Charles Erskine Scott Wood (or C.E.S. Wood) (February 20, 1852 – January 22, 1944) was an author, civil libertarian, soldier, and attorney. He is best known as the author of the 1927 satirical bestseller, Heavenly Discourse.
Born in Erie, Pennsylvania
, Wood graduated from West Point in 1874. He served as an infantry officer and fought in the Nez Perce War
in 1877. He was present at the surrender of Chief Joseph
of the Nez Perce. It was Wood who translated, and perhaps embellished, Chief Joseph's famous speech: "My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." The two men became close friends.
Following his service he became a prominent attorney in Portland, Oregon
. He began to write, became a frequent contributor to Pacific Monthly
magazine, and was a leader of Portland's literary community.
In 1896, Wood was Oregon’s sole representative on the national committee of the National Democratic Party, known as the Gold Democrats. The party, which had the blessing of Grover Cleveland, championed defense of the gold standard and free trade.
Like many Cleveland Democrats, including his long time friend Mark Twain, Wood joined the American Anti-Imperialist League. The League called for the United States to grant immediate independence to the Philippines and other territories conquered in the Spanish-American war.
As a lawyer during the early twentieth century, Wood not only represented dissidents such as Emma Goldman but crossed the line into anarchism. He wrote articles for anarchist and other radical journals, such as Liberty
, The Masses
, and Mother Earth
Wood was unflagging in his opposition to state power as an advocate of such causes as civil liberties for anti-war protestors, birth control, and anti-imperialism. Writing in 1927, during high tide of the Coolidge Era, he lamented that "the city of George Washington is blossoming into quite a nice little seat of empire and centralized bureaucracy. The people have a passion to 'let Uncle Sam do it.' The federal courts are police courts. An entire system with an army of officials has risen on the income tax; another on prohibition. The freedom of the common man, more vital to progress than income or alcohol, has vanished.”
From 1925 until his death in Los Gatos, California in 1944 he lived with his second wife, Sara Bard Field, in Los Gatos, California in a house named "The Cats."
During his lifetime, he numbered among his friends Chief Joseph, Emma Goldman, Ansel Adams, Robinson Jeffers, Clarence Darrow, Childe Hassam, Margaret Sanger, and John Steinbeck.
Wood is the father of Nan Wood Honeyman, Oregon's first U. S. congresswoman.
Wood was portrayed by Sam Elliott
in the TV movie I Will Fight No More Forever
. In the film, he is a United States captain
who fights in the Nez Perce War
Books by C.E.S. Wood
- Heavenly Discourse (Reprint: Kessinger Publishing, 2005) ISBN 1-4179-1765-2
- A Masque of Love (W.M. Hill, 1904) ASIN B00086BIH0
- Too Much Government (Vangard Press, 1931) ASIN B00085T49U
- Heavenly Discourse (Vangard Press, 1927) ASIN B00085SZEK
- The Poet in the Desert ASIN B00085YKLW
Articles by C.E.S. Wood
- The Pursuit and Capture of Chief Joseph Appendix in Chester Anders Lee, Chief Joseph: The Biography of a Great Indian, Wilson-Erickson, 1936. Retrieved from pbs.org 2008-04-08.
- Among the Thlinkits in Alaska, The Century , vol. 24, issue 3 (July 1882)
- Chief Joseph, the Nez Perce,The Century vol. 28, issue 1 (May 1884).
- Famous Indians, The Century , vol. 46, issue 3 (July 1893).
- An Indian Horse Race, The Century , vol. 33, issue 3 (Jan 1887)
Books about C.E.S. Wood
- George Venn, Soldier to Advocate: C.E.S. Wood's 1877 Legacy (La Grande: Wordcraft of Oregon, LLC, 2006) ISBN 1-877655-48-1
- Robert Hamburger, Two Rooms: The Life of Charles Erskine Scott Wood (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998) ISBN 0-8032-7315-0
- Edwin Bingham and Tim Barnes (eds.), Wood Works: The Life and Writings of Charles Erskine Scott Wood (Corvallis: Oregon Sate University Press, 1997) ISBN 0-87071-397-3
- Edwin R. Bingham, et. al, (eds.), Charles Erskine Scott Wood (Boise, Idaho: Boise State University, 1990) ISBN 0-88430-093-5
- Erskine Wood, Life of Charles Erskine Scott Wood: A Renaissance Man (Vancouver, Washington: Rose Wind Press, 1991) ISBN 0-9631232-0-3