William Jackson Armstrong (1841-1913) was a historian and political activist. He wrote “The Heroes of Defeat,” a biography of various historical figures who all suffered defeat or failed to achieve their goals, and a biography of John Lord called “The Artist Historian,” both of which are represented in this collection. Written and typed copies of his manuscripts are available for the “Heroes of Defeat” chapters “Kosiuszko, Hero of Poland,” “Vercingetorix, Prince of Gaul,” and “Scanderbeg, Prince of Albania.” The collection also includes a written copy of the chapter “Schmayl, Soldier-Priest and hero of the Caucasus” and a few pages of “Tecumseh the Ohioan, Hero of the Forest.” From “Heroes of Defeat,” the collection also has the written manuscript copy of the preface written by former State Librarian Charles B. Galbreath, who also wrote the preface to “The Artist Historian.”
This collection also includes some of the correspondence between Armstrong and Galbreath. Armstrong’s letters to Galbreath reference a dispute between himself and “Mr. Thurman” (possibly Allan W. Thurman or Albert Lee Thurman) over a stolen hat. Armstrong was, at least in later years, a resident of Columbus, Ohio but he frequently gave speeches all around the United States. He spoke at the Oakland Nationalist Club in Oakland, California in 1890, at the national convention of the People’s Party in Omaha, Nebraska in 1892, and in Columbia, South Carolina in 1867. This collection includes the manuscript of a speech written by Armstrong for an unknown purpose that ranges in topic from the power (or lack of power) in the monarchy or among politicians, to the problems of income inequality, to Armstrong’s philosophy on the meaning of life and happiness.