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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 464


This is the grave of Hazard Stevens.

Born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1842, the son of the awful genocidal racist Isaac Stevens and Margaret Hazard Stevens, young Hazard followed his father out to Washington Territory, where Isaac committed his hideous crimes. Like his father, Hazard volunteered for the Union Army during the Civil War and like his father, they were both shot at the Battle of Chantilly. Unlike his father, he survived. His major contribution was the capture of Fort Huger, Virginia in 1863. He was mustered out of the Army in 1865. The next year, Andrew Johnson named him brevet brigadier general of volunteers.

Stevens returned to Washington Territory at the end of the war. His mother was still out there and being well-connected, despite his father’s many enemies still there, he got involved in business ventures in that remote place. In 1870, he was part of the first documented ascent of Mt. Rainier. This was a pretty impressive ascent and certainly included a very real risk to life and limb. Thanks to this, many of the “Stevens” nomenclature of Washington is after him, including Stevens Peak. The rest is about his genocidal father. Some did remain skeptical of his ascent claim. He said he put a brass plate on the summit and no one has ever found it. But he wrote a bunch of newspaper articles about it, and while I am no expert on the modern climbing world, my understanding is that he is usually credited with the ascent. Stevens then became a lawyer in 1871 and instantly began working for the Northern Pacific Railroad, prosecuting timber theft cases for his corporate master, which was a hated entity across America, as most of the big railroad companies were. He was also targeted by President Grant to investigate the disputes with the British over the San Juan Islands, which was a contentious, if minor, foreign policy issue in the post-war years.

Seeing more political opportunity in the east, Stevens left Washington Territory for Massachusetts. He decided to live in Dorchester in 1874. In 1885, he won a seat in the Massachusetts House, on a reformer ticket, where his major goal was preserving the Old State House in Boston. He played an important role in the success of that mission. He wanted to build on that and go to Congress, but he lost his election for that. He then returned to the Northwest, including making a second successful climb of Mt. Rainier in 1905. In 1916, he established the Cloverfield Dairy Farms in Olympia, Washington. This was on land his father had required all the way back in the 1850s and which served as a modern experimental farm through the 1940s, when it was bought out and became the site of Olympia High School.

Stevens died in Goldendale, Washington in 1918, shortly after presiding over a ceremony over honoring an Indian agent who was critical to the genocidal campaigns of his father, the white settler pioneer legacy that white Northwesterners love, love, love so much today.

Hazard Stevens is buried in Island Cemetery, Newport, Rhode Island.

If you would like this series to visit other people associated with westward exploration and documentation during and after the genocide that opened the door for it, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman are buried at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site in southeastern Washington and Ezra Meeker is in Puyallup, Washington. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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