In his interesting, though rather melodramatic, romance, The Crisis, Winston Churchill tells the imaginary story of a young lawyer who went from New England to St. Louis, and settled there shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War. Having an abundance of leisure, and being an Abolitionist, he devoted a portion of the time that was not absorbed by his profession to writing articles on slavery for the Missouri Democrat, which, notwithstanding its name, was the organ of the Missouri emancipationists, and lived in part on the money he received as compensation for that work. That in part describes the author’s experience. He was at that time a young lawyer in St. Louis, to which place he had come from the North, and those who have read the earlier chapters of this work are aware that he was an Abolitionist. Having a good deal of time that was not taken up by his professional employments, he occupied a portion of it in writing Anti-Slavery contributions to the Democrat, and, so far as he knows, he was the only person who to any extent did so. A collection was made of a portion of his articles, and with money contributed by friends of the cause, they were published in pamphlet form under the title of Hints toward Emancipation in Missouri, and distributed throughout the State.
There the parallelism of the cases ceases. The writer got no pecuniary compensation for his labor. He asked for none and expected none. The Democrat was then in no condition to pay for volunteer services, having a hard struggle for existence. He was able to do it a service that, possibly, saved it from at least a temporary suspension. One of its chief difficulties was in getting printing paper, the manufacturer it had been patronizing declining to furnish it except for cash, while the Democrat needed partial credit. At that time Louis Snyder, of Hamilton, Ohio, a large paper-maker, visited St. Louis on business that called for legal assistance, and I was employed by him. When the work in hand was finished, I remarked that there was something else he might do in St. Louis that would pay him. I explained the situation of the Democrat, and assured him that, in my opinion, he would be perfectly safe in giving trust to its proprietors, who were honest men.
“Will you indorse their paper?” he asked.
Mr. Snyder was a crafty as well as a thrifty German.
I replied that, as I was not a wealthy man, the question did not seem to be pertinent.
“Will you indorse their paper for one thousand dollars?” was his next question.
Being by this time somewhat “spunked up,” I replied that I would.
“Then I shall be pleased to meet your friends,” said Mr. Snyder.
The result of the interview that followed was such that the Democrat was materially assisted in continuing its publication.
It is hardly necessary to state that I never heard anything more of the one-thousand-dollar indorsement, the sole purpose of which was, doubtless, to test my sincerity.