Aurore Eaton's Looking Back: Moody Currier was a multifaceted politician
Moody Currier toiled each day on his grandfather's farm in Dunbarton until he was well into his 20s. Certainly the work was hard, but in his old age Moody would look back at his youth with nostalgia. He wrote a poem when he was 90 years old called “The Memories of Youth,” in which he described the joys he experienced when exploring the streams, fields and woodland paths near his family home. Of his memories he wrote, “The dearest of all that I find,/Is a spot in the far off distance,/That often recurs to my mind./In the bend of a nearby forest,/In a cool and shady nook,/There crept, in silence, the waters/Of a tiny, slender brook.” The poem goes on to describe the trees, birds, flowers and insects that so delighted him.
In addition to enjoying nature, the young Currier devoted as much time and attention as he could to educating himself. The village school he attended held classes only a few weeks each year. That was not enough for Currier, who would continue his studies late into the night, as legend has it, by the light of burning “pine-knots,” or flickering candles. Through his diligence and persistence, Currier was able to “fit himself” to enter Hopkinton Academy. His education there gave him a boost, enabling him to enter Dartmouth College. He continued working as a farmhand during school breaks in order to earn enough money to complete his studies. Currier graduated from Dartmouth in 1834, when he was 28 years old. While at the college, he studied Latin and Greek, and become a scholar of classical literature. He developed a love of languages and took a special interest in the study of religions and philosophy, pursuits that he enjoyed the rest of his life.
After graduating from Dartmouth, Currier taught school in Concord and was an editor of the New Hampshire Literary Gazette. He served as the preceptor of Hopkinton Academy and then moved to Lowell, Mass., where he was the master of the high school. Continuing with the habits of his youth, he wasted no time. In his spare moments he studied law and in 1841 he moved to Manchester where he was admitted to the bar. He practiced law until 1848, first with a partner, and then independently. “During this time,” according to the 1882 book Successful New Hampshire Men, “he had acquired a large and lucrative practice, and while attending to the interests of his clients had established a reputation as one of the safest and most sagacious financiers in the young city.”
Currier became one of the founders of the Amoskeag Bank and was elected as its first cashier. When the bank was reorganized as a national bank, he was elected president. He also became the treasurer of the Amoskeag Savings Bank and was involved with other banking interests in the city. He invested in railroads, manufacturing and utilities, and his fortunes grew beyond anything he could have imagined in the days when he was haying his grandfather's fields in Dunbarton.
Currier also took a keen interest in politics. In 1841, he became an owner of the Manchester Democrat newspaper, and was its part-time editor. As a Democrat, he was elected clerk of the state Senate in 1843 and 1844. But, according to Successful New Hampshire Men, “the agitation of the slavery question enlisted him in the ranks of the Free-soil forces, and from the organization of the Republican Party [in 1854] he has been one of the most earnest and effective supporters.”
Currier was a state senator from 1856 to 1857, serving as president of the Senate during the second year. In 1860-1861 he was a member of the Governor's Council, and was appointed as chairman for the committee to raise the New Hampshire troops at the beginning of the Civil War. In this position, “his business ability and methods were of great service and to him … is due the creditable reputation which the state won in that trying period.” As a salute to Currier, the Eighth Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteers christened its 1861 encampment in Manchester “Camp Currier.”
Next week: Moody Currier becomes Governor of New Hampshire.
Aurore Eaton is executive director of Manchester Historic Association; email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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