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Page 324


My Dear Mr. Ritchie:—To-morrow Uncle Joshua, our delegate
to Congress from Salt River Territory, starts for Washington.
As I haint writ to you for some time, I thought I
would send a few lines by him to let you know how matters
are getting along up here. We are talking pretty sharp about
forming a State Government, and some are for doing it right
off, and sending Senators and Representatives to this Congress.
But the majority was in favor of only sending a delegate
now, and waiting to see what Congress will do with the
other Territories that are sprouting up round; for, as things
now look, we couldn't seem to tell whether a State on Mason
and Dixon's side of the river would be allowed to come in. So
we called a meeting to choose a delegate, and to fix up the
instructions for him to follow when he gets there.

After the meeting come to order, and Colonel Jones was appointed
cheerman, Uncle Joshua got up and said the common
practice of choosing a representative or delegate first, and
then tying his hands afterward with instructions, he didn't
think was hardly a fair shake. He thought the instructions
ought to be agreed upon first; then if the representative had
a mind to tie his own hands he couldn't blame nobody else for
it. The meeting seemed to take the idea at once, and agreed
to go right to work upon the instructions first.

The cheerman said: “It was evident from the newspapers,


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and the way things looked at Washington, and all over the
country, that this was agoing to be a hot Congress. There
was trouble a brewin' about the Wilmot Proviso, and about
admitting California as a State; and then that monster, nullification,
that everybody thought that Gineral Jackson had
killed, years and years ago, wasn't by no means dead yet. He
seemed to be more alive than ever, and showed ten times as
many heads now as he did in Old Hickory's time. He was a
hard animal to handle then, as my worthy friend there on my
right can testify, for he had a hand in it. (Here the cheerman
pointed to me, and made everybody look at me).

“I say,” says he, “if Old Hickory and Major Downing had
their hands full to master nullification, when he was only a
young critter, and hadn't but one head, the country may well
tremble and ask what is to be done with him now that he has
growed up so large and tuff, and shows so many heads.”

At that Bill Johnson jumped up, as quick as a flash, and says
he, “Ill tell you what, Mr. Cheerman, jest send old Rough and
Ready arter him, and I'll resk him if he had twenty heads. If
he wouldn't scatter and run as fast as Santa Anna did at Bony
Vista, I'll pay the toddy.”

“Well,” said the cheerman, “that an't the question before
the meeting. The question is, what instructions shall we
give our delegate about the Wilmot Proviso, and the State of
California, and nullification, and such like troublesome consarns.
Gentlemen will please to speak their minds on the

When Colonel Jones set down, the whole meeting turned
and looked toward Uncle Joshua; for they think he knows
more about these matters than anybody else in the Territory;
and, besides, he's a considerable speaker when you once get
him started. They kept looking and nodding to him, and at
last Uncle Joshua got up.


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“Mr. Cheerman,” says Uncle Joshua, says he, “If you know
jest how things work in one case, you can pretty commonly
tell pretty near how them same things will work in another
case; for I've always obsarved in my lifetime, that when
things worked jest so in one case, them same things would
most always work jest so in another case. Now, when I was
a boy I knew a case a good deal like this 'ere case you've
been speakin' about. And if I should tell you and this meeting
how things worked out in that case, may be you could
judge better how things will work in this 'ere case, and then
you can instruct your delegate accordingly. The case, Mr.
Cheerman, was this:

“Old Mr. Sam West, a very clever, respectable old gentleman—everybody
used to call him Uncle Sam—he was a very
stirrin', thrivin' man, and a good farmer; he owned a very
large farm, and picked up a good deal of property. His oldest
son, Jonathan, lived on the northern half of the farm; and his
other son, John, lived on the southern half; and they both of
'em had large families growing up around 'em before the old
gentleman died. One day, sometime before he died, he spoke
to his two sons, and said: `Boys, I can't be with you much
longer. I shall leave the farm and all the property to you and
your children. The farm is under a good way now, and there's
a plenty of land for you and your children, and your grandchildren,
and great-grandchildren; and I charge you to always
keep the families together on the farm, and live in peace, and
help each other along. There's no knowing what sort of
neighbors you may get round you; therefore, cling together
and take care of each other.' The sons promised that they
would mind him, and wrote it down in a book, and showed it
to the old gentleman, who said he was satisfied, and could die
in peace.

“Well, after the old gentleman was dead and gone, the


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sons continued to thrive, and prosper, and grow rich. Their
large families had enough to eat, drink and wear, and a plenty
of fat turkeys for Thanksgivin' and Christmas dinners, and
everything they wanted. The two brothers carried on the
farm, as brothers should do, in peace and harmony, and helped
each other along. What one didn't raise, t'other did, and between
'em they always had enough of everything. There was
only one thing that they ever had any jarring about, and that
was thistles. John's half of the farm was covered all over with
thistles. And from some cause or other, John had a strange
fancy for thistles, and would never allow 'em to be dug up or
rooted out of his half of the farm. But Jonathan hated the
very idea of a thistle; he couldn't bear 'em no how. There
used to be some on his part of the farm when it was new, but
he kept mowing of 'em down, and diggin' of 'em up, and
rootin' of 'em out, till there wasn't one left. Jonathan used to
talk to John, and try to get him to do the same. He told him
it was a disgrace to a farm to have thistles on it. But John
declared they was the glory of a farm, and no farm could be
perfect without thistles. Jonathan said that besides scratching
and hurting everybody that come near 'em, they would run
the land all out, so that it wouldn't produce nothing; and if
John kept all them thistles on his farm, he would die a poor
man at last. John said he wasn't afraid of that; his land
was rich enough to produce all he wanted with the thistles on
it; and he was sure they gave a higher character and dignity
to his family, for they was a sign to everybody that passed
along the road that the family lived on a good rich farm, that
supported 'em without their having to work for it. Things went
along in this way for some time. John's children all grew up
to be very fond of thistles, and Jonathan's all hated thistles;
and if the cousins ever had any sparring or quarreling, it was
most always about thistles.


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“At last a squabble broke out between some of John's
family and the family of the Silverbuckles. The Silverbuckle
family lived on a very large, rich old farm, lying south-west
of John's. But as the land where they jined hadn't been
cleared up, and the line hadn't been fairly run out, and no
marks set up, the boys on each side got into a dispute about
the line. The Silverbuckles said the Sams were getting on to
their land. (They called 'em all Sams, because they were the
descendents of old Uncle Sam.) So a whole gang of the
Silverbuckles went down and ordered the Sams off, and told
'em to keep on their own land. The Sams said they was on
their own land, and they wouldn't stir an inch back. The
quarrel grew so hot that they soon come to blows. John
heard the rumpus, and seeing that his boys were in great
danger of getting an awful lickin', he called to Jonathan to
send over his boys to help lick the Silverbuckles.

“`Well, now, brother,' said Jonathan, `I think your boys
have been very foolish to get into this scrape, and I guess
they've been more to blame than the Silverbuckles. But still,
as you've got into the difficulty, we'll take hold and help you
out of it.'

“So Jonathan called his boys out, and they went over to
help John's; and all the Sams went at the Silverbuckles and
licked 'em like a sack. They drove 'em back and followed
'em half way over the Silverbuckle farm, thrashing of 'em
from house to house, and from field to field, wherever they
met them. At last the Silverbuckles give up, and owned
themselves licked, and begged the Sams to quit and go home.

“Well, the Sams said they was ready enough to do that,
but they warn't agoing to have all this trouble for nothin';
and they should demand the gold-apple field to pay them for
their trouble. This was a very valuable field on the northwest
end of the Silverbuckle farm, and took its name from an


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orchard on it that bore very rich gold-colored apples. Them
Siverbuckles sot very high by this field, and declared they
couldn't part with it no how. But the Sams said they must
have it, and they wouldn't stir an inch home till they had a
deed of it. The Silverbuckles said they wouldn't give a deed.
They acknowledged the Sams was the strongest, and could
take it by force, if they'd a mind to.

“`Oh,' the Sams said, `we an't no robbers, to take a thing
by force. We calculate to make a fair bargain of it.'

“The Silverbuckles said no, they wouldn't give a deed.

“`Well, then,' said the Sams, `you may take your choice—
give the deed or take another lickin' all round.'

“The Silverbuckles, with bung'd eyes and bloody noses,
felt as if they couldn't stand another lickin' no how, so they
give up and signed the deed voluntarily.

“So the hot quarrel between the Sams and the Silverbuckles
was ended; gold apple-field became the lawful property
of the Sams, who pocketed the deeds, shook hands with
the Silverbuckles, agreed to be good friends, and bid them
good-by. The poor Silverbuckles, glad to get rid of the
Sams, went to work to heal up their wounds and bruises, and
repair the damages done to their farm.

“The Sams went home in high glee about their gold-apple
field, and sot down and talked the matter over; what a fine
addition it was to the old farm, and what pleasant garden
spots it would make for their children and children's children
to live on. And some of Jonathan's boys, who were always
wide awake, started right off over to the field, and went to
diggin' on it. And when they come home, they brought bags
full of rich gold-colored apples. And when some of John's
boys begun to stir round, and talk about going over to dig
and build on the apple field, Jonathan said to John—

“`Now, brother, I'm entirely willing your boys should go


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over on to the apple field, and dig as much as they are a mind
to, and build, and plant, and sow, and reap; but before they
go, there is one thing that we must have a fair understanding
about—and that is, they can't never have no thistles
there, for I've made up my mind that there shan't never be no
thistles allowed to grow on gold-apple field.'

“At that, John flared right up, and said he never would
stand that; for gold-apple field belonged to him as much as
it did to Jonathan, and his boys had as good a right to
dig there, and build there, as Jonathan's boys had; and if
his boys chose to have thistles there, they had a right to have
thistles there, and they should have thistles there. Jonathan
declared again he had made up his mind `that there shan't
never be no thistles allowed to grow on gold-apple field.'

“While they were disputing about it, one of Jonathan's
boys, that had been over on the field a good deal, and knew
all about it, come along, and, hearing the dispute, said:

“`Father, there needn't be no trouble about that, for thistles
can't never grow there; it an't the right kind of land for
thistles, and you couldn't never make a thistle grow there.'

“`So much the better,' said Jonathan, `and I'm determined
the whole world shall know there an't no thistles there,
and shan't never be any there; and I'll write it in large letters
on a board, and set it up on a post by the side of the
road where everybody goes along; and the writing shall be,
There shan't never be no thistles allowed to grow on gold-apple field.'

“`Well, then,' says John, `I'll tell you what 'tis, brother,
if it is the last words I have to speak, if you do that thing
I'll split the farm right in tu, and build up a high fence between
us, and I'll never have anything more to do with you.'

“`I can't help that,' said Jonathan; my mind is made up,
and the world shall know that there shan't never be no thistles
allowed to grow on gold-apple field.'


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 331. In-line image. A man is standing at the top of a lader that is propped up against a fence and is looking out over it. Another man stands on the ground on the other side of the fence among cornstalks with a shovel in his hand.]

“And while their blood was up, Jonathan went to work
and put up his sign-board, all writ out in large letters. At
that, John turned as red as fire, and called his boys and went
to work and run a great high fence across the farm, between
him and Jonathan, so that they had to get up on a ladder to
look over it. And when 'twas done, John went up on the
ladder and looked over, and called out as loud as he could
call, `Good-by, Jonathan, I've done with you forever.'


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“`I can't help that,' said Jonathan, `there shan't never be
no thistles allowed to grow on gold-apple field.'

“After this the families lived entirely separate, and got along
the best way they could, but with much less comfort than
they used to have. Some things that Jonathan raised he had
as much agin as he knew what to do with, and it rotted on
the ground. And some other things that he didn't raise, and
wanted very much, was rotting on John's ground. And jest
so 'twas with John on t'other side of the fence. Things went
on in this way a few years, and they didn't know much about
how each other got along. At last one day Jonathan heard
John up top of the ladder, calling out most bitterly, `Brother
Jonathan, brother Jonathan, do come; the Silverbuckles are
here, lickin' my boys half to death, thrashin' of 'em with thistles,
and scratchin' their eyes out. Do come, and bring your
boys over, and help drive 'em away.'

“`But you've done with us forever,' said Jonathan; `and
besides, it's too much of a job to get over that fence. I don't
see but you'll have to fight your battles out the best way you
can. Remember, I always told you that you better weed out
them thistles. If you had followed my advice they wouldn't
now be scratchin' your boys' eyes out; but, instead of that,
your boys might now be over along with my boys diggin' in
gold-apple field.'

“`Gold-apple field be hanged!' said John. `I wish I never
had heard of it, and then this fence wouldn't a been here to
prevent your coming over to help us.'

“The upshot of the matter was, that John's boys all got a
dreadful lickin', which they didn't get over for a long time,
and the Silverbuckles carried off as much plunder as they had
a mind to, and made John give 'em a deed of a strip of his

“Some time after this, while Jonathan's boys were busy diggin'


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on gold apple-field, the Silverbuckles, who had always been
wrathy about that field, agreed with the Goldthread family,
who lived south of 'em, and with the families of the Boheas
and the Shushons, who lived over t'other side of the pond, to
go together and give Jonathan's boys a lickin' and rob the
orchards. So down they went, in whole flocks and swarms,
and the first thing Jonathan's boys knew they were having it,
rough and tumble, and were getting the worst of it. Jonathan
heard the outcry, and run puffing and sweating down to the
high fence, and looked through a crack, and called out to John,
`Brother John, brother John, the Silverbuckles, and the Goldthreads,
and the Boheas, and the Shushons are swarming over
on gold-apple field, and fell afoul of my boys, and I'm afraid
they'll half kill 'em. Do jest send your boys over to help drive
'em away.'

“John put his finger up to the side of his nose, and
says he:

“`Brother Jonathan, I'll tell you what 'tis, my boys are out
of the scrape now, and I reckon they better keep out of it.
And, besides, they've had one all-fired thrashin' lately, and I
reckon that's their part.'

“The upshot of the matter this time was, that Jonathan's
boys got an awful drubbin', and had their orchards all robbed,
and the Silverbuckles, and the Goldthreads, and the Boheas,
and the Shushons went off with the plunder.

“Not long after this, Jonathan was walking one day along
by the high fence, thinkin' and ruminatin', and he thought he
would look through the crack and speak to John. And, as he
put his face to the crack, John was that minute putting his
face to it to speak to Jonathan, and their noses almost hit each

“`Hullo,' said John, `is that you, brother Jonathan? How
do you all do to-day? I should like to shake hands with you,


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 334. In-line image. Two men stand on either side of a fence and peer through a large knothole at one another. Cornstalks grow on both sides of the fence.]
but I can't get my hand through this crack, so you must take
the will for the deed.'

“`Well, it seems to be a pity,' said Jonathan, `that this
fence should stop our shaking hands. Don't you think it
would be as well if it was out of the way, and we should
agree to be friends again, and help each other along as we
used to?'


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“`That's jest what I've been thinkin' of,' said John.

“`I guess we should be better off,' said Jonathan.

“`I reckon we should,' said John.

“The upshot of the matter was, the next day the boys on
both sides were at work tearing down the high fence.

“And now, Mr. Cheerman,” said Uncle Joshua, lowering his
voice, “seeing how things did work in one case, and, judging
from that, how they would work in another case, I move that
our delegate to Congress shall be instructed—

Firstly, to vote against Jonathan's putting up the sign-board.
But, if it is put up,

Secondly, to vote against John's putting up the high
fence. But, if the fence is put up,

Thirdly, to vote for pulling it down again as quick as possible,
without waiting for both sides to get a lickin' first.”

Here Bill Johnson jumped up, and slapped his hand down on
the bench so hard that it made the house ring again, and says
he: “I second that motion, Mr. Cheerman; and I move that
Uncle Joshua Downing shall be our delegate to Congress.”

No sooner said than done; the instructions and the delegate
was all carried to once by a unanimous vote.

So I remain your old friend,