Recently I came across an article written about the life of Alston Mygatt. The title of the article was THE QUISLING OF VICKSBURG. It appeared in a book entitled, ...Just Passing Through...Funeral Stories from Vicksburg: Including some of the interesting characters buried in the city's Cedar Hill Cemetery and graveyard humor” by Gordon Cotton and Charles Riles in 2010. Having grown up in Vicksburg and having my parents, brother and many relatives and friends buried in that cemetery, I decided to read the article. As I begin to read, I was overcome with revulsion. How could such a slanderous and frankly racially biast article have been written by a respected Vicksburg historian, a man I had conversed with and respected? To perpetuate the widely debunked history of Reconstruction written by Jim Crow era southern historians was unforgiveable and depressing. The article's villification of Rev. Mygott demanded correction and an accurate recording of the life of this outstanding scholar, minister, patriot, and champion of civil and basic human right of African-American slaves and freedmen before and after the Civil War. At the end of this article is a line by line refutation of most of the material in the article. If you prefer to read that first, click Here
First we provide some information about Rev. Mygatt's family. Some spelling of the family name "Mygott" appears in a small number of publications, we will use the spelling that is dominant in historical records.
Alston Mygatt was born on March 26, 1805, to Sylvester and Abigail "Albe" Booth Mygatt and baptized in the Stone Presbyterian Church in Clifton, New York, on September 29, 1805. Clifton is in upstate New York within what is now the Adirondack Mountains Park. Most sources say Alston was born in Clinton, NY. Both parents were born in Connecticut and were married in Berlin, Connecticut, on August 31, 1800. Sylvester (September 9, 1774-after 1850) had served in the War of 1812 in the New York Militia Company Detachment 157 and 131 Regiments of the New York Volunteers commanded by Captain Nathan Seward.
Alston's grandfather, Austin Mygott (1732-1776) served as a spy for the Continental Army and died at Bunker Hill on February 23, 1776. Alston's family's military history demonstrate the deep loyalty to the United States of America. Alston's mother, Abi Booth Mygatt, was born May 30, 1784, in Farmington, Hartford, Connecticut, and died 1850 in Racine County, WI.
Alston's siblings included Edward Gilyard Mygatt, MD (1803-1879), Lucetta Maria Mygatt (1822–1879, baptized August 31, 1827), Henrietta Mygatt (1806-1895), Louisa Mygatt (August 7, 1808–1879), Sylvestor N. Mygatt Jr. (1810–1832), Hortensia Minerva Mygatt (1820–), Delaus Warner Mygatt, Harriet Eugenia Mygatt (1816–) and Deelos Wallace Mygatt (1813–1815), Wallace Mygatt (2814-1880+).
Sylvester and Abigail later moved to Wisconsin and purchased a farm. Sylvestor died in Mygatt's Crossing, Racine, Wisconsin sometime after 1850..
Another source states, "Sylvester Mygatt, son of Austin and Lament Blinn Mygatt, married Abi, daughter of Elisha Booth, of Berlin, Conn., August 29, 1800. Mr. Mygatt was evidently born for a pioneer. He is a man of large muscular frame, and commanding appearance, and has gone westward with the "tide of empire," from early life. About the year 1804, he removed from Berlin to Oneida Co., N.Y., and from thence to Hannibal, Oswego Co., in 1829. In 1838, he emigrated to Wisconsin, and resides three miles west of Racine, at Mygatt's Cross Roads, Racine Co."
Alston was a very learned man. He studied at a number of colleges. He attended Hamilton College in New York in 1833. The college student list document says he was from Clinton, NY. Alston also attended the New York Theological Seminary (Presbyterian) in Auburn, New York. An alumni entry in Triennial Catalogue of the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Auburn, New-York, January 1853, states he spent six semesters at the seminary and graduated in 1834 and was currently living and preaching in Augusta, Georgia. The catalogue states he was also educated at Middlebury College. It was reported that he preached and taught in Georgia until about 1853 when he moved to Racine, Wisconsin, where his parents were living. In the 1859 catalogue for the seminary, they incorrectly list him as deceased.
It has been reported that Alston became a friend of Gerrit Smith, a leading American social reformer, abolitionist, politician, and philanthropist. Spouse to Ann Carroll Fitzhugh, Smith was a candidate for President of the United States in 1848, 1856, and 1860. Smith, seven years senior to Mygatt, attended Hamilton Oneida Academy in Clinton, Oneida County, NY and graduated with honors from its successor Hamilton College in 1818.
The 1883 General Catalogue of the Auburn Theological Seminary states, Alston Mygott came to Auburn from Church in Clinton, N. Y.; born in Clinton March 26, 1805; graduated from Hamilton College (named for Alexander Hamilton) in 1834; part of junior year in Auburn. Preached and taught in Georgia; reported as there in the Gen. Catalogues of 1839, 1850, 1853; said to reside in or near Racine, WI.
One source stated, " Alston Mygatt, (382) son of Sylvester (354) and Abi Mygatt, married Effa Maria Van Epps, of Vernon, Oneida County, N.Y., November 2, l835. Mrs. Alston Mygatt was born in - - - 1809, and died at Vicksburg, Miss., June 17, 1845. Mr. Mygatt graduated at Hamilton College, N.Y., and studied theology for a time at Auburn; but ill health compelled him to abandon his studies and seek employment in a milder climate. He has resided for some years in New Orleans." (Source: A Historical Notice of Joseph Mygatt, One of the Early Colonists of Cambridge, Mass. and Afterward, One of the First Settlers of Hartford, Conn.: with a Record of his Descendants by Fredderick T. Mygatt, A Descendent of the Ninth Generation Brooklyn, NY: printed by the Harmonial Association, No. 100 Nassau Street, New York. 1853) By 1859 Alston has closed his business in New Orleans.
Alston Mygatt Sr. married Effa Maria Van Epps on November 2, 1835, in Oneida, New York. He and Effa had three children, Alston Jr. (born 1838 in South Carolina–1880), Elizabeth (1839–) and Maria Elizabeth (1843–1913). Effa died in childbirth on June 17, 1845, in Vicksburg, MS. She is buried in Lot 5 of Square 25 of Div B, All Tombstones. Mygatt(sp?), Mrs. Alston of New York and her infant who would have borne her mother's name, Effa Maria, age 36 yrs, three infants preceded her. ?- 17 Jun 1845. Hay, William 10 Aug 1806 - 20 Aug 1849.
Alston later married Margaret Burns Hay on November 13, 1856, in Vicksburg, Warren County, MS. The minister was Rev. C. K. Marshal. The Vicksburg Herald reports their arrival from New Orleans that day. Margaret was born in Scotland. She was previously married to possibly William Hay and had four children by him, Thomas (1840–?), Charles M.(1844–?), Emma B. (Harper) (1846–? ) and Anna F. (1848–?). There is a Willam Hay in the Cedar Hills Cemetery in Vicksburg, 1806–1849. The death date is consistent with the birth of their last child in 1858. Margaret and Alston had a son, Edward Burns Mygatt (March 6, 1858-1915) who married Carrie Robinson (July 4, 1862–February 16, 1946). Their children in 1900 were Florence, 14, Gussie, 13, Warren Harper, 11, Edward, 8, James (?) Alston,7, Jean E., 4. The Hay children lived with Alston and Margaret. Margaret died September 2, 1877, in Vicksburg. In 1879, the Vicksburg Herald newspaper list a tax auction of a property Platte: Norton, Division:1 under the name of Margaret Mygatt's heirs. Edward Burns Mygatt died in Kansas City, MO, on September 5, 1915. He worked for the postal service. His wife, Carrie, died February 16, 1946, in Independence, MO. She was born in Vicksburg. (Informant on death certificat: Mrs Gussie Mygatt Kepferle, Grand Ave. She is buried in Mt. Washington Cemetery. In 1881 there is an E. W. Mygatt working as a clerk in the Vicksburg Post Office. E. might be for Edward, W. is a mystery.
Alston and Effa's son, Alston Mygatt Jr., married Margaret Cook. They had a son, Jackson Thomas Mygatt (1864-1911). who married Sarah Ann Kirkpatrick (1866-1948) in Franklin, Illinois. In the 1865 Illinois Census, Alston Jr. is listed with a wife and son and daughter. Jackson's obituary, below, appeared in The Belleville News Democrat, Belleville, Illinois, September 9, 1911:
"Fall of Coal Causes Death, New Baden Miner Died in Hospital Here."
"J. T. Mygatt, 47 years of age, a coal miner of New Baden, died in St. Elizabeth's Hospital on Wednesday morning from injuries sustained in an accident which occurred in the Southern Coal and Mining Company mine at New Baden last week. Mygatt was brought to this city on a Southern train last Friday and taken to the hospital in the Gundlach & Co. ambulance. He was injured internally by a fall of coal. He was born in Franklin county, Ill., January 20, 1864, and was married to Miss Sarah Kirkpatrick. He leaves his widow and five children---Mrs. Mattie Knight, W. H., Ernst, Garret and Marie Mygatt, and two brothers, Wallace and Scott Mygatt. The interment will take place in New Baden. (sic)"
Jackson T and Sarah Ann Mygatt are shown below.
The earliest record related to Alston's career is a May 27, 1828 reference in the York Gazette (York, PA) under the headline:
"From the Argus of Western America
"We have received a document containing a detail of the "expenditores in the Department of State." It is a report of a committee of the House of Representative, accompanied by accounts made out in the Department itself, showing what object the public money placed at the descretion of the Secretary of State has been paid, and has been printed by the House." ..."There seems to have been several thousand dollars paid for 'Books.'"The list is here:"
It appears that Alston Mygatt was selling a books and magazines while only 21 years of age. The Celestial Planisphere in the title would have been a reference to a map of the heavens.
In 1831, Mygatt puts a notice in the Charleston Daily Courier (South Carolina) reporting that in going from the Depository, throught Chalmers, State and Queens street, to Vendue rand, 25th inst, he lost a pocket book containing $155 U.S. monehy, all $5 notes ecept a $10 South Carolina note. There were also notes and letter to Subscribers. He offers a generous reward if turned in to the Depository on Chalmers Street.
In 1838, Mygatt published from Cincinnati, OH, "Secret-Proceedings-and-Debates-of-the-Convention-Assembled-at-Philadelphia-in-the-Year-1787-for-the-Purpose-of-Forming-the-Constitution-on-the-United-States-of-America"-Martin-Luther. Publisher Alston Mygatt, 1838. Cincinnati, OH:
In 1839, the following announcement appears in the June 12, Natchez Free Trader. Appaently this was to cover a debt owed Mygatt. In 1839, he is selling the books by Jared Sparks on Washington and Franklin. H. N. Hushfield had a grocery store in New Orleans.
The life and treason of Benedict Arnold, Author: Published by Harper & Brothers for Alston Mygatt (1849)
In 1841, Mygatt buys an ad in the Times-Picayune warning against purchase of a fraudulent draft in the amount of $600 drawn by Alston Mygatt on Bull and Files (maybe a bank) in favor of Albert Toby.
Alston Mygatt traveled extensively across the South as evidenced by the large number of entries in newspapers announcing uncollected letters to him in various post offices. These occur during the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s. He presumably was selling subscriptions to Jared Sparks' books.
An 1842 document in New Orleans reports a land sale to Alston Mygatt from Charles S. Curtis.
In 1842, Mygatt published "The papers ... purchased by order of Congress : being his correspondence and reports of debates during the Congress of the Confederation and his reports of debates in the Federal Convention / James Madison" ; now published ... under the supervision of Henry D. Gilpin. Author Madison, James President, U.S. Published Mobile : Mygatt 1842, Mobile.
In February 17, 1844, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), Mygatt is soliciting "2 or 3 efficient Agents to solicit subscriptions for popular standard works. Iquire at the Ormsby House Of Alston Mygatt." These subscriptions likely include the works of Jared Sparks on George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
In 1844, Mygatt published, "Secret proceedings and debates of the convention assembled at Philadelphia, in the year 1787 : for the purpose of forming the Constitution of the United States of America" / from notes taken by the late Robert Yates, esquire, chief justice of New York, and copied by John Lansing, jun., esquire, late chancellor of that state, members of that convention ; including"The genuine information," laid before the legislature of Maryland, by Luther Martin, esquire, then attorney-general of that state, and member of the same convention ; also, other historical documents, relative to the federal compact of the North American Union. Mygatt published from Louisville, KY.
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Messrs. The Abbes Chalut and Arnaud, Philadelphia, 17 April, 1787, (Boston: Charles Tappan, Publisher. Louisville, KY, Alston Mygatt, 1844) Vol X, p. 38
In 1847, Mygatt published,"The Works of Benjamin Franklin: Containing Several Political and Historical Tracts Not Included in any Former Edition and Many Letters Official and Private Not Hitherto Published with Notes and a Life of the Author." Boston: Charles Tappen and Louisville: Alston Mygatt, 1847, 10 vols. All in tan calf, each volume numbered individually with lithographed portrait of Franklin in frontis of Vol. I, 612pp and other illustrations.
In 1848," The Library of American Biography." Conducted by J. Sparks. 2 ser.] Author SPARKS, Jared. Edition [Another edition of vol. 1-10.] Published New York : Harper & Bros, for Alston Mygatt 1848-51
In 1856 the following ad appeared in a New Orleans newspaper.
In 1854, an Alston Mygatt has property in Kenosba, Wisconsin.
In the April 26, 1856,Thibodaux Minerva (Thibodaux, Louisiana) newspaper the following appears under "Advertisers": Books, etc—Messrs. Burnett & Bostwick have been succeeded in business by Alston Mygatt & Co, at No. 15 Camp street, New Orleans. We particularly call attention to their cadr in our columns this morning. A large and choice assortment of Silesian ware always on hand. We cannnot too highly recommend this establishment to the favorable consideration of our readers. All of the latest publications may be had of Messrs. A. M. & Co., simultaneous with their appearance at the north, at a very triffling advance on cost.
In 1856, Mygatt announces in the Times-Picayune his intentions to publish a directory for the city of New Orleans, a very ambitious project. Here we see the announcement. In that year he is also selling self-sealing cans for preserving fruit.
By 1858, Mygatt delivers on his promise to publish a directory for New Orleans. Below are some pages from that directory.
Mygatt had other ads in the directory related to his business:
In May of 1859, the fixtures of Mygatt's book and stationary store are sold at public auction to pay debts owed his creditors. The store address is 40 Camp Street, New Orleans, which does not match that at 15 Camp Street, which appears in most of his ads. Camp Street would have be a good business address since only a few block from riverfront. 40 Camp St. today is at the crossing with Canal Street.
An American Bible Society document noted his contribution of $10 from South Carolina.
During the Civil War, Alston assessments indicated he was raising cotton in Warren County. Surprisingly the Lists of Union of Loyal Men in and Around Vicksburg, Entry 370, Box 3, Record Group 366, Records of Civil War Special Agencies of the Treasury Department, Second Special Agency Records, Vicksburg District, NARA indicates that Mygatt owned two slaves. Warren County Tax Roles show that in 1858 the Alston's owned no slave, however the 1858 and 1861 list Margaret Mygatt with 2 slaves under 60 years of age. Alston has none listed next to his name. The 1850 US Census Slave Schedule shows Margaret Hay with 6 slaves. The 1860 US Census Slave Schedule lists A. Mygatt with two slaves, a 65 year old male and a 60 year old female. A column by Gordon Cotton in the Vicksburg Evening Post, generously provided by George Colm, Diretor/Curator of the Old Courthoust Museum in Vicksburg provides additonal information. Cotton writes, "William Hay had died without a will; he left very little personal property and a lot of debts. The court appointed Margaret Hay executor. Her husband's personal estate brought only $438.50, and he owed $2,307.39. Most of his property consisted of furniture and household items. He also owned two slave, Joe, who was old & crippled and Joe's wife, Nelly. Thomas Rigby, a neighbor bought the couple, paying $75 for Joe and double that for Nelly." In July 1852, Margaret Hay asked the coutrt to allow enough from the sale for provisions to sustain her family for a year, the request was granted, and then the estate of William Hay was declared insolvent." This information suggest the following: After the death of William Hay in 1849, his excessive debts would have forced the sale of his property, which included the two slaves. It is unlikely Margaret had any control over the sale. This sale would have occurred years before Alston married Margaret. The 1860 Slave Schedule seems consistent with Cotton's information on Margaret's two slaves, however dates do not match. Given Alston's history, it is not easy to accept his ownership of other human beings. Jackie Mygatt, a descendent, said the two slaves were an inheritance of Margaret's.
Alston remained in Vicksburg during the war. He had opposed succession, as did Vicksburg leaders and newspaper. In December of 1860, hoping to reach a peaceful solution over slavery, Vicksburg voted overwhelmingly against secession, 561 to 173, and sent two Unionist delegates to the state secession convention. (from the Vicksburg Daily Evening Citizen). Throughout the war some wealthy plantation owners in Natchez continued to support the Union. After the surrender of Vicksburg, many citizens took an oath to the Union in order to open stores. Most were citizens of Vicksburg. Clergyman Alston Mygatt received permission to lease an abandoned Warren County plantation to open a business, likely a cotton gin.
After the Civil War, most plantation owners assumed that little would change in their operation, namely the freed slaves, having no resources would continue to work the farm for minimal wages and rent the slave quarters for housing. There were white men, including Alston Mygatt, who had higher hopes for the freedmen. They organized in 1863 the first Union League in Mississippi. As MichaelW. Fitzgerald wrote in his book, The Union League movement in the Deep South : politics and agricultural change during Reconstruction, "Mygatt saw Radical Republicanism as a means of across the South to unite freedmen to resist the plantation system and to spead education among the former slaves." Mygatt's goal was to breakup the plantations which had developed and prospered under slave labor. It seemed only fair that those that created this wealth should share in the benefits. Mygatt wished to divide the plantations into smaller farms owned by the former slaves. Original owners would also receive a farm. Naturally the southern whites were violently opposed. Mygatt and other organizers suffered constant harassment and violence from Ku Klux Klan members, sympathetic whites in the community and the US military. After the war, intimidation continued as a powerful tool to discourage freedmen from joining the League. Despite the opposition, the League began to grow and wield some political power. Mygatt was president of the Mississippi's State Council of the Union League. His efforts on behalf of the freedmen earned him the vile comments found in the Mississippi press. Clearly Mygatt was a man of exceptional courage and dedication to a very Christian cause, the betterment of his fellow man. His religion provided a deep foundation in this Christian principle.
In the August 6, 1865, the Vicksburg Journal newspaper, the following appeared, "For the city of Vicksburg, Altson Mygatt, ESQ.. We are authorized to announce the name of ALSTON MYGATT, Esq., as a candidate to represent the city of Vicksburg in the constitutional convention, to be assembled at Jackson on the 14th instant. The paper goes on to endorse Alston, "In urging our friends to vote for Mr. Mygatt, we have merely this to say: As a man, he is wholly unexceptionalble, his character, long established in this community, is above reproach. Widley known in this State and abroad, his election will be an assurance to the Union men here and elsewhere, that Vicksburg is, as she has long claimed to be, "loyal to the core."
"Mr. Mygatt, though no politician (which is certainly in his favor) has for a long time been the Presidet of the Union Loyal League in this city and is worthy the confidence and support of every loyal citizen. Maintiaining, even in the darkest days of the Republic, a firm and steadfast loyalty to it, we hope to see him elected to the convention. Let every true Union man vote for Alston Mygatt. This ad appears a number of times on the page."
A business directory in the December 1865, Vicksburg Journal list ""Cotton Pickery: Alston Mygatt."
On April 14, 1866, a pathetic article appeared in the Vicksburg Herald newspaper providing an account of an initiation ceremony by the Ku Klux Klan. Part of the condition for membership was to slander R. W. Fournoy and Alston Mygatt, representative to the Mississippi Constitional Convention. The article mentions the punishment for "plotting with a nigger under a gin house": the Klan head says, "Pull his toenails out and ram his head in a bee gum." The Klan members shout "Boom, Boom, Boom."
In April 1867, Alston Mygatt, J. A. Maltry and C. E. Furlong were appointed registers for Warren County by the HD. Quarters, 4th Military District. Their purpose is to administer an oath of loyalty to the United States of America as a condition for registration to vote. The oath taken by the registers is as follows:
"I do solemnly swear that I have never voluntarily borne arms against the United States since I have been a citizen thereof : that l have voluntarily given no aid. countenance, counsel or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility there-to; that I have neither sought, nor accepted, nor attempted to exercise the functions of any uﬂlce whatever, under any authority, or pretended authority, in hostility to the United Status ; that I hnve not yielded a voluntary support to any pretended government authority, power, or constitution within the United States. hostile or inimical thereto. And l do further swear, or affirm that to the best of my knowledge and ability.I will support and defend the Constitution of the lnited States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will hear
true faith and allegiance to the same: that Itake this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the oiffice on which I am about to enter: So help me God."
In September of 1867, a notice of bankruptcy against the estate of Alston MyGatt appears in The Weekly Democrat (Natchez, MS). This paper is blatantly racist and anti-Radical Republican, consequently, not sure what to make of this announcement.
On September 25, 1867, an article is published in the New York Herald by a correspondent who attended the opening of the Mississippi Constitutional Convention. Here are excerpts relavent to Alston Mygatt:
In October of 1867, The Weekly Democrat (Natchez, MS) publishes this comment, " Alston Mygatt of Vicksburg, and Col Dugan, of the radical paper published in that city, must be effective orators. They made speeches at DeSoto, Madison Parish, on Thursday, in favor of the radical ticket, and it received ten votes at the election the next day; the negroes, notwithstanding their honeyed invitation 'Come walk into my parlor, Said the spider to the fly' casting 484 votes for the Simon pure colored ticket. The negroes acted wisely; having the votes, they determined to take the offices themselves, rather tan give them to the would-be vote=pwmers/
In 1867, Alston was elected to the Mississippi State Senate from the Seventh District. He served until 1870 at least. Mygatt was regularly villified in the Vicksburg newspaper for his support of the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution giving the right to vote to African-American citizen. In the September 1867 issue of the Natchez Weekly Democrate (Natchez, Mississippi), a column titled "Radical State Convention" states in part, "This body, composed of bad men, misguided men, interlopers after lucre, and negroes, met on Monday, September 10, at Jackson. Col. Duggan, of Vicksburg who has the official United States printing, moved Alston Mygatt of Vicksburg into the chair, and George C. McKee, Registrar in Bankruptcy, into the Secretary's seat." Futher comments about Mygatt appear on the page, "Four negroes with Mygatt, McKee, Duggan and Pease, constitute the Radical State Executive Committee." and "Our evening contemporary of the Telegraph, says the Vicksburg Times, thus refers to one of the white negroes who flourished in the Alderson, Mygatt, Morris, Convention at Jackson." This is a reference to Henry R. Pease (1835–1907), a Captain in the Union Army from Connecticut and Mississippi superintendent of education. He also served as U. S. senator from Mississippi and postmaster of Vicksburg. He was instrumental in the establishment of free public schools in Mississippi. He was an officer in the Freedmen's Bureau.
On January 10, 1868, the Natchez Bulletin published its racist comment on the Constitution Convention. Shown at right.
In 1868, Alston served in the Mississippi Constitution Convention, his oratorical skills are evident in the Journal of the Proceedings which states "On motion of Jere Hauser, of Kemper, Alston Mygatt, of Warren, was elected President pro tern., and on taking the chair, addressed the Convention as follows : Gentlemen of the Convention — The hour for our assembling has arrived — the hour that our Registrars have so long toiled to bring abont — the hour that all loyal men of this State have labored to hasten, and now rejoice to behold — the hour that all opponents of reconstruction, and a disloyal press, have striven hard to prevent, has come. This hour brings to a final end that system that enriches the few at the expense of the many- — that system that hindered the growth of towns and cities, and built up large landed aristocracies — that system that discouraged agricultural improvements, and mechanic arts — that destroyed free schools, and demoralized church and State, has come to an end. The last sand has fallen from the glass of old-time dispensations, and they have gone to return no more forever. We meet, then, in this culminating hour, under circumstances of great responsibility.'
"Two points of time are important in our history — the day this State seceded, and the day of our assembling to effect her return. It is a notable fact— a remarkable coincidence — that six years ago, this day (January 7, 1868), in this hall, the sword of treason, by act of secession, tore this State from its peaceful position, sent it adrift on the dark and unknown sea of blood and ill . What language can depict its flowing results? More than thirty thousand brave men gallantly fought for an ignoble cause, and went down to the soldier's grave. Who shall mea-sure the anguish of the thousands of widows and orphans who lost a husband, father, protector, and were left with shattered fortunes, to buffet alone the pitiless storms of life? Behold the desolating war-path, and the vast wealth scattered to the winds! And why all this? A causeless cause — a cause whose very success would have proved our direst calamity. It had its origin in no necessity — no reasonable hope for bettering our condition. It had its origin in the mad ambition of a few, and the slaveocratic love of praise and gain of a still larger class — both leading the deceived masses along the pathway of ruin. God, in His over-ruling Providence, often brings good out of evil. This desolating war has wrought out mighty changes, which shall in the future, prove great blessings to all classes. The destruction of the life-shortning influence of slavery may have its compensating value in saving more from an untimely grave, in the long run, than the war has destroyed. Let the blood of the thousands of lost soldiers cry out against those who signed that treasonable instrument; let the scalding tears of the widow and the orphan burn upon their consciences; let the wrecks of thousands of thousands of ruined fortunes protest against them; and save those who aided reconstruction; let this Convention place them on their disfranchised list. We have met to perform a solemn duty. Let us lay aside all malice, undue partisan feelings, and form a Constitution that shall render equal and exact justice to all. Loyal men, irrespective of race or color, shall be protected. In the matter of suffrage, we shall doubtless carry out the views of Congress. We hope to form a Constitution founded in so much wisdom and justice, that it shall meet the approval of good and loyal men eveiywhere, be ratified by the people, received by Congress, and respected by future generations. Under its benign influence confidence shall be restored, capital shall come from abroad and seek investment; the stream of immigration shall flow in upon us seeking our genial climate and fertile soil; large landed estates shall melt away into small divisions, thus densifying population; cities shall grow, towns spring up, mechanism flourish, agriculture become scientific, internal im- provements be pushed on, free schools flourish in every district, and loyal men rule. Could the recording angel unroll the scroll of the future for an hundred years, the boldest flight of imagination would be tame before those living realities. I feel the pressure of our solemn surroundings. Nine sister States, in like condition, are watching our course with intense interest. The wires shall flash from day to day to every loyal State and to our noble Congress. Our enemies predicted a failure. And shall we fail? Not all the powers of an apostate President, with all his official sympathisers, and the power of a hostile press, and the bitter opponents of reconstruction shall cause us to fail. But if we descend to wicked compromises, time-serving expedients, then we shall fail, and our work shall perish. But if we plant on the firm basis of truth and justice to all, irrespective of race or color, the gates of hell shall not prevail against us. God, in His Providence, will not permit us to fail. The over-ruling Providence, as a cloudy, fiery pillar, that brought us through the Red Sea, passed the thunders of Mount Sinai into the political wilderness, shall guide us all the journey through. Soon we shall cross the Jordan of our difficulties, and before the glad shouts of our loyal hosts, the walls of rebellion shall fall, and their giant leaders, with their train of mourners over the 'lost cause" shall flee away. The Great Jehovah who rules on high and directs the affairs of men — who sets up and casts down whom He will, and whose blazing eye penetrates the universe, beholding the evil and the good, and rests on us individually and collectively, will hold us responsible for this our solemn trust." (Mygatt's name appears 396 times in the proceedings.)
Racist and anti-Negro rights were not confined to the sourthern press. The following was published April 23, 1868 in The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, CA). "Mississippi Affairs. With a well organized Demoncracy in Mississippi, it is confidently believed that the instrument devised by Gen. H. W. Barry, old Alston Mygatt, et id omne genus (and everything else of its kind), will be ignominiously overthrown, and consigned to that depth of contempt of which it is most opprobriously deserving," The paper goes on to strongly criticize the Mississippi Constitutional Convention using terms like "trooly loil"(truly loyal) and" surfeited leeches." In an adjacent column, the newspaper lauds the Ku Klux Klan and it extension throughout the South. The column was signed "Cyprinus" ( which apparently refers to the fish, Carp.
A very threatening article by Harry Moss appeared in the May 9, 1868, issue of the Grenada Sentinel. I an article praising and describing activities of the Ku Klux Klan, they narrate a story where Klansman abduct a man for" plotting with a nigger under a gin house." The Klan questions him,
The article goes on to describe various forms of violence that might be inflicted on their victums. How Alston lived with these threats is a testament of his courage and the depth of his devotion to his cause. As a learned man with many talent, he could have easily left the South and had a successful career. We all should admire and honor his dedication to the rights of the newly freed slaves.
In July 7, 1868 issue of the Louisville Journal, it is reported, "Rev. Alston Mygatt, a prominent carpet-bagger is so thoroughly disgusted with the people of Mississippi for their action in the late election that he has determined to leave the State at once." The paper's is very anti-Negro and doesn't condemn violence against them by Whites. No evidence that Mygatt left the state. In fact he was elected to the state senate. The report was based on an article published in the Vicksburg Herald seen at right.
In November of 1868, Alton Mygatt and Thomas Stringer were elected State Senators in Mississippi from the 7th district.
On August 4, 1869, The Vicksburg Herald newspaper publish a rumor, "There was a report in circulation, yesterday, that Alston Mygatt has been selected to fill the vacancy of Mayor of our city."
In November of 1869, a committee was formed following the Mississippi Constitutional Convention to travel to Washington, DC to present the resolutions of the Convention related to the readmission of Mississippi to the Union. Alston Mygatt was among the members of the committee sent to plead the States case. Previous elections in the state were declared void due to wide spread violence and wide intimidation of Negro voters.
In 1870, Mygatt and a group of other Vicksburg businessmen incorporate the Vicksburg Ferry Company using a charter provided by the State. The business failed and their failure to pay the deed of trust resulted in the auction of the business in 1873.
The Weekly Mississippi Pilot newspaper reports January 8, 1870, that Alston received 4642 vote in the Seventh District State Senate race , Warren County. Thomas Stringer, a black man, received 4644. Issaquena county gave Mygatt 1342 and Stringer 1342. Mygatt and Stringer were elected and served.
In 1871, Mygatt ran for the US Senate., the Weekly Democrat reported on Marchj 22 1871, "Hon. Alston Mygatt was interviewed last night by twenty members, and trotted out a basket of champagne, and his speech defined his position on the San Domingo question. He is fearfully excited this evening over a joke that he had retired from the contest, and tarted runners in every direction to contradict the report." I think it highly unlikely that this was a joke. General Adelbert Ames won the election.
On June 17, 1871, Elisha R. Johnston, a shoemake and farmer, filed a claim with the Southern Claims Commission (#2605) asking the U.S. government to reimburse him $374.50 for items lost in the Civil War. On the form he claims to be 52, five feet, eight inches tall with brown eyes. He made a claim against the U. S. Governmnt for confiscation of property by the Union Army. Elisha said he had be opposed to succession and had be loyal to the Union throughout the war. He attempt to recover payment for loss of horse and saddle, barrells of corn and fodder. It is about $371. To support his claim he brings witnesses to his losses and to his loyalty to the Union. One of th witnesses is Alton Mygatt. We are fortunate to have Alston's testimony in his own handwriting, including his signature. Alston also served as a witness for Olivia F. Montgomery in her October 1873 claim of $10, 350 before the U. s. Southern Claims Commision. This claim was also rejected.
In support of Luke Madden's claim for reimbursement Alston wrote,
"I have known the claimant since the fall of 1863…I planted in 1865 on the plantation adjoining Brown and Johnson’s where claimant worked. Claimant had the reputation of being a man loyal to the United States Government. I am a loyal man, I opposed secession, I was not at home when the vote was taken on the adoption of the secession ordinance. I resided in April 1861 in Vicksburg, where I now reside, I never gave a dime for the aid of the Confederate Government. I have been persecuted for my Union sentiments, was twice arrested by the Rebels. People were afraid to speak to me on the street lest they should be suspected of being Union men. My whole family was ostracized on account of my Union sentiments. I organized in the year 1863 about the tenth of July a club of Union men, which club was recognized by the Commanding General…and at his request witness and Judge Houghton made out a list of Union men…Mr. Madden’s name was not on that list, because he resided in Louisiana. About the 1st September 1863 I was delegated by the Union Club to go to New Orleans and get the papers necessary to the establishment of a Loyal League in Vicksburg. I established the League and was one of its officers. I am at the present time  President of the Grand Council of the Union League of Mississippi. I have acted with the Republican Party ever since the war, I was for two years a member of the State Republican Executive Committee. I was Chairman of that Committee from 1866 to 1868. I was a member of [the] Constitutional Convention in 1868 and am now State Senator. I have known Mr Madden continually since 1863. Know that he has acted with the Republican Party since the war…I have heard himself as decidedly opposed to the Rebellion and in favor of the Union cause. The claimant was regarded by his loyal neighbors as a Union man. I do not know that he was ever molested or threatened on account of his Union sentiments. I do not know that he ever contributed anything to the aid of either the Federal or Confederate Government."
Madden had received this threat from the KKK. Hightly likely that Mygatt received similar threats.
In the January 28, 1874, issue of the Memphis Daily Appeal, it mentions that ex-Senator Alston Mygatt is a candidate for the U. S. Senate from Mississippi.
On June 8, 1876, Alston's wife, Margaret, along with John A. Klein and J. P. Harper post an administrator's bond in Warren County Chancery Court. He died without a will and Margaret is appointed executor for the estate and Klein and Harper are Sureties..
His will was probated October 2, 1877 in Vicksburg, MS. The executor, J. P. Harper, was husband of his stepdaughter Emma Hay Harper. Margaret had died one month earlier on September 2, 1877 and their son, E. B. Mygatt asked that his brother-in-law, J. P. Harper be appointed executor. Harper reported distribution from the estate for expenses, "Funeral Expenses, A. Mygatt, $51.75. Funeral Expenss Margaret Mygatt, $50.00. Harper also served as executor for Margaret's estate.
1n a 1913 Independence, MO, city directory, Alston MyGatt, bookpublisher is listed as residing 406 Grand Avenue. A Carrie R. Mygatt is living at 509S. Grand Avenue. This is Carrie Robinson who married Edward Burns Mygatt, son of Alston and Margaret Hay Mygatt.. Maybe they ran a business under Alston's name.
In November 2003, a Symposium on "Woods's Development Arrested" was held at a Society for American City and Regional Planning History conference. The basis for the symposium was CLYDE WOODS (Sterling Plumpp, contributor), Development Arrested: Race, Power, and the Blues in the Mississippi Delta. New York: Verso, 1998. 342 pp. $27 (hardcover, ISBN 1859848117), $20 (paperback, ISBN 1859841171). A review of the symposium appeared in JOURNAL OF PLANNING HISTORY, Vol. 3 No. 3, August 2004 241-255. In that review was an article by Charles E. Connerly of Florida State University. Several excerpts are quote here:
"In the case of the Freedman’s Bureau, operating between 1864 and 1872, this is exactly what was done, at least in the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, where under the Confiscation Act of 1861, authored by Senator Thaddeus Stevens and opposed by President Lincoln, the Union Army obtained and distributed land to forty thousand freed persons. As Woods reminds us, the Freedman’s Bureau was authorized to do the following for freed slaves: “lease them forty acres of land, negotiate their labor contracts; and settle them on abandoned or confiscated plantations” (p. 68). Although the Freedman’s Bureau held more than eighty thousand acres in Mississippi, the Union Army elected to restore the land to the plantation owners, thereby enabling them to maintain their economic and political power. Nevertheless, as Woods reminds us, the Freedman’s Bureau was the federal government’s first regional development agency and should therefore be examined by planning historians in the same context as the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Appalachian Regional Commission'.
" But the Union Army also included black soldiers—the Blues—who, much like other soldiers, returned to their civilian communities with new skills in leadership and new ideas about their self-worth and what it takes to get things done as well as the experience and pride that goes with protecting their people. These Blues—as Woods tells us—made up the backbone of the Union Leagues, a movement initially intent on getting African Americans to vote but that soon began to focus on the importance of land reform. In 1868, Alston Mygatt, the president of the Mississippi Union League, planted a vision of regional development based on land reform in the minds of the delegates to the state’s constitutional convention:
"Large landed estates shall melt away into small divisions, thus densifying population; cities shall grow, towns spring up, mechanism flourish, agriculture becomes scientific, internal improvement pushed on, free schools flourish in every district and loyal men shall rule. (p. 69) '
" Given this clearly articulated vision of an original regional development vision, albeit with clear-cut Jeffersonian overtones, why is it that Alston Mygatt’s name is never celebrated in histories of regional development thought in the United States? Perhaps it was because by the early 1870s, the plantation owners employed violence to wipe out the Union League movement."
"Woods’s work indicates that there should be a significant rewriting of the history of regional planning and development in the South. From the perspective of individual contributions to regional planning, we now need to add the names of individuals such as Alston Mygatt, Oliver Cromwell, and Fannie Lou Hamer to our list of regional visionaries. They were not trained as planners and did not practice regional planning or development. Never- theless, they painted a bold vision for the Delta region that sharply con- trasted with conventional American images of regions and how they can be developed."
"Although Mygatt, Cromwell, and Hamer were not trained social scientists or planners, they nevertheless reflected an image of regional development that was more just and would have resulted in a quicker solution to the problem of poverty in our nation. If the Delta had been transformed into a region of small farmers, both black and white, the adjustment of the former slaves to economic independence would have been made much more eas- ily. By envisioning a regional future that was not only more equitable but more efficient, Mygatt, Cromwell, and Hamer imagined a regional future that was superior to that drawn by Odum. If Odum’s name should be in books on the history of planning and regional development, so should those of Mygatt, Cromwell, and Hamer, as well as the Freedmen’s Bureau."
In is wonderful to see this appreciation of Alston's vision for the South and so sad to see this lost opportunity to avoid so much misery and injustice.
Here we include the full article: I have labelled the paragraphs for reference as we exam each in detail.
The facts: Rev. Mygott is labelled "Quisling." Wikipedia defines the term, " a term originating from Norway, which is used in Scandinavian languages and in English for a person who collaborates with an enemy occupying force – or more generally as a synonym for traitor. The word originates from the surname of the Norwegian wartime leader, Vidkun Quisling, who headed a domestic Nazi collaborationist regime during World War II."
Who was the occupying force in Mississippi? It was the United States of America, of which Rev. Mygott was a citizen and loyal patriot. His support for his country never wavered despite what were incredible pressures. As a Christian, he saw the evils and inhumanity of slavery and worked to ensure that the evils of this most insidious and unchristian of institutions were eradicated. Quisling indeed!
2. An “imbecile old wretch” was the way a Vicksburg newspaper described Alston Mygatt in 1868. He could be called a carpetbagger—he was born in New York in 1805—but he was more probably a scalawag, for he had lived in the South, mainly Vicksburg and New Orleans, since before 1845.
A carpetbagger was portrayed as a lower-class schemer with little education who could carry everything he owned in a cheap carpet bag.These new arrivals supported the Republicans (the party of Abraham Lincoln) and were said to be corrupt profiteers who took advantage of the financial and political instability in the devastated postwar South. In reality, many of the Northerners who migrated to former Confederate states during Reconstruction were middle-class professionals seeking economic opportunities; a number also were motivated by a desire to aid newly freed African-American slaves or participate in other efforts intended to reform Southern society. I wonder if the authors label Rabbi Bernhard Henry Gotthelf a carpetbagger. He served as a chaplain in the Union Army and came south after the war. He and his daughter, Dora, taught in the African-American schools.
Meanwhile, white Southerners who supported Reconstruction-era Republicans were called scalawags by their political enemies, who considered them traitors to the South and just as bad, if not worse, than carpetbaggers. Scalawags included non-slaveholding, small-time farmers; middle-class professionals and others who had stayed loyal to the Union during the war. Across the South there were many nonslaveholders who saw no reason to rebel and also objected to dying, while large slave owners either bought their way out of service or were exempted. Most Americans today would label these people as patriots. For more on scalawags see the book "The Scalawags" by James Alex Baggett, September 2004, LSU Press.
3. He was listed sometimes as a minister, though he never pastored a church here, and in 1860 he operated the Methodist Book Depot in Vicksburg. He had gone to school in the North and was a classmate of Gerritt Smith, the famous abolitionist. Mygatt backed the Know Nothings in 1856 and opposed secession, though his stepsons both volunteered for Confederate service.
He was a minister before coming to Vicksburg and certainly was trained as one. I wonder if the authors object to ministers today who keep the title under a variety of employment or retirement. Ministers of churches in Vicksburg for the most part supported slavery. I wonder if the Christian God considered them his disciples? Gerrit Smith graduated from Hamilton College in 1818, years before Mygatt attended. It would be to Mygatt's credit, indeed if he were counted as a friend of the Smith, an abolitionist, social reformer and advocate for justice, the poor and African-Americans. The "Know Nothing Party" official name was the American Party..
4. After Pemberton’s surrender, Mygatt wasted no time in showing his true colors. He organized the Loyal League which during military occupation became a powerful force against white Southerners and former Confederates.
From Wikipedia: "The Union Leagues were quasi-secretive, men’s clubs established during the American Civil War (1861–1865), to promote loyalty to the Union of the United States of America, the policies of newly elected 16th President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865, served 1861–1865), and to combat what they believed to be the treasonous words and actions of anti-war, antiblack "Copperhead" Democrats. Though initially nonpartisan, by the war's last year they were in open alliance with the Republican Party, pro-Union Democrats, and the Union military. The most famous of these clubs were formed in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston and were composed of prosperous men who raised money for war-related service organizations, such as the United States Sanitary Commission, which provided medical care to treat Federal soldiers wounded in battle at a time when the military was ill-prepared for the scale of need. The clubs supported the Republican Party with funding, organizational support, and activism. Union Leagues also existed throughout the land which were created primarily by working-class men. By the spring of 1863, these disparate councils were organized under the Union League of America (ULA) organization which was headquartered in Washington DC. Like-minded organizations aimed at the working class were also created in New York which became known as Loyal Leagues. Similar patriotic organizations also existed for women and were known as Ladies Union Leagues.'
"By the end of 1867 it seemed that virtually every black voter in the South had enrolled in the Union League, the Loyal League, or some equivalent local political organization. Meetings were generally held in a black church or school."
From the Blackpast History web site: "The Union League of America (or Loyal League) was the first African-American Radical Republican organization in the southern United States. The League was created in the North during the American Civil War as a patriotic club to support the Union. It was officially established in May 1863 when a common constitution was adopted. By late 1863 the League claimed over 700,000 members in 4,554 councils across the nation.'
"After the Civil War, the League spread throughout the South mainly, but not exclusively among the freedpeople. Paid organizers, including freedmen advocates and anti-Confederates from Unionist clubs, went south to promote the League, and loyalty to the federal governmen, in the ex-Confederate states. Many newly freed slaves, or freedmen, saw this as an opportunity to seek fair treatment and equal rights from the federal government and the state governments.'
"By the summer of 1867 thousands of freedpeople had joined the league and it became a strong political force. Due to fear of terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the league met secretly in member’s homes and at churches where they discussed issues of concern to them including homesteading land, public school rights for their children, and securing opportunity to testify in court. They were engaged politically by petitioning, striking, and organizing campaign rallies. Increasingly because of the Union League, more African American political leaders emerged in both the North and South.'
"The Union League also exercised social influence and addressed agricultural concerns. It campaigned to end plantation agriculture and promote land ownership among the ex-slaves.'
"The success of the League angered terrorist groups like the Ku Klux Klan which increased its violence against the organization. The League was a major target of the Klan during the 1868 presidential election which was the first national contest in which African American men voted. By 1869 the League began to decline. It lost power as its membership declined. By 1872 only a few League councils survived. Although the national Union League experienced a short life, its importance and its legacy made history as it introduced thousands of freedpeople to American politics."
For more information about the Union League in the South, the book by MichaelW. Fitzgerald, The Union League movement in the Deep South : politics and agricultural change during Reconstruction, 1989, Louisiana State University Press. There you will learn the importance and many contributions the League made to newly freed slaves. Alston involvement should be lauded, not villified.
5. Mygatt was quite vocal. He wanted the plantations confiscated and divided among the former slaves, and he was personally responsible for reviewing applications of former Confederates to vote, bragging that he never approved but two.
The plantations in the South were built with slave labor. Following the war, plantation owners expected things to continue as before. They felt that they had the land and the freed slave had nothing, so they would come begging for work and housing and nothing would change. Many across the nation felt that blacks deserved "forty acres and a mule", the government agreed and many were in fact provided and were successfully farmed, however the "Great Betrayl" removed the Union Army which was the enforcer of the agreements and returned the land to former owners. Historian today point to this as the beginning of Jim Crow and the loss of the promise of Reconstruction.
In order to vote, former Confederates had to sign a loyalty oath to the Union. Many in the South refused to do so. Alston was one of three registrars appointed by the military in Warren County. I would very much like to see the source of the quote attributed to Mygatt that he only approved two applicants. If this came from any Mississippi newspaper of the time, I think it is safe to discount it.
6. When the Federal government took control of the Methodist churches, city’s were outraged and they ostracized Mygatt.
What are the facts of this assertion, Google search provides no hits providing any discussions of such an action. Any evidence would be appreciated. Mygatt was referred to in the occupation newspaper as “an old citizen of Vicksburg and a thoroughly Union man . . . (he) received rapturous applause as he related the trials of Union men in this city who fought against secession, and stood true to the old flag” when he spoke before Yankee officers upon Lincoln’s reelection.
7. Mygatt also contributed funds for the Union army, and he claimed local citizens tried to kill him and burn his property. In January, Mygatt was a delegate to the constitutional convention in Jackson, elected with the backing of Union Army bayonets. In the same manner he was elected to the state senate. He often served as a government witness opposing claims filed by Southerners for losses they had suffered during the war.
Mygatt's contention of efforts to kill him and to burn his property are very credible. There are newspaper articles above that verify this. Any one who has read about the Vicksburg Massacre in 1874 where white went on a rampage after the black elected sheriff, Peter Crosby. The governor supported Crosby remaining in office and urged him not to resign. However a large group of white citizen went on a ramage killing black citizens. The numbers dead range from 50–300. The violence and intimidation associated with Reconstruction efforts to integrate freedmen in to the community, is strong evidence of the threats Mygatt received. As we also have seen in some newspapers above, reference was made that support Mygatt concern for his safety.
The only way freedmen could vote, run for office and hold office was through the backing of the U. S. Army. Many diaries of those loyal to the Union who attempted to assist freedmen schools, provide fair wages and housing and support their right to vote, all point to the harassment and violence they received and state clearly that their only recourse was to seek help from the U. S. Army.
Finally there are a number of Southern claims for losses in which Mygatt was a witness supporting their case. They were listed elsewhere in the article. His testimonies were honestly given.
8. In 1876, his family had him declared insane and he was placed in a mental asylum, where he died. When his wife died in 1877 his body was moved from Jackson and buried with her in the family plot in Cedar Hill Cemetery.
Given the harassment that was inflicted on Alston Mygatt, little wonder he may have suffered mental decline, after all he was 71 years old. I am still looking for documentation of the contention.
9. He has no tombstone. Southern citizens would have been hard pressed to have said anything nice about Alston Mygatt, who earned the legacy of being the most despised man in Vicksburg.
It is a sad testament that an American patriot, an advocate for freedmen for the economic developement of Vicksburg and a noted scholar lies in an unmarked grave. I hope to remedy that.
As to being "the most despised man in Vicksburg" and the, often newspapers quoted, "the most hated man in Mississippi", it is quite easy to prove this is not true. The prejudices of the authors are clearly evident. Warren County and the State of Mississippi had a black majority of residents. In 1860, population estimates range from 55% to 60%. It is likely higher, as accurate counts of slaves were difficult. Given the black majority, the honor of being the most despised and most hated man surely falls to Jefferson Davis, the leader of the effort to continue keeping blacks in bondage and the man that led the state into a devastating war. If you add to those numbers the loyalist and the poor whites who bccame disenchanted with the war, many of whom felt they were fighting for the wealthy plantation owners, it is quite obvious that Mygatt would not make the cut of any realistic list.
10. He was Vicksburg’s quisling long before the word was coined.
We have already addressed this inaccurate statement.
Below are photos of Effa Mygatt's gravestone in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Vicksburg, MS.
Transcription of above, "Three Infants preceded her to a glorious rest: Two young Children are left to a Father's mind and Moral moulding care, and for them a priceless legacy."
Jared Sparks was a Unitarian minister, editor, and historian who went on to serve as President of Harvard University in the middle of the 19th century. Perhaps the greatest contribution to modern scholarship made by this passionate researcher and educator was his tireless efforts to collect and preserve the documents of America’s founding fathers. Born in 1789, Jared was one of nine children born to Joseph and Elinor Sparks of Willington, Connecticut. At the age of six his parents sent him to live with an aunt and uncle in Camden, New York, as a way to ease the family’s financial burdens, but he soon returned to Willington to be with his parents and pursue his education. As a child he displayed an interest in literature and history, supplemented later by studies in mathematics and Latin. In 1811, Sparks began attending Harvard University. He briefly dropped out the following year (for financial reasons) but eventually returned to Harvard and became one of the leading students in his class. After finishing at Harvard, Sparks became a minister at the First Independent Church (Unitarian) in Baltimore, Maryland, and later served one year as the chaplain of the United States Congress. Scholar of US Founders. Becomes Harvard University President. Sparks returned to Boston in 1823 and, four years later, began collecting the papers of the nation’s founding fathers. His efforts led him to author numerous publications, including The Writings of George Washington, The Library of American Biography, and The Works of Benjamin Franklin. These works, by preserving this seminal time in American history, marked his greatest contribution to historical scholarship. In 1832, Sparks married Frances Ann Allen, and one year later, Frances gave birth to a daughter—Maria Verplanck Sparks. Tragically, Frances died in 1835, leaving Sparks to raise their two-year-old daughter alone. In 1839, he married his second wife, Mary Crowninshield Silsbee, a woman 20 years his junior with whom he had five more children. A year before his second marriage, Sparks accepted a position as the McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History at Harvard University. He remained an educator there until, in 1849, he became president of the university. Finding he liked teaching and writing more than being an administrator, Sparks left his prestigious position in February of 1853. He spent his remaining years in Cambridge, researching and providing guidance to budding young historians. He died of pneumonia on March 14, 1866.
Mygott was publishing books by Sparks on famous individuals of United States. In 1931, Mygatt would be 26 years old. Sparks would be 42. How they met is not known to me.
September 1, 1831 Clinton
In this letter he is requesting Sparks to let him know when the manuscript for Sparks' book on George Washington will be available. He suggests approval to increase the price for a subscription. Mygott is planning a trip South (Georgia?) to collect a debt owed him.
August 17, 1832 Clinton
Mygott responds to an accusation by Sparks that he is collecting advances on subscriptions to the Washington Works. Mygott denies this and suggest that the rumor likely arose from a man in "the valley of Va, I think in Augusta GA? whose name I do not at the time remember must have written you stating that he had paid for a copy of the Washingtons Works in advance." Mygott offers an explanation, He had bought a horse from a man for $125. Instead of currency the man was to receive a copy of Washingtons Works and the balance in "cash down." The horse proved to be "anything but what he recommended him." The seller returned to Mygott $60. Mygott states, "I never intend the gentleman shall have any more money for him or the Work." Mygott gave his landlord in Richmond a $5 credit toward a subscription. These are the only two advances he has made.
Mygott then discussed his current situation. He is currently in the junior class at Hamilton College and looking forward to a profession you will readily perceive that it will be difficul to spend four.? winters? in that business. He asked Sparks what compensation he will receive for his trouble expenses and time and the subscribers which are 325. He suggest ?leaving it to Mr. Williams to decide. He also suggest that Williams take over many of his task at the moment. He ask also that their contract be altered to let Mygott return to Sparks any copies that subscribers refuse to accept due to the long delay in publishing the works.
October 30, 1832? Clinton
Responds to a letter from Sparks who had promised that the Washington Works would be available soon. Mygott asked if it might be published by next June and if it will contain 12 Vol? . Again he notes his need to go South to take care of financial problems.
April 24, 1833 Clinton
Mygott again wishes to know when the book will be out. He wishes to send out an agent to sell subscriptions. He also inquires whether Sparks agrees to the change in the contract regarding undelivered copies.
September 25, 1933
Mygott is upset with a letter from Messers Hilliard Gray & Company requiring he submit a bond with securities. He notes that his contract nowhere include such an obligation and that he assumed Sparks had complete confidence in his integrety. He states he could provide a guarantee of his integrety in the amount of $20.00 but is not inclined to provide a bond with penalty. He states, "I suppose there ought to be a new prospectus so the subscription can and ought to be considerably increased. If you have any new ones printed please send some."
March 8, 1834 Charlston
Mygott compliments Sparks on the Washington Works saying it is even better than expected and includes additional material not promised subscribers. He implies that the work is not delivered to subscribers yet. He inquires whether Sparks will let him sell extra copies. He says he has three to five thousand copies.
Jared Sparks letterbooks, 1789-1866
Author / Creator:Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 [collector]
http ://id.lib.harvard.eclu/alepli/0 l 4774606/catalog
Mygatt, Alston. To Sparks. Sept. 1, 1831, Box 25,
7 Date: 1831
9 Date: 1832
10 Date: 1833
11 Date: 1833
Scope and Contents: Clinton, N.Y., Oct. 30,
22 Date: 1832, Clinton, N.Y., Nov. 17,
23 Date:1832, Clinton, N.Y., Apr. 24,
24 Date:1833, Clinton, N.Y., Sept. 25,
25 Date:1833, Clinton, N.Y., Mar. 8,
26 Date:1834, Charleston, Aug. 2,
27 Date:1835, Clinton, N.Y., Nov. 14,
28 Date:1835, Charleston, Jan. 26,
29 Date:1836, Augusta, Ga., Aug. 31,
30 Date:1836, Athens, Ga., Nov. 2,
31 Date:1836, Augusta, Ga., Mar. 9,
32 Date:1838, Macon, Ga., Apr. 6,
33 Date:1839, Tallahassee, Fla., Sept. 26,
34 Date:1839, Hannibal, Mo., Nov. 29,
35 Date:1842, Evansville, Ia. Letters to Sparks.
Sparks, Jared. To Alston Mygatt. March 18, 1838, Cambridge. Box 33
36 Date: 1838
Scope and Contents: Letters to Sparks.
Publication of Sparks books.