The Pen Makes a Good Sword
John Forsyth of the Mobile Register
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
Title Page, Copyright
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The idea for this book came during a 1993 Ph.D. seminar course at the University of Southern Mississippi. Over the last twelve years, I have amassed many debts of gratitude which, although they can never be adequately repaid, must, at the very least, be acknowledged. My highest expression of thanks goes to Charles C. Bolton whose comments and suggestions were always ...
Introduction: “The Pen Makes a Good Sword”
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In December of 1837, a twenty-five year-old John Forsyth Jr. published his first editorial as co-owner of the Mobile Daily Commercial Register. The young Forsyth, perhaps with (at least in this early stage of his career) an exaggerated sense of his own importance, assured his readers that “the great concerns which demand the advocacy, and should inspire the pens of Southern ...
1 “The Great Son of a Noble Sire”
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By the time John Forsyth Jr. penned his first editorial, five generations of his ancestors had already lived in America. Members of the Forsyth family first crossed the Atlantic in the late seventeenth century. James Forsyth, the first of the clan to immigrate to America, arrived from Scotland in 1680. In 1688 he received a land grant in Amelia County, Virginia. Scant evidence remains of ...
2 “What Rare Times We New OppositionEditors Will Have”
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When John Forsyth Jr. arrived in Mobile, the port city had already survived more than a century of history that included relocation, a period of colonial rule, deadly disease, financial struggles, and several natural as well as man-made disasters. Originally settled by the French at Twenty-Seven-Mile ...
3 “We Are in a Fit of Disquiet”
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In the late spring of 1841, John Forsyth Sr. paid his first visit to Mobile. To honor such a distinguished guest, a committee of prominent Mobilians extended an invitation to the now ex-secretary of state to a public dinner to be held to recognize his many accomplishments. The offer (printed in the Register), noted that the occasion would be a “slight manifestation of the estimation in ...
4 “Cannot We Pause a Moment to Think of Our Country?”
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John Forsyth returned to Mobile in 1853 with no intention of returning to the Register. The once-again Mobilian poured whatever capital he had amassed into a lumber mill project to be constructed on an island across the river from the city. Before the mill turned out its first product, �re completely destroyed the entire venture. Falling back on h is most notable skill, Forsyth ...
5 “Sacrificed on the Altar of Duty”
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At the 1856 Democratic National Convention, John Forsyth had led an unsuccessful effort to renominate President Franklin Pierce. Forsyth, the head of the Alabama delegation, remained stubbornly loyal to Pierce long after most of the party regulars had abandoned the cause. Apparently appreciative of such allegiance, Pierce, two months later, appointed the Mobile editor ...
6 The “Disturber” of the Democracy [Contains Image Plates]
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John Forsyth returned to Alabama in November 1858 with every intention of returning to his diplomatic post. After the Ju�rez forces gained the upper hand in the Mexican War of the Reform, the beleaguered minister hoped to be able to extend recognition to the Liberal regime and continue his policy of economic and territorial expansion. President Buchanan, however, had other ...
7 “The Cause of the Union Was Lost”
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Several weeks after Abraham Lincoln’s election, John Forsyth wrote a somewhat somber letter to Stephen A. Douglas. He correctly surmised that with Douglas’s defeat, “the cause of the Union was lost.” More prophetically, he noted that he never for a moment believed that “a giant nation could die ...
8 “The Zenith of Today Is the Nadir of Tomorrow”
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Only a few weeks after the surrender of Mobile, John Forsyth traveled to Montgomery. Walking along the streets of the defeated Confederacy’s birthplace, the editor could not help but pause and reflect. Most likely thinking back on the Yanceyites, he wrote that “the doctrine of precipitation, which originally had the most prurient hot-bed in this capital, is quite abandoned as ...
Conclusion: “We Never Doubted Where John Forsyth Stood”
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The year 1873 marked the start of the decline of John Forsyth’s editorial prominence. His health, which troubled him in the latter part of the previous year, never completely recovered. The ailing journalist increasingly found himself away from his beloved post. At the advice of his doctor, Forsyth, in the late spring, embarked on a trip to Europe. This journey, his first trip ...
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Publication Year: 2006