PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY SETTLERS
THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR OF MISSOURI IN 1860
Early in the year the Democratic party met and nominated as their candidate for Governor Claiborn F. Jackson, of Saline County. He had been prominent for years in Missouri politics, and while a member of the Legislature from Saline County had introduced and passed the famous Jackson resolution censuring Senator Thomas H. Benton for his political course in the United States Senate, from which the Senator took his famous appeal to the people.
Jackson was a fine canvasser, and a character above reproach, but all the people who were opposed to the idea of secession recognized that it would be dangerous to elect him Governor of the State of Missouri, because they were certain that he would favor secession, and with his thorough knowledge of Missouri politics he would wield a great influence against the preservation of the Union. Those who were opposed to secession named Hon. Robert Wilson, who was a fine canvasser and a notable stump speaker. Jackson published his list of appointments for a State-wide canvass. Wilson, after a short period, withdrew from the canvass, deeming it utterly hopeless to try to defeat Jackson. Jackson pursued the even tenor of his way without an opponent until he got to Springfield. At that time I was a merchant, and Judge Sample Orr lived four miles west of the city. He was Judge of our Probate Court, and while he owned a good farm it was about all that he had. He was a customer of mine, and the morning of the day that Jackson was to speak in Springfield he came into the store and called me into the back room and told me that he was going to run for Governor. I don't think that I ever got a greater surprise in my life. For while we who lived in Southwest Missouri knew him as one of the most effective stump speakers in the world, we had no idea that he would think of running for Governor of the State. I was a young man, and did not feel competent to advise him how foolish it was for him to make the race for Governor. I knew that he had but little money, and I knew that his acquaintance throughout the State was very limited, so as soon as I got a chance I went out and hunted up some of the influential men of the county, including Col. Marcus Boyd, Joseph Moss, Kindred Rose, Dr. T. J. Bailey and L. A. D. Crenshaw. These men were undoubtedly Union men, although they were slaveholders, and I told them what Orr said told me, and that they had better come over to the store and talk to him and persuade him out of his quixotic purpose. They all went to the store and I went out and found Judge Orr, and told him that these gentlemen were in my back room and wanted to see him. When we were all in the room I told them what Judge Orr had said, and the gentlemen one after the other endeavored to dissuade him because he would lose his time and his money and would be beaten very badly. He replied that the people of the State of Missouri were opposed to secession, and that that was the question uppermost in the minds of all; that everybody was trying to smother it, but that everybody knew that that was the question now before the people, and, therefore, if the people of the State of Missouri knew they had a chance to vote for a man who would oppose secession in any form, and under all circumstances they would elect him, and that he had no more doubt of his election as Governor of Missouri than he had of his present existence. That was the point of the speech that he made to that audience. I can't remember all that he said, but I do remember at the Close of his speech that I felt that he would be elected Governor. Col. Boyd had been a member of the Legislature with Claiborn F. Jackson and knew him well, and Judge Orr asked him to introduce him to Jackson so that he might ask for a division of time, and Col. Boyd and he started to the hotel at the corner of Boonville street and the Square, leaving the audience in my counting room. It was some time before anything was said. Mr. Crenshaw said "Have you seen Jackson?" Nobody in the audience had seen him that morning. Mr. Crenshaw said "Well, he is dressed elegantly, and he has a fine equipment for traveling, and I cannot stand it for Springfield to send out a candidate less equally equipped, so I propose to furnish him the finest span of mules in this country, and my double-seated buggy and Tom (who was a Negro man that he owned) to drive it, and it shall not cost him a cent." Dr. Bailey then spoke up and said he has got to have some money and some clothes, and I said, "I will furnish the clothes," and Dr. Bailey, Uncle Joe Moss, Uncle Kin Rose, Elijah Gray and the others chipped in $300.00, and I was to give him the clothes and the money when he came back from his introduction to Governor Jackson. By and by Judge Orr came back, and I laid out a good suit of clothes for him and handed him the money, and told him Mr. Crenshaw had sent for his mules and buggy, and that we didn't want him to travel in less style than Governor Jackson; that he must remember that he represented the great County of Greene and the city of Springfield. He stood there with the money in his hands for a little bit, and he handed it back, and threw the clothes that I had laid out for him on another table, and be said "The people will elect me. You give this money back to the men who gave it to you, and you keep your clothes. I have a good horse, and I am going to ride him during this canvass, and I will be elected Governor of the State of Missouri when I get back.'' Orr was about five feet nine inches high, sandy complexion, red hair that stood straight up. In fact he looked like a smaller production of Andrew Jackson.
Col. Boyd was one of the greatest practical jokers in the world, and of this fact Jackson was well aware. Boyd said that when he introduced Orr to Jackson, and told him that he was going to run for Governor, and wanted fifteen minutes of time to announce himself at the speaking that day that Jackson treated him very courteously, but after Orr went out he said to Boyd, "Boyd, will you never get done with your practical jokes" never dreaming that Orr was to be a candidate. Boyd said he told him that before the canvass was over Orr would drive him off of the stump, and he said, "Claib, you will think this is the greatest practical joke that I ever played."
Orr had on a 25-cent straw hat, a blue and white marseilles coat and vest, tow linen trousers, woolen socks and a pair of heavy shoes. He had extra clothing in his saddle bags. I didn't see them, but suppose they were the same kind, just enough for a change.
When the speaking occurred Jackson stated that Judge Orr, a citizen of Springfield, was going to become a candidate, and had asked permission to announce himself, and that he, therefore, gave him fifteen minutes of his time. Orr did not take up the full fifteen minutes, just simply made his announcement. One of the best Citizens of the county was sitting on a log not very far away, and he could not keep from expressing his disgust that Orr should be a candidate for Governor, and he did it so loud that everybody heard it. Quick as a flash Orr said, "Uncle E, the next day after the election if I am not elected Governor of the State of Missouri you will think I am," and I don't know what there was in it except the way he said it, but it set the crowd wild, and they cheered him "for keeps."
Orr left here that afternoon for Buffalo, where they were to speak the next day, and Jackson divided time with him until they got to Saline County, Jackson's home, when Jackson declined to canvass any further.
In the meantime the St. Louis Republican had sent a man, I can't think of his name, but we called him "The Wandering Jew," as a correspondent to report the debates between Orr and Jackson, and while the Republican was for Jackson outwardly at the bottom of its heart I thought it was for Orr, because it was sure that Orr was for the Union, and the Republican was, but Jackson being the regular nominee of the Democratic party, and the Republican being the greatest Democratic paper in the State, of course kept Jackson's name at the head of the paper, but the reports of the "Wandering Jew'' set the Union men in the State wild over Orr's speeches and stories.
After Jackson decided not to pursue the canvass any further a caucus of the Democrats was held that night, and it was determined that the candidate for Lieutenant Governor, who was a polished gentleman and a fine speaker, should answer Orr the next day at Boonville, and he would tell all the stories that Orr had told on his canvass, and thereby break the effect of his speech. This he did, and he said when he got through, "Now, fellow-citizens, you will find that will be the speech of the gentleman who is candidate for Governor of the State,'' but, of course, coming from the lips of the candidate for Lieutenant Governor who wanted to belittle the stories it would not sound like much of a speech, and the Democrats were in high glee over the destruction of the effect of Orr's speech on the crowd. When Orr got up he made an entirely different kind of a speech from the one recited by his predecessor on the stand, and told a new set of stories, and he went home and left the field clear to Orr.
The letters of "The Wandering Jew" to the Republican had excited the people all over the State, and Frank Blair, John Howe and other Union men in St. Louis wanted him to come to St. Louis to speak, so they found him in Osage County, I think, and invited him down to St. Louis on a certain date when they would have a big rally. As to the rally, Judge Urial Wright told Judge Dade and Col. Marcus Boyd and I this story in Judge Dade's yard, when he came here to speak after the gubernatorial and before the presidential election of that year. He said that he and Col. Blair, Mr. Barnum and John Howe were appointed a committee to go to the train and meet Judge Orr and take him to Barnum's Hotel, where he was to be their guest. They met the Missouri Pacific train, but there was no Judge Orr. None of them knew the Judge personally, but the description of his person had been so often given that they had no doubt but that they would know him when they saw him. They waited patiently until all the passengers were out of the train, and there was no Judge Orr, so they went back to the hotel, and there was no Judge Orr. They hunted all through the city and could not find him, and were very much excited, and along about two o 'clock went back to Barnum's Hotel and asked the clerk if he had seen or heard anything of Judge Orr. Orr had a very queer signature, and the clerk just pointed to a signature on the book, and there it was, "S. Orr, Springfield, Missouri," and said, "Is that your man:?'' and Frank Blair looked at the signature and said that is right, and he said, "Where is he?" and the clerk said, "In the dining room." Blair, Howe and Wright went in, and he says that Orr was shoveling vegetables into his mouth with his knife, and he had on the commonest clothes he pretty nearly ever saw, but when he looked up at him he saw Andrew Jackson (Blair had in his youth known Jackson well). Blair said to Orr, "Is this Judge Orr of Springfield?'' Orr looked up and said it was, and Blair said, "Well, Judge, I am Frank Blair." Orr jumped up and reached his hand across the table, and said, "How are you, Frank. I have hearn of you often, and I am glad to meet you,'' and Blair explained to him that they had been hunting for him all the morning, and asked him how he got there, and he said that he had come on a freight train with his horse; that he had to make a canvass in Southeast Missouri, and that he was going to stay with that horse. They had a conference lasting all the afternoon. Maj. Rollins, Bob Wilson and other noted men of the State were there, all brought there by the letters of the "Wandering Jew'' in the Republican about what wonderful speeches Orr had made, and how he had enthused the masses. They talked to him that afternoon, and they were certain that the "Wandering Jew'' had written those letters for the purpose of deceiving the people as to Orr's ability as a canvasser and a public speaker. Wright said he had no idea he could speak a hundred words without stopping, and as for his swaying his crowd he knew he could not do that, so they went into a conference that afternoon as to what to do, and they decided that Judge Uriel Wright should make one of his best speeches, followed by Bob Wilson, and he by Maj. Rollins, and they would let Orr speak fifteen minutes, and Frank Blair to cover the fiasco of Orr's speech; also to make a whooping-up speech, and get the crowd in a good humor. So the program was carried out, and Wright said he thought that Wilson and Rollins made the best speeches they ever made in their lives. I forgot to say that they told Judge Orr that knowing he was pretty well worked out that they would not want him to speak but fifteen minutes, the real reason being that they did not want destroyed their chances of carrying the city of St. Louis. So after all three speeches had been made Frank Blair introduced Orr as the next Governor of the State of Missouri, and Orr pulled out an old silver watch and laid it down before him, and in less than ten minutes he had the crowd wild and cheering to beat the band. At the end of fifteen minutes he was going to close, and the crowd yelled to "Go on!" "Go on!" "Go on!'' and he turned around to Frank Blair and said, "Shall I go on?" and he said, "Yes,'' and Orr said, "How long?'' and he said, "Another fifteen minutes," and Orr went at it again, and it was no trouble for him to keep them yelling and hollowing all the time at his stories and apt illustrations, and at the end of fifteen minutes he was going to close again, and the audience yelled, "Go on!'' and he turned around to Blair and said, "Well, what shall I do?'' and Blair said, "Go on! Go on!" and Orr says, "How long shall I go on?" and Blair says, "Just as long as you can keep them hollowing in that way," and Orr says, "I can keep them hollowing that way all night," and Wright says, "Gentlemen, right then I believed he could do it."
He made his canvass, and spoke at Lebanon the day of the election, and rode part of the way to Springfield that afternoon, and got into Springfield the next afternoon, and about three hundred of us went out on horseback to meet him and escort him in, and he went up on the porch of the hotel at the corner of Boonville street and the Public Square and spoke to us, and it so happened that the old gentleman who had made the sneering remark when he announced himself as candidate was sitting on the fence that was around the old public well, and Judge Orr saw him, and the first thing he said was, "Uncle E, when I announced myself for Governor you sneered at me, and I told yon then that if I wasn't elected Governor of the State of Missouri you would think I was the day after the election. Don't you?'' Uncle E says, "Yes, Sample, I am sorry to say that I do.''
Three different amended returns were made in that election, and according to amended returns Orr was defeated. If he had been elected the war on the west side of the Mississippi would have been south of the Arkansas River in place of the Missouri.
Springfield-Greene County Library