On this day:
1715 – The Pocotaligo Massacre triggers the start of the Yamasee War in colonial South Carolina.
The Yamasee or Yemassee War (1715–1717) was a conflict between British settlers of colonial South Carolina and various Native American tribes, including the Yamasee, Muscogee, Cherokee, Catawba, Apalachee, Apalachicola, Yuchi, Savannah River Shawnee, Congaree, Waxhaw, Pee Dee, Cape Fear, Cheraw, and others. Some of the Native American Indian groups played a minor role while others launched attacks throughout South Carolina in an attempt to destroy the colony.
Native Americans killed hundreds of colonists and destroyed many settlements. Traders “in the field” were killed throughout what is now southeastern United States. Abandoning settled frontiers, people fled to Charles Town, where starvation set in as supplies ran low. The survival of the South Carolina colony was in question during 1715. The tide turned in early 1716 when the Cherokee sided with the colonists against the Creek, their traditional enemy. The last of South Carolina’s major Native American foes withdrew from the conflict in 1717, bringing a fragile peace to the colony.
The Yamasee War was one of the most disruptive and transformational conflicts of colonial America. It was one of the American Indians’ most serious challenges to European dominance. For over a year the colony faced the possibility of annihilation. About 7% of South Carolina’s white citizenry was killed, making the war bloodier than King Philip’s War, which is often cited as North America’s bloodiest war involving Native Americans. The geopolitical situation for British, Spanish, and French colonies, as well as the Indian groups of the southeast, was radically altered. The war marks the end of the early colonial era of the American South. The Yamasee War and its aftermath contributed to the emergence of new Indian confederated nations, such as the Muscogee Creek and Catawba.
The origin of the war was complex. Reasons for fighting differed among the many Indian groups who participated. Commitment differed as well. Factors included land encroachment by Europeans, the trading system, trader abuses, the Indian slave trade, the depletion of deer, increasing Indian debts in contrast to increasing wealth among some colonists, the spread of rice plantation agriculture, French power in Louisiana offering an alternative to British trade, long-established Indian links to Spanish Florida, the vying for power among Indian groups, as well as an increasingly large-scale and robust intertribal communication network, and recent experiences in military collaboration among previously distant tribes.
Born on this day:
1841 – Joseph E. Seagram, Canadian businessman and politician, founded the Seagram Company Ltd (d. 1919)
Joseph Emm Seagram (April 15, 1841 – August 18, 1919) was a Canadian distillery founder, politician, philanthropist, and major owner of thoroughbred racehorses.
Son of Octavius Augustus Seagram and Amelia Stiles, who emigrated to Canada from Wiltshire, England in 1837, Joseph was born at Fisher’s Mills, now part of Cambridge, Ontario. His parents died when he was in his teens and for several years, Joseph lived at William Tassie’s boarding school (now Galt Collegiate Institute and Vocational School) in the city of Galt (also now part of Cambridge). He studied for a year at Bryant & Stratton College business college in Buffalo, New York.
He returned home where he worked for a time as a bookkeeper at a grist mill.
Later, offered the opportunity to manage a flour mill in Waterloo, Ontario, he learned about the distilling process, a small aside to the company’s flour business, using extra grain stocks to make alcoholic beverages. In 1869, five years after joining the company, Joseph Seagram bought out one of the firm’s three partners, then in 1883 became the one hundred percent owner and renamed it Seagram. Making whisky became the most important part of the business and Seagram built it into one of the country’s most successful of its kind. His 1907 creation, Seagram’s VO whisky, became the largest-selling Canadian whisky in the world.
Thoroughbred horse racing
A lover of racehorses, he founded Seagram Stables in 1888, building its bloodlines by importing mares in foal from English sires. Between 1891 and 1898, his stables won eight consecutive Queen’s Plates, Canada’s most prestigious horse racing event. In total, during his lifetime Joseph Seagram won the race fifteen times, plus his heirs who took over the stable won it another five times. Joseph Seagram also served as president of the Ontario Jockey Club from 1906 to 1917 and in 1908 helped found the Canadian Racing Association.
On its formation in 1976, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inducted Joseph E. Seagram as part of its inaugural class in the builders category.
He served as a Waterloo town councilor from 1879 to 1886. In the Canadian federal election, 1896, he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as the Conservative Party member for Waterloo North. In the 1900 election he was acclaimed and was reelected in 1904, serving until September 1908 when he chose not to seek another term.
He was a benefactor to the City of Waterloo. Among his donations to the community was a 13-acre (53,000 m2) parcel of land occupied today by the Grand River Hospital. His gift specified that the property was to be used solely for hospital services and open to everyone regardless of race, colour or creed.
He died in Waterloo in 1919. His heirs sold the company to Samuel Bronfman in 1928.
1861 – Bliss Carman, Canadian-British poet and playwright (d. 1929)
Bliss Carman FRSC (April 15, 1861 – June 8, 1929) was a Canadian poet who lived most of his life in the United States, where he achieved international fame. He was acclaimed as Canada’s poet laureate during his later years.
In Canada, Carman is classed as one of the Confederation Poets, a group which also included Charles G.D. Roberts (his cousin), Archibald Lampman, and Duncan Campbell Scott. “Of the group, Carman had the surest lyric touch and achieved the widest international recognition. But unlike others, he never attempted to secure his income by novel writing, popular journalism, or non-literary employment. He remained a poet, supplementing his art with critical commentaries on literary ideas, philosophy, and aesthetics.”
He was born William Bliss Carman in Fredericton, in the Maritime province of New Brunswick. “Bliss” was his mother’s maiden name. He was the great grandson of United Empire Loyalists who fled to Nova Scotia after the American Revolution, settling in New Brunswick (then part of Nova Scotia). His literary roots run deep with an ancestry that includes a mother who was a descendant of Daniel Bliss of Concord, Massachusetts, the great-grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson. His sister, Jean, married the botanist and historian William Francis Ganong. And on his mother’s side he was a first cousin to Charles (later Sir Charles) G. D. Roberts.
Education and early career
Carman was educated at the Fredericton Collegiate School and the University of New Brunswick (UNB), from which he received a B.A. in 1881. At the Collegiate School he came under the influence of headmaster George Robert Parkin, who gave him a love of classical literature and introduced him to the poetry of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne. His first published poem was in the UNB Monthly in 1879. He then spent a year at Oxford and the University of Edinburgh (1882–1883), but returned home to receive his M.A. from UNB in 1884.
After the death of his father in January 1885 and his mother in February 1886, Carman enrolled in Harvard University (1886–1887). At Harvard he moved in a literary circle that included American poet Richard Hovey, who would become his close friend and his collaborator on the successful Vagabondia poetry series. Carman and Hovey were members of the “Visionists” circle along with Herbert Copeland and F. Holland Day, who would later form the Boston publishing firm Copeland & Day that would launch Vagabondia.
After Harvard Carman briefly returned to Canada, but was back in Boston by February 1890. “Boston is one of the few places where my critical education and tastes could be of any use to me in earning money,” he wrote. “New York and London are about the only other places.” Unable to find employment in Boston, he moved to New York City and became literary editor of the New York Independent at the grand sum of $20/week. There he could help his Canadian friends get published, in the process “introducing Canadian poets to its readers.” However, Carman was never a good fit at the semi-religious weekly, and he was summarily dismissed in 1892. “Brief stints would follow with Current Literature, Cosmopolitan, The Chap-Book, and The Atlantic Monthly, but after 1895 he would be strictly a contributor to the magazines and newspapers, never an editor in any department.”
To make matters worse, Carman’s first book of poetry, 1893’s Low Tide on Grand Pré, was not a success; no Canadian company would publish it, and the U.S. edition stiffed when its publisher went bankrupt.[
At this low point, Songs of Vagabondia, the first Hovey-Carman collaboration, was published by Copeland & Day in 1894. It was an immediate success. “No one could have been more surprised at the tremendous popularity of these care-free celebrations (the first of the three collections went through seven rapid editions) than the young authors, Richard Hovey and Bliss Carman.” Songs of Vagabondia would ultimately “go through sixteen printings (ranging from 500 to 1000 copies) over the next thirty years. The three Vagabondia volumes that followed fell slightly short of that record, but each went through numerous printings. Carman and Hovey quickly found themselves with a cult following, especially among college students, who responded to the poetry’s anti-materialistic themes, its celebration of individual freedom, and its glorification of comradeship.”
The success of Songs of Vagabondia prompted another Boston firm, Stone & Kimball, to reissue Low Tide… and to hire Carman as the editor of its literary journal, The Chapbook. The next year, though, the editor’s job went West (with Stone & Kimball) to Chicago, while Carman opted to remain in Boston.
“In Boston in 1895, he worked on a new poetry book, Behind the Arras, which he placed with a prominent Boston publisher (Lamson, Wolffe)…. He published two more books of verse with Lamson, Wolffe.” He also began writing a weekly column for the Boston Evening Transcript, which ran from 1895 to 1900.
In 1896 Carman met Mary Perry King, who became the greatest and longest-lasting female influence in his life. Mrs. King became his patron: “She put pence in his purse, and food in his mouth, when he struck bottom and, what is more, she often put a song on his lips when he despaired, and helped him sell it.” According to Carman’s roommate, Mitchell Kennerley, “On rare occasions they had intimate relations at 10 E. 16 which they always advised me of by leaving a bunch of violets — Mary Perry’s favorite flower — on the pillow of my bed.” If he knew of the latter, Dr. King did not object: “He even supported her involvement in the career of Bliss Carman to the extent that the situation developed into something close to a ménage à trois” with the Kings.
Through Mrs. King’s influence Carman became an advocate of ‘unitrinianism,’ a philosophy which “drew on the theories of François-Alexandre-Nicolas-Chéri Delsarte to develop a strategy of mind-body-spirit harmonization aimed at undoing the physical, psychological, and spiritual damage caused by urban modernity.” This shared belief created a bond between Mrs. King and Carman but estranged him somewhat from his former friends.
In 1899 Lamson, Wolffe was taken over by the Boston firm of Small, Maynard & Co., who had also acquired the rights to Low Tide… “The rights to all Carman’s books were now held by one publisher and, in lieu of earnings, Carman took a financial stake in the company. When Small, Maynard failed in 1903, Carman lost all his assets.”
Down but not out, Carman signed with another Boston company, L.C. Page, and began to churn out new work. Page published seven books of new Carman poetry between 1902 and 1905. As well, the firm released three books based on Carman’s Transcript columns, and a prose work on unitrinianism, The Making of Personality, that he’d written with Mrs. King. “Page also helped Carman rescue his ‘dream project,’ a deluxe edition of his collected poetry to 1903…. Page acquired distribution rights with the stipulation that the book be sold privately, by subscription. The project failed; Carman was deeply disappointed and became disenchanted with Page, whose grip on Carman’s copyrights would prevent the publication of another collected edition during Carman’s lifetime.”
Carman also picked up some needed cash in 1904 as editor-in-chief of the 10-volume project, The World’s Best Poetry.
After 1908 Carman lived near the Kings’ New Canaan, Connecticut, estate, “Sunshine”, or in the summer in a cabin near their summer home in the Catskills, “Moonshine.” Between 1908 and 1920, literary taste began to shift, and his fortunes and health declined.
“Although not a political activist, Carman during the First World War was a member of the Vigilantes, who supported American entry into the conflict on the Allied side.”
By 1920, Carman was impoverished and recovering from a near-fatal attack of tuberculosis. That year he revisited Canada and “began the first of a series of successful and relatively lucrative reading tours, discovering ‘there is nothing worth talking of in book sales compared with reading.'” “‘Breathless attention, crowded halls, and a strange, profound enthusiasm such as I never guessed could be,’ he reported to a friend. ‘And good thrifty money too. Think of it! An entirely new life for me, and I am the most surprised person in Canada.'” Carman was feted at “a dinner held by the newly-formed Canadian Authors’ Association at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal on 28 October 1921 where he was crowned Canada’s Poet Laureate with a wreath of maple leaves.”
The tours of Canada continued, and by 1925 Carman had finally acquired a Canadian publisher. “McClelland & Stewart (Toronto) issued a collection of selected earlier verses and became his main publisher. They benefited from Carman’s popularity and his revered position in Canadian literature, but no one could convince L.C. Page to relinquish its copyrights. An edition of collected poetry was published only after Carman’s death, due greatly to the persistence of his literary executor, Lorne Pierce.”
During the 1920s, Carman was a member of the Halifax literary and social set, The Song Fishermen. In 1927 he edited The Oxford Book of American Verse. 
Carman died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 68 in New Canaan, and was cremated in New Canaan. “It took two months, and the influence of New Brunswick’s Premier J.B.M. Baxter and Canadian Prime Minister W.L.M. King, for Carman’s ashes to be returned to Fredericton.” “His ashes were buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, Fredericton, and a national memorial service was held at the Anglican cathedral there.” Twenty-five years later, on May 13, 1954, a scarlet maple tree was planted at his gravesite, to grant his request in his 1892 poem “The Grave-Tree”:
Let me have a scarlet maple
For the grave-tree at my head,
With the quiet sun behind it,
In the years when I am dead.