The Harry St. John Dixon Project
Harry St. John Dixon

A Rebel in Sentiment

Harry St. John Dixon came home from the Civil War completely demoralized. Not only had the Confederacy lost the struggle, but the social fabric of his own hometown had also been rent asunder. Reconstruction had given African-Americans political equality, and Dixon simply could not accept it. He and his brother, Jimmy packed their bags and left their Mississippi plantation, bound for California’s San Joaquin Valley to begin life anew.

For a while, the brothers engaged in dry land farming near the San Joaquin River, but thinking manual labor beneath him, Harry soon left the farm and made his way to Millerton, the county seat of Fresno County. In 1869, he was elected county clerk.

Harry lived out his life in Fresno County and exercised considerable political power as county clerk, city council, and member of the bar. He never could shed his prejudice against the equality of the races; nor could his community. Rebels in Sentiment supplies abundant proof that Harry St. John Dixon and the frontier community of early Fresno County were all cut from the same cloth.

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