Albion Winegar Tourgée — He chose to be photographed here with a bit of hardtack in hand.The officer at the left is the unlikely-named Albion Tourgee, postwar writer and novelist. (Albion is an old name meaning England or English.)
Here’s a bit more on Albion Tourgée:
Albion was born in 1838. Albion Tourgée, in the 1870 census, was a Judge in the Superior Court of North Carolina, USA. In 1880, he is a lawyer in Denver, Colorado, USA. In 1892, he is a judge in New York.
He was an early civil rights activist, litigating unsuccessfully for the plaintiff Homer Plessy in the famous segregation case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) before the Supreme Court. Tourgée is credited with introducing the phrase "color-blind justice".
This obituary highlights a purpose driven life:
Mayville, November 15. -- The snowstorm that swept the Chautauqua hills yesterday and coated their green sides with a mantle of white, did not prevent Mayville from turning out en masse to pay its last tribute to its first citizen -- Albion Winegar Tourgée, soldier, jurist, statesman and man of letters.
Though the noted man died in Bordeaux, France, last May, where he represented the United States as its consul, memorial services were held yesterday in the Methodist Episcopal church, where he worshiped every Sunday before he went abroad in 1897.
In yesterday's assembly that gathered to do honor to Judge Tourgée's memory were several negroes who came to pay their last tribute to the man who has said and done so much in defense of the negro since the days of Sumter. Booker T. Washington was expected to attend, but he sent a wire of consolation to Mrs. Tourgée in which he said engagements in the west prevented him coming to Mayville. Corporal James Tanner, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, set a telegram of regret.
Judge Tourgée's body was cremated in France, and the ashes were delayed between New York and Buffalo so they did not arrive in Mayville until after the memorial services. They were buried later by the Grand Army post with military honors.
Albion Wingar Tourgée was best known to the world as an author who defended the negro. He was born in Williamsfield, O., on May 2, 1838, the son of a farmer of moderate means. He was a young man just completing his education for admission to the bar when President Lincoln called for volunteers. He enlisted as a private in the Twenty-seventh New York Volunteer infantry. In the first battle of Bull Run, during the retreat of the federal army, Judge Tourgée was crushed between a gun carriage and an ambulance and so seriously injured that he was discharged for disability. He came home and for a year walked on crutches. During that time the federal arms had met with more reverses -- it was a disastrous year for the union -- and he felt that he must go back and serve his country.
On crutches he went to the governor of Ohio and asked for a commission to recruit a company. He walked to the executive mansion on crutches and there threw them away that the governor might not see he was physically unfit for duty. He got his commission as a first lieutenant and recruited a company which he took to the front. He was mustered out in 1864, after having been confined in Libby, Andersonville and other prisons, and set to work to finish his law studies. He was admitted to the Ohio bar.
During the reconstruction period he went to North Carolina with his wife, where he was elected a judge of the superior court. It was while there, disheartened and discouraged with the turn things were taking, he wrote his famous Fool's Errand, which he signed One of the Fools. When the administration changed Judge Tourgée went to Denver and later came to New York. He wrote Bricks Without Straw and other works dealing with the negro question and was a champion of equal rights. In Chicago, he co-operated with a movement to organize a citizen's rights association, which he hoped would induce both white and black men to insist on rights for the negro. The movement failed.
It was while in Chicago that he wrote the famous Siva Letters, which appeared regularly in the Chicago Inter Ocean. They were written during Grover Cleveland's first term as president and caused no end of comment.
It cannot be said Judge Tourgée's health began to fail at any particular time, for he never was free from pain from the moment he was injured on the battlefield until death relieved him. In 1881, having resolved not to work longer actively in law, he looked for a quiet country town where he might pursue his literary work. He selected Mayville and settle there with his family in 1881. He lived in a large yellow house on the main street. Yesterday an American flag, draped with crepe, hung limp from the quaint old veranda.
In 1897 it became plain that if Judge Tourgee's life were to be prolonged a change of climate would be necessary. In that year Mrs. Tourgée went to President McKinley, who told her to select a position in the consular service for her husband. Bordeaux was the post decided on and there the judge and his family went in 1897.
In France Judge Tourgée did not escape his fame as the champion of the African and he was a prominent figure in literary and social circles there. After seven years of service which were marked with an excellent record, he succumbed to the complication of diseases and passed away.
His life and words proved that he lived for a purpose. His motives were unselfish and loud as may have been popular acclaim and bitter as was the criticism from those who did not share his views on the race question -- he never faltered from his object and never receded a point on his views on the rights of negroes.
That he was a man among men, a champion of humanity, a great-hearted patriot and a philanthropist the world can ill afford to lose, was the tribute laid at his bier yesterday by the people of Mayville. The Methodist Episcopal church and the Episcopal church united in memorial services which were held in the edifice of the former.
The Rev. B. A. Ginader, the Rev. John Disart, both of Mayville, conducted the services, assisted by the Rev. Dr. Brush, formerly of Mayville, but now of Buffalo. Representatives of the negro clergy spoke their words of tribute for the great service Judge Tourgée performed for their race.
The service was simple. There was singing by the church choir, addresses by the clergy, the benediction -- it was the end of a great life.
Mayville's business places closed during the services and a reception committee, of which E. C. Green was chairman, attended to the visitors.