The Dodge Family Association

Biographical Sketches
Augustus Caesar Dodge

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Des Moines County, Iowa Gen. Augustus C. Dodge is numbered among the honored pioneers of Des Moines County, and during his life was among the most noted men. He sprang from good old Revolutionary stock, and the patriotism of his ancestors found an abiding-place in his heart. Henry Dodge and Christiana, daughter of James McDonald, were married in 1800, a few miles west of St. Louis. Of their thirteen children nine grew to maturity, Augustus C. being the fourth in order of birth. He was born Jan. 2, 1812, at St. Genevieve, Mo., then in the territority of Louisiana, the oldest settlement on the west side of the Mississippi River, about sixty miles below St. Louis. In that new and sparsely settled country his boyhood days were passed. His father was a man of note, even at that time, and during the struggle with Great Britain, from 1812 to 1815, was in command of a battalion of militia, whose duty it was to keep the Indians at bay. For his services he was appointed Brigadier General of the militia of the Missouri Territory. On the return of peace, he engaged in mining and smelting, and in the manufacture of salt. The educational facilities of that region were very scant, and the only school Augustus attended for a few months was kept in a log school-house, in which the light came through greased paper; pencils were made from a bullet beaten into shape and hammered to a point; pens were made with a Barlow knife, and ink from the boiling of butternut bark or gunpowder. Meanwhile the boy gained strength and self-reliance for the struggle of life in which he was to engage. In 1827 the family removed to the Fever River lead mines. Upon arriving at Galena, on July 4, they found the town in a state of alarm fromfear of an attack from the Winnebago Indians. Henry Dodge was at once waited upon by citizens and asked to take command of forces for the defense of the mining district. Young Augustus wished to join them, and when told he was too young, appealed to his father, who, giving him a small shot gun, remarked, "Shoot well, my boy."

Upon the restoration of peace, Henry Dodge located at a point about forty-five miles northeast of Galena, to which was given the name Dodge's Grove. When the Black Hawk War broke out, in 1832, he was Colonel of the militia of Wisconsin Territory, and on the 25th of April was directed by Gen Atkinson to raise as many mounted men in the mining regions as could be obtained for service against the hostile Indians. In one company then raised Augustus was elected Lieutenant of volunteers. for home protection, and in the battle of the Wisconsin he conducted himself bravely. On the march, or camping out, he was always cheerful and obliging to the men.

During these years the family divided their time between their residence near Dodgeville and St. Genevieve, and Augustus made frequent trips between the two places. In February, 1837, he visited the National Capitol, where, as the son of a friend of the President, and one who had made a national reputation in the Black Hawk War, and through the attentions of his uncle, Senator Linn, he enjoyed unusual facilities for seeing public men and observing public affairs. Returning home, on the 19th of March, 1837, he was united in marriage, near St. Genevieve, with Miss Clara A. Hertich, daughter of Prof. Joseph Hertich. Their union was an exceedingly happy one, and to them were born eight children--William J., Marceline M., Augustus V., Christiana, Clara A., Henry J., Charles J. and William W.

In 1838 Mr. Dodge was appointed by President Van Buren, Register of the United States Land Office at Burlington, and removed to this city, which was his home the rest of his life. He made an exceedingly popular officer, often going out of the way to help some unfortunate settler in securing the title to his land. The services then rendered were remembered by the settlers in after years.

On the 14th day of January, 1839, Mr. Dodge was appointed, by Gov. Lucas, Brigadier General of the 2d Brigade of the 1st Division of the Militia of Iowa Territory. In the fall of that year Missouri laid claim to a portion of Iowa Territory on its southern border, which was the occasion of great excitement. December 11 Gen. Dodge's brigade was called out. On reaching Van Buren County, Gen. Dodge was sent with two others to the encampment of the Missouri militia, and a friendly conference following, an amicable settlement was arranged, and the troops disbanded.

In the summer of 1840, without thought or effort on his part, Gen. Dodge was nominated Delegate to Congress. He made a canvass of the Territory, in company with his Whig competitor, Alfred Rich, and was elected by a majority of 585, receiving many Whig votes. On the 2d of September he took his seat in Congress, and on the 7th of December following, he welcomed his father to aseat by his side, as a Delegate from the Territory of Wisconsin, the first and only instance of a father and son sitting together in the House of Representatives since the foundation of the Government. He served as Delegate until the admission of Iowa into the Union, Dec. 28, 1846, a period of six years of laborious service. In the limits of this sketch a record of this service cannot be given, and the reader's attention is called to the life of Gen. Dodge, by Dr. William Salter, published in 1887. The First General Assembly of the State of Iowa was not able to agree upon the election of United States Senators, but the Second Assembly, Dec. 2, 1848, elected Gen. Dodge and George W. Jones. Mr. Dodge drew for the short term, ending March 4, 1848, and was at once re-elected for the term ending March 4, 1855. As seven years before the son had welcomed the father to a seat by his side in the House of Representatives, so now the father, who had entered the Senate on the 23d of the previous June, as one of the Senators from the State of Wisconsin, greeted the arrival of his son in theSenate Chamber. This was an unprecedented occurance. It was also noteworthy that Augustus C. Dodge was the first person born west of the Mississippi River to become a Senator of the United States. He was congratulated by Mrs. Fremont, wife of Gen. Fremont, who said: "General, I am sure that you will be the best behaved man in the Senate, on the ground that a dutiful son will be exceedingly decorous in the immediate presence of his father." The time in which Gen. Dodge served in the United States Senate was an exciting one in the history of the country. He favored the Compromise Bill of 1850, but voted against Jefferson Davis' proposition to make void a prohibition of slavery that had existed under the Mexican law, and extend the Missouri Compromise Line of 1820, so as to authorize slavery north of it, and he voted for the admission of California under her constitution prohibiting slavery. Mr. Dodge served as Chairman of the Committee on Public Lands, and favored the passage of the Homestead Bill. In the Kansas-Nebraska struggle of 1854, he followed the lead of Stephen A. Douglas.

. One of the best speeches delivered in the Senate in favor of the organization of Kansas and Nebraska under the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, and sneeringly spoken of as "Squatter Sovereignty," was by him. In answer to Sen. Brown, of Mississippi, who said, "There are certain menial employments which belong exclusively to the negro," he replied: "Sir, I tell the Senator from Mississippi, I speak it upon the floor of the American Senate, in the presence of my father, who will attest its truth, that I performed and do perform, when at home, all of these menial services to which the Senator referred in terms so grating to my feelings. As a general thing I saw my own wood, do all my own marketing. I have driven teams, horses, mules and oxen, and considered myself as respectable then as I now do, or as any Senator upon the floor."

On the 8th of February, 1855, Mr. Dodge resigned his seat in the Senate, and on the following day President Pierce nominated him to be Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Spain. He was confirmed, and served with great credit to himself and the General Government until the summer of 1859, when he returned home and made the race for Governor of Iowa on the Democratic ticket, but could not overcome the strong Republican majority. The following extract is from Salter's Life of the General:

"Withdrawn the rest of his life, for the most part, from official station, Mr. Dodge retained to the end his interest in public affairs, and his unswerving devotion to the Democratic party, of which he remained a recognized leader. On several occasions his name was presented as a suitable candidate for the highest offices in the Nation, but he himself never aided or abetted any movement to that end. In 1872 he advocated union with the Liberal Republicans, and the election of Horace Greeley for President. In 1874 he was elected Mayor of Burlington by a spontaneous movement of citizens, irrespective of party. In1875 he served, by appointment of Gov. Carpenter, on a commission to investigate alleged abuses in a reform school in Eldora, and aided in introducing a more humane discipline into that institution. An ardent friend of youth, he was a frequent visitor at schools, and gave help and cheer to many in their struggles for an education. He sustained the cause of temperance in vigorous addresses, discountenanced the drink habit by consistent example, and looked to the invigoration of man's moral sense for the suppression of intemperance; not to prohibitory legislation. At meetings of pioneers and old settlers he was an honored guest, and never wearied in commemorating their exploits and labors. He presided over the semi-centennial celebration of the settlement of Iowa, on the 1st of June 1883, at Burlington, and gave surpassing dignity and zest to that occasion. It was a sight that can never be looked upon again to see that illustrious pioneer of Iowa, at the age of more than threescore and ten, pour forth from his capacious, accurate and ready memory, treasures of information concerning the beginning of the commonwealth. He seemed as if inspired with a religious zeal to snatch from oblivion the memory of our founders for the instruction of after times. A few months later came the fatal sickness and the final hour. He died on the 20th of November, 1883, in the bosom of his family, sharing t he consolation of religion, his last words, "Bless the Lord."

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