William Garrett.

Reminiscences of public men in Alabama : for thirty years, with an appendix online

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Online LibraryWilliam GarrettReminiscences of public men in Alabama : for thirty years, with an appendix → online text (page 1 of 91)
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Entered, in 1872, according to Act of Congress, by

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

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IT is deemed necessary to state, that the Author was requested
by a number of friends who knew his long connection with
the Government, to prepare "Reminiscences of Public Men in
Alabama," as a contribution to the history of the times, which
could not fail to be of general interest. Prompted by this sug
gestion, he ventured upon the task, believing that it was a duty
he owed his fellow-citizens to lay before them the results of his
observation and experience during a period which embraced the
most distinguished actors on the public stage, and the most stirring
events which have occurred since the State passed from its Terri
torial condition. His memory has thus been exercised to gather
up and preserve, in the form of narrative and description, many
things which otherwise would have perished, as no man living,
except himself, had the same opportunities to acquire, by personal
contact with* men, the minute knowledge embodied in this work.
When the Author decided to make the attempt for publication,
his chief inquiry, within himself, was, Where shall I find the ma
terials to fill the proposed volume ? As he progressed, new stores
opened to him, and such has been their abundance, that the em
barrassing question now is, How shall I select, and what shall I
be compelled to leave out, after diligent revision of the manu
script, which has grown far beyond the limits prescribed to the
work ? This is no small difficulty in his mind. He has endea
vored, however, to observe such a course as he deemed most sat
isfactory to the public, omitting large documentary extracts which,
in many instances, would have illustrated more fully the measures
of legislation to which they applied. The substance, however,
has been given in most cases, without the formal amplification.

With regard to the characters introduced, the Author takes occa
sion to say, that they are such as, in his judgment, belonged prom
inently to the times and circumstances of which he treated. Some
of them have a National fame, and others, not so well known,

abroad, have a distinguished reputation at Home. The Author,
however, deems it no sacrifice of feeling or of taste to confess,
that his sympathies and his sense of justice have induced him to
rescue from neglect, and perhaps from oblivion, many names of
less pretension, but of solid, practical worth. A number of such
are specially noticed.

Besides the matter which is arranged in distinct chapters, con
stituting the main body of the work, the Appendix includes a
Eoll of the General Assembly from 1819 to 1872; a Roll of the
Judges of the Supreme and Circuit Courts, and of the Attorney
Generals and District Solicitors for the same period ; of the Sena
tors and Representatives in the Congress of the United States,
and other condensed records which, upon examination, will, no
doubt, be welcomed by the general reader.

While the Author has furnished the facts and materials which
form the staple of the work, and has bestowed much labor in their
presentation, he takes pleasure in acknowledging the assistance
which has been afforded by his personal friend, Major STEPHEN
F. MILLER, who was Editor of the "Monitor," at Tuskaloosa,
from March, 1840, to October, 1847, and who, in 1843, wrote and
published "Heads of the Alabama Legislature." ince 1849,
Major MILLED has resided in Georgia, where, among other works
of which he is the author, is " The Bench and Bar of Georgia"
in two volumes, published by J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadel
phia, in 1858. Especially is it due to him to say, that the ex
tracts incorporated in the notices of public men, showing, from
their speeches and letters, the part they acted, and the sentiments
they entertained, have been supplied from the large collection of
documents and pamphlets which have been preserved by Major
MILLER, in bound volumes, now forming a part of his Library.

"With these observations as to the origin and progress of the
work, the Author submits it to the People of Alabama, in whose
service he has passed more than thirty years, embracing the prime
of his manhood. Nor would it be proper to omit, here, the ex
pression of his grateful acknowledgments for the confidence and
kindness always extended to him in his public and social relations.

W. G.




Outlines of Population and State Nativities.

GEORGIANS IN LEGISLATURE; Referring to Prince s Digest; Special Juries;
Opposed to Chancery and Supreme Courts ; In favor of Justices Courts ;
Virginians; Revised Code of 1819; Foreman of Grand Jury puzzled;
Antiquity of Code; Law of Descents; South Carolinians; Marriage Con
tracts ; Opposed to Divorce ; System of Punishment ; Tennesseeans ; Hay-
wood s Digest; Redemption of Land at Judicial Sales; Assessing Taxes
by Justices of the Peace; Road Laws; Pride of Ancestry in different
States; Local Institutions; Revolutionary Influences; Immigrants to
Alabama; Intelligent Communities ; Distribution of Property; Evidences
of Comfort and Wealth ; French Refugees ; Napoleon s Officers; Culture
of the Olive and Grape; National Qualities; French Names and Blood
still preserved in Alabama 33


Regular Session of 1837.

PRESIDENT OF SENATE GOVERNOR, ex-ojficio; State House Officers; Officers of
Senate; Prominent Senators; Officers of House; Leading members ; Ex
ecutive Message ; Banks and Pecuniary Distresses of the People ; Revised
Code of Punishment Recommended; Commercial Revulsion; Report of
Bank Committee to reform Abuses ; Counting Votes for Governor; Inau
guration of Governor Bagby ; Special Message ; Unsold State Bonds with
drawn from Market and Cancelled; Board of Control established; Pre
mium derived from the Banks; Suspended Debts; Bank Reports; Elec
tion of Directors; Oyster Suppers given by Candidates; Anecdote in
Receiving Attentions ; Education Bill and School Law ; Log-Rolling Prac
tices; Failing to Vote on First Call; Demoralizing Schemes ; State Cotton
Agency; Tricks of Trade; Attacks on Merchants of Mobile; Defense by
Gen. Bates; Commission to establish Public Warehouses ; University Exer
cises; Dr.- Wood retiring, and Dr. Manly installed President; Governor
Bagby delivering Keys of the Institution; Address of the New Pres
ident.... ^. , 37


Political Topics Men of Action Introduced.

NATIONAL POLITICS IN 1837; Conservatives in Legislature ; Balance of Power;
Prejudice against Nullifiers; Resolutions in favor of Mr. Van Buren s
Sub-Treasury Plan; Contest in Senate; Mr. Elmore s Substitute adopted;

8 Cbntenh.

Debate on the Specie Clause; Public Lands; Vote Postponed in House}
State Rights Men allying with the Democratic party; D. H. Lewis and
J. M. Calhoun; Support of Judge White by the Whigs in 183G; Caution
in seeking Office; Retiring Senators 1837- 38: Jesse Beene George W.
Crabb James B. Wallace John M. Burke John T. Rather John A.
Elmore John Rains Samuel B. Moore; Retiring Members of House:
Alfred V. Scott John W. Womack Daniel P. Bestor ; Anecdote of Col.
T. B. Tunstall ; Retribution by Columbus W. Lee 48


Progress Session of 1838.

NEW ORGANIZATION OP PARTIES; Issue between Independent Treasury and
Local Banks; Efforts to resume Specie Payments; Advances by the Banks
on Cotton; Cotton Agents; New Senators; Prominent Members of House;
Governor s Message; Banking System reviewed ; Changes recommended;
Bank Committees at work; Penitentiary System adopted; Judges of the
Supreme Court to prepare a Penal Code; Building Commissioners ap
pointed; Separate Courts of Chancery established; Example of Delay
under Old System ; Anderson Crenshaw and Silas Parsons elected Chan
cellors; John P. Booth elected Judge Sixth Circuit; New Apportionment
of General Assembly; Eastern Counties turn the Scale of Power; Ratio
of Representation; Solvent Banks, and the Specie Feature; Judge Smith s
Specie Resolutions; Amendments Offered; Protracted Debate; A Break-
Down on the Floor; Previous Question sustained; Resolutions passed in
House; Animated Discussion in Senate; Adopted by Large Majority;
Convention at the Capitol; Election of Bank Presidents and Directors:
Sketches of George S. Gaines B. M. Lowe Jesse W. GarthWilliam B.

McClellan Thomas S. Mays 63

Sketches of Character Retiring Members of the Legislature.

In North Carolina House of Commons 1810 and 1811 Policy to be elected
President of Senate ; John P. Booth Acts in a Duel ; Henry T. Jones ;
C. Carmack; Archibalds. Mills; Benjamin G. Shields His election to
Congress Mission to Venezuela; Hon. Abner S. Lipscomb His High
Character and Position Removes to Texas, and is appointed Secretary
ot State; Blanton McAlpin Mayor of Mobile Emigrates to California}
Henry W. Hilliard -Professor in University, 1832 -Service in Congress
Minister to Belgium Regent of Smithsonian Institute Commands a
Legion in Late War ; George D. Shortridge Elected Judge Third Circuit,
1844 Candidate for Governor, 1855 In Convention, 1861 ; L. A. Wie-
singer Advocate of State Rights; W. E. Blassingame Fondness for
Literature; John M. McClanahan elected Judge Probate Court Re
moves to Louisiana Killed by Lightning in 1867; William Winter
p ft y ne Service in Legislature, 1832 In Congress, 1841 to 1847 Escape
from the bursting of the " Big Gun," 1844 Return to Virginia after last
Term in Congress; Dr. Reuben Searcy, of Tuskaloosa His management
of Hospital for the Insane 8G

Contents. 9


Sketches Continued Election of 1839, $c.

MALCOLM M. BURKE Young, bold, and promising, His Early Death ; Thomas
Price His Clerical Qualifications Not Skilled in Politics; Governor
Bagby re-elected ; Members of Congress ; Changes ; Organization of the
Legislature; New Members; Governor s Message; Internal Improve
ment; Two and Three Per Cent. Funds; Judge Hunter s Report; Fire
and Pestilence in Mobile; Judge Porter s Resolutions; Speech of Percy
Walker, Esq.; Contested Election in Senate, between Mr. Payne and Mr.
Boyd ; Eligibility of Members inquired into ; Seats of Several Declared
Vacant; Political Conventions and their Officers; Thomas H. Benton sug
gested for the Presidency ; W. R. King for Vice-President ; Electoral
Ticket Organized; Delegates to Democratic National Convention Ap
pointed; Whig Mass Meeting at Tuskaloosa, June, 1840; Officers and
Principal Speakers ; Display of Emblems ; Whig Address to the People ;
Democratic Convention, 1840; President and Chief Speakers; Electors
on the Stump ; Mr. Van Buren receives Vote of Alabama 101


Retiring Members Eligibility, 3fc.

HON. WILLIAM SMITH In Congress, 179G Offices held in South Carolina Re
ceives Electoral Vote of Georgia for Vice-President, 1828 Opposed to
Nullification Removes to Alabama, 1833 Elected to Legislature, 1835
His Ability as a Democratic Leader In favor of the Sub-Treasury De
clines appointment of Associate Justice of United States Supreme Court
His Death, 1840; John D. Phelan Elected to House, 1833 Attorney-
General, 1836 Speaker of House, 1839 Circuit Judge, 1841 to 1851
Judge of Supreme Court ClerkAgain Judge Law Professor in Uni
versity of the South ; William P, Chilton Sketch of his Life and Public
Services Tokens of Respect on his Death; James M. Boiling: Robert
A. High ; Nathaniel Cook Elected Judge Circuit Court, 1847 Removes
to Texas ; Lorman Crawford His Refined Taste and Culture Early
Death ; Marmaduke Williams In Congress from North Carolina, 1803 to
1809 Candidate for Governor of Alabama, 1819 His Vote, 7,140 To
tal Vote, 15,482 Service in the Legislature Judge of County Court
His Upright CharacterDeath in 1850 ; General William Wellborn Ser
vices in Indian War and in Senate ; John Vining ; Samuel D. J. Moore :
Arnold Scale ; General James G. Carroll An Original Character ; Wil
liam Hawn State Treasurer Cashier of State Bank ; General Jones M.
Withers Sketch of his Public Employments A Graduate of West Point ;
Matthew W. Lindsay Attorney-General 113


Parties in 1840 Excitement in the Legislature, $c.

PRESIDENTIAL CANVASS ; Organization of the Legislature ; Talent in both
Houses; Prominent Members; Senatorial Contest; Resolution of Mr,

10 Gmtmte.

Terry adopted in Senate Opposed by the Whigs in House Motions fo*
Delay Time for Election Expired ; Another Resolution of Mr. McClana-
han; Mr. W. B. Moores Amendment; Mr. Morris Amendment; Adroit
Skirmishing ; Uproar and Confusion ; Both Parties Unyielding ; Frequent
Motions to Adjourn; Yeas and Nays; Resolution and Amendments Laid
on the Table ; Session of Eighteen Hours ; New Resolution by Mr. Mc-
Clanahan ; Denounced by Mr. Bates as a "Snap Judgment;" Whigs
Called to Leave the House ; Magnanimity of Mr. Reynolds ; Knightly
Combatants ; House Adjourned at 3 o clock A.M.; Leading Speakers on
Each Side; Joint Resolution by Mr. Moore, of Madison, to Elect 17th of
November Adopted ; Colonel King Received 72 Votes ; Governor Gayle,
55 ; Resignation of Mr. Speaker Walker ; Election of Hon. R. A. Baker,
to fill Vacancy 127


More of the Session of 1840 General Ticket for Congress State House Officers.

GOVERNOR S MESSAGE ; Committee in Senate Reported Bill to Establish the
General Ticket System ; Animated Discussion ; Passed by a Strict Party
Vote, except Mr. McVay ; Action of the House ; Various Motions and
Votes ; Christmas Day ; Election of Bank Presidents and Directors ; Bill
Resumed ; Questions of Order ; Appeals from the Chair ; Bill Ordered to
Third Reading, 48-43 ; Taken up for Passage 44 yeas, 5 nays ; No Quo
rum Present ; Whigs withdraw from Hall ; Call of House Ordered ; Two
Absentees sent for and Quorum formed ; For Putting Main Question
yeas 51, nays 00 ; Bill Passed 50-23 ; Great Disorder in House ; Mem
bers Standing on Desks ; Protest of Mr. Bates and others ; Charges of
Partiality against Speaker, and Reply ; State House Officers Elected ;
Sketches of the Secretary of State, Comptroller and Treasurer ; Thomas
B. Tunstall, a Native of Virginia Clerkship in the Land Office Clerk of
House, 1825 to 1836 Secretary of State, 1836 to 1840 Again Clerk of
House A High-toned Gentleman His Death, 1842; Gideon B. Frierson,
from Tennessee Elected Assistant Clerk of House, 1834 In 1836 and
1837 Principal Clerk Elected Solicitor of Seventh Circuit In 1842
Judge County Court His Conflict with Rufus K. Anderson Circum
stances of the Killing Justifiable Homicide 138


Public Men in 1810-^-Sketches of Character. > ,

WILLIAM J. ALSTON Elected to House, 1837 In Senate, 1839 A Whig in
Politics To Congress, 1849; Jefferson Buford Service in Indian War
In Senate, 1840 -Led Company of Emigrants to Kansas, 1855 In Con
vention, 1861; John R. Clarke In Senate, 1839 Again, 1845 His
Death, 1870; Gerard W. Creagh Graduate of Columbia College Settles
in Alabama Previous to 1813 Wounded in Indian Fight at Burnt Corn
Successful as a Merchant Elected to House, 1838 To Senate, 1839
Served Ten Years; James L. F. Cottrell President of the Senate
Champion of General Ticket Elected to Congress, 1846 Removes to

Cbntenis. 11

Florida; General Dennis Dent In Florida War Elected to Senate,
1838 Served until 1849-50 President of Senate Commercial Pursuits
in Mobile Died, 1860; Dixon Hall In Senate Removes to Mississippi;
Benjamin Hudson A Faithful Senator Died of Cancer, 1848; John Ed
mund Jones Elected to Senate, 1840 Minister of Gospel Skill in De
bateElected Solicitor, 1844 Judge City Court of Mobile, 1847;
Sketches of other Senators : Peyton King Henry C. Lea Felix G. Mc-
Connell Hugh McVay Dr. Samuel C. Oliver William S. Phillips-
George R,eese Green P. Rice Nathaniel Terry Solomon C. Smith
Hon. Harry I. Thornton General T. L. Toulmin Daniel E. Watrous
Thomas Wilson 156


House of Representatives, 1840 Sketches of Members.

JAMES M. ADAMS Elected Solicitor, 1851 Lost in Gulf of Mexico ; R. A.
Baker In Legislature previous to 1837 Elected Speaker, 1840 Mem
ber of Commission House in Mobile His Death, 1866 ; John Barren
Elected, 1839 Member Presbyterian Church; Joseph Bates Elected,
1837 Major-General of Militia Commanding Person Courage and
Skill as a Party Leader Compliment of Mr. Clay; Dr. A. Q. Bradley-
Fondness for Literature Voted, 1859, against call of Convention ; Rob
ert B. Campbell In Congress from South Carolina Service on Commit
teesConsul to Havana; Jeremiah Clemens Service in Mexican War
Elected Senator in Congress Author of Books; Walter H. Crenshaw
Elected, 1838 Speaker of House, 1861 1863 In Convention, 1865
President Senate, 1865-66; Dr. James M. Davenport; John H. Garrett
Died During Session, 1841; George Hill Trustee of University In
Senate, 1857 Died, 1867; Dr. Samuel S. Houston In Land Office, St.
Stephens Minister of Gospel Personal Peculiarities; John S. Hunter
As a Politician Report on Internal Improvement Removal to Ken*
tucky ; Joseph J. Hutchinson; William M. Inge; Charles C. Langdon;
Dr. Blake Little; Solomon McAlpin ; Charles McLemore ; Dr. David
Motire; Dr. William B. Moores; William W. Morris; William M. Mur
phy ; William H. Norris ; Daniel H. Norwood ; Hardin Perkins ; Thomas
M. C. Prince; Benjamin M. Reynolds; Samuel F. Rice; Oran M. Rob
erts; James E. Saunders; Luke R. Simmons; Henry D. Smith; Hon.
Samuel Walker; Thomas A. Walker; Tandy W. Walker; Elisha Young.. 172


Administration of Governor Bagby Personal History.

PECUNIARY DISASTERS, 1837; Message, 1838; Removal of Indians; Pre-emp
tion Rights ; Volunteer Force under Major-Generals Patteson and
Philpot ; Mounted Rangers in Dale County ; Bank Commissioners ;
Increase of Coin in Banks ; Alexander Pope, Agent in Liverpool to sell
State Bonds ; Private Banking Associations ; Advances on Cotton by State
Bank Disapproved; Montgomery & West-Point Railroad ; State Univer
sity; Penal Code; Public Warehouse in Mobile; Revised Military Code,

12 Vmtenis.

by Generals Crabb and Bradford; Separate Courts of Chancery ^Increase
of Salary to State House Officers ; Duties of Attorney-General ; Resolu
tions from other States ; Constitutional Treasury ; Message, 1839 ; Boundary
between Georgia and Alabama; Contract for building Penitentiary;
Encampment Drills ; Connection between Mobile Bay and Tennessee River ;
State Geological Survey ; Attempt to burn Capitol ; Change in Election of
Bank Directors ; Bank Marshal ; Cancellation of Unsold State Bonds ;
Corporations of other States making Contracts in Alabama; Decision of
Supreme Court ; Message, 1840; General Ticket System; Message, 1841;
Political Doctrines; Personal History of Governor Bagby Comes from
Virginia to Alabama before 1819 Settles at Claiborne Serves in the
Legislature Several times Elected Speaker Political Sentiments His
Genius and Eloquence Elected United States Senator, 1841 Appointed
Envoy to Russia, 1848 Resigns, 1849 Return to Alabama His Death
in Mobile, 1858 Traits of character Letter to Author, 1845 201


Political Events Legislature, 1841 Character of Members.

NATIONAL ADMINISTRATION ; Whigs in Power ; Special Session of Legislature ;
Election to Congress under General Ticket ; Popular Vote ; Nomination
for Governor; Harvey W. Ellis His Character and Death; Repeal of
General Ticket; Election of Governor Fitzpatrick over Colonel McClung;
Detection of Bank Frauds ; Action of Committee ; New Senators ; Lead
ing Members of House; Standing Committees; Extract from Governor
Bagby s last Message; Installation of Governor Fitzpatrick; Order of
Ceremonies; Investigation of Bank Frauds resumed; Mr. Jemison s
Resolution; Evidence taken by Joint Committee; Card from Members;
Senate Committee dissolved ; No Definite Action ; Evidence Deposited in
Secretary of State s Office; Incautious Manner of Granting Certificates
of Solvency by Members ; Remarks of Mr. Young ; Revenue Bill Reported
by Colonel James; Federal Politics; Legislature adjourned, January 1,
1842; Notice of Members; Arthur Foster Elected President of State
Bank Judge of County Court Influence in the Election of John A.
Cuthbert, Judge of County Court of Mobile Number of Ballots ; Sketch
of Mr. Cuthbert ; Angus McAllister Served many years Removed from
Dale to Limestone; Mace T. P. Brindley a Bank Director Kindness

of Heart His Death, 1871; Milton McClanahan; Walker K. Baylor

His various Learning Trustee of University Judge Circuit Court His

Accidental Death in Texas ; Walter R. Ross 209


Session of 1841, and Sketches of Members Continued*

IN THE HOUBE. John Steele, a Tennesseean- His Sound Judgment Great
Success as a Trader; John L. Hunter His Huegunot Ancestry Fondness
for Scientific Agriculture Trustee of University Anecdote of Politeness ;
Hugh N. Crawford His Humor in Debate Removes from Eufaula to
Montgomery ; John Cochran His Personal Qualities Liierary Attain-

Contents. 13

ments Ready Wit Offices Held; William H. Musgrove; Matthew W.
Phillips ; Lorenzo James Graduate of Yale College Chairman of Com
mittee of Ways and Means Sensible in Debate; William 0. Winston A
Native of Virginia Fifteen years in the Legislature Elected Solicitor
President of Will s Valley Railroad His Death, 1871 ; Felix G. Norman-
Activity and Influence Courtesy in Debate Bold and fearless in the
Line of Duty ; John S. Kennedy Elected Solicitor, 1847, 1851, and 1855
Prudent and Successful Engages in Manufacturing; Nathaniel Davis
A Christmas Scene in the House "Joint Song" Messenger to Washing
ton; George T. Jones His Firmness Last Vote Death, 1871; John B.
Hogan United States Agent of Indian Reserves, 1835 Contest with
Speculators Collector at Mobile Business Qualities; Charles E. B.
Strode Cultivated and Ambitious Fastidious in Pronunciation Anec
dote at Blount Springs Elected Solicitor ; James Cain ; James M. Rushing ;
Harrison W. Covingion Graduate of North Carolina University Return
to his Native State; Leroy Gresham Elected Judge County Court; Jabea
Mitchell Seven years in Service Sudden Death; Wyatt Hefflin, from
Georgia His Diligence and Fidelity; William H. Green Member of
Episcopal Church 225


Legislature of 1842 List of Members Banks Placed in Liquidation White Bam

Events of the Session.

ORGANIZATION; Chairmen of Committees; Governor s Message; Mr. Pettit s
Resolution; Topics of Reform; Congressional Districts; White Basis;
Yeas and Nays on Mr. Hubbard s Resolution; Whig Protest; Mr. Camp
bell s Protest; Passage of Bill ; Depreciated Currency; Report of Bank
Committee ; Branch at Mobile ; Investment of Capital ; Specie Payments ;
Sentiments of Governor Approved; Loss of Bank Capital; Branch at
Decatur in Liquidation; Relief Measures ; Summary of Mr. Campbell;
Select Committees ; Faith of the State ; Expenses of Government ; Rev
enue from Taxation; Bank Loans Discontinued; Salaries Curtailed;
Retrenchment of Court Costs ; Surplus of Bank Assets ; Interest on Bonds ;
Sclool and University Fund ; Sacred Trusts ; Maturity of State Bonds ;
Value of Punctuality 232


Judicial Elections, 1842 Character of the Judges.

JUDGES SUPREME COURT : Collier, Goldthwaite and Ormond re-elected In
Second, Third, Fourth and Seventh Circuits, no Opposition ; Pickens,
Peter Martin and S. Chapman re-elected; Ballots for Sixth Circuit;
Judge Bragg elected; Ballot for Ninth Circuit; Judge Eli Shortridge
elected. Personal Notices : Hon. Ezekiel Pickens In Senate, 1828 His
Terms on the Bench Eccentricities Anecdotes Mesmerism and Phre
nology Personal Appearance; Hon. Peter Martin Early in Legisla
ture Elected Solicitor Next Attorney-General Judge of Circuit Court,
1836 In House, 1844 Chairman of Committee on Banks ; Hon. Daniel

14 Content*.

Coleman Many years on Circuit Bench Resigns, 1847 Engages in

Online LibraryWilliam GarrettReminiscences of public men in Alabama : for thirty years, with an appendix → online text (page 1 of 91)