NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us
BACK

Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html


Previous section

Next section

Thomas Allen.

THOMAS ALLEN was born August 29th, 1813, in Pittsfield, Berkshire county Massachusetts. His grandfather, Thomas Allen after whom he was named, was a minister of the gospel, and during the Revolution was a Chaplin, and connected with the array at White Plains commanded by General Washington, and at Bennington, where General Stark commanded. He was cousin of Ethan Allen, of Vermont, whose name is so associated with the heroic defence of his country.

Jonathan Allen, the father of the subject of this memoir, was a gentleman of line information and enterprise, being both a farmer and merchant at Pittsfield, where he held important positions of trust. He was postmaster of the town, was a justice of the peace, a state senator, a commissary-general during the war of 1812, and died at the advanced age of seventy-one, regretted by all who knew him. Being a man of fine mental culture, it was natural that he should exercise a careful control over the education of his children, and Thomas Allen was first sent to the district schools, and when sufficiently advanced was sent to an academy, in which Mr. Mark Hopkins, now the president of Williams College, was teacher. It was there, at the age of fifteen, when his mind was developing its natural faculties, that he first evinced a passion for letters, by compositions on numerous literary subjects, and getting up a little journal termed the Miscellany, of which he became editor. After leaving the academy he entered the freshman class of Union College at Schenectady, under the charge of the Rev. Doctor Nott, where he remained until he graduated in 1832. During the four years of his collegiate life, he stood high as a scholar, and had no superior in the acquirements of general literature.

After finishing his collegiate course, Thomas Allen chose the law as his profession, and studied a few months in the office of James King of Albany, and then removed to New York with a capital of twenty-five dollars. His father had given him mental wealth — at a great cost had given him knowledge, which a great philosopher had declared was "power," and he thought if he had within him the elements of success, that, armed with that talisman, he could soon win his way to fame and fortune.

While studying law in New York, Thomas Allen supported himself by his pen, and edited the Illustrated Family Magazine, which attained a circulation of 20,000. So highly were his legal acquirements appreciated, that he assisted Mr. Clerke, now of the Supreme Court, in the preparation of a digest of the New York decisions, and, from the proceeds of this labor, purchased a law library. He was admitted by the Supreme Court to practice in 1835, and the same year received, from his alma mater, the degree of A. M., and was also elected an honorary member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society of New York. He was now looked upon as a promising young man, and received numerous invitations to deliver lecture and addresses, which soon gave him an enviable reputation. After

-- 438 --

practising law with success in New York for two years, at the invitation of his uncle, the Hon. E. W. Ripley, member of Congress from Louisiana, he started to take charge of his practice in that state, but stopping at Washington, he was captivated by the buoyant influences of the political atmosphere, and, at the solicitation of some of the leading statesmen of the Union, he determined to establish a newspaper in that place. A few weeks of preparation, and every thing being ready, the Madisonian appeared in August, 1837.

The journals at Washington at that time were conducted by gentlemen of rare talents and ability, but the Madisonian was received with favor, and the independent spirit of its lucid editorials won "golden opinions." So popular did Mr. Allen become in a short period, that at the extra session of Congress, he became a candidate for the public printing and was elected. His competitors were veterans of journalism, and had long basked in the favor of the national council of the country. Messrs. Blair & Rives of the Globe, and Messrs. Gales & Seaton of the Intelligencer were the opponents of Mr. Allen.

It is impossible for us in this sketch to follow Mr. Allen through all the mazes of his editorial progress, and we will only repeat the words uttered on the floor of Congress by the Hon. James Buchanan: "that paper," said he, referring to the Madisonian, "is worthy of the days of Madison." After five years in the political arena, where the young editor had shown himself capable of coping with the first intellects of the country, he sold out the Madisonian in 1842 and came to Missouri. A few months after his arrival, he married Miss Anne C. Russell, daughter of William Russell, a distinguished and wealthy citizen of St. Louis. The marriage took place July 12th, 1842.

After Mr. Allen's advent in St. Louis, he did not long continue the practice of the law, which he had at first determined to pursue, but finding that his private affairs had attained a considerable magnitude, he abandoned altogether his profession. His mind, however, accustomed to create, could not remain inactive, and he published several pamphlets on interesting subjects, which had the effect at the time of controlling, to a considerable degree, the currents of popular opinion. Among these publications was a Commentary on the Treaty of Paris, 1803, and another called "Letter Smuggling." The last was reprinted by the order of the post-office department of the United States. He was also elected president of the St. Louis Horticultural Society, and prepared for the St. Louis delegation to the Chicago convention, an elaborate pamphlet on the commerce and navigation of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. He also, in 1848, used his efficient influence to get a municipal subscription of $700,000 to the St. Louis and Cincinnati Railroad.

Mr. Allen has always been a great advocate of internal improvements, looking upon them as the proper arteries of a country, furnishing vitality and strength to the body corporate. In 1849, when a meeting was called to take action on the subject of a Pacific railroad, he ably discussed the importance of a "national central highway to the Pacific," and became one of the corporators of the Pacific Railroad, which, when it will receive the patriotic aid to which it is entitled, will soon reach the great ocean which flows by our western borders. A pamphlet from the pen of Thomas Allen, containing "The Address of the People of St. Louis to the

-- 439 --

People of the United States," which was widely scattered through the Union, met with much favor; and at the national convention called on the subject of the Pacific Railroad, fourteen of the United States were represented, and Mr. Allen was selected by the convention to prepare the memorial to Congress.

When the charter was granted to the Pacific Railroad of the state of Missouri, there was prejudice on the subject, for Missouri was far behind the times, and to remove this prejudice Mr. Allen was determined. He had been elected the first president of the company after its organization, and to arouse the slumbering energy of the people, and to awaken in them the proper feelings in regard to the importance of the Pacific Railroad, he travelled on horseback through the different counties of its projected route in the state, haranguing the people at the most prominent stations; and having been elected to the state Senate, he succeeded in interesting the members of the assembly on the subject, and a loan of state credit was granted for $2,000,000. On the subject of railroads, it is not too much to say that Mr. Allen has done more to originate and bring them to their present state of prosperity than any man in Missouri. His talents and time have been long given to foster their growth, and he well deserves the gratitude of the country for his continual exertions. It was he who proposed the whole system of railroads through the localities which they now take in their course.

When he was in the Senate, he gave effectual support to the creation of a geological survey, which has made known the different sections of the state, attracted immigration, and, pari passu with the railroads, has served to develop its resources. He was agent for the World's Fair, both in London and New York, by appointment, and the journals both abroad and in the East glowed with contributions from his pen on the state of Missouri, and he placed her before the world with all her mammoth resources made manifest. He selected the land donated by the general government for the Pacific Railroad; and when, in 1854, he resigned his position as director and president, resolutions the most complimentary were passed by the board. He was again nominated at this time for state senator, but declined. In 1857, he was elected president of the Terre Haute, Alton, and St. Louis Railroad, which he held for one year. In September, 1858, he established the well-known banking-house of Allen, Copp, & Nisbet, he furnishing the capital. In 1859 he was entrusted by the state of Missouri with $900,000 of her guaranteed bonds, to be disposed of by him for the benefit of the South-west Branch of the Pacific Railroad, and he discharged the trust with fidelity and success.

Mr. Allen has won himself laurels that can never fade. He is the father of the railroad system of the state, and with paternal devotion has done all that man could do to advance its interest. As a benefactor of Missouri he has advocated her internal improvements, and with his graphic pen revealed to the world her agricultural and mineral wealth; and as a citizen of St. Louis he has ever solicitous of her interest, by making her the great reservoir whence all her channels of internal improvements must flow. His life has been on of the utility and constant action; and his literary and political contributions and unceasing efforts for the good of the state are well known to the living and will receive the appreciation of posterity.

-- 440 --

Previous section

Next section


Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html
Powered by PhiloLogic