California Studies Association

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“Thomas Starr King deserves better” – op-ed in L.A. Times

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Jack Cheever has written an op-ed in the L.A. Times about Thomas Starr King, the pivotal figure in the early history of California whose statue in the U.S. Capitol is being replaced by one of Ronald Reagan.

From the op-ed:

During the presidential election of 1860, all four members of California’s congressional delegation – including U.S. Sen. William Gwin, who owned several Mississippi plantations – campaigned for the pro-slavery Democrat, John C. Breckinridge. Indeed, Abraham Lincoln won California by a hair, beating another Democrat, Stephen A. Douglas, by fewer than 750 votes out of about 120,000 cast.

King was deeply agitated by talk of California being bisected or seceding. He embarked on a statewide speaking tour, preaching against disunion with a voice that, in the words of one observer, “held within it all the sweetness of the harp when struck by a master hand, all the power and solemn grandeur of a great cathedral organ.”

To read the entire piece, click here.

–Frank Gruber


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