Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Publications Update

Short biographical sketches I have written about Hamilton and Purman are available at Oxford University Press' American National Biography website www.anb.org

T. Thomas Fortune's "After War Times" with my introduction and annotation will published sometime in 2011.

The Jackson County War should be published in late 2010.

UPDATED: April 2010

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Purman-Finlayson Wedding Account

The Tallahassee Sentinel reprinted an item from the Washington Chronicle, dated Oct. 20, 1871, describing the wedding of W.J. Purman and Leadora Finlayson:

"FASHIONABLE WEDDING - The wedding of Major William J. Purman, of Florida, and Miss Leadora P. Finlayson, of the same State, at the Metropolitan Church in this city, yesterday morning, was a brilliant and fashionable affair. A large number of political and personal friends of the bridegroom, together with many friends and acquaintances of the lovely bride, who, during her brief residence in Washington, had formed many warm friendships in our fashionable circles, were present on the occasion. The bride was attired in a neat and attractive traveling costume of brown silk, of a delicate shade, richly trimmed, and with hat and gloves matching to a charm. The bridegroom wore a black cloth coat and vest, pearl-colored pantaloons, and gloves of the same. The nuptial ceremonies, Rev. Dr. Newman officiating, were beautiful and impressive, as will be appreciated by all who have ever been present on similar occasions at the church of this eminent divine. The happy couple left on the noon train for a wedding tour to Niagara Falls, New York, and Boston, whence they will proceed to their residence in Tallahassee, Florida.
Major Purman is one of the representative men of his State, and has rendered valuable services in its reconstruction, having been a member of the Constitutional Convention, and subsequently held other important offices. He is at present United States assessor of internal revenue, and also ably fills a seat in the Florida Senate. His talents have won for him an unusually successful public career, and those who know him well have naught but words of praise for him as a gentleman of sterling integrity and honor in his personal relations. His bride is the daughter of the late Colonel Angus Finlayson, a native, and during life one of the most prominent citizens of West Florida; a staunch Unionist during the war, and whose family ever professed the firmest principles of loyalty. A brother of the bride, who was clerk of the Circuit Court of Jackson county, of which Major Purman was then judge, lost his life in an attack made by ex-rebels upon Major P. and himself, a year or two ago - an instance of the perils to which Union men are exposed in the far South. - Washington Chronicle, Oct. 20"
[Tallahassee Sentinel, Nov. 4, 1871]

Monday, June 16, 2008

Editor Walton of the Sentinel confirms that "Handsome Charley" Hamilton is handsome

As I wrote in the FHQ paper, Hamilton's Democratic opponents attacked him viciously, including mocking his pompous word-choice ("gassy Hamilton") and his poor oratorical skills. They also chose to taunt him as "handsome Charley." This backhanded compliment was not intended to be ironic. The critics emphasized Hamilton's good looks as though that were his only feature warranting attention. Walton, the editor of Florida Republican administration's "official" newspaper, chose to respond on Hamilton's behalf:
"'Handsome Charley' Here is another good illustration of the littleness of small minds. The Democratic editors having no other guilt to charge upon the Hon. C. M. Hamilton begin and quarrel with his physical appearance. Well, it should be a consolation to a man to know that he has some pleasing quality. We know several Charleys in this vicinity, two at least, who have not even the qualification of good looks to recommend them, much less any higher excellence. If the face is the mirror of the soul, what a deformity that arrangement of theirs must be!" [Tallahassee Sentinel 11/12/1870]
It should be recalled that this paragraph came out after Hamilton had been defeated by Josiah Walls in his bid to gain the Florida Republican Party's renomination for Congress at the August 1870 convention. Hamilton's graciousness in this defeat brought him much good-will. The Republican press, however, would turn against Hamilton the following year after he publicly exposed Senator Osborn's role in the Great Southern Railroad.
Regarding the Great Southern Railroad scandal, it is interesting to find that in Nov. 1870, Senator Osborn, his brother and president of the GSR, Rev. Osborn, and the GSR's agent, M.H. Alberger had dinner in Jacksonville with Florida's Chief Justice Randall and the reputedly impeccable Jonathan C. Gibbs. [Tallahassee Sentinel 11/26/1870]

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hamilton's Nov. 1868 Campaign Circular

A few days after Hamilton accepted the nomination as Florida's Republican candidate for Congress, he sent out the following campaign statement:


MY FELLOW-CITIZENS OF FLORIDA- As it may not be possible for your nominee (of the Republican party) to visit every part of the State during the present important canvass, it being necessary for him, your present Representative, to attend as soon as possible, the meeting of Congress in December – it is proper that he should address you some words of encouragement, defining briefly his position, and then commit himself and the success of the party to your earnest care and faithful keeping.
Having been a Republican from my youth – casting my first vote (a soldier's ballot) for the re-election of the revered Lincoln in '64 – it is but natural that my whole sympathies should be, as they are, radically Republican. But I claim no virtue because of this, for it is a solemn duty I owe both to our country and to her people. Seven years military service during the most eventful period, just ended, of her existence have made sacred the obligations I, with all the loyal people, owe to our regenerated Union, and to the now universally free institutions of our country. As Republicans, we have wrought this great national salvation – purging slavery and human inequality from her borders, and erecting in their room in the lasting temple of the Union, freedom and equal manhood for all! Now as Republicans it is incumbent upon us to vindicate our work, and in the same patriotic spirit which actuated us in accomplishing this high object, to preserve for all the future this priceless harvest of the seed sown in the land thrice enriched by rivers of the loyal blood of our countryman. We can fellow-citizens, we must do it.
The enemy, as hostile, as relentless, as treasonable as ever, are at our gates demanding the surrender of the Government their wicked rebellion failed to overthrow; still refusing to abide the decision of the sword to which they in acknowledged folly appealed; still heardless of the thundering voice of the Nation which has now made their military conquerer their civil ruler. Surrender not to them; heed not their insane appeals to your passions and your prejudices, for they seek to lead you as they did in '61- further on to your ruin.
Under the mantle of the people they plead for the miserable aristocracy who composed the Democratic party of the past, and who now compose the "Conservative" party of the present.
It is a sectional party, and a party of caste, and its object is to continue to favor this class at the expense of the poor, and to over throw the loyal Republican Governments which guarantee Equal Rights to all the people alike.
The Republican party is the part of the Union, the peoples' party and its object is to secure and maintain the Union and the Constitution of our fathers, and the Republican Governments established in the South under the wise and generous Reconstruction laws of Congress; to educate and elevate the laboring people on whose shoulder more than any other rest the burdens of the Governments to organize a system of free common schools, the fountain of popular knowledge that all the people may readily qualify themselves for the responsibility of citizenship. For education is the strong, grand pillar of a free Government – the sword in the hands of the people to protect their lives and property, and the shield of security to their liberties. During an hundred years this "Conservative" party in the South has stood in the way of the enlightenment and prosperity of the people and the progress and welfare of the Southern portion of our Union. Let us strike down this criminal barrier in this propitious moment, and the flood-gates of domestic happiness and prosperity will open wide, and welcome Peace flow in along.
With the glorious triumph of the Republican party in the election of Grant and Colfax still animating our hearts; with the assurance that this country will be the habitation of Republicanism forever; and with the encouragement given us by the harmonious action of the Convention on the 3d and 4th inst., which you rare called up on to approve by your votes on the 29th of December, I congratulate you, citizens, upon the bright auspices under which it is our privilege to enter this decisive campaign.
Do not rely wholly upon public meetings and speeches – battles are lost by too much parade. Victory is achieve only by sleepless vigilance and constant labor, and your standard bearer earnestly calls upon all who would vindicate the party which saved the Union, the Constitution and the flag, of the country, founded by Washington and saved by Lincoln, to rally under the victorious folds of the Republican standard, and vote to sustain it still.
With the firm belief that in times like the present, Conservatism is treason, and that Radicalism only is patriotism, I bid you God-speed,
Charles M. Hamilton
Marianna, Fla., Nov. 12, '68

[Sources: Jacksonville Florida Union 12/3/1868; (Tampa) The True Southerner 12/10/1868]

Hamilton accepts Republican party's nomination as candidate for Congress

One of my goals with this blog is to make available any materials related to my research that are not included in the published articles or that I discover at a later date. I recently found a few statements that Hamilton sent to Florida newspapers during his campaign to be re-elected to Congress in late 1868.

Florida did not participate in the national election that Nov. as the state's new Republican administration decided the state wasn't stable or organized enough to vote that November. Instead, Governor Harrison Reed nominated Florida's three electors who, of course, delivered Florida to Grant and Colfax. Reed did, however, arrange for the election of Florida's Congressman to be held but not in November like the rest of the nation, but on Dec. 29. Hamilton was renominated as Florida's Republican candidate for Congress at the Republican state convention on November 3, 1868.
After being informed he had received the Republican party's nomination, Hamilton responded with the following acceptance statement which was published in several newspapers:

Marianna, FLA., Nov. 8th, 1868
E. M. Cheney, Esq.
Sec'y Rep'n State Executive Committee:
MY DEAR SIR – In formally acknowledging the receipt of your courteous communication of the action of the Republican Convention held in Tallahassee on the 3d inst., which resulted in my "unanimous renomination for the Forty-first Congress," it may be my duty to give utterance to more than the mere acceptance of the nomination.
It is truly gratifying to me to know that this result met with such cordial acceptance and that the convention closed amid the utmost harmony.
The issue which are presented for our earnest consideration in the coming canvass are few and clearly defined. They are: the successful accomplishment of Reconstruction upon the Congressional basis – the permanent establishment of free Republican Institutions in this State, and the earnest vindication and maintenance of the Republican "Carpet-Bag" State Government inaugurated upon that basis, with Loyalty, Intelligence, Universal Suffrage, and Equal Rights as the four cardinal cornerstones of its foundation; the extension of the great principle of uniform suffrage over all the States by amendment of the National Constitution; the speedy education and elevation of the laboring masses; the preservation of our country's credit inviolate by the payment of National securities and interest, in gold, or in greenbacks, according to the specifications of the bond; the reduction of taxation as pedial as the public necessity will admit; the acknowledgement of the present pressing necessity of the polity of free trade; the removal of political disabilities from disenfranchised ex-rebels as soon as this may be safely done; the strict and faithful adherence to the creed of the Union that loyal men shall protect and rule what loyal men have saved and made.
For each and all of these issues I take my uncompromising stand in the affirmative, and while, with modest diffidence, I tender my acceptance of the grateful thanks for the consideration bestowed by the nomination, I call upon those who have honored me with their confidence and support in the boisterous past to rally again under the Republican banner and bear it on to the third glorious victory awaiting it on the 29th of December.
The voter is as deeply interested in the success of the party as the candidate can be, for the victory of the one is the triumph of the other, and defeat is the overthrow alike of both.
Having just returned from a visit to every part of the State, and everywhere witnessed the happy earnestness of our host of Republicans, I congratulate the party upon this universal harbinger of success.
While it is unfortunate that at this time the attempted impeachment of our Governor – which unlooked for ever I sincerely deplor – has given rise to uncertainty and doubt, I trust and believe that this event will not disturb the unity of the Republican party, or be allowed to endanger its success in the upcoming election, and I trust that the party will stand by and sustain the present legally constituted authorities of the State until a competent tribunal has decided that they do not deserve our support, for in the united force of the party is our only hope of success.
Yours, very respectfully,
Charles M. Hamilton

[Sources: Jacksonville Florida Union 12/3/1868; (Tampa) The True Southerner 12/10/1868]