|The San Francisco Civil War Round Table Meeting
15th December 2011
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Winchell Hayward, guests were introduced. New
member Susan Kirk introduced her husband, Jim. Carol Fleming introduced her two guests who
were proudly sporting lapel buttons bearing the image of Thomas Starr King.
Jeffrey Vaillant reminded members of the Living History Day planned for April 14th on Alcatraz
Following dinner, the ever popular Book Raffle was conducted con brio by Bob Bowen.
Our guest speakers, Jim Dierke and Adam Kendall, then introduced their presentation on
Thomas Starr King.
Thomas Starr King, "the orator who saved the nation," was born December 17, 1824, in New
York City. The sole support of his family at age 15, he was forced to leave school. Inspired by men
like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Ward Beecher, King embarked on a program of self-study
for the ministry. At the age of 20 he took over his father's former pulpit at the First Unitarian Church
of Charlestown, Massachusetts.
In 1848 he was appointed pastor of the Hollis Street Unitarian Church, Boston, where he became
one of the most famous preachers in New England. In 1860 he accepted a call from the First
Unitarian Church of San Francisco. In California during the Civil War, he spoke zealously in favor of
the Union and is credited with saving California from becoming a separate republic. In addition, he
organized the Pacific Branch of the Sanitary Commission, which cared for wounded soldiers.
A fiery orator, he raised over $1.5 million for the Sanitary Commission headquarters in New York,
one-fifth of the total contributions from all the states in the Union. The Commission was the
predecessor of the American Red Cross. As Grand Orator of the Masonic Grand Lodge of
California, Starr King toured the state ceaslessly advocating Union. The relentless lecture circuit
exhausted him, and he died in San Francisco on March 4, 1864. His grave is located at the First
Unitarian Universalist Church on Franklin Street in San Francisco.
In 2009, in an act of perfidious politicking, California's statue of Starr King was removed from the
National Statuary Hall in Washington, DC after seventy-nine years, and replaced by one of Ronald
Reagan. Starr King's statue now resides in Sacramento's Capital Park.
|Adam Kendall and Jim Dierke