most captivating personal qualities.
Of splendid presence, agreeable manners and genial disposition, he was a universal favorite, and would have graced the most polite circles of the world. The year 1829 witnessed a heavy emigration to the Fevre River lead mines. Large discoveries of lead ore had been made a year or two before by Col. Johnson and others, and the tales of fabulous mineral wealth in that country had induced a great influx of population, mostly from middle and southern Illinois and from Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee; some from Ohio and Indiana and a few from the Eastern States. The name Galena (lead ore) which happily gives an idea of the country, had been adopted some tine before. It was at this time that Mr. Hempstead removed from St. Louis to enter on his profession in a field which offered great encouragement to a man of his ability, character and business habits. It is sad to reflect how few of the men, even those then under middle age, who settled in the country at that time are still alive. You and your brother Scribe, who were boys then, were there; Mr. Wann, Captain Hathaway and Mr..Soulard are still with us-types of a large class of men who by their probity, intelligence and honorable lives have illustrated the annals of our early settlement.
At the time Mr. Hempstead settled in Galena, the whole northern part of our State was included in two counties. One was the county which bears the name of Daniel P. Cook the second member of Congress from Illinois, who for six years represented the State with distinguished ability in that body, and though a representative from one of the most remote States during that period rose to the high position of Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means. He was a mall of talent, endowed with rare powers of eloquence and was regarded as one of the rising statesmen of the age. His brilliant career was cut short by his death at the early age of 32 years. His iame has been properly perpetuated by being given to the most populous and wealthy county in the State. The other county was Joe Daviess (of which Galena was the county seat,) and which then embraced the northwestern part of the State. It was named in honor of Col. Joseph Hamilton Daviess of Kentucky, one of the great lawyers of his time, whose rude eloquence at the hustings and in the forum made him a great name, and who fell gallantly fighting, at the head of his regiment, at the battle of Tippecanoe. It is often said that Joe Daviess was a strange name to be given to a county, but it perpetuates the name of a man whose memory was dear to a large class of our early settlers who knew him and always called him "Joe Daviess." After the county was named by the Legislature, various efforts were made to strike out the prefix "Joe " but they always failed; and to-day a proposition to change the name would receive the protest of every loyal son of tlhe county. To an old settler there would be nothing in the name "Daviess" county to recall the bluff and impulsive Colonel Joe, who was the popular favorite half a century ago. At the time of his death, Mr. Hempstead was probably the oldest member of the Illinois bar. For firty-six years he had been a member of that bar. There were but few lawyers who preceeded him at Galena. Among them were Thomas Ford, afterwards Governor of the State, who had practiced law there for a short time; Jesse B. Thomas, afterwards a distinguished Judge of the Supreme Court of the State, and a MAr. Morrow of the State of Missouri, who afterwards became a Judge in that State had also been a member of the Galena bar for a short time previous. Those who were residing and practicing law in Galena in 1829, were Win. Smith, Colonel James M1 Strode, Benjamin Mills and John Turney.
William Smith was a sound and well read lawyer and a highly educated man, bult imnpaired by his health, he had settled at an early period in that far off country. Colonel Strode was a man who aft terwards became well known, not only as a lawyer, but as the Colonel of the 27th regiment of the Illinois militia in the Black Hawk War. Benjamin Mills was from Massachusetts. There has scarcely been his equal at the bar in Illinois since his time. He was profoundly read in his profession and was gifted with a remarkable eloquence. According to my recollection he was the National Republican candidate for Congress against William L. May in 1834, and was defeated by only a small majority. The cause of that defeat was a cruel one. At the time of the Black Hawk war, when terror had seized all the inhabitants of our section of the country, Mr. Mills as a man of the highest character, ability and influence, was selected to go to Washington to lay the state of affairs before the authorities and hurry forward relief to the terror stricken settlers of the frontier.
In the canvass it was made a point against him that instead of remaining at home, and sharing the dangers of the hour with his people, he had seized the pretext of going to Washington. I well recollect the account which was given to me by Squire Clarkes of a speech made by Mr. Mills at this time to the miners in one of our mining settlements. They had gathered in large numbers from the neighboring diggings, for his gifts as an orator were well known. Taking his position on a pile of mineral dirt he commenced amid the profoundest attention and proceeding with his defence when in eloquent tones he exposed the cruel slanders that had been heaped upon him, lihe excited his hearers to the highest degree of indignation, for that auditory, though rough and impulsive in manner, had a strong sense of justice that sternly resented the wrong done to Mr. Mills. His health failing him a few years afterwards he returned to Massachusetts to die. John Turney was a Tennessean, a sound lawyer and able man who resided at Galena up to the time of his death. He was one of the Government Commissioners to settle the title to lots in Galena.
In the winters of 1830-31, Mr. Hempstead visited Washl ington and was a witness in the impeachment case of James H. Peck, U. S. District Judge for the State of Missouri, a trial which excited the highest degree of public interest, both on account of the character and position of the party accused, and the great ability and reputation of the managers on the part of the House and the counsel for Judge Peck. The array of legal talent on both sides was surpassingly brilliant. The managers were Hon. James Buchanan afterwards President of the United States, Hon. George McDuffie, the inlpetuous representative from South Carolina, Hon. Ambrose Spencer who had been Chief Justice of New York, Hon. Henry R. Storrs, the great lawyer of that State, and Hon. Charles A. Wickliffe of Kentucky, afterwards Postmaster General. The counsel for the defence were Hon. Winm. Wirt, late Attorney General of the United States, who for twenty years stood in the very front rank of the American bar, and Hon. Winm. IM. Meredith, afterwards Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Hempstead attended the trial and listened to all the arguments which were made in the case. Luke E. Lawless, one of the early lawyers of St. Louis, was the main man in the prosecution. He had been stricken from the roll of lawyers in Judge Peck's court and imprisoned for writing a communication in a newspaper criticising one of the Judge's decisions.
The first time I visited St. Louis which was in the spring of 1840, I saw Judge Lawless on the bench of one of the higher courts of the State; a man whose striking personal appearance could not be effaced froin one's memory and who presided with -great ability and dignity. -Mr. Hempstead was most fortunate on the occasion of his visit to Washington. Not only was Judge Peck on trial before the Senate as a high court of impeachment, but the same body was the theatre of the greatest debate ever heard withirn its walls. This was the celebrated discussion on Foots resolution, to all of which he listened. It is no exaggeration to say that at that time the Senate of the United States was in point of intellect, statesmanship and eloquence, a deliberative body unequalled in the world. The nmeintion of tlhe names of some of the Senators recalls the great days of the Republic —Webster in the prime of his intellectual and physical power, Hayne, his famous opponent, Peleg Sprague, of Maine, Clayton, of Delaware, and Tazweli and Tyler, of Virginia, Forsythe of' Georgia, Hugh L. White and Felix Grundy of Tennessee, Poindexter of Mississippi, King of Alabama, afterwards Minister to France and Vice President, Benton and Barton of Missouri, Edward Livingston of Louisiana and othlers. More than once he recounted to me the incidents of that debate and the effect of the speech of Webster, which will stand out in all time as a master-piece of eloquence, power and logic, never surpassed in ancient or modern times and which stamped the Senator from Massachusetts as the intellectual giant of the age.
Since the death of Mr. Hempstead I take it no man lives in Illinois who heard that debate, or was present and heard the trial of Judge Peck. At this time General Jackson was President, and John C. Calhoun was Vice President, Andrew Stevenson was Speaker of the House of Representatives and the illustrious John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States, Elias Kent Kane and David J. Baker were the Senators fromr Illinois Baker was there only a short time, by the appointment of the Governor to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Hon. John MItcLean, who died Oct. 4 1830. MrMcLean was the first member of Congress from 1he State, Daniel P. Cook was the second. Kane was an able and accomplished man, devoted to the interests of the State, and rose to a high position in the Senate. His memory will be perpetuated by the rich and prosperous county that bears his name. He died of a malignant fever at Washington on the 11th of January 1835. Taking advantage of his being at Washington, Mr. Hempstead made a visit of a few days to Richmond, Virginia, and enjoyed the great privilege of seeing in session the celebrated Virginia Constitutional Convention, comnposed of the greatest men of the old Dominion, whose discussion, the work of unrivaled genius and learning, have been a storehouse of information in political science and a manual of reference of similar bodies in the United States since that time. The fame of manv of the mnemnbers had extended beyond Virginia to the farthest limits of the country.
There were men of all parties and all shades of opinion-James Madison and John Marshall, side by side, Giles and Monroe, John Randolph of Roanoke, Littleton W. Tazwell, Garnett, Watkins Leigh, and Chapman Johnson, John Taylor of Caroline and Charles Fenton Mercer-old F'ederalist and old Democrats, and modern National Republicans When I settled at Galena, in April, 1840, 3Mr. Hempstead was the oldest member of the bar with a very large and lucrative practice. With a reputation for unswerving honesty and fidelity, foreign clients entrusted hiin with their collections through that whole section of the country. He had more cases on the calendar at that time than all the members of the bar had twenty years afterwards. At that period the Galena bar was composed of Messrs. Hempstead, Turney, Hoge, Drummond, Thompson Campbell, John Stark, Allan Tomlin, and Artemas L. Holmes. Col. Strode had left a year or two before, and located at Little Fort, now Waukegan, Lake County. The late Hon. Dan. Stone was then Judge of the Circuit Court. Of these members of the bar at that time, all are dead except Hoge, Drummond and Tomlin. Mr. Hempstead having a partial paralysis of the fingers of his right hand, could only write with much difficulty, and in the fall of 1840, finding me a new comer in the country and practically a briefless young lawyer, he proposed that I should take a desk in his office, board in his family, and in return assist himn in his writing. This not only was not to prevent me from doing business on my own account, but he was to turn over to mne certain small business that had been entrusted to him. I remained with him a year, when my own business had so much increased that it became my interest to take an office by myself.
It was in 1841 that Galena was incorporated as a city, and Mr. Hempstead was elected first Mayor. The year that I was with him passed most pleasantly, and from that time comlnenced a friendship with him and his family which has ever since existed without change or shadow of turning. in 1845, we associated ourselves as law partners, and contintled as such for some time after I was elected to Congress, in 1852. At the bar, Mir. Hempstead was regarded as an able lawyer, a man of sound legal judgment and the highest professional honor. He was not a fluent speaker, but his addresses to the jury were always effective, for his high and dignified character added to his forcible presentation of his case. His intercourse with the bar and the bench was always marked by the utmost dignity and courtesy; and no man ever saw him betrayed into any wrangle with the opposing counsel or the court when trying a case. He was never a fermenter of litigation, never made the Court of Justice an engine of oppression; but on the other hand, he endeavored, whenever it was possible, to harmonize disputes without resorting to the courts. When Mr. Hempstead settled in Galena in May, 1829, Ninian Edwards was Governor, Joseph Duncan, Representative in Congress, and Elias Kent Kane and John McLean, Senators. The latter gentleman died the next year. Smith, Wilson, Lockwood and Browne were Judges of the Supreme Court.
General Jackson had been elected President the Fall before, and so uncertain were the boundaries between Illinois and what was then Michigan Territory, that a poll was opened at what is now Platteville, Wisconsin, and the settlers voted for President as being residents of our State. Illinois gave three electoral votes to kGeneral Jackson. Richard M. Young, afterwards United States Senator, John Taylor and Alexander M. Houston were the electors. Who these two last named gentlemen were I do lnot know. Scarcely a prominent public man of that day in Illinois is now alive. One who survives is the venerable Judge Breese, of the present Supreme Court of the State. He was a very early settler. I do not know the exact year when he came to the State. At any rate, it. is satfe to say that there is not now a man in the State who knows as much of its early history as he does. No man living there has been so thoroughly identified with all its history; has been so much a part of it, and who, at the bar, in the Senate House, and on the bench has so long and so ably illustrated its annals. The reports of the Supreme Court attest his profound knowledge of the law, the vigor of his intellect, the ripeness of his scholarship and the peculiar grace of his diction No Judge who ever sat on the bench could touch the very heart and soul of a lawsuit with more unerring certainty, and his opinions will live as long as the jurisprudence of the State shall exist. At this time there was immense activity in the lead mines. Col. Wm. S. Hamilton, the son of Alexander Hamilton, so well known to all our early settlers, was smelting at "Hamilton's Diggings," now Wiota, Wisconsin.
The Gratiots were running no less than nine log smelting furnaces at Gratiot's drove, where there was then a most bustling and busy village of some 1,500 people, and where now scarcely a vestige of a habitation can be seen in the neighborhood. Uncle Jimmy Bennett once told me that he went there with a load of mineral from the old Allenwrath diggings up Fevre river, and had to wait from imorning until night in order to have his mineral weighed, so great was the press of business. Parker, Tilton & Co. had a big establishment at what was then called "Ottawa," three miles above Galena, on Fevre river, now disappeared; and Captain M. C. Comstock had just put up that large and unsightly frame building on the levee, as a warehouse. In the summer and fall of 1829, Mr. Hempstead was the Secretary of the Commission, composed of Gen. John McNeil, UI. S. Army, Caleb Atwater and Col. Pierre Menard, whicll treated at Prairie du Chien, then in NMichigan Territory, with the Pottowatomie and Winnebago Indians for their lands, now comprised in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. In the same year he was appointed by Lewis Cass, then Governor of Michigan Territory, District Attorney for the Eleventh District of said Territory. He was re-appointed in 1834 to the same office by Stevens T. Mason, then acting Governor of Michigan Territory, but he declined the appointment. The courts that he then attended were held at Mineral Point and at Prairie du Chien. In 1833, he was present at Chicago when the treaty was made by Governor Porter, of Michigan, with the Potowatomie Indians-an occasion long to be remembered for the thousands of Indians then assembled at the treaty grounds on the north side of the river, near the old Lake House.
Mr. Hempstead was one of the most public spirited of men. He was always first and foremost in every enterprise which affected the general interest, and ever ready to contribute time and money to advance the public prosperity. He was one of the most prominent men in that great pioneer enterprise, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, of which he was a director in the first Board, and served in that capacity for many years. Though in no sense a politician he always took a great interest in political affairs, and was thoroughly patriotic and devoted to the public welfare. Desiring to be useful to his country in its hour of peril, soon after the breaking out of the rebellion he accepted the office of Assistant Paymaster of the Army, voluntarily tendered him by Mr. Lincoln, and no officer ever served more faithfully and satisfactorily than he did up to the close of the war. But it was as a citizen and in private life that the virtues of Mlr. Hempstead shone out moost conspicuously. Associating himself early with the Presbyterian Church, during his whole life he was an example of the highest type of the christian gentleman.
Under all circumstances and in all times, in the roughest society of those early days, lie invariably preserved the bearing, dress and manners of a gentleman. Knowing what. was due to himself, he always appreciated what was due to others and never in my life did I know of an indignity being offered to him. His evenness of temnper was remnarkable, and in all my intercourse with him I scarcely ever saw him ruffled or disturbed. I think he was the most just man I ever knew. No man was ever more scrupulous and exact in all his dealings, and I believe it can be truly said that he never wronged a single human being. No one was ever more kind to the poor, no man had more consideration for the lowly. In his own family, he was the most charming of meni, and for forty years his house was the seat of the most refined and generous hospitality. Strangers fromn distant cities who found themselves his guests in the earlier times, in our thbn remote town, were equally surprised and delighted at the elegance and grace with which they were entertained. have thus sketched hurriedly and imperfectly, some of the incidents in the life of our deceased friend. I have felt it to be fitting that a tribute should be paid to the memory of a man who was a connecting link with the age gone by, and whose career was so interwoven not only with the history of our immediate locality, but with the earlier settlement of the west and northwest, who lived to witness such changes and progress as has never been recorded in history and who brought to us the recollections of a period in the history of our country which have an interest rarely paralleled in the annals of the nation.
I am, very truly, your friend,
E. B. WASHIBURNE.
Text is from the following website:
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
The previous account was of Madison Johnson. The biography listed below is that of David Sheean, the other prisoner of war.
"The life history of this gentleman - one of the most able attorneys and criminal lawyers of Northern Illinois - possesses unusual interest. A man of strong traits of character and decided views, he is also possessed of great courage, fearless in the denunciation of wrong, and steadfast in upholding the right. He is in fact one of the comparatively few men ahead of his time; and in consequence has thought and studied much over the problem of life. Like all men of any consequence, he has suffered from the malice and envy of enemies; but, more fortunate than some, has been permitted to witness their defeat through his own vindication. He has abundant reason to remember the issues of the Civil War, and during that period was brought prominently before the public, charged with misdemeanors, acquitted by default, and justified by the withdrawal of the charges against him. This epoch in his life forms a chapter which has taken its place among the National records. Since coming to this county, more than fifty years ago, Mr. Sheean has made the practice of law his business and his study. A native of Boston, Mass., he was born July 3, 1833, of parents who were natives of County Cork, Ireland. His father, James Sheean, emigrated to America when a young man, locating in Boston, where he was married to Miss Mary Lorden, who had crossed the Atlantic from Ireland with her parents, Jeremiah and Johanna (Crowley) Lorden, when a mere child. Mr. Lorden had been a strong man physically, was industrious and frugal, and a loyal inherent to the faith of the Catholic Church, in which he had been trained from boyhood. His wife survived him a number of years, came to Galena and made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Sheean, for a time. Later she took up her abode with her daughter Catherine, Mrs. Galvin, and died there when ninety-eight years of age. She was to the last smart, bright, and active.
The father of our subject lived in Boston until after the birth of three children - David, Jeremiah L., and John; then coming to Illinois, took up his residence in Galena as early as 1837, when it was a mere hamlet. After reaching the Ohio River they embarked on a Mississippi steamboat, by which means they reached this county. The spring following (1838) they located on land in Guilford Township, where the father filed a "squatter's" claim and held it until the land came into market. He then purchased it and began making improvements, sojourning here until his death, which occurred April 18, 1857. He was then fifty-five years old. He had become widely and favorably known to the people of this region as a man honest and industrious, and one who assisted in maintaining law and good order in his community. His wife is yet living with her son, Thomas Sheean, who, with his brother James, was born in this county. Thomas is now in partnership with David, our subject; while James owns and operates the old homestead in Guilford Township.
Mrs. Mary (Lorden) Sheean was born March 10, 1812, and although now aged, is strong in mind and body, her faculties being preserved to a remarkable degree. She was reared in the doctrines of the Catholic Church, to which she steadfastly adheres. David Sheean lived with his parents on the farm until a youth of eighteen years, and in the meantime had been a student two years at Galena Academy. Later he taught school during the winter season, and in 1851 started for California via the Isthmus of Panama and arrived in San Francisco on the 8th of January, 1852. He afterward visited different places in the Golden State and finally operated in the placer mines, remaining in that region until March, 1856. He was quite successful, and returned home by way of the Isthmus and the Island of Cuba and New Orleans, thence up the Mississippi, arriving home in May, 1856. This experience, the sea voyage, and his sojourn in the Far West, were the source of a rich knowledge with which he would not willingly part. He came in contact with all kinds of men from different parts of t he world and gained much useful information.
Immediately after his return home, Mr. Sheean entered the law office of John A. Rawlins, Secretary of War under President Grant, and formerly on the staff of Gen. Grant. He was in his boyhood days a schoolmaster with our subject, and with him young Sheean remained until he was admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of Illinois. This was then presided over by Judge John D. Caton, Chief justice; Sidney Breese, and Pinkney H. Walker. After his admission to the bar Mr. Sheean commenced the practice of his profession with his former preceptor, Mr. Rawlins, and the partnership existed until January, 1862. In the meantime Mr. Rawlins became an aide on the staff of Gen. Grant, and after he withdrew from his law practice, Mr. Sheean conducted it until 1867. He then associated himself with his cousin, Philip J. Galvin, and later took into partnership his brother, Thomas J., with whom he is still associated. The Sheean brothers have been extremely successful in their law practice.
|Fort Delaware, the other prison these men |
were taken to during there time as prisoners.
During the progress of the Civil War our subject had an experience similar to that of M. Y. Johnson, which is detailed in the biography of that gentleman elsewhere in this volume. Both were arrested and imprisoned, failed to obtain a hearing although making the most earnest efforts to do so, and were finally released without even knowing the charges, by reason of which they were deprived of their liberty. The same judgment was rendered by the Supreme Court in Mr. Sheean's case, as in Mr. Johnson's.
The following is a copy of the letter written by Gen. Rawlins to Mr. Sheean concerning this matter:
Holly Springs, Miss., Jan. 1, 1863Dear Sheean: - I see by the Chicago Times of the 27th, which I received this afternoon, that you have been released from your arbitrary and unjustifiable imprisonment. Let me assure you nothing has occurred in a great while that has pleased me more than to know, as I now do, that one whom I have known from earliest recollection has been restored to liberty, and the rights which every American citizen is entitled to enjoy; feeling as I do that your arrest was but the result of the personal malice of --------- seeking revenge their cowardly and craven souls failed to find in their attempt at personal violence against you.
Soon after my return from home I made a statement of your arrest and accompanied it with letters from Gen. Grant, Hurlburt and Logan, and one from Rowley and Maltby, and forwarded to the Secretary of War, copies of which I sent to (brother) Lemon from Jackson, Tenn., on the 3rd of November last, the day we moved from that place. Subsequently I wrote to the Hon. E. B. Washburne, calling his attention to the subject of your imprisonment and to my statements to the Secretary of War in your behalf. Whether it was ever read I can not state, or if it had been, it had any effect I do not know. Of one thing, however, I am sure there was nothing in it but what was true and would meet with the approval of yourself and family I am as firm to-day in the support of my Government and yours as ever. I believe that if the war is properly conducted it must finally end in the triumph of the government established by our fathers, and whether it ends in one year or ten, I am for its vigorous prosecution; but to the arrest of loyal citizens and imprisonment without trial I am opposed and shall be opposed to the end of life. For the maintenance of my country's honor and the upholding of the Constitution I am willing to take my chances on the field, but for the destruction of individual liberty - never. We can have but one Government on this Continent, north of Mexico and south of the St. Lawrence, and that must be the United States of America. There is little if any difference of opinion in the army - all are for the success of our flag, and little is said of proclamation.
I will in a few days be troubling you to attend to my private affairs. Write me on receipt of this. Give my love to all the folks and my friends. I remain yours, Fraternally, John A. Rawlins
The marriage of David Sheean and Miss Cora L. Spare was celebrated it the bride's home at Galena, Sept. 21, 1876. Mrs. Sheean was born Mary 25, 1850, at Utopia, Ohio, and is the daughter of John C. and Hettie (Gallagher) Spare, who were natives respectively of Wilmington, Del., and Harrisburg, Pa. The father was born March 7, 1818, and the mother Nov. 29, 1822. They were married in the latter State and emigrated to Illinois as early as 1840, settling in Galena, where the father was engaged in various business enterprises. The mother died in Aug. 18, 1884 at the age of fifty-six years; she was a very estimable lady, and a member of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Spare contracted a second marriage with Miss Gilson, and they are now living in Chicago, Ill., where he is engaged in the coal, wood, and feed business on State street. Mr. Spare is a liberal-minded citizen and warmly interested in the temperance work.
Mrs. Sheean was reared and educated in Galena and is a lady of many accomplishments, refined and cultivated tastes. Mr. Sheean, politically, is a Jackson Democrat, and although keeping himself thoroughly posted upon the march of State and National events, has never sought office, preferring to give his time to his profession in which he takes and honest pride. He is held in high respect by his fellow-citizens, who elected him to the office of Mayor, and he has served two terms as City Attorney. In Galena he enjoys the confidence and esteem of its best people. In religious views he is liberal-minded and stands upon the broad platform advocating the liberty of religious thought, believing that each man should be governed by the dictates of his own conscience. As a lawyer he has participated in some of the most important Causes Celebre which have shed lustre on the bar of Northern Illinois. As an advocate he is eloquent and forcible. We invite the attention of the reader to a fine portrait on a preceding page."
These men were the forgotten men of the Civil War, an example of the paranoia this nation faced. Also, it shows us an example of a time in our history when our nation's fear was superior to our nation's law.
David Sheean and Madison Y. Johnson's story is one that is almost forgotten in the history of the town and one that has always stunned me. These two men were imprisoned during the Civil War because of their loyalties to a political party and their opposition to the war. Listed below are their biographies as mentioned in the 1889 Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess County. Note that a majority of these biographies were written by the men themselves. First we will begin with Mr. Johnson, who in his biography, wrote extensively about the ordeal, unlike Mr. Sheean.
Few words of introduction are needed in presenting the name of the subject of this sketch -a name familiarly known, not only throughout the State of Illinois, but most of the Northern States east of the Mississippi. He has not only made himself illustrious among the members of the legal fraternity of the Northwest, but during the late Civil War underwent an experience illustrating to what extent malice and jealousy will proceed to gain its ends. His broad experience of life in its various phases has contributed grandly to the development of a character naturally strong, and has been a school from which he has learned deep lessons - those lessons by which men have been enabled to give to the world its finest examples of strength and courage. The personal appearance of Madison Y. Johnson strikes the beholder at once as that of a man of no common abilities. From the glance of his eye - deep-set, dark, and penetrating - the coward invariably slinks away. The other features of his countenance are strongly marked, and firm almost to sternness - the reflection of an indomitable will and unswerving adherence to his convictions. He involuntarily reminds one of those sturdy spirits of Revolutionary days, who placed life lightly in the balance against injustice, and who embraced death in preference to subjecting themselves to tyranny. In his political life Mr. Johnson has from early manhood been a stanch supporter of Jeffersonian Democracy, and later on in this record will be noted the manner in which he suffered for his principles, and his final vindication from the charges of his calumniators.
In noting the events of a long and varied career we go back to the birth of our subject, which occurred in Xenia, Greene Co., Ohio, Jan. 7, 1817. When a child he removed with his parents to Kentucky, where he developed into manhood, entered upon the study of law, and in due time was admitted to practice in the courts of the Blue Grass State, making his headquarters in the city of Louisville. Naturally studious, and an extensive reader, he, while a young man, gave promise of a future career of more than ordinary success. He had been, as a student, associated with the renowned Chief Justice Dewey, of Indiana, and at the same time met with many other eminent men, whose friendship and the intercourse attendant thereupon proved to be to him of great assistance.
About 1841 Mr. Johnson resolved to change the scene of his operations to the newer State of Illinois, and established an office at Shawneetown, where he carried on a practice until his removal to Galena, in 1844. It may be proper here to note that he is the scion of an excellent family, being the son of Joseph Johnson, M. D., a native of Lynchburg, Va., and whose family had been widely known throughout the Old Dominion for several generations. They were originally of Quaker stock, possessing all the strict and correct principles of that peculiar sect. They were collaterly (sic) related to the families of those men, who, at a later day, made themselves famous - Joseph E. and Sidney Johnson - whose names are intimately associated with the history of Kentucky and the late war. The father of our subject was carefully reared and well educated, and chose for his profession the practice of medicine, which he entered upon early in life, and was for some time a student of Prof. Jennings, of the city of Baltimore. Later he became a practioner (sic) and professor in Louisville, of the Medical College there. Upon leaving Kentucky he removed to Illinois, and died in Galena of apoplexy, about 1847. He was a man of high principles and great courage, and transmitted these qualities in a marked degree to his son.
Joseph Johnson was married in Rockbridge County, Va., to Miss Hannah Adair, a daughter of one of the leading families, and whose father had done good service as a patriot during the Revolutionary War. The mother of our subject was highly educated, a lady of fine accomplishments, a faithful wife, and a devoted mother. She accompanied her husband to Galena, and remained, after his decease, in this county, where her death took place, about 1855.
The people of Jo Daviess County, after the settlement of Mr. Johnson in Galena, soon began to recognize in him a man calculated to be an important addition to the ranks of its intelligent and capable men. So faithful was he to the interests of his clients, and so successful in securing to them their inalienable rights, that he at once entered upon a very lucrative practice, and it was not long until he had acquired a competency. At the same time he signalized himself as a liberal and public-spirited citizen - one wholly devoted to the interests of his adopted county. He made himself master of the various questions arising in the development of the new section; the introduction of new laws, and the various subjects constantly coming under discussion by the legal fraternity. He interested himself in railroad matters, and upon the organization of the Galena & Southern Wisconsin Railroad Company was made President of the road, and was instrumental in building forty miles of this from Galena north. This project was begun in 1872, and Mr. Johnson was connected with the road until its absorption with the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company.
There have been few enterprises connected with the local history of Galena in which Mr. Johnson has not borne an active part. Always on the side of the people, he gave his uniform support to those projects calculated to insure their welfare and happiness. In politics, he, for a time, bore an important part, and was frequently sent as a delegate to the Congressional and various other conventions. He interested himself in the improvement of the Mississippi River along the western border of the State, and for three winters was the delegate to Washington of the River and Harbor Conventions, when, in 1881, Commissioners were appointed to take charge of further work in this direction. He became considerably interested in the lead mines of Galena, and other business enterprises in this direction, but has given his best thoughts and efforts to perfecting himself as a law practitioner. His career has been unmarked by the desire for official preferment, he having devoted himself closely to the practice of his profession, aiming to excel as an attorney and jurist. There has been no time in his career when he could not have been the incumbent of a lucrative office, as the gift of his party, but he preferred to give his attention to his legitimate calling.
|Ft. Lafayette Prison as depicted in Harper's Weekly on April 15, 1865.|
Since the summer of 1868, when attending the National Democratic Convention in New York City; which nominated Horatio Seymour for the Presidency, Mr. Johnson has taken little part in politics, but he has retained through all the changes in National affairs his strong adherence to the sentiments of Henry Clay, and during the troubles following the outbreak of the Rebellion, after canvassing all sides of each question, he availed himself of the privileges of a free American citizen, to express his honest convictions in regard to various matters, and this act was destined to bring about the circumstances in connection with his career which have become matters of history.
On the 28th day of August, 1862, Mr. Johnson, while engaged in the defense of a murder trial, was seized in the court-house in the city of Galena and conveyed to the passenger depot, and thence transported to Chicago, where he was confined two days, then taken to New York City, and imprisoned in what is known as the "Inner Temple," on Elm street, where he was confined twenty-four hours, and then taken to Ft. Hamilton. From there he was conveyed on a boat to Ft. La Fayette in New York Harbor, where he was detained as a "political prisoner" two months, when he was removed to the House of Detention, among pirates and thieves, and later he was placed in Ft. Delaware, a military fortification in the Delaware Bay, and there confined for a space of three months. At length he was set at liberty without any trial or examination whatever, or any charge of any offense ever having been preferred against him, and when turned out he was as vindictive as Coriolanus at the head of his Volscians before the walls of Rome.
For this outrage of mind and body, the seperation (sic) from his family, and being prevented from attending to important private affairs, being also at the same time subjected to great expense, and the danger attendant upon bad treatment and unhealthy surroundings, Mr. Johnson brought suit against the instigators of this persecution, which resulted in the following judgment:
STATE OF ILLINOIS
Jo Daviess County
In the Circuit Court of Jo Daviess County, to the May Term, A. D. 1869:
Trespass for False Imprisonment -
vs.John C. Hawkins,
J. Russell Jones,
J. Russell Jones,
Oliver P. Hopkins,
Elihu B. Washburne,
And now comes the said defendants, Jones, Hawkins, and Hopkins. and admit that the said pleas, heretofore filed by them in said case, and the matters and things therein set forth against said plaintiff, are untrue in substance and in fact, and the defendants ask leave of the court to withdraw the same, which is granted by the Court, and the said defendants further confess the wrongful trespass and imprisonment set forth in said declaration, and that the said defendants are guilty in manner and form as therein stated and set forth, and that said plaintiff has sustained great damage thereby, as is alleged in said declaration, and said defendants further confess that the said seizure and imprisonment of said plaintiff was wrongful, unjustifiable and without cause, and that said plaintiff was innocent of the violation of any law, or of doing any act inimical to the Government of the United States, and that said plaintiff did not act, used no expression, or exercised any influence, to the knowledge of said defendants, that was not in support of the Government of the United States, its constitution and its laws. And, inasmuch as said suit was brought by said plaintiff for a personal vindication of his character and conduct as a citizen, he releases the said damages, except as to the sum of one thousand dollars, for costs and expenses incurred by said plaintiff, on account of said wrongful seizure and imprisonment.It is thereupon considered by the court that the said plaintiff have and recover of and from the said defendants, Jones, Hawkins and Hopkins, the said sum of one thousand dollars and costs of court, and that execution issue therefor.
Filed and entered on record on the 24th of May, 1869.
Such is the finale of one of the most important cases that occurred during the war. After the entry of the confession above, nothing personal to ourself need be said, our interests are canceled, but the principles involved, and the questious (sic) judicially settled, are the common property of all, and will stand as a landmark limiting the powers of the Executive, and congress, in their mad crusade against personal liberty. Had we consulted our personal security, in less fearlessly expressing our opinions, when so many were disposed to falter, we might have avoided the outrage, but we believed then that the fanatical war against slavery would change our form of government, by centralizing power in the federal, to the detriment of the State governments, and unless resisted, and confined within constitutional limits, anarchy and a military despotism would blot out free institutions.
We had no disposition to invite outrage, or to place ourself (sic) in advance of others, as the guardian of public liberty, but being selected as one of the victims, with which to terrify the masses into a compliance with their unlawful acts, we could not, in justice to those that were to come after us, do less than breast the storm of popular fanaticism at the time, looking to the future for a justification of our motives.
It cannot be urged, as an apology or excuse, for the actors in this criminal outrage, that I was either lost sight of or forgotten, but they acted with a full knowledge of all the facts, as set out in the confession of judgment.
It was not only a matter of public notoriety, but a knowledge of the facts were spread before the President, Secretary of War, and Congress, neither of which had the manliness to discharge their duty, protect the innocent, or defend personal liberty.
We herewith copy a memorial addressed to Congress at the time, and spread on the records of the Senate. See Congressional Globe 37th congress, 3d session, 1st part of proceedings of 1862-63, on pages 664 and 665, as follows:To the Honorable Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled:
The petition and memorial of Madison Y. Johnson, a citizen of the State of Illinois, would respectfully represent, unto your honorable body, that about nine o'clock at night on the 28th of August last, your petitioner was arrested in court while engaged in the defense of a murder case, in the city of Galena, his place of residence. That said arrest was made by authority of a telegraphic dispatch purporting to be by order of the Secretary of War, and signed L. C. Turner, Judge Advocate, in which said dispatch your petitioner was charged with "disloyal practices," and ordered to be conveyed to Ft. La Fayette, in the State of New York, and delivered to the commandant thereof.
Your petitioner was arrested as aforesaid, and remained in custody during the remaining progress of said trial and after the same was completed he was conveyed to the city of New York, to the police headquarters of John A. Kennedy, Provost Marshal, where he was detained a few hours, in what is known as the "Inner Temple," from there conveyed and lodged in Ft. La Fayette, on the 2nd of September last, without any warrant, process or charge of an offense against the law of the country, except said telegram. Your petitioner here states the fact, that he has never at any time, in word, act or deed, been guilty of any "disloyal practice," or of any disloyal act, at any time, or under any circumstances.
That on the 9th of September the Judge Advocate appeared at Ft. La Fayette and had an interview with your petitioner, when he asked if I knew what I was charged with. I answered I did not know either the charge on which I was held, or who was my accuser, but I stood ready to answer for every act of my life against my country. He asked me if I was not Yankee enough to guess what I was arrested for. I replied I had not a drop of Yankee blood in me, and no disposition to guess, but I desired to know with what I was charged, and who were my accusers. He avoided answering. After a good deal of conversation he asked me if I was willing to take the oath as a loyal man. I answered I had not the slightest objection to take any oath the laws of my country imposed, but I would take no oath prescribed by arbitrary power, that might by implication impeach my integrity as a man, or that cast a suspicion on me, as being guilty of any offense, as a condition of my release.
On the 17th of September I was removed to the city of New York, by order of the Secretary of War, and placed in the House of Detention (among negroes, pirates, and thieves), and shortly after removed to Ft. Delaware, where I have.remained ever since, held as a political prisoner, restrained of my liberty.
Your petitioner would further represent, that during the last three months he has presented his grievances to the Judge Advocate, the Secretary of War, Maj.-Gen. Wool, who had command of the post, and to the President as follows:
(Copy of Letter to the President.)
" To His Excellency, President Lincoln:
"Sir: - I addressed a letter to you on the 7th of September, from Ft. La Fayette, informing you of my arrest in Galena on a telegraph dispatch of the Secretary of War. I was at once transported beyond the jurisdiction of my State and after being detained in Ft. La Fayette I was removed to this place, where I have been detained ever since, and, strange to say, up to this day I have no knowledge of what offense I am charged, or who is my accuser. That the Government has been imposed upon by the machinations of private malice through the representations of a dishonorable member of congress (I am induced to believe from the facts within my knowledge). I have patiently endured all these things, hoping my Government would enquire (sic) into and vindicate me. I have addressed Maj.-Gen. Wool and the Secretary of War respectively, as I was advised at the time I was under their jurisdiction, none of whom have answered. I now appeal to you, as the head of the Nation, whose duty it is to see that personal liberty is protected, to interpose in my behalf. If I am charged with an offense, let me be informed of it, that I can defend myself; if I am not, then, in the name of common justice, do not punish me. It cannot be the object of the Government to punish those who are not guilty of an offense, and from your acquaintance with me, and Washburne, for the last eighteen years, you should be able to determine, with some accuracy, whether I am guilty of an offense against my country; or, under the peculiar times, he has availed himself of his position, to carry out his:i petty malice. In either event it is due to me, to the Government, and yourself, that I either be tried or discharged.
"You, as well as myself, know that the personal liberty of the citizen is of more importance to the country than all other rights, and without which all others are valueless. Believing you should have no other object in view than to see the law duIy administered, and individual liberty protected, I am induced, as a matter of justice to myself, to answer for every act of my life.
"Under these circumstances, with a knowledge that the Government has been imposed upon, and it being both your duty, as it should be your pleasure, to protect her citizens, I will not doubt, when your attention is called to my case, you will take action in the premises. My detention can effect no good to the Government, and does me an absolute injury. In no view can a further detention be justified. Hoping soon to be discharged,
"I am, respectfully yours,
"Your petitioner would further represent that his arrest was without warrant, or any of the form of law; was an illegal and arbitrary usurpation of power on the part of the Secretary of War, destructive of all liberty to the citizen. His transportation beyond the State, where the courts are open and uninterrupted for the punishment of crime, is not only an invasion of State sovereignty, but a violation of constitutional guarantees. His incarceration and detention in a military prison, without informing him of the offense charged against him, or his accusers' names, and making it an aggravation of the offense, to employ counsel, and attempt to get a hearing, is an intolerable despotism, only equaled by the dark and mysterious actings of a Spanish inquisition, and last, the entire neglect to hear his grievances, or make any examination as to his guilt or innocence, when he is hopelessly buried in a bastile, and could have no communication with his friends, except by permission of those who have already outraged him, is a degree of tyranny unparalleled in the history of any free government.
"Your memoralist (sic) would further state, lie was t;urned out on the 13th of December last, by order of the Secretary of War, without any oath, entirely ignorant of the offense charged, or who was his accuser, or why he was detained and removed from fort to fort. Neither has he been able to obtain any information from the President, Secretary of War, or the Judge Advocate, although he has demanded to know what the accusation was, and by whom made.
"Your petitioner therefore prays your honorable body to inquire into the facts, by a resolution of the Senate, as the only means that is left to him to find out who accused him, and of what he was accused, believing an American Senate will grant him the only means of vindicating himself.
"All of which is respectfully submitted.
Madison Y. Johnson."
The Senate, by a party vote, denied all investigation or examination in the case.
With this memorial, protest, and letter to the President, spread on the record of the Senate, Congress passes the acts legalizing the arrest and imprisonment made by order of the President, and indemnifying the guilty parties. Thus shielded, they hoped to escape punishment, if not public condemnation; but, failing in all, they make the humiliating confession.
What a sad commentary on personal liberty and executive justice in a free country! It is with a feeling of holy horror, inspired by the memory of acts of lawlessness, that we recur to such brutal treatment of an American citizen. The charity of silence would screen them from the indignation of posterity, were it not that the truth of history will present the facts of the arbitrary arrests, imprisonments (sic), banishments (sic), and military murders of the Republican administration during the war.
In the mad frenzy of the hour, by the usurpations (sic) of the President and Congress, the judiciary was rendered powerless. An unbridled military power, responsible alone to the Executive, became the arbiter, not only of the liberties, but the lives of her citizens, all rights were disregarded, and the wonder is, in the convulsion of the times, that anything like constitutional government was preserved.
We know that in times of great public excitement there is a disposition on the part of the timid to side with power, as it offers security to them; and it is not until a reaction takes place that they are willing to examine the facts. Were it not so, arbitrary power had not asserted itself so easily. Our own opposition to executive encroachments was honest, as we did not entertain an opinion, nor utter an expression that we did not candidly believe then, and, the same circumstances occurring, would reiterate as firmly now. And, in closing this vindication, we take occasion to urge upon our fellow countrymen the necessity of ceaseless vigilance, and solemnly warn them to rebuke and resist the first abuses of executive power and congressional usuprations, if they wish to maintain for themselves and secure to their children the priceless boon of liberty.
Certainly a vindication both from courts and people which, notwithstanding the sufferings he had endured both mentally and bodily, amply compensated him. The case was decided in the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois, wherein Mr. Johnson conducted his own defense, and in connection therewith displayed that acuteness of judgment and knowledge of the laws and Constitution of the United States that his enemies retired abashed from the field, as may be seen from the syllabus of the opinion of the Supreme Court in this case:
OPINION OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS.
MADISON Y. JOHNSON VS. J. R. JONES, ET AL.
A Synopsis of the Decision of the Court.It has limited the powers of the Executive within legal bounds.
As President he has no power to order the arrest and transportation of any one, and confine them in a military bastile (sic).As Commander-in-Chief, he has no more power than a general at the head of an army, and that is confined within the lines of the army.
That neither the President, as Commander-in Chief, or Congress, or both together, have any power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, or declare martial law in a district or State not in rebellion.
That the military power can have no control over the citizen, outside of the lines of the army. The civil courts alone have jurisdiction.
Where the courts are open and unobstructed, in a State or district, martial law cannot exist.
Congress can pass no law legalizing the orders of the President or releasing tile damages sustained by reason of an arbitrary arrest. Such acts are unconstitutional and void.
An arrest and transportation of a person by order of the President, without a judicial investigation, is a usurpation by the Executive, of the functions of the other departments, and destroys the whole theory of our Government, so far as relates to the protection of liberty or property.
To call a citizen of a State, not in rebellion (he remaining in the State), a "belligerent," is a contradiction of terms. To be a belligerent he must be subject to a hostile power. His character depends on the community to which he belongs.
To justify the arrest, by assuming he was a prisoner of war, is untenable. If he cannot enjoy the protection of a prisoner of war, he cannot be arrested and made to bear its penalties.
Military law applies only to persons in the military service of tile Government, but martial law is a very different thing. When martial law is once established, it applies alike to citizens and soldiers. It is the arbitrary will of the military commander, and can exist, or be permitted to prevail, only on the actual theater of military operations in times of war, as all unavoidable necessity.
If the President could rightfully arrest, and confine the plaintiff, without process or trial, to a fort in the harbor of New York, he could do the same thing to any other person in the State. A fearful power to be entrusted to one man, in a Government claiming to be free.
As no charge is made, no judicial investigation had, it is left entirely to the caprice of the Government to determine what person shall be arrested. Concede the power and every man in the State, from the Governor down, holds his liberty at the mercy of the Executive. All State governments are overthrown. Such a power cannot be entrusted to any Government and freedom be preserved.
This confession of the defendants was spread upon the court records, and may be seen among the legal documents pertaining to the Court of Illinois.
Mr. Johnson addressed a letter to President Lincoln during his incarceration, and also one to the Secretary of War, appealing to them at least to know wherewith he was charged, and requesting to be either punished or vindicated, and by a memorial to the United States Senate, who, by a party vote, denied all examination into the case. During the trial and the correspondence which followed, both before and afterward, there was exhibited on the part of Mr. Johnson the most thorough knowledge of fundamental law; this, augmented by his natural eloquence and incontrovertible logic, illustrated in a marked degree the great powers with which nature has endowed him. It was an instance when "the pen was mightier than the sword." He retired from the contest no less a hero than those who went boldly to the field of battle and fought for those principles which to the honest man are dearer than his life.
Mr. Johnson was one of the State electors on the Bell and Everett ticket, and canvassed the State in the interest of a united government, as an uncompromising advocate of peace, and when the war came, as expressing his views, he introduced at the State Convention, and had passed, the resolution known as the "Peace Resolution," that made a stir throughout the United States, and by many was regarded as treason, which we copy as a part of the history of the country:
Resolved, That the further offensive prosecution the war tends to subvert the Constitution and Government, and entails upon the Nation all the disasterous (sic) consequences of misrule and anarchy. That we are in favor of peace, upon the basis of a restored union, and for the accomplishment of which we propose a National convention to settle terms of peace, which shall have in view the restoration of the Union as it was, and the securing by Constitutional amendment such rights to the States and the people thereof as honor and justice demands.
He has been nominated for many of the important offices of the State, but has always absolutely declined to be a candidate.