Russell A. Alger

Russell Alexander Alger (February 27, 1836 – January 24, 1907) was the 20th Governor and U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan and also U.S. Secretary of War during the Presidential administration of William McKinley. He was supposedly a distant relation of Horatio Alger; although Russell Alger lived his own "rags-to-riches" success tale, eventually becoming an army officer, financier, lumber baron, railroad owner, and government official in several high offices.[1]

Russell Alger
Russell Alexander Alger by The Detroit Publishing Co. - retouched from older copy
United States Senator
from Michigan
In office
September 27, 1902 – January 24, 1907
Preceded byJames McMillan
Succeeded byWilliam Smith
40th United States Secretary of War
In office
March 5, 1897 – August 1, 1899
PresidentWilliam McKinley
Preceded byDaniel S. Lamont
Succeeded byElihu Root
20th Governor of Michigan
In office
January 1, 1885 – January 1, 1887
LieutenantArchibald Buttars
Preceded byJosiah Begole
Succeeded byCyrus G. Luce
Personal details
Born
Russell Alexander Alger

February 27, 1836
Lafayette Township, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJanuary 24, 1907 (aged 70)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Annette Huldana Squire Henry
Children6
Military service
Allegiance United States
 • Union
Branch/service United States Army
 • Union Army
Years of service1861–1864
RankUnion Army colonel rank insignia.png Colonel
Union Army major general rank insignia.svg Brevet Major General
Commands5th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry Regiment
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Early life and career

Annette Huldana Squire Henry
Annette Huldana Squire Henry

Russell Alexander Alger was born on February 27, 1836, in Lafayette Township in Medina County, Ohio. His parents were Russell and Caroline (Moulton) Alger.[2] He was orphaned at age 13 and worked on a farm to support himself and two younger siblings. He attended Richfield Academy in Summit County, Ohio, and taught country school for two winters.[2] He studied law in Akron, Ohio, and was admitted to the bar in March 1859. He first began to practice law in Cleveland and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1860, where he engaged in the lumber business.

On April 2, 1861, he married Annette Huldana Squire Henry of Grand Rapids.[2] They had six children; Henrietta Fay Huldana (Alger) Bailey, Caroline Annette (Alger) Shelden, Frances Aura (Alger) Pike, Russell Alexander Alger, Jr., Frederick Charles Moulton Alger and Allan Alger. Frederick graduated from Harvard in 1899, served as a lieutenant colonel with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in France during the First World War and was awarded the French Legion of Honor.

Alger was the scion of a prominent family, many of whom became involved in 20th century Michigan politics and active in the Republican Party.[3]

His son, Russell A. Alger, Jr., was instrumental in persuading the Packard Motor Car Company to move to Michigan from Ohio; he also built in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a palatial Italian Renaissance style estate, "The Moorings", which was donated in 1949 and became the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, honoring veterans of World War II.[4]

Russell A. Alger had a home in Black River which is in Alcona Township, Michigan, which he maintained while overseeing his lumbering operations.

Civil War

He enlisted as a private soldier in the American Civil War on September 2, 1861.[5] He was commissioned and served as a captain and major in the 2nd Michigan Cavalry Regiment.[5]

At the Battle of Boonesville, July 11, 1862, he was sent by Colonel Philip Sheridan to attack the enemy's rear with ninety picked men. The Confederate forces were soundly defeated, and although Alger was wounded and taken prisoner, he escaped the same day. On October 16, he was made lieutenant colonel of the 6th Michigan Cavalry.

On February 28, 1863, he was promoted to colonel of the 5th Michigan Cavalry. His command was the first to enter Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on June 28, and he was specially mentioned in the report of General George Armstrong Custer on cavalry operations there. Alger was considered a military strategist and stood with President Lincoln on the battlefield surveying the Union supplies and while pursuing the enemy on July 8, he was severely wounded at Boonesborough, Maryland. He participated in General Sheridan's Valley Campaigns of 1864 in Virginia. On June 11, 1864, at Trevillian Station, he captured a large force of Confederates with a brilliant cavalry charge. Alger resigned from the army on September 20, 1864.[6] On January 13, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Alger for the award of the grade of brevet brigadier general of volunteers to rank from June 11, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the award on March 12, 1866.[7] On February 28, 1867, President Johnson nominated Alger for the award of the grade of brevet major general of volunteers to rank from June 11, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the award on March 2, 1867.[8]

In three years, he served in 66 different battles and skirmishes. In 1868, he was elected the first commander of the Michigan department of the Grand Army of the Republic, and in 1889 became its national Commander-in-chief at the Twenty-Third National Encampment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[1] He was also a member of the Michigan Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS). Alger's two sons, Frederick W. Alger and Russell A. Alger, Jr. were hereditary companions of MOLLUS.

Lumber baron

After the Civil War, Alger settled in Detroit as head of Alger, Smith & Company and the Manistique Lumbering Company. His great pine forest on Lake Huron comprised more than 100 square miles (260 km2) and produced annually more than 75,000,000 board feet (180,000 m3) of lumber.[9] In order to transport the lumber, Alger led his company to create the Detroit, Bay City and Alpena Railroad,[10] of which Alger served as president.[11]

At the turn of the 20th century (following Alger's service as Secretary of War), he and Florida landowner Martin Sullivan established the Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company, which milled lumber in Foshee, Alabama and Century, Florida.[12]

Politics

In 1884, Alger was elected Governor of Michigan, serving from January 1, 1885, to January 1, 1887. He declined renomination in 1886 and was a presidential elector on the Republican ticket in 1888. Alger's name was placed in nomination for president at the 1888 Republican National Convention. He rose in balloting to 142 votes, with 416 necessary to win, but Benjamin Harrison ultimately obtained the nomination and went on to win the general election. In 1888, Alger was elected as the Commander of the Michigan Department of the Grand Army of the Republic and as the 18th Commander-in-Chief of the GAR in 1889.

Russell Alexander Alger by Percy Ives
Alger in 1900, in a portrait by Percy Ives.

Alger was appointed Secretary of War in the Cabinet of U.S. President William McKinley on March 5, 1897. As Secretary, he recommended pay increases for military personnel serving at foreign embassies and legations. He recommended legislation to authorize a Second Assistant Secretary of War and recommended a constabulary force for Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. He was criticized for the inadequate preparation and inefficient operation of the department during the Spanish–American War, especially for his appointment of William R. Shafter as leader of the Cuban expedition.[13] "Algerism" became an epithet to describe the claimed incompetence of the army, especially as compared to the more stellar performance of the navy.[14] Alger resigned at President McKinley's request, August 1, 1899, though he perhaps got the last word on his critics by publishing The Spanish–American War in 1901.[15]

One sidelight of Alger's career in the McKinley Administration was his personal vendetta against former Confederate partisan Col. John Singleton Mosby. Mosby, a famous (or notorious) figure, had been United States Consul at Hong Kong, China, under Hayes but had been replaced with the election of Democrat Grover Cleveland. Upon his return to the United States, Mosby had taken a position obtained for him by his close friend former President Ulysses S. Grant with the Southern Pacific Railroad which he held for fifteen years. When the railroad changed ownership, Mosby lost his position so when McKinley became President, he returned east to seek out a position with the new administration. Mosby had known McKinley for many years through his involvement in Republican politics both in Virginia and California.

Unknown to Mosby as he headed east with hopes of a good position with the new administration, Alger was doing all in his power to thwart the former Confederate guerrilla. His hatred for Mosby was personal. While Alger served with Sheridan in the Shenandoah in 1864, a number of his command had been caught burning homes in the Valley and had been executed by members of Mosby's command as war criminals. Alger never forgot nor forgave what had happened for though Mosby was not present at the time of the events, he had concurred with the actions of his men. So despite having been asked to send a list to the McKinley administration of what posts he desired, by the time he arrived from the west coast Mosby found that all had been "unexpectedly" given to someone else and he was forced to return to the west coast disappointed and unemployed. But Alger's involvement with the defeat of Mosby's hopes did not remain hidden. It was reported in the May 11, 1898, San Francisco Call under the headline "Alger Dislikes Mosby" and it is probable that until he read that article, the 65-year-old Mosby had no idea that his failure to obtain a position was anything other than bad luck.

On September 27, 1902, Alger was appointed by Michigan Governor Aaron T. Bliss to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of James McMillan. He was subsequently elected by the Michigan State Legislature to the Senate in January 1903. He served until his death in Washington, D.C. in 1907. During a memorial address in remembrance of Senator Alger, Senator John Spooner of Wisconsin said of the late senator: "No man without noble purpose, well-justified ambitions, strong fiber, and splendid qualities in abundance could have carved out and left behind him such a career."[16] He was chairman of the Senate Committee on Pacific Railroads during the 59th Congress.[17] He is interred in Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan.

Legacy

Alger, Michigan, a small community in Michigan's lower peninsula was named after him in 1882. It is a small community located in the area of the lower peninsula where he oversaw lumbering and railroad operations. In addition, Alger County, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, was founded in 1885.

In May 1898, his War Department established Camp Russell A. Alger on a farm of 1,400 acres (5.7 km2) called "Woodburn Manor" near the small communities of Falls Church and Dunn Loring, Virginia. In its brief existence, 23,000 men trained there for service in the Spanish–American War. Faced with a typhoid fever epidemic, it was abandoned the month that the War ended (in August 1898), and sold the following month. It is commemorated by an official Virginia historical marker.[18]

Also in 1898, a movie was made, entitled General Wheeler and Secretary of War Alger at Camp Wikoff, that documents an official visit as Secretary of War.[19] Camp Wikoff was in New York, and this was an early event that permitted the McKinley administration to garner support from the New York newspapers.[20]

A monument by Detroit sculptor Carlo Romanelli, consisting of a bronze bust of Alger mounted on a stone pedestal, is located on the grounds of the William G. Mather Building in Munising, Michigan. It was erected in June 1909, with funds provided by the heirs of Alger and by the Board of Education of the Munising Township Schools. A memorial fountain in Grand Circus Park, where it intersects East Adams and Woodward in downtown Detroit[21] by sculptor Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon was dedicated in Detroit in 1921.

Review of troops by Secretary of War. Camp Wikoff, New York, 1898 - NARA - 530698
Alger as Secretary of War reviewing returning Spanish-American soldiers in 1898 at Camp Wikoff, New York.

Russell A. Alger street is in Black River, Michigan, and the town contains an eponymous "Alger" street. So too does Lincoln, Michigan. Alger’s Camp was located a short distance from Mud Lake (now Jewell Lake) in Alcona County, Michigan.[22]

The Grosse Pointe War Memorial is housed in one of the Alger family's former homes.[23]

The Southeast side Grand Rapids, Michigan neighborhood Alger Heights is named after him.[24]

In 1942, a United States Liberty ship named the SS Russell A. Alger was planned, but cancelled before construction.

Bibliography

  • Russell Alexander Alger (1901). The Spanish–American War. Kessinger Publishing.
  • Dictionary of American Biography
  • Bell, Rodney E. "A Life of Russell Alexander Alger." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1975'
  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • U.S. Congress. Memorial Addresses for Russell Alexander Alger. 59th Cong., 2nd sess. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907.
  • Michigan Historical Commission. 1924. Michigan Biographies: Russell Alger, Lansing.
  • Michigan Commandery of the Military of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
  • Final Journal of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1957. Compiled by Cora Gillis, Jamestown, New York, Past National President, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, Inc. and last National Secretary of the Grand Army of the Republic.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Bourasaw, Noel V., "Russell A. Alger, logging capitalist, Michigan governor, Secretary of War," Skagit River Journal of History & Folklore, 2004.
  2. ^ a b c Moulton, Henry William (1906). Moulton Annals, pp. 84, 114–17. Chicago: Edward A. Clayhill.
  3. ^ Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Alexandre to Alleman".
  4. ^ "The Alger Family".
  5. ^ a b Who Was Who in American History - the Military. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1975. p. 6. ISBN 0837932017.
  6. ^ Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 101.
  7. ^ Eicher, 2001, p. 739. A typographical error shows the confirmation date as March 12, 1865.
  8. ^ Eicher, 2001, p. 739.
  9. ^ Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889.
  10. ^ Berry, Dale. "Railroad History Story: Railroad Origins in Alpena, Michigan". RRHX: Michigan's Internet Railroad History Museum. Archived from the original on July 24, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  11. ^ The Official Railway List. Railway Purchasing Agent Company. 1888. p. 71.
  12. ^ "Century, Florida - 100 years and still counting". The Alger-Sullivan Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  13. ^ Folsom, Dr Burton W.; 7, published on Dec; 1998. "Russell Alger and the Spanish–American War".
  14. ^ "Russell Alexander Alger - The World of 1898: The Spanish–American War (Hispanic Division, Library of Congress)".
  15. ^ Russell Alexander Alger (1901). The Spanish–American War. Kessinger Publishing.
  16. ^ Moore, Charles (1915). History of Michigan. II. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co. p. 687.
  17. ^ "Chairmen of Senate Standing Committees 1789-Present" (PDF). Senate Historical Office. June 2008. p. 35. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  18. ^ "Camp Russell A. Alger Historical Marker".
  19. ^ General Wheeler and Secretary of War Alger at Camp Wikoff (1898) on IMDb
  20. ^ McSherry, Patrick. "Camp Wikoff".
  21. ^ "Russell Alexander Alger Memorial Fountain". Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  22. ^ "Gazateer of Obscure Michigan Place Names". Herbarium, University of Michigan. Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  23. ^ Grosse Pointe War Memorial. Archived 2008-05-15 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Welcome to the Alger Neighborhood - Alger Heights".

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
David Jerome
Republican nominee for Governor of Michigan
1884
Succeeded by
Cyrus G. Luce
Political offices
Preceded by
Josiah Begole
Governor of Michigan
1885–1897
Succeeded by
Cyrus G. Luce
Preceded by
Daniel S. Lamont
United States Secretary of War
1897–1899
Succeeded by
Elihu Root
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
James McMillan
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Michigan
1902–1907
Served alongside: Julius C. Burrows
Succeeded by
William Smith
1888 Republican National Convention

The 1888 Republican National Convention was a presidential nominating convention held at the Auditorium Building in Chicago, Illinois, on June 19–25, 1888. It resulted in the nomination of former Senator Benjamin Harrison of Indiana for President and Levi P. Morton of New York, a former Congressman and Minister to France, for Vice President. During the convention, Frederick Douglass was invited to speak and became the first African-American to have his name put forward for a presidential nomination in a major party's roll call vote; he received one vote from Kentucky on the fourth ballot.

The ticket won in the election of 1888, defeating President Grover Cleveland and former Senator Allen G. Thurman from Ohio.

1888 United States elections

The 1888 United States elections occurred during the Third Party System, and elected the members of the 51st United States Congress. North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming were admitted during the 51st Congress. This election was the first time that one party had won a majority in both chambers of Congress since the 1874 elections.In the Presidential election, Democratic President Grover Cleveland was defeated by Republican former Senator Benjamin Harrison of Indiana. At the 1888 Republican National Convention, Harrison was nominated on the eighth ballot, defeating Ohio Senator John Sherman, former Governor Russell A. Alger of Michigan, and several other candidates. As in 1876, the Republican candidate won the presidency despite the Democratic candidate's greater share of the popular vote. This situation would not be repeated until the 2000 election. Despite the popular vote margin, Harrison won a comfortable majority of the electoral college, and took most of the states outside the South.

Despite the close presidential race, Republicans picked up several seats in both houses of Congress. Republicans won major gains in the House, re-taking the majority for the first time since the 1882 elections. In the Senate, the Republicans won major gains, growing their majority in the chamber.

1905 in Michigan

Events from the year 1905 in Michigan.

Alcona Township, Michigan

Alcona Township is a civil township of Alcona County in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the township population was 968.

Alger Theater

The Alger Theater is a theatre located at 16451 East Warren Avenue in the MorningSide neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan. It is one of only two remaining intact and unchanged neighborhood theaters in the city of Detroit (the second being the Redford Theatre). It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Camp Alger

Camp Alger, near Falls Church, Virginia, was established May 18, 1898, for the Spanish–American War effort. It was approved by Secretary of War Russell A. Alger for whom it was named. By August 1898, more than 35,000 troops were stationed at the camp.

Charles A. Platt

Charles Adams Platt (October 16, 1861 – September 12, 1933) was a prominent American artist, landscape gardener, landscape designer, and architect of the "American Renaissance" movement. His garden designs complemented his domestic architecture.

Detroit Club

The Detroit Club is a private social club located at 712 Cass Avenue in Downtown Detroit, Michigan. The building was constructed in 1891 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Dunn Loring, Virginia

Dunn Loring is a census-designated place (CDP) in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. The population was 8,803 at the 2010 census.

Foshee, Alabama

Foshee is an unincorporated community in Escambia County, Alabama, United States between Brewton and Pollard on U.S. Route 29. Foshee was founded as a sawmill town and named after Stewart J. Foshee, who owned several sawmills in Escambia County. Russell A. Alger and Martin Sullivan founded the Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company in the late 1890s and began logging around Foshee. They used lumber from the mill to build a new sawmill in Florida, which eventually grew into the town of Century. A post office was operated in Foshee from 1914 to 1924.

Grosse Pointe

Grosse Pointe refers to an affluent coastal area adjacent to Detroit, Michigan, United States, that comprises five adjacent individual cities. From southwest to northeast, they are:

Grosse Pointe Park, city

Grosse Pointe, city

Grosse Pointe Farms, city

Grosse Pointe Shores, city (incorporated in 2009 from the remnants of two townships, Grosse Pointe Township in Wayne County and Lake Township in Macomb County)

Grosse Pointe Woods, cityThe terms "Grosse Pointe" or "the Pointes" are ordinarily used to refer to the entire area, referencing all five individual communities, with a total population of about 46,000. The Grosse Pointes altogether are 10.4 square miles, bordered by Detroit on the south and west, Lake St. Clair on the east and south, Harper Woods on the west of some portions, and St. Clair Shores on the north. The cities are in eastern Wayne County, except for a very small section in Macomb County. The Pointes begin six miles (10 km) northeast of downtown Detroit and extend several miles northeastward, in a narrow swath of land, to the edge of Wayne County. The name "Grosse Pointe" derives from the size of the area, and its projection into Lake St. Clair.Located on the coast of Lake St. Clair, Grosse Pointe is a suburban area in Metro Detroit, sharing a border with northeast Detroit's historic neighborhoods. Grosse Pointe has many famous historic estates along with remodeled homes and newer construction. Downtown Grosse Pointe, along Kercheval Avenue from Neff to Cadieux, nicknamed "The Village," serves as a central business district for all five of the Grosse Pointes, although each of them (except Grosse Pointe Shores) has several blocks of retail. Downtown Detroit is just over seven miles (11 km) west of this downtown area, accessed by Jefferson Avenue, or several other cross-streets.

The north-south area along Lake St. Clair generally coincides with the boundaries of the two high schools. The southern areas (basically south and west of Moross Road) feature retail districts.

Grosse Pointe War Memorial

The War Memorial, also known as the Russell A. Alger Jr. House and as the Moorings was dedicated to the memory of veterans and soldiers of World War II. It is located at 32 Lake Shore Drive in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.

List of Governors of Michigan

The Governor of Michigan is the head of the executive branch of Michigan's state government and serves as the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws; the power to either approve or veto appropriation bills passed by the Michigan Legislature; the power to convene the legislature; and the power to grant pardons, except in cases of impeachment. He or she is also empowered to reorganize the executive branch of the state government.Michigan was originally part of French and British holdings, and administered by their colonial governors. After becoming part of the United States, numerous areas of what is today Michigan were originally part of the Northwest Territory, Indiana Territory and Illinois Territory, and administered by territorial governors. In 1805, the Michigan Territory was created, and five men served as territorial governors, until Michigan was granted statehood in 1837. Forty-eight individuals have held the position of state governor. The first female governor, Jennifer Granholm, served from 2003 to 2011.

After Michigan gained statehood, governors held the office for a two-year term, until the 1963 Michigan Constitution changed the term to four years. The number of times an individual could hold the office was unlimited until a 1992 constitutional amendment imposed a lifetime term limit of two four-year governorships. The longest-serving governor in Michigan's history was William Milliken, who was promoted from lieutenant governor after Governor George W. Romney resigned, then was elected to three further successive terms.

List of United States Senators from Michigan

Michigan was admitted to the Union on January 26, 1837. Its current U.S. Senators are Democrats Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.

SS Richmond P. Hobson

The SS Richmond P. Hobson (Hull # 1994) was an American World War II Liberty ship built by North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina.

SS Roger B. Taney

SS Roger B. Taney was a Liberty Ship built in Baltimore, Maryland in 1942. It was torpedoed by German submarine U-160 in the south Atlantic Ocean and sunk on 8 February 1943.

SS Russell A. Alger

SS Russell A. Alger (MC contract 1754) was a Liberty ship that was supposed to be built in the United States during World War II. She was intended to be named after Russell A. Alger, a Michigan Senator, Governor and U.S. Secretary of War.

Ordered from the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon, the ship was cancelled before construction.

United States Army beef scandal

The United States Army beef scandal was a political scandal caused by the widespread issuance of extremely low-quality, heavily adulterated beef products to US Army soldiers fighting in the Spanish–American War.

William Alden Smith

William Alden Smith (May 12, 1859 – October 11, 1932) was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan.

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