Ohio History Journal

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Robert C Schenck and

Robert C Schenck and

The Emma Mine Affair







better begin by 'raising' when he goes in, or else nobody will

be likely to believe in his pretended strong hand." Thus

wrote Robert C. Schenck, celebrated author of Draw-poker,

in 1880.1 Schenck was of course referring to the game on

which he was the country's foremost expert, but this statement

might also have been applied to another area within the field of

his experience--the promotion of American mining property

in Great Britain. Nine years earlier, as minister to the

Court of St. James, Schenck had played a vital, if ill starred,

role in the Emma mine affair, an incident which aroused

public sentiment on both sides of the Atlantic, ultimately

brought about his recall, and added to the growing list of

scandals being charged against the Grant administration.2

The Emma was Utah's prize silver mine. In 1871 it was

owned by a New York company dominated mainly by two

enterprising Vermont lawyers, Trenor W. Park and Horace

Henry Baxter. Late that year, after a thoroughgoing pub-

* Clark C. Spence is assistant professor of history at Pennsylvania State Uni-


1 Quoted in Beckles Willson, America's Ambassadors to England, 1785-1929:

A Narrative of Anglo-Amercan Diplomatic Relations (New York, 1929), 359.

2 There had been no detailed account of the Emma mine affair previous to the

publication of my book, British Investments and the American Mining Frontier

(Ithaca, N. Y., 1958), from which a great part of this article is drawn. A less

recent description, giving scant treatment to Schenck's relationship to it, is W.

Turrentine Jackson, "The Infamous Emma Mine: A British Investment in the

Little Cottonwood District, Utah Territory," Utah Historical Quarterly, XXIII

(1955), 339-362.