Saturday, March 28, 2015

Schuyler Colfax - The Porchlights

An original song by The Porchlights. A song about Schuyler Colfax, one time vice president, who died from the bitter cold in Mankato, Minnesota on January 13, 1885.
On January 13, 1885, a wandering traveler made a mid-morning stop in Mankato, Minnesota, in order to change trains. It was sharply cold in Mankato—30 degrees below zero—but this wanderer, undeterred, took to the walkways to make the three-quarter mile jaunt between Front Street and Omaha Line train stations. Upon reaching Omaha Line depot, our man consulted a map upon the wall, used the men’s room, and—in the final seconds of his 61-year-old life—returned to a waiting area where he took a seat. Presently, he collapsed, his heart the blame. Folks attending to the fallen man knew not his identity until someone went into his pockets. They found there his name, and this new knowledge threw the procession of events into new light. This wandering traveler’s name was Schuyler Colfax, and from 1869–73 he had served as Vice-President of the United States of America.

Colfax had been on his way from Chicago to Rock Rapids, Iowa, where he was to give a public lecture. Since retiring from public service after having his name muddied in a stock scandal, Colfax had made his living giving speeches and lectures. The general public was more than eager to hear this man who hailed from Indiana and was nicknamed “Smiler” Colfax expound upon his Civil Wartime relationship with President Abraham Lincoln. In fact, Republican Party member Colfax knew Lincoln well and presided over the passage of the 13th Amendment as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Lincoln had invited Colfax to Ford’s Theatre to watch the April 14, 1865, rendering of the play Our American Cousin, but Colfax declined. After Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater, Colfax spent the last hours of the President’s life bedside in the room where Lincoln died. Colfax’s own death twenty years later in Mankato was less violent, but no less bizarre, in some respects, and no less premature. (Mankato Free Press)

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