An epitaph for a good friend of Abraham Lincoln gives testimony to partisan passions of the 19th century that ring true today. Nathaniel Grigsby was born in 1811 in Kentucky but moved with his family as an infant to Indiana. Not long afterward, Thomas Lincoln, Abraham’s father, also made the move to Indiana.
When Abraham’s mother died in 1818, it was Abraham’s sister, Sarah, who raised him. Nathaniel Grigsby and Abraham Lincoln became friends and schoolmates. In 1826, Sarah married Aaron Grigsby, Nathaniel’s brother. The lifelong friendship of the Lincolns and Grigsbys was thus confirmed.
But in 1830, Abraham Lincoln left for Illinois, while Nathaniel Grigsby went to Kansas where strife between anti-slavery and pro-slavery factions was rife. It became known as “bleeding” Kansas as members of the factions killed each other in the 1850s over whether the state would be slave or free.
Nathaniel Grigsby was opposed to secession and supported Lincoln’s presidential campaign of 1860 at the risk of his life. In 1860, he wrote to Lincoln and received an appointment as Republican Precinct Committeeman. He placed Lincoln's name on the 1860 ballot despite the fact that all of his neighbors were partisans of Southern secession. Grigsby soon became the object of death threats.
When the Civil War began, Grigsby and four of his five sons enlisted in Company C of the 10th Indiana Cavalry. Grigsby was made a 2nd Lieutenant. The war cost Grigsby one of his sons and countless friends, while Lincoln was assassinated by a pro-Confederacy conspirators.
By 1885, Grigsby returned to Kansas at the age of 74 and started farming. Before he passed, he made his family promise to bury him in the cemetery near Attica, Kansas.
Grigsby was Republican to the core, even after death. Knowing that his end was nigh, devised a means to let his political opinions be known for eternity.
After he died on April 16, 1890, a monument was erected to his memory that is inscribed with a reminder of his partisan devotion that he had pursued without variableness or a shadow of turning.
On one side of the tall granite marker are inscribed the words:
"Through this inscription I wish to enter my dying protest against what is called the Democratic party. I have watched it closely since the days of Jackson and know that all the misfortunes of our nation has come to it through this so called party. Therefore beware of this party of treason. Put on in fulfillment of promise to Deceased.”
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