KIMBALL Ambrose L.

KIMBALL Ambrose L.

Male 1827 - 1866  (39 years)

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  • Name KIMBALL Ambrose L. 
    Born 1827  Bradford=>Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Occupation editor of the Essex County Democrat newspaper  [2
    • (he was tarred and feathered 19 Aug 1861 because of his antiwar editorials.)
    _UID 40D51681172E4597846B8B7DB6F50E40BD1E 
    Died Nov 1866  , , Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Person ID I108530  Noyes Family Genealogy
    Last Modified 18 Feb 2015 

    Father KIMBALL Rufus,   b. 9 Feb 1794, Bradford=>Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Mar 1844, Salem, Rockingham, New Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 50 years) 
    Mother ROGERS Lucinda,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married Aft 1821  Sanbornton, Belknap, New Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Family ID F43475  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 KIMBALL Mary J.,   b. 23 May 1830,   d. 10 Jun 1850  (Age 20 years) 
    Married 15 Nov 1849  [1
    Last Modified 8 Jan 2019 
    Family ID F43478  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 CHAPMAN Jane E.,   b. 24 Jul 1831,   d. 12 Jan 1867, Milford, Worcester, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 35 years) 
    Married 13 May 1852  [1
    Last Modified 8 Jan 2019 
    Family ID F43479  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1827 - Bradford=>Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - Nov 1866 - , , Iowa Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    Tarring and feathering of Ambrose Kimball
    Tarring and feathering of Ambrose Kimball
    While most in Massachusetts supported the Union from the beginning of the Civil War, there were many who were ambivalent about the conflict and many who supported the Confederate states’ right to secede. In the first year it was especially dangerous to speak out against the war or for the South. Those who did often faced vigilante justice.

    Throughout the North, groups attacked newspapers they deemed secessionist or disloyal. One notorious incident took place in Haverhill, Massachusetts on the night of August 19, 1861, when a mob literally tarred and feathered the editor and publisher of a local newspaper and ran him out of town on a rail.

    Ambrose Kimball and a friend had founded the Essex County Democrat in 1859. Kimball was from an old New England family, but as the name of the paper would suggest, he was a firm Democrat. In the lead-up to the war and during the first months, he published editorials in his paper against the Republicans and Lincoln’s war policy and in support of slavery. According to newspaper reports, Kimball’s friends had encouraged him to stop publishing these editorials, but he persisted. Eventually, a large group of Haverhill’s citizens decided to put a stop to it.

    According the Haverhill Gazette, the attack on Kimball was planned in advance: “There was the most perfect order and system ever saw in such a tumultuous assemblage.” Kimball, as well, knew that there was something afoot. At 8:30 that evening, he had several friends accompany him in carriages to his home, where they were met by a mob that had followed them. The police failed to disperse the group; as historian Michael J. Connolly suggests, they were either feared for their safety or they agreed with the mob. Two of Kimball’s friends pulled out guns, but the crowd quickly disarmed them and badly roughed up one of the men.

    The crowd then pulled Kimball from his house. He drew his gun, but the crowd was also well armed, and he quickly surrendered. They dragged Kimball to the Eagle House, a local inn, and demanded that he acknowledge and apologize for his anti-war statements. When he refused to reply, they demanded that he remove all of his clothes except for his underwear. The crowd then covered Kimball with tar and feathers and hoisted him on a wooden rail. They next marched him to his newspaper office and demanded that he give “three cheers” to the American flag waving overhead. After doing so weakly, they marched him around town, to the next town and the residence of one of his friends, and then back to the Eagle House.

    At this point, when the mob demanded that he recant his position, Kimball complied. Kneeling and raising his hand, he swore, “I am sorry that I have published what I have, and I promise that I will never again write or publish articles against the North, and in favor of secession, so help me God.” From there, they returned him to his house, forced him to give “three cheers for the Union” and then left him alone. His friends spent the night helping him clean up, and the crowd chopped up the rail for souvenirs. Kimball returned to his newspaper the next day, but deeply embittered, he closed the Democrat the following October.

    This was not yet the end of the incident for Kimball and the people of Haverhill. Early the next year, the district attorney indicted six members of the mob. The city leaders were appalled, and called a citizen’s meeting. There they authored a resolution asking the DA not to push for a trial and an 11-point petition defending the community and its actions. “We believe that in the absence of a quick remedy by the ordinary courses of law,” they wrote, “this instance if any, in its circumstances and its nature, justified the application of law by the hands of the people.” They compared their actions to those of the Boston Tea Party and they called for Kimball to be imprisoned for treason. Kimball attended most of the meeting and sat listening while his neighbors continued to vilify him. He left early, amid hisses and insults, but managed to keep his composure.

    The story seems to have ended there; there is no record of further action taken in the case. Not surprisingly, Kimball could not remain in the Haverhill community. He and his wife moved to Iowa and he died of tuberculosis in November of 1866.

  • Sources 
    1. [S327] Book-KIMBALL-Hist. of the Kimball Family, p.646.

    2. [S6802] Book-Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion, p.354.

    3. [S327] Book-KIMBALL-Hist. of the Kimball Family, p.355.