THE BAY STATE MONTHLY.
A Massachusetts Magazine.
VOL. III. AUGUST, 1885. NO. III.
JOHN ALBION ANDREW.
THE CITY OF WORCESTER—THE HEART OF THE COMMONWEALTH.
THE GRIMKÉ SISTERS.
TEN DAYS IN NANTUCKET.
A BIRTHDAY SONNET.
AMONG THE BOOKS.
MEMORANDA FOR THE MONTH.
JOHN ALBION ANDREW.
THE "WAR-GOVERNOR" OF MASSACHUSETTS.
John Albion Andrew, the twenty-first Governor of Massachusetts, was born, May 31, 1818, at Windham, a small town near Portland, Maine. His father was Jonathan Andrew, who had established himself in Windham as a small trader; his mother was Nancy Green Pierce, of New Hampshire, who was a teacher in the celebrated academy at Fryeburg, where Daniel Webster was once employed in the same capacity.
Jonathan is described as having been "a quiet, reticent man, of much intelligence and a keen perception of the ludicrous," while his wife was "well educated, with great sweetness of temper, and altogether highly prepossessing in appearance." There never was a more united and happy family. The father possessed ample means for their education, and left his household to the good management of his wife, who was admirable in her domestic arrangements, judicious, sensible, energetic, and a rigid disciplinarian of her children. There was a rare union of gentleness and force in this woman, which made her generally attractive, and especially endeared her to all who came under the influence of her character.
Mrs. Andrew died on the 7th of March, 1832. Shortly afterwards the husband sold out his property in Windham and removed to a farm in Boxford, in the county where he was born. He died in September, 1849.
John Albion, the oldest son, entered Bowdoin College in 1833, where he pursued a course in no way remarkable. He was a studious youth, applied himself closely to his books, and appeared to take no lively interest in athletic sports. Notwithstanding his studiousness, he was ranked among the lowest of his class, and was allotted no part at Commencement. Among his fellows he was, however, exceedingly popular, and his happy temperament, his genial nature, won him friendship which after years only made stronger and more enduring.
After his graduation the young man came to Boston and entered the office of the late Henry H. Fuller, as a student of law. The attraction between him and young Andrew was mutual, and they became almost like brothers. It was while serving his novitiate under Mr. Fuller that Andrew became interested in many of the reform movements of the day, and was as firm and peculiar in one direction as his friend was in another.
Andrew rose slowly at the bar. To his clients he simply did his duty, and that was all. He was not a learned lawyer, nor was he in any sense a great lawyer, and yet he expended great care and industry in looking up his cases, and probably never lost a client who had once employed him. We are told by one of his biographers that, "during all these years he was not what was called a student, but was never idle." He entered largely into the moral questions of that day; was greatly interested in the preaching of James Freeman Clarke; a constant attendant at meeting and the Bible-classes. Occasional lay-preaching being the custom of that church, young Andrew sometimes occupied the pulpit and conducted the services to the general acceptance of the people.
Andrew did not become actively interested in politics until his admission to the bar, and then he joined the Whig party, and became thoroughly in earnest in advocating the Anti-Slavery movement. In 1859 he was chosen to the lower branch of the Legislature and at once took a prominent position. In 1860 he was nominated for Governor of the Commonwealth, by a general popular impulse which overwhelmed the old political managers, who regarded him as an intruder upon the arena, and had laid other plans. He was called to the position of chief magistrate of Massachusetts at a most momentous time, but he was found equal to the emergency, and early acquired, by general consent, the title of "The Great War-Governor."
It was just on the eve of the Rebellion, and the whole North was excited by the events which had already transpired. In his inaugural address in January, '61, Governor Andrew advised that a portion of the militia should be placed on a footing of activity, in order that, "in the possible contingencies of the future the State might be ready without inconvenient delay to contribute her share of force in any exigency of public danger," and immediately despatched a confidential messenger to the Governors of Maine and New Hampshire to inform them of his determination to prepare for instant service the militia of Massachusetts, and to invite their coöperation.
This is not the place nor the time to give even a résumé of Governor Andrew's administration. He retired from office at the close of 1865, after a service of unexampled interest and importance in the history of the Commonwealth. He retired with honor to himself and to the regret of all who had known him best. We have already alluded to Governor Andrew's interest in the question of Anti-Slavery, and it should be stated that in regard to the emancipation of the slaves he was among the first, as he was the most persistent advocate of a measure which he considered the greatest blow that could be struck at the enemy, fully justified as a measure of war and demanded by every consideration of justice and humanity.
Apropos of his impatience on this subject the following incident related by one of the Governor's friends is worth recalling:—