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 Industrialization: 1870-1900 Lucy Parson's Book Was the legendary anarchist the owner of this manifesto found in a library?
- Related Investigation Bonus Army Stamp Is this stamp connected to a moment when the U.S. Army fought fellow soldiers in the nation’s capital?
- 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 Industrialization: 1870-1900 U.S.S Olympia Glass Could this farmhouse door have sailed into battle in one of the country's greatest naval victories?
- Related Investigation Slave Songbook Are these tattered pages the earliest record of music created by slaves?
- Also with Wes Cowan Civil War POW Photos Were these pictures made in a Civil War prison with a home-made camera?
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.