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.
- Also in Season 8 Space Boot What does this odd-looking boot have to do with America's first steps in space?
- Related Investigation Civil War Balloon Could this piece of frayed material be from the country's first military airship?
- Also with Wes Cowan Mouse Toy Could this tiny toy labeled 'Micky' be the original Mickey Mouse?
- Also in Season 8 Transatlantic Cable How did this twisted fragment of metal spark a communications revolution?
- Also with Wes Cowan George Washington Miniature Did the artist paint this portrait from life, and what is its surprising connection to the abolitionist White Matlack?
- Also in Season 8 Bartlett Sketchbook Does a leather bound sketchbook hold the key to some of the US' most significant history?
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