Click here for Poem written by John Kieft on Rufus Easton.
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Click here for first hour of video ---- Story has taken Adamson 33 years to put together. Copyrighted in 2004; Video developed out of two of books The Lifes of Rufus Easton and George W. Ely which began in 1982. Keeping it small will keep it sharp and enlarging it, you will lose resolution.
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Rufus Easton was honored on Oct. 1st, 2004 as the first postmaster and having built the first post office in St. Louis. Steven Austin was a letter carrier for Easton in St. Louis.
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Portrait of Rufus Easton, courtesy of actor Robert Easton. Click here for Actor Robert Easton's filmography and biography.
Rufus was associated with John Jacob Astor, William Clark and Daniel Boone. Easton trained Edward Bates in his legal studies. In those days Bates was obliged to move into Easton's residence so that he could thoroughly study the law. Photo to right is Rufus, Mark Anderson, Robert Easton and B. Adamson under Red marks. I was very proud that Rufus Easton was honored by the post office.
Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War Bates ran against Abraham Lincoln for President and was defeated by honest Abe. But there were no hard feelings for Bates was Lincoln's first choice in his cabinet as Attorney General. During the Civil War, Bates wrote to Lincoln on Langdon Easton's behalf for the position of Brevet Brigadier General.
Shortly before Lincoln issued his emancipation proclamation in 1863, Edward Bates as the U.S. Attorney General had already declared that all Negroes were U.S. citizens. It was Bates who demanded equal pay for the Negro soldiers, whom fought so valiantly for the Union. Only a year after the Civil War, in July 1866 Edward Bates wrote of Rufus Easton:
In the painting, the president is testing his Cabinet's reactions to the idea of proclaiming freedom for slaves. From left to right, the men in the portrait are: Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (seated), Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, President Lincoln, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells, Secretary of the Interior Caleb B. Smith, Secretary of State William Seward, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, Attorney General Edward Bates.
"Easton was a wiser man than he passed for, and a better man than his adversaries chose to admit. All acknowledged his professional ability as compared with his associates, but many failed to give him the credit he deserved for his personal virtues. He was certainly the best-read lawyer of the Missouri bar in his day, the regular training of his youth and the indefatigable industry of his riper years, made him always, a formidable adversary and generally a case - gaining advocate he still lives in my memory with respect and gratitude."
Mighty strong words when one considers that Rufus Easton had left his earth in 1834.
Rufus' seven daughters married some of the most distinguished men of the Louisiana Territory: 1). George C; Sibley, Commissioner of the Santa Fe Trail and business manager of the Osage Indian Nation, owned a slave or two , yet Sibley saved the life of the Reverend Elijah P. Lovejoy the first abolitionist murdered in the U.S.A; 2). Archibald Gamble, 9th postmaster of St. Louis and brother of Missouri's Civil War Governor Hamilton Gamble; 3). Henry S. Geyer, attorney before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dred Scott Case won case for slaveowning family; 4). James Watson; 5). Senator Thomas Anderson. 6). Abner Bartlett, of New York, who was in charge of William Waldorf Astor's estate from 1869-1894. You can read how there is good and bad in any family.
Lovejoy's murder was in November, 1837, in Alton, Illinois two decades after Rufus Easton had founded Alton in 1817. Lovejoy's brother Owen ran the under ground railroad in Princeton, Illinois. In 1862, before the Emancipation Proclamation, it was Owen Lovejoy who would passed a bill making slavery illegal in Washington D.C. Upon Lovejoy's bill to prohibit slavery in D.C. the local church could be heard singing "Glory to Lovejoy" while the preacher was trying to speak "No, Glory to God." The Afro-American Church continued to praise "Glory to Lovejoy." President Abraham Lincoln thought so highly of Lovejoy that he purchased Lovejoy's headstone when he died two years later. Lincoln said "Owen, is my best friend in Congress." As a congressman Owen Lovejoy served his country and was made a Colonel in the U.S. Army. He would sleep and tell stories to the soldiers? See Owen Lovejoy in his US Army uniform in a rare Brady shot.
In 1805 Rufus Easton refused to partake in Burr's Conspiracy in which General James Wilkinson was a major player. In his lifetime Easton backed out of four separate duels. The most historic one was in 1805 when President Jefferson's favorite cabinet member, Postmaster General, Gideon Granger implored Easton not to participate in a duel with Aaron Burr. I would not be here today writing to you, had Easton entered a duel with Burr. Click here for page one of Granger to Easton 1806;
Click here for page two;
Click here for page three.
Had Gideon Granger not talked Easton out of it, the would be duel on Bloody Island between Burr and Easton may have looked this way. Artwork for this volume was prepared by the late Pam Kenny of Aptos. Had Easton gone into a duel with Aaron Burr in 1806, Rufus' son Alton would never have been born nor would the town have been founded Alton, Illinois!
Besides being the first postmaster Easton was also appointed by President Thomas Jefferson, Judge of the Louisiana Territory. As Judge of the territory Rufus Easton held jurisdiction over the largest land mast ever throughout the continent including Canada and Central America. The territory was so immense that it stretched from the St. Louis to the Canada border and as one historian expressed it: "westward into seemingly infinity".
Yes, Rufus Easton was a civil rights leader. As a United States Attorney in 1808, Easton represented an Ioway Indian Chief White Cloud, and saved his life from angry St. Louis citizens who wanted to make an example by hanging him. In 1814 Easton retired as the postmaster of St. Louis and was elected into Congress. Easton was responsible for the passing of a Bill for Federal Aid in one of the First Natural Disaster within the United States, the New Madrid Earthquakes. In 1816 Easton would be on the first bill to terminate slavery West of the Mississippi. Easton was then a minority.Click here for New Madrid Earthquake history.
In 1816 as the Congressional representative Easton was one of the first known persons to recommend statehood for the State of Missouri. Rufus could have brought Missouri into the Union as a non-slave state if he had won his congressional seat against John Scott, the pro-slavery candidate. Rufus Easton was appointed Attorney General for the State of Missouri by President James Monroe and served from 1821-1826.
Click here for list of men who fought with Alton Easton who elected unanimously Colonel to lead St. Legion of St. Louis in the 1846 Mexican-American War.
1860 photograph of Colonel Alton Easton a year before being appointed Inspector General of Missouri's militia. Adamson found this rare photo because of his trip to see Rufus Easton honored. Adamson also found an ivory painted print by the St. Louis Bank Note company at the top of this page.
In 1818 Easton founded the town of Alton, Illinois, which was named in honor of his son Colonel Alton Rufus Easton. Alton Easton in 1807 was allegedly the first white child born in the Louisiana Territory. Before the Civil War, Alton was Colonel of the St. Louis Grays, and St. Louis Legion, and fought in the Black Hawk war in 1831-32 and the Mexican War in 1846-48.
On the outbreak of the Civil War, Colonel Alton Easton was Governor Hamilton Gamble's first choice as Inspector-General for the Missouri's militia. Alton's brother, Brevet Brigadier General Langdon Easton was Chief Quartermaster under General Sherman and both played extremely prominent roles during the Civil War. Along with the support of Edward Bates Alton Easton convinced General U.S. Grant, whom in turn convince Abraham Lincoln to appoint Langdon Easton as Brevet Brigadier General. Together Alton and Langdon Easton combined, during the Civil War were in charge of 150,000 Union troops. In 1972 the City of St. Louis changed one of their main thorough fares from Easton Drive to Martin Luther King Highway. It was done without intentionally trying to harm the memory of Rufus Easton. Easton would have had nothing but respect for King and vice-versa. An injustice has been unintentionally served upon Easton, who was unknowingly extremely helpful in the cause to abolish slavery and played an important role in early Postal and American history.
Portrait of Mary Easton Sibley who founded with her husband the first college west of the Mississippi River, Lindenwood College in St. Charles Missouri. The Osage Indian nation simply adored Mary and her beautiful music which then seemed to be from Heaven. Mary was born in 1800 and was a good friend of Susan B. Anthony.
On January 23, 1823, Mary Easton wrote to Alton Easton: "Remember that in this country the advantages of rank and fortune are not required to make the hero or statesman. But more independently and more gloriously you rise in the estimation of the word solely by your own talents and merit. Let this idea my dear Alton stimulate you to depend on your own exertions to establish yourself an honorable character." Words from a lady who founded the first college west of the Mississippi and taught and entertained the Osage Indian Nation.
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The Life and Papers of Rufus Easton a 300 page manuscript containing all of the above chapters sells for $25.00 and $4.00 for postage and handling. This book weighs 30 ounces and is on 8 + x 11 format.
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