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Helper, Hinton Rowan

Hinton Rowan Helper (1829-1909) was born near Mocksville, NC, educated at the Mocksville Academy, and apprenticed to Michael Brown, a printer in Salisbury. Failing as a prospector in the California gold fields, Helper nevertheless used the experience for his first book California Land of Gold: Reality vs. Fiction (1855), in which he advocated the extension of slavery. His second book The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It (1857) was an abolitionist work intended to help elect Abraham Lincoln president in 1860. In this book Helper argued against slavery from the belief that slavery ruined the Southern economy and demoralized slave owners. In 1861 Helper accepted a counsular appointment to Buenos Aires, where he married Maria Louisa Rodriguez. After the Civil War he lived in Asheville, New York, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. He published five additional books but became increasingly unstable after 1890, when his wife became blind and returned to South America with their son. Helper committed suicide and was buried in an unmarked, donated plot, with his burial expenses paid for by the Authors Society of New York (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 3:97-98)