Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

He Went the Farthest Good Morning

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

He Went the Farthest Good Morning

Article excerpt

Of all the men in Evansville history, John Watson Foster probably achieved the most illustrious plateau of success and respect, not only here but around the world. An attorney in the earliest years of his adult life, then a hero of the Civil War, then a distinguished Evansville editor, then the city's postmaster, then an astute political organizer who fell under national scrutiny, Foster capped his brilliant life by becoming a diplomat - and eventually by serving as the nation's secretary of state under President Benjamin Harrison.

As editor of the old Daily Journal in the years just after the Civil War, he transformed the publication from a so-so sheet to the most influential Republican newspaper in Southern Indiana.

As chairman of the Republican State Committee, he was largely responsible for the hairbreadth GOP victory in Indiana during the 1872 election, after seasoned Republican forecasters already had written off the state as a loss.

And then, as a diplomat who carried out numerous foreign appointments, he was considered the most distinguished diplomat of his time.

In sharp contrast to the usual rags-to-riches road that Evansville's leaders traveled, Foster seems to have been born for the international role he eventually was to play.

His father, a Pike County, Ind. farmer, and later an Evansville businessman, who had migrated from England in 1819, was convinced that a sound education was the best legacy he could leave his children.

Practically from the moment his son was born in 1836, in a log cabin on the Pike County farm, the elder Foster set about to instill in his son an abiding love of book l'arnin.

It worked; the son was graduated, at 19, as valedictorian of his class at Indiana University, then studied for an additional year at Harvard University's Law School.

After a year's apprenticeship in a Cincinnati law office, he opened his own law office back in Evansville. …

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