Ohio History Journal

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Albion Winegar Tourgee, Ohioan, novelist, political thinker,

soldier, editor, jurist, and diplomat, was a man whose comments

upon the political and social questions of the late nineteenth cen-

tury form an interesting chapter in the development of American

thought. Born in Williamsfield, Ohio, in 1838, of Huguenot,

German, and Yankee stock, he spent a normal boyhood amid the

farms and villages of northern Ohio.1 After study at Kingsville

Academy, Ohio, he entered the University of Rochester in 1859,

staying until 1861, when the outbreak of the Civil War led him

to join the Federal Army. The loss of an eye and a spine injury

invalided him home to Ashtabula, Ohio, after First Bull Run. He

studied law until 1862, when he again entered the army as first

lieutenant in Company G of the 105th Ohio Volunteers,2 where

he served with his regiment through some heavy fighting in Ken-

tucky and Tennessee, until captured by the enemy at Murfrees-

boro in 1863. After four months in Libby and other southern

prisons, he was exchanged, returned home to be married in Colum-

bus, Ohio, and soon after rejoined his regiment to fight at Tulla-

homa, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga. After withdrawing from

the army in the early months of 1864, he was admitted to the

bar in Painesville, Ohio, joining the law firm of Sherman and

Farmer, and shortly after removing to Ashtabula to practise for

himself. As the War closed, Tourgee saw an opportunity for

advancement in the new South which he felt bound to arise from

1 The best sources of fact and interpretation concerning Albion W. Tourgee's

life are Roy F. Dibble's Albion W. Tourgee (New York, 1921), and his own semi-

autobiographical novel, Figs and Thistles, A Romance of the Western Reserve (New

York, 1879), although the latter is thought by some to be a disguised life of James A.

Garfield, whom Tourgee admired. According to Dibble, the novel is, however, at least

partly autobiography.

2 The story of the 105th, Tourgee later told in The Story of A Thousand (Buf-

falo, 1896).