Andrew Warner St. John Papers

Manuscript Collection #320
St. John, Andrew Warner, 1840-1907
Physical description
0.2 Cubic Feet, 91 items , copies, consisting of correspondence, military orders, newspaper clippings, a farm journal, ledger books, genealogical material, and miscellaneous.
Preferred Citation
Andrew Warner St. John Papers (#320), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1862-1907) of a private in the 5th Minnesota Volunteers, 1862-1864, who was present at the siege of Vicksburg, MS and who later became a farmer, consisting of correspondence, military orders, newspapers clippings, a farm journal, ledger books, genealogical material, poetry, letters, etc.

Biographical/historical information

Andrew Warner St. John (1840-1907) was a private in the 5th Minnesota Volunteers (1862-1864) and was present at the siege of Vicksburg. He was discharged because of disability and in 1867 moved to Jasper County, Missouri, where he took up fruit farming. He became active in the labor movements, helping to organize the Industrial Brotherhood of the United States in Missouri of which he was elected state president. He was a member of the Greenback Party and formed the first such club in the area (1874). St. John was a delegate to national and state Greenback conventions in 1875. He frequently contributed editorials to the local labor newspapers. In 1882, he bought an interest in the publication and served as editor for fourteen years. He sold his interest in 1896 and moved to Mena, Arkansas, where he edited a pro-silver paper. St. John was also active in horticultural activities.

Scope and arrangement

Correspondence in the collection (1863-1864) includes a letter from St. John to his wife (July 6, 1863) describing the surrender of Vicksburg, in which he comments on the condition of the city and rebel prisoners; the fare of the inhabitants during the siege; and the court-martial of a Federal soldier found asleep on duty. Two letters from his wife describe conditions on the home front, including references to the rising prices of clothing and medical care, the treatment of lung ailments, and the loneliness of a soldier's wife.

Military correspondence and papers consist of orders to report for quartermaster clerk duty (June 1863), furlough papers, and letters of recommendation (Feb. 1864) on St. John's behalf for the quartermastership of the new 11th Minnesota Regt. The process of application for an invalid pension by St. John consists of ten sworn statements to his disability resulting from army service (1884) and notice of the issuance of his pension. Also included in the military documents is his membership card in the Grand Army of the Republic.

Clippings (1874-1879) include editorials, letters to the editor, articles, and poetry from several Missouri Greenback newspapers. St. John's editorials comment on President Grant's veto of the Finance Bill of 1874 (May 9, 1874), Democratic victories in Congressional elections (Nov. 18, 1874), the unfounded mutual distrust of the eastern trade unions and the Grange (March 23, 1875), and legislation necessary to cure the national economic woes. St. John enunciated the Greenback arguments in editorials denouncing the use of gold and silver as currency instead of government paper money, the contraction of the currency to meet the specie basis and the resulting under-consumption, the payment of the enormous national debt in specie, and the crippling effects of the interest system.

Miscellaneous editorials advocate the payment of ex-Confederates' claims in greenbacks to restore prosperity in the South (Oct. 3, 1876) and condemn governmental mistreatment of the Sioux Indians (1877), which includes an eyewitness account of the Minnesota Indian massacre of 1862.

Letters to the editor by St. John of this period present the same pro-labor arguments, as well as commenting on the abuses suffered by the unorganized miners of Missouri (Aug. 13, 1874), the inequities of the property tax laws, the folly of workingmen electing men of other classes to do their legislating, the machinations of these men to get elected (Nov. 10, 1874), and the revealing example of European financial policies (Dec. 7, 1875; Feb. 1876; and June 20, 1876), condemning the position of the national master in support of the financial policies of the bondholders and railroad magnates; St. John's address (March 1875) to the county Grange advocating the formation of an independent Greenback party and presenting examples of European fiscal measures; 1876 Missouri and national tickets of the Independent Party; the platform adopted at the national convention in St. Louis (1876); and the principles of the national Greenback convention in Toledo (Feb. 1878).

Other articles include addresses by President St. John to the Jasper County Horticultural Society, an account of the proceedings of the State concerning freedom of the press and obscenity (July 1879). Included in the writings of this period are several memoranda in longhand, consisting of observations on the "New King of America - Money", a criticism of the fiscal philosophy of Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, and a discourse on class legislation. Two form letters of the Industrial Brotherhood of the United States give notice of a petition being circulated (Dec. 29, 1874) and detail the reasons for the postponement of the national congress (Jan. 26, 1875).

Clippings (1896) are editorials concerned with the gold-silver debate and related issues prior to the election of 1896. Included are comments on McKinley's Congressional voting record and his status as a satisfactory platform in and of himself (June 1896), criticism of the financial planks in the platforms of the state and national Republican conventions (July 9), the correlation of free trade and the gold standard to British ideology (March 24 and July 9), and a prediction of a split in the Democratic ranks at their Chicago convention (May 8 and July 9). Other editorials point out inconsistencies in the new banking bill (March), oppose an increase on postage for second-class mail (Feb. 25), and praise the benefits of such paternalistic ideas as public school systems, the postal system, public roads (March 24), waterworks, telegraph (April 9), and public streetlights (April 17). From the debate evolving around the election are commentaries on the "real issue" of the day; whether government currency is to be issued directly to the people or through banking corporations (May 5). Also of concern is the need for serious economic reform instead of demagoguery (May 8), the unequal distribution of wealth as revealed in an open letter from former Governor William M. Fishback of Arkansas to President Cleveland (April 9), and the spectacle of banks resorting to threats of refusing credit if the silver standard was adopted (July 9).

The farm journal (1869-1871) contains brief daily entries noting planting dates, weather conditions, and farm-related activities such as trips to town and to the mill. The ledger books (1869-1870 and 1893-1894) consist of notations of personal expenditures, household expenses including food costs, and farming accounts such as seed and implement prices.

The genealogical records of the St. John family include dates of births, deaths, and marriages. The more complete genealogy chart of the wife of Ernest W. St. John traces the Nall lineage to 18th century Kentucky, Ireland, and England.

Miscellaneous items in the collection consist of a marriage certificate (1862), St. John's funeral notice, and clippings of obituaries and memoria, giving brief accounts of his life. A handwritten memo (1900) details his religious beliefs and feelings towards socialism.

Administrative information
Custodial History

December 3, 1976, 89 items; Copies, papers (1842-1907) of Missouri and Arkansas journalist, including correspondence, clippings, financial accounts, and miscellaneous. Loaned for copying by Mr. Richard W. St. John, Mena, Arkansas

January 9, 1985 (Unprocessed addition 1), 31 items; Correspondence (1861-1865, 1873, 1895, 1906). Donor: Mrs. Judy St. John Cobb

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Judy St. John Cobb

Processing information

Processed by K. Simpson, September 1977

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
St. John, Andrew Warner, 1840-1907
Family Names
St. John family
Corporate Names
Greenback Labor Party (U.S.)
National Independent Party (U.S.)
Dakota Indians--Wars, 1862-1865
Labor unions--Missouri
Silver question
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Economic aspects
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives
Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Siege, 1863