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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Solon Borland
Solon Borland.jpg
United States Senator
from Arkansas
In office
March 30, 1848 – April 11, 1853
Preceded byAmbrose Hundley Sevier
Succeeded byRobert Ward Johnson
Personal details
Born(1808-09-21)September 21, 1808
Suffolk, Virginia
DiedJanuary 1, 1864(1864-01-01) (aged 55)
Houston, Texas
Resting placeCity Cemetery
Houston, Texas
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Hildah Wright
Eliza Hart
Mary Melbourne
ProfessionPolitician, lawyer, publisher, physician
Military service
Allegiance United States
 Confederate States
Years of service1846–1847
Union army maj rank insignia.jpg
Confederate States of America Colonel.png
UnitMounted Arkansas Infantry
Commands3d Arkansas Cavalry
Battles/warsMexican–American War
American Civil War

Solon Borland (September 21, 1808 – January 1, 1864)[1] was a newspaperman, soldier, diplomat, Democratic United States Senator from the State of Arkansas and a Confederate officer during the American Civil War.

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Early life

Borland was born in Suffolk, Virginia. When he was a youth, his family moved to North Carolina, where he attended preparatory schools. He later studied medicine and opened a practice. He married three times, first in 1831 to Hildah Wright of Virginia, who died in 1837, and with whom he had two sons. He then married Eliza Buck Hart of Memphis, Tennessee in 1839, but she died in 1842, with no offspring. In 1843 following his second wife's death, he moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he founded the Arkansas Banner, which became an influential newspaper in statewide Democratic politics. Three years later, he challenged the editor of the rival Arkansas Gazette, a Whig paper, to a duel due to a slander published against Doctor Borland. In 1845 he met Mary Isabel Melbourne, of Little Rock, with whom he would marry that same year and later have three children.

Military career

In 1831, Borland led forces as a Captain that were dispatched to Southampton County, Virginia to fight Nat Turner's slave rebellion.[2]

During the Mexican–American War, Borland was commissioned as a major in the Arkansas Volunteer Cavalry, serving under Archibald Yell. He served throughout the war, having turned over his newspaper to associates. Borland was taken as a prisoner of war by the Mexican army on January 23, 1847, just south of Saltillo, Coahuila. He escaped, and was discharged when his regiment was disbanded and mustered out in June, but continued in the army as volunteer aide-de-camp to General William J. Worth during the remainder of the campaign, from the Battle of Molino del Rey to the capture of Mexico City on September 14, 1847.

Controversial politics

After the war, he was elected as a United States Senator to fill the unexpired term of Ambrose Hundley Sevier. His views were generally of a disunionist version, and he was not popular with many Senate members. During an 1850 debate over Southern rights, he physically attacked Mississippi Senator Henry Foote. He discovered soon after his return to Little Rock that his views were not popular at home, either. In 1852 he opposed the decision of sending Commodore Perry to open Japan to international trade on grounds that the leaders of that country did not offend US interests by refusing to open their country to international trade.[3] Borland resigned from the Senate in 1853 and served as United States Minister to Nicaragua through 1854. However, this duty did not run smoothly for him either.

Immediately after his arrival in Managua, he called for the US Government to repudiate the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty, and for the American military to support Honduras in its confrontation with Great Britain. In a public address in Nicaragua, he stated that it was his greatest ambition to see Nicaragua "forming a bright star in the flag of the United States". He was reprimanded for this by US Secretary of State William Marcy. While leaving Greytown in May, 1854, Borland interfered with the local arrest of an American citizen. He was threatened with arrest, but due to his diplomatic immunity, no arrest was made. However, a crowd had gathered, and a bottle was thrown which hit Borland in the face. Enraged, he reported the incident to the United States, who promptly dispatched a gunboat, and demanded an apology. When none was given, the town was bombarded and burned.

Borland returned to Little Rock in October 1854, and resumed his medical practice and operation of his pharmacy. Borland declined a nomination from President Pierce as Governor of the New Mexico Territory. However he remained active in local politics, and very vocal as to his views on state's rights and secession.

Civil War service, death

At the start of the Civil War, Borland was appointed as a commander of the state militia by Arkansas Governor Henry Massie Rector, and ordered to lead the expedition that seized Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the first days of the war, despite the fact that Arkansas had not yet seceded. By the time Borland and his forces arrived in Fort Smith, the Federal troops had already departed, and there were no shots fired. He was replaced as commander at the Arkansas Secession convention less than a month later, but he was able to obtain a position as a commander for Northeast Arkansas. For a time in 1861 he commanded the depot at Pitman's Ferry, near Pocahontas, Arkansas, responsible for troop deployments and supplies. His only son with his third wife, George Godwin Borland, had joined the Confederate Army despite being only 16 years of age, and would later be killed in action. His first wife, Huldah G. Wright (1809–1837), bore him a son Harold who served in the Provisional Army, Confederate States as Major, assigned to the Eastern Sub-district of Texas, Trans-Mississippi Department.[4]

Borland helped recruit troops for the Confederate States Army during this period, and helped raise the 3rd Arkansas Cavalry Regiment on June 10, 1861, and became its first colonel. The regiment was sent to Corinth, Mississippi, but without Borland. The regiment would eventually serve under Major General Joseph Wheeler, seeing action in the Second Battle of Corinth and the Battle of Hatchie's Bridge, along with other battles as a part of the Army of Mississippi. However, Borland never left Arkansas.

While in his command position for the Northern Arkansas Militia, he ordered an embargo of goods to end price speculation, which was rescinded by Governor Rector. Borland protested that a governor could not countermand an order from a Confederate official, but in January 1862 his order was countermanded by the Confederate States Secretary of War at the time, Judah P. Benjamin. In declining health and resenting that embarrassment, Borland resigned from further service to the Confederacy in June, 1862, moving to Dallas County, Arkansas. Borland died before the war's end, in Harris County, Texas. His burial place is in Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas.

In 1962, the town of Frenchport, Arkansas, began hosting "Solon Borland Daze", a community festival dedicated to recalling the life and achievements of the U.S. senator and his French-Creole mistress, after whom the town is named.


  1. ^ Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved on 2009-01-20.
  2. ^ Parramore, Dr. Thomas C. (1998). Trial Separation: Murfreesboro, North Carolina and the Civil War. Murfreesboro, North Carolina: Murfreesboro Historical Association, Inc. p. 10. LCCN 00503566.
  3. ^ New York Times, Apr. 9, 1852
  4. ^ Special Orders #253/14, Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, Confederate States



External links

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Ambrose Hundley Sevier
 U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Arkansas
March 30, 1848 – April 11, 1853
Served alongside: Chester Ashley, William K. Sebastian
Succeeded by
Robert Ward Johnson
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John B. Kerr
United States Minister to Nicaragua
September 14, 1853 – April 17, 1854
Succeeded by
John H. Wheeler
Preceded by
United States Minister to Costa Rica
April 18, 1853 – April 17, 1854
Title next held by
Mirabeau B. Lamar
United States Minister to Honduras
April 18, 1853 – April 17, 1854
Succeeded by
Beverly L. Clarke
Preceded by
Elijah Hise
United States Minister to Guatemala
April 18, 1853 – December 31, 1854
Succeeded by
John L. Marling
This page was last edited on 21 January 2020, at 08:06
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