Born in Ithaca, New York, Francis Miles Finch (1827–1908) was selected as the class poet for his graduating class from Yale University, where he also served as editor of Yale Magazine. Writing poetry, however, would not become his career. He eventually went to Ithaca College for law school and began to establish a career in private practice. Deeply moved by the story of women in Columbus, Mississippi decorating the graves of both Union and Confederate dead in 1866, he wrote the poem “The Blue and the Gray” as a commemoration. After the Civil War, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Finch as tax collector for one of the Internal Revenue Service’s districts in New York. Following his service to the federal government, he was appointed to the New York Court of Appeals and also served as the dean of Cornell Law School.
Author: Francis Miles Finch
Francis Miles Finch
Francis Miles Finch (1827–1907), a judge, law professor, and poet, was deeply moved by the story of the women of Columbus, Mississippi, who in 1866—only a year after the end of the Civil War—decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate dead. Seeing the moment as a symbol of reconciliation, Finch composed “The Blue and the Gray” as a commemoration.