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to one third of the water. You have entirely changed the demand for water by changing the work that was originally intended to be done on your side of the dam.
If you have any doubt about our right to the use of water, I should hope you will commence your suit at once so as to have the matter tested as to whether you have an exclusive right, or whether my father paid his part of the expenses of building the dam and had the use of the water all of his lifetime without any authority of law or not.
In 1806, when he was twenty-six years old, as has already been narrated, Nathaniel Morrill married Mary Hunt. They settled down in the homestead not far from the forge and there lived out their lives. Of this union there were born ten children of whom five died in late or early childhood. The remaining five lived to a ripe old age. Their paths diverged and they became widely separated, but the family bond held firm and they kept up those desultory communications common in most families until death closed their ranks. The eldest boy, Justin Smith, was born on the 14th of April, 1810, when his father was thirty years old. He, at least, and probably the younger children also, was born in the homestead, a substantial house of the old-fashioned colonial type. The kitchen is of an earlier period than the rest of the house and has a low ceiling, as Morrill had reason to remember. After he had got his full height of six feet, he said, “As I enter my father's old-fashioned kitchen I always stoop as I pass under the clothes poles, and if I didn't I may as well acknowledge I should get a thwack across my noddle or leave my hat like Absalom suspended among the brambles of old clothes, dried apples, Feetings, dried pumpkins, et id omne genus.
The house is still standing on a gentle eminence — a many-windowed, two-story, wooden dwelling, painted white with green blinds and shaded by spreading maple trees in accordance with an established New England tradition.
Here lived Amos, the third son, born May 24, 1820, who remained all his life in Strafford, and succeeded to his father's forge and blacksmithing business; Sidney Smith, born on July 25, 1815, being therefore five years older than Amos and five years younger than Justin, removed in early life to Fulton, New York, where he became a jeweler and died, respected and venerable, in 1911 at the great age of ninetysix. Wilbur Fisk, born August 26, 1826, the youngest son of the family, was drawn to the West, where he became a dentist and passed the latter part of his life in New Albany, Indiana. Edna, the only sister who lived to grow up, married Ephraim Carpenter, a merchant, of Troy, New York, and on his death went out to Indiana and settled beside her youngest brother.
Justin spent his infancy, and, with the exception of brief absences, his boyhood also, in the homestead at Strafford. We have all too few references to those early years either in the family correspondence or from the pens of observers; the way of life followed in the Morrill house seems, however, to have been very like that in the other better-class houses of the village; and it is clear that Morrill, like most men of attainments, owed much to his mother. One of the rare accounts of his early life, written by a neighbor after he had become famous, contained a sentence about her. “She was," said the writer, "an estimable woman, of more than average intelligence and social culture, of ladylike manners, of excellent wifely and motherly qualities, on the whole, an excellent female citizen, a helpmeet for her husband, doing the head and hand work of the family household personally, and not by proxy." How this characterization struck Morrill we don't know, but his younger brother read it with something like indignation, and wrote the Senator: “Nor do I like to have my Mother described as 'on the whole, an excellent female citizen.' Among her numerous qualities were her wit,
good humor, and pacific disposition, especially shown when you and father wrestled with politics at the table. Her kindness is ever before my memory and in my heart. This one prompting you inherit from her and is the keynote to your elevation.”
Fragments of reminiscence in Morrill's letters and speeches add other lines to the picture: In an address which he gave to Vermont farmers when he was a Senator, he said, “The most distinct scientific rules imprinted in boyhood upon my memory in relation to the dairy were from my mother, who would insist that I should do the churning, in Summer, in a cool place, and in Winter, in a warm place; while I sometimes wished the venerable wooden churn dashed into a still warmer place, and often insisted that it was time for me to be away to school, but, owing to that best of mothers, I had to fetch the butter. Ever since, I have found that, whatever task is in hand, it is well to stick to it until it is finished.”
Among his notes to correct a biographical sketch of him which had been printed is this jotting:“My mother induced me at an early age to read through the Bible. Some of the books of the Old Testament I found a little tedious, but the Book of Job and the history of Joseph and his brethren, of Noah, of Absalom and of David and Goliath were so attractive as to demand a second reading and sometimes a third."
There was probably a touch of maternal ambition in the names which Mary Hunt gave to her eldest and youngest sons, for whom the traditional Bible names were laid aside. Justin, we are told, was named for Justin Smith, a learned and capable physician, and Wilbur Fisk for a scholarly minister who became the first President of Wesleyan University. The family formed a frugal, industrious, and eminently simple household, like most American households of the time where all the work of the house was done by the members of the family and every one had his full share of
daily tasks. The principal hardships to the growing boy were lack of leisure and lack of books. To the first he alluded in a speech to college students made when he was eighty years old: “I do not think the education of boys should be hampered with these practical labors at the time they are gaining their education. I know it was a great disadvantage to me that I could not go to school, for I never have been to school since I was fifteen years of age. To obtain the little education I have, it has cost me many evenings, Sundays after church, and scraps of time that could be devoted to it, involving far more labor than it would have necessitated if I could have been sent to proper institutions of learning to have acquired a liberal education.” The lack of books he set about supplying as soon as he began to earn money and as long as he lived found in his library one of his most solid satisfactions.
THE TIME AND THE PLACE
The world into which Justin S. Morrill was born in the month of April, 1810, was a world in ferment and struggle. Europe was still convulsed by the great contest with Napoleon which had consumed blood and treasure beyond calculation, but had swept away also accumulations of tyranny, restriction, and abuse. The combat was entering upon its last phase: though Pitt was gone, his policy lived; England was pouring into the war the streams of gold that her Clives and Hastings were drawing from the hoards of India, while she was training in the Peninsula the legions and the leader who should make Waterloo possible. Everywhere in the older civilizations wars were reducing the number of workers, increasing the demand for labor, stimulating invention, spreading new ideas, and breaking down the power of privilege and tradition.
America was likewise experiencing ferment and change, though the forces at work were not identical with those in action abroad. The spirit of nationality released by the War of Independence had grown apace: the consciousness of a great destiny had seized upon the imagination of her leaders, and, both in the War of 1812 and in the declaration of the Monroe Doctrine, they were asserting a new sense of power and of national dignity. Her people were not merely inspired, they were inflamed, intoxicated with the possibilities before them. They became a nation of pioneers; they overran great stretches of territory; men dreamed of private domains, and often realized them, as large as whole counties or even minor kingdoms of Europe; adventurous spirits