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Today's Featured Biography

Thomas Jonathan Jackson

      In 1842 a young man from Lewis County, Va., "dropped" discouraged out of his class in West Point, after a few weeks' trial of drill and curriculum, and returned home.

      The story of his defeat was canvassed freely in the neighborhood smithy, the head-quarters of provincial gossip, and was under discussion one May day while Cummins Jackson, a planter and bachelor, waited to have a horse shod.

      "There's a chance for Tom Jackson!" observed the blacksmith, with friendly officiousness.

      The early life of Cummins Jackson's nephew was well known to speaker and bystanders. Left an orphan at seven years of age, he, with his brother, older than himself, and their little sister, were thrown upon the charity of uncles and aunts. "Tom" was accounted steady and industrious, yet there was a serious break in his record. The brothers had run away to seek their fortunes in company when Warren was fourteen, Tom but twelve years old, going down the Ohio to the Mississippi and maintaining themselves by cutting wood for passing steamboats until disabled by malarial fever. Thomas took the lead in the juvenile prodigals' return to relatives and respectability, and was kindly received by his bachelor uncle. Since then he had worked in Cummins Jackson's mill and upon his farm as diligently as he sought to "get an education" in the "old field school" nearest to his home.

      His imagination took fire at his uncle's report of the blacksmith's suggest...

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