Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996 Page: 159
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Documents, Letters, Reminiscences, Etc.
screams of distress. Fortunately every cloud
has its silver lining. Just below us in a bend of
the river some friendly willows extended their
boughs toward us, which we all grasped and by
united effort checked the boat. The late la-
mented John Carter came to our relief. He
threw us a "life line," and we were soon on terra
firma again, as happy as sunflowers. This little
incident frightened the best mother in the world,
and she never could be persuaded to believe that
it was a good idea to cross a river every day in
search of knowledge.
4. Letter of James Williams Holt to Colorado
Citizen, May 19, 1909, and published in the
Citizen of May 21, 1909.
Weimar, Tex., May 19, 1909
Editor, Colorado Citizen
In the summer of 1860, owing to the friend-
ship of Uncle Bob Jones, district clerk of the
county, I received the appointment as deputy. I
was a minor, my penmanship was bad, and
perhaps my spelling was worse, therefore I fear
that I did not merit the position. However, the
appointment gave me a little prestige among my
boyhood associates and greatly tickled my
vanity, so I held on to it with great tenacity.
Moreover, my location at the court house
gave me a good opportunity to watch the prog-
ress of the warmest political campaign ever
pulled off in this state-the opportunity to hear
some of the big guns discuss the political issues
of that day, among whom were Major Fly,
T. N. Waul and A. J. Hamilton, all giants on the
Here I may remark that fifty years ago the
people received their political education from
public speakers; and that owing to the fact that
public speaking was in great demand, the art of
oratory was cultivated more then than now.
Newspapers, school teachers and the rural de-
liveries have superseded the spellbinders. Now
if a public speaker wishes to hold an audience he
must KNOW his subject, he must know more
than his hearers, he must, in short, be an orator
to the "manor born."
In 1860 two political clubs were organized
in Columbus. They held weekly meetings in the
old rock court house, and great crowds com-
posed of both sexes attended these meetings.
C. C. Herbert, R. V. Cook and John T. Har-
court were the prominent leaders of the Breck-
enridge and Lane Club; John H. Robson, John
Shropshire and James Baker of the Citizen were
the leaders of the Bell and Everett Club.
The topics discussed at these meetings were
the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, the Missouri Com-
promise, the Omnibus Bill, the Fugitive Slave
Law, the Dred Scott Decision, the Wilmot
Proviso, Abolitionism, Secession, Coercion,
Irrepressible Conflict, and so on. To the present
generation all this sounds like a strange ver-
nacular. But forty-nine years ago everybody
was interested in all of these questions; excite-
ment ran high, and, unavoidably, bitter feelings
between friends and neighbors were engen-
Yet, with all of this strenuosity (if I may use
the word), occasionally a sprinkling of wit and
humor appeared on the surface that caused the
crowd to laugh. Here is what occurred one
night: Cook, Baker and Shropshire were all tall
and rather slender of stature. Cook had the floor
and was throwing hot shot at the Bellwethers, as
he called the enemy. Suddenly stopping he
picked up a copy of the Citizen and very
dramatically said: "Let me read you a long,
windy editorial from the pen of my long friend
Jim Baker." He used the phrase "long friend"
many times, and every time it provoked great
laughter. When Cook sat down, Shropshire
took the stand and at once declared that he was
ready and able to defend his long friend Cook's
long friend Jim Baker's long editorial. This was
the climax; and the audience roared lustily.
Here’s what’s next.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996, periodical, September 1996; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151398/m1/47/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.