Today, the Standing Liberty Gold Quarter Coin remembers the life and contributions of Joseph Lane and his success against Santa Anna on October 9, 1847.
From the History of Southern Oregon by Albert G. Walling, published in 1884:
General Joseph Lane.—
Joseph Lane was born in North Carolina on the 14th of December, 1801. The years of his childhood and youth were spent in the family circle of his father, who was for some years a resident of Henderson county, Kentucky.
At the age of twenty years Joseph Lane married Miss Polly Hart, and settled in Vanderburg county, Indiana, and there for more than twenty-five years led the life of a farmer.
At that early age he began to assume prominence among men, and his mental and moral qualities were recognized by his fellow-citizens, who made him their representative in the legislature of the state of Indiana, and he filled this position during nearly all his residence among them.
When the Mexican war began, State Senator Lane resigned his seat and made preparations to take part in hostilities, and was elected colonel of the second regiment of Indiana Volunteers, then on its way to the seat of war.
Before his departure he received a commission as Brigadier-General of Volunteers, and was ordered to report for duty at General Taylor’s headquarters at Brazos, Texas.
During the campaign which preceded the battle of Buena Vista, General Lane was actively employed and in the glorious victory achieved by the American troops he took a very important part, commanding the left wing of Taylor’s army.
He was severely wounded by a bullet in the shoulder, but, in spite of pain, remained upon the field until victory was assured.
Distinguished by his conduct in this battle, and praised by his commander, General Lane immediately attained a position in the public estimation second to no other officer in the service.
The period of enlistment of his brigade had now expired, and the General accompanied it to New Orleans, where the troops were mustered out.
This duty performed, he returned to General Taylor’s army, but was almost immediately ordered to join General Scott, who was now on his celebrated march from Vera Cruz to Mexico.
General Lane, leading a brigade composed of the Fourth Ohio and Fourth Indiana Volunteers, with several independent organizations, numbering, altogether, 3,000 men, set out upon his march to reinforce the American army then fighting its way, step by step, from Pueblo to the City of Mexico.
General Lane’s services were arduous in the extreme. The route swarmed with guerrillas and organized bodies of Mexican troops, who resisted his advance and were successfully defeated by him at Huamantla, on October 9, 1847; at Atlixco on the 19th of the same month, and at Tlascala on the 29th.
Matamoras, fifty-four miles from Pueblo, was taken by assault on the 22nd of November, and on the 14th of December the headquarters of General Scott were reached.
Subsequently, General Lane and his soldiers were actively employed in the closing battles of the war, and in clearing the country of guerrillas.
In January, 1848, an attempt was made by his division to capture General Santa Anna, but unsuccessfully.
General Lane took Orizaba in the same month, and on the 24th of February defeated the infamous Padre Jarauta, the guerilla chief, at Tehualtaplan.
This action closed the war, and the General returned to the United States, having attained an enviable reputation as a military officer, and, what was dearer to him, the unbounded regard of his fellow soldiers.
It has been customary to call him the “Marion of the Mexican War”—a fit designation for an officer so bold, courageous and full of resources, and withal so patriotic in mind and acts.
The government’s appreciation of his career was marked by the bestowal of the rank of Brevet Major General of Volunteers, his commission dating from the battle of Huamantla.
It has well been said that no officer of his rank who served in the Mexican war rendered such important services to his country or gained greater fame by his abilities and courage.
Returning to his quiet and peaceful home in Indiana, General Lane sought rest from the fatigues of military life, amid the pleasant surroundings of his rural abode.
But he was not destined to remain long in inactivity, for his unsolicited and unexpected appointment to the governorship of the newly organized territory of Oregon, drew him from his former mode of life and cast his lot with those who were henceforth to be his fellow citizens.
He came to the Pacific slope by way of New Mexico and Arizona, accompanied by a military escort and arriving in San Francisco in February, 1849, took passage to the Columbia on a sailing vessel and arrived at Oregon City, on the Willamette, on the evening of March 2, 1849, and next day issued his proclamation as governor of the territory of Oregon—her first and by far her most distinguished executive.
The duties of his office were discharged with uncommon tact and justice until in August of the following year, when, a new political party having come in power, his successor was appointed.
The General now spent a short time as a miner in Northern California and also participated in Kearney‘s campaign against the Rogue River Indians in 1851.
In the latter part of that year he was chosen territorial delegate to Congress.
In 1853 be distinguished himself greatly in the Rogue river war of that year, and he received a severe wound at the battle of Evans’ creek. The subsequent treaty with the savages was brought about largely through his influence, as related elsewhere.
Subsequently, until the admission of Oregon into the Union, General Lane served the people, as their delegate in Congress, with distinguished fidelity.
In 1857 the state testified her appreciation by his election as United States Senator, a position which he held until 1861.
In 1860 the Democratic convention at Baltimore nominated the popular General and Senator for the office of Vice-President of the United States on the ticket with John C. Breckenridge.
The details of the ensuing canvass are, after the lapse of over twenty years, still fresh in the popular mind.
General Lane’s political beliefs led him to throw the weight of his influence in favor of the South, in the beginning of the mighty struggle that was about to commence, and yielding to his honest convictions of justice and right, he retired to his home near Roseburg, and never again entered public life.
The remaining years of Joseph Lane’s career were spent on his farm and in the bosom of his family.
Having withdrawn from politics and from the public service of his fellow men, he concentrated upon agricultural pursuits the powers of mind and energies which had distinguished him in previous occupations.
His character may be compared to that of Washington, who was content to hide in the placid retreat of Mount Vernon the qualities which had shone in the highest station.
Not having had the advantages of a thorough education in his youth, the General, at the age of three score, set about making up the deficiency by a course of systematic study, and by most uncommon perseverance and resolution acquired a store of the most valuable of all learning, the facts which modern science teaches.
In such a manner the General passed the later years of his life, surrounded by his children and grandchildren who were bound to him by ties of more than ordinary affection and regard.
In the exercise of the most cheerful hospitality and in the society of his relatives and friends, the fitting termination of a life so eventful and laborious was rounded to completeness.
His work was done, and as his long and well spent existence drew to a close, it was with no thought of regret at wasted opportunities that the old General looked back upon the dead years.
Joseph Lane died in April, 1881, having nearly attained the great age of eighty years.
He left but few of his companions behind him, and of all the officers who reached eminence in the Mexican war, he was the last to bid adieu to earth.
General Lane was a man whose unyielding integrity, subjugation of personal prejudices and determination to speak the truth under all circumstances, were the rarest things in political or public life.
His perfect frankness did not take the form which it assumes in worse balanced minds of a desire to speak unpalatable truths in season and out of season.
Perhaps there never was a politician who was so little of an egotist, and whose judgment was so little swayed by personal feelings.
He belonged to that class of statesmen who deal with persons rather than with principles, but he showed little ambition to be merely a popular statesman.
The student finds in his life much that is commendable—unbounded patriotism, integrity that has never been impeached, and a wise judgment that always left his constituents satisfied.
In all his intercourse with the world there were acts of the finest and most delicate feeling which may well command the respect and admiration of all.
Never acting for effect, but always consciously and laboriously striving for the good of others. This great patriot, whose career was so manly and noble as any that have ever been enacted, attained, without seeking it, a place in the hearts of his countrymen, which the masters of popular applause might envy.
He who has now gone from among his kindred, full of years and of honors, was a good and a great man, genial in his nature, wise in judgment, truthful to the last degree, and doing with might whatever his hand found to do.
The Standing Liberty Gold Quarter Coin shows with an image of the Honorable Joseph Lane, circa mid-1800s.