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Alias Simon Suggs

The Life and Times of Johnson Jones Hooper

Written by William Stanley Hoole

Publication Year: 2008

“When these words were written everybody had read or heard of Simon Suggs, the shifty man whose antics had been recorded in many a gusty tale of Alabama frontier life which had drawn laughter and applause from newspaper readers throughout the United States. And everybody, at least in Alabama in the 1850s, knew something about his creator, Johnson Jones Hooper. . . . The immortal Suggs, his alter ego, has kept his name alive and renewed its luster, in a biography that deserves almost unqualified praise. Dr. Hoole’s Alias Simon Suggs is a noteworthy achievement. . . . A milestone in contemporary Alabama scholarship, it will become a standard reference work on the literary and political scene [and] as a distinguished piece of biographical writing, skillfully organized and deftly presented.”—Alabama Review

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

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pp. 3-14

Spring came early to Cape Fear in 1830. All up and down the narrow, humid peninsula yellow jasmine and azaleas tinted the sandy countryside. Palmettos, windswept and scraggly, rattled and rustled from Corncake Inlet to Old Topsail and magnolias for miles along the river were white-splotched with...

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I. “… people is more like hogs and dogs …”

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pp. 15-30

Willis Brewer says that in going from his father's home in Wilmington, North Carolina, to his brother's home in frontier La Fayette, Alabama, Johnson Jones Hooper "journeyed through the Gulf States, and remained in Tuscaloosa several months."

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II. “… Yonder goes the chicken man!”

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pp. 31-44

Young Hooper's first years in and about the monotonous little village of La Fayette were uneventful and, it may well be imagined, uninspiring. Day after day he read law in his brother's office and met his brother's friends, familiarizing himself with Alabama's legal procedures as well as its people...

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III. “… good to be shifty in a new country …”

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pp. 45-60

On Saturday December 17, 1842, two days after Hooper's marriage, John F. Gilbert & Son, enterprising job-printers of La Fayette, published what is believed to have been the first issue of Chambers County's first newspaper, the East Alabamian, a small weekly dedicated in principle to American...

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IV. “… a rough road to travel …”

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pp. 61-79

"Please send us the back numbers of the 'Whig' from the date you have been connected with it," Porter wrote Hooper early in September, 1845. "The first ... we have received is that for the 2d inst."

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V. “… dead–as dead as a mackerel …”

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pp. 80-94

At the tumultuos Baltimore convention of 1852, when the pro- and anti-slavery delegates came to a final parting of the ways, the death warrant of the American Whig party was finally signed.

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VI. “… If Mr. Suggs is present …”

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pp. 95-112

Despite Hooper's continued but not unusual plea for more subscribers, by 1856 the Mail was an already successful, expanding, though youthful concern. Barrett and Wimbish, publishers of Hooper's Read and Circulate, had moved into the establishment a few months before, greatly increasing its...

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VII. “… then, where shall we be?”

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pp. 113-128

The year 1858 was a quiet one in Alabama politics, enlivened only by William Lowndes Yancey's continual fight to gain active leadership of the Democratic party.

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VIII. “… at liberty, is this our birth month …”

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pp. 129-147

Despite the separating wedges of internal strife, in April, 1860, Alabama's delegation, led by Yancey, entrained for the national convention with great hopes, positively instructed to take their stand against any encroachment on the rights of slavery in the territories.

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IX. “… If it be agreeable to the Convention …”

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pp. 148-160

The problems instantly befalling Alabama after the passage of the Ordinance of Secession were vexatious and many. First, the state had somehow to be converted rapidly but gracefully into a new "free and independent Republic." Most surely this was a colossal undertaking. Matters previously...

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X. “… through spits of rain and snow …”

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pp. 161-173

By June, 1861, Confederate Richmond, whose pre-war population of 40,000 new-comers found swelled to almost three times that number by the sudden pressure of soldiers, politicians, businessmen, and hangers-on, had quickly gone mad.

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pp. 174-187

At the time of his death in 1862 Johnson Jones Hooper was one of America's best-known literary comedians.


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pp. 188-251


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pp. 252-271


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pp. 273-283

E-ISBN-13: 9780817381974
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817353629

Publication Year: 2008