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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
"Robert E. Stewart [log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 25 Jan 2015 11:52:15 -0500
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Orion's appointment as Secretary of the Territory (he was not "Nye's  
Secretary," as is often said), came through the patronage of Lincoln's Attorney  
General Edward Bates. Bates was Orion's mentor and he (Orion) was given the  
Nevada post for his pro-Lincoln campaigning. Orion was a struggling printer 
in  Keokuk, the Mississippi River "gateway" to the farm country of Iowa. 
His younger  brother Sam had some savings from his river piloting, and footed 
the bill for  the Stagecoach to Carson City. Sam originally planned to visit 
for only a  few months.
In those pre-Civil War days "border man" did not refer to people in states  
along the slave/free line, but men who had experience living on the edge of 
 organized government--frontier regions. When James W. Nye landed the post  
of Governor of the brand-new Territory of Nevada, he said [New York Times] 
he  would not accept the post if he could not have an administration of 
"border  men." Nye had a brother and nephew in the Gold Country of California, 
and asked  Lincoln personally if he could have that post instead of Gov. of 
Nebraska,  Lincoln's initial thought. [Handwritten note by Lincoln, Sacrmento 
Daily  Union]
Nevada Historian Effie Mona Mack of the University of Nevada [Reno] (in  
pre-Internet days) seems to have been the first to put in  print the idea that 
Nye's administration was made up of men from the  East--New York, 
Pennsylvania, Maine, etc. And indeed, that was where they were  born. However, with 
few exceptions the men Gov. Nye named to  administrative posts had lived in 
California, or Utah Territory, for several  years before he tapped them for 
office. Several of the men who accompanied  him to Nevada were returning, not 
venturing, West. This is  largely the reason Nye was never seriously 
considered a "carpetbagger." 
Thanks to Arianne for pointing out an interesting essay. I think that  in 
addition to travel on the river, Sam's interaction with these border men,  
many of them his boarding-house roommates, also helped spur Sam's vivid  
imagination while writing both Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. I am of the 1940s,  
early 50s childhood that checked in at home after school, then made damn  sure I 
was home in time for dinner. My granddaughter, now in college, grew  up in 
organized, structured "play". I wonder if she, or anyone raised in  today's 
setting, could create a tale like Twain's of Tom or  Huck.
Bob Stewart