Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War

By Benjamin P. Thomas; Harold M. Hyman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
A FAIR PROSPECT

CHRISTMASES during Edwin Stanton's childhood were highlighted by visits from relatives from all over Ohio. When the onset of dusk ended the day's play, the tired children gathered with the adults by the warm hearth in the front parlor. His father would read from the Bible. Then, with little difficulty, an aunt or uncle could be cajoled into reminiscing about how the family came to Ohio.

The children wanted especially to hear about grandmother Abigail Macy Stanton. She had been a tiny woman, but a strong-willed one. Once, after falling from a horse and breaking her arm, she had walked alone through miles of hilly woods in order not to miss Quaker meeting. Grandfather Benjamin Stanton had been a massive, powerful man, as stubborn as his wife. During the American Revolution he was Quaker enough to stay out of the Army, but as a fervent rebel, he fitted out privateers. Along with the varied business interests near Beaufort, North Carolina, which his father had bequeathed to him, had come numerous Negro slaves. Benjamin refused to set them free, though Abigail and other Friends preached at him for years to do so. He did, however, free them in his will. But by 1799, the year of his death, North Carolina law forbade manumission.

Abigail set forth with her children and "the poor black people" for land where no slavery existed. By schooner, oxcart, raft, and foot, this courageous woman led her charges across the mountains to Jefferson County, Ohio, where in 1800 she purchased a 480-acre tract one mile west of Mount Pleasant.1

____________________
1
Reminiscences concerning childhood in Edwin M. to William Stanton, ca. Dec. 25, 1865, copy owned by the estate of Benjamin P. Thomas; and Wolcott MS, 1-19. For genealogical data, see William Henry Stanton, A Book Called Our Ancestors: theStantons

-3-

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