Moses Odell

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 14, 1862

Welcome to our online archive of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. This archive contains all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. Examination of these old newspapers will help you develop a better understanding of this important part of American History.

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Moses Odell

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JUNE 14, 1862.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

381

HON. MOSES F. ODELL, MEMBER OF CONGRESS FROM BROOKLYN, N. Y.—[PHOT. BY WILLIAMSON.]

HON. MOSES F. ODELL.

THE HON. MOSES F. ODELL, the patriotic Member of Congress from the Brooklyn District, was born at Tarrytown, Westchester County, on the 24th of February, 1818. His family removed to New York City shortly after his birth, and here and in Brooklyn Mr. Odell grew up, receiving his education in the common schools of the city. Early in life he received an appointment in the Custom-house, where he soon proved himself a peculiarly valuable public servant, and for merit was promoted step by step till he was made Assistant-Collector, which post he held during the Administration of President Polk. Being a Democrat, when the Taylor Administration came in Mr. Odell was removed from his post and put to another desk. He was, however, shortly replaced, notwithstanding his politics, the Collector finding him indispensable. He continued to hold his place under Collectors Bronson and Redfield till he resigned, under the latter. During this long tenure of a responsible, laborious, and often irksome office, he gained and retained the esteem of the merchants of this city, and achieved a reputation for clear-headedness and the ability to transact a great amount of business, in a manner satisfactory to all with whom he came in contact, and which has made him a great favorite with the business community of New York. Under the Administration of Mr. Buchanan he held the post of Public Appraiser in this city.

Mr. Odell has always been a Democrat. In early life he was for a short time President of the Brooklyn Empire Club, and all his life he has taken a strong interest in the success of the Democratic party, though never seeking office. Last fall he was nominated, on the Douglas ticket, for Congress. The chances for his election were not good. The member of Congress from the District, Mr. Humphreys, was a Republican, and a gentleman of unexceptionable character, personally liked by his constituents; and the Breckinridge wing of the Democratic party nominated a candidate, and thus caused that horror of politicians, a "split ticket." Nevertheless, Mr. Odell was elected over both his competitors, his sterling character and great personal popularity carrying him far ahead of his ticket. He was, we believe, the only Democrat elected on the ticket.

He did not take his seat in Congress till the meeting of the extra session, on July 4, 1861. Meantime the rebellion had broken out. Brooklyn hastened to send a regiment to defend the capital and the Union; and in those first days, when Democrats and so-called Union men were still looked at with some degree of suspicion, he took his stand in a speech delivered to his constituents and to the soldiers going away to the war. The following short extract from that speech is an index to his conduct ever since. He said: "The position I stand in toward the Government and toward you, makes it right that you should know my views....I am for the Constitution of the country and for the enforcement of the laws—for the Stars and Stripes—for the flag which has protected us all. That flag has been trailed in the dust and spit on by those whom it protected. I have no apology to make for those who did this, and I have no quarter to give until that insult has been avenged. It is well known to you, gentlemen, that I was elected as a Democrat. I have been identified with that party since I came to Brooklyn—more than twenty years ago; but I have no party here to-night. I stand by the Union. I shall be summoned to Washington—I believe I shall get there [it was doubtful at that time]—and I shall give my support to any measure that will defeat the foes of the Government. I did what

I could to prevent the election of the President. I labored as earnestly against him as many of you did for him. But he was elected—legally, fairly, honestly elected President of this country. He is its President. I shall sustain the President in every thing which I believe to be right, and calculated to put down the men who have made war upon our flag and trampled it under foot....I am with you in this inspiring movement which has spread over the North. My prayers are with those who have gone forth to defend the country, and I believe and pray that God will defend them; for the right is with them, and they will prevail."

He has well kept his word. When Congress met it was expected by many who knew his peculiar experience and abilities that he would be placed upon the tariff and tax committees. This was not done, probably because the Speaker did not know him. But he was reserved for as important a work. His patriotic speech attracted attention, and, we have heard, gathered around him quite a number of Congressmen, Republicans as well as Democrats; and when it was determined to appoint a Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Mr. Odell was wisely selected as one of its members. Here he has labored earnestly and effectively ever since, to improve the effectiveness of the army, to expose and prevent frauds, and to aid the Government in its immense labors. We have reason to know that his conduct has secured him the affectionate regard of the President, who values his advice as that of an honest, clear-headed, and single-hearted man, such as Mr. Lincoln is himself.

Mr. Odell is not a speaker, but a man of action. He has not made a speech, in Congress, yet; but he has given all his time to the important labors of the Committee room. During his residence at Washington he has greatly endeared himself to the soldiers by his constant and personal care for their comfort. After the battle of Bull Run he looked after the sick and wounded who crowded the city, and especially those of the gallant 14th (Brooklyn) regiment, many of them young men who had grown up under his eye, in business and in the Sunday-school of the Sands Street Methodist Church, of which he has been for many years the efficient and beloved superintendent. The following paragraph from a recent number of the Washington Intelligencer shows that it is not only soldiers whom his active benevolence seeks to help:

"We referred yesterday to the commendable zeal and ability of Senator Wright in the Sabbath-school and other benevolent enterprises. It is our pleasure now to add to that worthy class of Christian philanthropists the name of Moses F. Odell, who represents the Brooklyn District, New York, in the House of Representatives, and contributed on Sunday very materially to the interests of the Sabbath-school exercises at the 'Foundry.' The accomplished wife of Mr. Odell has been a teacher of the Bible class in the same school ever since their residence in Washington."

NO NAME.

BY WILKIE COLLINS,

AUTHOR OF "THE WOMAN IN WHITE," "DEAD SECRET,"
ETC., ETC.

CHAPTER III.

TOWARD six o'clock the next morning the light pouring in on her face awoke Magdalen in the bedroom in Rosemary Lane.

She started from her deep dreamless repose of the past night, with that painful sense of bewilderment on first waking which is familar to all sleepers in strange beds. "Norah!" she called out mechanically, when she opened her eyes.

The next instant her mind roused itself, and her senses told her the truth. She looked round the miserable room with a loathing recognition of it. The sordid contrast which the place presented to all that she had been accustomed to see in her own bedchamber—the practical abandonment implied in its scanty furniture of those elegant purities of personal habit to which she had been accustomed from her childhood—shocked that sense of bodily self-respect in Magdalen, which is a refined woman's second nature. Contemptible as the influence seemed when compared with her situation at that moment, the bare sight of the jug and basin in a corner of the room decided her first resolution when she woke. She determined, then and there, to leave Rosemary Lane.

How was she to leave it? With Captain Wragge, or without him?

She dressed herself, with a dainty shrinking from every thing in the room which her hands or her clothes touched in the process, and then opened the window. The autumn air felt keen and sweet, and the little patch of sky that she could see was warmly bright already with the new sunlight. Distant voices of bargemen on the river, and the chirping of birds among the weeds which topped the old city wall, were the only sounds that broke the morning silence. She sat down by the window, and searched her mind for the thoughts which she had lost when weariness overcame her on the night before.

The first subject to which she returned was the vagabond subject of Captain Wragge.

The "moral agriculturist" had failed to remove her personal distrust of him, cunningly as he had tried to plead against it by openly confessing the impostures that he had practiced on others. He had raised her opinion of his abilities; he had amused her by his humor: he had astonished her by his assurance, but he had left her original conviction that he was a Rogue exactly where it was when he first met with her. If the one design then in her mind had been the design of going on the stage, she would at all hazards have rejected the more than doubtful assistance of Captain Wragge on the spot.

But the perilous journey on which she had now adventured herself had another end in view—an end dark and distant—an end with pitfalls hidden on the way to it, far other than the shallow pitfalls on the way to the stage. In the mysterious stillness of the morning her mind looked on to its second and its deeper design, and the despicable figure of the swindler rose before her in a new view.

She tried to shut him out—to feel above him and beyond him again, as she had felt up to this time.

After a little trifling with her dress, she took from her bosom the white silk bag which her own hands had made on the farewell night at Combo-Raven. It drew together at the mouth with delicate silken strings. The first thing she took out, on opening it, was a lock of Frank's hair, tied with a morsel of silver thread; the next was a sheet of paper containing the extracts which she had copied from her father's will and her father's letter; the last was a closely folded packet of bank-notes, to the value of nearly two hundred pounds—the produce (as Miss Garth had rightly conjectured) of the sale of her jewelry and her dresses, in which the servant at the boarding-school had privately assisted her. She put back the notes at once, without a second glance at them, and then sat looking thoughtfully at the lock of hair as it lay on her lap. "You are better than nothing," she said, speaking to it with a girl's fanciful tenderness. "I can sit and look at you sometimes till I almost think I am looking at Frank. Oh, my darling! my darling!" Her voice faltered softly, and she put the lock of hair, with a languid gentleness, to her lips. It fell from her fingers into her

bosom. A lovely tinge of color rose on her cheeks, and spread downward to her neck, as if it followed the falling hair. She closed her eyes, and let her fair head droop softly. The world passed from her, and for one enchanted moment Love opened the gates of Paradise to the daughter of Eve.

The trivial noises in the neighboring street, gathering in number as the morning advanced, forced her back to the hard realities of the passing time. She raised her head with a heavy sigh, and opened her eyes once more on the mean and miserable little room.

The extracts from the will and the letter—those last memorials of her father, now so closely associated with the purpose which had possession of her mind—still lay before her. The transient color faded from her face as she spread the little manuscript open on her lap. The extracts from the will stood highest on the page; they were limited to those few touching words, in which the dead father begged his children's forgiveness for the stain on their birth, and implored them to remember the untiring love and care by which he had striven to atone for it. The extract from the letter to Mr. Pendril came next. She read the last melancholy sentences aloud to herself: "For God's sake, come on the day when you receive this—come and relieve me from the dreadful thought that my two darling girls are at this moment unprovided for. If any thing happened to me, and if my desire to do their mother justice ended (through my miserable ignorance of the law) in leaving Norah and Magdalen disinherited, I should not rest in my grave!" Under these lines again, and close at the bottom of the page, was written the terrible commentary on that letter which had fallen from Mr. Pendril's lips: "Mr. Vanstone's daughters are Nobody's Children, and the law leaves them helpless at their uncle's mercy."

Helpless when those words were spoken—helpless still, after all that she had resolved, after all that she had sacrificed. The assertion

"WHO THE DEVIL WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT? SHE CAN ACT, AFTER ALL!"

Moses Odell
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