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Letter from MILTON S. LATHAM written July 28, 1846 from Crawford, Russell Co., Ala

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SEE ADDITIONAL STORY [Vintage photographs] from a very old community in Alabama that had three names, for more information and pictures about this community.


Photograph of Crawford United Methodist Church, Russell County, Alabama.

Crawford Russell Co. Ala. July 28 ’46

Dear Shotwell—

Your communication arrived very opportunely. The weather has become almost suffocating. The earth radiates the heat in visible rays and is as hot as a Bake oven. I appreciate the relaxing influence it has upon the system. I have concluded to take a short trip to the Meriweather Springs in Ga as a resort from suffering. The springs present a fine opportunity friend Bill—to see the characteristics of the Southern women and more especially to witness a display of aristocracy. Imbodied very often in huge forms—as it is a notorious fact that fortune often times selects the greatest fools as her favorites.

One observation

My connexion and acquaintance with the Southerners has resulted in one observation at least. There is the greatest propensity to show among all classes and you will find a man—living in a Log House—yet he has his carriage: It is a passion– confirmed and made an element of their existence. It is the most disgusting thing to me in the world my friend to hear these whited sepulchers with much dignity and pathos talk of our estate and our plantation. Heaven preserve me from such vanity founded on Bacon and Greens. ”Quantum sufficit” as the memorable Daniel Read was wont to say.

Troops raised

I admired the haste with which our own noble state met the desired requisition of Troops. Although I was so unfortunate as to have a Brother—among the volunteers (Capt. of the Columbus Cadets) I could not but add a God speed to them. Knowing that Ohio in behalf of the common country will spare her sons as willingly as any State in the Union. Some two weeks the Georgia Volunteers left for the common rendezvous. Prior to their leaving they exercised their martial skill among themselves— which resulted in the death of several.

A more motley crew or a greater collection of wreckless desparadoes have never been united than the 800 volunteers who represent the State of Ga. No doubt the State my friend congratulates herself on the renovation, and would willingly spare the same number of the same sort.

Lawyers restless

I appreciate friend William your friendly remarks on the general restlessness of young lawyers with respect to a location. It is true—too true that much time is wasted in fruitless speculation as to our future home—and I regret to say that this failing in our nature may my dear Sir is not confined to anticipating Lawyers. Yet with all due deference—you must confess—that it certainly is cramping to an ardent and desirous mind to find so many avenues to success blocked by Dam Asses. Your own experience tells you that your thoughts more than once call up the question of a future home.

For in Law it is true and the experience of many has confirmed it-that there is a time and opportunity which “if taken at the ebb leads on to fortune and success”. Close-unremitting labor and perseverance are sure to succeed as you say-in any circumstances or location. Your sympathy and at the same time friendly rebuke at my mode of committing a work on Law- I fully feel.

After some two months and a half of constant diligence I finished the talk-in accordance with the stern injunction of my Preceptor. Had it not have been-that he was an eminent Lawyer in this section of the country-I would never have undertaken his directions. I am convinced that much time was lost and but little gained and had I same to repeat I would vote Law-a dam Bore and bid it a farewell to the grand science I had thought it and believed from my yesterday experience would have been reduced to a system of legal distinctions of words and quibbling. Which of all things my dear friend I despires-as common and necessary as it often is. The works recommended by yourself- if I can procure will receive my assidous attention. Should receive with thanks any other works you may recommend.

Ill health drove me here

Nothing would please me Shotwell better than the thought that my future destiny was to be cast as a Citizen of the “Buckeye State”‘ But I think that will never be. Ill health drove me here-and the change of climate agrees with me so well that I think my future lot is cast as one of the dwellers of the South, although I fancy not as you have, no doubt found out-many of the customs and characters of the chivalrous sons of this great southern country. Yet as we assimilate by degrees no doubt I shall eventually become a rank and “Periwig pated” Southernor. By a paper I sent you—you will see that I have been making a few remarks to my Fellow Sitizens The Speech was never intended for publication and it was only by the earnest solicitation of my friends that I surrendered it. Let me hope that you will spare it in your perusal-as you will find that it was written and is somewhat adapted to an audience of Planters principally.

Information limited

My information is of a very limited nature. I know not whether Bill Hoge consummated the reported marriage with Miss Ballard. Should judge not or I would certainly honored some intelligence of it. Charles Brown a merchant of Athens is dead. Died at Pittsburgh. Bill Osborn is practicing Law m Norwalk & with his Brother. Bush is doing well. Of any of the rest-I know nothing. Some of my correspondents have cut my acquaintance or ceased corresponding not to my sorrow and my knowledge is of course not so extensive. Excuse this hasty answer. With a wish reciprocate in your expression of

Sincere friendship

(Sig) M. S. Latham.

(Post Mark)

Crawford, Jul 28,  Ala


Mr. William S. Shotwell Sr.



MILTON S. LATHAM came to this county about the year 1837. He was a native of Ohio, taught school here, read law under Judge Alfred P. Reid, and began the practice. He was an unsuccessful candidate for solicitor before the legislature in 1849, and a year or two later removed to California. Elected to congress from that State in 1853, was made collector of the port of San Francisco in 1855, elected governor in 1860, was chosen to the federal senate three days after his inauguration, where he served six years, and is now a banker and millionaire in San Francisco. A remarkable career even in America. (Brewer’s ALABAMA, pp. 514-515.)

(Crawford was the County Seat of Russell County at the date of this letter, “judge” Latham’s stay in that county is a memorable tradition. Editor.)

1*Original in hands of D. L. McCall, Monroeville.

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Volume I – IV: Four Volumes in One

The first four Alabama Footprints books – Volumes 1-IV have been combined into one book

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Volume I – IV: Four Volumes in One