The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961 Page: 186
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
group. Although politics has offered one of the traditional sources
of content for American humor and satire, there have been only
a few comic creations who have been placed as White House
confidants. The first of this breed was Major Jack Downing, the
simple, down East Yankee, who achieved his fame in the age of
Jackson. Downing was the brain child of Seba Smith, editor of the
Portland (Maine) Courier. Petroleum V. Nasby, an ignorant and
corrupt rural minister who became chaplain to Andrew Johnson,
was used by his creator, David Ross Locke of the Toledo Blade, as
a symbol for the Copperheads during the Civil War. More sophis-
ticated than Downing and less of a rogue than Nasby, Snort had
much in common with his famous predecessors. Like them he first
approached the President as an office seeker; all three accompanied
their respective presidents on tour; and as close advisers they were
sometimes sent on special misions.
Colonel Bill Snort was the creation of Alexander Edwin Sweet
(1841-1901), a Texan humorist, who was born in Canada, edu-
cated in Germany, and achieved his fame both in Texas and New
York. His father, Colonel James R. Sweet, was a wealthy mer-
chant, "who spent his fortune like a Southern gentleman, and
commanded a Texas regiment in the Confederate army."2 Young
Alex was educated at a prep school in Poughkeepsie, New York,
and then was sent to Germany to study at the Polytechnic Institute
in Carlsruhe. He married a German girl, and when the Civil
War broke out, Sweet and his bride had to run a Union blockade
to arrive at Galveston. He joined the 33rd Texas Cavalry and
served for three years as a private, one of "the immortal few ...
who fought in the ranks as a private for the cause of the Confed-
eracy and was not made a colonel or major after the war was over.""
After the war Sweet followed desultory careers in politics, law,
and journalism. During Reconstruction he became a Republican
and a staunch supporter of the E. J. Davis regime. Sweet was
elected city attorney of San Antonio in 1879 but soon turned to
journalism, achieving some reputation through his humorous
column "Siftings" in the Galveston News. In 1881, at Austin, with
2Ibid., XVI (December 26, 1891), 13.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961, periodical, 1961; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101190/m1/216/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.