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Starr King in California   By: (1855-1920)

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Starr King in California by William Day Simonds is an illuminating and captivating account of the life and legacy of Thomas Starr King, a prominent Unitarian minister who played a crucial role during the tumultuous years of the American Civil War and California's early statehood. Simonds, through meticulous research and vivid storytelling, paints a rich and intimate portrait of King's journey, making it an essential read for history enthusiasts and those interested in the shaping of California's identity.

The book delves into the life of Thomas Starr King, a man ahead of his time, who championed the abolitionist cause and later became a prominent advocate for the Union during the Civil War. Simonds expertly captures King's charisma and intellectual prowess, depicting him as a compelling speaker and a true beacon of hope during a time of great division. The author's attention to detail and genuine admiration for his subject matter shine throughout the narrative, making it impossible not to be drawn into King's world.

One of the key strengths of Simonds' narrative is his exploration of the historical context in which King lived and worked. Through meticulous research, he provides a comprehensive understanding of California's political and social climate during the mid-19th century. Simonds' descriptions of the rapidly changing landscape and the diverse communities that made up California at the time bring the era to life and highlight the challenges and triumphs faced by King as he sought to unite a state torn apart by conflicting loyalties.

Simonds' writing style is engaging and accessible, making the book easily approachable for a wide range of readers. The author strikes a perfect balance between providing historical context and telling a compelling story, ensuring that the reader remains captivated throughout. Furthermore, his use of primary sources, including King's own writings and speeches, adds authenticity and depth to the narrative, allowing readers to truly connect with the man behind the historical figure.

While the book focuses primarily on Thomas Starr King, Simonds does not shy away from placing his accomplishments within a broader historical framework. He explores the significant role that California played in the overall outcome of the Civil War, shedding light on the lesser-known contributions made by individuals like King. Simonds' ability to seamlessly weave together the personal and political aspects of King's life makes for a comprehensive and well-rounded portrayal of this influential figure.

In conclusion, Starr King in California is a thoroughly researched and compelling biography that effectively captures the life and impact of Thomas Starr King. Simonds' skillful storytelling and careful attention to historical detail make this book not only an engaging read but also an important contribution to the understanding of California's early history and the remarkable individuals who shaped it. Anyone with an interest in American history or California's past would greatly benefit from delving into the pages of this captivating book.

First Page:


By William Day Simonds

Author of

"The Christ of the Human Heart" "Patriotic Addresses" "Sermons From Shakespeare"

Dedicated to the Memory of Honorable Horace Davis of San Francisco as the only Tribute of Respect Now Possible to one whose Friendly Interest and Assistance the Author Here Gratefully Acknowledges

Up to the time of Starr King's death it was generally believed that he, more than any other man, had prevented California and the whole Pacific Coast from falling into the gulf of disunion. It is certain that Abraham Lincoln held this opinion

Edwin Percy Whipple



Part I In Old New England

Part II California in 1860

Part III California's Hour of Decision

Part IV Philanthropist and Preacher

Part V In Retrospect


Starr King Monument

Portrait of Starr King


This book is the result of the author's strong desire to know the truth relative to a critical period in the history of California, and a further strong desire to deal justly by the memory of a man recent historians have been pleased to pass by with slight acknowledgment.

What was the nature and measure of Starr King's influence on the Pacific Coast during the Civil War? To be able to answer that question has cost more time and study than the reader could be brought to believe... Continue reading book >>

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