THE BAY STATE MONTHLY.
A Massachusetts Magazine.
* * * * *
LEE AND SHEPARD.
By George L. Austin, M.D.
For a quarter of a century the firm-name of Lee and Shepard has been familiar to the public. During this interval of time it has been printed upon millions of volumes, which have gone forth on their two-fold mission of instruction and entertainment. Few publishing houses in America have achieved a more honorable record, or have more indelibly left their impress of good intentions and of deeds nobly done upon the minds of increasing generations. It is of the individual members of this firm, both of whom have grown gray in the business, that I purpose to speak in this article. First of the senior partner of the house.
Born at the "North End," in Boston, on the seventeenth of April, 1826; early put to school, and taken out of it at the age of eleven, at which time he was left fatherless, the eldest of six children; with a good mother to whisper words of encouragement in his ear, when everything in the world and the future before him looked dark,—such was the start of William Lee in life. Thousands before him, and since, have had the same infelicitous experience; but how few have had the courage to overcome the obstacles which he succeeded in overcoming? While other young men of his age, many of them his playmates, were planning to fit themselves, by a long course of study, for the duties of life, he was at once confronted with the duties and burdens of life, without such advantages as an education affords, and he met them with a manliness and a self-reliance which now seem truly marvelous. I have often heard him tell of these early days; but I will pass by the recollections for fear that the recital of them might discourage many who read these lines.
After leaving school young William was offered a situation in the bookstore of Samuel G. Drake, then located at No. 56 Cornhill. Mr. Drake was himself a famous "book-worm," was familiar with the authorities and the history of Boston, and, in after life, achieved a reputation as an author. He was what one would term now an "old-fashioned bookseller," but what he did not know of the book trade in his day was not worth knowing. William Lee entered his employ for two purposes—to learn the trade and, in a very small way, to help support the family which was, in a large sense, dependent upon him. During the three years of his apprenticeship he showed himself an apt scholar, a patient worker, and gifted with indomitable will and ambition.
The next two years were passed in the country. On returning to Boston he again entered a book store, and, when eighteen years of age, he became a clerk in the then prosperous publishing house of Phillips and Sampson, located on Winter street. His connection with this house afforded him increased advantages; he was no longer an apprentice filling a menial position, but was conscious of occupying a responsible station in the business, where his integrity and intelligence were appreciated at their real value. He enjoyed the fullest confidence of his employers, and was soon looked upon by them as their "best" clerk. Selling by auction, especially in the evenings, was at that time a leading feature of the trade, and William Lee soon became an expert in that way, as well as in the general character of salesman to the country trade. There was scarcely a detail in the book trade with which he did not make himself personally familiar; he sought to post himself upon the character and contents of every book that was kept in stock, in order that he might be able to speak intelligently of them to his customers. This habit of general familiarization is one which, in the lapse of subsequent years, has proved of incalculable service to him; it is one which cannot be too earnestly commended to the attention of all young men who are to-day "working" up in the trade.
At the age of twenty-one William Lee was allowed a share in the business, and three years later he accepted an equal partnership in the house. When it is remembered that at this time the house of Phillips and Sampson stood foremost as publishers in New England, the fact that, at the age of twenty-four, William Lee became an equal partner in this house is certainly striking. It bears but one explanation: William Lee owed his remarkable success to the talent which was born and bred in him, and to the consciousness of self-reliance, with which his employers, first and last, had inspired him. There is nothing in this life which will so readily develop the best qualities of manhood as a sense of responsibility, first to the individual himself and next to those whom he serves. Take away this sense of responsibility, every man becomes a machine; everything that he does is mechanical.
In the firm of Phillips, Sampson and Company Mr. Lee continued as a partner for seven years. To his energy and industry the prosperity of the house was henceforth largely indebted. For twelve, and sometimes fifteen hours a day, he remained faithfully at his round of duties.
In 1857 Mr. Lee's health gave way, and his physician ordered him to relinquish all cares of business. Acting in accordance with this advice, he sold his interest to his partners for sixty-five thousand dollars, taking the notes of the firm for that amount. After a few months of travel in his own country, he sailed for Europe in June, 1858, in company with Willard Small, with the intention of spending five years on the continent. He proved to be a good traveler; his keen observation encompassed everything; his generous heart and the geniality of his nature won to him many friends. Ere many months had elapsed he had traversed England, France, Germany, Belgium, and Spain.
While he was in Paris, an incident occured, the recollection of which has served to enliven many a social occasion. It was the exciting time succeeding the attempted assassination of Napoleon by Orsini. Mr. Lee always wore a long, sandy beard, and in his travels sported a soft, broad-brimmed hat. One day, while walking about the streets, he was arrested and taken to the Palais de Justice. Explanations and expostulations proved unavailing. The prisoner was declared to be a "red Republican," and, in those days, that was no joke. It was only after the production of a passport and the interference of the United States consul, that the authorities were induced to release their captive.
Mr. Lee was in Paris, and was on the point of making a second journey into Spain, when the United States mail brought him a letter, conveying the tidings of the death of both Mr. Phillips and Mr. Sampson, and the failure of the house.
The panic of 1857 had made sad havoc with the book trade generally, and those firms which weathered the storm were sorely pressed. Phillips and Sampson met with heavy losses, but struggled on in the hope of recovering lost ground. But, in 1859, the death of the senior members of the firm seemed to paralyze its prosperity, and the worst quickly followed.
Mr. Lee had received no warning of the impending calamity, and for the time was much overcome by the announcement. He foresaw what it implied, however, and at once returned to Boston, to find himself a heavy loser by the financial disaster.
Still undaunted, he gathered up what remained of his fortune and, in February, 1860, he became a member of the firm of Crosby, Nichols and Company, which had purchased many of the stereotype plates belonging to the late firm of Phillips, Sampson and Company, and which now took the name of Crosby, Nichols, Lee and Company. But the long stagnation of trade, succeeded by losses in the southern states, consequent upon the political troubles of those days, bore heavily upon the new firm; and, in the spring of 1861, Mr. Lee left the business and again trod the streets of Boston without a dollar that he could call his own! Thus, after twenty years of business activity, his fortune was gone, and nothing remained for him to do except to begin life over again.
During the next few months Mr. Lee surveyed the field about him, endeavoring to discern what could be accomplished with no other capital save brains. A decision was soon reached, and it resulted from one of those little incidents of life, which, although rare indeed, make life all the more worth living. I hope I betray no breach of trust in recalling it.
While walking down Washington street one day Mr. Lee encountered his friend of many years.
"What are you doing now, Charlie?" he asked.
"Nothing; and I'm as poor as a church mouse," was the reply.
"But, look here, Charlie, keep up your courage. I haven't got much myself; but I'll go halves with you. Come up to my room to-night, and we'll talk matters over."
The friends parted, to meet again within a few hours in the glow of the gas-light. Affairs were candidly and earnestly discussed, plans were laid, and then and there began the firm, whose reputation has extended wherever the English language is spoken,—the house of LEE AND SHEPARD.
It was February 1, 1862. The times were not propitious for a beginning at any trade, but the partners were veterans in experience, and no sooner had they shaped their plans than the public in many ways evinced its confidence in their undertaking. Better than a large capital was the encouragement they received from all with whom they had formerly had dealings; and they began under the most pleasing auspices.
The firm first occupied a very old, two-storied wooden building, known as "the old dye-house" on Washington Street, opposite the Old South "Church."[A]
[Footnote A: On the site now occupied by the "Old South Clothing House."]
Of course the store soon began to show its incapacity for the growing business, just as the "old corner" had done in the case of Ticknor and Fields, and as almost every ancient book-shop has done in the last quarter of a century. The proprietors of the establishment were not only their own employers, but their own employees as well. They attended to their own book-keeping, did their own selling and buying, tied up their bundles and packed all the cases. Early and late they shouldered their task, and started ahead. After three years thus spent the firm moved into the new store at 149 Washington Street, which still remains, and which the firm continued to occupy until 1873.
At this point it is convenient to go back a number of years and recount the principal events in the life of the junior partner of the house: Charles A.B. Shepard.
If the boy could have had his own way, when he started in life, the chances are that to-day he would be an American admiral. As it happened, his early passion and proclivities were not fostered; he became a bookseller whom all the world now knows as "Charley Shepard."
He was born in Salem, Massachusetts, October 18th, 1829, and received his education at the public school. He was one of the brightest scholars in his class, learned easily, was fond of books, never wearied of study, and never forgot what he acquired. At the start he was blest with a most marvelous and retentive memory, and a keen sense of the practical side of life. "It was thus," as one of his friends has remarked, "that his school days were profitable to him to a degree not common, and it was thus that his rapidly-growing literary attainments became the astonishment of strangers and the never failing delight and surprise of his friends."
Mr. Shepard's father was a sea-faring man, who, however, took good care to check every inclination towards that sort of life that existed in the mind of his son, at a very tender age. At his business start, therefore, the boy was forced into a channel that was not of his own choosing. At the age of fifteen, after having previously tried his skill as a boy of all work in the grocery business, he entered the store of John P. Jewett, a bookseller at Salem. He remained with Mr. Jewett eleven years, during which time he forgot all about the details of the West India trade and instead acquired a perfect knowledge of those of the making and selling of books. When, in 1846, Mr. Jewett removed to Boston and opened a store on Cornhill, Mr. Shepard accompanied him, and by his untiring energy, his close application to business and his intelligent way of conducting the affairs of the house in general, very largely contributed to the success which, in those days, was accounted so remarkable. He was even then looked upon as the "hardest worker" in the trade. He was the first to enter the store in the morning, and the last to leave at night. To many, it seemed as if his hours were only hours of toil; and yet, few young men of his age took life so easily as did he, or got more enjoyment out of it. It was during Mr. Shepard's connection with the house of John P. Jewett that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" first saw the light. The story of its publication has so often been told that it need not be repeated here. Mr. Shepard recalls all the incidents associated with it as vividly to-day as though they were but events of yesterday, and he is now the only living man that can tell them. As everybody knows, the book bounded into success, due as much to the shrewd advertising of the publisher as to the merits of the work itself. It redounds to the credit of Mr. Jewett that he never hesitated to acknowledge that whatever success he had as a Boston publisher was largely due to his sprightly clerk, who labored literally night and day, to master every detail of the business.
In 1855 Mr. Shepard conceived the idea of starting in business for himself, and formed a co-partnership which was known to the trade as Shepard, Clark and Brown. It flourished until the panic of 1857 swept over the country. Reverses came, and the house was forced to give up.
In 1862, as I have said, the firm of Lee and Shepard was started in business, with no other capital save that of brain and muscle. The two partners had long and favorably known one another. While strangely dissimilar in tastes, they yet exhibited many points in common. At the start, both were financially poor men; they possessed no funds, but, by virtue of their well known integrity and ability to succeed, could readily command the little which they required to begin life anew. Mr. Shepard, as well as Mr. Lee, had made himself indispensable to every firm with which he had been connected. Each had a wide circle of friends, and each was trusted by his friends. Both men had been generous in prosperity, and their good deeds, though known only to their intimate friends and the objects of their benevolence, were not trumpeted for worldly admiration. Both enjoyed a wide acquaintanceship with authors, and with books, with dealers, and with the public, and both had strong likes and dislikes, which made them as radical in politics as they were in personal affairs. In the firm, each has always had his own duties to perform, on the wise plan of a fitting division of labor. Yet while each partner seems exclusively to occupy his own field, independent of and unrestricted by the other, it rarely happens that there are any cross-purposes between them. The wheels of progress move on with unswerving and unerring progress; the law of compensation which is dominant in the establishment is always working aright.
Strangers who are for the first time brought in contract with these men, whether socially or on matters of business, invariably detect the strong points of conservatism which each exhibits. Mr. Lee gives one the impression of being a well-read man, as, in fact, he is. The faculty which he possesses of curiously gleaning the salient bits of knowledge out of current thought and expression, is something remarkable. The by-paths of literature are peculiarly his stamping-ground; and yet, upon almost every subject of important character, he will chat for hours intelligently and interestingly.
Mr. Shepard shows many of the same qualities. His brain is exceedingly fertile of ideas, his memory perfectly marvelous, his language pointed, easy-flowing and abounding in wit and humor. He exhibits singular quickness at repartee; he is fond of a joke, and will give and take with the keenest sense of enjoyment. His familiarity with standard literature serves him many a good turn; he makes it a duty to read thoroughly or to "dip into" every new book that is talked about. He fortifies himself, whether for daily life or for social intercourse, with all the intellectual weapons, so to speak, that can ever be called into play. Still, he moves along the pathway of life thoroughly without affectation; a "liberal education" seems to have been his by inheritance, and he can make better use of it than most college men with whom he is brought in contact.
It is as impossible for Mr. Shepard not to quote poetry as it is for him to fly through the air and his facility in so doing would alone make him a marked man. His whole soul is full of poesy, ever restless and exuberant. I am not aware that he ever molded a rhyme, or sung a measure of song in all his life. And yet so tenacious is his memory, so wonderful his talent in applying the epigrammatic utterances of the leading writers, both old and new, that a person, on being made cognizant of the fact, finds himself puzzled. Poetry enters into even the driest details of Mr. Shepard's business life. The signature to a check is often audibly accompanied by some melodic couplet. Anywhere and everywhere, and for everything that happens or may happen, the poetic spice is rarely wanting. Mr. Shepard does not deliberately intend this to be so; the gift rallies into utterance before he is aware of it, and he can no more suppress it than he can turn back the roaring waters of Niagara.
Possessed of such qualities as these, Mr. Shepard very easily finds friends and is the centre of their attraction. Outspoken, sometimes even to bluntness, a bitter hater of duplicity and meanness, a keen detector of counterfeit character, on the one hand; on the other, warm in his affections, generous to a fault, faithful to those whom he admires,—such is the man of whom I write. No one is ever at a loss to discover whether Mr. Shepard is his friend or his enemy.
Mr. Shepard has been intimately connected with the politics of his time. He began as a thorough, out-and-out abolitionist; during the war he was a stanch Republican, and a firm admirer of Charles Sumner. When the great Senator forsook his party, Mr. Shepard chose the same course, and to-day finds him enrolled upon the Democratic side, although, for some years back, he has taken no active interest in any political movement of the day.
Such, in brief, is Charles A.B. Shepard, a man better known, perhaps, than any other among the book trade of this country, everywhere popular, and nowhere more truly so than among those who are brought daily in contact with him and who know him best.
The firm of Lee and Shepard removed from 149 Washington street, in 1873, to a new building, which, replacing the one which had been destroyed in the great Boston fire, now stands on the south-east corner of Franklin and Hawley street. In these commodious and sumptuously-fitted quarters the firm tarried until their removal, in January of the present year, to their new quarters at No. 10 Milk street, adjoining the "old South." Here they have evidently settled down to stay, perhaps for the remaining years of their joint business life.
When they started in the "old dye-house" it was simply as booksellers. They owned no stereotyped plates, and for some weeks had no thought of entering into any business relations with authors. One day Mr. Shepard chanced to make a social call upon Mr. Samuel C. Perkins, formerly associated with Phillips, Sampson and Company, who, after their failure, had become possessed of some stereotype plates. During the conversation Mr. Perkins recalled the fact, and asked Mr. Shepard to take them off his hands. The wherewithall to purchase was wanting; but Mr. Shepard, conscious of what he was doing, decided to buy them, giving the firm's notes in payment. These plates included those of Oliver Optic's "Boat Club Series," in six volumes, and those of the "Riverdale Stories" in twelve volumes. Mr. Lee approved the transaction, and the firm at once brought out a new edition of both series. They met with a quick sale; indeed, so wonderful was their success that the author, who was then a Boston school teacher, was summoned and commissioned to prepare a series of books for girls. From that time down to the present day, the pen of "Oliver Optic" has been busily employed in behalf of the American youth. He has produced, besides the series already named, the "Army and Navy stories," in six volumes; the "Great Western series," in six volumes; the "Lake Shore series," in six volumes; the "Onward and Upward series," in six volumes; the "Starry Flag series," in six volumes; the "Woodville Stories," and the "Yacht Club series," each in six volumes; and two series of six volumes each, entitled "Young America abroad." Hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold of these books, and the demand for them to-day is almost as large as it was ten or fifteen years ago. It is no exaggeration to say that there is scarcely a young man or woman now living who has not read and profitted by one or more of Oliver Optic's stories.
Among the other successful writers whom Lee and Shepard brought into notice was Miss Rebecca S. Clark, known the world over by her pseudonym of "Sophie May." Her first book was "Little Prudy," which achieved a reputation not surpassed by that of Miss Alcott's "Little Women." This first volume was rapidly succeeded by others by the same author, which in turn won favor, and are now grouped in the catalogue in series, namely: "Little Prudy Series," "Little Prudy's Flyaway Series," "Dotty Dimple Series," and "Flaxie Frizzle Stories," each comprising six volumes. All of these books grew into the people's hearts, and ere long the newspapers noticed them, the magazines devoted large space to reviewing them, and the stately and sober-minded "North American Review," in a characteristic article, from Colonel Higginson's pen was led to say of their merits:
"Genius comes in with 'Little Prudy.' Compared with her, all other book-children are cold creations of literature only; she alone is the real thing, all the quaintness of childhood, its originality, its tenderness and its teasing, its infinite unconscious drollery, the serious earnestness of its fun, the fun of its seriousness, the natural religion of its plays and the delicious oddity of its prayers—all these waited for dear Little Prudy to embody them."
Such a verdict, from so exalted authority, has had its effect. The demand for Sophie May's books has been almost unprecedented. Inspired by her success in this line the author has also written several volumes for older readers, and they, too, have proved successful.
Another author, who has held a prominent place in the firm's catalogue, is Mr. George M. Baker. Although he has done much for the entertainment of the young people in the line of story-telling, his greatest success has been found in his series of amateur dramatic books, which have long ago become standard. I would not undertake to mention how many "plays" he has written; but to simply read the "mail orders" for such literature or watch customers as they come and go from "headquarters," would incline everybody to believe that he had produced about all that are ever needed.
Lee and Shepard's catalogue embraces the names of a great many authors, to even enumerate which would require much space in this magazine. Among the more prominent I will call to mind the Rev. Asa Bullard, Professor James De Mille, Miss Amanda M. Douglass, who has written some of the best stories in American literature for older readers; the Rev. Elijah Kellogg, the author of many bright and wholesome stories for youth; Mr. J.T. Trowbridge, who is known everywhere; the "Rev. Petroleum V. Nasby," whom President Lincoln termed the third power in crushing the rebellion; Charles Sumner, the edition of whose works, published by this house, was thought worthy of award at the Philadelphia exhibition; Francis H. Underwood, who first suggested the "Atlantic Monthly" magazine, and is one of the most genial and scholarly of American writers; Colonel T.W. Higginson, who has produced a number of pleasant books, and is the author of the most popular school History of the United States ever written; B.P. Shillaber (Mrs. Partington), and a host of other names, which the lack of space forbids me to mention.
In the making of books Lee and Shepard have shown an originality, which has always been noticeable. In more ways than one, they have been pioneers, and have set examples, which other firms have closely imitated and followed. It was this house which first conceived the idea of publishing serially favorite songs and poems in elegantly illustrated form,—an idea which was at once taken up by nearly every other publishing house in the country. These were issued in cloth binding, and, two years ago, in the now famous "Golden Floral" style. In their new dress these books have proved to be the most popular of their kind ever sold on this continent.
The house has also produced other illustrated books, of artistic excellence. Among these Miss Jerome's "One Year's Sketch Book" has been declared to be without a rival, in its own field, while Miss Miner's "Orchids" must needs be seen to be appreciated.
But I have reached the limits placed upon this article. I have omitted to speak of many things of which I should like to say something. But the warp and woof of the story are here given, and the reader will easily discover therefrom that no secrets underly the firm of Lee and Shepard save,—industry at home, and integrity in all their dealings with the public.
HON. RODNEY WALLACE.
BY REV. S. LEROY BLAKE, D.D.
[Pastor of the Calvinistic Congregational Church, Fitchburg.]
This is not a biography, it is a sketch; possibly I might say it is an outline. At any rate the life of our subject can not be written till other chapters are added, and the end comes. May it be long delayed.
The intense culmination of forces in the busy period of a man's life renders it fruitful in material for a sketch. What a successful man, of marked force of character, has done, may be an incentive and an encouragement to others. Perhaps this was Longfellow's chief thought when he penned the "Psalm of Life:"
Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime.
The lives of great men, and conspicuously that of the subject of this sketch, prove that, in this country, a boy need not be born with a silver spoon in his mouth, nor with a brilliant speech on his lips, to reach eminent success, and be held in high honor; but that the noblest results of a life of industry and frugality, and the highest honors any worthy ambition can crave, are within reach of the boy who has energy, courage, integrity of purpose, and purity of character. By their native energy some of the most conspicuous men of our time have made their way against obstacles which would have been too much for less sturdy wills. Whatever deficiencies there may have been in their early training were largely atoned for by native energy and force of character. Because this is all true of the subject of this paper, we tell the story in the hope that some other struggling boy may take courage from his example.
HIS START IN LIFE.
Rodney Wallace was born in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, December 21, 1823, and is therefore in the full vigor of manhood. We may infer that his boyhood was not blessed with the advantages which usually crown the early life of so many lads, and strew their path with roses, from the fact that at the age of twelve he left home to work on a farm for wages, with agreement for limited opportunities for schooling. He is a son of David and Roxanna Wallace.
It seems likely that the family is of Scotch origin. David Wallace seemed to think so, since he dropped the spelling Wallis, and adopted the form in which the name is now written. In 1639, Robert Wallis was living in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Benoni Wallis, of this family, removed to Lunenburg and there married Rebecca Morse, of Lynn, July 2, 1755. She died in Lunenburg August 25, 1790, and he died March 15, 1792. David, son of Benoni and Rebecca Wallis, was born October 16, 1760. He married Susannah Lowe, and lived in Ashburnham where he died January 14, 1842. David, son of David and Susannah Wallis, was born at Ashburnham July 14, 1797. He married July 8, 1821, Roxanna Gower of New Ipswich, where he lived till he removed to Rindge, New Hampshire, in 1846. He died at Rindge, May 29, 1857; and his wife died at Fitchburg, February 27, 1876. He was the first of his family in this country to adopt the spelling Wallace, instead of Wallis. He had eight children, of whom the subject of this sketch was the second.
As we have said, at the age of twelve, when most lads are comfortably cared for at home, young Wallace started out in life for himself. He let himself to a farmer for forty dollars for the first year, with the privilege of attending school eight weeks in the winter. It turns out that the first forty dollars he earned were the beginning of a large fortune, without a dishonest dollar in it, and that the eight weeks of schooling of that winter on the farm, was the beginning of a knowledge, gleaned here and there as opportunity offered, which fits him for prominent positions of trust and responsibility.
At an early age, sixteen I think, he was charged with the responsibility of driving freight teams from Rindge to Boston, returning with loads of merchandise. In the discharge of this trust he displayed the energy, tact, and trustworthiness which were prophecies of the man. He was taking his first lessons in the school of business, and proved himself an apt scholar.
Dr. Stephen Jewett was a somewhat notable physician of Rindge. His fame in the cure of chronic and acute diseases was wide spread. He was frequently called upon to make professional visits in Boston and other New England cities and towns. His medicines attained a wide celebrity. Their manufacture and sale became a large and lucrative business, and was carried on after the death of Dr. Jewett, by his son, Stephen Jewett, Jr. The energy which young Wallace had already shown induced Mr. Jewett to put the whole business of selling these medicines into his hands. He entered into this employment in 1843, at the age of twenty, and continued in it till he came to Fitchburg in 1853. In selling these medicines he travelled over five of the New England States. He said to the writer that this was a good school in geography for him, for he became acquainted with the topography of these states, and the location of all their important places.
Such were the beginnings of a business career of great prosperity. It was in these ways that he got his start in life, and in these lesser employments he proved himself worthy of and equal to the greater tasks yet before him. Here he showed the same judgment and far-sighted wisdom, which have marked his career in the larger, more conspicuous circles of the business world, and won him a name which is everywhere repeated with respect, and a reputation for integrity and honest dealing which any man might covet.
HIS BUSINESS LIFE.
In 1853 Mr. Wallace came to Fitchburg and entered upon that period which, for convenience, I have named his business life. He formed a co-partnership with Stephen Shepley, known as Shepley and Wallace. They were wholesale dealers in books, stationery, paper-stock, and cotton-waste. This firm continued under the name of Shepley and Wallace, and R. Wallace and Co. till July 1, 1865. On this day the firm dissolved, and the business was divided. Mr. Wallace took the department of paper-stock and cotton-waste, which he still carries on. To what proportions it has grown, under his management, may be judged from the fact that the business done amounts at least to $200,000 a year.
December 31, 1864, Stephen Shepley, Benjamin Snow, and Rodney Wallace bought the Lyon Paper Mill and the Kimball Scythe Shops at West Fitchburg, and began the manufacture of paper under the name of the Fitchburg Paper Company, Stephen E. Denton was taken into the firm as a partner soon after. He had charge of the business at the mill. In July, 1865, Rodney Wallace and Benjamin Snow bought the interest of Stephen Shepley; and the Fitchburg Paper Company was then Wallace, Snow, and Denton. Mr. Denton died in June,1868. January 7, 1869, Mr. Wallace bought the interest of Benjamin Snow. January 23 of the same year he bought the interest of Mr. Denton's estate of his widow, who was at that time residing in New York. From that date till the present the Fitchburg Paper Company is Rodney Wallace. He retains the old firm name.
Since becoming sole owner, he has added largely to the original property. A neat village of dwellings has grown up around his mills, which deserves a name of its own. Wallaceville would be an appropriate name. He has put in a substantial stone dam at great expense. In 1878 he erected a new brick mill, with all the modern improvements, doubling the capacity of the establishment. It is now capable of producing from 15,000 to 18,000 pounds of paper every twenty-four hours. Just across the Nashua River is the Fitchburg Railroad. He has a freight station of his own, where he receives all his freight and ships all his paper.
Mr. Wallace has conducted his business with rare sagacity, with unblemished integrity, and with an eye to the welfare of his employees, as well as to his own personal interests. If it were not like praising a man to his face, since he still lives, many instances might be cited to prove that it has not been his policy to get the most out of his employees for the least possible return. But it is enough to say that he has no difficulty in keeping men in his employ. Somehow he has hit upon a plan by which he has kept the irrepressible conflict between capital and labor at a distance.
Aside from his own business, which makes large drafts upon his time, strength, and thought, he has been closely identified with numerous other corporate and monetary interests. He has thus had a large share in contributing to the growth and prosperity of the enterprising city in which he lives. Its business interests, to a large degree, have enjoyed his wisdom, and profited by his sagacity. Since 1864 he has been President and Director of the Fitchburg Gas Company; a Director of Putnam Machine Company since the same year; a Director of the Fitchburg National Bank since 1866; a partner in the Fitchburg Woolen Mills since 1877; a Trustee of Smith College since 1878. He is a Director of the Fitchburg Mutual Fire Insurance Company; a Trustee of the Fitchburg Savings Bank; a Director of the Fitchburg Railroad; a partner of the Parkhill Manufacturing Company. Besides these, he has had the settlement of large and important estates, demanding time, good judgment, and unbending integrity. We would especially note the large estate of the late Ephraim Murdock, Jr., of Winchendon, and that of the late Hon. Wm. H. Vose of Fitchburg. These facts speak for themselves, and show the esteem in which Mr. Wallace is held by his fellow citizens, as a wise counsellor, and as a man of integrity and uprightness of character, as well as of rare good judgment in all matters pertaining to the transaction of business. Another says, "In whatever enterprise Mr. Wallace has been engaged, he has not only been fortunate in its pecuniary interests, but also in the speedy command of the confidence and respect of his associates. True moral principles have been united with unquestioned probity, business tact, and liberal, intelligent management." He has won a large fortune, without parting with his honesty in earning a single dollar. As his property has increased, his generous spirit has seen larger opportunities and at once embraced them. He has not been among those who withhold more than is meet and tend to poverty. Property in such hands is not a grinding monopoly, but a wide blessing. Such men can afford to be wealthy. They represent the true socialistic spirit, which is, that private capital should be held as a public good.
Largely through the influence of Mr. Wallace various improvements have been made in Fitchburg, which contribute to its attractiveness. The business of the city is in no small degree indebted to him for facilities with which communication can be had with the world outside. Prominent mention may be made of the beautiful Union Railway station at Fitchburg in securing whose erection, and in planning which, Mr. Wallace was largely instrumental.
MR. WALLACE IN POLITICS.
Mr. Wallace has had no ambitious longings for political life. And yet his fellow citizens would not be likely to let such a man remain wholly out of public life. So it is true to say that whatever office Mr. Wallace has held, has sought him. He was selectman of the town during the years 1864, 1865, and 1867. In 1873 he was representative to the Genral Court, to which office he was elected in the fall of 1872 by nearly every ballot cast. He was re-nominated the next year without dissent or opposition, but declined a re-election on account of ill health. While a member of the Legislature he was on the Committee on Manufactures, a position which his ability and experience fitted him to fill.
The most conspicuous political office he has held is that of Councillor. While holding that position he represented one of the largest and most important districts of the State. In it are included the thriving city of Worcester and the sister city of Fitchburg, which, with their varied industries, needed a man of large and ripe judgment to represent them. He served three terms, during the years 1880, 1881, and 1882, or throughout the entire administration of Governor Long. His election was so entirely unanimous that for the last two years he had no competitor in the field, Democrats as well as Republicans supporting him. While on the Council he was a member of the following important committees: on Pardons, on Harbors and Public Lands, on Military Affairs, and on Warrants.
At the close of Governor Long's administration he refused to allow furthur use of his name for the office he had so ably filled for three years. He celebrated his retirement from this position as a servant of the public by a brilliant reception tendered to Governor Long in the City Hall, Fitchburg, December 7, 1882. He thus gave his fellow citizens and constituents an opportunity to look Massachusett's popular Governor in the face and take him by the hand.
The following account of the reception, appeared in the Fitchburg Sentinel of Friday, December 8, which I quote:
"The reception tendered to Governor Long in City Hall, Thursday evening, by Councillor Rodney Wallace and wife, was the most enjoyable and brilliant entertainment ever given in this city, and will be long remembered with pleasure by all who participated. The reception was given by Mr. and Mrs. Wallace as a compliment to Governor Long, with whom Mr. Wallace has been associated as Councilor for three years, and to give their friends here an opportunity to spend an evening socially with His Excellency. Some 450 cards of invitation were sent out, including about 700 persons, and nearly 600 were present on Thursday evening. The storm and blizzard-like weather that reached this city early in the afternoon prevented the attendance of some of Mr. Wallace's business associates from abroad. The intention was to give all a pleasant, social evening, and the result was a full realization of the pleasure anticipated for some days.
* * * * *
Guests were received at the west entrance over which a canopy was erected. The steps, hall-ways and stairs were all carpeted. The Common Council room was used as a dressing room for the ladies, the Aldermen's room for the gentlemen, and the Mayor's office was reserved for Governor Long and Councilor Wallace. On entering the hall the guests were presented to Councilor Wallace, Mrs. Wallace and Governor Long, who stood in the centre on the east side—Messrs. Herbert I. Wallace, George R. Wallace, Charles E. Ware, Jr., Harris C. Hartwell, James Phillips, Jr., B.D. Dwinnell, Dr. E.P. Miller and M.L. Gate officiating as ushers. After the greetings the time was spent socially, listening to the excellent music furnished by Russell's Orchestra, fourteen pieces stationed on the stage, and many enjoyed dancing from 10.30 till about 1 o'clock.
* * * * *
Among the distinguished guests were the following from out of town: Councilor Joseph Davis and wife of Lynn, Councilor Matthew W. Cushing of Middleboro, Councilor Nathaniel Wales of Stoughton, Councilor Rufus D. Woods of Enfield, Congressman-elect William Whiting of Holyoke, Councilor-elect Eben A. Hall of the Greenfield Gazette and Courier, Secretary of State Henry B. Peirce of Abington, Rev. E.A. Horton of Boston (formerly of Leominster), Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Edwards and Prof. Henry M. Tyler and wife (formerly of this city) of Northampton, Dr. F.A. Harris, wife and Miss Gage, Mrs. Glover (Governor Long's mother-in-law), William B. Wood and wife, Superintendent John Adams (of the Fitchburg Railroad) and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Shepley, all of Boston; N.D. White and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. White of Winchendon, John S. Baldwin of the Worcester Spy, J.B. Hall of the Worcester Gazette, Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Merriam and daughter of Leominster.
An attempt to describe the hall as it appeared on this occasion cannot be otherwise than unsatisfactory. To appreciate the brilliant scene one must see not only the gay decorations and the beautiful flowers and plants, but also the happy people and the elegant and tasty dresses of the ladies, in the full light of the extra burners placed in the centre of the hall for this reception.
* * * * *
The entire floor was carpeted, and the hall was divided into two sections—reception room and dining room—by pink and white bunting. The walls of the entire hall were decorated with draperies, cottons, pink and white buntings, etc., and festooned with two thousand yards of laurel and hanging baskets of flowers, while a splendid collection of pot plants, orange and lemon trees, and growing grapes, from Mr. Wallace's private conservatory added much to the grand effect of the designs.
The most elaborate work was in the front of the stage, at the right of the stage and on the right and left centres of the hall. Above all, over the stage was a gilt carved eagle surmounting the State coat of arms. On either side flags were festooned and ornamented with sprays of holly. In the rear of the platform were palm trees, while in front dracinas, and laurel, with a beautiful orange tree in each corner, each bearing nearly twenty oranges. On the right wall of the hall, the draperies were surmounted by four medallions representing the elements—Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. In the right centre was the large painting representing Crete, above which was the motto "Amicus inter Amicos." In the foreground was a pedestal surmounted by a bust of Ariadne, flanked on each side by growing grapes, with two Roman altars burning incense through the entire evening.
On the left centre wall was a large painting representing Antium, the home of Nero and Temple of Fortuna, with the Appollo Belvidere on a pedestal in the foreground, flanked with two standing vases with burning incense. Above the painting was the motto "Gaudeamus Igitur," resting on a gilt lyre and torch. Medallions representing Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter surmounted the draperies on this side of the hall.
One of the most admired features of the decorations was the design on the floor at the right of the stage. A pedestal, some ten feet high, was surmounted by a beautiful specimen of the American eagle. On either side of the eagle was a perfect flag made of natural flowers—violets, carnations and tube roses—with a shield of similar flowers in the centre. The entire pedestal was banked by pots of growing plants—including palms, dracinas, ponisettas in full bloom, etc.
The dining room was also handsomely decorated with flags, draperies and flowers, while the table itself was elegantly laid with exquisitely decorated china and silver, and ornamented by beautiful bouquets, candelabra, and epergnes. Supper was served through the entire evening, guests entering at the right from the reception apartment and passing through to the west side of the hall."
The completeness of all these arrangements were largely due to the taste and energy of his son, Mr. Herbert I. Wallace, who had the whole matter in charge.
In 1884 Mr. Wallace was chosen delegate from this district to the Republican Convention held at Chicago in June, which resulted in the nomination of James G. Blaine and John A. Logan. Like most of the delegates from Massachusetts, Mr. Wallace was in favor of Senator Edmunds of Vermont. But when he saw that Mr. Blaine's nomination was inevitable, he joined in making it unanimous. He did not go with those who bolted the nomination, because it was not his first choice, but he supported it with his purse, his voice, and his vote, as appears from the following synopsis of a brief address which he made at a ratification meeting, held in the City Hall, Fitchburg, July 11, 1884, which I clip from the Fitchburg Sentinel of the next day:
"Ex-Mayor Merriam, Chairman of the committee, called the meeting to order, and said the audience had assembled to hear the report of the two delegates to the Republican national convention. The Chairman then introduced Rodney Wallace, who was most heartily applauded as he arose to speak.
Mr. Wallace, who was one of the delegates from this district to the Republican convention, said his first choice for President was the able statesman from Vermont, Senator Edmunds, and his second choice was President Arthur, who has given us such an excellent administration. The Massachusetts delegation, almost without exception, worked hard to secure the nomination for Mr. Edmunds, but it was impossible for that convention to nominate anybody but James G. Blaine. Nobody can describe the enthusiasm through the entire convention for Blaine. The California delegation bore a banner inscribed "From Maine to California, through Iowa, all for Blaine," and, in my opinion now, Mr. Elaine is the strongest man in the Republican party. When the motion was made to make the nomination unanimous, not a voice was raised against it. I believe he will be elected in November and will give us a strong and safe administration."
The writer does not know whether Mr. Wallace considers his political life ended. He certainly has no longing, desires, and ambitions in the direction of public office. It is equally certain that any office which he will consent to hold, and which the people who know him can give, he can have without opposition.
MR. WALLACE AS A CITIZEN.
I come now to a part of my story which it is exceedingly pleasant to relate and of which I am able to speak, to no little extent, from personal knowledge. It is, after all, what one is as a man among men, which speaks most for his honor, or his dishonor. What greater significance generous deeds have, when you know that behind them is no calculating, grasping spirit, which is figuring out how much it can get in return, but a noble, generous, self-forgetful manhood. We have a conviction that the conflict between labor and capital, which just now has reached a threatening pitch of violence, might have been avoided if employers had not in so many cases endeavored to reduce men to mere money-making machines. As a rule strikes do not occur where laboring men are treated with the consideration due them as free citizens. The freedom of Fitchburg from strikes is due to the intelligence of the workmen, and the fairness of the employers. Another says, "nothing does more to destroy the spirit of socialism and communism and to disipate envy than to see wealthy men devoting a part of their wealth to public uses."
This introduces us to the most conspicuous act by which the subject of our sketch has proved his public spirit and generosity of purpose as a citizen. I refer to his gift to the city of Fitchburg of a beautiful public library, which, by vote of the city government, is to be called by his name. This act of beneficence reaches farther than appears to a casual observer. It secures to the city, for all coming time, a "Peoples' College," where the child of the poorest, as well as of the richest, the toiler as well as the man of leisure, may get a very important education. This building is to be devoted to art as well as to literature, and we look to see it exert a refining and cultivating, as well as an educating influence over the rising generations of our city. Its very presence, in a most conspicuous position, in the very heart of the city, will be educational. It will prove itself a most valuable adjunct to the excellent course of instruction given in our public schools.
For some years it had been in Mr. Wallace's mind to do something of this sort. In 1881 he purchased what was known as the Ruggles property, opposite Monument Park. In the spring of 1884, when he left for his annual tour in the South, he placed in the hands of Judge Ware, Chairman of the Trustees of the Public Library, a genuine surprise to his fellow citizens. I clip from the Fitchburg Sentinel of March 26, 1884, the following account of the matter:
"Both branches of the City Council met on Tuesday evening and transacted the following business:
The principal business was
IN JOINT CONVENTION.
Major Davis presided and announced that Judge T.K. Ware, Chairman of the Trustees of the Public Library, had a communication to present to the City Council.
Judge Ware said that he appeared before the Council at the request of Honorable Rodney Wallace, who, previous to his departure for the South, left with him the following communication which gave him pleasure and gratification to be able to present to the City Council:
To His Honor, the Mayor and the City Council of the City of Fitchburg;
GENTLEMEN:—The subscriber has felt for a long time that a building with proper appurtenances for our Public Library here in Fitchburg was much needed, and makes the following proposition, viz:
I propose to convey by proper deed to the city of Fitchburg my lot of land situated at the corner of Main street and Newton place, and to expend, with the advice and approval of the Trustees of the Public Library, within the next two years, a sum not less than forty thousand dollars ($40,000) in erecting a building on said lot; said building to be under the care and management of the Board of Trustees of the Public Library for the time being, and to be used for a Free Public Library, Reading Rooms and Art Gallery, and for no other purpose.
And it is understood that the city government, accepting these donations for the above purposes, shall assume and bear the current expenses of said building, grounds and appurtenances, after the Library building shall have been completed and furnished.
If the above proposition is accepted I shall proceed to carry out the same as soon as it can conveniently be done.
RODNEY WALLACE. FITCHBURG, March 17, 1884.
Mayor Davis said this act on the part of our esteemed fellow citizen calls forth the profound gratitude of all the inhabitants of our city. I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without expressing my thanks, as a citizen, for the munificent gift. May his life be long and his prosperity increasing.
The following order, introduced by Mayor Davis, was then unanimously adopted:
Ordered, That the City of Fitchburg accept the donation of Honorable Rodney Wallace to it of the lot of land on the corner of Main street and Newton place, and the Library building to be erected by him thereon, upon the conditions and in accordance with the terms and provisions contained in his written communication and proposal to the Mayor and City Council; and places on record its profound appreciation of the public spirit and munificence of the donor, and its recognition of the incalculable benefits which will result to his fellow citizens and their descendants and successors for all time from this noble gift.
Alderman Joel said the surprise was so great and so agreeable that words were not at his command to express the thanks he, in common with all other members, felt for the munificent gift presented by Mr. Wallace. He moved that a committee be appointed to prepare and forward a vote of thanks to Honorable Rodney Wallace for his gift. The motion was unanimously adopted, and Mayor Davis appointed Alderman Joel, Councilmen Flaherty and Parkhill as the committee."
From the Sentinel of April 10, 1884, I clip the following:
"The following resolutions have been presented to Honorable Rodney Wallace by the special committee appointed at the joint convention of the two branches of the City Council, March 25:
To HONORABLE RODNEY WALLACE: FITCHBURG, Mass.
Whereas, the Mayor and City Council of the city of Fitchburg have received and accepted a proposition tendered by Honorable Rodney Wallace of this city, by the terms of which a lot of land situated at the corner of Main street and Newton place is donated to the city of Fitchburg, and a sum not less than forty thousand dollars is to be expended by him, with the advice and approval of the Trustees of the Public Library, within the next two years in erecting a building on said lot, said building to be used for a Free Public Library, Reading Rooms, and an Art Gallery; therefore,
Resolved, That this body desires to voice and place on record the universal appreciation on the part of our citizens of the generosity and public spirit of the honored donor, of the timeliness of the gift, and not less, of the wisdom and foresight manifested in the particular mode by which the city is made the recipient of the munificent present.
Resolved, That we recognize the fact that a gift of this nature will result in incalculable benefits to the community so fortunate as to receive it, enlarging and intensifying, as it does, all the privileges of acquiring information and securing culture which a public library affords; providing in a most accessible and useful form the means by which our young people and those whose daily toil leaves them little leisure for study, may draw to themselves the results of all past experience; and rendering both attractive and easy to all classes of our people opportunities of turning their thoughts from the sterner features of their daily occupations to the amenities of life as presented by specimens of artistic and literary merit.
Resolved, That while sharing in the delight of our citizens in view of the valuable gift thus unexpectedly placed at their service, we congratulate them even more upon the presence among them of men whom Providence has blessed in three-fold measure—with hearts abounding in philanthropic instincts, with material resources ample for the gratification of such impulses, and with that rarer gift than either, the judgment requisite to secure for their donations the widest and most permanent range of influence.
Resolved, That we cannot resist the inclination to felicitate our honored benefactor upon the deep and abiding joy which must be the most adequate reward for this expression of his good will toward our city—the joy arising from the knowledge that every home within our corporate limits will enter into the enjoyment of his gift and that not a few of our youth will be allured from scenes of degrading and immoral pleasure by the presence in a most convenient location of a beautiful edifice within which are at their disposal the graces of art and the riches of literature.
Resolved, That the distinguished giver by this gift, the most valuable ever received by this community at one time from a single citizen, has "erected a monument more enduring than bronze and loftier than the regal structure of the pyramids" in the establishment of a lasting sense of gratitude within the hearts of his appreciative fellow citizens.
ALONZO DAVIS, JOEL JOEL, BERNARD H. FLAHERTY, JOHN PARKHILL, (Committee) FITCHBURG, April 1, 1884."
Although $40,000 is the lowest limit named, it should be said that the cost of the noble pile will far exceed that sum. It was a generous and princely act for which he will be held in lasting and greatful memory. He will leave behind him a monument which will forever identify his name with the intellectual and moral culture of all classes of the citizens of Fitchburg.
On the seventh of April, the Trustees of the Public Library took appropriate action on the gift of Mr. Wallace. The following account appeared in the Sentinel of April 8:
"At a meeting of the Trustees of the Public Library, Monday evening, the board adopted the following resolution, offered by Henry A. Willis, and on motion of Rev. P.J. Garrigan it was voted to enter the same on their records, request the daily papers of the city to publish the same, and that Rev. P.J. Garrigan, Henry A. Willis and L.H. Bradford be appointed a committee to present the action of the board to Mr. Wallace:
Resolved, That we have heard with great satisfaction of the proposed gift by Honorable Rodney Wallace of land and a building for the use of the Public Library, thus providing for a want long felt by the Trustees, viz: facilities for making the Library fully available to the people of the city, which it never could be in its present confined quarters; that we will fully co-operate with the generous donor in any manner desired by him in carrying out the details of his proposed undertaking; and that we desire here to place upon our records our keen appreciation of the generous spirit which has moved him to tender this munificent gift."
The new library building fronts on Main street, and looks out upon Monument Park and the beautiful Court House of North Worcester County. It is of Greek classic style, and is built of Trenton pressed brick. It has sandstone trimmings. It has a frontage of seventy-four feet on Main street, and is sixty-five feet deep. The basement is ten feet in height. It is two stories above the basement. The library floor is sixteen feet high. The second story, which contains the picture gallery, is ten feet high on the outside, and thirty-two in the centre. The extreme height is therefore fifty-eight feet. The front of the building is especially imposing. It has a projection in the centre, twenty-five feet wide and six feet deep, which extends the whole height of the structure and terminates in a gable, which is surrounded by a decorated pediment. The main entrance is approached by massive steps of granite, twelve feet wide, flanked by heavy buttresses. At the top of the steps is the entrance porch, eleven feet wide, six feet deep, and arched overhead. Polished granite columns with carved capitals on either side support the archway above. In the belt of sandstone above this arch is cut the legend "Library and Art Building." Above this belt is a row of windows separated by columns of brick. Above these is a sandstone belt in which is cut the name of the donor, by vote of the City Government. The title of the structure is therefore "Wallace Library and Art Building." Above is a row of circular windows separated by sandstone columns with carved capitals. The hip roof of the building is crowned by a monitor top, which admits light into the art room below. Over the entrance is to be the city seal, in antique and Venetian glass. The whole structure is amply lighted by a large number of windows.
The basement provides for a store-room, a work-room, and reading-room, which opens off Newton lane. The public will have full access to this room. It will specially accommodate the workingmen. The late Honorable Wm. H. Vose left $1,000, the income of which is to be used in supplying suitable papers for this room. There are also in the basement a coal room, and the boiler which heats the whole building. On entering the building one stands in a large hall, on the right of which is a reading-room for magazines, and on the left is a large reference room, and a winding stairway by which the second story is reached. Across the whole rear of the building is the library room, which is high enough to admit of galleries. Ample provisions are thus made for all the possible future needs of the city. In the second story is the art gallery. Around it are five other rooms, which can be devoted to any of the uses such an institution may require. When completed the inside will be finished in hard woods, and according to modern ideas of taste and elegance. The art gallery will be a model of its kind.
With a collection of books and of works of art to match the thought of the donor expressed in the building the library will be a lasting blessing to our city. A gift so timely, and so well adapted to the needs of a city like Fitchburg, with its population of young people, could not fail to commend itself, and win the gratitude of every right-minded citizen. Therefore, any one who will stand in front of this building for an hour, and listen to the remarks made by those who look up to it as they pass, will readily learn how deep a hold on the esteem of all classes of the citizens of Fitchburg this generous act has given Mr. Wallace.
Lest my estimate of Mr. Wallace may seem extravagant to those who do not know him, I add the following from the pen of Professor H.M. Tyler of Smith College, Northampton, formerly Mr. Wallace's pastor. He writes:—
"It gives me great pleasure to send a few lines in answer to your note, though it would be easy for a critic to say that I have long since passed the point where I could give a cold-blooded opinion of Mr. Wallace. I can write only from the stand-point of warm friendship and cannot be cold in my respect and admiration for my friend. Mr. Wallace is pre-eminently a business man; to this the chief energy of his life has been directed. It seems an impertinence for me to pass judgment upon his career, but I have loved to study him in his business habits. By his affability, correctness, and fairness in all his work he has succeeded marvellously in attaching every one to himself. All instinctively gravitate toward him, and never wish to break off their association with him. I never knew a man so master of his own ways and yet so universally popular. People love to be influenced or even controlled by him. His office would be the centre of any community in which he should be placed. All men love to fasten to him their faith. He has everywhere learned to gather friends by showing himself friendly. His interest in the people of his own community has been shown not merely by his public benefactions. Every one in want of help has turned to him, and all have had a patient hearing and generous response.
He has been associated with people of every position and among all has been a favorite companion. Everyone has felt at home with him. It is rarely true that a man has gained success with so thorough a desire that his friends should enjoy what he has gathered with him. He is thus remarkable for his prosperity, for the use which he is making of his prosperity, for his delight in giving pleasure to others, and for the disposition and temper which finds its enjoyment in such rational and kindly ways.
It is not that one never disagrees with Mr. Wallace. He would scorn the flattery which yields convictions to attempt to please. Even when we differ he is none the less congenial. If I have ever had the feeling that in any respect I should like to make him over it has generally yielded to the conviction that on the whole I could not hope to do better than has been done. Among all the men with whom I have come in contact in places of business responsibility and honor I do not know another to whom I give more unqualified respect and esteem than I do to Mr. Wallace. Cordially,
HENRY M. TYLER."
Mr. Wallace, as has appeared, was for three years associated with Governor Long in the Government of Massachusetts. In response to a note from me Mr. Long writes as follows:
"I am glad to know that you are writing a sketch of Mr. Wallace for publication. If a good subject will make a good sketch your work will be a success. He is one of the men, however, who write their own lives, not in the pages of any autobiography, but in their conduct and character. I have served with him in public life, and sat with him as one of my Councilors in the Executive Chamber, and have found him always a fund of practical good sense, of excellent judgment, trained by great experience in affairs, and of thorough integrity. He is a representative Massachusetts man, the builder of his own fortune, equal to the enterprise of acquiring wealth and position, and magnanimous in their use and enjoyment. But I like best to recall, as I am sure do all who know him, his generous friendship, his great public spirit, and his good heart, of which I have witnessed many proofs. I trust that it may be many years before his life is taken in any other way than in such an appreciative and kindly sketch as you will write of him.
Very truly yours, JOHN D. LONG."
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 1885.
December 1, 1853, Mr. Wallace married Sophia Ingalls, daughter of Thomas Ingalls of Rindge, New Hampshire. She died June 20, 1871, leaving two sons, Herbert I. Wallace and George R. Wallace. Herbert is a graduate of Harvard in the class of 1877. George studied at the Institute of Technology in Boston. They are associated with their father in the management of his business. December 28, 1876 Mr. Wallace married Mrs. Sophia F. Bailey of Woodstock, Vermont. Mr. Bailey was a member of Congress from the district in which Fitchburg is included. Mrs. Wallace is one of the well-known Billings family of Woodstock. Mr. Wallace lives in a beautiful house on Prospect street, which is surrounded with beautiful lawns and green-houses which, gratify his taste. From his front door he can overlook the city and its varied industries in whose development he has borne so conspicuous a part.
We are near the end of a story which it has been a pleasure to tell. Vastly more could be told. A volume of incidents could be written. There are precious secrets of every generous and noble man's life which no pen may profane by giving them publicity. These are the choice treasures reserved only for those who know him best, and live nearest his heart. But the writer desires, as Mr. Wallace's pastor, to add the testimony of observation and personal knowledge to the rare purity and uprightness of character, to the generosity of spirit, to the thoughtful kindness, and to the deep and reverent regard for spiritual things, of his distinguished parishioner. As an example of untiring energy, of probity of character, of cleanness of soul, of uprightness of life, of sincerity of purpose, of firmness of moral principle, he may safely be held up as a model for young men.
* * * * *
BY MRS. CAROLINE A. MASON.[A]
[Footnote A: Mrs. Mason is a resident of Fitchburg. Her home, on Rollstone Street, is shown in the "Sketch of Fitchburg." Her reputation as a writer of verse is not confined to the State. She is the author of the words of the familiar ballad "Do They Miss Me at Home?" and has, for many years, contributed poetry to leading weeklies and magazines.—Ed.]
Nested among her hills she lies,— The city of our love! Within her, pleasant homes arise; And healthful airs and happy skies Float peacefully above.
A sturdy few, 'mid hopes and fears, Her fair foundations set: And looking backward now, through years Of steady gain, how small appears Her old estate!—and yet,
She dons no autocratic airs, In scorn of humbler days, But shapes her fortunes and affairs, To match the civic wreath she wears And justify her bays.
Honor and Truth her old renown: Conservative of both, The virtues of the little town She holds in legacy, to crown The city's larger growth.
Nor ease nor sloth her strength despoil: Her peaceful farmers till, With patient thrift, th' outlying soil, Her trained mechanics deftly toil, Her merchants ply their skill;
Her ponderous engineries supply A thousand waiting needs; Her wheels revolve, her shuttles fly,— And ever where the prize hangs high, Her foot, unfaltering, leads.
Her sympathies are large and sweet: And when, at Freedom's call, The war flags waved, the war drums beat, She sprang, responsive, to her feet, And freely offered all!
Alert in War, she emulates The Arts of Peace, as well: Religion, Order, guard her gates; Wealth, Culture, Thrift, like happy Fates, Her destinies foretell.
So, through the round of years, she keeps Advancing on her Past: Her old-time vigor never sleeps,— And even as she sows she reaps. God bless her to the last!
* * * * *
MAJOR GENERAL LEW WALLACE AT SHILOH.
GENERAL U.S. GRANT'S VINDICATION OF GENERAL WALLACE.—THE WALLACE AND GRANT LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS WITH INTRODUCTORY NOTE.
BY GENERAL HENRY B. CARRINGTON.
[Author of "Battles of the American Revolution."]
It seems common to all great wars that the true version of leading actions is rarely assured by the immediate reports of commanders. Many causes secure to such reports substantial accuracy, but the development of details seldom fails to show that justice to subordinates cannot be done by the simple statement of general plans and general results. There are historians who still claim that Arnold had no part in the battle of Freeman's Farm, September 19, 1777; and many other battles of the Revolutionary war lacked clear definition until nearly a century had passed and the records were supplemented by careful examination of the battle-fields and a more thorough scrutiny of British, French, and Hessian archives, thereby to correct topographical data and harmonize conflicting statements.
The case of General Fitz John Porter forcibly illustrates the difficulty of changing public opinion, once formed, even when supplemental data enforce military recognition of their value. The Battle of Franklin, which secured to General Thomas the opportunity to fortify Nashville and ultimately defeat Hood, and the battles of Stone River, Gettysburg, Chicamauga and Monocacy, are among the actions of the late war in which differences of statement as to positions and movements have greatly qualified first estimates of the relations which various officers sustained to those actions.
The battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, has been the latest under scrutiny. It is not the purpose to consider whether the action of the day was influenced by the arrival of Buel's army, or by the non-arrival of General Lew Wallace's division; nor whether General Wallace did, or did not, march by scientific methods, when he moved for the nearest firing. Among voluminous papers touching the civil war are the copies of original papers received from General Wallace himself, and of present interest. These papers received notice from the Western press at one time, but seem to demand a more formal record, as essential factors in the better understanding of the Battle of Shiloh.
The following outline is suggested by these documents:
1st. That the Federal line of battle, early in the morning, stretched out from Pittsburg Landing nearly to the Purdy Road, with General Sherman's division on the right, within about a mile of that road.
2nd. That General Wallace's division was at Crump's Landing, not more than five miles from Pittsburg Landing; it being then uncertain which of the two would be the objective of attack.
3d. That General Grant visited General Wallace at Crump's Landing and ordered him to hold his command subject to orders, and then steamed onward to Pittsburg Landing.
4th. That before 6 o'clock, A.M., the sound of firing had led General Wallace to put his command under arms; and he was prepared to move wherever active work should demand, even before he was ordered to be thus ready.
5th. That he concentrated his brigades, then in three camps, into one mass, at the forks of the Purdy Road and the road to Pittsburg Landing, so that he might take either road, as orders should decide.
6th. That he understood the original line of battle and the disposition of its divisions, and knew that General Sherman held the right.
7th. That the order received by him, before 12 o'clock, M., from Captain Baxter, staff officer of General Grant, was in writing; and while pronounced verbally, at first, the form it assumed, when reduced to writing and subsequently delivered to General Wallace, was a direct order to "unite with the right," and that involved the march on the Purdy Road.
If the verbal order of General Grant to Captain Baxter, to hasten General Wallace's Division to Pittsburg Landing, was reduced to writing by that officer, after he noticed the early success of the Union Line, he would have shaped the approach of the fresh division to the best possible advantage, to join the army, not the precise Landing, if the army was not there; since General Grant, still being on crutches from a sprained ankle when his horse fell under and upon him, on the fourth, was compelled to depend largely upon staff-officers for judicious action, in exigencies which fell under their eyes, and where his riding was greatly limited. There is full harmony of events, by giving full credit to all the data which seem, at first, to work conflict.
8th. That the Staff Officer who delivered the order assured General Wallace and his staff that the Federal line was successful and driving the enemy at every point.
9th. That a movement at that time, toward Pittsburg Landing, would have taken General Wallaces' Division out of possible contact with the enemy, instead of supporting, and perfecting victory.
10th. That when the Division of General Wallace moved, as it did, within ten minutes after receipt of the orders, "impatiently waited for," it could see the distant smoke and hear the roar of battle, and moved directly toward the point of danger by the shortest route, with the greatest celerity and in harmony with the order received.
11th. That the defeat of the main army, the enforced retirement of Sherman's Division, and, in fact, the withdrawal of the entire original line, were new conditions, to be considered, when other Staff Officers notified General Wallace of the same; and then, the addition of his division to the rallying army, at Pittsburg Landing, seemed to be an important element to the very safety of that army, except as it could lean upon the divisions of Buel, already within supporting distance.
12th. That the original advance of General Wallace's Division on the Purdy Road, while thoroughly suited to the original conditions as they existed when the order was delivered to him, was, of necessity, useless and dangerous, when he found himself alone and unsupported, and that the enemy had already swept over the position which he expected to occupy.
13th. That there was no alternative, then, but to pass around the left of the enemy, and rejoin the army, at such expense of time or labor as the new conditions imposed; and that this was done, at great pains and with great celerity, without straggling or loss.
14th. That the prominent idea of withdrawing General Wallace's Division from Crump's Landing, to support the main army in its advance, is to be kept in mind;—whereby, confusion ceases as to the hour of the day when the order to report at Pittsburg Landing was delivered or became operative;—thereby, also, reconciling memories with the incidents of the day, with no discredit to any.
15th. That every theory of supporting an advanced line, from reserves sent forward from the base, must so bend to facts, that it may be the best thing possible, to strengthen the right of a successful line, even to overlapping and turning the enemy; and that such a movement has the emphatic endorsement of standard critics, and marked experience; while a formal movement to the rear, in order to move to the front and the right, as if on parade, would, under conditions such as presented to General Wallace, have been, simply, to wear out his men in marching, with small chance for taking any part in the assumed pursuit of a defeated enemy.
16th. That it is an unsound way of dealing with the facts of history, to gauge the responsibilities of officers and men, of small experience, by the rules which apply to the same officers and men after their experience has matured; and that, when the battle of Shiloh took place, and citizen regiments took part, with very slight knowledge of arms, it was equally true, that the officers themselves, both regular and volunteer, were proportionately unfamiliar with battle action on a large scale, and that, as a matter of fact, the Generals and Colonels, for the most part, had never seen a batallion drill, unless at West Point, much less drilled more than a company; and their conduct and opinions, in 1861-2, are not to be measured by the ripened experience of the years succeeding and succeeding years of reflection.
And finally, that the orders, movements, and results of the sixth day of April, 1862, must be judged by their relations to the passing hours and issues of that day, as practical men would act under changing conditions, and not by any formal order, which, however appropriate at one time, would, at any other time, defeat the work in hand. The Rules of Evidence, recognized by Civil and Military Courts alike, are but expressions of sound judgment of past experience; and Military Science, so called, has no other basis than that which belongs to the wise use of means to ends in all applied science and in all human endeavor. Whenever, therefore, the conduct of a battle is consistent with the conditions, as at the time understood, it is not exactly just to measure it by the terms of any instructions inconsistent with those conditions;—so that while an order to march to Pittsburg Landing became necessary upon the retirement of the original line, it ought not to be technically applied back to a time when that line was supposed to be sweeping on to victory and only sought fresh strength to mature that victory.
That a general action was precipitated by the Confederate forces under General Albert Sidney Johnson and was in the nature of a successful surprise of the Union Army, is the fact which harmonizes the reports of officers of both armies with the incidents of the day, and fairly distributes responsibility, without reflecting the narrow escape of the Union Army from destruction upon any single officer or command; especially, where all did so well, and so much is to be credited to the fall of General Johnson and the interruption of his deliberate plan, first to surprise, and then sweep on to victory, at whatever cost.
The Documents are as follows:
1st. Letter of Major General Lew Wallace to General U.S. Grant, February 26, 1869.
2nd. Letter of Lieutenant Colonel Ross, A.D.C. to General Wallace, January 25, 1868.
3rd. Letter of General J.A. Strickland to General Wallace, January 24, 1868.
4th. Letter of General G.F. McGinnis to General Wallace, February 20, 1868.
5th. Letter of General Fred. Knefler to General Wallace, February 19, 1868.
6th. Letter of Captain Ad Ware, A.D.C., to General Wallace (without date).
7th. Letter of General John M. Thayer to General Wallace, March 4, 1868.
8th. Letter of General U.S. Grant to General Wallace, March 10, 1868, commenting upon the letters cited and suggesting their publication, in justice to General Wallace.
General Wallace to General Grant:
WASHINGTON CITY, Feb. 29, 1868.
About a year after the battle of Pittsburg Landing, it came to my knowledge, that I was suffering, in your opinion, from erroneous information upon the subject of my conduct and movements as commander of the Third Division of your army during the first day of the battle named. To place myself right in your estimation and in that of the army generally, I asked a Court of Inquiry, by letter to the Secretary of War (Mr. Stanton) July 17, 1863. After several months, during which the application received no attention from the Secretary, I withdrew it, by advice of friends, General Sherman amongst others. The course I then resolved upon, that counselled by General Sherman, was to carry my explanation directly to you; and such continued my intention until the battle of Monocacy, after which your treatment of me became so uniformly kind and considerate that I was led to believe the disagreement, connected with Pittsburg Landing, forgotten; a result, to which I tacitly assented, notwithstanding the record of that battle as you had made it, in the form of an endorsement on my official report, was grievously against me.
A recent circumstance, however, has made it essential to my good name, which I cannot bring myself to believe you wish to see destroyed, to go back to my former purpose; in pursuance of which, the object of this letter is simply to introduce certain statements of gentlemen lately in the army, your friends as much as mine, in hopes that the explanations to be found therein will be sufficent to authorize you to give me a note of acquittal from blame, plainly enough, to allay the suspicions and charges to which I have been so painfully subjected. The statements are in the form of extracts pertinent to the subject from letters now in my possession, from General Fred Knefler, General George McGinnis, Colonel James R. Ross, General Daniel MacCaulay, Captain Ad Ware, General John A. Strickland, General John M. Thayer, now United States Senator from Nebraska—all, of my command, on the day in question, present with me, well known to you, and of unimpeachable honor. I could have obtained many others, of like import, but selected these because their authors had peculiar opportunities for information upon points considered of chief importance. It is possible that my explanations of the matter would be sufficient for the purpose in view. However that may be, it is my judgment now, that the charges against me have gone so far, and been put in such grave form, that public opinion may require an exoneration, though it come from your hand, to be based upon the testimony of others.
Permit me to say, further, that as to the order you started to me by Captain Baxter, I do not understand there is any question of veracity between us. You tell me, that from the battle-field you dispatched a verbal order by the officer named, to be delivered to me, at Crump's Landing, directing me to march my division to Pittsburg Landing by the road, parallel with the river; and, supposing, as you did, that the order would reach me by 11 o'clock, A.M., you reasonably concluded my command would be on the field by 1 o'clock, P.M.
Now in all candor, if you have been, as I am informed, of opinion that I received that order as it was given, and at the time stated (11 o'clock, A.M.), and that for any reason, such as personal feeling against you, or that I lost my way, or took the wrong road, or lingered on the march, making but five miles in seven hours, it must be admitted that you were justifiable in any, even the most extreme judgment against me; and I must confess that your moderation was greater than mine would likely have been, had our positions been reversed. I do not flinch from that conclusion, at all; but what I do say in my defence is that the opinion and the conclusion, which is its corollary, are both wrong, because the order admitted to have been dispatched was not delivered to me, in form or substance, as dispatched. On the contrary, the order I received from your messenger was in writing, unsigned, and contained substantially the following instructions:
"You will leave a force at Crump's Landing, sufficient to guard the public property there; then march the rest of your division, and effect a junction with the right of the army; after which you will form your line of battle at right angles with the river, and act as circumstances dictate."
This order was read by Colonel Ross, under circumstances well calculated to impress it upon his memory. It was also given to Colonel Knefler, then my Adjutant General, and by him read and unfortunately lost. Finally, its purport, as stated by me above, is vouched for by Captain Ware as the aide de camp. To refuse credit to my version of its contents will be very hard, indeed, corroborated as it is by so many gentlemen of unquestionable veracity, and such excellent opportunity for information on the point.
I think myself warranted now in asserting upon the credit of the three officers just named, as well as my own, that by the terms of the order, as it was delivered to me, the object of my march was not Pittsburg Landing, as you intended, but the right of the army, resting, when the battle opened in the morning, at a point quite three miles out from the landing, on the road to Purdy.
As a general principle it must be admitted that when you entrusted the order to a proper messenger for delivery to me, your responsibility ceased; but, I turn and ask you, appealing to your experience and justice, how am I held responsible for the execution of an order if it never reached me; or, if it reached me, conveying an idea radically different from that originally given? Of necessity, I was accountable for the execution of the order, only as it was received, and if it was not received in a form to convey your true design, but was promptly executed, neither of us are responsible for the result. It was not your mistake, nor was it mine.
Having established the purport, at least, of the order as it came to my hand, the next inquiry is: "Did I proceed to execute it, and how?"
On these heads all the letters on file are applicable. They show, as I think, that I took measures anticipatory to the order you gave me, personally, in your passage up the river to the battle-field, viz: to hold myself in readiness to march in any direction; that my brigades were ordered to concentrate at the place most proper and convenient for a prompt execution of the orders, whatever they might be, because it was at the junction of two roads, one leading to Pittsburg Landing, the other to the right of the army. To one of these points, it may be added, I was sure of being ultimately sent, if the exigencies of the battle required the presence of my command. They show, that after you parted from me, going up the river, I took measures to forward your messenger to me instantly upon his arrival (see Colonel Ross' letters), then rode to the place of concentration, and waited impatiently and anxiously the expected instructions; that they came to hand about 12 o'clock (my own remembrance is 11:30 A.M.), and that the officer who brought them, also brought the news that you were driving the enemy all along the line. (See letters of General Knefler and Colonel Ross.) Up to that time, therefore, I was certainly blameless.
But let me ask you to stop here, and consider the effect on my mind and subsequent movements, of the information, thus reliably obtained, that the battle was won. What inducement could I have had to march away from or linger on the road to a victory? Upon the hypothesis that the good news was true, how could I have imagined, (had there been so much as a doubt as to the intent of the order received,) a necessity for my command at Pittsburg Landing?
But, proceeding. The letters further establish, that, immediately upon receiving the order, I put my column en route, to execute it.
Now comes the questions. Did I take the right road to effect the junction with the right of the army, or one leading to Purdy, away from the battle? Pertinent to these inquiries, General Knefler says, that the road chosen for the movement had been patrolled and picketted by my cavalry. By their report, if by nothing else, I must have been posted as to its terminus. In corroboration of this assertion please notice that General Macaulay, General Strickland, General Thayer and General Knefler, all allude to the fact that the head of the column was approaching, not going away from the firing, when the countermarch took place. Consider, further, that the most imperative necessities of my situation, isolated as I had been from the main army, were, to know all the communications with that army, and to keep them clear, and in order for rapid movement. Not only did I know the road, but every step my division took from the initial point of the march up to the moment of the change of direction, was, as is well known to every soldier in the column, a step nearer to the firing and therefore a step nearer to the battle. While on this inquiry, let me add that the report of my being set right after marching upon the wrong road has in it this much truth, and no more. When about a mile from the position which had been occupied by the right of the army (General Sherman's division), Captain Rowley overtook me and told me that you had sent him to hurry me up, and that our lines had been carried by the enemy and the army driven back almost to the river, a very different story from the one brought me by Captain Baxter. Captain Rowley set me right as to the conditions of the battle, not as to the road I was following. Colonel McPherson and Major Rawlins, the other members of your staff, mentioned as having been sent to me, met me after the countermarch, when my command was on the river road moving to Pittsburg Landing.