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]