Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Who Knew the Deep State Had Been in Operation for So Long?

The folks at the National Archives were recently poring over some of the documents in their charge, and stumbled on something interesting. It involves a man named Moses J. Robinette, who served as a veterinary surgeon during the Civil War.

Note, first of all, that while "veterinary surgeon" is a job that takes some work to attain in the 21st century, that was not the case in the mid-19th. The Union Army needed people to take care of its horses and mules, and anyone who had farmed before the war—as Robinette did, in what became the state of West Virginia—was deemed qualified to take care of, and operate on, large animals.

As is the case with most Civil War soldiers, not all that much is known about Moses Robinette. What is known, thanks to the newly found information, is that he found himself in a kerfuffle with a fellow member of the Union forces (though note that Robinette was a civilian employee of the army). During this encounter, Robinette pulled a pocket knife on the much larger man. Though no serious damage was done, he was nonetheless charged with and convicted of several crimes and was sentenced to spend 2 years at hard labor in a prison camp.

A Civil War-era prison camp was not a place you wanted to be, to say the least. And the facts of Robinette's case hardly seemed to justify the penalty imposed by the court-martial board. Fortunately for him, he had some well-connected friends. And so, they pled his case to the government, where it eventually made its way to the desk of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was very well known for granting pardons and commutations whenever he could plausibly do so, and that is what he did here.

Consequently, Robinette only served a month of his 2-year sentence. He returned home to West Virginia, went back to farming, and led a generally low-key life until passing in the early 20th century. He had some kids, and they had some kids, and they had some kids, and they had some kids. And one of the latter group of kids was Robinette's great-great grandson, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

This story is of absolutely no consequence, of course. Biden and his family have been in the U.S. for a long time, and he has eight great-great grandfathers. The odds of one of his forebears crossing paths with Lincoln, in some small way, are not THAT long (they would be much longer with the Trumps, who didn't come to the U.S. until after the Civil War, thus establishing a family tradition of avoiding military drafts). Still, it's a pretty cool little historical vignette, so we thought we would pass it along. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates