Joseph Glover Baldwin
Joseph Glover Baldwin was born in Virginia on January 21, 1815.
He was educated in Staunton schools until family finances forced
withdrawal, and he became a deputy clerk for the Staunton courts.
He started studying law, and earned his license to practice at age
twenty-one. A supporter of the Whig party, Baldwin co-owned and
edited several newspapers. The failure of one of these papers, the
Advocate and Commercial Advertiser, and heartache from a
rent romance sent him westward. He practiced law in DeKalb, Mississippi,
where he often represented Choctaw Indians, and moved on to Alabama,
where he served one term as a Whig in the Alabama House of Representatives
(1843). He ran for Congress, but lost.
Baldwin started writing
sketches in the Southwestern humor style about his adventures as
a frontier lawyer. These sketches were first published in the Southern
Literary Messenger in 1852, and later collected and published
in book form in 1853. The sketches described the boom time, the
flux time, the “flush” times of the newly expanding
Southern frontier. Confidence men and sketchy lawyers became the
targets of much of Baldwins humor while others were biographical
in nature, often moralistic. The Flush Times, supposedly
one of Abraham Lincolns favorite books, was Baldwins
most popular bookthough the Messenger perhaps exaggerated
when it claimed the book was nearing sales of 20,00but he
also published another work, Party Leaders: Sketches, which
was popular but not as widely read as Flush Times.
Baldwin followed the gold miners
to California, arriving in the post-flush times era, but he wrote
sketches about California, which were not published until 1966.
He died on September 30, 1864, in California.
4 September 2002)
- The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi. New
York: D. Appleton, 1853.
- Party Leaders: Sketches of Thomas Jefferson, Alexr Hamilton,
Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, John Randolph of Roanoke, Including Notices
of Many Other Distinguished American Statesmen. New York: D.
- The Flush Times of California. Ed. Robert E. Amacher
and George W. Polhemus. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1966.
- Current-Garcia, Eugene. “Joseph Glover Baldwin: Humorist
or Moralist?” Alabama Review 5 (April 1952): 122-41.
- Farish, Hunter Dickson. “An Overlooked Personality in Southern
Life.” North Carolina Historical Review 12 (October
- Grammer, John. Pastoral and Politics in the Old South.
Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996.
- Grammer, John. “The Republican Historical Vision: Joseph
Glover Baldwins Party Leaders.” Southern Literary
Journal 25.2 (1993 Spring): 3-13.
- Lynn, Kenneth. Mark Twain and Southwest Humor. Boston:
Little, Brown, 1959. 115-124.
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