A viewer from Lancaster, Missouri inherited a wooden cane topped with a coiled snake made of bronze or copper.
The snake’s mouth gapes open exposing a menacing pair of fangs. According to the family story, the copperhead cane belonged to our viewer’s great-great grandfather, Henry Clay Dean, a prominent figure Mark Twain mentioned in his book Life on the Mississippi.
Dean vehemently opposed the Civil War. He was a member of a powerful anti-Lincoln group who called themselves “Peace Democrats.”
Republicans, in an effort to defame them, nicknamed the group “Copperheads” after the snake known for striking without warning.
Why would a “Peace Democrat” embrace such a derogatory symbol?
History Detectives heads to Dean’s stomping grounds in Iowa to track the story behind the Copperhead Cane.
- Related Investigation Civil War Sabotage? The steamship Sultana exploded one night in 1865, killing more than 1,800 people. Was the disaster a result of Civil War sabotage?
- Related Investigation John Brown Pike How did this metal blade spark violent tension between the North and the South?
- Also with Wes Cowan Slave Songbook Are these tattered pages the earliest record of music created by slaves?
- Also with Wes Cowan Lawrence Billy Club Was this truncheon used in the famous Bread and Roses labor strike?
- Also with Wes Cowan Charlie Parker's Saxophone Could this be jazz legend Charlie "Bird" Parker's saxophone?
- Also in Season 8 Jackie Robinson Scorecard What does this scorecard reveal about the desegregation of our national pastime?
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