Welcome to SP!  -
Areas & RangesMountains & RocksRoutesImagesArticlesTrip ReportsGearOtherPeoplePlans & PartnersWhat's NewForum

Clarence King's Double Life

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
 

Clarence King's Double Life

Postby JHH60 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:33 pm

I was listening to NPR this morning and they had an interview with Martha Sandweiss, the author of "Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line". The book is about a well known New York intellectual named Clarence King, who under the assumed name "James Todd" raised a family in New York with an African-American woman originally born into slavery. They met just after the Civil War, and at that time, mixed marriages were extremely rare, and often illegal under state laws. Although fair skinned and blue eyed, King could pass as "black" because people who had only a single great grandparent of African descent, could be considered "black". Apparently that's what "James Todd" told his wife, and also that he worked as a pullman porter on the railroad, and hence was away on travel much of the time.

They didn't mention any mountaineering in the story, but I thought to myself, I wonder if that's the same Clarence King who lead the California Geological Survey and was first director of the USGS, wrote "Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada," attempted to make the first ascent of Mt. Whitney, and for whom Mt. Clarence King was named. It turns out that it is the same man. It seems he had a very interesting intellectual and social life entirely aside from his life as one of the Sierra's first explorers and dedicated mountaineers.
Last edited by JHH60 on Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User Avatar
JHH60

 
Posts: 1159
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:59 pm
Location: Belmont, California, United States
Thanked: 91 times in 76 posts

Postby sharperblue » Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:49 pm

it is indeed the same guy. this is one of the very best books on the Sierra range:

http://www.amazon.com/Geology-Sierra-Ca ... 886&sr=8-1

besides the obvious geological emphasis, the author fills the book with charming and detailed anecdotes of many of the range's explorers and mountaineers, including subsets on CKing and the Great Diamond Hoax - always a classic, the best rendition of which you can hear in a podcast here:

http://www.sparkletack.com/2005/12/16/t ... mond-hoax/
User Avatar
sharperblue

 
Posts: 389
Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:05 am
Location: san francisco, California, United States
Thanked: 63 times in 46 posts

Postby JHH60 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:58 pm

King was clearly a very interesting man, not bound by convention, and in many respects ahead of his time. This sport does seem to attract more than its share of such people (which is, IMO, a good thing).
User Avatar
JHH60

 
Posts: 1159
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:59 pm
Location: Belmont, California, United States
Thanked: 91 times in 76 posts


Return to California

 


  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

© 2006-2013 SummitPost.org. All Rights Reserved.