Samuel M. Ralston, Indiana: Governor, Senator, endorsed by the KKK and the front runner expected to be the next Democratic presidential nominee for the 1924 elections.
Confederate Civil War ‘Dancing Circus Horse’
Samuel Moffett Ralston
(December 1, 1857 – October 14, 1925) was a Democratic politician, the 28th Governor of and a United States Senator from the U.S. state of Indiana. Born into a large impoverished family, he took many jobs as a child including working in a coal mine. He taught school and studied law, becoming a prominent state lawyer.
He became active in his local politics and eventually secured the Democratic nomination for governor. Because he served during the state’s 100th anniversary he is sometimes called the Indiana’s Centennial Governor. He was responsible for implementing many progressive era reforms in the state and putting down a violent riot in Indianapolis. He gained the support of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan for his anti-Catholic political positions, and with their support was elected to the United States Senate in 1922. He had become popular among the national Democratic party as the front-runner for the Presidential nomination in 1924, but he dropped out of the race because of his failing health.
Ralston campaigned for the United States Senate beginning in 1922. Because of his friendly relationship with the Indiana branch of the Ku Klux Klan, he was able to get their endorsement. Ralston delivered a speech at St. Mary’s of the Woods where he condemned religious interference with the state. The Klan’s primary goals at the time were to remove all Catholic influence from the government and public schools, and to shut down Catholic private schools. His speech earned him considerable popularity among the group who said he “was not afraid to tell off the papists to their faces.”
The Klan was one of the most influential groups within the state at the time, and they reprinted his speech and circulated it. Their support of Ralston was one of their most forceful attempts to have a candidate elected in Indiana, as they feared the Republican candidate who had publicly condemned the organization. The Klan fell apart in 1926—the year after Ralston’s death—after a scandal, revealing that the majority of Indiana’s politicians, including Ralston, had ties to the Klan.
Ralston won election to the United States Senator from Indiana defeating Albert Beveridge in November 1922. The New York Times ran a lengthy story on his wife, referring to her as a “Chicken Farmer” because she was reluctant to move to Washington D.C., she did not want to leave her chickens unattended. He took up his Senate seat on March 4, 1923. In the senate he advocated the adoption of the Melon Tax Plan, which was effectively a wealth redistribution plan.
In 1924 he was the front runner and expected to be the Democratic presidential nominee, but for reasons that were unknown at the time, he dropped out of the race just before the national convention. He later revealed that due to his failing health he did not believe he was fit to become President. His steadily worsening health lead to his death on October 14, 1925, he died in his home near Indianapolis. He was buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Lebanon.
A Circus Horse in Battle.
Colonel Charles Marshall, who was aid-de-camp to General Robert E. Lee and who went through the battles of the war with his chief told the following amusing story of his experience with a new horse: His old horse had been shot from under him in the fight of the previous day, and he had taken possession of an animal that seemed to suit the work. In the battle a few hours later he was riding across a field in which there were numerous stumps.
Suddenly the performance opened. The guns roared, and the air was filled with smoke and noise. Before Colonel Marshall knew what was happening the horse had his four feet on one of the stumps and was gaily dancing in a circle. In the meantime the firing was increasing, and the situation was anything but comfortable. But the horse kept on as if he were enjoying it.
“It was not until afterward,” said Colonel Marshall, “that I found the horse had belonged to a circus and had been trained to do this act amid the firing of cannon.”
Lt. Col. Charles Marshall
He was a personal aide to General Lee during the Appomattox Campaign, was born in Warrenton, Virginia in 1831. He was the great-grand nephew John M. Marshall, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1801-1835). Charles Marshall himself studied law but resigned from his Baltimore law firm after the war began. He joined Lee’s staff as an aide-de-camp in March 1862 when Lee was advisor to President Davis. Marshall’s legal training proved useful in drafting military legislation for submission to the Confederate Congress.
After Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia, Marshall’s duties included preparing drafts of Lee’s dispatches. It was Marshall who penned Lee’s first response to Grant’s proposed terms for surrender. His letter requested the interview for that purpose.
Initially General Lee asked Colonels Marshall and Taylor to accompany him to the conference with Grant but Taylor declined. Consequently, with Lee for the meeting were Marshall, orderly Pvt. Joshua Johns, and members of Grant’s staff Col. Babcock and his orderly Capt. William Dunn. Upon reaching the outskirts of the village, Marshall and Johns road ahead to find a suitable place for the meeting. The first white citizen they encountered was Wilmer McLean.
At some point after the surrender meeting Lee directed Marshall to write a farewell letter to his army. Interrupted constantly, Marshall finally moved to General Lee’s ambulance to complete the historic task on the morning of April 10th.