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Thomas Hart Benton is probably best known today through Irving Stone's fictional biography of his daughter, Jessie Fremont, Immortal Wife and through his namesake, the distinguished modern painter. His historical role deserves to be better known today, so this biography, while it lacks the inspirational fire that would lift it out of the level of mere adequacy, does meet a definite need. As defender, in his day, of the sound money policy, Benton earned the sobriquet. ""Old Bullion"". Born in North Carolina, Benton was left fatherless at eight, and in his teens was-apparently with due cause-expelled from school after he admitted several thefts. His public career began when he became U.S. Senator from Missouri in 1821. The major part of his thirty years in the Senate were politically serene, until he actively opposed secession (though from a state where the pro-slavery sentiment was strong) and protested extension of slavery. A devoted husband and father of the fiery Jessie, his domestic life was happy despite the twilight health of his wife in mind and body, and his daughter's sensational elopement. This biography dwells only passingly on the personal; it is a serious and competently researched record of a man whose character and career were not the stuff of popular appeal. It does fill a gap in the record of the preamble to the outbreak of Civil War.

Publisher: Lippincott