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Full text of "Biographical sketches of Lyman C. Draper"

THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 



OF 



LYMAN C DRAPER 



AND 



MORTIMER MELVILLE JACKSON. 



MADISON, WIS.: 
DAVID ATWOOD, PRINTER AND STEREOTYPER. 

1887. 



r 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 



OF 



LYMAN C DRAPER. 



[FROM THE MAGAZINE OF WESTERN HISTORY FOR 
JANUARY, 1887.] 



BY 

REUBEN G. THWAITES, 

CORRESPONDING SECRETARY OK THE STATE HISTORICAL 
SOCIETY OF WISCONSIN. 



LYMAN C DRAPER 



Probably no historical student within the basin 
of the Mississippi is so generally known among 
men of letters as Lyman C. Draper, LL. D., cor- 
responding secretary of the State Historical Soci- 
ety of Wisconsin. 1 While his reputation thus 
far has been chiefly that of a collector and editor 
of materials for history, rather than a writer, his 
work is quite as famous in its way as though his 
contributions to standard literature had been more 
numerous. Occupying a position quite unique in 
American scholarship, and regarded as an oracle 
on western topics among historical specialists the 
country over, but little is popularly known of Dr. 
Draper's personality as to what sort of man 
this tireless worker is, what his methods are, his 
manner or his physical characteristics. Indeed, 
of so retiring a disposition is he, of so modest a 
demeanor and of so shrinking a habit, that it is 
given to but few of his townsmen admirers, 

i Since this sketch was written, Dr. Draper has retired from 
office. He declined re-election at the annual meeting of the 
society in January, 1887, desiring to devote the remainder of 
his days to individual literary work. 



6 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

even, to understand the man as an individual. It 
is the purpose of this sketch to present to the 
readers of the MAGAZINE OF WESTERN HISTORY a 
few passing glimpses, necessarily brief, of the 
career and methods of him who has been styled 
"The Western. Plutarch." 

Lyman C. Draper sprang from good Puritan 
and Revolutionary stock. He is of the fifth gen- 
eration from James Draper, who, about the year 
1650, came from England and settled with the 
brethren of his faith at Roxbury (now Boston 
Highlands), Massachusetts. Jonathan, the pater- 
nal grandfather of Lyman, was a soldier in the 
Continental army, under Washington. His ma- 
ternal grandfather, Job Hoisington, fell in the 
defense of Buffalo against the British, on the 
thirtieth of December, 1813, while Job's son-in- 
law, Luke, the father of the subject of this sketch, 
was twice incarcerated by the British during the 
same war. 

Lyrnan was born in the town of Hamburg (now 
Evans), Erie county, New York, September 4, 
1815. When he was three years of age his par- 
ents removed to Springfield, Erie county, Penn- 
sylvania, and three years later to Lockport, on 
the line of the Erie canal. Luke Draper was by 
turns a grocer, tavern-keeper and farmer, and as 
soon as his son could be of use about the house, 
the store or the land, the latter was obliged to do 
his full share of family labor. Up to the age of 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 7 

fifteen, Ly man's experiences were those of tbe 
average village boy of the period the almost con- 
tinued performance of miscellaneous duties, in- 
cluding family shoe-repairing, the gathering and 
selling of wild berries and occasional jobs for the 
neighbors. One summer was spent in acting as 
hod -carrier for a builder in the village, at the mu- 
nificent salary of one York shilling (twelve and 
one-half cents) per day. From his fifteenth year 
to his eighteenth, he clerked in various village 
shops. During this time, after having gained all 
the education possible from the village school, he 
added to its meager curriculum the reading of 
what few books were obtainable by purchase or 
borrowing in the then frontier settlement, and 
established something of a local reputation as a 
youth of letters. 

Even at that early age the lad's taste for Revo- 
lutionary lore was well developed. It seems to 
have been inherent. At the family fireside, the 
deeds of Revolutionary heroes always formed the 
chief topic of conversation. There were still liv- 
ing, in Dr. Draper's childhood, many veterans of 
the Continental army, who were always welcome 
to the hospitality of the Draper household, while 
the war of 1812 was an event of but a few years 
before. The boy was early steeped in the facts 
and traditions of Anglo-American fights and 
western border forays, so that it is impossible for 
him to remember when he first became inspired 



8 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

with the pride of military lineage and the passion 
for obtaining information as to the events in 
which his ancestors took part. As a boy, he 
never neglected an opportunity to see and con- 
verse with distinguished pioneers and patriots. 
In 1825, when but ten years of age, he feasted his 
eyes upon La Fayette, during the latter's cele- 
brated visit to the United States; and the passage 
of three-score years and eleven has not in the 
least dimmed his recollection of the lineaments 
of that noble friend of the Eevolutionary cause. 
Governor Cass, De Witt Clinton, and other celeb- 
rities of that day, he also remembers having seen 
and heard at old Lockport, while the presence in 
the village, on various occasions, of the noted 
Seneca chiefs, Tommy Jimmy, Major Henry 
O'Bail and others of their tribe, were, to the 
young enthusiast in border lore, like visitations 
from a realm of fancy. La Fayette was the sub- 
ject of young Draper's first school composition, 
while his first article for the press, published in 
the Rochester Gem for April 6, 1833, was a sketch 
of Charles Carroll of Carrolton, the last of the 
"signers." One of the first historical works he 
ever read was Campbell's "Annals of Tryron 
County: or, Border Warfare of New York," pub- 
lished in 1831. This and other publications of 
the time were replete with lurid accounts of bor- 
der disturbances, well calculated to fire the imag- 
ination of youth. 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 9 

Peter A. Remsen, a cotton factor at Mobile, Ala- 
bama, had married a cousin of Mr. Draper, and to 
Mobile the enthusiastic young historian went in 
the fall of 1833, staying with Mr. Remsen until 
May of the following year, the latter's family re- 
siding in western New York. While in Mobile, 
Mr. Draper chiefly occupied himself in collecting 
information regarding the career of the famous 
Creek chief, Weatherford, many of whose cotern- 
poraries lived in the neighborhood of the Alabama 
metropolis. 

Leaving Mobile, he made a round-about and 
toilsome journey by stage and steamboat, via 
New Orleans and the Mississippi river, to Gran- 
ville, Ohio, where he entered Granville college 
(now Denison University). He was an under- 
graduate there for over two years, during which 
time he distinguished himself as one of the found- 
ers of a successful literary society which soon ac- 
quired, through his persistent endeavors, what 
was a most excellent library for those days. In 
the winter of 1835-6. he \vascommissioned by his 
associates to go to Columbus to secure a charter 
for the association. The journey was made 
through the intervening forests on horseback, the 
then favorite mode of inland locomotion. While 
Mr. Draper was at the capital there had been a 
severe storm, the rude forest roads being made 
nearly impassable, while many bridges were car- 
ried away by the flood. In attempting to cross 



10 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

the Black Lick, he and his horse were carried 
down the turbid current for several rods, and both 
narrowly escaped drowning. 

The Granville undergraduate had had another 
adventure the previous summer, which was quite 
novel in its character, and an allusion to which 
will at any time bring a merry twinkle to the 
worthy doctor's eyes. His parents had removed 
from Lockport to Toledo, Ohio, and he was pass- 
ing with them the summer vacation of 1835 when 
he felt called upon to take up arms in defense of 
what Toledoans considered the boundeii rights of 
the Buckeyes against the territorial claims of the 
Wolverines. It will be remembered that Michigan 
then claimed all territory north of a line drawn 
due east from "the southerly bend or extreme of 
Lake Michigan," which included Toledo. This 
claim was disputed by Ohio, and boundary diffi- 
culties of a more or less serious character occurred 
during that year. Over eleven hundred Michigan 
volunteers, under Governor Mason and General 
Brown, entered Toledo on the sixth and seventh of 
September, intending to prevent the organization 
there of a court under Ohio jurisdiction. The 
Michigan invaders had committed sundry depre- 
dations on chicken roosts, field crops, orchards 
and fences, and the dwellers in and about Toledo 
were greatly exasperated in consequence. 

The expedition, although meeting with no 
armed opposition, was unsuccessful so far as pre- 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 11 

venting the organization of the court, and the men 
were withdrawn after living at free quarters for 
a few days. At daybreak of the fifteenth, how- 
ever, some sixteen of these volunteers, mounted 
and under the command of a Michigan sheriff, 
named Wood, quietly returned to Toledo and capt- 
ured four prominent villagers, including the 
judge of the court, who was charged with treason 
in accepting civil office under Ohio on what was 
claimed as Michigan territory ' ' exercising for- 
eign jurisdiction," the warrant read, in good old 
state- sovereignty style. The prisoners were hustled 
into a covered wagon, and, surrounded by the fly- 
ing squad, were, before the alarm was fully 
sounded in the village streets, being rapidly driven 
across Mud creek bottom, on the Toledo outskirts, 
towards Monroe, Michigan. There was hot haste 
among the indignant Toledoans, with no time for 
mounting. Captain C. G. Shaw's little drill com- 
pany formed the nucleus of a band of twenty citi- 
zens who rushed out toward Mud Creek pell mell, 
with all manner of equipment. Young Draper, 
then just turned twenty years of age, eager to see 
the prospective scrimmage, ran along with the 
company, though unarmed. One of the men, 
suffering from the primitive disease of fever and 
ague, soon weakened and gladly surrendered his 
gun and trappings to Draper, who was now fully 
equipped and enlisted for the war. Shaw's party 
arrived at the summit of the ridge on the village 



12 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

side of the creek just as the Michigan force was 
dashing up the opposite elevation. Sheriff Wood 
stopped to defiantly shout back to his hallooing 
pursuers that Michigan proposed to arrest violat- 
ors of her laws and plotters against her authority 
wherever they could be found. A shout of deris- 
ion and a random volley of bullets from the 
Toledo side were his answer. Several volleys 
were now exchanged, and it was afterwards 
alleged that Wood was shot through an arm and 
a horse in his troop badly wounded. At all events, 
the Michigan men scampered off with their pris- 
oners to Monroe, while the unharmed Buckeyes 
returned to the village in high glee at their suc- 
cess in making the Wolverines run off a trifle 
faster than the latter had intended. This engage- 
ment, known in local history as "the battle of 
Mud Creek," gave rise to an acrimonious contro- 
versy between the Michigan and Ohio newspapers, 
one of the former dubbing Captain Shaw's volun- 
teers a "a band of armed rebels, comprising the 
scum of Toledo." Dr. Draper has been for several 
years past the only survivor of that rebellious 
band. 

For a year after leaving Granville, Mr. Draper 
was a close student at Hudson Eiver seminary, at 
Stockport, New York, following this up with an 
extended course of private reading, chiefly histor- 
ical, while resident within the household of his 
patron and friend, Mr. Remsen. whose home was 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 13 

in the neighborhood of Alexander, Genesee 
county, New York. Doddridge, Flint, Withers, 
and afterwards Hall, were the early historians of 
the border, and the young student of their works 
found that on many essential points and in most 
minor incidents there were great discrepancies be- 
tween them. It was in 1838 that Mr. Draper con- 
ceived the idea of writing a history of western 
pioneers, in which he should be able, by dint of per- 
sonal investigation, to fill the gaps and correct the 
errors which so marred all books then extant upon 
this fertile specialty. This at once became his con- 
trolling thought, and he entered upon its execu- 
tion with an enthusiasm which has never lagged 
through nearly a half century spent in the indus- 
trious collection of material for what he has al- 
ways deemed the mission of his life. From Mr. 
Eemsen's home, Mr. Draper began an extensive 
and long-continued correspondence with promi- 
nent pioneers all along the border line with Drs. 
Daniel Drake and S. P. Hildreth and Colonel John 
McDonald, of Ohio ; William C. Preston, of South 
Carolina ; Colonel Richard M. Johnson, Charles 
S. Todd, Major Bland W. Ballard, Dr. John Crog- 
ham and Joseph R. Underwood, of Kentucky; ex- 
Governor David Campbell, of Virginia, Colonel 
William Martin and Hugh L. White, of Tennessee, 
and scores of others of almost equal renown. Cor- 
respondence of this character he has ever since 
actively conducted. In 1840 he commenced the 



14 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

work of supplementing his correspondence with 
personal interviews with pioneers and the descend- 
ants of pioneers and revolutionary soldiers, in their 
homes : because he found that for his purpose the 
gaining of information through letters was slow 
and unsatisfactory, the mails being in those days 
tardy, unreliable and expensive, while many of 
those who possessed the rarest of the treasures 
sought were not adepts with the pen. There were 
no railroads, then, and the eager collector of facts 
traveled on his great errand for many years, far 
and wide, by foot, by horseback, by stage, by lum- 
ber wagon and by steamboat, his constant com- 
panion being a knapsack well laden with note- 
books. In these journeys of discovery, largely 
through dense wildernesses, Mr. Draper traveled 
over sixty thousand miles all told, meeting with 
hundreds of curious incidents and hair-breadth 
escapes, by means of runaway horses, frightful 
storms, swollen streams, tipped-over stages, 
snagged steamboats, extremities of hunger, and 
the like, yet never once injured nor allowing any 
untoward circumstance to thwart the particular 
mission at the time in view. Many of those he 
sought, especially before 1850, were far removed 
from taverns and other conveniences of civiliza- 
tion ; but pioneer hospitality was general and gen- 
erous, and a stranger at the hearth a most wel- 
come diversion to the dull routine of a frontiers- 
man's household. The guest of the interviewed, 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 15 

the inquisitive stranger often stopped weeks to- 
gether at those crude homes in the New York, 
Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee back- 
\voods long enough to extract with the acquired 
skill of a cross-examiner, every morsel of histor- 
ical information, every item of valuable reminis- 
cence stored in the mind of his host ; while old 
diaries or other family documents which might cast 
sidelights on the stirring and romantic story of 
western settlement, were deemed objects worth 
obtaining by means of the most astute diplomacy. 
To give a list of those whom Dr. Draper visited 
in the course of these remarkable wanderings, 
which he made his chief occupation, with but few 
lapses, through nearly a quarter of a century, 
would be to transgress the limit set for this arti- 
cle. Only a few of the most notable can be men- 
tioned. Perhaps the most important interview 
he ever had was with Major Bland Ballard, of 
Kentucky, a noted Indian fighter under General 
George Rogers Clark in the latter's campaigns 
against the Ohio Indians. Other distinguished 
worthies who heaped their treasures at Mr. Dra- 
per's feet were Major George M. Bedinger, a 
noted pioneer and Indian fighter, of Kentucky; 
General Benjamin Whiteman, of Ohio, and Cap- 
tain James Ward, of Kentucky, two of Kenton's 
trusted lieutenants; and General William Hall, a 
general under Jackson in the Creek war, and af- 
terwards governor of Tennessee. Mr. Draper also 



16 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

interviewed fifteen of General Clark's old Indian 
campaigners, and many of the associates and de- 
scendants of Boone, Kenton, Sumter, Sevier, Rob- 
ertson, Pickens, Crawford, Shelby, Brady, Cleve- 
land and the Wetzels. He also visited and took 
notes among the aged survivors of several Indian 
tribes the Senecas, Oneidas, Tuscaroras, Mo- 
hawks, Chickasaws, Catawbas, Wyandots, Shaw- 
nees, Delawares and Pottawatomies. Not the 
least interesting of these were the venerable Tavv- 
anears, or Governor Blacksnake, one of the Sen- 
eca war captains at Wyoming, who served as 
such with the famous Mohawk chief, Joseph 
Brant, and the scholarly Governor William 
Walker, of the Wyandots. The descendants of 
Brant, among the Canada Mohawks, whom Mr. 
Draper interviewed at much length, gave him an 
Indian name signifying "The Inquirer." Mr. 
Draper once visited General Andrew Jackson, at 
the home of the latter, and had a long conversa- 
tion with the hero of New Orleans. At another 
time, he was the guest of Colonel Eichard M. John- 
son, who is thought to have killed Tecumseh, and, 
as before noted, frequently corresponded with 
him. He saw Henry Clay once, when in Ken- 
tucky on one of his hunts .for MSS., and General 
Harrison in Ohio, but had no opportunity to 
speak to either of them. 

The period of Dr. Draper's greatest activity in 
the direction of personal interviews was between 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 17 

3340 and 1879; but he has, upon occasion, fre- 
quently resorted to that method of obtaining ma- 
terials for history in later years. But the period 
of his active correspondence in that direction has 
not known a limit. The result of this special 
work has been a rich harvest of collections. Upon 
the shelves of his large individual library are two 
hundred and fifty portly volumes of manuscripts, 
the greater part made up of wholly original mat- 
ter, most of it as yet unpublished, covering the 
entire history of the fight for the northwest, from 
1742, the date of the first skirmish with the Indi- 
ans in the Virginia valley, to 1813-14, when 
Tecumseh was killed and the Creeks were de- 
feated. A few only of these unique documents 
can here be noted. His earliest manuscripts are 
some documents concerning McDowell's fight in 
the Virginia valley, in 1742, before mentioned. 
There is also in Dr. Draper's possession General 
Clark's original manuscript narrative of his cele- 
brated expedition to Kaskaskia and Vincennes, a 
volume of some two hundred and twenty-five 
pages. The earliest original manuscript diary on 
the doctor's shelves is one kept by Captain William 
Preston, who commanded a company under Lewis 
during the Sandy Creek expedition in West Vir- 
ginia, in 1756. There are several diaries on the 
Point Pleasant campaign in West Virginia in 1774. 
Numerous diaries relate to Kentucky one of 
them kept by General Clark in 1776, and another 



18 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

by Colonel William Fleming during an early trip 
to the "dark and bloody ground." Some diaries 
on St. Glair's and Wayne's campaigns are of es- 
pecial interest. But these are merely sample 
treasures. As the old frontier heroes were not 
noted for keeping diaries, the great number and 
remarkable character of the rich "finds" in Dr. 
Draper's possession strongly illustrate to all those 
who have essayed collections of this sort the ardu- 
ous labors of their owner. 

In 1840, while in the midst of his chosen task, 
Mr. Draper drifted to Pontotoc, in northern Mis- 
sissippi, where he became part owner and editor of 
a small weekly journal entitled the Mississippi In- 
telligencer. His editorial duties were not so ab- 
sorbing but what he satisfactorily filled the public 
positions of justice of the peace and assistant 
postmaster, and was able to continue his work as 
gleaner in the field of western history. The In- 
telligencer was not a financial success, and, at the 
close of young Draper's first year in the office, his 
partner bought him out, giving in payment the 
deed to a tract of wild land in the neighborhood. 
There came to Pontotoc, about this time, a young 
lawyer named Charles H. Larrabee, afterwards a 
prominent citizen of Wisconsin, where he became 
a circuit judge and a congressman. Larrabee had 
been a student with Draper at Granville. The 
professional outlook at Pontotoc not being rich 
with promise, Larrabee united his fortunes with 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 19 

those of his college-mate, and together they moved 
upon Draper's tract. For about a year the young 
men " roughed it " in a floorless, windowless hut, 
a dozen miles from Pontotoc, the nearest post- 
office, raising sweet potatoes and living upon fare 
of the crudest character. In the summer of 1842 
Draper received the offer of a clerkship under a 
relative who was Erie canal superintendent at 
Buffalo, New York, and retraced his steps to the 
north, leaving Larrabee in sole possession. But 
the latter soon had a call to Chicago and followed 
his friend's example, leaving their crop of sweet 
potatoes ungarnered and their land to the mercy 
of the first squatter who chanced along. 

The following year, however, Mr. Draper was 
back again in Pontotoc, where he made some in- 
teresting "finds" in the chests of the Mississippi 
pioneers. In 1S44 he returned to the household of 
Mr. Remsen, who was then living near Balti- 
more. After a time, the family moved to Phila- 
delphia, whither he accompanied them. For eight 
years thereafter Mr. Draper's principal occupation 
was the prosecution of his search for historical 
data always collecting and seldom writing up 
any of his material, for he was not willing to com- 
mence until he had, to his own satisfaction, ex- 
hausted every possibility of finding more. During 
this period, he added to the objects of his collec- 
tion miscellaneous Americana, and particularly 
old newspaper files, for he found that these latter 



20 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

were among the most valuable sources of cotem- 
poraneous information on any given topic in his- 
tory. He thus collected a unique library at the 
Remsen home in Philadelphia, which came to at- 
tract almost as much attention among scholars as 
his manuscript possessions. 

In the spring of 1852, Mr. Remsen died, leaving 
Dr. Draper as the head of the little household. 
His old friend, Larrabee, who had drifted from 
Chicago to the Badger state, had been for some 
time corresponding with him, inviting his assist- 
ance in the management of the State Historical 
Society of Wisconsin, which had been organized 
at Madison, the capital of that state, in 18i9, but 
which thus far had had but a sickly existence, for 
there had been no person at its service with the 
technical skill necessary to the advancement of an 
undertaking of this character. Judge Larrabee, 
one of its founders, was in full knowledge of the 
scope of Dr. Draper's labors, and made known to 
his associates the importance of attracting such a 
specialist to Madison. Hon. Harlow S. Orton, 
now an associate justice of the Wisconsin supreme 
court, together with Governor Farwell and others, 
heartily co-operated with Judge Larrabee, and 
about the middle of October Dr. Draper arrived in 
Madison with the family of Mr. Remsen, whose 
widow he married the following year. 

In January, 1853, he was chosen one of the ex- 
ecutive committee of the society. A year later, 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 21 

through his efforts, a re-organization was effected, 
and, he being now chosen corresponding secretary 
of the institution, it then, for the 'first time, began 
to move. And under his fostering care, aided by 
a legislative annuity which was first obtained in 
1855, it has progressed with marvelous pace ever 
since. It began business under its re- organization 
in 1854, with but fifty volumes contained in a 
small case with glass doors that is to-day exhib- 
ited in the society's reading rooms as a suggestive 
relic. In thirty-two years the society's library 
has grown to one hundred and sixteen thousand 
priceless volumes, rich stores of manuscripts and 
a splendid museum that annually attracts over 
twelve thousand visitors, representing every sec- 
tion of the Union. 

During the years 1858 and 1859, Dr. Draper 
served as state superintendent of public instruc- 
tion. He was quite as efficient in this role as in 
that of antiquarian collector. He found the af- 
fairs of his office in a chaotic condition, but by 
dint of great perseverance and the full exercise of 
his ability, he succeeded in inaugurating the ad- 
mirable system of management now in vogue, by 
means of which the educational development in 
Wisconsin has been in every way worthy of that 
great state. In the self -preparation necessary to 
the instituting of the proposed reforms in his 
office, and particularly with a view to establishing 
popular libraries as an adjunct to the state school 



i2 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

system, he undertook a series of visits to a large 
number of state superintendents in the east and 
other leading American educators of the day- 
such as Horace Mann and Presidents Wayland 
and Sears, together with such Canadian educators 
as Rev. Dr. Egerton Ryerson. He made a very 
careful study of the workings of public school 
libraries wherever he went, with the causes of 
their success as well as of their shortcomings. As 
a result of this investigation, he secured the pas- 
sage of an act by the Wisconsin legislature, at the 
session of 1859, by which one-tenth of the state 
school fund income was set apart as a township 
library fund, to which was added one-tenth of a 
mill tax on the assessed valuation of the state. 
A central library board was contemplated by the 
founder of the scheme, but it was not thought 
best to make provision for such a board until 
another year, when the fund should be raised and 
set aside for library purposes. It was designed 
that the proposed board should select the neces- 
sary books and contract for them at the lowest 
wholesale rates. Dr. Draper's desire was to abol- 
ish an existing but indifferently executed plan of 
small school- district libraries and consolidate these 
into township libraries of respectable size and 
under competent management, to be furnished 
with books by the state board. During the first 
year the law was in operation, a library fund of 
eighty-eight thousand seven hundred and eighty- 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 23 

four dollars and seventy-eight cents was raised in 
the manner prescribed. But in 1861, when the 
civil war broke out and the resources of the com- 
monwealth were taxed to the utmost to support 
its troops at the front, the well-digested library 
law was repealed and the money already accumu- 
lated transferred to other funds before a book 
could be purchased or the proposed board organ- 
ized. And this law has unfortunately never been 
resuscitated. It remains for some enterprising 
legislator to win popular applause by organizing 
an effort to secure the re-enactment of the now 
generally forgotten statute. 

State Superintendent Draper won enthusiastic 
encomiums from Governor Randall, legislative 
committees, prominent educators in different por- 
tions of the country, and, at various times, in the 
annual reports of his appreciative successors in of- 
fice who came to realize, as they in turn examined 
the records of the department, what a complete 
and healthy revolution he had brought about in 
its management. 

While serving as state superintendent, he w^as 
ex-officio a member of the boards of regents of 
the University of Wisconsin and the State 
Normal schools, respectively. He was particu- 
larly efficient in promoting the interests of the 
former, and, recognizing that " the true university 
of these days is a collection of books," devoted his 
energies to the founding of an adequate library 



21 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

for the institution. This service, as well as his 
life labors in promoting the cause of historical 
literature, was formally recognized by the State 
University, in 1871, by the conferring upon him of 
the title LL. D., Granville having made him an 
M. A. just twenty years previous. 

But so indefatigable was Dr. Draper in his labors 
for the advancement of popular education, that 
there seemed to be good cause for fearing that he 
was for the time neglecting his especial task as a 
collector and editor of materials for western his- 
tory, and that he might be permanently diverted 
from it. For this reason a number of distin- 
guished educators and historical students sent him 
frequent letters protesting against his continuance 
in the new field at the expanse of the old. " I hope 
you will get back to your task as soon as you prop- 
erly can. . . . The field of a state superintend- 
ent of instruction is a fine one; but there is a good 
deal of timber for good officers of this stamp, 
compared with that of historical investigators and 
archaeologists. . . . Enthusiasm won't bear 
dividing, and you have sacrificed the major to 
the minor;" thus earnestly wrote the late Hon. 
Henry S. Randall, who had served as state school 
superintendent in New York, arid was the author 
of a life pf Jefferson and other valuable historical 
works. 

Dr. Draper finally heeded these urgent calls for 
a return to his proper sphere of duty, and the 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 25 

year I860 found him back at his work in behalf 
of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and 
in its prosecution he has never since lagged. The 
duties of his position as corresponding secretary 
practically the executive officer of the society - 
are and have always been varied and arduous, and 
to enumerate a tithe of them would greatly ex- 
tend the space allotted to this paper. . Sufficient 
to say, that, in the conduct of the society's busi- 
ness, whether executive, financial or literary, he 
exhibits great energy, remarkable persistence, 
business tact of a high order, and a patience for 
research that appears to never weary. 

The enormous additions to the great library and 
museum are made chiefly on his selection and rec- 
ommendation, and to this task he continually 
brings a deep erudition historical, antiquarian 
and bibliographical. In addition to this, a very 
important branch of his official work has been the 
editing and publication of the society's Wisconsin 
Historical Collections. Nine large octavo volumes 
of five hundred pages each have thus far been 
published, and the tenth completing the first 
series and containing a general index to the 
whole will soon be issued from the press. These 
Collections constitute a vast mass of original ma- 
terial bearing upon the history of the state, par- 
ticularly the pre- territorial epoch, all of it gathered 
by Dr. Draper either through personal solicitation 
of manuscripts from prominent early pioneers or 



26 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

by means of interviews with old-time celebrities, 
white and red, by the doctor himself. In the 
garnering of these materials for the early history 
of Wisconsin, the busy corresponding secretary 
has traveled thousands of miles, written thou- 
sands of letters and interviewed hundreds of in- 
dividuals. Each paper in the series has been 
carefully edited and annotated by this untiring 
worker, who has brought to bear upon every im- 
portant point a wealth of correlative illustration 
or needed correction. So complete has been the 
work done by Dr. Draper upon the Wisconsin 
Historical Collections, that they substantially 
cover all the information now obtainable upon the 
pre-territorial history of the state, and to-day 
form the basilar authority for all writers upon 
topics within that sweep. It has been said that 
while Dr. Draper has collected an enormous 
amount of material for history, he has given out 
but little of it to the world. This is compara- 
tively true of his collections in the mass, but so 
far as Wisconsin's historical literature goes, he 
has been very generous; while his explanatory 
and illustrative notes are the richer and more 
ample because of the great stores of general bor- 
der information from which he has so freely 
drawn in their make-up. Even were he to write 
no more, these ten volumes, a store-house of orig- 
inal data, would be enough to establish his repu- 
tation as a historical specialist. Their incalculable 



LYMAX C. DRAPER. 27 

value to western historians has been frequently 
attested by the best of authority Bancroft, 
Sparks, Parkman, Shea, Lossing and others of 
lesser note having frequently complimented Dr. 
Draper upon their excellence and practical im- 
portance, and emphasized the debt which students 
of American history will always owe to him. 

Let us pause for a moment to contemplate the 
work he has done for the state of his adoption, 
independent of the published Collections a mon- 
ument of themselves. The State Historical Soci- 
ety is to-day practically what he, aided by the 
intelligent munificence of the commonwealth, has 
made it. The society's library comprises about 
one hundred and sixteen thousand volumes. 
While these cover the entire range of American 
historical investigation, the collection is particu- 
larly strong in. the departments of western history, 
works on the Indian races and wars, a collection 
of bound newspaper files which is almost unap- 
proachable extending, as it does, over two cen- 
turies and a genealogical department Mrhich is 
second only in extent, if at all, to that of the His- 
toric-Genealogical Society of New England, at 
Boston. Its large museum, filling three spacious 
halls, contains many thousands of objects of inter- 
est and value; but its noticeable features, in which 
Dr. Draper takes the greatest pride, are its large 
collection of pre-historic copper and stone imple- 
ments, and an imposing array of oil portraits of 



28 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

notable pioneers. Among the society's valuable 
possessions, the result of many years of patient 
collection, and but recently completed, is a full set 
of the autographs of the fifty six signers of the 
Declaration of Independence, of which fifty are 
full autograph letters the Pennsylvania Histor- 
ical Society being the only other body having a 
like possession. The Wisconsin society has also 
a full set of autograph letters of the thirty-nine 
signers of the constitution, and nearly complete 
sets of the presidents of the Continental congress 
and the presidents and vice-presidents of the 
United States. 

The history of the society's binding fund may 
be taken as one example of scores that might be 
cited, illustrating the quiet persistency of Dr. 
Draper's work. Many years ago he began setting 
aside the membership fees, and small gifts of 
money which he from time to time solicited for 
the purpose, as a fund which he declared should 
not be drawn from until it reached ten thousand 
dollars, when the interest on its investment should 
be devoted solely to needed binding. Most mem- 
bers of the society smiled, in its inception, at a 
project which had so slight a promise of pros- 
perity. And, indeed, it grew painfully slow. But 
the secretary dinned away at his associates, in the 
annual reports, each year making small additions 
to the fund. In a few instances he collected as 
much as one hundred dollars from some generous 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 29 

individual, and once a dying friend left for the 
society a section of wild land in Texas, which is 
to-day worth many times the original value of the 
gift. Thus by mere pittances, the fund grew un- 
til it began to approach the ten thousand dollar 
limit. Then the secretary caused the society to 
fix its minimum limit at twenty thousand dollars 
and set to work to raise the second half. In season 
and out of season, by bequests, contributions, fees, 
sales of duplicates, judicious investments, and 
what not, that fund has steadily, though some- 
times almost imperceptibly, grown to the limit its 
founder fixed ; and, at the annual meeting this 
month, Dr. Draper expects to be able to triumph- 
antly notify the society that the work is practi- 
cally completed, and that a portion of the interest 
on the twenty thousand dollars so laboriously 
raised may be safely appropriated towards much- 
needed binding during the coming year. 

Devoting his time so assiduously as he has to 
the interests of his society and state, it is not ah 
all surprising that Dr. Draper has not had the op- 
portunity to give to the public more freely of his 
individual harvest of raw material, to which, in 
the midst of whatever duty for the moment at 
hand, he has never forgotten or neglected to add 
within the past forty-eight years. Thirty-eight 
years ago Jared Sparks expressed his amazement 
at the extent of Dr. Draper's accumulations. Yet 
they have been fully doubled since then; and in 



30 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

addition to his hoard of curious and instructive 
manuscripts, he has an individual library of about 
three thousand volumes of Americana, together 
with a rich collection of newspaper files, covering 
the periods of our two wars with Great Britain. 
It must not be understood that this rare anti- 
quarian, in the midst of his treasures, has been 
wholly unmindful of the public outside of Wis- 
consin. He has frequently contributed special 
articles to magazines and encyclopaedias, and is 
even now preparing a number of careful sketches 
of noted border heroes, for an "Encyclopaedia of 
Biography," which Appleton & Company have in 
preparation. He has also, at times, given quite 
abundantly of his stores to other historians, much 
to his own detriment; for whenever he comes to 
publish his contemplated works, he will often find 
himself forestalled as to some of his matter, 
which he has, in earlier days, generously given to 
others, often with scant or no credit. 

In 1869 we rather oddly find Dr. Draper pre- 
paring and publishing, in partnership with W. A. 
Croffut, a well-known writer, an exhaustive work 
of eight hundred pages, entitled "The Helping 
Hand: An American Home Book for Town and 
Country," devoted to stock and fruit raising, do- 
mestic economy, agricultural economics, etc., a 
singular digression for a historical specialist. 
Nevertheless, competent critics declared the book 
to be one of great practical utility. The publica- 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 31 

tion came eventually into the toils of a law-suit, 
and the authors never realized anything from 
their labors. It was just as well, however, for 
had the "Western Plutarch " found agricultural 
writings a source of profit his salary as secre- 
tary was very meager in those days he might 
have been tempted into that field, to the detri- 
ment of the cause of historical literature. 

Dr. Draper's one great work thus far in his es- 
pecial field of scholarship, has been his ''King's 
Mountain and its Heroes," an octavo volume of 
six hundred and twelve pages, published by Peter 
G. Thomson, of Cincinnati, in 1881. Unfortu- 
nately for the publisher and author, as well as 
the lovers of historical study, the greater part of 
the edition was consumed by fire, soon after its 
issue, so that few copies are now extant. Aside 
from the border forays of whites and Indians, the 
really romantic portion of the history of the Rev- 
olution is confined to the Whig and Tory warfare 
of the Carolinas, which, for the first time, has 
been fully told in " King's Mountain." The book 
was well received by those most capable of form- 
ing a just estimate of its merits. George Ban- 
croft declared it "a magnificent volume." "The 
amount of material gathered together," says 
Parkman, "is truly wonderful. Nothing but a 
lifetime of zealous research could have produced 
so copious a record of this very interesting pas- 
sage of our history." " It is a delightful book 



33 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

apart from its usefulness," says George W. 
Childs; "it enchains the reader, and has the in- 
terest of Cooper's novels." " I find it," says Gen- 
eral Joe E. Johnson, " the most interesting Amer- 
ican historical work I have ever read." "The 
work deserves credit," wrote General Sherman, 
"for accuracy and fullness." Writes Robert C. 
Winthrop: "It is an interesting and valuable 
work, exhibiting great research." Says the New 
England Historic- Genealogical Register: "It is 
scarcely possible to speak in too high praise of 
the work." "It is," says the late Governor Sey- 
mour, " a valuable contribution to the history of 
our country." " I am amazed," Governor Perry, 
of South Carolina, writes, "at the extent of the 
historical information it contains, reminding one 
of Homer's glowing accounts of similar contests 
between the Grecians and Trojans." The Boston 
Literary World declares the opinion that "the 
effort is a masterpiece." Professor Phillips, of 
the North Carolina university, eays: " The author 
has a gift for such work, and he may be styled 
'The Lover of Patriots.' The marvelous tale of 
' King's Mountain' has been told skillfully, charita- 
bly and yet fairly." Says the Hon. John M. Lea, 
of Tennessee: " The book will live. Its crown- 
ing virtue is that it seeks to tell the truth, doing 
equal justice to Whig and Tory." These are but 
samples of the encomiums fairly showered upon 
Dr. Draper's great work. 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 33 

He is a clear, forcible writer, with a pure and 
elevated style. He is possessed of a conscientious 
desire to do exact justice to all the actors who 
have moved on the stage of history. He scorns 
the too common literary habit of shaping facts to 
fit a theory, and considers a perversion of his- 
torical truth as the meanest of lies, because its 
baneful effects are the most widely permeated and 
lasting. No living man is so well equipped, at every 
point, to write the history of the border forays of 
the Revolutionary epoch, and of the early days of 
western settlement, as Dr. Draper. His "King's 
Mountain," stupendous a work as it is, is but one 
dip into the well of his possessions, and a great 
body of students of American history have been 
keenly awaiting for years further progress in his 
work. George Bancroft, Sparks, Parkman, Shea, 
Lossing, and others have long been watchful for 
emanations from his pen. The venerable Bancroft 
once wrote to him : "I look forward with eager 
and impatient curiosity for the appearance of your 
lives of Boone, of Clark, of James Robertson, and 
so many others. Time is short I wish to read 
them before I go hence. Pray do not delay; the 
country expects of you this service." 

Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties with Dr. 
Draper has been, that he has in a desire to in- 
form the public, which is quite as keen as the 
desire of the public to hear from him attempted 
too much. The variety of manuscript historical 



3 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

works which for some years past he has had in 
various stages of preparation, is quite astonishing. 
But instead of finishing them one at a time, he 
continually adds to them all, never pausing in his 
zealous search for fresh details, and ever hesitating 
to close his story for fear that the next mail 
may bring some stray fact that will prove a miss- 
ing link or throw an illustrative side-light. A 
less conscientious man would have brought his 
products to the market years ago; but Dr. Draper 
will never consent to publication so long as he 
fears that there is a stone in the path of his search 
yet unturned. This may possibly be deemed the 
excess of caution, but American scholarship will 
no doubt, in due time, reap the advantage of it. 

One work on Dr. Draper's heavily burdened 
shelves of manuscripts may be said to be at last 
completed a volume on the so-called Mecklen- 
burg Declaration of Independence of May. 1775. 
This exhaustive and wonderfully-painstaking 
monograph is destined, when published, to settle 
the vexed question for all time. A keenly inter- 
esting work on "Border Forays and Adventures," 
in the preparation of which he had the assistance 
of Mr. C. W. Butterfield well known to the read- 
ers of the MAGAZINE OF WESTERN HISTORY is 
almost ready for the press. 

Much has been written in the past sixty odd 
years with reference to Major Michael Rudolph, of 
Lee's legion of the revolution, having been iden- 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 35 

tical with the famous Marshal Ney of Napoleon's 
army; and also of Peter S. Ney, of the Carolinas, 
having been the great French marshal escaped, 
it is said, from supposed execution by the conniv- 
ance of the party detailed to carry the fatal order 
into effect. P. S. Ney, it will be remembered, 
claimed that the detail shot over his head, or used 
blank cartridges, permitting him to feign death 
and escape to the United States, where he engaged 
in teaching for some thirty years. Whoever he 
was, P. S. Ney much resembled the marshal in 
personal appearance, and was remarkably familiar 
with the details of the Napoleonic wars and the 
personality of their prominent participants. Dr. 
Draper has long been gathering facts for a work 
on these two claimants and their claims, which 
will remind one of the romance of the middle ages. 
He has, too, mapped out with more or less com- 
pleteness, a connected series of biographies of 
eminent border men General George Eogers 
Clark, "the Washington of the West;" Daniel 
Boone, the founder of Kentucky: General Simon 
Kenton, the noted border fighter and companion 
of Clark and Boone, whose stirring career was filled 
with romantic adventure; Sumter, the revolution- 
ary hero of South Carolina; while Brant, Tecum- 
seh, Brady, and the Wetzels are among those 
whom he desires to introduce in their true colors 
to the world of letters. A work on Dunmore's 
Indian War of 1774 is also among these which he 



36 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

has blocked out. This splendid series of histories, 
illustrative of early times on the border, the com- 
pletion of which should he be spared for the 
task would rear for its projector a lasting literary 
monument, Dr. Draper had clearly in view when 
he commenced to gather original matter for them, 
nearly a half century ago. These men and the 
period in which they figured, have never been 
adequately pictured, and never will be until the 
materials he has collected with such laborious zeal 
can be given to the world he being, in a large 
degree, their sole possessor, and he alone being 
adequate to the labor of formulating them. That 
he may, as he anticipates, soon obtain release 
from the drudgery of his official position, and 
that long life and good health may be vouchsafed 
him for the prosecution of the great work yet re- 
maining for him to do, is surely the ardent wish 
of every student of American history. 

Short and slight of stature, Dr. Draper is a bun- 
dle of nervous activity. His seventy-second year 
sits easily on his shoulders. Light and rapid of 
step, he is still as agile as many a youth. His del- 
icately-cut features, which exhibit great firmness 
of character and the powers of intense mental 
concentration, readily brighten with the most win- 
ning of smiles. By nature and by life habit, he is 
a recluse. His existence has been largely passed 
among his books and manuscripts, and he cares 
nothing for those social alliances and gatherings 



LYMAN C. DRAPER. 37 

which delight the average man. Long abstention 
from general intercourse with men with whom he 
has no business to transact has made him shy of 
forming acquaintances, and wrongfully gained for 
him a reputation of being unapproachable. To him 
who has a legitimate errand thither, the latchstring 
of the fire -proof library and working "den" 
which is hidden in a dense tangle of lilacs and 
crab-trees in the rear yard of the bibliophile's resi- 
dence lot is always out, and the literary hermit 
is found to be a most amiable gentleman, and a 
charming and often merry conversationist, for few 
keep so well informed on public men, current 
events and standard literature. To know Dr. 
Draper is to admire him as a man of generous im- 
pulses, who wears his heart upon his sleeve, is the 
soul of honor, and does not understand what du- 
plicity means. But had he through life given 
himself more to the world, this tireless brain- 
worker could not have accomplished the wonders 
he has, nor have carved out for himself the eminent 
position which he will always maintain even 
should he never publish another volume among 
the historical scholars of the country. 



.'J48766 




aoatiae af'\'e&en History 





BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 



MORTIMER M. JACKSON 



[FROM THE MAGAZINE OF WESTERN HISTORY FOR 
JANUARY, 1887.] 



BY 

CONSUL WILLSHIRE BUTTERFIELD, 

AUTHOR OF " CRAWFORD'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST SANDUSKY," " HIS- 
TORY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN," " THB 
WASHINGTON-CKAWFORD LETTERS," ETC. 



MORTIMER MELVILLE JACKSON. 



The subject of this sketch, Mortimer Melville 
Jackson, son of Jeremiah and Martha Keyes Jack- 
son, both of Puritan stock, was born, in Renssel- 
aerville, Albany county, New York. His father 
was a prominent farmer and a man of intelligence, 
probity and influence. Mortimer, in his earlier 
years, attended the district schools of his native 
town, continuing in them until a short time sub- 
sequent to the death of his father, when he was 
placed in the boarding-school of Lindley Murray 
Moore, in Flushing, Long Island. Afterward, he 
entered the collegiate school of Borland and For- 
rest, in the city of New York, where he remained 
for several years, and, on the completion of his 
term of study, was awarded a prize for being the 
best English scholar in that institution. 

The young man now entered a counting-house 
in New York and became an active member of the 
Mercantile Library association, of which he was 
chosen first a director and afterwards vice-presi- 
dent. It was mainly through his efforts as chair- 
man of the lecture committee, that the brilliant 



42 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

" Associate Course" of lectures was gratuitously 
delivered before the association in Clinton Hall, 
by Chancellor Kent and other distinguished Amer- 
icans, noted for their literary attainments. While 
in that counting-house, Mr. Jackson, preferring 
the profession of law to commercial pursuits, re- 
solved to begin at once a course of study having 
that end in view; he therefore entered the law 
office of David Graham, an eminent lawyer and 
advocate of that period, with whom he completed 
his preparatory studies and from whom he received 
the highest testimonials. 

In 1834, Mr. Jackson was a delegate from the 
City of New York to the Young Men's State Whig 
convention held in Syracuse, at which William 
H. Seward was first nominated for governor. He 
took a prominent part in the proceedings and was 
the author of the address adopted by the conven- 
tion to the people of the state on the political 
issues, state and national, involved in the contest. 
At that period, the strife in New York between 
the Whig and Democratic parties engrossed a 
large share of public attention, and enlisted on 
one side or the other almost every American citi- 
zen of that commonwealth. The young men of 
the city especially the merchants' clerks who 
generally supported the Whig party, were, in 
consequence of the part which they took in poli- 
tics, objects of denunciation from their political 
opponents. In an address delivered by Mr. Jack- 



MORTIMER MELVILLE JACKSON. 43 

son at a public meeting of the Whig young men, 
held in Masonic hall, in which he vindicated the 
light and enforced the duty of every American 
citizen to participate in the politics of his country, 
he paid a well- merited and eloquent tribute to the 
merchants' clerks. 

' ' Who, " he asked, ' ' are the merchants' clerks 
of New York ? They sprang, most of them, from 
the honest yeomanry of the country; in their 
childhood, under the parental roof, they were 
taught by their mothers the sacred lessons of the 
Bible by their fathers were instructed in the 
principles of the Declaration of Independence. 
They are those who, animated by that spirit of 
enterprise, so laudable in the young and so char- 
acteristic of ardent and generous minds, have left 
the endearing scenes of home and of kindred, 
and all the delightful associations connected with 
the village church and the neighboring school 
the hills and the dales, the fields, and groves, and 
streams, which bound them, and still bind them, 
to their birth-place, to seek in this crowded mart 
whatever of fame or fortune may be the rewards 
of industry, intelligence and honor. They are 
those whose brothers, many of them, as well as 
other connections near and dear, are dispersed, 
perhaps, throughout the Union, engaged in vari- 
ous vocations some in mechanical, some in 
commercial, some in agricultural, all stimulated 



4i BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

by the cheering hope of being able by a course of 
honorable and persevering exertion, to crown 

'A youth of labor with au age of ease.' 

Can men thus reared and thus connected, identi- 
fied by consanguinity with the various classes of 
society, and by association with the diversified in- 
terest of our country can such men be recreant 
to the principles of their ancestors, or forget the 
allegiance which they owe to their native land ? 
Never, never!" 1 

This passage, from Mr. Jackson's address, is 
equally applicable at the present time. It truth- 
fully and forcibly describes the origin and charac- 
ter of the men who have so largely contributed 
to build up and extend the trade and commerce 
of New York, to develop her various industries, 
to found her noble charities, and to make her 
what she now is the first city of the new world. 

In June, 1838, Mr. Jackson married, in New 
York, Miss Catharine Garr, daughter of Andrew 
S. Garr, a distinguished lawyer of that city. 

At that period the great Northwest, whose soil 
had been consecrated to freedom by the celebrated 
ordinance of 1787, was attracting thither not only 
the hardy emigrant from the old world, but the 
young, the vigorous, the enterprising and the edu- 
cated from the older states of the American Union. 

1 Morning Courier and New York Enquirer, October 27, 
1834. 



MORTIMER MELVILLE JACKSON. 45 

Wisconsin, then recently organized as a Territory 
of the United States, was rapidly rising in im- 
portance, and Mr. Jackson determined to make it 
his future home. In November, 1838, accom- 
panied by his wife, he removed to Milwaukee, 
and, in the spring following, took up his residence 
permanently at Mineral Point, in Iowa county, 
where he soon acquired a good practice and be- 
came prominent at the bar. At the time last 
mentioned, he attended the circuit courts, held at 
Mineral Point and Green Bay the former pre- 
sided over by Charles Dunn, chief justice of the 
territory, and the latter, for the first time, by 
Andrew G. Miller, afterward and for many years 
judge of the United States district court in Wis- 
consin. At this term before Judge Miller, one 
Louis Du Charme, indicted for murder, com- 
mitted in the Stockbridge settlement, was tried. 
The prisoner was prosecuted in an able manner 
by Moses M. Strong and Horatio N. Wells, and 
defended with acknowledged ability by Mr. Jack- 
son, in connection with Henry S. Baird and Ex- 
Governor Horner. The trial excited great public 
interest. Du Charme was acquitted. 

After visiting various portions of the territory 
and making himself acquainted with its wants 
and resources, Mr. Jackson wrote a series of arti- 
cles descriptive of the country, over the signature 
of "Wisconsin," conveying much useful informa- 
tion. They called the attention of the intending 



4T> BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

emigrants to the west, as well as of others, to the 
great natural advantages possessed by Wisconsin, 
and predicted its rapid growth and future great- 
ness. These articles were extensively copied. 

As a Whig of the anti-slavery school, Mr. Jack- 
son identified himself at an early period with that 
party then in the minority in the Territory. 
He was, so long as that party existed, everywhere 
recognized in Wisconsin as one of its leading 
members and most effective public speakers. He 
was a member of the Territorial convention held 
in Madison, soon after the election of Harrison to 
the Presidency, when the Whig party was first 
organized in the Territory, and was chairman of 
the committee which prepared and reported the 
resolutions embodying the platform of that polit- 
ical organization. He took early ground, in con- 
nection with other statesmen of the west, in 
opposition to the extension of slavery into the 
Territories of the United States. 

On the thirteenth of September, 1841, Henry 
Dodge was removed from the office of governor 
of Wisconsin Territory and James Duane Doty 
appointed in his place, by John Tyler, President 
of the United States. Governor Doty, on the 
twenty-sixth day of January, 1842, tendered to 
Mr. Jackson the office of attorney-general of the 
Territory, which he accepted and immediately 
entered upon the discharge of its duties. He con- 
tinued in office nearly five years, when he tendered 



MORTIMER MELVILLE JACKSON. 4i 

his resignation to Governor Nathaniel P. Tall- 
maclge, who was Governor Doty's successor, and 
who held his office under a national administra- 
tion to which Mr. Jackson was politically opposed. 
Daring his term as attorney-general he con- 
ducted many causes of great importance and 
public interest in a highly satisfactory and suc- 
cessful manner. 1 Among these, was that of 
" Doughty vs. The Territory." involving the ques- 
tion of the liability of the Territory to be sued 
the attorney-general taking the ground that no 
action would lie against the Territory, in which 
position he was sustained by the court; also, that 
of the " People vs. The Bank of Wisconsin," in 
w r hich he procured the forfeiture of its charter, 
the original bill of complaint having been filed by 
his predecessor in office. One of the criminal prose- 
cutions with which his name is identified while at- 
torney-general, is that of "The United States vs. 
William Caffee." Caffee had been indicted in the 
circuit court of Iowa county for murder. The 
trial was one of the noted ones in the west. It 
attracted much attention at home and abroad. 
Caffee was ably defended by Moses M. Strong 
and Lorenzo Bevins, and was prosecuted with 
marked ability, such, indeed, as to give the attor- 
ney-general deserved celebrity. 

The subject of this sketch took a deep interest 
in the cause of popular education, and heartily 

1 Pinney's Wisconsin Reports, Vol. III., p. 616. 



48 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

supported all feasible measures for its advance- 
ment. At an educational convention held in 
Madison, in 1846, a committee was appointed to 
prepare a plan for the improvement of common 
school education to be submitted to the legisla- 
ture. This committee consisted of Mortimer M. 
Jackson, chairman, Lewis H. Loss, Levi Hubbell, 
M. Frank, Caleb Croswell, C. M. Baker and H. 
M. Billings. They reported to the legislature, 
among other things, that they deemed it of the 
highest importance, before any system of com- 
mon school education should be permanently 
established in Wisconsin, that the evils and defi- 
ciencies of the existing system should be fully 
understood, and the state and condition of com- 
mon schools in the different counties of the Terri- 
tory thoroughly ascertained, in order that the 
most effective remedies might be applied and that 
a system might be adopted suited to the entire 
wants of the varied population of the extended 
Territory. They also recommended the appoint- 
ment of an agent to visit the district schools, to 
collect statistics on the subject, organize educa- 
tional associations in the several counties as well 
as teachers' conventions, and to regularly report 
to the legislature with his recommendations. 1 
The bill which embodied this plan passed the as- 
sembly but failed in the council. The measures 

'See Journals of the [Wis.] Legislative Assembly, 1846, pp. 
353-355. 



MORTIMER MELVILLE JACKSON. 49 

thus recommended by Mr. Jackson (for he was 
principally the author of the "plan") were, in 
part, subsequently incorporated in the constitu- 
tion of the state that instrument providing for 
a state agent, or, as he is called, "state superin- 
tendent," 1 and were carried into effect by the 
proper legislation which followed. 

In the efforts made in Western Wisconsin, 
which were finally successful, to have the re- 
served mineral lands held by the United States 
government, brought into market, Mr. Jackson 
took a prominent part. He was the author of a 
memorial addressed to President Polk on the sub- 
ject, which was reported by the committee on 
mining and smelting to the assembly in Wiscon- 
sin, and adopted by the legislature. He justly 
held that the relation of landlord and tenant, as 
between the general government and its citizens 
was injurious to the interests of both, and op- 
posed to sound policy; on the other hand, by af- 
fording facilities to the cultivators to become the 
owners of the soil, thrift and industry would be 
encouraged and inducements held out alike to the 
farmer and the miner to make more substantial 
and permanent improvements, and thus, while 
promoting their own welfare, more largely con- 
tribute to the wealth and prosperity of the coun- 
try. 

Upon the admission of Wisconsin into the 

1 Constitution of Wisconsin, Art. X, Sec. 1. 



50 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

Union and the organization of the state govern- 
ment, Mr. Jackson was elected the first circuit 
judge for the fifth judicial circuit, then consist- 
ing of the counties of Iowa, La Fayette, Grant, 
Crawford and St. Croix (the county of Richland 
being then attached to Iowa county, the county 
of Chippewa to the county of Crawford, and the 
county of La Pointe to the county of St. Croix, 
for judicial purposes), and embracing in terri- 
torial extent more than one-third of the state, 
and in which there was a great amount of judi- 
cial business to transact, making the position a 
laborious one. Under the constitution of the 
state, the judges of the several circuit courts were 
judges of the supreme court, until the legislature 
should otherwise provide, by the formation of a 
separate tribunal, after the lapse of five years. 
Upon the expiration of the term of Judge Levi 
Hubbell as chief justice, Judge Jackson was unan- 
imously chosen by the justices of that court chief 
justice of the supreme court, but declined to 
serve, and Judge Edward V. Whiton was there- 
upon chosen. 

Judge Jackson continued to be one of the jus- 
tices of the supreme court until the organization 
of the " separate supreme court" in 1853, dis- 
charging the duties of his position with great 
fidelity, and in the most honorable and satisfac- 
tory manner. He was dignified, courteous, faith- 
ful and impartial. His written opinions, which 



MORTIMER MELVILLE JACKSON. 51 

evince both industry and ability, are published in 
the earlier volumes of the Wisconsin Reports. 
After the expiration of his term of office as judge, 
which was June 1, 1853, when his court expired 
by law, he resumed the practice of his profession, 
taking, from time to time, a prominent part in 
the political struggles of the day as a member of 
the Republican party. Meanwhile, he had moved 
from Mineral Point to Madison, the capital of the 
state. 

Judge Jackson, as just mentioned, was a mem- 
ber of the Republican party and still affiliates with 
that political organization; he has belonged to it 
since its first formation. He was its candidate for 
attorney-general of Wisconsin, in 1856, but was 
beaten by Gabriel Bouck, who was elected by a 
small majority. He was president of the Repub- 
lican state convention, held at Madison, to select 
delegates to the national convention at Phila- 
delphia, at which John C. Fremont was nominated 
for President. 

In the contest for United States senator for 
Wisconsin in 1857, resulting in the election of 
James R. Doolittle, he was a prominent candidate; 
and, on several ballotings, in the legislative cau- 
cus, was supported by many of the members for 
that office. He continued the practice of the law 
until, in 1861, the appointment to an office by Pres- 
ident Lincoln induced him to give up its duties for 
an official life. 



52 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

It was clearly seen at the very outbreak of 
the Civil War, by those in power at Washington, 
that the consulate at Halifax would be a post diffi- 
cult to fill; and the President wisely concluded to 
send no one there who did not seem to possess, in 
a marked degree, the qualities of discretion and 
firmness one possessing also a knowledge of the 
fundamental principles of international and mari- 
time law Such a person he believed was Judge 
Jackson, who accordingly received the appoint- 
ment as consul to that city. What had been fore- 
seen really came to pass; for, throughout the war, 
the Halifax consulate was second to none under 
the general government in prominence and im- 
portance, owing to the peculiar relations with 
Great Britain, and the important questions result- 
ing therefrom, from time to time, during those 
years of civil strife and bloodshed. To discharge, 
therefore, efficiently the duties of his office at that 
crisis, required of him abilities and qualifications 
of a high order, surrounded as he was by many 
difficulties and embarrassments. "Not only tact 
and vigilance, integrity and firmness, loyalty and 
intelligence were requisite, but a thorough knowl- 
edge of all matters appertaining to the consular 
office, as well as a knowledge of commercial and 
international law were required." 1 

* See an excellent work "Our Representatives Abroad" 
(New York: 1874), p. 304. I am indebted to this valuable book 
for a number of facts connected with the life of the subject of 
this sketch. 



MORTIMER MELVILLE JACKSON. 53 

It would transcend the limits proposed for this 
sketch, to attempt a detailed statement of the 
various labors and public services of Judge Jack- 
son with which, as consul, during the war his 
name is identified. Halifax was the headquarters 
in that part of the world of the Confederates, and 
was resorted to by them as a base of operations. 
The judge had to keep an eagle eye on their agents, 
their blockade runners, and their privateers. It 
was a matter of national importance that their 
operations should be checked in every possible 
manner. Vessels loaded with supplies of almost 
every conceivable description destined for the 
Confederacy were constantly arriving. It was as 
important to the National cause that these sup- 
plies be captured as to send troops into the field. 
He fully appreciated the situation. To keep the 
government fully advised of the sailing of all'such 
suspected vessels, with a description of their car- 
goes, was his paramount duty, to the end that 
they might if possible be captured, brought into 
port, and tried before a prize court and the whole 
confiscated. It is safe to say that, from informa- 
tion thus furnished by him, more than $2,000,000 
worth of materials, a large portion of which was 
contraband of war, was captured from the Con- 
federates. 

During the war, the navy of the United States 
rendered valuable aid to the Union cause; and 
none will more readily acknowledge the assistance 



54: BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

rendered by the consular branch of the govern- 
ment than the brave and gallant officers and the 
intrepid seamen whose achievements have added 
to our naval renown. 

It was a remark of John P. Hale in the United 
States senate, in commending the official acts of 
the subject of this sketch as consul at Halifax dur- 
ing the civil strife in which our country was en- 
gaged, that that consulate was of more importance 
to our government than half a dozen of our Eu- 
ropean missions. And, in reality, all departments 
of the government throughout the war recognized 
that such was the fact; and they were not slow 
in their commendations of his zeal and wisdom in 
the general management of its affairs. 

After the termination of the war, important 
duties still devolved upon the Halifax consul, es- 
pecially, in connection with the British North 
American fisheries. Various questions, long held 
in abeyance, arising out of the "Fishery Contro- 
versy,'' involving the rights of American citizens, 
were revived, upon the abrogation of the Reci- 
procity treaty. " The seizure of American fishing- 
vessels in colonial waters, for alleged infractions 
of the Canadian fishery laws, rendered official 
action on the part of our consul at Halifax neces- 
sary, in order to protect the rights of our fisher- 
men." 1 In 1870, Judge Jackson, at the request 
of the secretary of state, made "a report upon 

l "Our Itepresentatives Abroad." p. 305. 



MORTIMER MELVILLE JACKSON. 55 

the fisheries and the fishery laws of Canada, in 
which the principal questions involved in the con- 
troversy between Great Britain and the United 
States, on the subject, were fully examined and 
discussed." This report brought to the knowl- 
edge of the government the action taken by the 
Canadian authorities in reference to supplies to 
American fishermen. It combatted the doctrine 
of the right to withhold supplies in time of peace 
to our fishermen engaged in lawful fishing voy- 
ages to the " Grand Banks," whose fisheries were 
open to the whole world and over which Great 
Britain had no more right and control than the 
United States. He contended that such prohibi- 
tion, being a departure from the practice of 
friendly nations, would justify retaliatory meas- 
ures on the part of the government whose citi- 
zens were subjected to such oppressive restric- 
tions. 

This report was transmitted to congress with the 
documents accompanying the president's annual 
message. 1 A leading public journal in the British 
maritime provinces, in commenting upon it ob- 
serves that "whatever diversity of opinion may 
exist as to some of the views expressed, all must 
concede that the report is dignified in style and 
marked by great ability, and will form a valuable 

i Executive Documents, 3d Session, 4 1st Congress, 18*0-71, 
pp. 428-431. 



c/G BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

contribution to the state papers on the fishery 
question." 

Under the provisions of the treaty of Washing- 
ton of May, 1871, a commission was appointed to 
determine the value of the reciprocal concessions 
made by the respective governments of the United 
States and Great Britain relating to the fisheries. 
This commission met at Halifax in June, 1877, 
and awarded to the power last mentioned five 
millions and a half in gold as the excess of value 
to the United States. Judge Jackson addressed a 
communication to the secretary of state, elabo- 
rately reviewing the action of this commission, 
taking the ground that the sum awarded was 
unwarranted and excessive. 1 It is worthy of 
remark that while as consul he strove on all occa- 
sions to protect the rights and advance the inter- 

1 Message and Documents Department of State 1878-79, 
p. 334. Apropos of this communication, it may be mentioned 
that Dwight Foster, agent of the United States before the 
Halifax commission, in addressing Mr. Evarts, secretary of 
state, on the 13th of December, 1877, says: "From the time 
when I was first employed by the government in 1873 down 
to the end of the sessions of the commission, I received con- 
stant assistance from Judge M. M. Jackson, United States con- 
sul at Halifax, who, in familiar and thorough knowledge of 
all questions relating to the fisheries, is surpassed by no one, 
and who in this matter, as in all his other official duties, has 
represented the interests of his country most faithfully, ably 
and honorably." See Ex. Doc., Second Session, 45 Cong., 
1*77-78, Vol. XVIII ('-Fishery Awards," Vol. I.), p. 10. 



\ 

MORTIMER MELVILLE JACKSON. 57 

ests of his own country, he did at the same time 
endeavor to facilitate the trade and commerce, and 
promote friendly relations between the people of 
the British provinces and the people of the United 
States. Neither should reference be omitted to 
the care and kindness bestowed by him upon 
destitute American seamen, as well as all others 
of his countrymen exposed to suffering and dis- 
tress. 1 

In 1880 the subject of this sketch, in recogni- 
tion of his services to the government, was ap- 
pointed, on the recommendation of Mr. Evarts, 
the secretary of state, consul-general of the Brit- 
ish maritime provinces, having previously been 
offered by the President of the United States the 
position of United States consul-general at Mel- 
bourne, which offer was declined. It may be said 
that, in this more important position, the consul- 
general faithfully served his country. In April, 
1882, he tendered his resignation, which was ac- 
cepted, with the acknowledgments of the gov- 
ernment for his long and faithful public services. 
Before leaving Halifax, the city authorities unani- 
mously voted him an address, expressing their 
regret at his retirement and their appreciation of 
the able and courteous manner in which he had 
discharged his public duties. The judge returned 
at once to his old home in Madison, Wisconsin, 

1 "Our Representatives Abroad," p. 305. 



58 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

where he still resides, an honored and respected 
citizen. 

The wife of Judge Jackson died in Halifax on 
the sixteenth of August, 1875. She lies buried in 
Forest Hill cemetery, near Madison, where a 
graceful monument perpetuates her final resting 
place. Thirty-seven years before, with the fidelity 
of a true woman and the devotion of a loving wife, 
she turned from the blandishments and the luxu- 
ries of a gay city to share the trials, the privations 
and the hardships of her husband in his western 
home. Her sympathies nerved his arm in the dis- 
charge of his public duties ; her smiles brightened 
his future prospects. " Twenty -three years later, 
when called upon to represent his country abroad, 
she was still his wise counselor, his faithful friend, 
his devoted wife. Her intelligence, refinement 
and accomplishments, which had won so many 
hearts in her native land, were justly appreciated 
in her foreign home." 



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