|Log Cabin & Hard Cider|
Campaign of 1840 for
Wallace family friend
William Henry Harrison
This was not his first, nor his last escapade. A few years later when Lew was about 16 years old he and a friend, Aquilla Cook, determined to create their own “Huckleberry Finn” adventure. Aquilla Cook was the son of John Cook, the first State House librarian, and disappeared from history a few years after his adventure with Lew Wallace. Aquilla married a dancer in Cincinnati and then killed a man who had reportedly made unwelcomed advances to his wife. He escaped arrest and was last heard from when he wrote a letter to a Cincinnati newspaper boasting of how he fooled the police and escaped arrest.
|Lew Wallace ca. 1850|
This adventure was the one that finally led to Lew Wallace’s father to throw up his hands and throw in the towel. As Lew reported in his autobiography, his father approached the boy with his accustomed good address and graceful manner saying:
Were I to die tonight, your portion of my estate would not keep you a month. I have struggled to give you and your brothers what, in my opinion, is better than money—education. Since your sixth year, I have paid school-bills for you; but—one day you will regret the opportunities you have thrown away. I am sorry, disappointed, mortified; so, without shutting the door upon you, I am resolved that from today you must go out and earn your own livelihood. I shall watch your course hopefully.
It took a few more years and a few more adventures before David Wallace began to see his son settle down, grow in resolve, and focus on accomplishments that brought credit to the Wallace name. Throughout his life, Lew Wallace adored and respected his father and, just as David Wallace predicted, Lew grew to understand what had been lost when he squandered his education. He grew to be a man who learned by experience, read voraciously, challenged himself routinely, and became a devoted life-long learner. While Lew Wallace’s time in the classroom may have been a disappointment, perhaps his education was not truly squandered—he was just a boy who never let school get in the way of his learning.
“The Early Life of Lew Wallace,” Indiana Magazine of History, September 1941 by Irving McKee.
The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum celebrates and renews belief in the power of the individual spirit to affect American history and culture.