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´╗┐Title: Starr King in California
Author: Simonds, William Day, 1855-1920
Language: English
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By William Day Simonds

Author of

     "The Christ of the Human Heart"
     "Patriotic Addresses"
     "Sermons From Shakespeare"

Dedicated to the Memory of Honorable Horace Davis of San Francisco as
the only Tribute of Respect Now Possible to one whose Friendly Interest
and Assistance the Author Here Gratefully Acknowledges

Up to the time of Starr King's death it was generally believed that he,
more than any other man, had prevented California and the whole Pacific
Coast from falling into the gulf of disunion. It is certain that Abraham
Lincoln held this opinion

Edwin Percy Whipple



     Part I
     In Old New England

     Part II
     California in 1860

     Part III
     California's Hour of Decision

     Part IV
     Philanthropist and Preacher

     Part V
     In Retrospect


     Starr King Monument

     Portrait of Starr King


This book is the result of the author's strong desire to know the
truth relative to a critical period in the history of California, and
a further strong desire to deal justly by the memory of a man recent
historians have been pleased to pass by with slight acknowledgment.

What was the nature and measure of Starr King's influence on the Pacific
Coast during the Civil War? To be able to answer that question has cost
more time and study than the reader could be brought to believe. It
has necessitated a thorough examination of all published histories of
California, of numerous biographies, of old newspapers, memoirs, letters
and musty documents. It has involved interviews with prominent persons
as well as a careful study of earlier writings upon Starr King in books
and magazines. Best of all it has compelled the writer to the delightful
task of renewing his acquaintance with the published sermons and
lectures of the patriot-preacher.

It is believed that no important data has been overlooked, and it
is hoped that a genuine service has been rendered to all students of
California History, and to all lovers of Starr King--he who was called
by his own generation, "The Saint of the Pacific Coast."

Part I. In Old New England

When Starr King entered the Golden Gate, April 28, 1860, he had passed
by a few months his thirty-fifth birthday. A young man in the morning of
his power he felt strangely old, for he wrote to a friend just a little
later: "I have passed meridian. It is after twelve o'clock in the large
day of my mortal life. I am no longer a young man. It is now afternoon
with me, and the shadows turn toward the east."

There was abundant reason for this premature feeling of age. Even at
thirty-five King had been a long time among the most earnest of
workers. Born in New York City, December 17, 1824, of English and German
ancestry, son of a Universalist Minister who was compelled to struggle
along on a very meager salary, the lad felt very early in life labor's
stern discipline. At fifteen he was obliged to leave school that by
daily toil he might help to support his now widowed mother and five
younger brothers and sisters. Brief as was his record in school, we note
the following prophetic facts: he displayed singular aptitude for study,
he was conscientious yet vivacious, he was by nature adverse to anything
rude or coarse. Joshua Bates, King's last teacher, describes the lad
as "slight of build, golden haired, with a homely face which everybody
thought handsome on account of the beaming eyes, the winning smile and
the earnest desire of always wanting to do what was best and right."

This is our earliest testimony to the lovable character of the man whose
life-story we are now considering. It will impress us more and more as
East and West, Boston and San Francisco, in varying phrase tell again
and again, of "the beaming eyes, the winning smile, and the earnest
desire of always wanting to do what was just and right."

A bread-winner at fifteen, and for a large family, surely this is
the end of all dreams of scholarship or of professional service. That
depends on the man--and the conditions that surround him. Happily
King's mother was a woman of good mind who knew and loved the best in
literature. Ambitious for her gifted son, she read with him, and
for him, certain of the masters whom to know well is to possess the
foundations of true culture. It is a pretty scene and suggestive--the
lad and his mother, reading together "till the wee small hours"
Plutarch, Grote's History of Greece, Bullfinch's Mythology, Dante and
the plays of William Shakespeare. Fortunately his mother was not his
only helper. Near at hand was Theodore Parker who was said to possess
the best private library in Boston, and whose passion for aiding young
men was well known. He befriended King as he befriended others, and
early discovered in the widow's son superior talents. In those days very
young men used to preach. Before he had reached his majority, King was
often sent to fill engagements under direction and at the suggestion of
Parker. The high esteem of the elder for the younger man is attested by
the following letter to an important church not far from Boston.

"I cannot come to preach for you as I would like, but with your kind
permission I will send Thomas Starr King. This young man is not a
regularly ordained preacher, but he has the grace of God in his heart,
and the gift of tongues. He is a rare sweet spirit and I know that after
you have met with him you will thank me for sending him to you."

This young dry-goods clerk, schoolmaster, and bookkeeper, for he
followed all of these occupations during the years in which he was
growing out of youth into manhood, was especially interested in
metaphysics and theology. In these, and kindred studies he was greatly
impressed and inspired by the writings of Victor Cousin, whose major
gift was his ability to awaken other minds. "The most brilliant
meteor that flashed across the sky of the nineteenth century," said

When Thomas Starr King was eighteen years old, William Ellery Channing
died. Of that death which occurred amid the lovely scenery of Vermont
upon a rare Autumnal evening, Theodore Parker wrote, The sun went toward
the horizon: the slanting beams fell into the chamber. Channing turned
his face toward that sinking orb and he and the sun went away together.
Each, as the other, left "the smile of his departure' spread on all
around: the sun on the clouds, he on the heart."

Channing's "smile on the heart," his pure philosophy, his sweet
Christian spirit so influenced King that his best sermons read not
unlike the large, calm utterances of Channing when he spoke on the
loftiest of themes. To other good and great men our student preacher
was deeply indebted. To Dr. Hosea Ballou (2d) for friendship and wise
counsel. To Dr. James Walker for the inspiration of certain notable
lectures on Natural Theology. Most of all to Dr. E. A. Chapin, his
father's successor in the Universalist Pulpit at Charlestown, Mass. Dr.
Chapin--but ten years King's senior--was then just beginning his
eminent career as pulpit orator and popular lecturer. He recognized
the undeveloped genius of his young friend, he knew of his earnest
student-ship, he delighted to open the doors of opportunity to him.
It was a gracious and honorable relation and most advantageous to the
younger man. Writing to a good Deacon of a neighboring church Chapin
said: "Thomas has never attended a Divinity School, but he is educated
just the same. He speaks Greek, Hebrew, French, German, and fairly good
English as you will see. He knows natural history and he knows humanity,
and if one knows man and nature, he comes pretty close to knowing God."

In 1846 Chapin was called to New York, and through his influence Starr
King, then twenty-two years old, was installed as his successor in
the pastorate of the First Universalist Church of Charlestown. If his
preparedness for an important New England pulpit is questioned it must
be admitted that he entered it wholly without academic training, but we
need not be distressed on that account. From the first he had adopted
a method of study certain to produce excellent results, thorough
acquaintance with a few great authors, and reverent, loving intercourse
with a few great teachers. Little wonder that the "boy preacher" made
good in the pulpit from which his honored Father had passed into, the
Silence, and wherein the eloquence of Chapin had charmed a congregation
of devoted followers.

Two years pass and he is called to Hollis Street Church in Boston,
a Unitarian Church of honorable fame but at the time threatened with
disaster. It was believed that if any one could save the imperilled
church, King was that man. Not yet twenty-five years of age, established
as minister of one of Boston's well known churches; a co-laborer
of Bartol, Ballou, Everett, Emerson, Theodore Parker and Wendell
Phillips,--surely he is to be tried and tested as few men so young have
ever been, here in the "Athens of America," the city of beautiful ideals
and great men.

It is certain that King regarded the eleven years he gave to Hollis
Street as merely preparatory to his greater work in California. Writing
playfully from San Francisco to Dr. Bellows in Boston he said: "At
home, among you big fellows, I wasn't much. Here they seem to think I
am somebody. Nothing like the right setting." The record shows that even
among the "big fellows" Starr King was a very definite somebody,
for although crowds did not attend his preaching in Boston as in San
Francisco, he was able to congratulate himself upon the fact that he
preached his last sermon in Hollis Street Church to five times as many
people as heard his first. Nor do we need to await the judgment of
California admirers to be convinced of his ability as a preacher or his
popularity as a lecturer. It was said of him that "he was an orator from
the beginning:" that his first public address "was like Charles Lamb's
roast pig, good throughout, no part better or worse than another." "His
delivery," says a candid and scholarly critic, "was rather earnest than
passionate. He had a deep, strange, rich voice, which he knew how to
use. His eyes were extraordinary, living sermons, a peculiar shake
and nod of the head giving the impression of deep-settled conviction.
Closely confined to his notes, yet his delivery produces a marked

Hostile criticism, which no man wholly escapes, enjoyed suggesting
that King had been educated in the common schools of Portsmouth and
Charlestown, and that he had graduated from the navy yard into the
pulpit. A Boston correspondent passed judgment upon him as follows:
"He was not considered profoundly learned; he was not regarded as a
remarkable orator; he was not a great writer; nor can his unrivalled
popularity be ascribed to his fascinating social or intellectual gifts.
It was the hidden interior man of the heart that gave him his real power
and skill to control the wills and to move the hearts, and to win the
unbounded confidence and affection of his fellow-beings."

William Everett is authority for the statement that in those early years
in Hollis Street Church "Starr King was not thought to be what a teacher
of Boston Unitarianism ought to be. He was regarded rather as a florid
platform speaker, one interested in the crude and restless attempts at
reform which sober men distrusted." Another reviewer mingles praise and
criticism quite ingeniously. "He astonishes and charms his hearers by
a rare mastery over sentences. He is a skilful word-marshal. Hence his
popularity as a lyceum lecturer. However much of elegant leisure the
more solid and instructive lecturers may have, Mr. King is always
wanted. He is, in some respects, the most popular writer and preacher of
the two denominations which he equally represents, being a sort of soft
ligament between the Chang of Universalism and the Eng of Unitarianism."

This last criticism invites us to notice--all too briefly--a phase of
King's experience in New England fitting him most admirably for the
larger work he was to do on the Pacific Coast. From 1840 to 1860 the
Lyceum flourished in the United States as never before or since. Large
numbers of lecture courses, extending even to the small cities and
towns, were liberally patronized and generously supported. In many
communities this was the one diversion and the one extravagance. To
fill the new demand an extraordinary group of public speakers appeared;
Emerson, Edward Everett, Wendell Phillips, Dr. Chapin, Oliver Wendell
Holmes, George William Curtis, Henry Ward Beecher, Frederick Douglas,
Theodore Parker and others, whose names are reverently spoken to this
day by aged men and women who remember the uplift given them in youth by
these giants of the platform.

That he was always wanted with such rivals as those is proof enough of
King's power with the people, of his fame as an orator, even before his
greater development and his more wonderful achievements in California.
His lecture circuit extended from Boston to Chicago. His principal
subjects were "Goethe," "Socrates," "Substance and Show," a lecture
which ranks next to Wendell Phillips' "Lost Arts" in popularity. Not
withstanding the academic titles King gave his lectures they seemed to
have been popular with all classes. "Grand, inspiring, instructive,
lectures," said the learned. "Thems' idees," said unlettered men of
sound sense. It was thought to be a remarkable triumph of platform
eloquence that King could make such themes fascinating to Massachusetts
farmers and Cape Cod fishermen. In fine phrase it was said of him that
he lectured upon such themes as Plato and Socrates "with a prematureness
of scholarship, a delicacy of discernment, a sweet innocent combination
of confidence and diffidence, which were inexpressibly charming."

It may be claimed with all candor that few public teachers have ever
been able so to enlist scientific truth in the service of the spirit.
That spirit and life are the great realities, that all else is mainly
show, at best but the changing vesture of spirit, is set forth in King's
lectures so completely that he may be said to have made, even at this
early age, a genuine and lasting contribution to the thought of his
time. All this be it noted before he had set foot upon the Pacific
Coast, where he was destined to do his real work.

One other service King had rendered the country, and especially New
England, should here be gratefully recalled. Always in delicate health,
he had formed the habit of spending his vacations in the White Hills
of New Hampshire. Benefited in mind and body, and charmed by the rare
beauty of a region then unknown, he endeavored to reveal to the people
of Boston, and other Eastern cities, the neglected loveliness lying at
their very doors. The result was King's "The White Hills, Their Legends,
Landscape and Poetry." Although this pioneer nature-book is now probably
quite forgotten, even by the multitudes who visit the scenes it so
glowingly describes, it is well to remember that it was, indeed, one
of the first attempts to entice the city dweller "back to nature."
Published in 1859, it followed Thoreau's at that time unread "Walden"
by only five years, while it preceded Murray's "Adventures in the
Wilderness," and the earliest of John Burroughs' delightful volumes,
by a full generation. It was in every way a commendable, if not great,
adventure in authorship.

 From this brief review it is evident that when Starr King preached his
last sermon in Boston, March 25, 1860, he had made for himself an
enviable reputation in three difficult fields of work, as preacher,
lecturer and writer. The feeling of Boston and New England upon his
departure was fittingly expressed by Edwin Percy Whipple in a leading
journal of the day in which this eminent author "appealed to thousands
in proof of the assertion that though in charge of a large parish, and
with a lecture parish which extended from Bangor to St. Louis, he still
seemed to have time for every noble work, to be open to every demand of
misfortune, tender to every pretension of weakness, responsive to every
call of sympathy, and true to every obligation of friendship; all will
indulge the hope that California, cordial as must be the welcome
she extends him, will still not be able to keep him long from

On the day before he sailed from New York a "Breakfast Reception" was
given him at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, at which three hundred guests were
seated at the tables. The poet, William Cullen Bryant presided, and
other men hardly less distinguished testified to the nature of King's
work, and to the varied charm of his unique personality. Best of all,
perhaps, was the tribute of his friend and neighbor, Dr. Frederick H.
Hedge. "Happy Soul! himself a benediction wherever he goes; a living
evangel of kind affections, better than all prophecy and all knowledge,
the Angel of the Church whom Boston sends to San Francisco."

Such was the man who came to California in the greatest crisis of her
history to exert upon her destiny an influence unequalled and unexampled
even in that most romantic and eventful story of the Golden West.

Part II. California in 1860

The federal census of 1860 gave California 379,984 inhabitants and
San Francisco 56,802. Historian Bancroft informs us that here was "a
gathering without a parallel in history." It may be said that the whole
history and development of California is without parallel. The story
reads not so much like the orderly growth of a civilized community as
a series of unrelated and episodical events. There is little of logical
order or sequence, and much of surprise, adventure, of conflict and
crisis. Said an aged philosopher, "It is the unexpected that happens,"
a saying illustrated if anywhere in the world, in the history of the
Golden State.

Although discovered early in the sixteenth century by adventurous
Spaniards, no serious attempt was made at settlement of any portion of
the territory now included in the boundaries of California until the
year 1769, when Father Junipero Serra arrived at the Bay of San
Diego. Then followed a half century constituting the Mission Period of
California history, during which Spanish Governors and Franciscan
Friars ruled the land. Inspired more by religious zeal than by lust
of conquest, or hope of gain, the Spanish Padres planted a chain of
missions extending from San Diego to the Bay of San Francisco. At these
missions, consisting often, at the beginning, of nothing more than a
rude cross and altar, with some miserable make-shift of tent or huts as
protection from the heat of summer and the cold of winter, the faithful
priests labored to convert the surrounding Indians. They tried to make
of them not alone good Catholics, but good farmers, and vineyardists,
and according to the need of the time, capable carpenters and builders.
As the result of their labors a long period of simple prosperity was
enjoyed at the missions. Buildings were erected that still delight the
traveler. They were for the most part of Moorish architecture, built of
adobe, painted white, with red-tile roofs, long corridors and ever the
secluded plaza where the friar might tell his beads in peace. Around the
missions, some twenty in number, lying a day's journey apart between the
southern and the central bay, Indian workers cultivated immense fields
of grain, choice vineyards, olive orchards and orange groves; great
herds of horses, cattle, and sheep were cared for, and the women became
adept at weaving and spinning. Nor were the Spanish Governors idle. They
encouraged the immigration of settlers both from the mother country and
Mexico by a most liberal policy, assisting the newcomer to build a home,
acquire stock, and establish himself in a country where there was an
abundance of game, and where the earth yielded her bounty with the
minimum of labor. Thus in the half century between 1770 and 1820,
these Pius Padres laid the foundations of California, as they believed
securely, after Catholic and Spanish tradition.

Not securely so it proved, for in 1822 Mexico won her independence
from Spain, both political and religious. The California Padres being
Spaniards naturally suffered persecution at the hands of successive
Mexican Governors, who were envious of the lands, orchards and herds
of domestic animals belonging to the various missions. Ruthlessly the
Friars were plundered of their well tilled fields, their fine vineyards,
their flocks and herds, and their Indian converts were enticed or
driven into the service of the new Masters of the country. Some of these
officials were of Spanish blood and some of Mexican but now they proudly
called themselves, Californians. And proudly they lived, these Spanish
and Mexican Dons. Owning immense tracts of land, riding upon fleet
horses, relieved of all necessity of honest work, they soon became in
their manner of living, veritable hidalgoes.

Vain, ridiculously boastful, pleasure chasers, they loved above all else
the frolic, the dance, and a good horse. All the way from San Diego
to Shasta were located the immense ranchoes, more than six hundred in
number, ever since celebrated in song and story. This was the period so
often called by poetic writers the Romantic Age of California. Although
much of the glamor of the dear old days of plenty and pleasure has been
dispelled by the careful researches of conscientious scholars, it must
still be admitted that here also were developed certain characteristics
and here a kind of foundation for the future laid, ignorant of which we
can not understand either the California of 1860 or even the State as we
of today know and love it. If it is true that the first settlers in any
community leave a lasting impress upon after generations it is evident
that the Franciscan and Spanish background of California must be
reviewed as we approach the more serious days of American conflict and

Although the first American settler arrived in California in 1816 his
example seems to have been without effect for in 1822 there were but
fourteen persons not of Mexican or Spanish blood in all the province.
In the early '40's emigrants from the "States" began to come in parties,
but so slowly that by January 1, 1848, the entire population (not
including Indians) numbered only 14,000, and Yerba Buena (San Francisco)
the only Pueblo of any size contained barely 900 inhabitants. This be
it noted was but twelve years before the arrival of Starr King, so close
was the old aristocratic rule of Spain to that stirring conflict in
which he was to become a central figure.

As we have already observed it is the unexpected that happens in
California history. In this same month of January, 1848, gold was
discovered in the upper Sacramento Valley, an event that rivals the
discovery of America by Columbus, if regarded in the light of results
affecting the development of modern society. "The Gold that Drew the
World" so Edwin Markham heads his story of that strange hegira
which converted far-away California into a new Mecca and made of
San Francisco, that sleepy Spanish Pueblo, in a few months' time a
cosmopolitan city of fifty thousand people. Two years earlier, as a
result of the Mexican War, California had been declared an American
Territory, though not formally ceded to the United States until February
2, 1848. It was generally believed that the Mexican War had been waged
and California acquired in the interest of negro slavery. James Russell
Lowell voices this belief in the Bigelow papers as follows:

     "They just wanted this California
     So's to lug new slave states in,
     To abuse ye and to scorn ye,
     And to plunder ye like sin."

However this may have been, it is certain that among the immigrants
of the fifty's there was a large number of forceful and brilliant men,
loving the old South, and fully determined to swing the new state into
line as a pro-slavery asset. It is true they were not strong enough to
prevent the adoption in 1849 of a constitution prohibiting slavery,
yet for all that, as Southern men they rejoiced when September 9, 1850,
California was admitted to the Union.

It is no part of our purpose to give in detail the strange story of
California during her first ten years as an American Commonwealth. By
1850 her population had increased to 120,000 people, mostly young men
drawn by the lure of gold from every quarter of the civilized world,
including not less than 4000 Chinese. Yet the majority were Americans,
and of the Americans the larger number were from the slave states. Nor
was this condition much altered up to the outbreak of the Civil War.
Trustworthy authorities estimate that not less than forty per cent of
her entire population were at that time of Southern birth, naturally
Democratic in politics and for the most part pro-slavery in sentiment.
It should be remembered that during the decade under consideration
the national government was under the brilliant leadership of the
slave-masters who were ever alert as to the attitude of this new
Eldorado of the West. Consequently every position of trust and honor
under national control in California was given to "safe men" whose
attitude towards the "peculiar institution" was favorable beyond
suspicion. To such an extent was this a matter of public knowledge that
the Customs Station of San Francisco was popularly dubbed the "Virginia
Poor House." During all these years California was under the absolute
control of the Democratic Party, and the party was under control of its
Pro-slavery leaders.

"The common people," says a late historian, "stood in awe for many years
of these suave, urbane, occasionally fire-eating and always well-dressed
gentlemen from this most aristocratic section of the Union. The
Southerners, born leaders of men, and with politics the paramount
interest in their lives, controlled both San Francisco and California."

J. W. Forney, a politician and reporter of the time, is more emphatic
and declares that "California was a secession rendezvous from the day it
became a part of the Union."

That the State was strongly Southern in sympathy is proven by the fact
that of fifty-three newspapers published within her borders only seven
advocated the election of Lincoln to the Presidency in 1860. A stronger
proof still is found in the character and conduct of the public men of
California during all the period under consideration. With one or two
exceptions, of whom honorable mention later, every official of any
importance, state or national, favored the South and voted in her
interest. This condition was partly due, without doubt, to the political
leadership of Senator Wm. M. Gwin. A Tennessean by birth, he was
forty-six years of age, when he landed in San Francisco, June 4, 1849.
Almost immediately active in politics he became the most brilliant and
unscrupulous leader California has ever had. He held the reins of power
and of national patronage until the war brought chaos to the old order
and always Wm. M. Gwin was a faithful servant of the old aristocratic
South of John C. Calhoun. He was ably seconded in his efforts to hold
California to the pro-slavery cause by David S. Terry, Chief Justice
of the State, and a fiery Texan, fearless and fierce in every
conflict which might affect adversely Southern Chivalry. After these
distinguished leaders there followed in monotonous succession Senators,
Representatives, Governors, Legislators, representing doubtless their
constituents in opposition to every movement looking to the abolition,
or even serious limitation of the slave power.

The first man to challenge the almost solid cohorts of pro-slavery
Democracy in California was David C. Broderick, United States Senator
from 1857 until his untimely death in 1859. Broderick was the son of
a stone cutter and in early life followed his father's trade. Born
in Washington, D. C., he grew to manhood in New York City. When only
twenty-six years old he became "Tammany's candidate for Congress."
He was defeated and in June, 1849, he too arrived in San Francisco,
determined never to return East unless as United States Senator.
Plunging into the political life of the state as a loyal Democrat he was
sent almost at once to the legislature in Sacramento, where he speedily
became an influential member. In 1851 he was made presiding officer of
the Senate and by 1852 his leadership within the State was so firmly
established that it was said of him "he is the Democratic Party of
California." January 10, 1857, after years of bitter struggle, Broderick
was elected United States Senator, and the following March was duly
received as a member of that august body. From the first his had been
a strenuous career, he had been the storm center of heated contests,
personal and political, in which he had commanded the suffrages of his
fellows so completely that it was said, "men of all ages followed him
like dogs." He had made many bitter and unrelenting enemies, and now
that he had reached the goal of his ambition, he was to enter upon a
last dread battle, the most severe and deadly of all he had known.

Stripped of all misleading complications the question then agitating
Congress and the country was simply this: Shall Negro Slavery be forced
upon the new territory of Kansas against the will of a majority of her
people? This, of course, was only preliminary to the larger question:
Shall the National Government, under lead of the Slave Oligarchy, be
given power to spread over new territory, at will, the blight and
curse of human bondage? Upon this foremost question of the day, Senator
Broderick stood side by side with Stephen A. Douglas in opposition to
the Buchanan Administration, and its mad attempt to force slavery upon
the people of the New West. The attitude of California politicians on
this matter is evidenced by the fact that the legislature in session at
Sacramento promptly instructed Broderick to vote for the administration
program, and a later legislature condemned him by resolution for failing
to comply with the instructions of its predecessor and declared that his
attitude was a disgrace and humiliation to the Nation. They demanded
his immediate resignation. Let it be noted clearly that Broderick was
condemned, not for opposing negro slavery, but simply and solely
for opposing the extreme southern contention. Not long, however, was
Broderick permitted to display his antislavery sympathies. During the
exciting campaign of 1859, David S. Terry, believing himself aggrieved
because of certain utterances of Broderick, challenged the latter to
deadly combat. Reluctantly, but thereto compelled by long usage in
California, Broderick met Terry upon the so-called "field of honor,"
September 13, 1859. Three days later Broderick was dead, a sacrifice, so
all forward-looking men believed, to the wrath of the slave power. "His
death was a political necessity, poorly veiled beneath the guise of
a private quarrel." This was said at his funeral, and widely accepted
among the people. It has been claimed that the death of Broderick saved
California to the Union; that the revulsion of feeling following his
bloody death was so great that his beloved State became good soil for
the new teaching of Lincoln and the Republican Party. Generously one
would like to accept this theory were not the evidence so strongly
against it. To Broderick belongs the high honor of inaugurating the
fight on the Pacific Coast against the extension of slavery. In the
outset of that conflict he perished, and the manner of his taking off
gave to his message something of the force of martyrdom. But not to
the extent his admirers have imagined. It should be clearly noted
that Broderick believed in local self-government regarding slavery. He
believed that the people of Kansas, and the people of Virginia (as of
all other states) possessed the right under our national constitution,
of deciding this question for themselves without let or hindrance by the
general government. Farther than this he did not go. To the day of his
death, he was a loyal Douglas Democrat. It should be further noted that
in this last campaign of Broderick's life the pro-slavery Democracy
swept the State, its candidate for Governor being elected by a vote
nearly twice the combined vote of the Douglas and Republican candidates:
And, also, that a year after Broderick's death Abraham Lincoln polled
only twenty-eight per cent of the popular vote in California for
President of the United States. Whatever may have been the influence of
the Senator's brave conflict in Congress, or his untimely death, it is
evident that the crisis in California's attitude toward the Union had
not yet arrived, that the hour in which any man might change the course
of events still lay within the unknown future.

The same may be said of the life and work of a still more brilliant
opponent of slavery on this Coast, Col. Edward D. Baker, a man of
phenomenal eloquence, with a well earned reputation as a successful
lawyer and politician, with an honorable record for gallant service in
the Mexican War, and for useful service in the House of Representatives
in Washington. When he located in San Francisco in 1852, an immigrant
from the great State of Illinois, he brought new strength to the
minority who were in conscience opposed to the growing dominion of the
Slave Power. For certain reasons, well understood at the time and which
do not concern us here, Col. Baker did not wield the influence which
his talents would naturally have secured for him. Yet as the contest
deepened, his majestic eloquence was beyond question a force for freedom
in a community where the love of oratory amounted to a passion. In the
Fremont Campaign, at the grave of Broderick, and in his own canvass
for Congress in 1859, he rendered most valuable service in laying the
foundations of Republicanism on the Pacific Coast. But it should be
remembered by all who would deal with those great days fairly that
the work of Edward Dickinson Baker at its best was only the work of a
brilliant forerunner. Before the real battle was on he removed from the
State, and as the newly elected United States Senator from Oregon, from
this Coast. It is true that on his journey to Washington a few days
before the National election in November, 1860, Baker delivered in San
Francisco an effective speech on Lincoln's behalf, but it is foolish
hero-worship to say, of California! Not only had Baker been defeated
overwhelmingly a few months earlier as Republican candidate for
Congress, but Lincoln himself received the electoral vote of California
only as the result of a three-sided contest in which the combined
opposition polled nearly three-fourths of all the votes cast. In fact
Lincoln distanced his nearest Democratic rival by only 711 Votes. Out
of one hundred and fourteen members of the state legislature but
twenty-four belonged to the party of Lincoln. The Congressional
Delegation was solidly Democratic, and the Governor was a Southern
sympathizer. Such was the condition after Baker's work was done in
California, and when the greater work of Starr King was just beginning.

In justice to Colonel Baker, though it is no part of our duty here, we
make grateful mention of the fact that not on the Pacific Coast but in
Washington, as the friend and adviser of President Lincoln, and on the
floor of the United States Senate, this gallant defender of Union and
Liberty rendered a unique and memorable service to his country. His
replies in the Senate to those giants of the Confederacy, John C.
Breckenridge and Judah P. Benjamin attained the dignity of national
events, and his heroic death early in the war on field of battle
renders it forever impossible for any just man to belittle the deeds
or influence of Edward D. Baker. What he might have effected had he
remained in California, or had his life been longer spared, we may not
say. The fact remains that after his mission among us was over Southern
and Democratic sentiment was still in the ascendant. It was reserved
for another,--the privilege and the honor of "saving California to the

One other phase of the situation merits careful attention. Almost from
the very beginning of American Settlement in California a dream of
Pacific Empire, separate and independent of "the States" had fascinated
many of her strongest men. And little wonder, for here by the Pacific
Sea was a vast territory walled away by lofty mountains and wide
deserts, two thousand miles west of the frontier settlements of
Minnesota and Kansas. Not until after the outbreak of the Civil War was
there telegraphic communication with the East, and the nearest railway
ended somewhere in central Missouri. Mail was received regularly once in
twenty-six days, sometimes as often as once in two weeks. But there was
little direct communication and less unity of purpose between the older
sections of the United States and far away California. In fact there
was considerable antagonism felt and expressed toward the government of
Washington. The original Mexican population cordially hated, and with
good reason, the national authority. Foreigners in the mines cared
nothing for the Union or the quarrel between the states, and many of the
settlers from the East, which they still lovingly called "back home,"
felt that they had a real grievance against the general government. This
feeling, which was of long standing, was naturally intensified by the
troubled outlook in 1860. Men prominent in state and national politics
openly advocated independence as the proper policy for the Pacific

"Why depend on the South or the North to regulate our affairs," wrote
our junior Senator from Washington. "And this, too, after they have
proved themselves incapable of living in harmony with one another."
Starr King had been a resident of the state nearly a year when the
San Francisco Herald published the following letter received from
Congressman John C. Burch:

"The people of California should all be of one mind on this subject of a
Pacific Republic. Raise aloft the flag of the hydraheaded cactus of
the western wilds and call upon the enlightened nations of the earth
to acknowledge our independence and protect us from the wreck of a once
glorious Union."

Governor John B. Weller, a man not only holding the highest office
within the gift of the people of the state, but also one who had
represented California in the United States Senate made deliberately
this declaration:

"If the wild spirit of fanaticism which now pervades the land should
destroy the magnificent confederacy--which God forbid--California will
not go with the south or north, but here on the shores of the Pacific,
found a mighty republic, which may in the end prove the greatest of

These quotations which might be greatly extended are sufficient to prove
that a strong feeling existed in favor of a Pacific Republic standing
wholly aloof from the coming struggle. It is unthinkable that a Senator
and a Congressman, and especially the Governor of the State, should have
voiced such sentiments had there not been at least a probability that
this might be the course adopted in case the Union was broken up.

James G. Blaine, whose history of the time must be regarded as impartial
so far as California is concerned, makes this statement:

"Jefferson Davis expected, with confidence amounting to certainty, and
based, it is believed, on personal pledges, that the Pacific Coast, if
it did not actually join the South, would be disloyal to the Union."

This beyond reasonable doubt was the situation in the Spring of 1860:
Our immense State with its coast line of more than seven hundred
miles, sharply divided as between Southern and Northern California; the
majority of our people in Los Angeles and neighboring counties frankly
favoring the proposed confederacy of slave-holding states; many of the
larger towns in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys of a similar
mind; the political leaders of the State almost solidly Democratic and
the majority with strong Southern leanings; many of our foremost men
believing that the time had come to launch the long dreamed of Pacific
Republic, and our ranches and mines containing a large population either
hostile or indifferent to the cause of Union and Liberty. Over against
these varied forces a probable patriotic majority scattered from one end
of California to the other, some belonging to the new Republican Party
and some to the Douglas Democracy, and many without party affiliation,
unorganized, badly scattered, and now that Broderick was dead and
Colonel Baker away, without competent leadership. If ever a situation
called for a man who might at once command the confidence of the people
and arouse the latent patriotism of our wide-spread population, a man
who might do the work of years in a few months' time, who might in his
own persuasive personality become a center of patriotism around which
Union-loving men of all parties, and of no party, could unite in defense
of the imperilled country; one unfettered by old antagonisms, or misled
by personal ambition, a heaven-sent man destined to a work no other
could accomplish--this the situation plainly demanded.

The record, impartially examined, shows, we believe beyond reasonable
doubt, that California's destiny in this critical hour was chiefly
determined by the word and work of her patriot-preacher, Starr King.

Part III. California's Hour of Decision

The period that determined California's attitude during the Civil War,
coincides almost exactly with the first year and a half of Starr King's
residence in the State. Less than a month after he had preached his
first sermon in San Francisco, Abraham Lincoln received the presidential
nomination at Chicago, and the great debate was on.

It should be remembered that King's reputation as a lecturer had
preceded him, and that he was hardly settled in his new home before he
was flooded with invitations to lecture here as he had done in the
East. As soon as possible, and as far as possible, he accepted these
invitations regarding them as calls to service in the interest of
an enlightened patriotism. Choosing as subjects such themes as
"Washington," "Webster," "Lexington and Concord," he made of them all a
plea for a united country, one glorious land from Maine to the Sierras.
He seems to have perceived the danger hidden in the perfectly natural
ambition of leading men to take advantage of the troubled time to launch
the Pacific Republic, and thus avoid all danger of the coming conflict
between North and South. A free, independent California, which should
practically include the entire Coast,--surely here was an inspiring
and seductive dream. By a method peculiarly his own he did not directly
combat this fascinating idea, but rather sought to win his hearers to
the larger vision of an empire extending from ocean to ocean, every mile
of it dedicated to liberty and progress.

"What a privilege it is to be an American," he exclaims in a favorite
lecture, often repeated.

"Suppose that the continent could turn towards you tomorrow at sunrise,
and show to you the whole American area in the short hours of the sun's
advance from Eastport to the Pacific! You would see New England roll
into light from the green plumes of Aroostook to the silver stripe of
the Hudson; westward thence over the Empire State, and over the lakes,
and over the sweet valleys of Pennsylvania, and over the prairies, the
morning blush would run and would waken all the line of the Mississippi;
from the frosts where it rises, to the fervid waters in which it pours,
for three thousand miles it would be visible, fed by rivers that
flow from every mile of the Allegheny slope, and edged by the green
embroideries of the temperate and tropic zones; beyond this line another
basin, too, the Missouri, catching the morning, leads your eye along its
western slope till the Rocky Mountains burst upon the vision, and yet do
not bar it; across its passes we must follow, as the stubborn courage
of American pioneers has forced its way, till again the Sierra and their
silver veins are tinted along the mighty bulwark with the break of day;
and then over to the gold-fields of the western slope, and the fatness
of the California soil, and the beautiful valleys of Oregon, and the
stately forests of Washington, the eye is drawn, as the globe turns
out of the night-shadow, and when the Pacific waves are crested with
radiance, you have the one blending picture, nay, the reality, of the
American domain! No such soil, so varied by climate, by products, by
mineral riches, by forest and lake, by wild heights and buttresses,
and by opulent plains,--yet all bound into unity of configuration and
bordered by both warm and icy seas,--no such domain was ever given to
one people."

In many communities and in varying phrase--always earnest and
eloquent--King returned to the central theme of all his thinking and
speaking, the greatness and glory of the Union,--"one and indivisible."
The following but illustrates the constant tenor of his teaching:

"If all that the past has done for us and the present reveals could
stand apparent in one picture, and then if the promise of the future to
the children of our millions under our common law, and with continental
peace, could be caught in one vast spectral exhibition, the wealth
in store, the power, the privilege, the freedom, the learning, the
expansive and varied and mighty unity in fellowship, almost fulfilling
the poet's dream of

     'The Parliament of man, the federation of the world,'

you would exclaim with exultation, 'I, too, am an American!' You would
feel that patriotism, next to your tie to the Divine Love, is the
greatest privilege of your life; and you would devote yourselves, out of
inspiration and joy, to the obligations of patriotism, that this land
so spread, so adorned, so colonized, so blessed, should be kept forever,
against all the assaults of traitors, one in polity, in spirit, and in

In a way we may say that King found himself in these first months in
California. He was forced by the number of his engagements, as well
as by the more direct demands of a new country, to throw aside his
manuscripts, and, making such preparation as conditions would permit,
launch boldly out upon the dangerous sea of extempore speech. He was
constantly addressing audiences in whole, or in part, hostile. Writing
to an Eastern friend of his experiences in the Sacramento Valley, he
says, "You see in glaring capitals, 'Texas Saloon,' 'Mississippi Shoe
Shop,' 'Alabama Emporium.' Very rarely do you see any Northern state
thus signalized." Men of substance, natural leaders of the people, were
in most communities either for Breckenridge or Douglas. The man was
grappling with the intellectual soldiery of disunion. The same forces
that had transformed Lincoln, the Illinois politician into a national
figure, the standard bearer of a great party, were working upon King.
And the same method which caused Horace Greeley to write of Lincoln,
"He is the greatest Convincer of his day" was followed by the younger
patriot, face to face as he was with incipient disloyalty. He was
accustomed, even as Lincoln, to state his opponent's argument fully
and fairly, and then without unnecessary severity, demolish it. An old
miner, listening to one of Starr King's patriotic speeches, delighting
in the intellectual dexterity displayed, exclaimed, "Boys, watch him, he
is taking every trick." The necessity of "taking every trick," and this
so far as possible without offence, quickened his powers and led to the
full development of his many sided eloquence.

How he was regarded during these early months when he had literally
plunged into the life of a community where nothing was as yet fixed,
where everything was in the making, where the most serious questions of
duty and destiny were stirring the hearts and consciences of men,--is
made clear to us by the testimony of contemporaries whose sole desire
must have been to render honor where honor was due.

The latest and most complete history of California based upon the most
trustworthy evidence extant gives cautious tribute to the Starr King of
this period as follows:

"The Republicans had lost their most effective orator since the campaign
of the preceding year, Colonel Baker, but his loss was in some degree
compensated for by the appearance of an unheralded but equally eloquent
speaker, Thomas Starr King, who arrived in April, 1860, and later toured
the state, giving lectures on patriotic subjects but always declared for
the Union and the Republican candidates as the surest guaranty of its

Tuthill, in his history of the time writes with more warmth, and
probably more truth:

"There was a charm in King's delivery that few could resist. He was
received with applause where Republican orators, saying things no more
radical, could not be heard without hisses. Delicately feeling his way,
and never arousing the prejudices of his hearers, he adroitly educated
his audiences to a lofty style of patriotism. The effect was obvious in
San Francisco where audiences were accustomed to every style of address;
it was far more noticeable in the interior."

The celebrated critic and writer, Edwin Percey Whipple, made a careful
examination of King's record in California and sums up his impressions
as follows:

"As a patriotic Christian statesman he included the real elements
of power in the community, took the people out of hands of disloyal
politicians, lifted them up to the level of his own ardent soul, and not
only saved the state to the Union, but imprinted his own generous and
magnanimous spirit on its forming life."

Writing a little later and with even more enthusiasm, another authority,
speaking of King's charm of manner, says:

"I am persuaded that could he have gone through the Southern states,
shaking hands with secessionists, he would have won them back to their
allegiance by the mere magnetism of his touch."

It is, perhaps, impossible at this late date to estimate the effect
of Starr King's appeal to the voters of California in the presidential
election of 1860. As we have already noted, Lincoln carried the State
by a very narrow plurality, and we need not ascribe the swaying of many
votes to the eloquence of King's advocacy to make it appear that his
influence was marked in that memorable campaign.

But here must be emphasized a fact, quite often overlooked, and always
to the serious perversion of history. In California, as in every
doubtful state, the Hour of Decision did not precede, but in every
instance, followed the elevation of Lincoln to the presidency. It
was upon this rock that the nation split. Shall a Black Republican be
permitted to sit in the seat of Washington? Shall a man elected, as a
matter of fact, by a sectional minority rule over Virginia--mother of
Presidents--over imperial Texas, or the Golden West? To us the case
seems clear. Abraham Lincoln, who commanded 180 votes in the electoral
college to 123 divided among his opponents, was by our constitution
President-elect of the United States. To the men of that day the case
was by no means settled. The national bond was weak. The local, or
state bond was strong. It was a time of intense political passion. The
irrepressible conflict which had clouded the closing days of Henry Clay
and Daniel Webster must now be decided, either for, or against, the
extension of human slavery; either for, or against, a National Union.

Well meaning, but mistaken, writers have claimed that California was
never a doubtful state, that the great majority of her people were ever
loyal to the Northern cause, to Lincoln and Liberty. As a matter of
sober truth let it be here written that the attitude of no state north
of Mason and Dixon's Line gave Northern leaders so grave concern.
Nor was the matter once for all decided until the election of Leland
Stanford in September, 1861, as the first Republican Governor of
California. During all the Spring and Summer of that great year the
battle waged with the issue, up to the last hour, uncertain. These
were the months that tried men's souls in California, as in the Border
States. Communities were divided. Party ties severed. Families broken
up. Old friendships sundered. All lesser questions were lost sight of
as Union, or Dis-union, became the all absorbing theme. The battle of
ideas, preceding the battle of bullets, was on.

What was the state of public opinion in California? How runs the

In March, 1861, General E. V. Sumner was given command of United States
regulars on the Pacific Coast, replacing Albert Sidney Johnston, whose
well known attachment to the Southern cause led to his removal by
the Lincoln Administration. In General Sumner's reports to the War
Department in Washington we have impartial and official testimony as
to conditions in California during the period under consideration.
Naturally he came first in contact with the people about San Francisco
Bay, a majority of whom were loyal to the North, and consequently,
Sumner's first reports were encouraging. "There is a strong Union
feeling," he writes, "with the majority of the people of the state, but
the Secessionists are much the most active and zealous party."

A little later, better informed, he reported: "The Secessionist party
in this state numbers about 32,000 men and they are very restless
and zealous, which gives them great influence." Still later: "The
disaffection in the southern part of the state is increasing and
is becoming dangerous, and it is indispensably necessary to throw
reinforcements into that section immediately."

In this connection it should be remembered that when President Lincoln
at the outbreak of the war called for 75,000 men, California was
expected to furnish her quota of 6,000 soldiers, but so threatening was
the local situation that not a loyal man could be spared from the State.
On the contrary it was found necessary to retain in the State certain
regiments of the regular army badly needed elsewhere. In the summer of
1861, the War Department proposed to transfer a portion of the regular
army stationed in California to Texas, where the situation demanded
immediate succor for the friends of the Union. How grave the situation
had become in California may easily be determined by a fact which seems
to have escaped so far the attention of historians. On August 28, 1861,
the leading men of San Francisco sent a communication to Hon. Simon
Cameron, Secretary of War, remonstrating against the withdrawal of
United States troops from California for the following reasons:

1. "A majority of our present state officials are avowed secessionists,
and the balance being bitterly hostile to the administration are
advocates of a peace policy at any price."

2. "About three-fifths of our citizens are natives of slave-holding
states and are almost a unit in this crisis."

3. "Our advices, obtained with great prudence and care, show us that
there are about 16,000 Knights of the Golden Circle (a secret military
organization of secessionists, said by many authorities to have been
much stronger than was at the time believed) in the state, and they are
still organizing even in our most loyal districts."

4. "Through misrepresentation the powerful native Mexican population has
been won over to the secession side."

This document, remarkable in itself, becomes weighty evidence, when it
is stated that after full and careful consideration, the petition was
heeded and the regulars remained on the Coast.

General Sumner held command nearly a year, until, as we are accustomed
to think, all danger of a disloyal California was over, yet as the date
of his departure for the Army of the Potomac drew near, he was very
anxious that Col. Wright, an able and loyal officer, should fill his
place, and wrote to the authorities in Washington, "Col. Wright ought
to remain in command. The safety of the whole coast may depend upon it."
(italics ours).

A few weeks after the death of Starr King, the Pacific Monthly, leading
magazine of the day, reviewed the situation at the beginning of the
great conflict, as it was then known and understood by all intelligent

"On the breaking out of the rebellion, public opinion on this coast was
sorely distracted at the issues raised. The great majority of the people
were warmly attached to their Government; but they had drunk deep at the
fountains of Southern eloquence, and had been measurably debauched by
the dangerous teachings of the able men who had ruled the state from its
infancy. When we consider the critical condition of public sentiment at
that dark hour (1860-1861); how the public mind had been thrown off
its poise by the false teaching of a long succession of political
charlatans; how the insidious doctrine of separation and a Pacific
Republic had been hissed by serpents into the ears of the people; how
the great dark cloud of impending ruin hung over our central Government;
how legions of armed patricides were almost battering at the gates of
our National Capital; how rebellion had baptized itself in blood and
victory at Bull Run--when we think how the effect of all these adverse
teachings and adverse fortunes had rendered the public mind plastic to
whoever had the genius to seize and direct it, and reflect that a man
of King's abilities, but without his patriotism, might have grasped the
opportunity to drift us upon shoals and rocks and quicksands of treason,
we cannot feel too thankful that the man and the hour both arrived.
His was a noble task, and nobly did he fulfill it. What he did for
California and the Union can never be fully estimated,--the work he
wrought in saving her to the country, and engraving upon her heart, the
golden word--'Union'."

Leaving aside for a little space this fervent tribute to King's work,
the quotation just given is evidence of a grave situation, of a state
divided in opinion, of just such an "hour of decision" as gives the
strong man his opportunity. There can be no doubt that the verdict of
the Visalia Delta, a loyal and well-known newspaper, as to conditions in
its own community would apply to every considerable town in the State:

"Treason against the Government and constitution is preached from the
pulpit, printed in the newspapers, and openly advocated in the streets
and public places."

A work just from the press, "California--Men and Events"--by Mr. G. H.
Tinkham, affords valuable testimony to the necessity and value of King's
mission as patriotic leader:

"At a time when some Union men were paralyzed with dread, and others
undecided which way to turn, Thomas Starr King traveled over the state
bolstering up the weak-hearted, and urging loyal men to stand firmly for
the Union. In his lectures, 'Washington,' 'Daniel Webster,' 'The Great
Uprising,' and 'The Rebellion in Heaven,' in unanswerable arguments
and matchless eloquence he kindled the patriotism of the people into
a glowing flame. It is conceded that no individual did more to keep
California in the Union than did Thomas Starr King."

How necessary it was that some one should "kindle the patriotism of the
people into a glowing flame" is further evident from the fact that
the California Legislature of 1861 numbered as its members 57 Douglas
Democrats, 33 Southern Democrats, and but 24 Republicans. What this
alignment signified may be judged from the following incident. Edmund
Randolph, (a former Virginian, and a man of fiery eloquence) on July
11, 1861, delivered unrebuked in the State Democratic Convention at
Sacramento, this diatribe against Abraham Lincoln: "For God's sake speed
the ball, may the lead go quick to his heart--and may our country be
free from this despot usurper, that now claims to the name of President
of the United States."

A few days earlier, July 4, 1861, a Confederate flag waved undisturbed
in Los Angeles, as well as in other nearby towns, the Union men in that
section being largely in the minority. For a considerable time in the
United States Marshal's office in San Francisco, a Confederate flag
waved from a miniature man-of-war named "Jeff Davis."

In Merced County, Union men were in a sorry minority! A favorite
campaign song in that region was entitled, "We'll Drive the Bloody
Tyrant Lincoln From Our Dear Native Soil." A little later, the Equal
Rights Expositer of Visalia characterized President Lincoln as "a narrow
minded bigot, an unprincipled demagogue, and a drivelling, idiotic,
imbecile creature."

Unpleasant testimony of this sort, demonstrating the presence and power
of a bitter spirit of disloyalty, running all through the State, but
most in evidence in certain localities peopled from the South, might be
given at great length. But enough. We have no wish to reproduce the evil
passions of an evil time further than to make it absolutely clear that
a real danger of disunion existed, and that friend and foe alike
recognized that, under God, the undaunted leader of Union sentiment in
California was none other than Starr King.

A prominent San Francisco paper, indulging in the partizan speech of
the period, calling all friends of the Administration at Washington,
"Abolitionists," gave ungracious testimony to King's standing and
influence as follows:

"The abolitionists are bent on carrying out their plans, and will not
hesitate to commit any act of despotism. If the constitution stands in
their way, they will, to use the words of their champion in this state,
Rev. T. Starr King, drive through the constitution."

"Their champion in this state." The opprobrium rested upon him then; let
the honor be his now. This in simple justice to the truth of history.

It is infinitely to be regretted that what men called "the irresistible
charm of his eloquence" cannot by any manner of speech be here
portrayed. If excuse is necessary let these words from King's lecture on
"Webster" plead for us:

"Alas for the perishableness of eloquence! It is the only thing in the
higher walks of human creativeness that passes away. The statue lives
after the sculptor dies, as sublime as when his chisel left it. St.
Peter's is a perpetual memorial and utterance of the great mind of
Angelo. The Iliad is as fresh today as twenty-five centuries ago.
The picture may grow richer with years. But great oratory, the most
delightful and marvelous of the expressions of mortal power, passes and
dies with the occasion."

Not wholly, for even in "cold type" some measure of the power and
persuasiveness of the orator's argument is suggested. It is easy to
imagine the force and fire of patriotism that must have glowed in such
words as these:

"Rebellion sins against the Mississippi; it sins against the coast line;
it sins against the ballot-box; it sins against oaths of allegiance; it
sins against public and beneficent peace; and it sins, worse than all,
against the cornerstone of American progress and history and hope,--the
worth of the laborer, the rights of man. It strikes for barbarism
against civilization."

The intense fervor of King's loyalty to Union and Liberty is seen in his
righteous indignation against an Oregonian who would not fight to save
the country unless he could be shown that his own personal interests
were involved. "For one wild moment," wrote King, "I longed to throttle
the wretch and push him into the Columbia. I looked down, however, and
saw that the water was clean."

Think of the force of the following declaration uttered to men who meant
well, but were undecided:

"The Rebellion--it is the cause of Wrong against Right. It is not only
an unjustifiable revolution, but a geographical wrong, a moral wrong,
a religious wrong, a war against the Constitution, against the New
Testament, against God."

Thus did he condemn all forces within the State at war with liberty and
right. Stern words he used,--words that like Luther's were half battles.
Of peace-at-any-price-men he said:

"The hounds on the track of Broderick turned peace men, and affected
with hysterics at the sniff of powder! Wonderful transformation. What
a pleasant sight--a hawk looking so innocent, and preaching peace to
doves, his talons loosely wound with cotton! A clump of wolves trying
to thicken their ravenous flanks with wool, for this occasion only, and
composing their fangs to the work of eating grass! Holy Satan, pray for

When the report reached California that Robert Toombs had said, "I want
it carved over my grave,--'Here lies the man who destroyed the United
States Government and its Capitol,'" King replied, "Mr. Toombs cannot be
literally gratified. But he may come so near his wish as this,--that it
shall be written over his gallows, as over every one of a score of his
fellow-felons, 'Here swings the man who attempted murder on the largest
scale that was ever planned in history.'"

That our orator knew how to be sarcastic as well as severe must have
been plain to those who heard him exclaim:

"There are those who say that they are Union men, and in favor of the
Government, and yet they are bitterly opposed to the administration, and
cannot support its policy. But in a war for self existence, this divorce
is impossible. One might as well say at a fire, while his house is
beginning to crackle in the flames, 'I am in favor of this engine, I
go for this water; the hose meets my endorsement. Certainly, I am for
putting out the fire, but don't ask me to help man the brakes, for I am
conscientiously opposed to the hose pipe. Its nozzle isn't handsome. It
wasn't made by a Democrat.'"

How ardently King longed for the liberation of the Blacks is seen in
the following, addressed in all probability more to the President of the
United States than to the people:

"O that the President would soon speak that electric
sentence,--inspiration to the loyal North, doom to the traitorous
aristocracy whose cup of guilt is full! Let him say that it is a war of
mass against class, of America against feudalism, of the schoolmaster
against the slave-master, of workmen against the barons, of the
ballot-box against the barracoon. This is what the struggle means.
Proclaim it so, and what a light breaks through our leaden sky! The
war-wave rolls then with the impetus and weight of an idea."

Closing his greatest patriotic lecture, most in demand by the public
along the entire Coast, "Daniel Webster," Starr King quotes Webster's
noble peroration in the "Reply to Hayne," "Liberty and Union, Now and
Forever, One and Inseparable," and in lofty strain of patriotic prophecy
announces that:

"Mr. Webster's thought breaks out afresh in the proclamation of the
President that America is one and cannot be broken; it bursts forth in
the banners thick as the gorgeous leaves of the October forests that
have blossomed all over eighteen or twenty States; it shows itself in
the passion of the noble Union men of the South who will not bow to
Baal; it floats on every frigate that rides the sea to protect our
shipping; it leaps forth and brightens in the sacred steel which
patriots by the hundred thousand are dedicating, not to ravage, not
to murder, not to hatred of any portion of the southern section of the
confederacy, but to the support of the impartial Constitution, to the
common flag, to the majestic and beneficent law which offers to encircle
and bless the whole republic; it utters itself in the thunder-voice
of twenty millions of white citizens of the land, that in America the
majority under the Constitution must rule, and the public law must be

"And when the work of the government shall be accomplished,--when the
stolen money of the nation shall be refunded; when hostile artillery
shall be with-drawn from the lower banks of the Mississippi; when the
flag of thirteen stripes and thirty-four stars shall float again over
Sumter, over New Orleans, over every arsenal that has seen it insulted,
over Mount Vernon and the American dust of Washington, over every State
Capitol and along the whole coast and border line of Texas; when
every man within the present limits of the immense republic shall
have restored to him the right of pride in the American Navy, and
of representation on common terms in the National Capitol, and of
citizenship on the whole continent; when leading traitors shall have
been punished, and the Constitution vindicated in its unsectional
beneficence, and the doctrine of secession be stabbed with two hundred
thousand bayonet wounds, and trampled to rise no more,--then the debate
between Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Webster will be completed, the swarthy
spirit of the great defender of the Constitution will triumph, and a
restored, peaceful, majestic, irresistible America will dignify and
consecrate his name forever."

"A restored, peaceful, majestic, irresistible America,"--this was the
vision that nerved King to herculean labor, to a most real martyrdom.
Condemned to the slow suicide of over-work, he gave his life a conscious
offering to freedom. "What a year to live in," he writes, "worth all
other times ever known in our history or any other." Again,--"I should
be broken down if I had time to think how I feel. I am beginning to look
old, and shall break before my prime."

Why is the song so sweet, and why does it move us so strangely? The
singer's heart is breaking. Why is the word so effective? It is laden
with love and winged with sacrifice. A man is dying that others may live
in verity, not longer in shadow; a hero is suffering crucifixion that
the sad ages may a little change their course. Not only is it true that
the "blood of martyrs slain is the seed of the church," but it is also
true that a man never touches the heights of power until he has made a
total, irreversible, affectionate surrender to the cause he professes to
serve. When he has done this the cause becomes incarnate in the man; and
he speaks as one inspired. And this was the power of Starr King in that
great Summer and Fall of 1861 in California. Of course he did not speak
in vain. Leland Stanford, backed by a Union Legislature, was elected
Governor of California, and by October, King joyfully writing an Eastern
friend was able to say "the State is safe from southern tampering."

Part IV. Philanthropist and Preacher

"As a philanthropist, Starr King raised for the most beneficent of all
charities the most munificent of all subscriptions." These words were
spoken at the King Memorial Service held in the city of Boston, April 3,
1864. They call our attention to a unique service our Preacher-Patriot
rendered the cause he loved.

It seems almost beyond belief that the North rushed into the Civil War
wholly unprepared to care for the Nation's Defenders, either in health
or in sickness. Transportation facilities were of the poorest! Young men
just from the home, the farm and the college were crowded into cattle
cars as though they were beasts, frequently with no provision whatever
for their comfort. And rarely were proper arrangements made for their
reception in camp. The bewildered soldiers stood for hours under
broiling southern sun, waiting for rations and shelter, while ignorant
officers were slowly learning their unaccustomed duties. At night they
were compelled to lie wrapped in shoddy blankets upon rotten straw.
Under such conditions these brave volunteers suffered severely and camp
diseases became alarmingly prevalent. But the miserable makeshifts used
as hospitals were so bad that sick men fought for the privilege of dying
in camp with their comrades rather than undergo the privations, and
sometimes the brutality of inexperienced and careless attendants in the
crowded and poorly equipped quarters provided by the government.
The largest hospital available contained but forty beds, and not one
afforded a trained, efficient, medical staff. Competent nurses, sanitary
kitchens, proper medicines, means of humanely transporting the sick and
wounded, all were wanting during early months of the war.

This condition which the government did almost nothing to remedy led
to the organization of the United States Sanitary Commission. Strangely
enough the founder of this most necessary and timely organization, Rev.
H. W. Bellows, of New York, encountered the opposition of high officials
who deemed the whole plan quixotic. Even President Lincoln at first
regarded the Commission unnecessary and called it "a fifth wheel to
the coach." Brief experience, however, demonstrated that the government
could not provide all that was necessary for the soldier, either in
sickness or in health, and the Sanitary Commission became often the
only hope of brave men in dire distress. In fact, at this day, it is
difficult to see how the Northern cause would have triumphed at all but
for the widespread and wholly helpful activity of the army of Sanitary

The greatest difficulty encountered by the leaders of this noble
philanthropy was to provide necessary funds. Again and again it seemed
that the work must stop because the heavily burdened people could give
no more. At sundry critical junctures California came to the rescue,
and made possible the continuance of this "most beneficent of all
charities." But at whose motion, and under whose influence?

Fitz Hugh Ludlow says, "Starr King was the Sanitary Commission of
California." This is but slight exaggeration, for King made it his
peculiar mission to raise money as rapidly as possible for the suffering
soldiers. In the interest of the Commission he traveled to every part
of the Coast, and in the face of the greatest obstacles became the
principal factor in raising $1,235,000, about one-fourth of the entire
sum contributed by the country at large. Under the most favorable
circumstances this would have been a phenomenal achievement, but when we
learn that in 1862 a flood destroyed over fifty million dollars' worth
of property in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys; that California
shipping to the extent of six and one-half millions was also destroyed;
that in 1863 a drought entirely ruined the wheat crop, and made hay so
scarce that it sold for sixty dollars a ton, resulting in a stagnation
in business which threw thousands of men out of employment, in view of
these multiplied disasters, we wonder by what fire of patriotism and by
what charm of eloquence, Starr King drew from the people so large a sum
for use on distant battle fields. Old Californians still remember those
thrilling appeals which few could resist. We are almost led to believe
in the sober truth of such extreme eulogy as we find in "Lights
and Shadows of the Pacific Coast," by S. D. Woods, a venerable San
Franciscan, who vividly recalls King's heroic service in that far off

"King's personality was magnetic and winning. Gentleness radiated from
him as light radiates from the sun. No one could resist the charm and
fascination of his presence. It is hard to make a pen picture of his
face, for there were lines too pure, lights too fleeting to be caught
by words. In the poise of his head there was nobility and power
inexpressible. There was in his face the serenity of one who had seen a
vision, and to whom the vision had become a benediction. At the time of
his death he was the first pulpit orator in America, and without doubt
had no superior in the world."

This large praise might lead to incredulity were it not for the
deliberate judgment of Rev. Dr. H. W. Bellows, that as an orator
"Beecher and Chapin were his only competitors. He was the admirer and
friend of both, and both repaid his affection and his esteem. He had the
superior charm of youth and novelty, with a nature more varied, and
more versatile faculties and endowments than either. He had a far more
artistic and formative nature and genius. His thoughts ran into moulds
of beauty."

The judgment of California as to Starr King's unequalled service to the
State and the Nation was officially rendered when upon the announcement
of his death, the Legislature adjourned for the space of three days
after resolving "that he had been a tower of strength to the cause of
his country."

Brilliant as was the record of King as the champion of the Sanitary
Commission in California it was by no means the beginning and end of
his philanthropic labors. The forlorn condition of the Chinese--as men
without rights of citizenship--stirred his sympathy and he made earnest
effort to secure for them such civic rights as belong to industry. The
cause of labor, seldom thought in those days to come within the scope
of a minister's interest or duty, commanded his eager attention, and
he improved every opportunity to declare his reverence for the world's
workers in earth, and stone, and iron. In a fine passage in a lecture on
"The Earth and the Mechanic Arts," he writes:

"If we were to choose from the whole planet a score of men to represent
us on some other globe or in some other system in a great human fair of
the universe, it would not be kings, dukes, prime-ministers, the richest
men, we should appoint as ambassadors to show what our race is, and
what it is doing here, but the great thinkers, artists, and workers, the
thinkers in ink, the thinkers in stone and color, the thinkers in force
and homely matter, the men who are bringing the globe up towards the
Creator's imagination and purpose; and on this mission the leaders of
mechanic art would go side by side with Shakespeare and Milton, Angelo
and Wren, Newton and Cuvier.

"In England, now, they are preparing statues of Brunel the engineer, and
the Stephensons, father and son, to be finished and erected about the
same time with those of Macaulay and Havelock. The nation is beginning
to bow to the occupations and the genius that have added to her power
ten thousand fold,--is beginning to bow to labor, noble, glorious,
sacred labor."

Not alone in public pleas for unpopular causes but in private charity
King seemed tireless. "He had the rare facility in everything he said
and did of communicating himself; the most precious thing he could
bestow." We are told that a multitude in distress came to this
overburdened man. Ringing his doorbell they found entrance, and always
as they came back, the "step was quicker which was slow before, the head
was up which was down before, and the lips wreathed in smiles that were
sad before."

Thus we can see that it was not solely his eloquent defense of liberty
and justice which caused a San Francisco journal, reporting his funeral,
to say, "Perhaps more deeply beloved by a vast number of our people than
any other who has lived and toiled and died among us." His good deeds
made him worthy of this, one of the most beautiful eulogies ever given
mortal man, "No heart ever ached because of him until he died." This
was Starr King the philanthropist, a friend to all who needed his

It would almost appear that in telling the story of "Starr King in
California" we were altogether forgetting that he did not come to the
State to influence its political action, or even to alleviate poverty
and distress. He came as a preacher of Liberal Christianity, and to
build up the church that had honored him with a call to its pulpit. Long
before he left Boston it was written concerning him, "That he loved his
calling, and that it was his ambition to pay the debt which every able
man is said to owe to his profession, namely to contribute some work
of permanent value to its literature." At that early period a
discriminating critic bears testimony, "that his piety, pure, deep,
tender, serene and warm, took hold of positive principles of light
and beneficence, not the negative ones of darkness and depravity,
and--himself a child of light--he preached the religion of spiritual

It was King's first and chief ambition to be an effective preacher. In a
letter, written in 1855, he says, "How we do need good preaching. Would
that I could preach extempore." A wish that six years later "came true"
in his San Francisco pulpit. In the inspiring atmosphere of his new
field, and under the stress of a great era, King cast his manuscript
aside, and though he made careful preparation, as every man must who
speaks worthily, he never again submitted to the bondage of the "written
sermon." To a man of King's gifts and temperament this was an immense
gain. Indeed, Bostonian Californians were a unit in declaring that
Easterners could have no conception of the man and orator Starr King
became in those last great years of his brief life.

Speedily the little church in which he preached proved too small for the
throng of eager listeners who gathered to hear him, and on the 3d day of
December, 1862, the corner stone of a larger and more beautiful edifice
was laid.

We shall find it no easy matter to analyze the sources of his power
and popularity. Often-times success and failure are equal mysteries.
Doubtless no small part of his triumph arose from the peculiar character
of the new society to which he brought talents that commanded instant
attention. The eager temper of the time fitted his sincere and earnest
spirit. It was a perfect adjustment of the man and the hour, the workman
and his task.

No small part of his popularity arose from the fact that he insisted
upon his right and duty as a minister to discuss great questions of
state in the pulpit. The vicious gulf churchmen discover between the
sacred and the secular was hidden from his eyes. All that affected the
humblest of his fellow men appealed to him as part and parcel of the
'gospel of righteousness he was commissioned to preach. In the old
Boston days he had discussed freely in the pulpit such themes as the
"Free Soil Movement," "The Fugitive Slave Law," and "The Dred Scott
Decision." Burning questions these, and they were handled with no fear
of man to daunt the severity of his condemnation when he declared
that in the Dred Scott Decision the majority of the Supreme Court had
betrayed justice for a political purpose. It was not likely that such a
man would remain silent in the pulpit upon the so-called "war issues" of
1861. Early in that memorable year he boldly informed his people as to
the course he intended to pursue so long as the war lasted. He would
not equivocate and he would not be silent. Henceforth stirring patriotic
sermons, as the demand for them arose, were the order of the day in the
congregation to which he ministered. The character of these discourses
may be partly determined from such titles as, "The Choice between
Barabbas and Jesus," "The Treason of Judas Iscariot," "Secession in
Palestine," and "Rebellion Pictures from Paradise Lost." "After the
lapse of more than sixty years," so the Hon. Horace Davis assured
the writer, "I can distinctly remember the fire and passion of those
terrible indictments of treason and rebellion."

"Terrible indictments" truly, and in the storm and tempest of the time
irresistibly attractive to men and women whose sympathies were on fire
for the Northern cause. King's patriotism won for him a liberal hearing
on subjects that otherwise the people would have declined to consider.

But we must not forget that "our preacher" was endowed with that rare
and radiant gift, an altogether charming and persuasive personality.
Appearance, manner, voice, were all instruments of attractiveness,
fitting modes of expression to a gentle and noble spirit. When a friend
and comrade of King's earlier ministry was asked to name the preacher's
preeminent gift, he immediately answered, "his voice." The reply seems
trivial. Yet it was seriously spoken by one whose knowledge of King
during his Boston ministry was close and personal. William Everett, who
had listened to New England's renowned orators, to Emerson's sweet and
satisfying voice, and to the music of Wendell Phillip's speech, said
of King, "His was one of the noblest and sweetest voices I ever heard."
Edward Everett Hale once wrote, "Starr King was an orator, whom no
one could silence and no one could answer." Says another, "There was
argument in his very voice. It thrilled and throbbed through an audience
like an organ carrying conviction captive before its wonderful melody."
If it is true that William Pitt once ruled the British Nation by his
voice, as good authority affirms, if it is true, that Daniel O'Connell's

     Glided easy as a bird may glide,
     And played with each wild passion as it went,

may it not also be true that Starr King's clear, penetrating, musical
voice, answering to the moods of the soul as a loved instrument to the
hand of the player, was in itself a kind of gospel of good will to men?

Horace Davis, Starr King's son-in-law, was accustomed to insist that
writers had wholly failed to note one element of the great orator's
power, namely, his humor. Not wit, Mr. Davis would remark, but a most
genial and kindly, and at the same time illuminating humor. A careful
examination of King's published sermons, speeches and lectures gives
but slight evidence of this gift, owing doubtless to false ideas of what
constitutes decorum in the work of a preacher. Occasionally satisfying
evidence is found of the truth of Mr. Davis' judgment, as in the

"On many a tombstone where it is written, 'Here lies so and so, aged
seventy years', the true inscription would read 'In memory of one who in
seventy years lived about five minutes and that was when he first fell
in love.'"

Writing of his lecture work in California which he called "detestable
vagrancy," he says:

"There is a great flood in the interior. California is a lake. Rats,
squirrels, locusts, lecturers, and other like pests are drowned out. I
am a home bird, and enjoy it hugely."

King greeted the mention of his name as candidate for United States
Senator with the statement, "I would swim to Australia before taking a
political post," and added, "a dandy lives from one necktie to another,
a fashionable woman from one wrinkle to another and a politician from
one election to another."

Certainly there is a smile, as well as a truth, in the following:

"Our popular definition of a ghost is just the reverse of truth; it
makes one consist of a soul without a body, while really a specter, an
illusion, a humbug of the eyesight and the touch, is a human body not
vitalized through and through with a soul."

"King was the best story teller of his time," thought Dr. Bellows.
"Gifted with an exquisite, a delicious sense of the ludicrous, and
given to bursts of uncontrollable merriment, happy as childhood and as
innocent," this is the verdict of one of his earliest biographers,--E.
P. Whipple. That sunny mirth and infectious laughter was no mean element
of his power over the people, we can readily believe.

Another explanation of his far reaching influence both in the pulpit
and on the platform, is found in the rare skill with which he made the
discoveries of science, and the beauties of nature, serve his need as
a teacher of morals and religion. And here, again, he was helped by the
spirit of his age. Darwin's "Origin of Species" was published in 1859, a
kind of crown and culmination of a half century of brilliant progress in
science. Starr King but shared the temper of his time as he turned with
delight to the writings of the masters and reveled in the new universe
there revealed. Modern science, which troubled the faith of many, only
deepened and strengthened his own, as he idealized and spiritualized
each new wonder of earth and heaven. The comet of July, 1861, gave
noble opportunity to enforce in his pulpit the religious lessons of that
mother of all the sciences, Astronomy. "I am glad," he began, "at every
new temptation to consider in the pulpit and the Church the wonders and
laws of modern astronomy."

"Does it ever occur to you, brethren, how we waste truth? Have you ever
felt what a sad thing it is that so little of the vast accumulation of
inspiring knowledge should reach our deepest, our religious sentiments,
to kindle and feed them? The most certain knowledge which men now hold
is that which is gathered from the sky. Astronomy, dealing with objects
thousands of millions of miles away, and with forces that rule through
limitless space, is the most symmetrical and firm of all the structures
of science which have been reared by the human mind. Immeasurably
more than David could have known, the heavens, as Herschel reads them,
declare the glory of God. Yet how seldom do we think of the splendors
and harmonies which a modern book of astronomy unveils as part of
God's appeal to our wonder; how seldom does the solemn light from the
uppermost regions of immensity, the light of nebulae which science has
broken up into heaps of suns, converge upon a human soul with power
enough to stimulate devout awe and make the heart bend before the
Creator of the universe."

A few days at Lake Tahoe, when not a hundred white men had visited its
shores, inspired a sermon long remembered by those who heard it,
and today, after numerous nature-sermons by the world's most gifted
preachers, this discourse remains an almost perfect example of what such
a sermon should be. The following single excerpt must suffice to suggest
its beauty:

"I must speak of another lesson, connected with religion, that was
suggested to me on the borders of Lake Tahoe. It is bordered by groves
of noble pines. Two of the days which I was permitted to enjoy there
were Sundays. On one of them I passed several hours of the afternoon
in listening, alone, to the murmur of the pines, while the waves were
gently beating the shore with their restlessness. If the beauty and
purity of the lake were in harmony with the deepest religion of the
Bible, certainly the voice of the pines was also in chord with it.

"The oracles of Greece are connected with the oak. And the lightness,
the gaiety, the wit, the suppleness, of the Greek mind find in the voice
of the oak their fit representatives; for the oak, though so stubborn
and sinewy in its substances, is cheery and gay in its tone when the
wind strikes it. But the evergreen trees, though so much softer in their
stock, are far deeper and more serious in their music; and the evergreen
is the Hebrew tree. The Cedar of Lebanon is the tree most prominent
when we think of Palestine and the clothing of its hills. As I lay and
listened to the deep, serious, yet soft and welcome sound of those pines
by the lake shore, I thought of the inspiration of old which had wakened
such lasting and wonderful music from the great souls of Israel. When
we want knowledge or the quickening of intellect, we enter the groves of
Greece; when we would find quickening, when we would feel the deeps
of the soul appealed to, we enter the deeper and more sombre woods
of Palestine. The voice of the pine helps us to interpret the Hebrew
genius. Its range of expression is not so great as that of the oak or
the elm or the willow or the beech, but how much richer it is and more
welcome in its monotony! How much more profoundly our souls echo it! How
much more deeply does it seem to be in harmony with the spirit of
the air! What grandeur, what tenderness, what pathos, what
heart-searchingness in the swells and cadences of its 'Andante
Maestoso,' when the wind wrestles with it and brings out all its soul."

To the graces and gifts we have mentioned it is but necessary to add
that King's gospel of religion was in itself a veritable glad tidings to
the people. Not a mere deliverance of doubt, or morality veneered
with icy culture, but faith clear, strong and radiantly beautiful.
His thought of God, of Man, of Immortality, was full of comfort and
inspiration. "God is the infinite Christ," he was wont to say. "Jesus
revealed under human limitations the mercy and love of the Father."

King rivalled Theodore Parker in the strength and tenderness of his
faith that "man is the child of God." Saint and sinner, master and
slave, learned and ignorant, rich and poor, all are children of the
Infinite God,--born of His love ere the world was, certain of His love
when the world shall have passed away. He felt that if this is not true,
there is not enough left of religion to so much as interest an earnest
soul. Religion is everything,--the sun in the heavens,--or it is a
star too distant, faint and cold, to cast upon our path a single ray of

And the unseen world! How very real it was to this man of faith and
prayer. The immortal life is the life. These earthly years but lead us
thither. Such was his faith. In excess of world-wisdom we say,
"Eternity is here and now." Well and good. But if we lose for a kind of
technicality the dear old trust in a higher and nobler life beyond
the swift-coming night of death, what have we gained? Said our beloved
preacher, our "Saint of the Pacific Coast," as he lay dying, "I see
a great future before me." Without that vision he would not have been
Starr King.

Part V. In Retrospect

Above that of all other men the fame of the orator is transient.
Eloquence may be "logic on fire" as Dr. Lyman Beecher defined it.
Oratory may be, as Emerson said, "the noblest expression of purely
personal energy." But it is so far personal, so allied to grace of
gesture, to charm of manner, to melody of voice, to perfection of
speech, to a commanding presence, that it carries to the future but a
fraction of its power. The cold type and the insentiate page constitute
at best only the record of nature's rarest gift.

Moreover oratory today is at its ebb, as it has been a hundred times
before, and with us the man of eloquence passes to quick oblivion. It
would be futile to deny that the common fate of orators has overtaken
Starr King. Even in California the present generation knows painfully
little of his great services to the State. This is the first serious
attempt, let us hope it will not be the last, accurately to measure the
extent and value of that service so nobly rendered. It is gratifying,
however, to recall that Californians of his own time, and the years
immediately following, paid ample tribute to his work and his memory.
Extraordinary honors, such as never have been given to any private
citizen, were freely and lovingly accorded the patriot-preacher.

On the evening of March 4, 1864, the day of King's death, the San
Francisco Bulletin, then, as now, one of the leading papers of the city,
contained the following tribute:

"The announcement of the death of Rev. Thomas Starr King startles the
community, and shocks it like the loss of a great battle or tidings of
a sudden and undreamed of public calamity. Certainly no other man on the
Pacific Coast would be missed so much. San Francisco has lost one of her
chief attractions; the State, its noblest orator; the country one of her
ablest defenders."

Scarcely forty years of age, a Californian only from 1860 to 1864, he
had in this brief period so won the hearts of men that in honor of
his funeral the legislature and all the courts adjourned, the national
authorities fired minute guns in the bay, while all the flags in the
city and on the ships hung at half-mast, including those of the foreign
consuls and those on the vessels of England, Russia, Hamburg, Columbia
and France. It is believed that in American history no private
individual has been so honored by the federal army and by foreign

That Starr King's tomb might serve as a daily reminder to the people of
his unique devotion to Union and Liberty, a city ordinance forbidding
burials within certain districts of the city was set aside, and to
this day his grave can be seen close to one of San Francisco's busy
thoroughfares. Nor is this all. One of the giant trees of the Mariposa
bears his name and a proud dome of the Yosemite is called Starr King.
On the 27th of October, 1892, a beautiful and impressive monument
was dedicated in Golden Gate Park to his memory. Its base bears the

"In him eloquence, strength and virtue were devoted with fearless
courage to truth, country and his fellow-men."

The dedication address was given by the Hon. Irving M. Scott, a leading
business man of San Francisco. Speaking with the care and sobriety the
occasion demanded, Mr. Scott made the following statement, which the
writer believes will also be the sober verdict of history:

"We do not say that Starr King determined for California the course
which she pursued; but we do say that he was the most potent factor in
effecting that determination."

"The most potent factor in effecting that determination," to establish
this beyond the possibility of cavil or denial, we have told here
once again his inspiring story. The fact that as late as 1913, the
Legislature of California appropriated $10,000 to place a bust of Starr
King in our National Capitol at Washington would seem to indicate
that the people have resolved that this man shall go down to latest
generations as par excellence,--"our hero."

It would be natural, and entirely proper, to close by recounting the
numerous tributes that in the years since King's death have been paid to
his memory, in magazines, memoirs, speeches and poems, but it would seem
like sweetness too long drawn out. And, perhaps, few could resist the
feeling that no human being ever really deserved such "largeness of
love." But they seem so real, they ring so true, that the conviction
grows almost to a certainty that here was one who drew men to him by the
incarnate sweetness and nobility of his nature. "Doubtless," writes his
friend, and co-worker in the Sanitary Commission, Dr. Henry W. Bellows,
"he had his own consciousness of imperfection and sin--for he was human,
but I have yet to know and yet to hear the first suggestion of what his
faults and errors were."

In no spirit of fulsome adulation did a prominent San Franciscan write,
on the Sunday following King's departure to "what lies beyond," these
tender words, "Bells sadly ringing this Sabbath morning remind me that
one pulpit stands empty; and that it must stand empty, to all intents
and purposes, until the church walls crumble, and pulpit, pillars, and
all are resolved into dust."

Another prominent resident of the State, writing a half century
later,--seeing all after the sobering lapse of years, writing as though
the cloud of sorrow for his friend had never been lifted, thus pays his
sincere tribute of respect:

"And so, in the prime of life, at the zenith of his achievement, before
its noon, this sweet, great soul passed away, leaving to those who loved
him, dust and anguish. Well do we remember that almost at his death a
minor earthquake shook the city, and men said, 'Even the earth shudders
at the thought that Starr King is dead.'"

Of the many poetical tributes, two at least, are of permanent
significance. One by his friend Bret Harte, dear companion of those
great years in San Francisco, on "A Pen of Thomas Starr King," is at
once so penetrating and so just that it well deserves here a place:

     "This is the reed the dead musician dropped,
     With tuneful magic in its sheath still hidden;
     The prompt allegro of its music stopped,
     Its melodies unbidden.

     But who shall finish the unfinished strain,
     Or wake the instrument to awe and wonder,
     And bid the slender barrel breathe again,
     An organ-pipe of thunder!

     His pen! what humbler memories cling about
     Its golden curves! what shapes and laughing graces
     Slipped from its point, when his full heart went out
     In smiles and courtly phrases.

     The truth, half jesting, half in earnest flung;
     The word of cheer, with recognition in it;
     The note of alms, whose golden speech outrung
     The golden gift within it.

     But all in vain the enchanter's wand we wave:
     No stroke of ours recalls his magic vision:
     The incantation that its power gave
     Sleeps with the dead magician."

Could Starr King have been given the privilege of selecting his
poet-laureate we may be sure he would have named Whittier. For they were
both lovers of nature and of man. Both earnest abolitionists, intensely
patriotic, loving liberty and the rights of the humblest of God's
creatures, they were kindred spirits. So Whittier wrote not alone for
New England, not alone for East and West, but from the deeps of his own
loyal and gentle soul, as he penned, these beautiful lines:

     "The great work laid upon his two-score years
     It's done, and well done. If we drop our tears,
     Who loved him as few men were ever loved,
     We mourn no blighted hope nor broken plan
     With him whose life stands rounded and approved
     In the full growth and stature of a man.
     Mingle, O bells, along the Western slope,
     With your deep toll a sound of faith and hope!
     Wave cheerily still, O banner, halfway down,
      From thousand-masted bay and steepled town!
     Let the strong organ with its loftiest swell
     Lift the proud sorrow of the land, and tell
     That the brave sower saw his ripened grain.
     O East and West! O morn and sunset twain
     No more forever!--has he lived in vain
     Who, priest of Freedom, made ye one and told
     Your bridal service from his lips of gold."

Whittier refuses to believe that King's life, though he lived but "two
score years" was a "broken plan." All who believe that life is of divine
ordering, our days, our duty, our destiny to the last hour will, with
resignation, accept this teaching of faith. To others it will seem
in the nature of an irreparable loss that one so good, and so greatly
useful, should have died so young.

And though he met death with a smile, and said, "Tell my friends that I
went lovingly, trustfully, peacefully," yet it is true that he was
cut off in the midst of noble dreams of service he would still render
humanity. Some one has said that "aspiration, not achievement, is the
measure of human worth." If this be true, or partly true, we may not
pass in silence the unfulfilled ambitions of Starr King.

His first great dream looked toward a career in Boston. He would found a
lectureship, somewhat like, yet most unlike, that afterward conducted by
Joseph Cook. How grandly he would have interpreted from such a platform
the spiritual significance of modern science is made evident in those
great lectures, "Substance and Show," "Laws of Disorder," and in those
memorable sermons dealing with natural phenomena. All the progress of
more than half a century has not rendered them obsolete. They can still
be read with pleasure and profit.

King also planned, when leisure should be afforded him, a work in
philosophy. Something of permanent value to all thinkers and students.
One needs but to read King's lecture on "Socrates" to understand
how rich and valuable such a work would have been. Indeed, here are
paragraphs that could have been written only by one of philosophic
mood and habit of mind. How much of modern "New Thought Philosophy" is
expressed in the following:

"Few acknowledge that thoughts are as substantial as things, that a
feeling is as real as a paving stone, that the soul is a congeries of
actual forces as truly as the body is, that a moral principle is as
persistent and fatal a thing as a chemical agent, and that, in the deeps
of the mind and of society, laws are at work as constant and stern
as those which spin the planets and heave the sea and poise the

Accepting as the ground work of his philosophy such principles as these
King tells us that "Socrates came to the conclusion that the stone which
his chisel chipped was less substantial than the soul in every human
form: and that the beauty which his cunning carved into the block was
less charming and permanent than the beauty of truth, temperance, and
holiness, which faith and culture could leave upon the invisible essence
of man. He therefore resolved to abandon the lower for the higher art of
Sculpture, and instead of being an artist in marble to be a fashioner of

King's aptness for historical and philosophical generalization is quite
evident as we read:

"Socrates was the father of a new method of study. His thoughts were the
seed corn of systems. His pupils were the teachers of centuries. Each
bump of his brain was the nucleus of a philosophical school. Hardly
had he left the world, than the strong and simple light he shed was
scattered in various hues by the prismatic minds that had surrounded him
or that succeeded him; and in almost every case,--as so often happens
when the strands of the solar beam are brilliantly dishevelled,--the
actinic ray was lost."

In all our reading we have never met a description of the Grecian
philosopher so complete and accurate as one brief phrase in the lecture
from which these excerpts are taken, "Socrates, the slouchy ambassador
of reason." Or what could be truer of Socrates and Plato than to say
that "Arm in arm, the stately duke and the democrat of philosophy walk
down the lists of fame?"

Read and re-read the closing paragraph of King's "Socrates" impresses
the thoughtful mind more and more by its depth and beauty, and we
ask,--what might not this man in his full maturity and in scholarly
leisure have contributed to enrich the philosophy of our time?

"Down the River of Life, by its Athenian banks, he had floated upon
his raft of reason serene, in cloudy as in smiling weather, for seventy
years. And now the night is rushing down, and he has reached the mouth
of the stream, and the great ocean is before him, dim heaving in the
dusk. But he betrays no fear. There is land ahead, he thought; eternal
continents there are, that rise in constant light beyond the gloom. He
trusted still in the raft his soul had built, and with a brave farewell
to the few true friends who stood by him on the shore he put out into
the darkness, a moral Columbus, trusting in his haven on the faith of an

It was an open secret among King's friends in California that he
meditated writing of the Yosemite as he had written of the White Hills
of New Hampshire. Had he done so that region of incomparable beauty
would have been known to the people of our country at least twenty years
earlier. What a volume it would have been, "The Beauty and Glory of the
Yosemite" by Starr King! What a vision he would have given us of that
mighty gorge; of the crystal clearness of Mirror Lake; of the majesty
of Cathedral Rock, of Sentinel Dome, or El Capitan; of the bright
waterfalls, Vernal and the Bridal Veil; or in exquisite artistry of word
painting how he would have pictured for us the wonderful coloring of the
Yosemite, the morning tints of gray, the perfect white of noon shading
into blue, the afternoon tinge of silver and gold, the sunset's gauze
of crimson, and then the varying shades of approaching night. But our
artist never lived to paint the picture for us, and are we not the
poorer? Is there any such thing in this sad world as superfluous genius?
Let our philosophers answer. At all events these were the noble and the
unfulfilled ambitions of Starr King.

It would seem that of American statesmen Mr. King most admired Daniel
Webster. He never shared the feeling of his fellow abolitionists that
Webster's well-known longing to be President had caused him to be false
to liberty, but rather that the great "Defender of the Constitution"
endeavored to preserve the Union for the sake of liberty. As we have
already noted, when the Civil War broke out King found in the service
Webster had rendered the Nation some of his strongest arguments for the
Northern Cause. He was quite ready to accept the judgment of the English
publicist that "Webster was not only the greatest man of his age,--he
was the greatest man of any age." No doubt he had followed every stage
of that momentous career to the very end. All thoughtful Americans went
into retirement with Daniel Webster, and in his last sickness watched
in a kind of reverent awe as his life ebbed away. From the solemn death
chamber in Marshfield, his home by the stormy Atlantic, came tidings
of the great statesman's last moments, in which he repeated, again and
again, the Lord's Prayer and the Twenty-third Psalm. Loving friends bore
tearful witness to the pathos and heavenly beauty of the old words as
they fell from the trembling lips of the dying man, "Yea, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou
art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."

If it be a coincidence, it is one of striking appropriateness that when
the last hour came to our foremost "Defender of the Constitution and
the Union," that with unclouded mind, here by the Pacific Sea, he, too,
should have passed to his rest, even as the older patriot, whispering
with untroubled faith, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Yea,
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
evil." "I will fear no evil," these were his last words, and it is good
to read that having so spoken, without a struggle or a pang, he entered
upon his exceeding great reward. His work on earth was done, and well

Here ends Starr King in California, as written by Reverend William Day
Simonds, Published in book form by Paul Elder and Company, and seen
through their Tomoye Press by Ricardo J. Orozco in the city of San
Francisco, during the month of April, Nineteen Hundred and Seventeen.

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