U.S. Census reported 1,034 people living in Hannibal, up from the sixty families that were there in the Panic of 1837 [Wecter 57]. Hard times came to the Clemens family during the first years of the decade. Judge John Marshall Clemens was forced to sell Jennie, the slave girl brought from Virginia. “She was tall, well formed, nearly black, and brought a good price” [MTB 41]. For a time, things improved. John Marshall borrowed money from his wealthy cousin James Clemens, Jr. A wealthy Whig attorney in St. Louis, and from James A.H. Lampton (1824-1879), Jane’s half-brother who lived near Florida, Missouri. John Marshall opened another store with “already bookish, absent-minded, inept,” fifteen-year-old Orion behind the counter [Wecter 57].
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