A Tribute to Thomas Starr King on the Occasion of His Unceremonious Removal From Statuary Hall

The man credited by Abraham Lincoln with keeping California in the Union was unceremoniously thrown out of Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill this week and replaced by a two bit actor and traitor to his country.

To be certain that the Rev. Thomas Starr King is not completely lost in the shuffle to cannonize that Traitor to his Nation Ronnie Raygun, just a brief note.

King was a Unitarian Universalist minister… which means to start with that he considered moral authority more important than religious belief. He arrived in California in 1860 after a long and successful turn at preaching in Boston, where he numbered Emerson, Longfellow and others among his friends. In a 1921 biography, (Thomas Starr King, Patriot and Preacher, now available from Google Books) Charles W. Wendte notes that, “At the outbreak of the Civil War 40 per cent of the people of California were of Southern birth, while many of the Northern born were politically of their way of thinking. For ten years past this element had been in control of the State as well as of the National government. Of 53 newspapers published in California only 7 advocated the election of Abraham Lincoln, and he received only 28 per cent of its electoral vote. The Governor, Legislature and Courts, the United States Senators and Congressmen from California, were all safely Democratic and Southern in their sentiments. General Albert Sidney Johnston, a well known sympathizer with the Rebellion, and subsequently a brilliant Confederate soldier, was in command of the Federal forces in San Francisco.”

King, recognizing the potential that California might join the Confederacy, went on a state-wide lecture tour that galvanized the California masses. Writes Wendte, “With unanswerable logic he proved the necessity for its [the union’s] preservation, and exposed the fallacy and unjustifiableness of the Rebellion against the Central Government. ‘Rebellion,’ he [King] declared, ‘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 progress and history and hope—the worth of the laborer, the rights of man. It strikes for barbarism against civilization.’ “

King was not a healthy man, and his trip to California, and relentless speaking schedule, took its toll. He was aware that health was poor, but remained passionate about his cause. He once told a friend, “I had rather die next year than be sick this.” Having saved California from becoming Texas, he died on February 28, 1864. He was 39 years old.

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