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Title: Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great - Volume 03 - Little Journeys to the Homes of American Statesmen
Author: Hubbard, Elbert, 1856-1915
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great - Volume 03 - Little Journeys to the Homes of American Statesmen" ***

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Little Journeys To the Homes of the Great, Volume 3 (of 14)




Memorial Edition






    A little more patience, a little more charity for all, a little
    more devotion, a little more love; with less bowing down to the
    past, and a silent ignoring of pretended authority; a brave
    looking forward to the future with more faith in our fellows, and
    the race will be ripe for a great burst of light and life.
    --Elbert Hubbard


It was not built with the idea of ever becoming a place in history: simply
a boys' cabin in the woods.

Fibe, Rich, Pie and Butch were the bunch that built it.

Fibe was short for Fiber, and we gave him that name because his real name
was Wood. Rich got his name from being a mudsock. Pie got his because he
was a regular pieface. And they called me Butch for no reason at all
except that perhaps my great-great-grandfather was a butcher.

We were a fine gang of youngsters, all about thirteen years, wise in boys'
deviltry. What we didn't know about killing cats, breaking window-panes in
barns, stealing coal from freight-cars, and borrowing eggs from
neighboring hencoops without consent of the hens, wasn't worth the

There used to be another boy in the gang, Skinny. One day when we ran away
to the swimming-hole after school, this other little fellow didn't come
back with us.

You see, there was the little-kids' swimmin'-hole and the big-kids'
swimmin'-hole. The latter was over our heads. Well, Skinny swung out on
the rope hanging from the cottonwood-tree on the bank of the big-kids'
hole. Somehow he lost his head and fell in.

None of us could swim, and he was too far out to reach. There was nothing
to help him with, so we just had to watch him struggle till he had gone
down three times. And there where we last saw him a lot of bubbles came
up. The inquiry before the Justice of Peace with our fathers, which
followed, put fright in our bones, and the sight of the old creek was a
nightmare for months to come. After that we decided to keep to the hills
and woods. This necessitated a hut. But we had no lumber with which to
build it.

However, there were three houses going up in town--and surely they could
spare a few boards. So after dark we got out old Juliet and the
spring-wagon and made several visits to the new houses. The result was
that in about a week we had enough lumber to frame the cabin.

Our site was about three miles from town, high up on the Adams Farm. After
many evening trips with the old mare and much figuring we had the thing
done, all but the windows, door, and shingles on the roof. Well, I knew
where there was an old door and two window-sash taken off our
chicken-house to let in the air during Summer. And one rainy night three
bunches of shingles found their way from Perkins' lumber-yard to the foot
of the hill on the Adams Farm.

In another five days the place was finished. It was ten by sixteen, and
had four bunks, two windows, a paneled front door, a back entrance and a
porch--altogether a rather pretentious camp for a gang of young ruffians.

But it was a labor of love, and we certainly had worked mighty hard. Our
love was given particularly to the three house-builders and to Perkins,
down in town.

Of course we had to have a stove.

This we got from Bowen's hardware-store for two dollars and forty cents.
He wanted four dollars, and we argued for some time. The stove was a
secondhand one and good only for scrap-iron anyway. Scrap was worth fifty
cents a hundred, and this stove weighed only two hundred fifty, so we
convinced the man our offer was big. At that we made him throw in a

For dishes and cutlery, I believe each of our mothers' pantries
contributed. Then a stock of grub was confiscated. The storeroom in the
Phalansterie furnished Heinz beans, chutney, and a few others of the
fifty-seven. John had run an ad in "The Philistine" for Heinz and taken
good stuff in exchange.

For four years after that, this old camp was kept stocked with eats all
the time. We would hike out Friday after school and stay till Sunday
night. At Christmas-time we would spend the week's vacation there.

Many times had I tried to get my Father to go out and stay overnight. But
he wouldn't go. One time, though, I did not come home when I had promised,
so Father rode out on Garnett to find me. Instead of my coming back with
him he just unsaddled and turned Garnett loose in the woods and stayed

We gave him the big bunk with two red quilts, and he stuck it out. Next
morning we had fried apples, ham and coffee for breakfast.

What there was about it I did not understand, but John was a very frequent
visitor after that.

You know we called Father, John, because he said that wasn't his name.

He used to come up in the evening and would bring the Red One or Sammy the
Artist or Saint Jerome the Sculptor. Once he brought Michael Monahan and
John Sayles the Universalist preacher.

Mike didn't like it.

The field-mice running on the rafters overhead at night chilled his blood.
He called them terrible beasts.

From then on we youngsters were gradually deprived of our freedom at camp.
These visitors were too numerous for us and we had to seek other fields of

John got to going out to the camp to get away from visitors at the Shop.
He found the place quiet and comforting. The woods gave him freedom to
think and write. It so developed that he would spend about four days a
month there, writing the "Little Journey" for the next month. How many of
his masterpieces were written at the Camp I can not say, but for several
years it was his Retreat and he used it constantly.

He reminded us boys several times when we kicked, that he had a good claim
on it--for didn't he furnish the door and the window-frames?

I never suspected he would recognize them.


    He left as fair a reputation as ever belonged to a human
    character.... Midst all the sorrowings that are mingled on this
    melancholy occasion I venture to assert that none could have felt
    his death with more regret than I, because no one had higher
    opinions of his worth.... There is this consolation, though, to
    be drawn, that while living no man could be more esteemed, and
    since dead none is more lamented.
    --Washington, on the Death of Tilghman


Dean Stanley has said that all the gods of ancient mythology were once
men, and he traces for us the evolution of a man into a hero, the hero
into a demigod, and the demigod into a divinity. By a slow process, the
natural man is divested of all our common faults and frailties; he is
clothed with superhuman attributes and declared a being separate and
apart, and is lost to us in the clouds.

When Greenough carved that statue of Washington that sits facing the
Capitol, he unwittingly showed how a man may be transformed into a Jove.

But the world has reached a point when to be human is no longer a cause
for apology; we recognize that the human, in degree, comprehends the

Jove inspires fear, but to Washington we pay the tribute of affection.
Beings hopelessly separated from us are not ours: a god we can not love, a
man we may. We know Washington as well as it is possible to know any man.
We know him better, far better, than the people who lived in the very
household with him. We have his diary showing "how and where I spent my
time"; we have his journal, his account-books (and no man was ever a more
painstaking accountant); we have hundreds of his letters, and his own
copies and first drafts of hundreds of others, the originals of which have
been lost or destroyed.

From these, with contemporary history, we are able to make up a close
estimate of the man; and we find him human--splendidly human. By his books
of accounts we find that he was often imposed upon, that he loaned
thousands of dollars to people who had no expectation of paying; and in
his last will, written with his own hand, we find him canceling these
debts, and making bequests to scores of relatives; giving freedom to his
slaves, and acknowledging his obligation to servants and various other
obscure persons. He was a man in very sooth. He was a man in that he had
in him the appetites, the ambitions, the desires of a man. Stewart, the
artist, has said, "All of his features were indications of the strongest
and most ungovernable passions, and had he been born in the forest, he
would have been the fiercest man among savage tribes."

But over the sleeping volcano of his temper he kept watch and ward, until
his habit became one of gentleness, generosity, and shining, simple truth;
and, behind all, we behold his unswerving purpose and steadfast strength.

And so the object of this sketch will be, not to show the superhuman
Washington, the Washington set apart, but to give a glimpse of the man
Washington who aspired, feared, hoped, loved and bravely died.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first biographer of George Washington was the Reverend Mason L. Weems.
If you have a copy of Weems' "Life of Washington," you had better wrap it
in chamois and place it away for your heirs, for some time it will command
a price. Fifty editions of Weems' book were printed, and in its day no
other volume approached it in point of popularity. In American literature,
Weems stood first. To Weems are we indebted for the hatchet tale, the
story of the colt that was broken and killed in the process, and all those
other fine romances of Washington's youth. Weems' literary style reveals
the very acme of that vicious quality of untruth to be found in the
old-time Sunday-school books. Weems mustered all the "Little Willie"
stories he could find, and attached to them Washington's name, claiming to
write for "the Betterment of the Young," as if in dealing with the young
we should carefully conceal the truth. Possibly Washington could not tell
a lie, but Weems was not thus handicapped.

Under a mass of silly moralizing, he nearly buried the real Washington,
giving us instead a priggish, punk youth, and a Madame Tussaud, full-dress
general, with a wax-works manner and a wooden dignity.

Happily, we have now come to a time when such authors as Mason L. Weems
and John S.C. Abbott are no longer accepted as final authorities. We do
not discard them, but, like Samuel Pepys, they are retained that they may
contribute to the gaiety of nations.

Various violent efforts have been made in days agone to show that
Washington was of "a noble line"--as if the natural nobility of the man
needed a reason--forgetful that we are all sons of God, and it doth not
yet appear what we shall be. But Burke's "Peerage" lends no light, and the
careful, unprejudiced, patient search of recent years finds only the blood
of the common people.

Washington himself said that in his opinion the history of his ancestors
"was of small moment and a subject to which, I confess, I have paid little

He had a bookplate and he had also a coat of arms on his carriage-door.
The Reverend Mr. Weems has described Washington's bookplate thus: "Argent,
two bar gules in chief, three mullets of the second. Crest, a raven with
wings, indorsed proper, issuing out of a ducal coronet, or."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mary Ball was the second wife of Augustine Washington. In his will the
good man describes this marriage, evidently with a wink, as "my second
Venture." And it is sad to remember that he did not live to know that his
"Venture" made America his debtor. The success of the union seems pretty
good argument in favor of widowers marrying. There were four children in
the family, the oldest nearly full grown, when Mary Ball came to take
charge of the household. She was twenty-seven, her husband ten years
older. They were married March Sixth, Seventeen Hundred Thirty-one, and on
February Twenty-second of the following year was born a man child and they
named him George.

The Washingtons were plain, hard-working people--land-poor. They lived in
a small house that had three rooms downstairs and an attic, where the
children slept, and bumped their heads against the rafters if they sat up
quickly in bed.

Washington got his sterling qualities from the Ball family, and not from
the tribe of Washington. George was endowed by his mother with her own
splendid health and with all the sturdy Spartan virtues of her mind. In
features and in mental characteristics, he resembled her very closely.
There were six children born to her in all, but the five have been nearly
lost sight of in the splendid success of the firstborn.

I have used the word "Spartan" advisedly. Upon her children, the mother
of Washington lavished no soft sentimentality. A woman who cooked, weaved,
spun, washed, made the clothes, and looked after a big family in pioneer
times had her work cut out for her. The children of Mary Washington obeyed
her, and when told to do a thing never stopped to ask why--and the same
fact may be said of the father.

The girls wore linsey-woolsey dresses, and the boys tow suits that
consisted of two pieces, which in Winter were further added to by hat and
boots. If the weather was very cold, the suits were simply duplicated--a
boy wearing two or three pairs of trousers instead of one.

The mother was the first one up in the morning, the last one to go to rest
at night. If a youngster kicked off the covers in his sleep and had a
coughing spell, she arose and looked after him. Were any sick, she not
only ministered to them, but often watched away the long, dragging hours
of the night.

And I have noticed that these sturdy mothers in Israel, who so willingly
give their lives that others may live, often find vent for overwrought
feelings by scolding; and I, for one, cheerfully grant them the privilege.
Washington's mother scolded and grumbled to the day of her death. She also
sought solace by smoking a pipe. And this reminds me that a noted
specialist in neurotics has recently said that if women would use the weed
moderately, tired nerves would find repose and nervous prostration would
be a luxury unknown. Not being much of a smoker myself, and knowing
nothing about the subject, I give the item for what it is worth.

All the sterling, classic virtues of industry, frugality and truth-telling
were inculcated by this excellent mother, and her strong commonsense made
its indelible impress upon the mind of her son.

Mary Washington always regarded George's judgment with a little suspicion;
she never came to think of him as a full-grown man; to her he was only a
big boy. Hence, she would chide him and criticize his actions in a way
that often made him very uncomfortable. During the Revolutionary War she
followed his record closely: when he succeeded she only smiled, said
something that sounded like "I told you so," and calmly filled her pipe;
when he was repulsed she was never cast down. She foresaw that he would be
made President, and thought "he would do as well as anybody."

Once, she complained to him of her house in Fredericksburg; he wrote in
answer, gently but plainly, that her habits of life were not such as would
be acceptable at Mount Vernon. And to this she replied that she had never
expected or intended to go to Mount Vernon, and moreover would not, no
matter how much urged--a declination without an invitation that must have
caused the son a grim smile. In her nature was a goodly trace of savage
stoicism that took a satisfaction in concealing the joy she felt in her
son's achievement; for that her life was all bound up in his we have good

Washington looked after her wants and supplied her with everything she
needed, and, as these things often came through third parties, it is
pretty certain she did not know the source; at any rate she accepted
everything quite as her due, and shows a half-comic ingratitude that is
very fine.

When Washington started for New York to be inaugurated President, he
stopped to see her. She donned a new white cap and a clean apron in honor
of the visit, remarking to a neighbor woman who dropped in that she
supposed "these great folks expected something a little extra." It was the
last meeting of mother and son. She was eighty-three at that time and "her
boy" fifty-five. She died not long after.

Samuel Washington, the brother two years younger than George, has been
described as "small, sandy-whiskered, shrewd and glib." Samuel was married
five times. Some of the wives he deserted and others deserted him, and two
of them died, thus leaving him twice a sad, lorn widower, from which
condition he quickly extricated himself. He was always in financial
straits and often appealed to his brother George for loans. In Seventeen
Hundred Eighty-one we find George Washington writing to his brother John,
"In God's name! how has Samuel managed to get himself so enormously in
debt?" The remark sounds a little like that of Samuel Johnson, who on
hearing that Goldsmith was owing four hundred pounds exclaimed, "Was ever
poet so trusted before?"

Washington's ledger shows that he advanced his brother Samuel two thousand
dollars, "to be paid back without interest." But Samuel's ship never came
in, and in Washington's will we find the debt graciously and gracefully

Thornton Washington, a son of Samuel, was given a place in the English
army at George Washington's request; and two other sons of Samuel were
sent to school at his expense. One of the boys once ran away and was
followed by his uncle George, who carried a goodly birch with intent to
"give him what he deserved"; but after catching the lad the uncle's heart
melted, and he took the runaway back into favor. An entry in Washington's
journal shows that the children of his brother Samuel cost him fully five
thousand dollars.

Harriot, one of the daughters of Samuel, lived in the household at Mount
Vernon and evidently was a great cross, for we find Washington pleading as
an excuse for her frivolity that "she was not brung up right, she has no
disposition, and takes no care of her clothes, which are dabbed about in
every corner, and the best are always in use. She costs me enough!"

And this was about as near a complaint as the Father of his Country, and
the father of all his poor relations, ever made. In his ledger we find
this item: "By Miss Harriot Washington, gave her to buy wedding-clothes,
$100.00." It supplied the great man joy to write that line, for it was the
last of Harriot. He furnished a fine wedding for her, and all the
servants had a holiday, and Harriot and her unknown lover were happy ever
afterwards--so far as we know.

From Seventeen Hundred Fifty to Seventeen Hundred Fifty-nine, Washington
was a soldier on the frontier, leaving Mount Vernon and all his business
in charge of his brother John. Between these two there was a genuine bond
of affection. To George this brother was always, "Dear Jack," and when
John married, George sends "respectful greetings to your Lady," and
afterwards "love to the little ones from their Uncle." And in one of the
dark hours of the Revolution, George writes from New Jersey to this
brother: "God grant you health and happiness. Nothing in this world would
add so to mine as to be near you." John died in Seventeen Hundred
Eighty-seven, and the President of the United States writes in simple,
undisguised grief of "the death of my beloved brother."

John's eldest son, Bushrod, was Washington's favorite nephew. He took a
lively interest in the boy's career, and taking him to Philadelphia placed
him in the law-office of Judge James Wilson. He supplied Bushrod with
funds, and wrote him many affectionate letters of advice, and several
times made him a companion on journeys. The boy proved worthy of it all,
and developed into a strong and manly man--quite the best of all
Washington's kinsfolk. In later years, we find Washington asking his
advice in legal matters and excusing himself for being such a
"troublesome, non-paying client." In his will the "Honorable Bushrod
Washington" is named as one of the executors, and to him Washington left
his library and all his private papers, besides a share in the estate.
Such confidence was a fitting good-by from the great and loving heart of a
father to a son full worthy of the highest trust.

Of Washington's relations with his brother Charles, we know but little.
Charles was a plain, simple man who worked hard and raised a big family.
In his will Washington remembers them all, and one of the sons of Charles
we know was appointed to a position upon Lafayette's staff on Washington's

The only one of Washington's family that resembled him closely was his
sister Betty. The contour of her face was almost identical with his, and
she was so proud of it that she often wore her hair in a queue and donned
his hat and sword for the amusement of visitors. Betty married Fielding
Lewis, and two of her sons acted as private secretaries to Washington
while he was President. One of these sons--Lawrence Lewis--married Nellie
Custis, the adopted daughter of Washington and granddaughter of Mrs.
Washington, and the couple, by Washington's will, became part-owners of
Mount Vernon. The man who can figure out the exact relationship of Nellie
Custis' children to Washington deserves a medal.

We do not know much of Washington's father: if he exerted any special
influence on his children we do not know it. He died when George was
eleven years old, and the boy then went to live at the "Hunting Creek
Place" with his half-brother Lawrence, that he might attend school.
Lawrence had served in the English navy under Admiral Vernon, and, in
honor of his chief, changed the name of his home and called it Mount
Vernon. Mount Vernon then consisted of twenty-five hundred acres, mostly a
tangle of forest, with a small house and log stables. The tract had
descended to Lawrence from his father, with provision that it should fall
to George if Lawrence died without issue. Lawrence married, and when he
died, aged thirty-two, he left a daughter, Mildred, who died two years
later. Mount Vernon then passed to George Washington, aged twenty-one, but
not without a protest from the widow of Lawrence, who evidently was paid
not to take the matter into the courts. Washington owned Mount Vernon for
forty-six years, just one-half of which time was given to the service of
his country. It was the only place he ever called "home," and there he

       *       *       *       *       *

When Washington was fourteen, his schooldays were over. Of his youth we
know but little. He was not precocious, although physically he developed
early; but there was no reason why the neighbors should keep tab on him
and record anecdotes. They had boys of their own just as promising. He was
tall and slender, long-armed, with large, bony hands and feet, very
strong, a daring horseman, a good wrestler, and, living on the banks of a
river, he became, as all healthy boys must, a good swimmer.

His mission among the Indians in his twenty-first year was largely
successful through the personal admiration he excited among the savages.
In poise, he was equal to their best, and ever being a bit proud, even if
not vain, he dressed for the occasion in full Indian regalia, minus only
the war-paint. The Indians at once recognized his nobility, and named him
"Conotancarius"--Plunderer of Villages--and suggested that he take to wife
an Indian maiden, and remain with them as chief.

When he returned home, he wrote to the Indian agent, announcing his safe
arrival and sending greetings to the Indians. "Tell them," he says, "how
happy it would make Conotancarius to see them, and take them by the hand."

His wish was gratified, for the Indians took him at his word, and fifty of
them came to him, saying, "Since you could not come and live with us, we
have come to live with you." They camped on the green in front of the
residence, and proceeded to inspect every room in the house, tested all
the whisky they could find, appropriated eatables, and were only induced
to depart after all the bedclothes had been dyed red, and a blanket or a
quilt presented to each.

Throughout his life Washington had a very tender spot in his heart for
women. At sixteen, he writes with all a youth's solemnity of "a hurt of
the heart uncurable." And from that time forward there is ever some "Faire
Mayde" to be seen in the shadow. In fact, Washington got along with women
much better than with men; with men he was often diffident and awkward,
illy concealing his uneasiness behind a forced dignity; but he knew that
women admired him, and with them he was at ease. When he made that first
Western trip, carrying a message to the French, he turns aside to call on
the Indian princess, Aliguippa. In his journal, he says, "presented her a
Blanket and a Bottle of Rum, which latter was thought the much best
Present of the 2."

In his expense-account we find items like these: "Treating the ladys 2
shillings." "Present for Polly 5 shillings." "My share for Music at the
Dance 3 shillings." "Lost at Loo 5 shillings." In fact, like most
Episcopalians, Washington danced and played cards. His favorite game seems
to have been "Loo"; and he generally played for small stakes, and when
playing with "the Ladys" usually lost, whether purposely or because
otherwise absorbed, we know not.

In Seventeen Hundred Fifty-six, he made a horseback journey on military
business to Boston, stopping a week going and on the way back at New York.
He spent the time at the house of a former Virginian, Beverly Robinson,
who had married Susannah Philipse, daughter of Frederick Philipse, one of
the rich men of Manhattan. In the household was a young woman, Mary
Philipse, sister of the hostess. She was older than Washington, educated,
and had seen much more of polite life than he. The tall, young Virginian,
fresh from the frontier, where he had had horses shot under him, excited
the interest of Mary Philipse, and Washington, innocent but ardent,
mistook this natural curiosity for a softer sentiment and proposed on the
spot. As soon as the lady got her breath he was let down very gently.

Two years afterwards Mary Philipse married Colonel Roger Morris, in the
king's service, and cards were duly sent to Mount Vernon. But the
whirligig of time equalizes all things, and, in Seventeen Hundred
Seventy-six, General Washington, Commander of the Continental Army,
occupied the mansion of Colonel Morris, the Colonel and his lady being
fugitive Tories. In his diary, Washington records this significant item:
"Dined at the house lately Colonel Roger Morris confiscated and the
occupation of a common Farmer."

Washington always attributed his defeat at the hands of Mary Philipse to
being too precipitate and "not waiting until ye ladye was in ye mood." But
two years later we find him being even more hasty and this time with
success, which proves that all signs fail in dry weather, and some things
are possible as well as others. He was on his way to Williamsburg to
consult physicians and stopped at the residence of Mrs. Daniel Parke
Custis to make a short call--was pressed to remain to tea, did so,
proposed marriage, and was graciously accepted. We have a beautiful steel
engraving that immortalizes this visit, showing Washington's horse
impatiently waiting at the door.

Mrs. Custis was a widow with two children. She was twenty-six, and the
same age as Washington within three months. Her husband had died seven
months before. In Washington's cash-account for May, Seventeen Hundred
Fifty-eight, is an item, "one Engagement Ring £2.16.0."

The happy couple were married eight months later, and we find Mrs.
Washington explaining to a friend that her reason for the somewhat hasty
union was that her estate was getting in a bad way and a man was needed to
look after it. Our actions are usually right, but the reasons we give
seldom are; but in this case no doubt "a man was needed," for the widow
had much property, and we can not but congratulate Martha Custis on her
choice of "a man." She owned fifteen thousand acres of land, many lots in
the city of Williamsburg, two hundred negroes, and some money on bond; all
the property being worth over one hundred thousand dollars--a very large
amount for those days. Directly after the wedding, the couple moved to
Mount Vernon, taking a good many of the slaves with them. Shortly after,
arrangements were under way to rebuild the house, and the plans that
finally developed into the present mansion were begun.

Washington's letters and diary contain very few references to his wife,
and none of the many visitors to Mount Vernon took pains to testify either
to her wit or to her intellect. We know that the housekeeping at Mount
Vernon proved too much for her ability, and that a woman was hired to
oversee the household. And in this reference a complaint is found from the
General that "housekeeper has done gone and left things in confusion." He
had his troubles.

Martha's education was not equal to writing a presentable letter, for we
find that her husband wrote the first draft of all important missives that
it was necessary for her to send, and she copied them even to his mistakes
in spelling. Very patient was he about this, and even when he was
President and harried constantly we find him stopping to acknowledge for
her "an invitation to take some Tea," and at the bottom of the sheet
adding a pious bit of finesse, thus: "The President requests me to send
his compliments and only regrets that the pressure of affairs compels him
to forego the Pleasure of seeing you."

After Washington's death, his wife destroyed the letters he had written
her--many hundred in number--an offense the world is not yet quite willing
to forget, even though it has forgiven.

       *       *       *       *       *

Although we have been told that when Washington was six years old he could
not tell a lie, yet he afterwards partially overcame the disability. On
one occasion he writes to a friend that the mosquitoes of New Jersey "can
bite through the thickest boot," and though a contemporary clergyman,
greatly flurried, explains that he meant "stocking," we insist that the
statement shall stand as the Father of his Country expressed it.
Washington also records without a blush, "I announced that I would leave
at 8 and then immediately gave private Orders to go at 5, so to avoid the
Throng." Another time when he discharged an overseer for incompetency he
lessened the pain of parting by writing for the fellow "a Character."

When he went to Boston and was named as Commander of the Army, his chief
concern seemed to be how he would make peace with Martha. Ho! ye married
men! do you understand the situation? He was to be away for a year, two,
or possibly three, and his wife did not have an inkling of it. Now, he
must break the news to her.

As plainly shown by Cabot Lodge and other historians, there was much
rivalry for the office, and it was only allotted to the South as a
political deal after much bickering. Washington had been a passive but
very willing candidate, and after a struggle his friends secured him the
prize--and now what to do with Martha! Writing to her, among other things
he says, "You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure you in the most
solemn manner that so far from seeking the appointment I have done all in
my power to avoid it." The man who will not fabricate a bit in order to
keep peace with the wife of his bosom is not much of a man. But "Patsy's"
objections were overcome, and beyond a few chidings and sundry
complainings, she did nothing to block the great game of war.

At Princeton, Washington ordered campfires to be built along the brow of a
hill for a mile, and when the fires were well lighted, he withdrew his
army, marched around to the other side, and surprised the enemy at
daylight. At Brooklyn, he used masked batteries, and presented a fierce
row of round, black spots painted on canvas that, from the city, looked
like the mouths of cannon at which men seek the bauble reputation. It is
said he also sent a note threatening to fire these sham cannon, on
receiving which the enemy hastily moved beyond range. Perceiving
afterwards that they had been imposed upon, the brave English sent word to
"shoot and be damned." Evidently, Washington considered that all things
are fair in love and war.

Washington talked but little, and his usual air was one of melancholy that
stopped just short of sadness. All this, with the firmness of his features
and the dignity of his carriage, gave the impression of sternness and
severity. And these things gave rise to the popular conception that he
had small sense of humor; yet he surely was fond of a quiet smile.

At one time, Congress insisted that a standing army of five thousand men
was too large; Washington replied that if England would agree never to
invade this country with more than three thousand men, he would be
perfectly willing that our army should be reduced to four thousand.

When the King of Spain, knowing he was a farmer, thoughtfully sent him a
present of a jackass, Washington proposed naming the animal in honor of
the donor; and in writing to friends about the present, draws invidious
comparisons between the gift and the giver. Evidently, the joke pleased
him, for he repeats it in different letters; thus showing how, when he sat
down to clear his desk of correspondence, he economized energy by
following a form. So, we now find letters that are almost identical, even
to jokes, sent to persons in South Carolina and in Massachusetts.
Doubtless the good man thought they would never be compared, for how could
he foresee that an autograph-dealer in New York would eventually catalog
them at twenty-two dollars fifty cents each, or that a very proper but
half-affectionate missive of his to a Faire Ladye would be sold by her
great-granddaughter for fifty dollars?

In Seventeen Hundred Ninety-three there were on the Mount Vernon
plantation three hundred seventy head of cattle, and Washington appends to
the report a sad regret that, with all this number of horned beasts, he
yet has to buy butter. There is also a fine, grim humor shown in the
incident of a flag of truce coming in at New York, bearing a message from
General Howe, addressed to "Mr. Washington." The General took the letter
from the hand of the redcoat, glanced at the superscription, and said:
"Why, this letter is not for me! It is directed to a planter in Virginia.
I'll keep it and give it to him at the end of the war." Then, cramming the
letter into his pocket, he ordered the flag of truce out of the lines and
directed the gunners to stand by. In an hour, another letter came back
addressed to "His Excellency, General Washington."

It was not long after this a soldier brought to Washington a dog that had
been found wearing a collar with the name of General Howe engraved on it.
Washington returned the dog by a special messenger with a note reading,
"General Washington sends his compliments to General Howe, and begs to
return one dog that evidently belongs to him." In this instance, I am
inclined to think that Washington acted in sober good faith, but was the
victim of a practical joke on the part of one of his aides.

Another remark that sounds like a joke, but perhaps was not one, was when,
on taking command of the army at Boston, the General writes to his
lifelong friend, Doctor Craik, asking what he can do for him, and adding a
sentiment still in the air: "But these Massachusetts people suffer
nothing to go by them that they can lay their hands on." In another letter
he pays his compliments to Connecticut thus: "Their impecunious meanness
surpasses belief." When Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Washington
refused to humiliate him and his officers by accepting their swords. He
treated Cornwallis as his guest, and even "gave a dinner in his honor." At
this dinner, Rochambeau being asked for a toast gave "The United States."
Washington proposed "The King of France." Cornwallis merely gave "The
King," and Washington, putting the toast, expressed it as Cornwallis
intended, "The King of England," and added a sentiment of his own that
made even Cornwallis laugh--"May he stay there!" Washington's treatment of
Cornwallis made him a lifelong friend. Many years after, when Cornwallis
was Governor-General of India, he sent a message to his old antagonist,
wishing him "prosperity and enjoyment," and adding, "As for myself, I am
yet in troubled waters."

       *       *       *       *       *

Once in a century, possibly, a being is born who possesses a transcendent
insight, and him we call a "genius." Shakespeare, for instance, to whom
all knowledge lay open; Joan of Arc; the artist Turner; Swedenborg, the
mystic--these are the men who know a royal road to geometry; but we may
safely leave them out of account when we deal with the builders of a
State, for among statesmen there are no geniuses.

Nobody knows just what a genius is or what he may do next; he boils at an
unknown temperature, and often explodes at a touch. He is uncertain and
therefore unsafe. His best results are conjured forth, but no man has yet
conjured forth a Nation--it is all slow, patient, painstaking work along
mathematical lines. Washington was a mathematician and therefore not a
genius. We call him a great man, but his greatness was of that sort in
which we all can share; his virtues were of a kind that, in degree, we too
may possess. Any man who succeeds in a legitimate business works with the
same tools that Washington used. Washington was human. We know the man; we
understand him; we comprehend how he succeeded, for with him there were no
tricks, no legerdemain, no secrets. He is very near to us.

Washington is indeed first in the hearts of his countrymen. Washington has
no detractors. There may come a time when another will take first place in
the affections of the people, but that time is not yet ripe. Lincoln
stood between men who now live and the prizes they coveted; thousands
still tread the earth whom he benefited, and neither class can forgive,
for they are of clay. But all those who lived when Washington lived are
gone; not one survives; even the last body-servant, who confused memory
with hearsay, has departed babbling to his rest.

We know all of Washington we will ever know; there are no more documents
to present, no partisan witnesses to examine, no prejudices to remove. His
purity of purpose stands unimpeached; his steadfast earnestness and
sterling honesty are our priceless examples.

We love the man.

We call him Father.


    I will speak ill of no man, not even in matter of truth; but
    rather excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon
    proper occasion speak all the good I know of everybody.
    --_Franklin's Journal_


Benjamin Franklin was twelve years old. He was large and strong and fat
and good-natured, and had a full-moon face and red cheeks that made him
look like a country bumpkin. He was born in Boston within twenty yards of
the church called "Old South," but the Franklins now lived at the corner
of Congress and Hanover Streets, where to this day there swings in the
breeze a gilded ball, and on it the legend, "Josiah Franklin,

Benjamin was the fifteenth child in the family; and several having grown
to maturity and flown, there were thirteen at the table when little Ben
first sat in the high chair. But the Franklins were not superstitious, and
if little Ben ever prayed that another would be born, just for luck, we
know nothing of it. His mother loved him very much and indulged him in
many ways, for he was always her baby boy, but the father thought that
because he was good-natured he was also lazy and should be disciplined.

Once upon a time the father was packing a barrel of beef in the cellar,
and Ben was helping him, and as the father always said grace at table, the
boy suggested he ask a blessing, once for all, on the barrel of beef and
thus economize breath. But economics along that line did not appeal to
Josiah Franklin, for this was early in Seventeen Hundred Eighteen, and
Josiah was a Presbyterian and lived in Boston.

The boy was not religious, for he never "went forward," and only went to
church because he had to, and read "Plutarch's Lives" with much more
relish than he did "Saints' Rest." But he had great curiosity and asked
questions until his mother would say, "Goodness gracious, go and play!"

And as the boy wasn't very religious or very fond of work, his father and
mother decided that there were only two careers open for him: the mother
proposed that he be made a preacher, but his father said, send him to sea.

To go to sea under a good strict captain would discipline him, and to send
him off and put him under the care of the Reverend Doctor Thirdly would
answer the same purpose--which course should be pursued? But Pallas
Athene, who was to watch over this lad's destinies all through life,
preserved him from either.

His parents' aspirations extended even to his becoming captain of a
schooner or pastor of the First Church at Roxbury. And no doubt he could
have sailed the schooner around the globe in safety, or filled the pulpit
with a degree of power that would have caused consternation to reign in
the heart of every other preacher in town; but Fate saved him that he
might take the Ship of State, when she threatened to strand on the rocks
of adversity, and pilot her into peaceful waters, and to preach such
sermons to America that their eloquence still moves us to better things.

Parents think that what they say about their children goes, and once in an
awfully long time it does, but the men who become great and learned
usually do so in spite of their parents--which remark was first made by
Martin Luther, but need not be discredited on that account.

Ben's oldest brother was James. Now, James was nearly forty; he was tall
and slender, stooped a little, and had sandy whiskers, and a nervous
cough, and positive ideas on many subjects--one of which was that he was a
printer. His apprentice, or "devil," had left him, because the devil did
not like to be cuffed whenever the compositor shuffled his fonts. James
needed another apprentice, and proposed to take his younger brother and
make a man of him if the old folks were willing. The old folks were
willing and Ben was duly bound by law to his brother, agreeing to serve
him faithfully, as Jacob served Laban, for seven years and two years more.

Science has explained many things, but it has not yet told why it
sometimes happens that when seventeen eggs are hatched, the brood will
consist of sixteen barnyard fowls and one eagle.

James Franklin was a man of small capacity, whimsical, jealous and
arbitrary. But if he cuffed his apprentice Benjamin when the compositor
blundered, and when he didn't, it was his legal right; and the master who
did not occasionally kick his apprentices was considered derelict to duty.
The boy ran errands, cleaned the presses, swept the shop, tied up bundles,
did the tasks that no one else would do; and incidentally "learned the
case." Then he set type, and after a while ran a press. And in those days
a printer ranked considerably above a common mechanic. A man who was a
printer was a literary man, as were the master printers of London and
Venice. A printer was a man of taste. All editors were printers, and
usually composed the matter as they set it up in type. Thus we now have
the expressions: a "composing-room," a "composing-stick," etc. People once
addressed "Mr. Printer," not "Mr. Editor," and when they met "Mr. Printer"
on the street removed their hats--but not in Philadelphia.

Young Franklin felt a proper degree of pride in his work, if not vanity.
In fact, he himself has said that vanity is a good thing, and whenever he
saw it come flaunting down the street, always made way, knowing that there
was virtue somewhere back of it--out of sight perhaps, but still there.
James, being a brother, had no confidence in Ben's intellect, so when Ben
wrote short articles on this and that, he tucked them under the door so
that James would find them in the morning. James showed these articles to
his friends, and they all voted them very fine, and concluded they must
have been written by Doctor So-and-So, Ph.D., who, like Lord Bacon, was a
very modest man and did not care to see his name in print.

Yet, by and by, it came out who it was that wrote the anonymous "hot
stuff," and then James did not think it was quite so good as he at first
thought, and moreover, declared he knew whose it was all the time. Ben was
eighteen and had read Montaigne, and Collins, and Shaftesbury, and Hume.
When he wrote he expressed thoughts that then were considered very
dreadful, but that can now be heard proclaimed even in good orthodox
churches. But Ben had wit and to spare, and he leveled it at government
officials and preachers, and these gentlemen did not relish the
jokes--people seldom relish jokes at their own expense--and they sought to
suppress the newspaper that the Franklin brothers published.

The blame for all the trouble James heaped upon Benjamin, and all the
credit for success he took to himself. James declared that Ben had the big
head--and he probably was right; but he forgot that the big head, like
mumps and measles and everything else in life, is self-limiting and good
in its way. So, to teach Ben his proper place, James reminded him that he
was only an apprentice, with three years yet to serve, and that he should
be seen seldom and not heard all the time, and that if he ran away he
would send a constable after him and fetch him back.

Ben evidently had a mind open to suggestive influences, for the remark
about running away prompted him to do so. He sold some of his books and
got himself secreted on board a ship about to sail for New York.

Arriving at New York, in three days he found the broad-brimmed Dutch had
small use for printers and no special admiration for the art preservative;
and he started for Philadelphia.

Every one knows how he landed in a small boat at the foot of Market Street
with only a few coppers in his pocket, and made his way to a bakeshop and
asked for a threepenny loaf of bread, and being told they had no
threepenny loaves, then asked for threepenny's worth of any kind of bread,
and was given three loaves. Where is the man who in a strange land has not
suffered rather than reveal his ignorance before a shopkeeper? When I was
first in England and could not compute readily in shillings and pence, I
would toss out a gold piece when I made a purchase and assume a 'igh and
'aughty mien. And that Philadelphia baker probably died in blissful
ignorance of the fact that the youth who was to be America's pride bought
from him three loaves of bread when he wanted only one.

The runaway Ben had a downy beard all over his face, and as he took his
three loaves and walked up Market Street, with a loaf under each arm,
munching on the third, he was smiled upon in merry mirth by the buxom
Deborah Read, as she stood in the doorway of her father's house. Yet
Franklin got even with her, for some months after, he went back that way
and courted her, grew to love him, and they "exchanged promises," he says.
After some months of work and love-making, Franklin sailed away to England
on a wild-goose chase. He promised to return soon and make Deborah his
wife. But he wrote only one solitary letter to the broken-hearted girl and
did not come back for nearly two years.

       *       *       *       *       *

Time is the great avenger as well as educator; only the education is
usually deferred until it no longer avails in this incarnation, and is
valuable only for advice--and nobody wants advice. Deathbed repentances
may be legal-tender for salvation in another world, but for this they are
below par, and regeneration that is postponed until the man has no further
capacity to sin is little better. For sin is only perverted power, and the
man without capacity to sin neither has ability to do good--isn't that so?
His soul is a Dead Sea that supports neither ameba nor fish, neither
noxious bacilli nor useful life. Happy is the man who conserves his
God-given power until wisdom and not passion shall direct it. So, the
younger in life a man makes the resolve to turn and live, the better for
that man and the better for the world.

Once upon a time Carlyle took Milburn, the blind preacher, out on to
Chelsea embankment and showed the sightless man where Franklin plunged
into the Thames and swam to Blackfriars Bridge. "He might have stayed
here," said Thomas Carlyle, "and become a swimming-teacher, but God had
other work for him!" Franklin had many opportunities to stop and become a
victim of arrested development, but he never embraced the occasion. He
could have stayed in Boston and been a humdrum preacher, or a thrifty
sea-captain, or an ordinary printer; or he could have remained in London,
and been, like his friend Ralph, a clever writer of doggerel, and a
supporter of the political party that would pay the most.

Benjamin Franklin was twenty years old when he returned from England. The
ship was beaten back by headwinds and blown out of her course by
blizzards, and becalmed at times, so it took eighty-two days to make the
voyage. A worthy old clergyman tells me this was so ordained and ordered
that Benjamin might have time to meditate on the follies of youth and
shape his course for the future, and I do not argue the case, for I am
quite willing to admit that my friend, the clergyman, has the facts.

Yes, we must be "converted," "born again," "regenerated," or whatever you
may be pleased to call it. Sometimes--very often--it is love that reforms
a man, sometimes sickness, sometimes sore bereavement.

Doctor Talmage says that with Saint Paul it was a sunstroke, and this may
be so, for surely Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus to persecute
Christians was not in love. Love forgives to seventy times seven and
persecutes nobody.

We do not know just what it was that turned Franklin; he had tried
folly--we know that--and he just seems to have anticipated Browning and

    "It's wiser being good than bad;
    It's safer being meek than fierce;
    It's better being sane than mad."

On this voyage the young printer was thrust down into the depths and made
to wrestle with the powers of darkness; and in the remorse of soul that
came over him he made a liturgy to be repeated night and morning, and at
midday. There were many items in this ritual--all of which were corrected
and amended from time to time in after-years. Here are a few paragraphs
that represent the longings and trend of the lad's heart. His prayer was:

"That I may have tenderness for the meek; that I may be kind to my
neighbors, good-natured to my companions and hospitable to strangers. Help
me, O God!

"That I may be averse to craft and overreaching, abhor extortion and every
kind of weakness and wickedness. Help me, O God!

"That I may have constant regard to honor and probity; that I may possess
an innocent and good conscience, and at length become truly virtuous and
magnanimous. Help me, O God!

"That I may refrain from calumny and detraction; that I may abhor deceit,
and avoid lying, envy and fraud, flattery, hatred, malice and ingratitude.
Help me, O God!".

Then, in addition, he formed rules of conduct and wrote them out and
committed them to memory. The maxims he adopted are old as thought, yet
can never become antiquated, for in morals there is nothing either new or
old, neither can there be.

On that return voyage from England, he inwardly vowed that his first act
on getting ashore would be to find Deborah Read and make peace with her
and his conscience. And true to his vow, he found her, but she was the
wife of another. Her mother believed that Franklin had run away simply to
get rid of her, and the poor girl, dazed and forlorn, bereft of will, had
been induced to marry a man by the name of Rogers, who was a potter and
also a potterer, but who Franklin says was "a very good potter."

After some months, Deborah left the potter, because she did not like to be
reproved with a strap, and went home to her mother.

Franklin was now well in the way of prosperity, aged twenty-four, with a
little printing business, plans plus, and ambitions to spare. He had had
his little fling in life, and had done various things of which he was
ashamed; and the foolish things that Deborah had done were no worse than
those of which he had been guilty. So he called on her, and they talked it
over and made honest confessions that are good for the soul. The potter
disappeared--no one knew where--some said he was dead, but Benjamin and
Deborah did not wear mourning. They took rumor's word for it, and thanked
God, and went to a church and were married.

Deborah brought to the firm a very small dowry; and Benjamin contributed a
bright baby boy, aged two years, captured no one knows just where. This
boy was William Franklin, who grew up into a very excellent man, and the
worst that can be said of him is that he became Governor of New Jersey. He
loved and respected his father, and called Deborah mother, and loved her
very much. And she was worthy of all love, and ever treated him with
tenderness and gentlest considerate care. Possibly a blot on the
'scutcheon may, in the working of God's providence, not always be a dire
misfortune, for it sometimes has the effect of binding broken hearts as
nothing else can, as a cicatrice toughens the fiber.

Deborah had not much education, but she had good, sturdy commonsense,
which is better if you are forced to make choice. She set herself to help
her husband in every way possible, and so far as I know, never sighed for
one of those things you call "a career." She even worked in the
printing-office, folding, stitching, and doing up bundles.

Long years afterward, when Franklin was Ambassador of the American
Colonies in France, he told with pride that the clothes he wore were spun,
woven, cut out, and made into garments--all by his wife's own hands.
Franklin's love for Deborah was very steadfast. Together they became rich
and respected, won world-wide fame, and honors came that way such as no
American before or since has ever received.

And when I say, "God bless all good women who help men do their work," I
simply repeat the words once used by Benjamin Franklin when he had Deborah
in mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Franklin was forty-two, he had accumulated a fortune of seventy-five
thousand dollars. It gave him an income of about four thousand dollars a
year, which he said was all he wanted; so he sold out his business,
intending to devote his entire energies to the study of science and
languages. He had lived just one-half his days; and had he then passed
out, his life could have been summed up as one of the most useful that
ever has been lived. He had founded and been the life of the Junto
Club--the most sensible and beneficent club of which I ever heard.

The series of questions asked at every meeting of the Junto, so mirror the
life and habit of thought of Franklin that we had better glance at a few
of them:

1. Have you read over these queries this morning, in order to consider
what you might have to offer the Junto, touching any one of them?

2. Have you met with anything in the author you last read, remarkable, or
suitable to be communicated to the Junto; particularly in history,
morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanical arts, or other parts of

3. Do you know of a fellow-citizen, who has lately done a worthy action,
deserving praise and imitation; or who has lately committed an error,
proper for us to be warned against and avoid?

4. What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or
heard; of imprudence, of passion, or of any other vice or folly?

5. What happy effects of temperance, of prudence, of moderation, or of any
other virtue?

6. Do you think of anything at present in which the members of the Junto
may be serviceable to mankind, to their country, to their friends, or to

7. Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting that you
have heard of? And what have you heard or observed of his character or
merits? And whether, think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to
oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?

8. Do you know of any deserving young beginner, lately set up, whom it
lies in the power of the Junto in any way to encourage?

9. Have you lately observed any defect in the laws of your country, of
which it would be proper to move the legislature for an amendment? Or do
you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?

10. Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the

11. In what manner can the Junto, or any of its members, assist you in any
of your honorable designs?

12. Have you any weighty affair on hand in which you think the advice of
the Junto may be of service?

13. What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?

14. Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of justice and
injustice, which you would gladly have discussed at this time?

The Junto led to the establishment, by Franklin, of the Philadelphia
Public Library, which became the parent of all public libraries in
America. He also organized and equipped a fire-company; paved and lighted
the streets of Philadelphia; established a high school and an academy for
the study of English branches; founded the Philadelphia Public Hospital;
invented the toggle-joint printing-press, the Franklin Stove, and various
other useful mechanical devices.

After his retirement from business, Franklin enjoyed seven years of what
he called leisure, but they were years of study and application; years of
happiness and sweet content, but years of aspiration and an earnest
looking into the future. His experiments with kite and key had made his
name known in all the scientific circles of Europe, and his suggestive
writings on the subject of electricity had caused Goethe to lay down his
pen and go to rubbing amber for the edification of all Weimar.

Franklin was in correspondence with the greatest minds of Europe, and what
his "Poor Richard Almanac" had done for the plain people of America, his
pamphlets were now doing for the philosophers of the Old World.

In Seventeen Hundred Fifty-four, he wrote a treatise showing the Colonies
that they must be united, and this was the first public word that was to
grow and crystallize and become the United States of America. Before
that, the Colonies were simply single, independent, jealous and bickering
overgrown clans. Franklin showed for the first time that they must unite
in mutual aims.

In Seventeen Hundred Fifty-seven, matters were getting a little strained
between the Province of Pennsylvania and England. "The lawmakers of
England do not understand us--some one should go there as an authorized
agent to plead our cause," and Franklin was at once chosen as the man of
strongest personality and soundest sense. So Franklin went to England and
remained there for five years as agent for the Colonies.

He then returned home, but after two years the Stamp Act had stirred up
the public temper to a degree that made revolution imminent, and Franklin
again went to England to plead for justice. The record of the ten years he
now spent in London is told by Bancroft in a hundred pages. Bancroft is
very good, and! have no desire to rival him, so suffice it to say that
Franklin did all that any man could have done to avert the coming War of
the Revolution. Burke has said that when he appeared before Parliament to
be examined as to the condition of things in America, it was like a lot of
schoolboys interrogating the master.

With the voice and tongue of a prophet, Franklin foretold the English
people what the outcome of their treatment of America would be. Pitt and a
few others knew the greatness of Franklin, and saw that he was right, but
the rest smiled in derision.

He sailed for home in Seventeen Hundred Seventy-five, and urged the
Continental Congress to the Declaration of Independence, of which he
became a signer. Then the war came, and had not Franklin gone to Paris and
made an ally of France, and borrowed money, the Continental Army could not
have been maintained in the field.

He remained in France for nine years, and was the pride and pet of the
people. His sound sense, his good humor, his distinguished personality,
gave him the freedom of society everywhere. He had the ability to adapt
himself to conditions, and was everywhere at home.

Once, he attended a memorable banquet in Paris shortly after the close of
the Revolutionary War. Among the speakers was the English Ambassador, who
responded to the toast, "Great Britain." The Ambassador dwelt at length on
England's greatness, and likened her to the sun that sheds its beneficent
rays on all. The next toast was "America," and Franklin was called on to
respond. He began very modestly by saying: "The Republic is too young to
be spoken of in terms of praise; her career is yet to come, and so,
instead of America, I will name you a man, George Washington--the Joshua
who successfully commanded the sun to stand still." The Frenchmen at the
board forgot the courtesy due their English guest, and laughed needlessly

Franklin was regarded in Paris as the man who had both planned the War of
the Revolution, and fought it. They said, "He despoiled the thunderbolt of
its danger and snatched sovereignty out of the hand of King George of
England." No doubt that his ovation was largely owing to the fact that he
was supposed to have plucked whole handfuls of feathers from England's
glory, and surely they were pretty nearly right.

In point of all-round development, Franklin must stand as the foremost
American. The one intent of his mind was to purify his own spirit, to
develop his intellect on every side, and make his body the servant of his
soul. His passion was to acquire knowledge, and the desire of his heart
was to communicate it.

The writings of Franklin--simple, clear, concise, direct, impartial,
brimful of commonsense--form a model which may be studied by every one
with pleasure and profit. They should constitute a part of the curriculum
of every college and high school that aspires to cultivate in its pupils a
pure style and correct literary taste.

We know of no man who ever lived a fuller life, a happier life, a life
more useful to other men, than Benjamin Franklin. For forty-two years he
gave the constant efforts of his life to his country, and during all that
time no taint of a selfish action can be laid to his charge. Almost his
last public act was to petition Congress to pass an act for the abolition
of slavery. He died in Seventeen Hundred Ninety, and as you walk up Arch
Street, Philadelphia, only a few squares from the spot where stood his
printing-shop, you can see the place where he sleeps.

The following epitaph, written by himself, not, however, appear on the
simple monument that marks his grave:

                      The Body
             Benjamin Franklin, Printer
          (Like the cover of an old book,
               Its contents torn out,
    And stripped of its lettering and gilding,)
             Lies here food for worms.
       Yet the work itself shall not be lost,
      For it will (as he believes) appear once
                      In a new
             And more beautiful Edition
               Corrected and Amended
                    The Author.


    If I could not go to Heaven but with a Party, I would not go
    there at all.
    --Jefferson, in a Letter to Madison

[Illustration: THOMAS JEFFERSON]

William and Mary College was founded in Sixteen Hundred Ninety-two by the
persons whose names it bears. The founders bestowed on it an endowment
that would have been generous had there not been attached to it sundry
strings in way of conditions.

The intent was to make Indians Episcopalians, and white students
clergymen; and the assumption being that between the whites and the
aborigines there was little difference, the curriculum was an ecclesiastic

All the teachers were appointed by the Bishop of London, and the places
were usually given to clergymen who were not needed in England.

To this college, in Seventeen Hundred Sixty, came Thomas Jefferson, a
tall, red-haired youth, aged seventeen. He had a sharp nose and a sharp
chin; and a youth having these has a sharp intellect--mark it well.

This boy had not been "sent" to college. He came of his own accord from
his home at Shadwell, five days' horseback journey through the woods. His
father was dead, and his mother, a rare gentle soul, was an invalid.

Death is not a calamity "per se," nor is physical weakness necessarily a
curse, for out of these seeming unkind conditions Nature often distils her
finest products. The dying injunction of a father may impress itself upon
a son as no example of right living ever can, and the physical disability
of a mother may be the means that work for excellence and strength. The
last-expressed wish of Peter Jefferson was that his son should be well
educated, and attain to a degree of useful manliness that the father had
never reached. And into the keeping of this fourteen-year-old youth the
dying man, with the last flicker of his intellect, gave the mother,
sisters and baby brother.

We often hear of persons who became aged in a single night, their hair
turning from dark to white; but I have seen death thrust responsibility
upon a lad and make of him a man between the rising of the sun and its
setting. When we talk of "right environment" and the "proper conditions"
that should surround growing youth, we fan the air with words--there is no
such thing as a universal right environment.

An appreciative chapter might here be inserted concerning those beings who
move about only in rolling chairs, who never see the winter landscape but
through windows, and who exert their gentle sway from an invalid's couch,
to which the entire household or neighborhood come to confession or to
counsel. And yet I have small sympathy for the people who professionally
enjoy poor health, and no man more than I reverences the Greek passion for
physical perfection. But a close study of Jefferson's early life reveals
the truth that the death of his father and the physical weakness of his
mother and sisters were factors that developed in him a gentle sense of
chivalry, a silken strength of will, and a habit of independent thought
and action that served him in good stead throughout a long life.

Williamsburg was then the capital of Virginia. It contained only about a
thousand inhabitants, but when the Legislature was in session it was very

At one end of a wide avenue was the Capitol, and at the other the
Governor's "palace"; and when the city of Washington was laid out,
Williamsburg served as a model. On Saturdays, there were horse-races on
the "Avenue"; everybody gambled; cockfights and dogfights were regarded as
manly diversions; there was much carousing at taverns; and often at
private houses there were all-night dances where the rising sun found
everybody but the servants plain drunk.

At the college, both teachers and scholars were obliged to subscribe to
the Thirty-nine Articles and to recite the Catechism. The atmosphere was
charged with theology.

Young Jefferson had never before seen a village of even a dozen houses,
and he looked upon this as a type of all cities. He thought about it,
talked about it, wrote about it, and we now know that at this time his
ideas concerning city versus country crystallized.

Fifty years after, when he had come to know London and Paris, and had seen
the chief cities of Christendom, he repeated the words he had written in
youth, "The hope of a nation lies in its tillers of the soil!"

On his mother's side he was related to the "first families," but
aristocracy and caste had no fascination for him, and he then began
forming those ideas of utility, simplicity and equality that time only

His tutors and professors served chiefly as "horrible examples," with the
shining exception of Doctor Small. The friendship that ripened between
this man and young Jefferson is an ideal example of what can be done
through the personal touch. Men are great only as they excel in sympathy;
and the difference between sympathy and imagination has not yet been shown

Doctor Small encouraged the young farmer from the hills to think and to
express himself. He did not endeavor to set him straight or explain
everything for him, or correct all his vagaries, or demand that he should
memorize rules. He gave his affectionate sympathy to the boy who, with a
sort of feminine tenderness, clung to the only person who understood him.

To Doctor Small, pedigree and history unknown, let us give the credit of
being first in the list of friends that gave bent to the mind of
Jefferson. John Burke, in his "History of Virginia," refers to Professor
Small thus: "He was not any too orthodox in his opinions." And here we
catch a glimpse of a formative influence in the life of Jefferson that
caused him to turn from the letter of the law and cleave to the spirit
that maketh alive. After school-hours the tutor and the student walked and
talked, and on Saturdays and Sundays went on excursions through the woods;
and to the youth there was given an impulse for a scientific knowledge of
birds and flowers and the host of life that thronged the forest. And when
the pair had strayed so far beyond the town that darkness gathered and the
stars came out, they conversed of the wonders of the sky.

The true scientist has no passion for killing things. He says with
Thoreau, "To shoot a bird is to lose it." Professor Small had the gentle
instinct that respects life, and he refused to take that which he could
not give. To his youthful companion he imparted, in a degree, the secret
of enjoying things without the passion for possession and the lust of

There is a myth abroad that college towns are intellectual centers; but
the number of people in a college town (or any other) who really think, is
very few.

Williamsburg was gay, and, this much said, it is needless to add it was
not intellectual. But Professor Small was a thinker, and so was Governor
Fauquier; and these two were firm friends, although very unlike in many
ways. And to "the palace" of the courtly Fauquier, Small took his young
friend Jefferson. Fauquier was often a master of the revels, but after his
seasons of dissipation he turned to Small for absolution and comfort. At
these times he seemed to Jefferson a paragon of excellence. To the grace
of the French he added the earnestness of the English. He quoted Pope, and
talked of Swift, Addison and Thomson. Fauquier and Jefferson became
friends, although more than a score of years and a world of experience
separated them. Jefferson caught a little of Fauquier's grace, love of
books and delight in architecture. But Fauquier helped him most by
gambling away all his ready money and getting drunk and smoking strong
pipes with his feet on the table. And Jefferson then vowed he would never
handle a card, nor use tobacco, nor drink intoxicating liquors. And in
conversation with Small, he anticipated Buckle by saying, "To gain
leisure, wealth must first be secured; but once leisure is gained, more
people use it in the pursuit of pleasure than employ it in acquiring

       *       *       *       *       *

Had Jefferson lived in a great city he would have been an architect. His
practical nature, his mastery of mathematics, his love of proportion, and
his passion for music are the basic elements that make a Christopher Wren.
But Virginia, in Seventeen Hundred Sixty-five, offered no temptation to
ambitions along that line; log houses with a goodly "crack" were quite
good enough, and if the domicile proved too small the plan of the first
was simply duplicated. Yet a career of some kind young Jefferson knew
awaited him.

About this time the rollicking Patrick Henry came along. Patrick played
the violin, and so did Thomas. These two young men had first met on a
musical basis. Some otherwise sensible people hold that musicians are
shallow and impractical; and I know one man who declares that truth and
honesty and uprightness never dwelt in a professional musician's heart;
and further, that the tribe is totally incapable of comprehending the
difference between "meum" and "tuum." But then this same man claims that
actors are rascals who have lost their own characters in the business of
playing they are somebody else. And yet I'll explain for the benefit of
the captious that, although Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry both
fiddled, they never did and never would fiddle while Rome burned. Music
was with them a pastime, not a profession.

As soon as Patrick Henry arrived at Williamsburg, he sought out his old
friend Thomas Jefferson, because he liked him--and to save tavern bill.
And Patrick announced that he had come to Williamsburg to be admitted to
the bar.

"How long have you studied law?" asked Jefferson.

"Oh, for six weeks last Tuesday," was the answer.

Tradition has it that Jefferson advised Patrick to go home and study at
least a fortnight more before making his application. But Patrick declared
that the way to learn law is to practise it, and he surely was right. Most
young lawyers are really never aware of how little law they know until
they begin to practise.

But Patrick Henry was duly admitted, although George Wythe protested. Then
Patrick went back home to tend bar (the other kind) for Laban, his
father-in-law, for full four years. He studied hard and practised a little
betimes--and his is the only instance that history records of a barkeeper
acquiring wisdom while following his calling; but for the encouragement of
budding youth I write it down.

       *       *       *       *       *

No doubt it was the example of Patrick Henry that caused Jefferson to
adopt his profession. But it was the literary side of law that first
attracted him--not the practise of it. As a speaker he was singularly
deficient, a slight physical malformation of the throat giving him a very
poor and uncertain voice. But he studied law, and after all it does not
make much difference what a man studies--all knowledge is related, and the
man who studies anything if he keeps at it will become learned.

So Jefferson studied in the office of George Wythe, and absorbed all that
Fauquier had to offer, and grew wise in the companionship of Doctor Small.
From a red-headed, lean, lank, awkward mountaineer, he developed into a
gracious and graceful young man who has been described as "auburn-haired."
And the evolution from being red-headed to having red hair, and from that
to being auburn-haired, proves he was the genuine article. Still he was
hot handsome--that word can not be used to describe him until he was
sixty--for he was freckled, one shoulder wets higher than the other, and
his legs were so thin that they could not do justice to small-clothes.

Yet it will not do to assume that thin men are weak, any more than to take
it for granted that fat men are strong. Jefferson was as muscular as a
panther and could walk or ride or run six days and nights together. He
could lift from the floor a thousand pounds.

When twenty-four, he hung out his lawyer's sign under that of George Wythe
at Williamsburg. And clients came that way with retainers, and rich
planters sent him business, and wealthy widows advised with him--and still
he could not make a speech without stuttering. Many men can harangue a
jury, and every village has its orator; but where is the wise and silent
man who will advise you in a way that will keep you out of difficulty,
protect your threatened interests, and conduct the affairs you may leave
in his hands so as to return your ten talents with other talents added!
And I hazard the statement, without heat or prejudice, that if the
experiment should be made with a thousand lawyers in any one of our larger
cities, four-fifths of them would be found so deficient, either mentally,
morally or both, that if ten talents were placed in their hands, they
would not at the close of a year be able to account for the principal, to
say nothing of the interest. And the bar of today is made up of a better
class than it was in Jefferson's time, even if it has not the intellectual
fiber that it had forty years ago.

But at the early age of twenty-five, Jefferson was a wise and skilful man
in the world's affairs (and a man who is wise is also honest), and men of
this stamp do not remain hidden in obscurity. The world needs just such
individuals and needs them badly. Jefferson had the quiet, methodical
industry that works without undue expenditure of nervous force; that
intuitive talent which enables the possessor to read a whole page at a
glance and drop at once upon the vital point; and then he had the ability
to get his whole case on paper, marshaling his facts in a brief, pointed
way that served to convince better than eloquence. These are the
characteristics that make for success in practise before our Courts of
Appeal; and Jefferson's success shows that they serve better than bluster,
even with a backwoods bench composed of fox-hunting farmers.

In Seventeen Hundred Sixty-eight, when Jefferson was twenty-five, he went
down to Shadwell and ran for member of the Virginia Legislature. It was
the proper thing to do, for he was the richest man in the county, being
heir to his father's forty thousand acres, and it was expected that he
would represent his district. He called on every voter in the parish,
shook hands with everybody, complimented the ladies, caressed the babies,
treated crowds at every tavern, and kept a large punch-bowl and open house
at home. He was elected. On the Eleventh of May, Seventeen Hundred
Sixty-nine, the Legislature convened, with nearly a hundred members
present, Colonel George Washington being one of the number. It took two
days for the Assembly to elect a Speaker and get ready for business. On
the third day, four resolutions were introduced--pushed to the front
largely through the influence of our new member.

These resolutions were:

1. No taxation without representation.

2. The Colonies may concur and unite in seeking redress for grievances.

3. Sending accused persons away from their own country for trial is an
inexcusable wrong.

4. We will send an address on these things to the King beseeching his
royal interposition.

The resolutions were passed: they did not mean much anyway, the opposition
said. And then another resolution was passed to this effect: "We will send
a copy of these resolutions to every legislative body on the continent."
That was a little stronger, but did not mean much either.

It was voted upon and passed.

Then the Assembly adjourned, having dispatched a copy of the resolutions
to Lord Boutetourt, the newly appointed Governor who had just arrived from

Next day, the Governor's secretary appeared when the Assembly convened,
and repeated the following formula: "The Governor commands the House to
attend His Excellency in the Council-Chamber." The members marched to the
Council-Chamber and stood around the throne waiting the pleasure of His
Lordship. He made a speech which I will quote entire. "Mr. Speaker and
Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses: I have heard your resolves, and augur
ill of their effect. You have made it my duty to dissolve you, and you are
dissolved accordingly."

And that was the end of Jefferson's first term in office--the reward for
all the hand-shaking, all the caressing, all the treating!

The members looked at one another, but no one said anything, because there
was nothing to say. The secretary made an impatient gesture with his hand
to the effect that they should disperse, and they did.

Just how these legally elected representatives and now legally common
citizens took their rebuff we do not know.

Did Washington forget his usual poise and break out into one of those
swearing fits where everybody wisely made way? And how did Richard Henry
Lee like it, and George Wythe, and the Randolphs? Did Patrick Henry wax
eloquent that afternoon in a barroom, and did Jefferson do more than smile
grimly, biding his time?

Massachusetts kept a complete history of her political heresies, but
Virginia chased foxes and left the refinements of literature to
dilettantes. But this much we know: Those country gentlemen did not go off
peaceably and quietly to race horses or play cards. The slap in the face
from the gloved hand of Lord Boutetourt awoke every boozy sense of
security and gave vitality to all fanatical messages sent by Samuel Adams.
Washington, we are told, spoke of it as a bit of upstart authority on the
part of the new Governor; but Jefferson with true prophetic vision saw the

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the leading lawyers at Williamsburg, against whom Jefferson was
often pitted, was John Wayles. I need not explain that lawyers hotly
opposed to each other in a trial are not necessarily enemies. The way in
which Jefferson conducted his cases pleased the veteran Wayles, and he
invited Jefferson to visit him at his fine estate, called "The Forest," a
few miles out from Williamsburg. Now, in the family of Mr. Wayles dwelt
his widowed daughter, the beautiful Martha Skelton, gracious and rich as
Jefferson in worldly goods. She played the spinet with great feeling, and
the spinet and the violin go very well together. So, together, Thomas and
Martha played, and sometimes a bit of discord crept in, for Thomas was
absent-minded and, in the business of watching the widow's fingers touch
the keys, played flat.

Long years before, he had liked and admired Becca, gazed fondly at Sukey,
and finally loved Belinda. He did not tell her so, but he told John Page,
and vowed that if he did not wed Belinda he would go through life solitary
and alone. In a few months Belinda married that detested being--another.
Then it was he again swore to his friend Page he would be true to her
memory, even though she had dissembled. But now he saw that the widow
Skelton had intellect, while Belinda had been but clever; the widow had
soul, while Belinda had nothing but form. Jefferson's experience seems to
settle that mooted question, "Can a man love two women at the same time?"
Unlike Martha Custis, this Martha was won only after a protracted wooing,
with many skirmishes and occasional misunderstandings and explanations,
and sweet makings-up that were surely worth a quarrel.

Then they were married at "The Forest," and rode away through the woods to
Monticello. Jefferson was twenty-seven, and although it may not be proper
to question closely as to the age of the widow, yet the bride, we have
reason to believe, was about the age of her husband.

It was a most happy mating--all their quarreling had been done before
marriage. The fine intellect and high spirit of Jefferson found their
mate. She was his comrade and helpmeet as well as his wife. He could read
his favorite Ossian aloud to her, and when he tired she would read to him;
and all his plans and ambitions and hopes were hers. In laying out the
grounds and beautifying that home on Monticello mountain, she took much
more than a passive interest. It was "Our Home," and to make it a home in
very sooth for her beloved husband was her highest ambition. She knew the
greatness of her mate, and all the dreams she had for his advancement were
to come true. With her, ideality was to become reality. But she was to see
it only in part.

Yet she had seen her husband re-elected to the Virginia Legislature; sent
as a member to the Colonial Congress at Philadelphia, there to write the
best known of all American literary productions; from their mountain home
she had seen British troops march into Charlottesville, four miles away,
and then, with household treasure, had fled, knowing that beautiful
Monticello would be devastated by the enemy's ruthless tread. She had
known Washington, and had visited his lonely wife there at Mount Vernon
when victory hung in the balance; when defeat meant that Thomas Jefferson
and George Washington would be the first victims of a vengeful foe. She
saw her husband War-Governor of Virginia in its most perilous hour; she
lived to know that Washington had won; that Cornwallis was his "guest,"
and that no man, save Washington alone, was more honored in proud Virginia
than her beloved lord and husband. She saw a messenger on horseback
approach bearing a packet from the Congress at Philadelphia to the effect
that "His Excellency, the Honorable Thomas Jefferson," had been appointed
as one of an embassy to France in the interests of the United States, with
Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane as colleagues, and, knowing her
husband's love for Franklin, and his respect for France, she leaned over
his chair and with misty eyes saw him write his simple "No," and knew that
the only reason he declined was because he would not leave his wife at a
time when she might most need his tenderness and sympathy.

And then they retired to beloved Monticello to enjoy the rest that comes
only after work well done--to spend the long vacation of their lives in
simple homekeeping work and studious leisure, her husband yet in manhood's
prime, scarce thirty-seven, as men count time, and rich, passing rich, in
goods and lands.

And then she died.

And Thomas Jefferson, the strong, the self-poised, the self-reliant, fell
in a helpless swoon, and was laid on a pallet and carried out, as though
he, too, were dead. For three weeks his dazed senses prayed for death. He
could endure the presence of no one save his eldest daughter, a slim,
slender girl of scarce ten years, grown a woman in a day. By her loving
touch and tenderness he was lured back from death and reason's night into
the world of life and light. With tottering steps, led by the child who
had to think for both, he was taken out on the veranda of beautiful
Monticello. He looked out on stretching miles of dark-blue hills and
waving woods and winding river. He gazed, and as he looked it came slowly
to him that the earth was still as when he last saw it, and realized that
this would be so even if he were gone. Then, turning to the child, who
stood by, stroking his locks, it came to him that even in grief there may
be selfishness, and for the first time he responded to the tender caress,
saying, "Yes, we will live, daughter--live in memory of her!"

       *       *       *       *       *

When two men of equal intelligence and sincerity quarrel, both are
probably right. Hamilton and Jefferson were opposed to each other by
temperament and disposition, in a way that caused either to look with
distrust on any proposition made by the other. And yet, when Washington
pressed upon Jefferson the position of Secretary of State, I can not but
think he did it as an antidote to the growing power and vaunting ambition
of Hamilton. Washington won his victories, as great men ever do, by wisely
choosing his aides. Hamilton had done yeoman's service in every branch of
the government, and while the chief sincerely admired his genius, he
guessed his limitations. Power grows until it topples, and when it
topples, innocent people are crushed. Washington was wise as a serpent,
and rather than risk open ruction with Hamilton by personally setting
bounds, he invited Jefferson into his cabinet, and the acid was
neutralized to a degree where it could be safely handled.

Jefferson had just returned from Paris with his beloved daughter, Martha.
He was intending soon to return to France and study social science at
close range. Already, he had seen that mob of women march out to
Versailles and fetch the King to Paris, and had seen barricade after
barricade erected with the stones from the leveled Bastile; he was on
intimate and affectionate terms with Lafayette and the Republican leaders,
and here was a pivotal point in his life. Had not Washington persuaded
him to remain "just for the present" in America, he might have played a
part in Carlyle's best book, that book which is not history, but more--an
epic. So, among the many obligations that America owes to Washington, must
be named this one of pushing Thomas Jefferson, the scholar and man of
peace, into the political embroglio and shutting the door. Then it was
that Hamilton's taunting temper awoke a degree of power in Jefferson that
before he wist not of; then it was that he first fully realized that the
"United States" with England as a sole pattern was not enough.

A pivotal point! Yes, a pivotal point for Jefferson, America and the
world; for Jefferson gave the rudder of the Ship of State such a turn to
starboard that there was never again danger of her drifting on to
aristocratic shoals, an easy victim to the rapacity of Great Britain.
Hamilton's distrust of the people found no echo in Jefferson's mind.

He agreed with Hamilton that a "strong government" administered by a few,
provided the few are wise and honorable, is the best possible government.
Nay, he went further and declared that an absolute monarchy in which the
monarch was all-wise and all-powerful, could not be improved upon by the
imagination of man.

In his composition, there was a saving touch of humor that both Hamilton
and Washington seemed to lack. He could smile at himself; but none ever
dared turn a joke on Hamilton, much less on Washington. And so when
Hamilton explained that a strong government administered by Washington,
President; Jefferson, Secretary of State; Hamilton, Secretary of the
Treasury; Knox, Secretary of War; and Randolph, Attorney-General, was
pretty nearly ideal, no one smiled. But Jefferson's plain inference was
that power is dangerous and man is fallible; that a man so good as
Washington dies tomorrow and another man steps in, and that those who have
the government in their present keeping should curb ambitions, limit their
own power, and thus fix a precedent for those who are to follow.

The wisdom that Jefferson as a statesman showed in working for a future
good, and the willingness to forego the pomp of personal power, to
sacrifice self if need be, that the day he should not see might be secure,
ranks him as first among statesmen. For a statesman is one who builds a
State--and not a politician who is dead, as some have said.

Others, since, have followed Jefferson's example, but in the world's
history I do not recall a man before him who, while still having power in
his grasp, was willing to trust the people.

The one mistake of Washington that borders on blunder was in refusing to
take wages for his work. In doing this, he visited untold misery on
others, who, not having married rich widows, tried to follow his example
and floundered into woeful debt and disgrace; and thereby were lost to
useful society and to the world. And there are yet many public offices
where small men rattle about because men who can fill the place can not
afford it. Bryce declares that no able and honest man of moderate means
can afford to take an active part in municipal affairs in America--and
Bryce is right.

When Jefferson became President, in his messages to Congress again and
again he advised the fixing of sufficient salaries to secure the best men
for every branch of the service, and suggested the folly of expecting
anything for nothing, or the hope of officials not "fixing things" if not
properly paid.

Men from the soil who gain power are usually intoxicated by it; beginning
as democrats they evolve into aristocrats, then into tyrants, if kindly
Fate does not interpose, and are dethroned by the people who made them.
And it is not surprising that this man, born into a plenty that bordered
on affluence, and who never knew from experience the necessity of economy
(until in old age tobacco and slavery had wrecked Virginia and Monticello
alike), should set an almost ideal example of simplicity, moderation and
brotherly kindness.

Among the chief glories that belong to him are these:

1. Writing the Declaration of Independence.

2. Suggesting and carrying out the present decimal monetary system.

3. Inducing Virginia to deed to the States, as their common property, the
Northwest Territory.

4. Purchasing from France, for the comparatively trifling sum of fifteen
million dollars, Louisiana and the territory running from the Gulf of
Mexico to Puget's Sound, being at the rate of a fraction of a cent per
acre, and giving the United States full control of the Mississippi River.

But over and beyond these is the spirit of patriotism that makes each true
American feel he is parcel and part of the very fabric of the State, and
in his deepest heart believe that "a government of the people, by the
people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."


    The body of the people are now in council. Their opposition grows
    into a system. They are united and resolute. And if the British
    Administration and Government do not return to the principles of
    moderation and equity, the evil, which they profess to aim at
    preventing by their rigorous measures, will the sooner be brought
    to pass, viz., the entire separation and independence of the
    --Letter to Arthur Lee

[Illustration: SAMUEL ADAMS]

Samuel and John Adams were second cousins, having the same
great-grandfather. Between them in many ways there was a marked contrast,
but true to their New England instincts both were theologians.

John was a conservative in politics, and at first had little sympathy with
"those small-minded men who refused to pay a trivial tax on their tea; and
who would plunge the country into war, and ruin all for a matter of
stamps." John was born and lived at the village of Braintree. He did not
really center his mind on politics until the British had closed all
law-courts in Boston, thus making his profession obsolete. He was
scholarly, shrewd, diplomatic, cautious, good-natured, fat, and took his
religion with a wink. He was blessed with a wife who was worthy of being
the mother of kings (or presidents); he lived comfortably, acquired
property, and died aged ninety-two. He had been President and seen his son
President of the United States, and that is an experience that has never
come and probably never will come to another living man, for there seems
to be an unwritten law that no man under fifty shall occupy the office of
Chief Magistrate of these United States.

Samuel was stern, serious and deeply in earnest. He seldom smiled and
never laughed. He was uncompromisingly religious, conscientious and
morally unbending. In his life there was no soft sentiment. The fact that
he ran a brewery can be excused when we remember that the best spirit of
the times saw nothing inconsistent in the occupation; and further than
this we might explain in extenuation that he gave the business indifferent
attention, and the quality of his brew was said to be very bad.

In religion, he swerved not nor wavered. He was a Calvinist and clung to
the five points with a tenacity at times seemingly quite unnecessary.

When in that first Congress, Samuel Adams publicly consented to the
opening of the meeting with religious service conducted by the Reverend
Mr. Duche, an Episcopal clergyman, he gave a violent wrench to his
conscience and an awful shock to his friends. But Mr. Duche met the issue
in the true spirit, and leaving his detested "popery robe" and prayer-book
at home uttered an extemporaneous invocation, without a trace of intoning,
that pleased the Puritans and caused one of them to remark, "He is surely
coming over to the Lord's side!"

But in politics, Samuel Adams was a liberal of the liberals. In
statecraft, the heresy of change had no terrors for him, and with Hamlet,
he might have said, "Oh, reform it altogether!"

The limitations set in every character seem to prevent a man from being
generous in more than one direction; the bigot in religion is often a
liberal in politics, and vice versa. For instance, physicians are almost
invariably liberal in religious matters, but are prone to call a man
"Mister" who does not belong to their school; while orthodox clergymen, I
have noticed, usually employ a homeopathist.

In that most valuable and interesting work, "The Diary of John Adams," the
author refers repeatedly to Samuel Adams as "Adams"! This simple way of
using the word "Adams" shows a world of appreciation for the man who
blazed the path that others of this illustrious name might follow. And so
with the high precedent in mind, I, too, will drop prefix and call my
subject simply "Adams."

On the authority of King George, General Gage made an offer of pardon to
all save two who had figured in the Boston uprising.

The two men thus honored were John Hancock (whose signature the King could
read without spectacles), and the other was "one, S. Adams."

Adams, however, was the real offender, and the plea might have been made
for John Hancock that, if it had not been for accident and Adams, Hancock
would probably have remained loyal to the mother country.

Hancock was aristocratic, cultured and complacent. He was the richest man
in New England. His personal interests were on the side of peace and the
established order. But circumstances and the combined tact and zeal of
Adams threw him off his guard, and in a moment of dalliance the seeds of
sedition found lodgment in his brain. And the more he thought about it,
the nearer he came to the conclusion that Adams was right. But let the
fact further be stated, if truth demands, that both John Hancock and
Samuel Adams, the first men who clearly and boldly expressed the idea of
American Independence, were moved in the beginning by personal grievances.

A single motion made before the British Parliament by we know not whom,
and put to vote by the Speaker, bankrupted the father of Samuel Adams and
robbed the youth of his patrimony.

The boy was then seventeen; old enough to know that from plenty his father
was reduced to penury, and this because England, three thousand miles
away, had interfered with the business arrangements of the Colony, and
made unlawful a private banking scheme.

Then did the boy ask the question, What moral right has England to govern
us, anyway?

From thinking it over he began to formulate reasons. He discussed the
subject at odd times and thought of it continually, and, in Seventeen
Hundred Forty-three, when he prepared his graduation thesis at Harvard
College he chose for his subject, "The Doctrine of the Lawfulness of
Resistance to the Supreme Magistrate if the Commonwealth Can Not Otherwise
be Preserved."

When Massachusetts admitted that she was under subjection to the King, yet
argued for the right to nullify the Acts of the English Parliament, she
took exactly the same ground that South Carolina did a hundred years
later. The logic of Samuel Adams and of Robert Hayne was one and the same.

Yet we are glad that Adams carried his point; and we rejoice exceedingly
that Hayne failed, so curious are these things we call "reasons."

The royalists who heard of this youth with a logical mind denounced him
without stint. A few newspapers upheld him and spoke of the right of free
speech and all that, reprinting the thesis in full. And in the controversy
that followed, young Adams was always a prominent figure. He was not an
orator in the popular sense, but he held the pen of a ready writer, and
through the Boston papers kept up a constant fusillade.

The tricks of journalism are no new thing belonging to the fag-end of this
century. Young Adams wrote letters over the "nom de plume" of Pro Bono
Publico, and then replied to them over the signature of Rex Americus. He
did not adopt as his motto, "Let not thy left hand know what thy right
hand doeth," for he wrote with both hands and each hand was in the secret.

During the years that followed his graduation from college he was a
businessman and a poor one, for a man who looks after public affairs much
can not attend to his own. But he managed to make shift; and when too
closely pressed by creditors, a loan from Hancock, or John Adams,
Hancock's attorney, relieved the pressure. In fact, when he went to
Philadelphia "on that very important errand," he rode a horse borrowed
from John Adams, and his Sunday coat was the gift of a thoughtful friend.

In Seventeen Hundred Sixty-three, it became known that the British
Government had on foot a scheme to demand a tribute from the Colonies. On
invitation of a committee, possibly appointed by Adams, Adams was
requested to draw up instructions to the Representatives in the Colonial
Legislature. Adams did so and the document is now in the archives of the
old State House at Boston, in the plain and elegant penmanship that is so
easily recognized. This document calls itself, "The First Public Denial of
the Right of the British Parliament to tax the Colonies without their
Consent, and the first Public Suggestion of a Union on the part of the
Colonies to Protect themselves against British Aggression."

The style of the paper is lucid, firm and logical; it combines in itself
the suggestion of all there was to be said or could be said on the matter.
Adams saw all over and around his topic--no unpleasant surprise could be
sprung on him--twenty-five years had he studied this one theme. He had
made himself familiar with the political history of every nation so far as
such history could be gathered; he was past master of his subject.

However, when he was forty years of age his followers were few and mostly
men of small influence. The Calkers' Club was the home of the sedition,
and many of the members were day-laborers. But the idea of independence
gradually grew, and, in Seventeen Hundred Sixty-five, Adams was elected a
member of the Massachusetts Colonial Legislature. In honor of his writing
ability, he was chosen clerk of the Assembly, for in all public gatherings
orators are chosen as presidents and newspapermen for secretaries. Thus
are honors distributed, and thus, too, does the public show which talent
it values most.

On November Second, Seventeen Hundred Seventy-two, on motion of Adams, a
committee of several hundred citizens was appointed "to state the Rights
of the Colonies and to communicate and publish them to the World as the
sense of the Town, with the infringements and violations thereof that have
been or may be made from time to time; also requesting from each Town a
free communication of their sentiments on this Subject."

This was the Committee of Correspondence from which grew the union of the
Colonies and the Congress of the United States. It is a pretty well
attested fact that the first suggestion of the Philadelphia Congress came
from Samuel Adams, and the chief work of bringing it about was also his.

It was well known to the British Government who the chief agitator was,
and when General Gage arrived in Boston in May, Seventeen Hundred
Seventy-four, his first work was an attempt to buy off Samuel Adams. With
Adams out of the way, England might have adopted a policy of conciliation
and kept America for her very own--yes, to the point of moving the home
government here and saving the snug little island as a colony, for both in
wealth and in population America has now far surpassed England.

But Adams was not for sale. His reply to Gage sounds like a scrap from
Cromwell: "I trust I have long since made my peace with the King of Kings.
No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the Righteous Cause
of my Country."

Gage having refused to recognize the thirteen Counselors appointed by the
people, the General Court of Massachusetts, in secret session, appointed
five delegates to attend the Congress of Colonies at Philadelphia. Of
course Samuel Adams was one of these delegates; and to John Adams, another
delegate, are we indebted for a minute description of that most momentous

A room in the State House had been offered the delegates, but with
commendable modesty they accepted the offer of the Carpenters' Company to
use their hall.

And so there they convened on the fifth day of September, Seventeen
Hundred Seventy-four, having met by appointment, and walked over from the
City Tavern in a body. Forty-four men were present--not a large
gathering, but they had come hundreds of miles, and several of them had
been months on the journey.

They were a sturdy lot; and madam! I think it would have been worth while
to have looked in upon them. There were several coonskin caps in evidence;
also lace and frills and velvet brought from England--but plainness to
severity was the rule. Few of these men had ever been away from their own
Colonies before, few had ever met any members of the Congress save their
own colleagues. They represented civilizations of very different degrees.
Each stood a bit in awe of all the rest. Several of the Colonies had been
in conflict with the others.

Meeting new men in those days, when even the stagecoach was a passing show
worth going miles to see, was an event. There was awkwardness and
nervousness on the swarthy faces; firm mouths twitched, and big, bony
hands sought for places of concealment.

The meeting had been called for September First, but was postponed for
five days awaiting the arrival of belated delegates who had been detained
by floods. Even then, delegates from North Carolina had not arrived, and
Georgia not having thought it worth while to send any, eleven Colonies
only were represented. Each delegation naturally kept together, as men
will who have a fighting history and a pioneer ancestry.

It was a serious, solemn business, and these men were not given to levity
in any event. When they were seated, there was a moment of silence so
tense it could be heard. Every chance movement of a foot on the uncarpeted
floor sent an echo through the room.

The stillness was first broken by Mr. Lynch, of South Carolina, who arose
and in a low, clear voice said: "There is a gentleman present who has
presided with great dignity over a very respectable body and greatly to
the advantage of America. Gentlemen, I move that the Honorable Peyton
Randolph, one of the delegates from Virginia, be appointed to preside over
this meeting. I doubt not it will be unanimous."

It was so; and a large man in powdered wig and scarlet coat arose, and,
carrying his gold-headed cane before him like a mace, walked to the
platform without apology.

The New Englanders in homespun looked at one another with trepidation on
their features. The red coat was not assuring, but they kept their peace
and breathed hard, praying that the enemy had not captured the convention
through strategy. Mr. Randolph's first suggestion was not revolutionary;
it was that a secretary be appointed.

Again Mr. Lynch arose and named Charles Thomson, "a gentleman of family,
fortune and character." This testimonial of family and fortune was not
assuring to the plain Massachusetts men, but they said nothing and awaited

All were cautious as woodsmen, and the motion that the Council be held
behind closed doors was adopted. Every member then held up his right hand
and made a solemn promise to divulge no part of the transactions; and
Galloway, of Pennsylvania, promised with the rest, and straightway each
night informed the enemy of every move.

Little was done that first day but get acquainted by talking very
cautiously and very politely. The next day a notable member had arrived,
and in a front seat sat Richard Henry Lee, a man you would turn and look
at in any company. Slender and dark, with a brilliant eye and a
profile--and only one man in ten thousand has a profile--Lee was a
gracious presence. His voice was gentle and flexible and luring, and there
was a dignity and poise in his manner that made him easily the foremost
orator of his time.

Near him sat William Livingston, of New Jersey, and John Jay, his
son-in-law, the youngest man in the Congress, with a nose that denoted
character, and all his fame in the future.

The Pennsylvanians were all together, grouped on one side. Duane, of New
York, sat near them, "shy and squint-eyed, very sensible and very artful,"
wrote John Adams that night in his diary.

Then over there sat Christopher Gadsden, of South Carolina, who had
preached independence for full ten years before this, and who, when he
heard that the British soldiers had taken Boston, proposed to raise a
troop at once and fight redcoats wherever found.

"But the British will burn our seaport towns if we antagonize them," some
timid soul explained.

"Our towns are built of brick and wood; if they are burned we can rebuild
them; but liberty once gone is gone forever," he retorted. And the saying
sounds well, even if it will not stand analysis.

Back near the wall was a man who, when the assembly stood at morning
prayers, showed a half-head above his neighbors. His face was broad, and
he, too, had a profile. His mouth was tightly closed, and during the first
fourteen days of that Congress he never opened it to utter a word, and
after his long quiet he broke the silence by saying, "Mr. President, I
second the motion." Once, in a passionate speech, Lynch turned to him and
pointing his finger said: "There is a man who has not spoken here, but in
the Virginia Assembly he made the most eloquent speech I ever heard. He
said, 'I will raise a thousand men, and arm and subsist them at my expense
and march them to the relief of Boston.'" And then did the tall man, whose
name was George Washington, blush like a schoolgirl.

But in all that company the men most noticed were the five members from
Massachusetts. They were Bowdoin, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Gushing and
Robert Treat Paine. Massachusetts had thus far taken the lead in the
struggle with England. A British army was encamped upon her soil, her
chief city besieged--the port closed. Her sufferings had called this
Congress into being, and to her delegates the members had come to listen.
All recognized Samuel Adams as the chief man of the Convention. His hand
wrote the invitations and earnest requests to come. Galloway, writing to
his friends, the enemy, said: "Samuel Adams eats little, drinks little,
sleeps little and thinks much. He is most decisive and indefatigable in
the pursuit of his object. He is the man who, by his superior application,
manages at once the faction in Philadelphia and the factions of New

Yet Samuel Adams talked little at the Convention. He allowed John Adams to
state the case, but sat next to him supplying memoranda, occasionally
arising to make remarks or explanations in a purely conversational tone.
But so earnest and impressive was his manner, so ably did he answer every
argument and reply to every objection, that he thoroughly convinced a
tall, angular, homely man by the name of Patrick Henry of the
righteousness of his cause. Patrick Henry was pretty thoroughly convinced
before, but the recital of Boston's case fired the Virginian, and he made
the first and only real speech of the Congress. In burning words he
pictured all the Colonies had suffered and endured, and by his matchless
eloquence told in prophetic words of the glories yet to be. In his speech
he paid just tribute to the genius of Samuel Adams, declaring that the
good that was to come from this "first of an unending succession of
Congresses" was owing to the work of Adams. And in after-years Adams
repaid the compliment by saying that if it had not been for the cementing
power of Patrick Henry's eloquence, that first Congress probably would
have ended in a futile wrangle.

The South regarded, in great degree, the fight in Boston as Massachusetts'
own. To make the entire thirteen Colonies adopt the quarrel and back the
Colonial army in the vicinity of Boston was the only way to make the issue
a success, and to unite the factions by choosing for a leader a Virginian
aristocrat was a crowning stroke of diplomacy.

John Hancock had succeeded Randolph as president of the second Congress,
and Virginia was inclined to be lukewarm, when John Adams in an
impassioned speech nominated Colonel George Washington as
Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. The nomination was seconded
very quietly by Samuel Adams. It was a vote, and the South was committed
to the cause of backing up Washington, and, incidentally, New England. The
entire plan was probably the work of Samuel Adams, yet he gave the credit
to John, while the credit of stoutly opposing it goes to John Hancock,
who, being presiding officer, worked at a disadvantage.

But Adams had a way of reducing opposition to the minimum. He kept out of
sight and furthered his ends by pushing this man or that to the front at
the right time to make the plea. He was a master in that fine art of
managing men and never letting them know they are managed. By keeping
behind the arras, he accomplished purposes that a leader never can who
allows his personality to be in continual evidence, for personality repels
as well as attracts, and the man too much before the public is sure to be
undone eventually. Adams knew that the power of Pericles lay largely in
the fact that he was never seen upon but a single street of Athens, and
that but once a year.

The complete writings of Adams have recently been collected and published.
One marvels that such valuable material has not before been printed and
given to the public, for the literary style and perspicuity shown are most
inspiring, and the value of the data can not be gainsaid.

No one ever accused Adams of being a muddy thinker; you grant his premises
and you are bound to accept his conclusions. He leaves no loopholes for

The following words, used by Chatham, refer to documents in which Adams
took a prominent part in preparing: "When your Lordships look at the
papers transmitted us from America, when you consider their decency,
firmness and wisdom, you can not but respect their cause and wish to make
it your own. For myself, I must avow that, in all my reading--and I have
read Thucydides and have studied and admired the master statesmen of the
world--for solidity of reason, force of sagacity, and wisdom of
conclusion under a complication of difficult circumstances, no body of men
can stand in preference to the general Congress of Philadelphia. The
histories of Greece and Rome give us nothing like it, and all attempts to
impress servitude on such a mighty continental people must be in vain."

In the life of Adams there was no soft sentiment nor romantic vagaries.
"He is a Puritan in all the word implies, and the unbending fanatic of
independence," wrote Gage, and the description fits.

He was twice married. Our knowledge of his first wife is very slight, but
his second wife, Elizabeth Wells, daughter of an English merchant, was a
capable woman of brave good sense. She adopted her husband's political
views and with true womanly devotion let her old kinsmen slide; and during
the dark hours of the war bore deprivation without repining.

Adams' home life was simple to the verge of hardship. All through life he
was on the ragged edge financially, and in his latter years he was for the
first time relieved from pressing obligations by an afflicting event--the
death of his only son, who was a surgeon in Washington's army. The money
paid to the son by the Government for his services gave the father the
only financial competency he ever knew. Two daughters survived him, but
with him died the name.

John Adams survived Samuel for twenty-three years. He lived to see "the
great American experiment," as Mr. Ruskin has been pleased to call our
country, on a firm basis, constantly growing stronger and stronger. He
lived to realize that the sanguine prophecies made by Samuel were working
themselves out in very truth.

The grave of Samuel Adams is viewed by more people than that of any other
American patriot. In the old Granary Burying-Ground, in the very center of
Boston, on Tremont Street--there where travel congests, and two living
streams meet all day long---you look through the iron fence, so slender
that it scarce impedes the view, and not twenty feet from the curb is a
simple metal disk set on an iron rod driven into the ground and on it this
inscription: "This marks the grave of Samuel Adams."

For many years the grave was unmarked, and the disk that now denotes it
was only recently placed in position by the Sons of the American
Revolution. But the place of Samuel Adams on the pages of history is
secure. Upon the times in which he lived he exercised a profound
influence. And he who influences the times in which he lives has
influenced all the times that come after; he has left his impress on


    Boston, Sept. 30, 1765


    Since my last I have receiv'd your favour by Capt Hulme who is
    arriv'd here with the most disagreeable Commodity (say Stamps)
    that were imported into this Country & what if carry'd into
    Execution will entirely Stagnate Trade here, for it is
    universally determined here never to Submitt to it and the
    principal merchts here will by no means carry on Business under a
    Stamp, we are in the utmost Confusion here and shall be more so
    after the first of November & nothing but the repeal of the act
    will righten, the Consequence of its taking place here will be
    bad, & attended with many troubles, & I believe may say more
    fatal to you than us. I dread the Event.
    --Extract From Hancock's Letter-Book

[Illustration: JOHN HANCOCK]

Long years ago when society was young, learning was centered in one man in
each community, and that man was the priest. It was the priest who was
sent for in every emergency of life. He taught the young, prescribed for
the sick, advised those who were in trouble, and when human help was vain
and man had done his all, this priest knelt at the bedside of the dying
and invoked a Power with whom it was believed he had influence.

The so-called learned professions are only another example of the Division
of Labor. We usually say there are three learned professions: Theology,
Medicine and Law. As to which is the greatest is a much-mooted question
and has caused too many family feuds for me to attempt to decide it. And
so I evade the issue and say there is a fourth profession, that is only
allowed to be called so by grace, but which in my mind is greater than
them all--the profession of Teacher. I can conceive of a condition of
society so high and excellent that it has no use for either doctor, lawyer
or preacher, but the teacher would still be needed. Ignorance and sin
supply the three "learned professions" their excuse for being, but the
teacher's work is to develop the germ of wisdom that is in every soul.

And now each of these professions has divided up, like monads, into many
heads. In medicine, we have as many specialists as there are organs of the
body. The lawyer who advises you in a copyright or patent cause knows
nothing about admiralty; and as they tell us a man who pleads his own case
has a fool for a client, so does the insurance lawyer who is retained to
foreclose a mortgage. In all prosperous city churches, the preacher who
attracts the crowd in the morning allows a 'prentice to preach to the
young folks in the evening; he does not make pastoral calls; and the
curate who reads the service at funerals is never called upon to perform a
marriage ceremony except in a case of charity. Likewise the teacher's
profession has its specialists: the man who teaches Greek well can not
write good English; the man who teaches composition is baffled and
perplexed by long division; and the teacher who delights in trigonometry
pooh-poohs a kindergartner.

Just where this evolutionary dividing and subdividing of social cells will
land the race no man can say; but that a specialist is a dangerous man, is
sure. He is a buzz-saw with which wise men never monkey. A surgeon who has
operated for appendicitis five times successfully is above all to be
avoided. I once knew a man with lung trouble who inadvertently strayed
into an oculist's and was looked over and sent away with an order on an
optician. And should you through error stray into the office of a nose and
throat specialist, and ask him to treat you for varicose veins, he would
probably do so by nasal douche.

Even now a specialist in theology will lead us, if he can, a merry
"ignis-fatuus" chase and land us in a morass. The only thing that saved
the priest in days agone was the fact that he had so many duties to
perform that he exercised all his mental muscles, and thus attained a
degree of all-roundness which is not possible to the specialist. Even then
there were not lacking men who found time to devote to specialties: Bishop
Georgius Ambrosius, for instance, who in the Fifteenth Century produced a
learned work proving that women have no souls. And a like book was written
at Nashville, Tennessee, in Eighteen Hundred Fifty-nine, by the Reverend
Hubert Parsons of the Methodist Episcopal Church (South), showing that
negroes were in a like predicament. But a more notable instance of the
danger of a specialty is the Reverend Cotton Mather, who investigated the
subject of witchcraft and issued a modest brochure incorporating his views
on the subject. He succeeded in convincing at least one man of its verity,
and that man was himself, and thus immortality was given to the town of
Salem, which, otherwise, would have no claim on us for remembrance, save
that Hawthorne was once a clerk in its custom-house.

A very slight study of Colonial history will show any student that, for
two centuries, the ministers in New England occupied very much the same
position in society that the priest did during the Middle Ages. As the
monks kept learning from dying off the face of the earth, so did the
ministers of the New World preserve culture from passing into
forgetfulness. Very seldom, indeed, were books to be found in a community
except at the minister's. And during the Seventeenth Century, and well
into the Eighteenth, he combined in himself the offices of doctor, lawyer,
preacher and teacher. Mr. Lowell has said: "I can not remember when there
was not one or more students in my father's household, and others still
who came at regular intervals to recite. And this was the usual custom. It
was the minister who fitted boys for college, and no youth was ever sent
away to school until he had been drilled by the local clergyman."

And it must further be noted that genealogical tables show that very
nearly all of the eminent men of New England were sons of ministers, or of
an ancestry where ministers' names are seen at frequent intervals. As an
intellectual and moral force, the minister has now but a rudiment of the
power he once exercised. The tendency to specialize all art and all
knowledge has to a degree shorn him of his strength. And to such an extent
is this true, that within forty years it has passed into a common proverb
that the sons of clergymen are rascals, whereas in Colonial days the
highest recommendation a youth could carry was that he was the son of a

The Reverend John Hancock, grandfather of John Hancock the patriot, was
for more than half a century the minister of Lexington, Massachusetts. I
say "the minister," because there was only one: the keen competition of
sect that establishes half a dozen preachers in a small community is a
very modern innovation.

John Hancock, "Bishop of Lexington," was a man of pronounced personality,
as is plainly seen in his portrait in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. They
say he ruled the town with a rod of iron; and when the young men, who
adorned the front steps of the meetinghouse during service, grew
disorderly, he stopped in his prayer, and going outside soundly cuffed the
ears of the first delinquent he could lay hands upon. In his clay there
was a dash of facetiousness that saved him from excess, supplying a useful
check to his zeal--for zeal uncurbed is very bad. He was a wise and
beneficent dictator; and government under such a one can not be improved
upon. His manner was gracious, frank and open, and such was the specific
gravity of his nature that his words carried weight, and his wish was

The house where this fine old autocrat lived and reigned is standing in
Lexington now. When you walk out through Cambridge and Arlington on your
way to Concord, following the road the British took on their way out to
Concord, you will pass by it. It is a good place to stop and rest. You
will know the place by the tablet in front, on which is the legend: "Here
John Hancock and Samuel Adams were sleeping on the night of the
Eighteenth of April, Seventeen Hundred Seventy-five, when aroused by Paul

The Reverend Jonas Clark owned the house after the Reverend John Hancock,
and the ministries of those two men, and their occupancy of the house,
cover one hundred years and five years more. Here the thirteen children of
Jonas Clark were born, and all lived to be old men and women. When you
call there I hope you will be treated with the same gentle courtesy that I
met. If you delay not your visit too long, you will see a fine, motherly
woman, with white "sausage curls" and a high back-comb, wearing a check
dress and felt slippers, and she will tell you that she is over eighty,
and that when her mother was a little girl she once sat on Governor
Hancock's knee and he showed her the works in his watch.

And then as you go away you will think again of what the old lady has just
told you, and as you look back for a parting glance at the house, standing
firm and solemn in its rusty-gray dignity, you will doff your hat to it,
and mayhap murmur: The days of man on earth--they are but as a passing

"Here John Hancock and Samuel Adams were sleeping when aroused by Paul
Revere!" Merchant-prince and agitator, horse and rider--where are you now?
And is your sleep disturbed by dreams of British redcoats or hissing

Phantom British warships may lie at their moorings, swinging wide on the
unforgetting tide, lanterns may hang high in the belfry of the Old North
Church tower, hurried knocks and calls of defiance and hoof-beats of
fast-galloping steed may echo and echo again, borne on the night-wind of
the dim Past, but you heed them not!

       *       *       *       *       *

The Reverend John Hancock of Lexington had two sons. John Hancock (Number
Two) became pastor of the church of the North Precinct of the town of
Braintree, which afterwards was to be the town of Quincy.

The nearest neighbor to the village preacher was John Adams, shoemaker and
farmer. Each Sunday in the amen corner of the Reverend John Hancock's
meetinghouse was mustered the well washed and combed brood of Mr. and Mrs.
Adams. Now, this John Adams had a son whom the Reverend John Hancock
baptized, also named John, two years older than John, the son of the
preacher. And young John Adams and John Hancock (Number Three) used to
fish and swim together, and go nutting, and set traps for squirrels, and
help each other in fractions. And then they would climb trees, and
wrestle, and sometimes fight. In the fights, they say, John Hancock used
to get the better of his antagonist, but as an exploiter of fractions John
Adams was more than his equal.

The parents of John Adams were industrious and savin'--the little farm
prospered, for Boston supplied a goodly market, and weekly trips were made
there in a one-horse cart, often piloted by young John, with the
minister's boy for ballast. The Adams family had ambitions for their son
John--he was to go to Harvard and be educated, and be a minister and
preach at Braintree, or Weymouth, or perhaps even Boston!

In the meantime the Reverend John Hancock had died, and the widowed mother
was not able to give her boy a college education--times were hard.

But the lad's uncle, Thomas Hancock, a prosperous merchant of Boston, took
quite an interest in young John. And it occurred to him to adopt the
fatherless boy, legally, as his own. The mother demurred, but after some
months decided that it was best so, for when twenty-one he would be her
boy just as much and as truly as if his uncle had not adopted him. And so
the rich uncle took him, and rigged him out with a deal finer clothing
than he had ever before worn, and sent him to the Latin School and
afterward over to Cambridge, with silver jingling in his pocket.

Prosperity is a severe handicap to youth; not very many grown men can
stand it; but beyond a needless display of velvet coats and frilled
shirts, the young man stood the test, and got through Harvard. In point of
scholarship he did not stand so high as John Adams; and between the lads
there grew a small but well-defined gulf, as is but natural between
homespun and broadcloth. Still the gulf was not impassable, for over it
friendly favors were occasionally passed.

John Hancock's mother wanted him to be a preacher, but Uncle Thomas would
not listen to it--the youth must be taught to be a merchant, so he could
be the ready helper and then the successor of his foster-father.

Graduating at the early age of seventeen, John Hancock at once went to
work in his uncle's counting-house in Boston. He was a fine, tall fellow
with dash and spirit, and seemed to show considerable aptitude for the
work. The business prospered, and Uncle Thomas was very proud of his
handsome ward, who was quite in demand at parties and balls and in a
general social way, while the uncle could not dance a minuet to save him.

Not needing the young man very badly around the store, the uncle sent him
to Europe to complete his education by travel. He went with the retiring
Governor Pownal, whose taste for social enjoyment was very much in accord
with his own. In England, he attended the funeral of George the Second,
and saw the coronation of George the Third, little thinking the while that
he would some day make violent efforts to snatch from that crown its
brightest jewel.

When young Hancock was twenty-seven, the uncle died, and left to him his
entire fortune of three hundred fifty thousand dollars. It made him one of
the very richest men in the Colony--for at that time there was not a man
in Massachusetts worth half a million dollars.

The jingling silver in his pocket when sent to Harvard had severely tested
his moral fiber, but this great fortune came near smothering all his
native commonsense. If a man makes his money himself, he stands a certain
chance of growing as the pile grows.

There is little doubt as to the soundness of Emerson's epigram, that what
you put into his chest you take out of the man. More than this, when a man
gradually accumulates wealth, it attracts little attention, so the mob
that follows the newly rich never really gets on to the scent. And besides
that, the man who makes his own fortune always stands ready to repel

There may be young men of twenty-seven who are men grown, and no doubt
every man of twenty-seven is very sure that he is one of these; but the
thought that man is mortal never occurs to either men or women until they
are past thirty. The blood is warm, conquest lies before, and to seize the
world by the tail and snap its head off seems both easy and desirable.

The promoters, the flatterers and friends until then unknown flocked to
Hancock and condoled with him on the death of his uncle. Some wanted small
loans to tide over temporary emergencies, others had business ventures in
hand whereby John Hancock could double his wealth very shortly. Still
others spoke of wealth being a trust, and to use money to help your
fellow-men, and thus to secure the gratitude of many, was the proper

The unselfishness of the latter suggestion appealed to Hancock. To be the
friend of humanity, to assist others--this is the highest ambition to
which a man can aspire! And, of course, if one is pointed out on the
street as the good Mr. Hancock it can not be helped. It is the penalty of

So in order to give work to many and to promote the interests of Boston, a
thriving city of fifteen thousand inhabitants, for all good men wish to
build up the place in which they live, John Hancock was induced to embark
in shipbuilding. He also owned several ships of his own which traded with
London and the West Indies, and was part owner of others. But he publicly
explained that he did not care to make money for himself--his desire was
to give employment to the worthy poor and to enhance the good of Boston.

The aristocratic company of militia, known as the Governor's Guard, had
been fitted out with new uniforms and arms by the generous Hancock, and he
had been chosen commanding officer, with rank of Colonel. He drilled with
the crack company and studied the manual much more diligently than he ever
had his Bible.

Hancock lived in the mansion, inherited from his uncle, on Beacon Street,
facing the Common. There was a chariot and six horses for state occasions,
much fine furniture from over the sea, elegant clothes that the Puritans
called "gaudy apparel," and at the dinners the wine flowed freely, and
cards, dancing and music filled many a night.

The Puritan neighbors were shocked, and held up their hands in horror to
think that the son of a minister should so affront the staid and sober
customs of his ancestors. Still others said, "Why, that's what a rich man
should do--spend his money, of course; Hancock is the benefactor of his
kind; just see how many people he employs!"

The town was all agog, and Hancock was easily Boston's first citizen, but
in his time of prosperity he did not forget his old friends. He sent for
them to come and make merry with him; and among the first in his good
offices was John Adams, the rising young lawyer of Braintree.

John Adams had found clients scarce, and those he had, poor pay, but when
he became the trusted legal adviser of John Hancock, things took a turn
and prosperity came that way. The wine and cards and dinners hadn't much
attraction for him, but still there were no conscientious scruples in the
way. He patted John Hancock on the back, assured him that he was the
people, looked after his interests loyally, and extracted goodly fees for
services performed.

At the home of Adams at Braintree, Hancock had met a quiet, taciturn
individual by the name of Samuel Adams. This man he had long known in a
casual way, but had never been able really to make his acquaintance. He
was fifteen years older than Hancock, and by his quiet dignity and
self-possession made quite an impression on the young man.

So, now that prosperity had smiled, Hancock invited him to his house, but
the quiet man was an ascetic and neither played cards, drank wine nor
danced, and so declined with thanks.

But not long after, he requested a small loan from the merchant-prince,
and asked it as though it were his right, and so he got it. His manner was
in such opposition to the flatterers and those who crawled, and whined,
and begged, that Hancock was pleased with the man. Samuel Adams had
declined Hancock's social favors, and yet, in asking for a loan, showed
his friendliness.

Samuel Adams was a politician, and had long taken an active part in the
town meetings. In fact, to get a measure through, it was well to have
Samuel Adams at your side. He was clear-headed, astute, and knew the human
heart. Yet he talked but little, and the convivial ways of the small
politician were far from him; but in the fine art that can manage men and
never let them know they are managed he was a past-master. Tucked in his
sleeve, no doubt, was a degree of pride in his power, but the stoic
quality in his nature never allowed him to break into laughter when he
considered how he led men by the nose.

In Boston and its vicinity, Samuel Adams was not highly regarded, and
outside of Boston, at forty years of age, he was positively unknown. The
neighbors regarded him as a harmless fanatic, sane on most subjects, but
possessed of a buzzing bee in his bonnet to the effect that the Colonies
should be separated from their protector, England. Samuel Adams neglected
his business and kept up a fusillade of articles in the newspapers, on
various political subjects, and men who do this are regarded everywhere as
"queer." A professional newspaper-writer never takes his calling
seriously--it is business. He writes to please his employer, or if he owns
the paper himself, he still writes to please his employer, that is to say,
the public. Journalism, thy name is pander!

The man who comes up the stairway furtively, with a manuscript he wants
printed, is in dead earnest; and he has excited the ridicule, wrath or
pity of editors for three hundred years. Such a one was Samuel Adams. His
wife did her own work, and the grocer with bills in his hand often grew
red in the face and knocked in vain.

And yet the keen intellect of Samuel Adams was not a thing to smile at.
Any one who stood before him, face to face, felt the power of the man, and
acknowledged it then and there, as we always do when we stand in the
presence of a strong individuality. And this inward acknowledgment of
worth was instinctively made by John Hancock, the biggest man in all
Boston town.

John Hancock, through his genial, glowing personality, and his lavish
spending of money, was very popular. He was being fed on flattery, and the
more a man gets of flattery, once the taste is acquired, the more he
craves. It is like the mad thirst for liquor, or the Romeike habit.

John Hancock was getting attention, and he wanted more. He had been chosen
selectman to fill the place that his uncle had occupied, and when Samuel
Adams incidentally dropped a remark that good men were needed in the
General Court, John Hancock agreed with him. He was named for the office
and with Samuel Adams' help was easily elected.

Not long after this, the sloop "Liberty" was seized by the government
officials for violation of the revenue laws. The craft was owned by John
Hancock and had surreptitiously landed a cargo of wine without paying

When the ship of Boston's chief citizen was seized by the bumptious,
gilt-braided British officials, there was a merry uproar. All the men in
the shipyards quit work, and the Calkers' Club, of which Samuel Adams was
secretary, passed hot resolutions and revolutionary preambles and eulogies
of John Hancock, who was doing so much for Boston.

In fact, there was a riot, and three regiments of British troops were
ordered to Boston.

And this was the very first step on the part of England to enforce her
authority, by arms, in America.

The troops were in the town to preserve order, but the mob would not
disperse. Upon the soldiers, they heaped every indignity and insult. They
dared them to shoot, and with clubs and stones drove the soldiers before
them. At last the troops made a stand and in order to save themselves from
absolute rout fired a volley. Five men fell dead--and the mob dispersed.

This was the so-called Boston massacre.

Pinkerton guards would blush at bagging so small a game with a volley.
They have done better again and again at Pittsburgh, Pottsville and

The riot was quelled, and out of the scrimmage various suits were
instigated by the Crown against John Hancock, in the Court of Admiralty.
The claims against him amounted to over three hundred thousand dollars,
and the charge was that he had long been evading the revenue laws. John
Adams was his attorney, with Samuel Adams as counsel, and vigorous efforts
for prosecution and defense were being made.

If the Crown were successful the suits would confiscate the entire Hancock
estate--matters were getting in a serious way. Witnesses were summoned,
but the trial was staved off from time to time.

Hancock had refused to follow Samuel Adams' lead in the controversy with
Governor Hutchinson as to the right to convene the General Court. The
report was that John Hancock was growing lukewarm and siding with the
Tories. A year had passed since the massacre had occurred, and the
agitators proposed to commemorate the day.

Colonel Hancock had appeared in many prominent parts, but never as an

"Why not show the town what you can do!" some one said.

So John Hancock was invited to deliver the oration. He did so to an
immense concourse. The address was read from the written page. It
overflowed with wisdom and patriotism; and the earnestness and eloquence
of the well-rounded periods was the talk of the town.

The knowing ones went around corners and roared with laughter, but Samuel
Adams said not a word. The charge was everywhere made by the captious and
bickering that the speech was written by another, and that, moreover, John
Hancock had not even a very firm hold on its import. It was the one speech
of his life. Anyway, it so angered General Gage that he removed Colonel
Hancock from his command of the cadets.

An order was out for Hancock's arrest, and he and Samuel Adams were in

The British troops marched out to Lexington to capture them, but Paul
Revere was two hours ahead, and when the redcoats arrived the birds had

Then came the expulsion of the British, the closing of all courts, the
Admiralty included. The merchant-prince breathed easier, and that was the
last of the Crown versus John Hancock.

       *       *       *       *       *

Throughout the months that had gone before, when the Hancock mansion was
gay with floral decorations, and servants in livery stood at the door with
silver trays, and the dancing-hall was bright with mirth and music, Samuel
Adams had quietly been working his Bureau of Correspondence to the end
that the thirteen Colonies of America should come together in convention.
Chief mover of the plan, and the one man in Massachusetts who was giving
all his time to it, he dictated whom Massachusetts should send as
delegates. This delegation, as we know, included John Hancock, John Adams
and Samuel Adams himself.

From the danger of Lexington, Hancock and Adams made their way to
Philadelphia to attend the Second Congress.

At that time the rich men of New England were hurriedly making their way
into the English fold. Some thought that the mother country had been
harsh, but still, England had only acted within her right, and she was
well able to back up this authority. She had regiment upon regiment of
trained fighting men, warships, and money to build more. The Colonies had
no army, no ships, no capital.

Only those who have nothing to lose can afford to resist lawful
authority--back into the fold they went, penitent and under their breath
cursing the bull-headed men who insisted on plunging the country into red

Out in the cold world stood John Hancock, alone, save for Bowdoin, among
the aristocrats of New England. The British would confiscate his property,
his splendid house--all would be gone!

"It will all be gone, anyway," calmly suggested Samuel Adams. "You know
those suits against you in the Admiralty Court?"

"Yes, yes!"

"And if we can unite these thirteen Colonies an army can be raised, and we
can separate ourselves entire, in which case there will be glory for

John Hancock, the rich, the ambitious, the pleasure-loving, had burned his
bridges. He was in the hands of Samuel Adams, and his infamy was one with
this man who was a professional agitator, and who had nothing to lose.

General Gage had made an offer of pardon to all--all, save two men: Samuel
Adams and John Hancock. Back into the fold tumbled the Tories, but against
John Hancock the gates were barred. John Adams, Attorney of the Hancock
estate, rubbed his chin, and decided to stand by the ship--sink or swim,
survive or perish.

Down in his heart Samuel Adams grimly smiled, but on his cold, pale face
there was no sign.

The British held Boston secure, and in the splendid mansion of Hancock
lived the rebel, Lord Percy, England's pet. The furniture, plate and
keeping of the place were quite to his liking.

Hancock's ambitions grew as the days went by. The fight was on. His
property was in the hands of the British, and a price was upon his head.
He, too, now had nothing to lose. If England could be whipped he would get
his property back, and the honors of victory would be his, beside.

Ambition grew apace; he studied the Manual of Arms as never before, and
made himself familiar with the lives of Cæsar and Alexander. At Harvard,
he had read the Anabasis on compulsion, but now he read it with zest.

The Second Congress was a Congress of action; the first had been one
merely of conference. A presiding officer was required, and Samuel Adams
quietly pushed his man to the front. He let it be known that Hancock was
the richest man in New England, perhaps in America, and a power in every

John Hancock was given the office of presiding officer, the place of

The thought never occurred to him that the man on the floor is the man who
acts, and the individual in the chair is only a referee, an onlooker of
the contest. When a man is chosen to preside he is safely out of the way,
and no one knew this better than that clear-headed man, wise as a serpent,
Samuel Adams.

Hancock was intent on being chosen Commander of the Continental Army. The
war was in Massachusetts, her principal port closed, all business at a
standstill. Hancock was a soldier, and was, moreover, the chief citizen
of Massachusetts--the command should go to him. Samuel Adams knew this
could never be.

To hold the Southern Colonies and give the cause a show of reason before
the world, an aristocrat with something to lose, and without a personal
grievance, must be chosen, and the man must be from the South. To get
Hancock in a position where his mouth would be stopped, he was placed in
the chair. It was a master move.

Colonel George Washington was already a hero; he had fought valiantly for
England. His hands were clean; while Hancock was openly called a smuggler.
Washington was nominated by John Adams. The motion was seconded by Samuel
Adams. Hancock turned first red and then deathly pale. He grasped the arms
of his chair with both hands, and--put the question.

It was unanimous.

Hancock's fame seems to rest on the fact that he was presiding officer of
the Congress that passed the Declaration of Independence, and therefore
its first signer, and, without consideration for cost of ink and paper,
wrote his name in poster letters. When you look upon the Declaration the
first thing you see is the signature of John Hancock, and you recall his
remark, "I guess King George can read that without spectacles." The whole
action was melodramatic, and although a bold signature has ever been said
to betoken a bold heart, it has yet to be demonstrated that boys who
whistle going through the woods are indifferent to danger. "Conscious
weakness takes strong attitudes," says Delsarte. The strength of Hancock's
signature was an affectation quite in keeping with his habit of riding
about Boston in a coach-and-six, with outriders in uniform, and servants
in livery.

When Hancock wrote to Washington asking for an appointment in the army,
the wise and farseeing chief replied with gentle words of praise
concerning Colonel Hancock's record, and wound up by saying that he
regretted there was no place at his disposal worthy of Colonel Hancock's
qualifications. Well did he know that Hancock was not quite patriot enough
to fill a lowly rank.

The part that Hancock played in the eight years of war was inconspicuous.
However, there was little spirit of revenge in his character: he sometimes
scolded, but he did not hate. He never allowed personal animosities to
make him waver in his loyalty to independence. In fact, with a price upon
his head, but one course was open for him.

Just before Washington was inaugurated President, he visited Boston, and a
curious struggle took place between him and Hancock, who was Governor. It
was all a question of etiquette--which should make the first call. Each
side played a waiting game, and at last Hancock's gout came in as an
excellent excuse and the country was saved.

In one of his letters, Hancock says, "The entire Genteel portion of the
town was invited to my House, while on the sidewalk I had a cask of
Madeira for the Common People." His repeated re-election as Governor
proves his popularity. Through lavish expenditure, his fortune was much
reduced, and for many years he was sorely pressed for funds, his means
being tied up in unproductive ways.

His last triumph, as Governor, was to send a special message to the
Legislature, informing that body that "a company of Aliens and Foreigners
have entered the State, and the Metropolis of Government, and under
advertisements insulting to all Good Men and Ladies have been pleased to
invite them to attend certain Stage-Plays, Interludes and Theatrical
Entertainments under the Style and Appellation of Moral Lectures.... All
of which must be put a stop to to once and the Rogues and Varlots

A few days after this, "the Aliens and Foreigners" gave a presentation of
Sheridan's "School for Scandal." In the midst of the performance the
sheriff and a posse made a rush upon the stage and bagged all the

When their trial came on, the next day, the "varlots and vagroms" had
secured high legal talent to defend them, one of which counsel was
Harrison Gray Otis. The actors were discharged on the slim technicality
that the warrants of arrest had not been properly verified.

However, the theater was closed, but the "Common People" made such an
unseemly howl about "rights" and all that, that the Legislature made haste
to repeal the law which provided that play-actors should be flogged.

Hancock defaulted in his stewardship as Treasurer of Harvard College, and
only escaped arrest for embezzlement through the fact that he was Governor
of the State, and no process could be served upon him. After his death his
estate paid nine years' simple interest on his deficit, and ten years
thereafter, the principal was paid.

His widow married Captain Scott, who was long in Hancock's employ as
master of a brig; and we find the worthy captain proudly exclaiming, "I
have embarked on the sea of Matrimony, and am now at the helm of the
Hancock mansion!"

No biography of Governor Hancock has ever been written. The record of his
life flutters only in newspaper paragraphs, letters, and chance mention in
various diaries.

Hancock did not live to see John Adams President. Worn by worry, and grown
old before his time, he died at the early age of fifty-six, of a
combination of gout and that unplebeian complaint we now term Bright's

Thirty-three years after, hale old John Adams down at Quincy spoke of him
as "a clever fellow, a bit spoiled by a legacy, whom I used to know in my
younger days."

He left no descendants, and his heirs were too intent on being in at the
death to care for his memory. They neither preserved the data of his life,
nor over his grave placed a headstone. The monument that now marks his
resting-place was recently erected by the State of Massachusetts. He was
buried in the Old Granary Burying-Ground, on Tremont Street, and only a
step from his grave sleeps his friend Samuel Adams.


    To the guidance of the legislative councils; to the assistance of
    the executive and subordinate departments; to the friendly
    co-operation of the respective State Governments; to the candid
    and liberal support of the people, so far as it may be deserved
    by honest industry and zeal, I shall look for whatever success
    may attend my public service; and knowing that "except the Lord
    keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain," with fervent
    supplications for His favor, to His overruling providence I
    commit, with humble but fearless confidence, my own fate and the
    future destinies of my country.
    --_Inaugural Address_

[Illustration: JOHN QUINCY ADAMS]

Nine miles south of Boston, just a little back from the escalloped shores
of Old Ocean, lies the village of Braintree. It is on the Plymouth
post-road, being one of that string of settlements, built a few miles
apart for better protection, that lined the sea, Boston being crowded, and
Plymouth full to overflowing, the home-seekers spread out north and south.

In Sixteen Hundred Twenty, when the first cabin was built at Braintree,
land that was not in sight of the coast had actually no value. Back a
mile, all was a howling wilderness, with trails made by wild beasts or
savage men as wild. These paths led through tangles of fallen trees and
tumbled rocks, beneath dark, overhanging pines where winter's snows melted
not till midsummer, and the sun's rays were strange and alien. Men who
sought to traverse these ways had to crouch and crawl or climb. Through
them no horse or ox or beast of burden had carried its load.

But up from the sea the ground rose gradually for a mile, and along this
slope that faced the tide, wind and storm had partly cleared the ground,
and on the hillsides our forefathers made their homes. The houses were
built facing either the east or the south. This persistence to face
either the sun or the sea shows a last, strange rudiment of paganism,
making queer angles now that surveyors have come with Gunter's chain and
transit, laying out streets and doing their work.

A mile out, north of Braintree, on the Boston road, came, in Sixteen
Hundred Twenty-five, one Captain Wollaston, a merry wight, and thirty boon
companions, all of whom probably left England for England's good. They
were in search of gold and pelf, and all were agreed on one point: they
were quite too good to do any hard work. Their camp was called Mount
Wollaston, or the Merry Mount. Our gallant gentlemen cultivated the
friendship of the Indians, in the hope that they would reveal the caves
and caverns where the gold grew lush and nuggets cumbered the way; and the
Indians, liking the drink they offered, brought them meal and corn and

And so the thirty set up a Maypole, adorned with bucks' horns, and drank
and feasted, and danced like fairies or furies, the livelong day or night.
So scandalously did these exiled lords behave that good folks made a wide
circuit 'round to avoid their camp.

Preaching had been in vain, and prayers for the conversion of the wretches
remained unanswered. So the neighbors held a convention, and decided to
send Captain Miles Standish with a posse to teach the merry men manners.

Standish appeared among the bacchanalians one morning, perfectly sober,
and they were not. He arrested the captain, and bade the others begone.
The leader was shipped back to England, with compliments and regrets, and
the thirty scattered. This was the first move in that quarter in favor of
local option.

Six years later, the land thereabouts was granted and apportioned out to
the Reverend John Wilson, William Coddington, Edward Quinsey, James
Penniman, Moses Payne and Francis Eliot.

And these men and their families built houses and founded "the North
Precinct of the Town of Braintree."

Between the North Precinct and the South Precinct there was continual
rivalry. Boys who were caught over the dead-line, which was marked by
Deacon Penniman's house, had to fight. Thus things continued until
Seventeen Hundred Ninety-two, when one John Adams was Vice-President of
the United States. Now this John Adams, lawyer, was the son of John Adams,
honest farmer and cordwainer, who had bought the Penniman homestead, and
whose progenitor, Henry Adams, had moved there in Sixteen Hundred
Thirty-six. John Adams, Vice-President, afterwards President, was born
there in the Penniman house, and was regarded as a neutral, although he
had been thrashed by boys both from the North and from the South Precinct.
But at the last, there is no such thing as neutrality.

John Adams sided with the boys from the North Precinct, and now that he
was in power it occurred to him, having had a little experience in the
revolutionary line, that for the North Precinct to secede from the great
town of Braintree would be but proper and right.

The North Precinct had six stores that sold W.I. goods, and a tavern that
sold W.E.T. goods, and it should have a post-office of its own.

So John Adams suggested the matter to Richard Cranch, who was his
brother-in-law and near neighbor. Cranch agitated the matter, and the new
town, which was the old, was incorporated. They called it Quincy, probably
because Abigail, John's wife, insisted upon it. She had named her eldest
boy Quincy, in honor of her grandfather, whose father's name was Quinsey,
and who had relatives who spelled it De Quincey, one of which tribe was an

Now, when Abigail made a suggestion, John usually heeded it. For Abigail
was as wise as she was good, and John well knew that his success in life
had come largely from the help, counsel and inspiration vouchsafed to him
by this splendid woman. And the man who will not let a woman have her way
in all such small matters as naming of babies or towns is not much of a

So the town was named Quincy, and brother-in-law Cranch was appointed its
first postmaster. Shortly after, the Boston "Centinel" contained a
sarcastic article over the signature, "Old Subscriber," concerning the
distribution of official patronage among kinsmen, and the Eliots and the
Everetts gossiped over their back fences.

At this time Abigail lived in the cottage there on the Plymouth road,
halfway between Braintree and Quincy, but she got her mail at Quincy.

The Adams cottage is there now, and the next time you are in Boston you
had better go out and see it, just as June and I did one bright October

June has lived within an hour's ride of the Adams' home all her blessed
thirty-two sunshiny summers; she also boasts a Mayflower ancestry, with,
however, a slight infusion of Castle Garden, like myself, to give firmness
of fiber--and yet she had never been to Quincy.

The John and Abigail cottage was built in Seventeen Hundred Sixteen, so
says a truthful brick found in the quaint old chimney. Deacon Penniman
built this house for his son, and it faces the sea, although the older
Penniman house faces the south. John Adams was born in the older house;
but when he used to go to Weymouth every Wednesday and Saturday evening to
see Abigail Smith, the minister's daughter, his father, the worthy
shoemaker, told him that when he got married he could have the other house
for himself.

John was a bright young lawyer then, a graduate of Harvard, where he had
been sent in hopes that he would become a minister, for one-half the
students then at Harvard were embryo preachers. But John did not take to

He had witnessed ecclesiastical tennis and theological pitch and toss in
Braintree that had nearly split the town, and he decided on the law. One
thing sure, he could not work: he was not strong enough for
that--everybody said so. And right here seems a good place to call
attention to the fact that weak men, like those who are threatened, live
long. John Adams' letters to his wife reveal a very frequent reference to
liver complaint, lung trouble, and that tired feeling, yet he lived to be

The Reverend Mr. Smith did not at first favor the idea of his daughter
Abigail marrying John Adams. The Adams family were only farmers (and
shoemakers when it rained), while the Smiths had aristocracy on their
side. He said lawyers were men who got bad folks out of trouble and good
folks in. But Abigail said that this lawyer was different; and as Mr.
Smith saw it was a love-match, and such things being difficult to combat
successfully, he decided he would do the next best thing--give the young
couple his blessing. Yet the neighbors were quite scandalized to think
that their pastor's daughter should hold converse over the gate with a
lawyer, and they let the clergyman know it as neighbors then did, and
sometimes do now. Then did the Reverend Mr. Smith announce that he would
preach a sermon on the sin of meddling with other folk's business. As his
text he took the passage from Luke, seventh chapter, thirty-third verse:
"For John came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, he
hath a devil."

The neighbors saw the point, for a short time before, when the eldest
daughter, Mary, had married Richard Cranch (the man who was to achieve a
post-office), the community had entered a protest, and the Reverend Mr.
Smith had preached from Luke, tenth chapter, forty-second verse: "And Mary
hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her." So
there, now!

And John and Abigail were married one evening at early candlelight, in the
church at Weymouth. The good father performed the ceremony, and nearly
broke down during it, they say, and then he kissed both bride and groom.

The neighbors had repaired to the parsonage and were eating and drinking
and making merry when John and Abigail slipped out by the back gate, and
made their way, hand in hand, in the starlight, down the road that ran
through the woods to Braintree. When near the village they cut across the
pasture-lot and reached their cottage, which for several weeks they had
been putting in order. John unlocked the front door, and they entered over
the big, flat stone at the entry, and over which you may enter now, all
sunken and worn by generations of men gone. Some whose feet have pressed
that doorstep we count as the salt of the earth, for their names are
written large on history's page. Washington rode out there on horseback,
and while his aide held his horse, he visited and drank mulled cider and
ate doughnuts within. Hancock came often, and Otis, Samuel Adams and
Loring used to enter without plying the knocker.

Through the earnest work of William G. Spear, the cottage has now been
restored and fully furnished, as near like it was then as knowledge, fancy
and imagination can devise.

When we reached Quincy we saw a benevolent-looking old Puritan, and June
said, "Ask him!"

"Can you tell me where we can find Mr. Spear, the antiquarian?" I

"The which?" said the son of Priscilla Mullins.

"Mr. Spear, the antiquarian," I repeated.

"It's not Bill Spear who keeps a secondhand-shop, you want, mebbe?"

"Yes; I think that is the man."

And so we were directed to the "secondhand-shop," which proved to be the
rooms of the Quincy Historical Society. And there we saw such a wondrous
collection of secondhand stuff that, as we looked and looked, and Mr.
Spear explained, and gave large slices of Colonial history, June, who is a
Daughter of the American Revolution, gushed a trifle more than was meet.

Nothing short of a hundred years will set the seal of value on an article
for Mr. Spear, and one hundred fifty is more like it. On his walls are
hats, caps, spurs, boots and accouterments used in the Revolutionary War.
Then there are candlesticks, snuffers, spectacles, butter-molds, bonnets,
dresses, shoes, baby-stockings, cradles, rattles, aprons, butter-tubs made
out of a solid piece, shovels to match, andirons, pokers, skillets and
blue china galore.

"Bill Spear" himself is quite a curiosity. He traces a lineage to the
well-known Lieutenant Seth Spear, of Revolutionary fame, and back of that
to John Alden, who spoke for himself. The bark on the antiquarian, is
rather rough; and I regret to say that he makes use of a few words I can
not find in the "Century Dictionary," but as June was not shocked I
managed to stand it. On further acquaintance I concluded that Mr. Spear's
bruskness was assumed, and that beneath the tough husk there beats a very
tender heart. He is one of those queer fellows who do good by stealth and
abuse you roundly if accused of it.

For twenty-five years Mr. Spear has been doing little else but studying
Colonial history, and making love to old ladies who own clocks and
skillets given them by their great-grandmammas. There is no doubt that
Spear has dictated clauses in a hundred wills devising that William G.
Spear, Custodian of the Quincy Historical Society, shall have snuffers and

At first, Mr. Spear collected for his own amusement and benefit, but the
trouble grew upon him until it became chronic, and one fine day he
realized that he was not immortal, and when he should die, all his
collection, which had taken years to accumulate, would be scattered. And
so he founded the Quincy Historical Society, incorporated by a perpetual
charter, with Charles Francis Adams, grandson of John Quincy Adams, as
first president.

Then, the next thing was to secure the cottage where John and Abigail
Adams began housekeeping, and where John Quincy was born. This house has
been in the Adams family all these years and been rented to the firm of
Tom, Dick and Harry, and any of their tribe who would agree to pay ten
dollars a month for its use and abuse. Just across the road from the
cottage lives a fine old soul by the name of John Crane. Mr. Crane is
somewhere between seventy and a hundred years old, but he has a young
heart, a face like Gladstone and a memory like a copy-book. Mr. Crane was
on very good terms with John Quincy Adams, knew him well and had often
seen him come here to collect rent. He told me that during his
recollection the Adams place had been occupied by full forty families. But
now, thanks to "Bill Spear," it is no longer for rent.

The house has been raised from the ground, new sills placed under it, and
while every part--scantling, rafter, joist, crossbeam, lath and
weatherboard--of the original house has been retained, it has been put in
such order that it is no longer going to ruin.

From the ample stores of his various antiquarian depositories Mr. Spear
has refurnished it; and with a ripe knowledge and rare good taste and
restraining imagination, the cottage is now shown to us as a Colonial
farmhouse of the year Seventeen Hundred Fifty. The wonder to me is that
Mr. Spear, being human, did not move his "secondhand-shop" down here and
make of the place a curiosity-shop. But he has done better.

As you step across the doorsill and pass from the little entry into the
"living-room," you pause and murmur, "Excuse me." For there is a fire on
the hearth, the tea-kettle sings softly, and on the back of a chair hangs
a sunbonnet. And over there on the table is an open Bible, and on the open
page is a pair of spectacles and a red, crumpled handkerchief. Yes, the
folks are at home: they have just stepped into the next room--perhaps are
eating dinner. And so you sit down in an old hickory chair, or in the high
settle that stands against the wall by the fireplace, and wait, expecting
every moment that the kitchen-door will creak on its wooden hinges, and
Abigail, smiling and gentle, will enter to greet you. Mr. Spear
understands, and, disappearing, leaves you to your thoughts--and June's.

John and Abigail were lovers their lifetime through. Their published
letters show a oneness of thought and sentiment that, viewed across the
years, moves us to tears to think that such as they should at last feebly
totter, and then turn to dust. But here they came in the joyous springtime
of their lives; upon this floor you tread the ways their feet have trod;
these walls have echoed to their singing voices, listened to their
counsels, and seen love's caress.

There is no surplus furniture nor display nor setting forth of useless
things. Every article you see has its use. The little shelf of books,
well-thumbed, displays no "Trilby" nor "Quest of the Golden Girl"--not an
anachronism any where. Curtains, chairs, tables, and the one or two
pictures--all ring true. In the kitchen are washtubs and butter-ladles and
bowls; and the lantern hanging by the chimney, with a dipped candle
inside, has a carefully scraped horn face. It is a lanthorn. In the
cupboard across the corner are blue china and pewter spoons and steel
knives, with just a little polished-brass stuff sent from England. Down in
the cellar, with its dirt walls, are apples, yellow pumpkins and
potatoes--each in its proper place, for Abigail was a rare good
housekeeper. Then there is a barrel of cider, with a hickory spigot and an
inviting gourd. All tells of economy, thrift, industry and the cunning of
woman's hands.

In the kitchen is a funny cradle, hooded, and cut out of a great pine log.
The little mattress and the coverlet seem disturbed, and you would declare
the baby had just been lifted out, and you listen for its cry. The rocker
is worn by the feet of mothers whose hands were busy with needles or wheel
as they rocked and sang. And from the fact that it is in the kitchen, you
know that the servant-girl problem then had no terrors.

Overhead hang ears of corn, bunches of dried catnip, pennyroyal and
boneset, and festooned across the corner are strings of dried apples.

Then you go upstairs, with conscience pricking a bit for thus visiting the
house of honest folks when they are away, for you know how all good
housewives dislike to have people prying about, especially in the upper
chambers--at least June said so!

The room to the right was Abigail's own. You would know it was a woman's
room. There is a faint odor of lavender and thyme about it, and the white
and blue draperies around the little mirror, and the little feminine
nothings on the dresser, reveal the lady who would appear well before the
man she loves.

The bed is a high, draped four-poster, plain and solid, evidently made by
a ship-carpenter who had ambitions. The coverlet is light blue, and
matches the draperies of windows, dresser and mirror. On the pillow is a
nightcap, in which even a homely woman would be beautiful.

There is a clothespress in the corner, into which Mr. Spear says we may
look. On the door is a slippery-elm button, and within, hanging on wooden
pegs, are dainty dresses; stiff, curiously embroidered gowns they are,
that came from across the sea, sent, perhaps, by John Adams when he went
to France, and left Abigail here to farm and sew and weave and teach the
children. June examined the dresses carefully, and said the embroidery was
handmade, and must have taken months and months to complete. On a high
shelf of the closet are bandboxes, in which are bonnets, astonishing
bonnets, with prodigious flaring fronts. Mr. Spear insisted that June
should try one on, and when she did we stood off and declared the effect
was a vision of loveliness. Outside the clothespress, on a peg, hangs a
linsey-woolsey every-day gown that shows marks of wear. The waist came
just under June's arms, and the bottom of the dress to her shoe-tops.

We asked Mr. Spear the price of it, but the custodian is not commercial.
In a corner of the room is a cedar chest containing hand-woven linen.

By the front window is a little, low desk, with a leaf that opens out for
a writing-shelf. And here you see quill-pens, fresh nibbed, and ink in a
curious well made from horn. Here it was that Abigail wrote those letters
to her lover-husband when he attended those first and second Congresses in
Philadelphia; and then when he was in France and England, those letters in
which we see affection, loyalty, tales of babies with colic, brave,
political good sense, and all those foolish trifles that go to fill up
love-letters, and, at the last, are their divine essence and charm.

Here, she wrote the letter telling of going with their seven-year-old boy,
John Quincy, to Penn's Hill to watch the burning of Charlestown; and saw
the flashing of cannons and rising smoke that marked the battle of Bunker
Hill. Here she wrote to her husband when he was minister to England,
"This little cottage has more comfort and satisfaction for you than the
courts of royalty."

But of all the letters written by that brave woman none reveals her true
nobility better than the one written to her husband the day he became
President of the United States. Here it is entire:

             Quincy, 8 February, 1797

    "The sun is dressed in brightest beams,
        To give thy honors to the day."

    "And may it prove an auspicious prelude to each ensuing season.
    You have this day to declare yourself head of a Nation. And now,
    O Lord, my God, Thou hast made Thy servant ruler over the people.
    Give unto him an understanding heart, that he may know how to go
    out and come in before this great people; that he may discern
    between good and bad. For who is able to judge this Thy so great
    a people, were the words of a royal Sovereign; and not less
    applicable to him who is invested with the Chief Magistracy of a
    nation, though he wear not a crown, nor the robes of royalty.

    "My thoughts and my meditations are with you, though personally
    absent; and my petitions to Heaven are that the things which make
    for peace may not be hidden from your eyes. My feelings are not
    those of pride or ostentation upon the occasion.

    "They are solemnized by a sense of the obligations, the important
    trusts, and numerous duties connected with it. That you may be
    enabled to discharge them with honor to yourself, with justice
    and impartiality to your country, and with satisfaction to this
    great people, shall be the daily prayer of your


It was in this room that Abigail waited while British soldiers ransacked
the rooms below and made bullets of the best pewter spoons. Here her son
who was to be President was born.

John Quincy Adams was six years old when his father kissed him good-by and
rode away for Philadelphia with John Hancock and Samuel Adams (who rode a
horse loaned him by John Adams). Abigail stood in the doorway holding the
baby, and watched them disappear in the curve of the road. This was in
August, Seventeen Hundred Seventy-four. Most of the rest of that year
Abigail was alone with her babies on the little farm. It was the same next
year, and in Seventeen Hundred Seventy-six, too, when John Adams wrote
home that he had made the formal move for Independency and also nominated
George Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the army; and he hoped things
would soon be better.

Those were troublous times in which to live in the vicinity of Boston.
There were straggling troops passing up and down the Plymouth road every
day. Sometimes they were redcoats and sometimes buff and blue, but all
seemed to be very hungry and extremely thirsty, and the Adams household
received a great deal more attention than it courted. The master of the
house was away, but all seemed to know who lived there, and the callers
were not always courteous.

In such a feverish atmosphere of unrest, children evolve quickly into men
and women, and their faces take on the look of thought where should be
only careless, happy, dimpled smiles. Yes, responsibility matures, and
that is the way John Quincy Adams got cheated out of his childhood.

When eight years of age, his mother called him the little man of the
house. The next year he was a post-rider, making a daily trip to Boston
with letter-bags across his saddlebows.

When eleven years of age, his father came home to say that some one had to
go to France to serve with Jay and Franklin in making a treaty.

"Go," said Abigail, "and God be with you!" But when it was suggested that
John Quincy go, too, the parting did not seem so easy. But it was a fine
opportunity for the boy to see the world of men, and the mother's head
appreciated it even if her heart did not. And yet she had the heroism that
is willing to remain behind.

So father and son sailed away; and little John Quincy added postscripts to
his father's letters and said, "I send my loving duty to my mamma."

The boy took kindly to foreign ways, as boys will, and the French language
had no such terrors for him as it had for his father. The first stay in
Europe was only three months, and back they came on a leaky ship.

But the home-stay was even shorter than the stay abroad, and John Adams
had again to cross the water on his country's business. Again the boy went
with him.

It was five years before the mother saw him. And then he had gone on alone
from Paris to London to meet her. She did not know him, for he was nearly
eighteen and a man grown. He had visited every country in Europe and been
the helper and companion of statesmen and courtiers, and seen society in
its various phases. He spoke several languages, and in point of polish and
manly dignity was the peer of many of his elders. Mrs. Adams looked at him
and then began to cry, whether for joy or for sorrow she did not know. Her
boy had gone, escaped her, gone forever, but, instead, here was a tall
young diplomat calling her "mother."

There was a career ahead for John Quincy Adams--his father knew it, his
mother was sure of it, and John Quincy himself was not in doubt. He could
then have gone right on, but his father was a Harvard man, and the New
England superstition was strong in the Adams heart that success could only
be achieved when based on a Harvard parchment.

So back to Massachusetts sailed John Quincy; and a two-year course at
Harvard secured the much-desired diploma.

From the very time he crawled over this kitchen-floor and pushed a chair,
learning to walk, or tumbled down the stairs and then made his way bravely
up again alone, he knew that he would arrive. Precocious, proud, firm, and
with a coldness in his nature that was not a heritage from either his
father or his mother, he made his way.

It was a zigzag course, and the way was strewn with the flotsam and jetsam
of wrecked parties and blighted hopes, but out of the wreckage John Quincy
Adams always appeared, calm, poised and serene. When he opposed the
purchase of Louisiana it looks as if he allowed his animosity for
Jefferson to put his judgment in chancery. He made mistakes, but this was
the only blunder of his career. The record of that life expressed in bold
stands thus:

    1767--Born May Eleventh.
    1776--Post-rider between Boston and Quincy.
    1778---At school in Paris.
    1780--At school in Leyden.
    1781--Private Secretary to Minister to Russia.
    1787---Graduated at Harvard.
    1794--Minister at The Hague.
    1797--Married Louise Catherine Johnson, of Maryland.
    1797--Minister at Berlin.
    1802--Member of Massachusetts State Senate.
    1803--United States Senator.
    1806--Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard
    1809--Minister to Russia.
    1811--Nominated and confirmed by Senate as Judge of Supreme Court
          of the United States; declined.
    1814--Commissioner at Ghent to treat for peace with Great Britain.
    1815--Minister to Great Britain.
    1817--Secretary of State.
    1825--Elected President of the United States.
    1830--Elected a Member of Congress, and represented the district
          for seventeen years.
    1848--Stricken with paralysis February Twenty-first in the
          Capitol, and died the second day after.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Aren't we staying in this room a good while?" said June; "you have sat
there staring out of that window looking at nothing for just ten minutes,
and not a word have you spoken!"

Mr. Spear had disappeared into space, and so we made our way across the
little hall to the room that belonged to Mr. Adams. It was in the disorder
that men's rooms are apt to be. On the table were quill-pens and curious
old papers with seals on them, and on one I saw the date, June Sixteenth,
Seventeen Hundred Sixty-eight--the whole document written out in the hand
of John Adams, beginning very prim and careful, then moving off into a
hurried scrawl as spirit mastered the letter. There is a little
hair-covered trunk in the corner, studded with brass nails, and boots and
leggings and canes and a jackknife and a bootjack, and, on the
window-sill, a friendly snuffbox. In the clothespress were buff trousers
and an embroidered coat, and shoes with silver buckles, and several suits
of every-day clothes, showing wear and patches.

On up to the garret we groped, and bumped our heads against the rafters.
The light was dim, but we could make out more apples on strings, and roots
and herbs in bunches hung from the peak. Here was a three-legged chair and
a broken spinning-wheel, and the junk that is too valuable to throw away,
yet not good enough to keep, but "some day may be needed."

Down the narrow stairway we went, and in the little kitchen, Sammy, the
artist, and Mr. Spear, the custodian, were busy at the fireplace preparing
dinner. There is no stove in the house, and none is needed. The crane and
brick oven and long-handled skillets suffice. Sammy is an expert
camp-cook, and swears there is death in the chafing-dish, and grows
profane if you mention one. His skill in turning flapjacks by a simple
manipulation of the long-handled griddle means more to his true ego than
the finest canvas.

June offered to set the table, but Sammy said she could never do it alone,
so together they brought out the blue china dishes and the pewter plates.
Then they drew water at the stone-curbed well with the great sweep,
carrying the leather-baled bucket between them.

I was feeling quite useless and asked, "Can't I do something to help?"

"There is the lye-leach--you might bring out some ashes and make some soft
soap," said June pointing to the ancient leach and soap-kettle in the
yard, the joys of Mr. Spear's heart.

Sammy stood at the back door and pounded on the dishpan with a wooden
spoon to announce that dinner was ready. It was quite a sumptuous meal:
potatoes baked in the ashes, beans baked in the brick oven, coffee made on
the hearth, fish cooked in the skillet, and pancakes made on a griddle
with a handle three feet long.

Mr. Spear had aspirations toward an apple-pie and had made violent efforts
in that direction, but the product being dough on top and charcoal on the
bottom we declined the nomination with thanks.

June suggested that pies should be baked in an oven and not cooked on a
pancake griddle. The custodian thought there might be something in it--a
suggestion he would have scorned and scouted had it come from me.

To change the rather painful subject, Mr. Spear began to talk about John
and Abigail Adams, and to quote from their "Letters," a volume he seems to
have by heart.

"Do you know why their love was so very steadfast, and why they stimulated
the mental and spiritual natures of each other so?" asked June.

"No, why was it?"

"Well, I'll tell you: it was because they spent one-third of their married
life apart."


"Yes, and in this way they lived in an ideal world. In all their letters
you see they are always counting the days ere they will meet. Now, people
who are together all the time never write that way, because they do not
feel that way--I'll leave it to Mr. Spear!"

But Mr. Spear, being a bachelor, did not know. Then the case was referred
to Sammy, and Sammy lied and said he had never considered the subject.

"And would you advise, then, that married couples live apart one-third of
the time, in the interests of domestic peace?" I asked.

"Certainly!" said June, with her Burne-Jones chin in the air. "Certainly;
but I fear you are the man who does not understand; and anyway I am sure
it will be much more profitable for us to cultivate the receptive spirit
and listen to Mr. Spear--such opportunities do not come very often. I did
not mean to interrupt you, Mr. Spear; go on, please!"

And Mr. Spear filled a clay pipe with natural leaf that he crumbled in his
hand, and deftly picking a coal from the fireplace with a shovel one
hundred fifty years old, puffed five times silently, and began to talk.


    The objects to be attained are: To justify and preserve the
    confidence of the most enlightened friends of good government; to
    promote the increasing respectability of the American name; to
    answer the calls of justice; to restore landed property to its
    due value; to furnish new sources both to agriculture and to
    commerce; to cement more closely the union of the States; to add
    to their security against foreign attack; to establish public
    order on the basis of an upright and liberal policy: these are
    the great and invaluable ends to be secured by a proper and
    adequate provision, at the present period, for the support of
    public credit.
    --_Report to Congress_


We do not know the name of the mother of Alexander Hamilton: we do not
know the given name of his father. But from letters, a diary and
pieced-out reports, allowing fancy to bridge from fact to fact, we get a
patchwork history of the events preceding the birth of this wonderful man.

Every strong man has had a splendid mother. Hamilton's mother was a woman
of wit, beauty and education. While very young, through the machinations
of her elders, she had been married to a man much older than
herself--rich, wilful and dissipated. The man's name was Lavine, but his
first name we do not know, so hidden were the times in a maze of
obscurity. The young wife very soon discovered the depravity of this man
whom she had vowed to love and obey; divorce was impossible; and rather
than endure a lifelong existence of legalized shame, she packed up her
scanty effects and sought to hide herself from society and kinsmen by
going to the West Indies.

There she hoped to find employment as a governess in the family of one of
the rich planters; or if this plan were not successful she would start a
school on her own account, and thus benefit her kind and make for herself
an honorable living. Arriving at the island of Nevis, she found that the
natives did not especially desire education, certainly not enough to pay
for it, and there was no family requiring a governess. But a certain
Scotch planter by the name of Hamilton, who was consulted, thought in time
that a school could be built up, and he offered to meet the expense of it
until such a time as it could be put on a paying basis. Unmarried women
who accept friendly loans from men stand in dangerous places. With all
good women, heart-whole gratitude and a friendship that seems unselfish
ripen easily into love. They did so here. Perhaps, in a warm, ardent
temperament, sore grief and biting disappointment and crouching want
obscure the judgment and give a show of reason to actions that a colder
intellect would disapprove.

On the frontiers of civilization man is greater than law--all ceremonies
are looked upon lightly. In a few months Mrs. Lavine was called by the
little world of Nevis, Mrs. Hamilton, and Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton regarded
themselves as man and wife.

The planter Hamilton was a hard-headed, busy individual, who was quite
unable to sympathize with his wife's finer aspirations. Her first husband
had been clever and dissipated; this one was worthy and dull. And thus
deprived of congenial friendships, without books or art or that social
home life which goes to make up a woman's world, and longing for the
safety of close sympathy and tender love, with no one on whom her
intellect could strike a spark, she keenly felt the bitterness of exile.

In a city where society ebbs and flows, an intellectual woman married to a
commerce-grubbing man is not especially to be pitied. She can find
intellectual affinities that will ease the irksomeness of her situation.
But to be cast on a desert isle with a being, no matter how good, who is
incapable of feeling with you the eternal mystery of the encircling tides;
who can only stare when you speak of the moaning lullaby of the restless
sea; who knows not the glory of the sunrise, and feels no thrill when the
breakers dash themselves into foam, or the moonlight dances on the
phosphorescent waves--ah, that is indeed exile! Loneliness is not in being
alone, for then ministering spirits come to soothe and bless--loneliness
is to endure the presence of one who does not understand.

And so this finely organized, receptive, aspiring woman, through the
exercise of a will that seemed masculine in its strength, found her feet
mired in quicksand. She struggled to free herself, and every effort only
sank her deeper. The relentless environment only held her with firmer

She thirsted for knowledge, for sweet music, for beauty, for sympathy, for
attainment. She had a heart-hunger that none about her understood. She
strove for better things. She prayed to God, but the heavens were as
brass; she cried aloud, and the only answer was the throbbing of her
restless heart.

In this condition, a son was born to her. They called his name Alexander
Hamilton. This child was heir to all his mother's splendid ambitions. Her
lack of opportunity was his blessing; for the stifled aspirations of her
soul charged his being with a strong man's desires, and all the mother's
silken, unswerving will was woven through his nature. He was to surmount
obstacles that she could not overcome, and to tread under his feet
difficulties that to her were invincible.

The prayer of her heart was answered, but not in the way she expected. God
listened to her after all; for every earnest prayer has its answer, and
not a sincere desire of the heart but somewhere will find its

But earth's buffets were too severe for the brave young woman; the forces
in league against her were more than she could withstand, and before her
boy was out of baby dresses she gave up the struggle, and went to her long
rest, soothed only by the thought that, although she had sorely blundered,
she yet had done her work as best she could.

       *       *       *       *       *

At his mother's death, we find Alexander Hamilton taken in charge by
certain mystical kinsmen. Evidently he was well cared for, as he grew into
a handsome, strong lad--small, to be sure, but finely formed. Where he
learned to read, write and cipher we know not; he seems to have had one of
those active, alert minds that can acquire knowledge on a barren island.

When nine years old, he signed his name as witness to a deed. The
signature is needlessly large and bold, and written with careful schoolboy
pains, but the writing shows the same characteristics that mark the
thousand and one dispatches which we have, signed at bottom, "G.

At twelve years of age, he was clerk in a general store--one of those
country stores where everything is kept, from ribbon to whisky. There were
other helpers in the store, full grown; but when the proprietor went away
for a few days into the interior, the dark, slim youngster took charge of
the bookkeeping and the cash; and made such shrewd exchanges of
merchandise for produce that when the "Old Man" returned, the lad was
rewarded by two pats on the head and a raise in salary of one shilling a

About this time, the boy was also showing signs of literary skill by
writing sundry poems and "compositions," and one of his efforts in this
line describing a tropical hurricane was published in a London paper.

This opened the eyes of the mystical kinsmen to the fact that they had a
genius among them, and the elder Hamilton was importuned for money to send
the boy to Boston that he might receive a proper education and come back
and own the store and be a magistrate and a great man. No doubt the lad
pressed the issue, too, for his ambition had already begun to ferment, as
we find him writing to a friend, "I'll risk my life, though not my
character, to exalt my station."

Most great things in America have to take their rise in Boston; so it
seems meet that Alexander Hamilton, aged fifteen, a British subject,
should first set foot on American soil at Long Wharf, Boston. He took a
ferry over to Cambridgeport and walked through the woods three miles to
Harvard College. Possibly he did not remain because his training in a
bookish way had not been sufficient for him to enter, and possibly he did
not like the Puritanic visage of the old professor who greeted him on the
threshold of Massachusetts Hall; at any rate, he soon made his way to New
Haven. Yale suited him no better, and he took a boat for New York.

He had letters to several good clergymen in New York, and they proved wise
and good counselors. The boy was advised to take a course at the Grammar
School at Elizabethtown, New Jersey.

There he remained a year, applying himself most vigorously, and the next
Fall he knocked at the gate of King's College. It is called Columbia now,
because kings in America went out of fashion, and all honors formerly
paid to the king were turned over to Miss Columbia, Goddess of Freedom.

King's College swung wide its doors for the swarthy little West Indian. He
was allowed to choose his own course, and every advantage of the
university was offered him. In a university, you get just all you are able
to hold--it depends upon yourself--and at the last all men who are made at
all are self-made.

Hamilton improved each passing moment as it flew; with the help of a tutor
he threw himself into his work, gathering up knowledge with the quick
perception and eager alertness of one from whom the good things of earth
have been withheld.

Yet he lived well and spent his money as if there were plenty more where
it came from; but he was never dissipated nor wasteful.

This was in the year Seventeen Hundred Seventy-four, and the Colonies were
in a state of political excitement. Young Hamilton's sympathies were all
with the mother country. He looked upon the Americans, for the most part,
as a rude, crude and barbaric people, who should be very grateful for the
protection of such an all-powerful country as England. At his
boarding-house and at school, he argued the question hotly, defending
England's right to tax her dependencies.

One fine day, one of his schoolmates put the question to him flatly: "In
case of war, on which side will you fight?" Hamilton answered, "On the
side of England."

But by the next day he had reasoned it out that if England succeeded in
suppressing the rising insurrection she would take all credit to herself;
and if the Colonies succeeded there would be honors for those who did the
work. Suddenly it came over him that there was such a thing as "the divine
right of insurrection," and that there was no reason why men living in
America should be taxed to support a government across the sea. The wealth
produced in America should be used to develop America.

He was young, and burning with a lofty ambition. He knew, and had known
all along, that he would some day be great and famous and powerful--here
was the opportunity.

And so, next day, he announced at the boarding-house that the eloquence
and logic of his messmates were too powerful to resist--he believed the
Colonies and the messmates were in the right. Then several bottles were
brought in, and success was drunk to all men who strove for liberty.

Patriotic sentiment is at the last self-interest; in fact, Herbert Spencer
declares that there is no sane thought or rational act but has its root in

Shortly after the young man's conversion, there was a mass-meeting held in
"The Fields," which meant the wilds of what is now the region of
Twenty-third Street.

Young Hamilton stood in the crowd and heard the various speakers plead the
cause of the Colonies, and urge that New York should stand firm with
Massachusetts against the further encroachments and persecutions of
England. There were many Tories in the crowd, for New York was with King
George as against Massachusetts, and these Tories asked the speakers
embarrassing questions that the speakers failed to answer. And all the
time young Hamilton found himself nearer and nearer the platform. Finally,
he undertook to reply to a talkative Tory, and some one shouted, "Give him
the platform--the platform!" and in a moment this seventeen-year-old boy
found himself facing two thousand people. There was hesitation and
embarrassment, but the shouts of one of his college chums, "Give it to
'em! Give it to 'em!" filled in an awkward instant, and he began to speak.
There was logic and lucidity of expression, and as he talked the air
became charged with reasons, and all he had to do was to reach up and
seize them.

His strong and passionate nature gave gravity to his sentences, and every
quibbling objector found himself answered, and more than answered, and the
speakers who were to present the case found this stripling doing the work
so much better than they could, that they urged him on with applause and
loud cries of "Bravo! Bravo!"

Immediately at the close of Hamilton's speech, the chairman had the good
sense to declare the meeting adjourned--thus shutting off all reply, as
well as closing the mouths of the minnow orators who usually pop up to
neutralize the impression that the strong man has made.

Hamilton's speech was the talk of the town. The leading Whigs sought him
out and begged that he would write down his address so that they could
print it as a pamphlet in reply to the Tory pamphleteers who were
vigorously circulating their wares. The pens of ready writers were scarce
in those days: men could argue, but to present a forcible written brief
was another thing. So young Hamilton put his reasons on paper, and their
success surprised the boys at the boarding-house, and the college chums
and the professors, and probably himself as well. His name was on the lips
of all Whigdom, and the Tories sent messengers to buy him off.

But Congress was willing to pay its defenders, and money came from
somewhere--not much, but all the young man needed. College was dropped;
the political pot boiled; and the study of history, economics and
statecraft filled the daylight hours to the brim and often ran over into
the night.

The Winter of Seventeen Hundred Seventy-five passed away; the plot
thickened. New York had reluctantly consented to be represented in
Congress and agreed grumpily to join hands with the Colonies.

The redcoats had marched out to Concord--and back; and the embattled
farmers had stood and fired the shot "heard 'round the world."

Hamilton was working hard to bring New York over to an understanding that
she must stand firm against English rule. He organized meetings, gave
addresses, wrote letters, newspaper articles and pamphlets. Then he joined
a military company and was perfecting himself in the science of war.

There were frequent outbreaks between Tory mobs and Whigs, and the
breaking up of your opponents' meeting was looked upon as a pleasant

Then came the British ship "Asia" and opened fire on the town. This no
doubt made Whigs of a good many Tories. Whig sentiment was on the
increase; gangs of men marched through the streets and the king's stores
were broken into, and prominent Royalists found their houses being

Doctor Cooper, President of King's College, had been very pronounced in
his rebukes to Congress and the Colonies, and a mob made its way to his
house. Arriving there, Hamilton and his chum Troup were found on the
steps, determined to protect the place. Hamilton stepped forward, and in a
strong speech urged that Doctor Cooper had merely expressed his own
private views, which he had a right to do, and the house must not on any
account be molested. While the parley was in progress, old Doctor Cooper
himself appeared at one of the upper windows and excitedly cautioned the
crowd not to listen to that blatant young rapscallion Hamilton, as he was
a rogue and a varlet and a vagrom. The good Doctor then slammed the window
and escaped by the back way.

His remarks raised a laugh in which even young Hamilton joined, but his
mistake was very natural in view of the fact that he only knew that
Hamilton had deserted the college and espoused the devil's cause; and not
having heard his remarks, but seeing him standing on his steps haranguing
a crowd, thought surely he was endeavoring to work up mischief against his
old preceptor, who had once plucked him in Greek.

It seems to have been the intention of his guardians that the limit of
young Hamilton's stay in America was to be two years, and by that time his
education would be "complete," and he would return to the West Indies and
surprise the natives.

But his father, who supplied the money, and the mystical kinsmen who
supplied advice, and the kind friends who had given him letters to the
Presbyterian clergymen at New York and Princeton, had figured without
their host. Young Hamilton knew all that Nevis had in store for him: he
knew its littleness, its contumely and disgrace, and in the secret
recesses of his own strong heart he had slipped the cable that held him to
the past. No more remittances from home; no more solicitous advice; no
more kind, loving letters--the past was dead.

For England he once had had an almost idolatrous regard; to him she had
once been the protector of his native land, the empress of the seas, the
enlightener of mankind; but henceforth he was an American.

He was to fight America's battles, to share in her victory, to help make
of her a great Nation, and to weave his name into the web of her history
so that as long as the United States of America shall be remembered, so
long also shall be remembered the name of Alexander Hamilton.

       *       *       *       *       *

What General Washington called his "family" usually consisted of sixteen
men. These were his aides, and more than that, his counselors and friends.
In Washington's frequent use of that expression, "my family," there is a
touch of affection that we do not expect to find in the tents of war. In
rank, the staff ran the gamut from captain to general. Each man had his
appointed work and made a daily report to his chief. When not in actual
action, the family dined together daily, and the affair was conducted with
considerable ceremony. Washington sat at the head of the table, large,
handsome and dignified. At his right hand was seated the guest of honor,
and there were usually several invited friends. At his left sat Alexander
Hamilton, ready with quick pen to record the orders of his chief.

And methinks it would have been quite worth while to have had a place at
that board, and looked down the table at "the strong, fine face, tinged
with melancholy," of Washington; and the cheery, youthful faces of
Lawrence, Tilghman, Lee, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton and the others of
that brave and handsome company. Well might they have called Washington
father, for this he was in spirit to them all--grave, gentle, courteous
and magnanimous, yet exacting strict and instant obedience from all; and
well, too, may we imagine that this obedience was freely and cheerfully

Hamilton became one of Washington's family on March First, Seventeen
Hundred Seventy-seven, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was barely
twenty years of age; Washington was forty-seven, and the average age of
the family, omitting its head, was twenty-five. All had been selected on
account of superior intelligence and a record of dashing courage. When
Hamilton took his place at the board, he was the youngest member, save
one. In point of literary talent, he stood among the very foremost in the
country, for then there was no literature in America save the literature
of politics; and as an officer, he had shown rare skill and bravery.

And yet, such was Hamilton's ambition and confidence in himself, that he
hesitated to accept the position, and considered it an act of sacrifice to
do so. But having once accepted, he threw himself into the work and became
Washington's most intimate and valued assistant. Washington's
correspondence with his generals, with Congress, and the written decisions
demanded daily on hundreds of minor questions, mostly devolved on
Hamilton, for work gravitates to him who can do it best. A simple "Yes,"
"No" or "Perhaps" from the chief must be elaborated into a diplomatic
letter, conveying just the right shade of meaning, all with its proper
emphasis and show of dignity and respect. Thousands of these dispatches
can now be seen at the Capitol; and the ease, grace, directness and
insight shown in them are remarkable. There is no muddy rhetoric or
befuddled clauses. They were written by one with a clear understanding,
who was intent that the person addressed should understand, too.

Many of these documents were merely signed by Washington, but a few reveal
interlined sentences and an occasional word changed in Washington's hand,
thus showing that all was closely scrutinized and digested.

As a member of Washington's staff, Hamilton did not have the independent
command that he so much desired; but he endured that heroic Winter at
Valley Forge, was present at all the important battles, took an active
part in most of them, and always gained honor and distinction.

As an aide to Washington, Hamilton's most important mission was when he
was sent to General Gates to secure reinforcements for the Southern army.
Gates had defeated Burgoyne and won a full dozen stern victories in the
North. In the meantime, Washington had done nothing but make a few brave
retreats. Gates' army was made up of hardy and seasoned soldiers, who had
met the enemy and defeated him over and over again. The flush of success
was on their banners; and Washington knew that if a few thousand of those
rugged veterans could be secured to reinforce his own well-nigh
discouraged troops, victory would also perch upon the banners of the

As a superior officer he had the right to demand these troops; but to
reduce the force of a general who is making an excellent success is not
the common rule of war. The country looked upon Gates as its savior, and
Gates was feeling a little that way himself. Gates had but to demand it,
and the position of Commander-in-Chief would go to him. Washington
thoroughly realized this, and therefore hesitated about issuing an order
requesting a part of Gates' force. To secure these troops as if the
suggestion came from Gates was a most delicate commission. Alexander
Hamilton was dispatched to Gates' headquarters, armed, as a last resort,
with a curt military order to the effect that he should turn over a
portion of his army to Washington. Hamilton's orders were: "Bring the
troops, but do not deliver this order unless you are obliged to."

Hamilton brought the troops, and returned the order with seal intact.

The act of his sudden breaking with Washington has been much exaggerated.
In fact, it was not a sudden act at all, for it had been premeditated for
some months. There was a woman in the case. Hamilton had done more than
conquer General Gates on that Northern trip; at Albany, he had met
Elizabeth, daughter of General Schuyler, and won her after what has been
spoken of as "a short and sharp skirmish." Both Alexander and Elizabeth
regarded "a clerkship" as quite too limited a career for one so gifted;
they felt that nothing less than commander of a division would answer. How
to break loose--that was the question.

And when Washington met him at the head of the stairs of the New Windsor
Hotel and sharply chided him for being late, the young man embraced the
opportunity and said, "Sir, since you think I have been remiss, we part."

It was the act of a boy; and the figure of this boy, five feet five inches
high, weight one hundred twenty, aged twenty-four, talking back to his
chief, six feet three, weight two hundred, aged fifty, has its comic side.
Military rule demands that every one shall be on time, and Washington's
rebuke was proper and right. Further than this, one feels that if he had
followed up his rebuke by boxing the young man's ears for "sassing back,"
he would still not have been outside the lines of duty.

But an hour afterwards we find Washington sending for the youth and
endeavoring to mend the break. And although Hamilton proudly repelled his
advances, Washington forgave all and generously did all he could to
advance the young man's interests. Washington's magnanimity was absolutely
without flaw, but his attitude towards Hamilton has a more suggestive
meaning when we consider that it was a testimonial of the high estimate he
placed on Hamilton's ability.

At Yorktown, Washington gave Hamilton the perilous privilege of leading
the assault. Hamilton did his work well, rushing with fiery impetuosity
upon the fort--carried all before him, and in ten minutes had planted the
Stars and Stripes on the ramparts of the enemy.

It was a fine and fitting close to his glorious military career.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Washington became President, the most important office to be filled
was that of manager of the exchequer. In fact, all there was of it was the
office--there was no treasury, no mint, no fixed revenue, no credit; but
there were debts--foreign and domestic--and clamoring creditors by the
thousand. The debts consisted of what was then the vast sum of eighty
million dollars. The treasury was empty. Washington had many advisers who
argued that the Nation could never live under such a weight of debt--the
only way was flatly and frankly to repudiate--wipe the slate clean--and
begin afresh.

This was what the country expected would be done; and so low was the hope
of payment that creditors could be found who were willing to compromise
their claims for ten cents on the dollar. Robert Morris, who had managed
the finances during the period of the Confederation, utterly refused to
attempt the task again, but he named a man who, he said, could bring order
out of chaos, if any living man could. That man was Alexander Hamilton.
Washington appealed to Hamilton, offering him the position of Secretary of
the Treasury. Hamilton, aged thirty-two, gave up his law practise, which
was yielding him ten thousand a year, to accept this office which paid
three thousand five hundred. Before the British cannon, Washington did not
lose heart, but to face the angry mob of creditors waving white-paper
claims made him quake; but with Hamilton's presence his courage came back.

The first thing that Hamilton decided upon was that there should be no
repudiation--no offer of compromise would be considered--every man should
be paid in full. And further than this, the general government would
assume the entire war debt of each individual State. Washington concurred
with Hamilton on these points, but he could make neither oral nor written
argument in a way that would convince others; so this task was left to
Hamilton. Hamilton appeared before Congress and explained his
plans--explained them so lucidly and with such force and precision that he
made an indelible impression. There were grumblers and complainers, but
these did not and could not reply to Hamilton, for he saw all over and
around the subject, and they saw it only at an angle. Hamilton had studied
the history of finance, and knew the financial schemes of every country.
No question of statecraft could be asked him for which he did not have a
reply ready. He knew the science of government as no other man in America
then did, and recognizing this, Congress asked him to prepare reports on
the collection of revenue, the coasting trade, the effects of a tariff,
shipbuilding, post-office extension, and also a scheme for a judicial
system. When in doubt they asked Hamilton.

And all the time Hamilton was working at this bewildering maze of detail,
he was evolving that financial policy, broad, comprehensive and minute,
which endures even to this day, even to the various forms of accounts that
are now kept at the Treasury Department at Washington.

His insistence that to preserve the credit of a nation every debt must be
paid, is an idea that no statesman now dare question. The entire aim and
intent of his policy was high, open and frank honesty. The people should
be made to feel an absolute security in their government, and this being
so, all forms of industry would prosper, "and the prosperity of the people
is the prosperity of the Nation." To such a degree of confidence did
Hamilton raise the public credit that in a very short time the government
found no trouble in borrowing all the money it needed at four per cent;
and yet this was done in face of the fact that its debt had increased.

Just here was where his policy invited its strongest and most bitter
attack. For there are men today who can not comprehend that a public debt
is a public blessing, and that all liabilities have a strict and
undivorceable relationship to assets. Alexander Hamilton was a leader of
men. He could do the thinking of his time and map out a policy, "arranging
every detail for a kingdom." He has been likened to Napoleon in his
ability to plan and execute with rapid and marvelous precision, and surely
the similarity is striking.

But he was not an adept in the difficult and delicate art of
diplomacy--he could not wait. He demanded instant obedience, and lacked
all of that large, patient, calm magnanimity so splendidly shown forth
since by Abraham Lincoln. Unlike Jefferson, his great rival, he could not
calmly and silently bide his time. But I will not quarrel with a man
because he is not some one else.

He saw things clearly at a glance; he knew because he knew; and if others
would not follow, he had the audacity to push on alone. This recklessness
to the opinion of the slow and plodding, this indifference to the dull,
gradually drew upon him the hatred of a class.

They said he was a monarchist at heart and "such men are dangerous." The
country became divided into those who were with Hamilton and those who
were against him. The very transcendent quality of his genius wove the net
that eventually was to catch his feet and accomplish his ruin.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has been the usual practise for nearly a hundred years to refer to
Aaron Burr as a roue, a rogue and a thorough villain, who took the life of
a gentle and innocent man.

I have no apologies to make for Colonel Burr; the record of his life lies
open in many books, and I would neither conceal nor explain away.

If I should attempt to describe the man and liken him to another, that man
would be Alexander Hamilton.

They were the same age within ten months; they were the same height within
an inch; their weight was the same within five pounds, and in temperament
and disposition they resembled each other as brothers seldom do. Each was
passionate, ambitious, proud.

In the drawing-room where one of these men chanced to be, there was room
for no one else--such was the vivacity, the wit, and the generous, glowing
good-nature shown. With women, the manner of these men was most gentle and
courtly; and the low, alluring voice of each was music's honeyed flattery
set to words.

Both were much under the average height, yet the carriage of each was so
proud and imposing that everywhere they went men made way, and women
turned and stared.

Both were public speakers and lawyers of such eminence that they took
their pick of clients and charged all the fee that policy would allow. In
debate, there was a wilful aggressiveness, a fiery sureness, a lofty
certainty, that moved judges and juries to do their bidding. Henry Cabot
Lodge says that so great was Hamilton's renown as a lawyer that clients
flocked to him because the belief was abroad that no judge dare decide
against him. With Burr it was the same.

Both made large sums, and both spent them all as fast as made.

In point of classic education, Burr had the advantage. He was the grandson
of the Reverend Jonathan Edwards. In his strong, personal magnetism, and
keen, many-sided intellect, Aaron Burr strongly resembled the gifted
Presbyterian divine who wrote "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." His
father was the Reverend Aaron Burr, President of Princeton College. He was
a graduate of Princeton, and, like Hamilton, always had the ability to
focus his mind on the subject in hand, and wring from it its very core.
Burr's reputation as to his susceptibility to women's charms is the
world's common--very common--property. He was unhappily married; his wife
died before he was thirty; he was a man of ardent nature and stalked
through the world a conquering Don Juan. A historian, however, records
that "his alliances were only with women who were deemed by society to be
respectable. Married women, unhappily mated, knowing his reputation, very
often placed themselves in his way, going to him for advice, as moths
court the flame. Young, tender and innocent girls had no charm for him."

Hamilton was happily married to a woman of aristocratic family; rich,
educated, intellectual, gentle, and worthy of him at his best. They had a
family of eight children. Hamilton was a favorite of women everywhere and
was mixed up in various scandalous intrigues. He was an easy mark for a
designing woman. In one instance, the affair was seized upon by his
political foes, and made capital of to his sore disadvantage. Hamilton met
the issue by writing a pamphlet, laying bare the entire shameless affair,
to the horror of his family and friends. Copies of this pamphlet may be
seen in the rooms of the American Historical Society at New York. Burr had
been Attorney-General of New York State and also United States Senator.
Each man had served on Washington's staff; each had a brilliant military
record; each had acted as second in a duel; each recognized the honor of
the code.

Stern political differences arose, not so much through matters of opinion
and conscience, as through ambitious rivalry. Neither was willing the
other should rise, yet both thirsted for place and power. Burr ran for the
Presidency, and was sternly, strongly, bitterly opposed as "a dangerous
man" by Hamilton.

At the election one more electoral vote would have given the highest
office of the people to Aaron Burr; as it was he tied with Jefferson. The
matter was thrown into the House of Representatives, and Jefferson was
given the office, with Burr as Vice-President. Burr considered, and
perhaps rightly, that were it not for Hamilton's assertive influence he
would have been President of the United States.

While still Vice-President, Burr sought to become Governor of New York,
thinking this the surest road to receiving the nomination for the
Presidency at the next election.

Hamilton openly and bitterly opposed him, and the office went to another.

Burr considered, and rightly, that were it not for Hamilton's influence he
would have been Governor of New York.

Burr, smarting under the sting of this continual opposition by a man who
himself was shelved politically through his own too fiery ambition, sent a
note by his friend Van Ness to Hamilton, asking whether the language he
had used concerning him ("a dangerous man") referred to him politically or

Hamilton replied evasively, saying he could not recall all that he might
have said during fifteen years of public life. "Especially," he said in
his letter, "it can not be reasonably expected that I shall enter into any
explanation upon a basis so vague as you have adopted. I trust on more
reflection you will see the matter in the same light. If not, however, I
only regret the circumstances, and must abide the consequences."

When fighting men use fighting language they invite a challenge.
Hamilton's excessively polite regret that "he must abide the
consequences" simply meant fight, as his language had for a space of five

A challenge was sent by the hand of Pendleton. Hamilton accepted. Being
the challenged man (for duelists are always polite), he was given the
choice of weapons. He chose pistols at ten paces.

At seven o'clock on the morning of July Eleventh, Eighteen Hundred Four,
the participants met on the heights of Weehawken, overlooking New York
Bay. On a toss Hamilton won the choice of position and his second also won
the right of giving the word to fire.

Each man removed his coat and cravat; the pistols were loaded in their
presence. As Pendleton handed his pistol to Hamilton he asked, "Shall I
set the hair-trigger?"

"Not this time," replied Hamilton. With pistols primed and cocked, the men
were stationed facing each other, thirty feet apart.

Both were pale, but free from any visible nervousness or excitement.
Neither had partaken of stimulants. Each was asked if he had anything to
say, or if he knew of any way by which the affair could be terminated
there and then.

Each answered quietly in the negative. Pendleton, standing fifteen feet to
the right of his principal, said: "One--two--three--present!" and as the
last final sounding of the letter "t" escaped his teeth, Burr fired,
followed almost instantly by the other.

Hamilton arose convulsively on his toes, reeled, and Burr, dropping his
smoking pistol, sprang towards him to support him, a look of regret on his

Van Ness raised an umbrella over the fallen man, and motioned Burr to be

The ball passed through Hamilton's body, breaking a rib, and lodging in
the second lumbar vertebra.

The bullet from Hamilton's pistol cut a twig four feet above Burr's head.

While he was lying on the ground Hamilton saw his pistol near and said,
"Look out for that pistol, it is loaded--Pendleton knows I did not intend
to fire at him!"

Hamilton died the following day, first declaring that he bore Colonel Burr
no ill-will.

Colonel Burr said he very much regretted the whole affair, but the
language and attitude of Hamilton forced him to send a challenge or remain
quiet and be branded as a coward. He fully realized before the meeting
that if he killed Hamilton it would be political death for him, too.

At the time of the deed Burr had no family; Hamilton had a wife and seven
children, his oldest son having fallen in a duel fought three years before
on the identical spot where he, too, fell.

Burr fled the country.

Three years afterwards, he was arrested for treason in trying to found an
independent State within the borders of the United States. He was tried
and found not guilty.

After some years spent abroad he returned and took up the practise of law
in New York. He was fairly successful, lived a modest, quiet life, and
died September Fourteenth, Eighteen Hundred Thirty-six, aged eighty years.

Hamilton's widow survived him just one-half a century, dying in her
ninety-eighth year.

So passeth away the glory of the world.


    Not many days ago I saw at breakfast the notablest of all your
    notabilities, Daniel Webster. He is a magnificent specimen. You
    might say to all the world, "This is our Yankee-Englishman; such
    links we make in Yankeeland!" As a logic fencer, advocate or
    Parliamentary Hercules, one would incline to back him at first
    sight against all the extant world. The tanned complexion; the
    amorphous, craglike face; the dull black eyes under the precipice
    of brows, like dull anthracite furnaces needing only to be blown;
    the mastiff mouth accurately closed; I have not traced so much of
    silent Berserker rage that I remember of in any other man. "I
    guess I should not like to be your nigger!"
    --Carlyle to Emerson

[Illustration: DANIEL WEBSTER]

Those were splendid days, tinged with no trace of blue, when I attended
the district school, wearing trousers buttoned to a calico waist. I had
ambitions then--I was sure that some day I could spell down the school,
propound a problem in fractions that would puzzle the teacher, and play
checkers in a way that would cause my name to be known throughout the
entire township.

In the midst of these pleasant emotions, a cloud appeared upon the horizon
of my happiness. What was it? A Friday Afternoon, that's all.

A new teacher had been engaged--a woman, actually a young woman. It was
prophesied that she could not keep order a single day, for the term
before, the big boys had once arisen and put out of the building the man
who taught them. Then there was a boy who occasionally brought a dog to
school; and when the bell rang, the dog followed the boy into the room and
lay under the desk pounding his tail on the floor; and everybody tittered
and giggled until the boy had been coaxed into taking the dog home, for if
merely left in the entry he howled and whined in a way that made study
impossible. But one day the boy was not to be coaxed, and the teacher
grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck, and flung him through a window
so forcibly that he never came back. And now a woman was to teach the
school: she was only a little woman and yet the boys obeyed her, and I had
come to think that a woman could teach school nearly as well as a man,
when the awful announcement was made that thereafter every week we were to
have a Friday Afternoon. There were to be no lessons; everybody was to
speak a piece, and then there was to be a spelling-match--and that was
all. But heavens! it was enough.

Monday began very blue and gloomy, and the density increased as the week
passed. My mother had drilled me well in my lines, and my big sister was
lavish in her praise, but the awful ordeal of standing up before the whole
school was yet to come.

Thursday night I slept but little, and all Friday morning I was in a
burning fever. At noon I could not eat my lunch, but I tried to, manfully,
and as I munched on the tasteless morsels, salt tears rained on the
johnnycake I held in my hand. And even when the girls brought in big
bunches of wild flowers and cornstalks, and began to decorate the
platform, things appeared no brighter.

Finally, the teacher went to the door and rang the bell: nobody seemed to
play, and as the scholars took their seats, some, very pale, tried to
smile, and others whispered, "Have you got your piece?" Still others kept
their lips working, repeating lines that struggled hard to flee.

Names were called, but I did not see who went up, neither did I hear what
was said. At last, my name was called: it came like a clap of thunder--as
a great surprise, a shock. I clutched the desk, struggled to my feet,
passed down the aisle, the sound of my shoes echoing through the silence
like the strokes of a maul. The blood seemed ready to burst from my eyes,
ears and nose.

I reached the platform, missed my footing, stumbled, and nearly fell. I
heard the giggling that followed, and knew that a red-haired boy, who had
just spoken, and was therefore unnecessarily jubilant, had laughed aloud.

I was angry. I shut my fists so that the nails cut my flesh, and glaring
straight at his red head shot my bolt: "I know not how others may feel,
but sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my heart and my
hand to this vote. It is my living sentiment and by the blessing of God it
shall be my dying sentiment. Independence now, and independence forever."

That was all of the piece. I gave the whole thing in a mouthful, and
started for my seat, got halfway there and remembered I had forgotten to
bow, turned, went back to the platform, bowed with a jerk, started again
for my seat, and hearing some one laugh, ran.

Reaching the seat, I burst into tears.

The teacher came over, patted my head, kissed my cheek, and told me I had
done first-rate, and after hearing several others speak I calmed down and
quite agreed with her.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was Daniel Webster who caused the Friday Afternoon to become an
institution in the schools of America. His early struggles were dwelt upon
and rehearsed by parents and pedagogues until every boy was looked upon as
a possible Demosthenes holding senates in thrall.

If physical imperfections were noticeable, the fond mother would explain
that Demosthenes was a sickly, ill-formed youth, who only overcame a lisp
by orating to the sea with his mouth full of pebbles; and every one knew
that Webster was educated only because he was too weak to work. Oratory
was in the air; elocution was rampant; and to declaim in orotund, and
gesticulate in curves, was regarded as the chief end of man. One-tenth of
the time in all public schools was given over to speaking, and on Saturday
evenings the schoolhouse was sacred to the Debating Society.

Then came the Lyceum, and the orators of the land made pilgrimages,
stopping one day in a place, putting themselves on exhibition, and giving
the people a taste of their quality at fifty cents per head. Recently,
there has been a relapse of the oratorical fever. Every city from
Leadville to Boston has its College of Oratory, or School of Expression,
wherein a newly discovered "Natural Method" is divulged for a
consideration. Some of these "Colleges" have done much good; one in
particular I know, that fosters a fine spirit of sympathy, and a trace of
mysticism that is well in these hurrying, scurrying days.

But all combined have never produced an orator; no, dearie, they never
have, and never can. You might as well have a school for poets, or a
college for saints, or give medals for proficiency in the gentle art of
wooing, as to expect to make an orator by telling how.

Once upon a day, Sir Walter Besant was to give a lecture upon "The Art of
the Novelist." He had just adjusted his necktie for the last time, slipped
a lozenge into his mouth, and was about to appear upon the platform, when
he felt a tug at the tail of his dress-coat. On looking around, he saw the
anxious face of his friend, James Payn. "For God's sake, Walter,"
whispered Payn, "you are not going to explain to 'em how you do it, are
you?" But Walter did not explain how to write fiction, because he could
not, and Payn's quizzing question happily relieved the lecture of the
bumptiousness it might otherwise have contained.

The first culture for which a people reach out is oratory. The Indian is
an orator with "the natural method"; he takes the stump on small
provocation, and under the spell of the faces that look up to him, is
often moved to strange eloquence. I have heard negro preachers who could
neither read nor write, move vast congregations to profoundest emotion by
the magic of their words and presence. And further, they proved to me that
the ability to read and write is a cheap accomplishment, and that a man
can be a very strong character, and not know how to do either.

For the most part, people who live in cities are not moved by oratory;
they are unsocial, unimaginative, unemotional. They see so much and hear
so much that they cease to be impressed. When they come together in
assemblages they are so apathetic that they fail to generate
magnetism--there is no common soul to which the speaker can address
himself. They are so cold that the orator never welds them into a mass. He
may amuse them, but in a single hour to change the opinions of a lifetime
is no longer possible in America. There are so many people, and so much
business to transact, that emotional life plays only upon the surface--in
it there is no depth. To possess depth you must commune with the Silences.
No more do you find men and women coming for fifty miles, in wagons, to
hear speakers discuss political issues; no more do you find campmeetings
where the preacher strikes conviction home until thousands are on their
knees crying to God for mercy.

Intelligence has increased; spirituality has declined, and as a people the
warm emotions of our hearts are gone forever.

Oratory is a rustic product. The great orators have always been
country-bred, and their appeal has been made to rural people. Those who
live in a big place think they are bigger on that account. They acquire
glibness of speech and polish of manner; but they purchase these things at
a price. They lack the power to weigh mighty questions, the courage to
formulate them, and the sturdy vitality to stand up and declare them in
the face of opposition. Revolutions are fought by farmers and
rail-splitters; these are the embattled men who fire the shots heard
'round the world.

When Daniel Webster's father took up his residence in New Hampshire, his
log cabin was the most northern one of the Colonies. Between him and
Montreal lay an unbroken forest inhabited only by prowling Indians.
Ebenezer Webster's long rifle had sent cold lead into many a redskin; and
the same rifle had done good service in fighting the British. Once, its
owner stood guard before Washington's Headquarters at Newburgh, and
Washington came out and said, "Captain Webster, I can trust you!"

Ebenezer Webster would leave his home to carry a bag of corn on his back
through the woods to the mill ten miles away to have it ground into meal,
and his wife would be left alone with the children. On such occasions,
Indians who never saw settlers' cabins without having an itch to burn
them, used sometimes to call, and the housewife would have to parley with
these savages, "impressing them concerning the rights of property."

So here was born Daniel Webster, in Seventeen Hundred Eighty-two, the
second child of his mother. His father was then forty-three, and had
already raised one brood, but his mother was only in her twenties. It
seems that biting poverty and sore deprivation are about as good prenatal
influences as a soul can well ask, provided there abides with the mother a
noble discontent and a brave unrest.

However, it came near being overdone in Daniel Webster's case, for the
Mrs. Gamp who presided at his birth declared he could not live, and if he
did, would "allus be a no-'count."

But he made a brave fight for breath, and his crossness and peevishness
through the first years of his life were proof of vitality. He must have
been a queer toddler when he wore dresses, with his immense head and
deep-set black eyes and serious ways.

Being sickly, he was allowed to rule, and the big girls, his half-sisters,
humored him, and his mother did the same. They taught him his letters when
he was only a baby, and he himself said that he could not remember a time
when he could not read the Bible.

When he grew older he did not have to bring in wood and do the chores--he
was not strong enough, they said. Little Dan was of a like belief, and
encouraged the idea on every occasion. He roamed the woods, fished,
hunted, and read every scrap of print that came his way.

Being able to read any kind of print, and not being strong enough to work,
it very early was decided that he should have an education. It is rather a
humbling confession to make, but our worthy forefathers chiefly prized an
education for the fact that it caused the fortunate possessor to be exempt
from manual labor.

When Daniel was fourteen, a member of Congress came to see Ebenezer
Webster, to secure his influence at election. As the great man rode away,
Ebenezer said to his son: "Daniel, look there! he is educated and gets six
dollars a day in Congress for doing nothing; while I toil on this rocky
hillside and hardly see six dollars in a year. Daniel, get an education!"

"I'll do it," said Daniel, and throwing his arms around his father's neck,
burst into tears.

The village of Salisbury, where Webster was born, is fifteen miles north
of Concord. You leave the train at Boscowan, and there is a rickety old
stage, with a loquacious driver, that will take you to Salisbury, five
miles, for twenty-five cents. The country is one vast outcrop of granite;
and one can not but be filled with admiration, mingled with pity, for the
dwellers thereabouts who call these piles of rock "farms."

As we wound slowly around the hills, the church-spire of the village came
in sight; and soon we entered the one street of this sleepy, forgotten
place. I shook hands with the old stage-driver as he let me down in front
of the tavern; and as I went in search of the landlord, I thought of the
remark of the Chicago woman who, in riding from Warwick over to Stratford,
said, "Goodness me! why should a man like Shakespeare ever take it in his
head to live so far off!"

Salisbury has four hundred people. You can rent a house there for fifty
dollars a year, or should you prefer not to keep house, but board, you
can be accommodated at the tavern for three dollars a week. There are
various abandoned farms round about, and they are abandoned so thoroughly
that even Kate Sanborn would not have the courage to their adoption try.

The landlord of the hotel told me that were it not for the "Harvest
Dance," the dance on the Fourth of July, and the party at Christmas, he
could not keep the house open at all. Of course, all the inhabitants know
that Webster was born at Salisbury, but there is not so much local pride
in the matter as there is at East Aurora over the fact that one of her
former citizens is a performer in Barnum and Bailey's Circus.

The number of old men in one of these New England villages impresses folks
from the West as being curious. There are a full dozen men at Salisbury
between seventy-five and ninety, and all have positive ideas as to just
why Daniel Webster missed the Presidency. I found opinion curiously
divided as to Webster's ability; but all seemed to argue that when he left
New Hampshire and became a citizen of Massachusetts, he made a fatal

       *       *       *       *       *

The sacrifices that the mother and the father of Daniel Webster made, in
order that he might go to school, were very great. Every one in the family
had to do without things, that this one might thrive. The boy accepted it
all, quite as a matter of course, for from babyhood he had been protected
and petted. At the last we must admit that the man who towers above his
fellows is the one who has the power to make others work for him; a great
success is not possible in any other way.

Throughout his life Webster utilized the labor of others, and took it in a
high and imperious manner, as though it were his due. No doubt the way in
which his family lavished their gifts upon him fixed in his mind that
immoral slant of disregard for his financial obligations which clung to
him all through life.

There is a story told of his going to a county fair with his brother
Ezekiel, which shows the characters of these brothers better than a
chapter. The father had given each lad a dollar to spend. When the boys
got home Daniel was in gay spirits and Ezekiel was depressed. "Well, Dan,"
said the father, "did you spend your money?"

"Of course I did," replied Daniel.

"And, Zeke, what did you do with your dollar?"

"Loaned it to Dan," replied Ezekiel.

But there was a fine bond of affection between these two. Ezekiel was two
years older and, unfortunately for himself, was strong and well. He was
very early set to work, and I can not find that the thought of giving him
an education ever occurred to his parents, until after Daniel had
graduated at Dartmouth, and Dan and Zeke themselves then forced the issue.

In stature they were the same size: both were tall, finely formed, and in
youth slender. As they grew older they grew stouter, and the personal
presence of each was very imposing. Ezekiel was of light complexion and
ruddy; Daniel was very dark and sallow. I have met several men who knew
them both, and the best opinion is that Ezekiel was the stronger of the
two, mentally and morally.

Daniel was not a student, while Ezekiel was; and as a counselor Ezekiel
was the safer man. Up to the very week of Ezekiel's death Daniel advised
with him on all his important affairs. When Ezekiel fell dead in the
courtroom at Concord and the news was carried to his brother, it was a
blow that affected him more than the loss of wife or child. His friend and
counselor, the one man in life upon whom he leaned, was gone, and over his
own great, craglike face came that look of sorrow which death only
removed. But care and grief became this giant, as they do all who are
great enough to bear them.

It was two years after his brother's death that he made the speech which
is his masterpiece. And while the applause was ringing in his ears he
turned to Judge Story and said, "Oh, if Zeke were only here!" Who is
there who can not sympathize with that groan? We work for others; and to
win the applause of senates or nations, and not be able to know that Some
One is glad, takes all the sweetness out of victory.

"When I sing well, I want you to meet me in the wings of the stage, and
taking me in your aims, kiss my cheek, and whisper it was all right." When
Patti wrote this to her lover she voiced the universal need of a some one
who understands, to share the triumph of good work well done. The
nostalgia of life never seems so bitter as after moments of success; then
comes creeping in the thought that he who would have gloried in
this--knowing all the years of struggle and deprivations that made it
possible--is sleeping his long sleep.

In that speech of January Twenty-sixth, Eighteen Hundred Thirty, Webster
reached high-water mark. On that performance, more than any other, rests
his fame. He was forty-eight years old then. All the years of his career
he had been getting ready for that address. It was on the one theme that
he loved; on the theme he had studied most; on the only theme upon which
he ever spoke well--the greatness, the grandeur and the possibilities of
America. He spoke for four hours, and in his works the speech occupies
seventy close pages. He was at the zenith of his physical and intellectual
power, and that is as good a place as any to stop and view the man.

On account of his proud carriage, and the fine poise of his massive head,
he gave the impression of being a very large man; but he was just five
feet ten, and weighed a little less than two hundred. His manner was
grave, deliberate and dignified; and his sturdy face, furrowed with lines
of sorrow, made a profound impression upon all before he had spoken a
word. He had arrived at an age when the hot desire to succeed had passed.
For no man can attain the highest success until he has reached a point
where he does not care for it. In oratory the personal desire for victory
must be obliterated or the hearer will never award the palm.

Hayne was a very bright and able speaker. He had argued the right of a
State to dissent from, or nullify, a law passed by the House of
Representatives and Senate, making such law inoperative within its
borders. His claim was that the framers of the Constitution did not expect
or intend that a law could be passed that was binding on a State when the
people of that State did not wish it so. Mr. Hayne had the best end of the
argument, and the opinion is now general among jurists that his logic was
right and just, and that those who thought otherwise were wrong. New
England had practically nullified United States law in Eighteen Hundred
Twelve, the Hartford Convention of Eighteen Hundred Fourteen had declared
the right; Josiah Quincy had advocated the privilege of any State to
nullify an obnoxious law, quite as a matter of course.

The framers of the Constitution had merely said that we "had better" hang
together, not that we "must." But with the years had come a feeling that
the Nation's life was unsafe if any State should pull away.

Once, on the plains of Colorado, I was with a party when there was danger
of an attack from Indians. Two of the party wished to go back; but the
leader drew his revolver and threatened to shoot the first man who tried
to seek safety. "We must hang together or hang separately." Logically,
each man had the right to secede, and go off on his own account, but
expediency made a law and we declared that any man who tried to leave did
so at his peril.

To Webster was given the task of putting a new construction on the
Constitution, and to make of the Constitution a Law instead of a mere
compact. Webster's speech was not an argument; it was a plea. And so
mightily did he point out the dangers of separation; review the splendid
past; and prophesy the greatness of the future--a future that could only
be ours through absolute union and loyalty to the good of the whole--that
he won his cause.

After that speech, if Calhoun had allowed South Carolina to nullify a
United States law, President Jackson would have made good his threat and
hanged both him and Hayne on one tree, and the people would have approved
the act. But Webster did not get the case quashed: he got only a
postponement. In Eighteen Hundred Sixty, South Carolina moved the case
again; she opened the argument in another way this time, and a million
lives were required, and millions upon millions in treasure expended to
put a construction on the Constitution that the framers did not intend;
but which was necessary in order that the Nation might exist.

In the battle of Bull Run, almost the first battle of the war, fell
Colonel Fletcher Webster, the only surviving son of Daniel Webster, and
with him died the name and race.

       *       *       *       *       *

The cunning of Webster's intellect was not creative. In his argument there
is little ingenuity; but he had the power of taking an old truth and
presenting it in a way that moved men to tears. When aroused, all he knew
was within his reach; he had the faculty of getting all his goods in the
front window. And he himself confessed that he often pushed out a masked
battery, when behind there was not a single gun.

Under the spell of the orator an audience becomes of one mind: the dullest
intellect is more alert than usual and the most discerning a little less
so. Cheap wit will then often pass for brilliancy, and platitude for
wisdom. We roar over the jokes we have known since childhood, and cry
"Hear, hear!" when the great man with upraised hands and fire in his
glance declares that twice two is four.

Oratory is hypnotism practised on a large scale. Through oratory ideas are
acquired by induction.

Webster was a lawyer; and he was not above resorting to any trick or
device that could move the emotions or passions of judge and jury to a
prejudice favorable to his side. This was very clearly brought out when he
undertook to break the will of Stephen Girard.

Girard was a freethinker, and in leaving money to found a college devised
that no preacher or priest should have anything to do with its management.
The question at issue was, "Is a bequest for founding a college a
charitable bequest?" If so, then the will must stand. But if the bequest
were merely a scheme to deprive the legal heirs of their rights--diverting
the funds from them for whimsical and personal reasons--then the will
should be broken. Mr. Webster made the plea that there was only one kind
of charity, namely, Christian charity. Girard was not a Christian, for he
had publicly affronted the Christian religion by providing that no
minister should teach in his school. Mr. Webster spoke for three hours
with many fine bursts of tearful eloquence in support of the Christian
faith, reviewing its triumphs and denouncing its foes.

The argument was carried outside of the realm of law into the domain of
passion and prejudice.

The court took time for the tumult to subside, and then very quietly
decided against Webster, sustaining the will. The college building was
erected and stands today, the finest specimen of purely Greek architecture
in America; and the good that Girard College has done and is now doing is
the priceless heritage of our entire country.

One of Webster's first greatest speeches was before the United States
Supreme Court in the Dartmouth College case. Here he defended the cause of
education with that grave and wonderful weight of argument of which he was
master. In the Girard College case, eighteen years after, he reversed his
logic, and touched with rare skill on the dangers of a too-liberal

No man now is quite so daring as to claim that Webster was a Christian.
Neither was he a freethinker. He inherited his religious views from his
parents, and never considered them enough to change. He simply viewed
religion as a part of the fabric of government, giving sturdiness and
safety to established order. His own spiritual acreage was left absolutely
untilled. His services were for sale; and so plastic were his convictions
that once having espoused a cause he was sure it was right. Doubtless it
is self-interest, as Herbert Spencer says, that makes the world go round.
And thus does sincerity of belief resolve itself into which side will pay
most. This question being settled, reasons are as plentiful as
blackberries, and are supplied in quantities proportionate in size to the

John Randolph once touched the quick by saying, "If Daniel Webster was
employed on a case and he had partially lost faith in it, his belief in
his client's rights could always be refreshed and his zeal renewed by a

Webster had every possible qualification that is required to make the
great orator. All those who heard him speak, when telling of it, begin by
relating how he looked. He worked the dignity and impressiveness of his
Jovelike presence to its furthest limit, and when once thoroughly awake
was in possession of his entire armament.

No other American has been able to speak with a like degree of
effectiveness; and his name deserves to rank, and will rank, with the
names of Burke, Chatham, Sheridan and Pitt. The case has been tried, the
verdict is in and recorded on the pages of history. There can be no
retrial, for Webster is dead, and his power died thirty years before his
form was laid to rest at Marshfield by the side of his children and the
wife of his youth.

Oratory is the lowest of the sublime arts. The extent of its influence
will ever be a vexed question. Its result depends on the mood and
temperament of the hearer. But there are men who are not ripe for treason
and conspiracy, to whom even music makes small appeal. Yet music can be
recorded, entrusted to an interpreter yet unborn, and lodge its appeal
with posterity. Literature never dies: it dedicates itself to Time. For
the printed page is reproduced ten thousand times ten thousand times, and
besides, lives as did the Homeric poems, passed on from generation to
generation by word of mouth. Were every book containing Shakespeare's
plays burned this night, tomorrow they could be rewritten by those who
know their every word.

With the passing years the painter's colors fade; time rots his canvas;
the marble is dragged from its pedestal and exists in fragments from which
we resurrect a nation's life; but oratory dies on the air and exists only
as a memory in the minds of those who can not translate, and then as
hearsay. So much for the art itself; but the influence of that art is
another thing.

He who influences the beliefs and opinions of men influences all other men
that live after. For influence, like matter, can not be destroyed.

In many ways, Webster lacked the inward steadfastness that his face and
frame betokened; but on one theme he was sound to the inmost core. He
believed in America's greatness and the grandeur of America's mission.
Into the minds of countless men he infused his own splendid patriotism.
From his first speech at Hanover when eighteen years old, to his last when
nearly seventy, he fired the hearts of men with the love of native land.
And how much the growing greatness of our country is due to the magic of
his words and the eloquence of his inspired presence no man can compute.

The passion of Webster's life is well mirrored in that burning passage:

"When mine eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in
heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments
of a once glorious Union: on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent:
on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal
blood. Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the
gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the
earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their
original luster, not a stripe erased or polluted, or a single star
obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as 'What
is all this worth?' nor those other words of delusion and folly, 'Liberty
first and Union afterwards'; but everywhere, spread all over in characters
of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the
sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that
other sentiment, dear to every true American heart, 'Liberty and Union,
now and forever, one and inseparable.'"


    If there be any description of rights, which, more than any
    other, should unite all parties in all quarters of the Union, it
    is unquestionably the rights of the person. No matter what his
    vocation, whether he seeks subsistence amid the dangers of the
    sea, or draws it from the bowels of the earth, or from the
    humblest occupations of mechanical life--wherever the sacred
    rights of an American freeman are assailed, all hearts ought to
    unite and every arm be braced to vindicate his cause.
    --Henry Clay

[Illustration: HENRY CLAY]

There is a story told of an Irishman and an Englishman who were immigrants
aboard a ship that was coming up New York Harbor. It chanced to be the
fourth day of July, and as a consequence there was a needless waste of
gunpowder going on, and many of the ships were decorated with bunting that
in color was red, white and blue.

"What can all this fuss be about?" asked the Englishman.

"What's it about?" answered Pat. "Why, this is the day we run you out!"

And the moral of the story is that as soon as an Irishman reaches the
Narrows he says "we Americans," while an Englishman will sometimes
continue to say "you Americans" for five years and a day. More than this,
an Irish-American citizen regards an English-American citizen with
suspicion and refers to him as a foreigner, even unto the third and fourth

No man ever hated England more cordially than did Henry Clay.

The genealogists have put forth heroic efforts to secure for Clay a noble
English ancestry, but with a degree of success that only makes the
unthinking laugh and the judicious grieve.

Had these zealous pedigree-hunters studied the parish registers of County
Derry, Ireland, as lovingly as they have Burke's Peerage, they might have
traced the Clays of America back to the Cleighs, honest farmers
(indifferent honest), of Londonderry.

The character of Henry Clay had in it various traits that were peculiarly
Irish. The Irishman knows because he knows, and that's all there is about
it. He is dramatic, emotional, impulsive, humorous without suspecting it,
and will fight friend or foe on small provocation. Then he is much given
to dealing in that peculiar article known as palaver. The farewell address
of Henry Clay to the Senate, and his return thereto a few years later,
comprise one of the most Irishlike proceedings to be found in history.

There is no finer man on earth than your "thrue Irish gintleman," and
Henry Clay had not only all the highest and most excellent traits of the
"gintleman," but a few also of his worst. Clay made friends as no other
American statesman ever did. "To come within reach of the snare of his
speech was to love him," wrote one man. People loved him because he was
affectionate, for love only goes out to love. And the Irish heart is a
heart of love. Henry Clay called himself a Christian, and yet at times he
was picturesquely profane. We have this on the authority of the "Diary" of
John Quincy Adams, which of course we must believe, for even that other
fighting Irishman, Andrew Jackson, said, "Adams' Diary is probably
correct--damn it!"

Clay was convivial in all the word implies; his losses at cards often put
him in severe financial straits; he stood ready to back his opinion
concerning a Presidential election, a horse-race or a dog-fight, and with
it all he held himself "personally responsible"--having fought two duels
and engaged in various minor "misunderstandings."

And yet he was a great statesman--one of the greatest this country has
produced, and as a patriot no man was ever more loyal. It was America with
him first and always. His reputation, his fortune, his life, his all,
belonged to America.

       *       *       *       *       *

The city of Lexington contains about twenty-five thousand inhabitants. In
Lexington two distinct forms of civilization meet.

One is the civilization of the F.F.V., converted into that peculiar form
of noblesse known the round world over as the Blue-Grass Aristocracy.
Blue-Grass Society represents leisure and luxury and the generous
hospitality of friendships generations old; it means broad acres, noble
mansions reached by roadways that stray under wide-spreading oaks and elms
where squirrels chatter and mild-eyed cows look at you curiously; it means
apple-orchards, gardens lined with boxwood, capacious stables and long
lines of whitewashed cottages, around which swarm a dark cloud of
dependents who dance and sing and laugh--and work when they have to.

Over against these there are to be seen trolley-cars, electric lights,
smart rows of new brick houses on lots thirty by one hundred, negro
policemen in uniforms patterned after those worn by the Broadway Squad,
streets torn up by sewers and conduits, steam-rollers with an unsavory
smell of tar and asphalt, push-buttons and a Hello-Exchange.

As to which form of civilization is the more desirable is a question that
is usually answered by taste and temperament. One thing sure, and that is,
that a pride which swings to t'other side and becomes vanity is often an
element in both. Each could learn something of the other. Lots that you
can jump across, rented to families of ten, with land a mile away that can
be bought for fifty dollars an acre, are not an ideal condition.

On the other hand, inside the city limits of Lexington are mansions
surrounded by an even hundred acres. But at some of these, gates are off
their hinges, pickets have been borrowed for kindling, creeping vines and
long grass o'ertop the walls of empty stables, and a forest of weeds
insolently invades the spot where once nestled milady's flower-garden.

Slowly but surely the Blue-Grass Aristocracy is giving way to purslane or
asphalt, moving into flats, and allowing the boomer to plat its fair
acres--running excursion-trains to attend auction-sales where all the lots
are corner lots and are to be bought on the installment plan, which plan
is said by a cynic to give the bicycle face.

Just across from Ashland is a beautiful estate, recently sold at a
sacrifice to a man from Massachusetts, by the name of Douglas, who I am
told is bald through lack of hair and makes three-dollar shoes. The
stately old mansion mourns its former masters--all are gone--and a thrifty
German is plowing up the lawn, that the cows of the Douglas (tender and
true) may eat early clover.

But Ashland is there today in all the beauty and loveliness that Henry
Clay knew when he wrote to Benton: "I love old Ashland, and all these
acres with their trees and flowers and growing grain lure me in a way
that ambition never can. No, I remain at Ashland."

The rambling old house is embowered in climbing vines and clambering
rosebushes and is set thick about with cedars, so that you can scarcely
see the chimney-tops above the mass of green. A lane running through
locust-trees planted by Henry Clay's own hands leads you to the
hospitable, wide-open door, where a colored man, whose black face is set
in a frame of wool, smiles a welcome. He relieves you of your baggage and
leads the way to your room.

The summer breeze blows lazily in through the open window, and the only
sound of life and activity about seems to center in two noisy robins which
are making a nest in the eaves, right within reach of your hand. The
colored man apologizes for them, anathematizes them mildly, and proposes
to drive them away, but you restrain him. After the man has gone you
bethink you that the suggestion of driving the birds away was only the
white lie of society (for even black folks tell white lies), and the old
man probably had no more intent of driving the birds away than of going

On the dresser is a pitcher of freshly clipped roses, the morning dew
still upon them, and you only cease to admire as you espy your mail that
lies there awaiting your hand. News from home and loved ones greets you
before these new-found friends do! You have not seen the good folks who
live here, only the old colored man who pretended that he was going to
kill cock-robin, and didn't. The hospitality is not gushing or
effusive--the place is yours, that's all, and you lean out of the window
and look down at the flowerbeds, and wonder at the silence and the quiet
and peace, and feel sorry for the folks who live in Cincinnati and
Chicago. The soughing of the wind through the pines comes to you like the
murmur of the sea, and breaking in on the stillness you hear the sharp
sound of an ax--some Gladstone chopping, miles and miles away.

Your dreams are broken by a gentle tap at the door and your host has come
to call on you. You know him at once, even though you have never before
met, for men who think alike and feel alike do not have to "get
acquainted." Heart speaks to heart.

He only wishes to say that your coming is a pleasure to all the family at
Ashland, the library is yours as well as the whole place, lunch is at one
o'clock, and George will get you anything you wish. And back in the shadow
of the hallway you catch sight of the old colored man and see him bow low
when his name is mentioned.

Ashland is probably in better condition today than when Henry Clay worked
and planned, and superintended its fair acres. The place has seen
vicissitudes since the body of the man who gave it immortality lay in
state here in July, Eighteen Hundred Fifty-two. But Major McDowell's wife
is the granddaughter of Henry Clay, and it seems meet that the descendants
of the great man should possess Ashland. Major McDowell has means and
taste and the fine pride that would preserve all the traditions of the
former master. The six hundred acres are in a high state of cultivation,
and the cattle and horses are of the kinds that would have gladdened the
heart of Clay.

In the library, halls and dining-room are various portraits of the great
man, and at the turn of the stairs is a fine heroic bust, in bronze, of
that lean face and form. Hundreds of his books are to be seen on the
shelves, all marked and dog-eared and scribbled on, thus disproving much
of that old cry that "Clay was not a student." Some men are students only
in youth, but Clay's best reading was done when he was past fifty. The
book habit grew upon him with the years.

Here are his pistols, spurs, saddle and memorandum-books. Here are
letters, faded and yellow, dusted with black powder on ink that has been
dry a hundred years, asking for office, or words of gracious thanks in
token of benefits not forgot.

Off to the south stretches away a great forest of walnut, oak and chestnut
trees--reminders of the vast forest that Daniel Boone knew. Many of these
trees were here then, and here let them remain, said Henry Clay. And so
today at Ashland, as at Hawarden, no tree is felled until it has been duly
tried by the entire family and all has been said for and against the
sentence of death. I heard Miss McDowell make an eloquent plea for an old
oak that had been rather recklessly harboring mistletoe and many
squirrels, until it was thought probable that, like our first parents, it
might have a fall. It was a plea more eloquent than "O Woodman, spare that
tree." A reprieve for a year was granted; and I thought, as I cast my vote
on the side of mercy, that the jury that could not be won by such a young
woman as that was hopelessly dead at the top and more hollow at the heart
than the old oak under whose boughs we sat.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ashland is just a mile south of the courthouse. When Henry Clay used to
ride horseback between the town and his farm there were scarce a dozen
houses to pass on the way, but now the street is all built up, and is
smartly paved, and the trolley-line booms a noisy car to the sacred gates
every ten minutes.

Lexington was laid out in the year Seventeen Hundred Seventy-four, and the
intention was to name it in honor of Colonel Patterson, the founder, or of
Daniel Boone. But while the surveyors were doing their work, word came of
the battle of some British and certain embattled farmers, and the spirit
of freedom promptly declared that the town should be called Lexington.

Three years after the laying-out of Lexington, Henry Clay was born. He was
the son of a poor and obscure Baptist preacher who lived at "The Slashes,"
in Virginia. The boy never had any vivid recollection of his father, who
passed away when Henry was a mere child.

The mother had a hard time of it with her family of seven children, and if
kind neighbors had not aided, there would have been actual want. And
surely one can not blame the widow for "marrying for a home" when
opportunity offered. Only one out of that first family ever achieved
eminence, and the second brood is actually lost to us in oblivion.

Henry Clay was a graduate of the University of Hard Knocks; he also took
several post-graduate courses at the same institution. Very early in life
we see that he possessed the fine, eager, receptive spirit that absorbs
knowledge through the finger-tips; and the ability to think and to absorb
is all that even college can ever do for a man. I doubt whether college
would have helped Clay, and it might have dimmed the diamond luster of his
mind, and diluted that fine audacity which carried him on his way. In this
capacity to comprehend in the mass, Clay's character was essentially
feminine. We have Thoreau for authority that the intuition and the
sympathy found always in the saviors of the world are purely feminine
attributes--the legacy bequeathed from a mother who thirsted for better

From a clerk in a country store to a bookkeeper, then a copyist for a
lawyer, a writer of letters for the neighborhood, a reader of law, and
next a lawyer, were easy and natural steps for this ambitious boy.

Virginia with its older settlements offered small opportunities, and so we
find young Clay going West, and landing at Lexington when twenty years
old. He requested a license to practise law, but the Bar Association,
which consisted of about a dozen members, decided that no more lawyers
were needed at Lexington. Clay demanded that he should be examined as to
fitness, and the blackberry-bush Blackstones sat upon him, as a coroner
would say, with intent to give him so stiff an examination that he would
be glad to get work as a farmhand.

A dozen questions had been asked, and an attempt had been made to confuse
and browbeat the youth, when the Nestor of the Lexington Bar expectorated
at a fly ten feet away, and remarked, "Oh, the devil! there is no need of
tryin' to keep a boy like this down--he's as fit as we, or fitter!"

And so he was admitted.

From the very first he was a success; he toned up the mental qualities of
the Fayette County Bar, and made the older, easy-going members feel to see
whether their laurel wreaths were in place.

When he was thirty years of age he was chosen by the Legislature of
Kentucky as United States Senator. When his term expired he chose to go to
Congress, probably because it afforded better opportunity for oratory and
leadership. As soon as he appeared upon the floor he was chosen Speaker by
acclamation. So thoroughly American was he, that one of his very first
suggestions was to the effect that every member should clothe himself
wholly in fabrics made in the United States. Humphrey Marshall ridiculed
the proposition and called Clay a demagogue, for which he got himself
straightway challenged. Clay shot a bullet through his English-made
broadcloth coat, and then they shook hands.

When his term as Congressman expired, he again went to the Senate, and
served two years. Then he went back to the House, and through his
influence, and his alone, did we challenge Great Britain, just as he had
challenged Marshall.

England accepted the challenge, and we call it the War of Eighteen Hundred

Very often, indeed, do we hear the rural statesmen at Fourth of July
celebrations exclaim, "We have whipped England twice, and we can do it

We whipped England once, and it is possible we could do it again, but she
got the best of us in the War of Eighteen Hundred Twelve. Henry Clay
plunged the country into war to redress certain grievances, and as a peace
commissioner he backed out of that war without having a single one of
those grievances indemnified or redressed.

After the treaty of peace had been declared and "the war was over," that
fighting Irishman, Andrew Jackson, Irishlike, gave the British a black eye
at New Orleans, just for luck, and this is the only thing in that whole
misunderstanding of which we should not as a nation be ashamed.

If England had not had Napoleon on her hands at that particular time,
Wellington would probably have made a visit to America, and might have
brought along for us a Waterloo. And these things are fully explained in
the textbooks on history used in the schools of Great Britain, on whose
possessions the sun never sets.

But as Henry Clay had gotten us into war, his diplomacy helped to get us
out, and as it was a peace without dishonor, Clay's reputation did not
materially suffer. In fact, the terms of peace were so ambiguous that
Congress gave out to the world that it was a victory, and the exact facts
were quite lost in the smoke of Jackson's muskets that hovered over the
cotton bales.

Later, when Clay ran against Jackson for the Presidency he found that a
peace-hero has no such place in the hearts of men as a war-hero. Jackson
had not a tithe of Clay's ability, and yet Clay's defeat was overwhelming.
"Peace hath her victories"--yes, but the average voter does not know it.
The only men who have received overwhelming majorities for President have
been war-heroes. Obscure men have crept in several times, but popular
diplomats--never. The fate of such popular men as Clay, Seward and Blaine
is one. And when one considers how strong is this tendency to glorify the
hero of action, and ignore the hero of thought, he wonders how it really
happened that Paul Revere was not made the second President of the United
States instead of John Adams.

Clay was a most eloquent pleader. The grace of his manner, the beauty of
his speech, and the intense earnestness of his nature often convinced men
against their wills.

There was sometimes, however, a suspicion in the air that his best
quotations were inspirations, and that the statistics to which he appealed
were evolved from his inner consciousness. But the man had power and
personality plus. He was a natural leader, and unlike other statesmen we
might name, he always carried his town and district by overwhelming
majorities. And it is well to remember that the first breath of popular
disfavor directed against Henry Clay was because he proposed the abolition
of slavery.

Those who knew him best loved him most, and this was true from the time he
began to practise law in Lexington, when scarcely twenty-one years old, to
his seventy-fifth year, when his worn-out body was brought home to rest.

On that occasion all business in Lexington, and in most of Kentucky,
ceased. Even the farmers quit work, and very many private residences were
draped in mourning. Memorial services were held in hundreds of churches,
the day was given over to mourning, and everywhere men said, "We shall
never look upon his like again."

       *       *       *       *       *

Before I visited Lexington, my cousin, Little Emily, duly wrote me that on
no account, when I was in Kentucky, must I offer any criticisms on the
character of Henry Clay; for if I grew reckless and compared him with
another to his slightest disadvantage, I should have to fight.

That he was absolutely the greatest statesman America has produced is, to
all Kentuckians, a fact so sure that they doubt the honesty or the sanity
of any one who hints otherwise. He is their ideal, the perfect man, the
model for all youths to imitate, and the standard by which all other
statesmen are gauged. Clay to Kentucky scores one hundred. And as he was
at the last defeated for the highest office, which they say was his
God-given right, there is a flavor of martyrdom in his history that is the
needed crown for every hero.

Complete success alienates man from his fellows, but suffering makes
kinsmen of us all. So the South loves Henry Clay.

He is so well loved that he is apotheosized, and thus the real man to many
is lost in the clouds. With his name, song and legend have worked their
miracles, and to very many Southern people he is a being separate and
apart, like Hector or Achilles.

With my cousin, Little Emily, I am always very frank--and you can be
honest and frank with so few in this world of expediency, you know! We are
so frank in expression that we usually quarrel very shortly. And so I
explained to Emily just what I have written here, as to the real Henry
Clay being lost.

She contradicted me flatly and said, "To love a person is not to lose
him--you never lose except through indifference or hate!" I started to
explain and had gotten as far as, "It is just like this," when the
conversation was interrupted by the arrival of General Bellicose, who had
come to take us riding behind a spanking pair of geldings, that I was
assured were standard bred.

In Lexington you never use the general term "horse." You speak of a mare,
a gelding, a horse, a four-year-old, a weanling or a sucker. To refer to a
trotter as a thoroughbred is to suffer social ostracism, and to obfuscate
a side-wheeler with a single-footer is proof of degeneracy. This applies
equally to the ethics of the ballroom or the livery-stable. In Kentucky
they read Richard's famous lines thus: "A saddler! a saddler! my kingdom
for a saddler!" So when I complimented General Bellicose on his geldings
and noted that they went square without boots or weights, and that he used
no blinders, it thawed the social ice, and we were as brothers. Then I led
the way cautiously to Henry Clay, and the General assured me that in his
opinion the Henry Clays were even better than the George Wilkes. To be
sure, Wilkes had more in the 'thirty list, but the Clays had brains, and
were cheerful; they neither lugged nor hung back, whereas you always had
to lay whip to a Wilkes in order to get along a bit, or else use a gag
and overcheck.

I pressed Little Emily's hand under the lap-robe and asked her if all
Kentuckians were believers in metempsychosis. "Colonel Littlejourneys is
making fun of you, General," said Little Emily; "the Colonel is talking
about the man, and you are discussing trotters!"

And then I apologized, but the General said it was he who should make the
apology, and raising the carriage-seat brought out a box of genuine Henry
Clay Havanas, in proof of amity.

It's a very foolish thing to smile at a man who rides a hobby. Once there
was a man who rode a hobby all his life, to the great amusement of his
enemies and the mortification of his wife; and when the man was dead they
found it was a real live horse and had carried the man many long miles.

General Bellicose loves a horse; so does Little Emily and so do I. But
Little Emily and the General know history and have sounded politics in a
way that puts me in the kindergarten; and I found before the day was over
that what one did not know about the political history of America the
other did. And mixed up in it all we discussed the merits of the fox-trot
versus the single-foot.

We saw the famous Clay monument, built by the State at a cost of nearly a
hundred thousand dollars, and with uncovered heads gazed through the
gratings into the crypt where lies the dust of the great man. Then we saw
the statue of John C. Breckinridge in the public square, and visited
various old ebb-tide mansions where the "quarters" had fallen into decay,
and the erstwhile inhabitants had moved to the long row of tenements down
by the cotton-mill. My train whistled and we were half a mile from the
station, but the General said we would get there in time--and we did. I
bade my friends good-by and quite forgot to thank them for all their
kindness, although down in my heart I felt that it had been a time rare as
a day in June. I believe they felt my gratitude, too, for where there is
such a feast of wit and flow of soul, such kindness, such generosity, the
spirit understands.

When I arrived home I found a box awaiting me, bearing the express mark of
Lexington, Kentucky. On opening the case I found six quart-bottles of
"Henry Clay--1881"; and a card with the compliments of Little Emily and
General Bellicose. On the outside of the case was neatly stenciled the
legend, "Thackeray, Full sett, 14 vol., half Levant." I do not know why
the box was so marked, but I suppose it was in honor of my literary
proclivities. I went out and blew four merry blasts on a ram's horn, and
the Philistines assembled.


    Calm repose and the sweets of undisturbed retirement appear more
    distant than a peace with Britain.

    It gives me pleasure, however, to reflect that the period is
    approaching when we shall be citizens of a better ordered State,
    and the spending of a few troublesome years of our eternity in
    doing good to this and future generations is not to be avoided
    nor regretted. Things will come right, and these States will yet
    be great and flourishing.
    --Letter to Washington

[Illustration: JOHN JAY]

America should feel especially charitable towards Louis the Great, called
by Carlyle, Louis the Little, for banishing the Huguenots from France.
What France lost America gained. Tyranny and intolerance always drive from
their homes the best: those who have ability to think, courage to act, and
a pride that can not be coerced.

The merits possessed by the Huguenots are exactly those which every man
and nation needs. And these are simple virtues, too, whose cultivation
stands within the reach of all. These are the virtues of the farmers and
peasants and plain people who do the work of the world, and give good
government its bone and sinew. To a great degree, so-called society is
made up of parasites who fasten and feed upon the industrious and

If you have read history you know that the men who go quietly about their
business have been cajoled, threatened, driven, and often, when they have
been guilty of doing a little independent thinking on their own account,
banished. And further than this, when you read the story of nations dead
and gone you will see that their decline began when the parasites got too
numerous and flauntingly asserted their supposed power. That contempt for
the farmer, and indifference to the rights of the man with tin pail and
overalls, which one often sees in America, are portents that mark
disintegrating social bacilli. If the Republic of the United States ever
becomes but a memory, like Carthage, Athens and Rome, drifting off into
senile decay like Italy and Spain or France, where a man may yet be tried
and sentenced without the right of counsel or defense, it will be because
we forgot--we forgot!

In moral fiber and general characteristics the Huguenots and the Puritans
were one. The Huguenots had, however, the added virtue of a dash of the
Frenchman's love of beauty. By their excellent habits and loyalty to
truth, as they saw it, they added a vast share to the prosperity and
culture of the United States.

Of seven men who acted as presiding officer over the deliberations of
Congress during the Revolutionary Period, three were of Huguenot
parentage: Laurens, Boudinot and Jay. John Jay was a typical Huguenot,
just as Samuel Adams was a typical Puritan. In his life there was no
glamour of romance. Stern, studious and inflexibly honest, he made his way
straight to the highest positions of trust and honor. Good men who are
capable are always needed. The world wants them now more than ever. We
have an overplus of clever individuals; but for the faithful men who are
loyal to a trust there is a crying demand.

The life of Jay quite disproves the oft-found myth that a dash of Mephisto
in a young man is a valuable adjunct. John Jay was neither precocious nor
bad. It is further a refreshing fact to find that he was no prig, simply a
good, healthy youngster who took to his books kindly and gained
ground--made head upon the whole by grubbing.

His father was a hard-headed, prosperous merchant, who did business in New
York, and moved his big family up to the little village of Rye because
life in the country was simple and cheap. Thus did Peter Jay prove his

Peter Jay copied every letter he wrote, and we now have these copy-books,
revealing what sort of man he was. Religious he was, and scrupulously
exact in all things. We see that he ordered Bibles from England, "and also
six groce of Church Wardens," which I am told is a long clay pipe, "that
hath a goodly flavor and doth not bite the tongue." He also at one time
ordered a chest of tea, and then countermanded the order, having taken the
resolve to "use no tea in my family while that rascally Tax is on--having
a spring of good, pure water near my house." Which shows that a man can be
very much in earnest and still joke.

John was the baby, scarcely a year old, when the Jay family moved up to
Rye. He was the eighth child, and as he grew up he was taught by the older
ones. He took part in all the fun and hardships of farm life--going to
school in Winter, working in Summer, and on Sundays hearing long sermons
at church.

We find by Peter Jay's letter-book that: "Johnny is about our brightest
child. We have great hopes of him, and believe it will be wise to educate
him for a preacher." In order to educate boys then, they were sent to live
in the family of some man of learning. And so we find "Johnny" at twelve
years of age installed in the parsonage at New Rochelle, the Huguenot
settlement. The pastor was a Huguenot, and as only French was spoken in
the household, the boy acquired the language, which afterwards stood him
in good stead.

The pastor reported favorably, and when fifteen, young Jay was sent to
King's College, which is now Columbia University, kings not being popular
in America.

Doctor Samuel Johnson, who nowise resembled Ursa Major, was the president
of the College at that time. He was also the faculty, for there were just
thirty students and he did all the teaching himself. Doctor Johnson, true
to his name, dearly loved a good book, and when teaching mathematics would
often forget the topic and recite Ossian by the page, instead. Jay caught
it, for the book craze is contagious and not sporadic. We take it by being

And thus it was while under the tutelage of Doctor Johnson that Jay began
to acquire the ability to turn a terse sentence; and this gained him
admittance into the world of New York letters, whose special guardians
were Dickinson and William Livingston.

Livingston invited the boy to his house, and very soon we find the young
man calling without special invitation, for Livingston had a beautiful
daughter about John's age, who was fond of Ossian, too, or said she was.

And as this is not a serial love-story, there is no need of keeping the
gentle reader in suspense, so I will explain that some years later John
married the girl, and the mating was a very happy one.

After John had been to King's College two years we find in the faded and
yellow old letter-book an item written by the father to the effect that:
"Our Johnny is doing well at College. He seems sedate and intent on
gaining knowledge; but rather inclines to Law instead of the Ministry."

Doctor Johnson was succeeded by Doctor Myles Cooper, a Fellow of Oxford,
who used to wear his mortarboard cap and scholar's gown up Broadway. In
young Jay's veins there was not a drop of British blood. Of his eight
great-grandparents, five were French and three Dutch, a fact he once
intimated in the Oxonian's presence. And then it was explained to the
youth that if such were the truth it would be as well to conceal it.

Alexander Hamilton got along very well with Doctor Cooper, but John Jay
found himself rusticated shortly before graduation. Some years after this
Doctor Cooper hastily climbed the back fence, leaving a sample of his gown
on a picket, while Alexander Hamilton held the Whig mob at bay at the
front door.

Cooper sailed very soon for England, anathematizing "the blarsted country"
in classic Latin as the ship passed out of the Narrows.

"England is a good place for him," said the laconic John Jay.

So John Jay was to be a lawyer. And the only way to be a lawyer in those
days was to work in a lawyer's office. A goodly source of income to all
established lawyers was the sums they derived for taking embryo
Blackstones into their keeping. The greater a man's reputation as a
lawyer, the higher he placed his fee for taking a boy in.

In those days there were no printed blanks, and a simple lease was often a
day's work to write out; so it was not difficult to keep the boys busy.
Besides that, they took care of the great man's horse, blacked his boots,
swept the office, and ran errands. During the third year of
apprenticeship, if all went well, the young man was duly admitted to the
Bar. A stiff examination kept out the rank outsiders, but the nomination
by a reputable attorney was equivalent to admittance, for all members knew
that if you opposed an attorney today, tomorrow he might oppose you.

To such an extent was this system of taking students carried that, in
Seventeen Hundred Sixty-eight, we find New York lawyers alarmed "by the
awful influx of young Barristers upon this Province." So steps were taken
to make all attorneys agree not to have more than two apprentices in their
office at one time. About the same time the Boston newspaper, called the
"Centinel," shows there was a similar state of overproduction in Boston.
Only the trouble there was principally with the doctors, for doctors were
then turned loose in the same way, carrying a diploma from the old
physician with whom they had matriculated and duly graduated.

Law schools and medical colleges, be it known, are comparatively modern
institutions--not quite so new, however, as business colleges, but pretty
nearly so. And now in Chicago there is a "Barbers' University," which
issues diplomas to men who can manipulate a razor and shears, whereas,
until yesterday, boys learned to be barbers by working in a barber's shop.
The good old way was to pass a profession along from man to man.

And it is so yet in a degree, for no man is allowed to practise either
medicine or law until he has spent some time in the office of a
practitioner in good standing.

In the Catholic Church, and also in the Episcopal, the novitiate is
expected to serve for a time under an older clergyman; but all the other
denominations have broken away, and now spring the fledgling on the world
straight from the factory.

Several other of his children having sorely disappointed him, Peter Jay
seemed to center his ambitions on his boy John. So we find him paying
Benjamin Kissam, the eminent lawyer, two hundred pounds in good coin of
the Colony to take John Jay as a 'prentice for five years. John went at it
and began copying those endless, wordy documents in which the old-time
attorney used to delight. John sat at one end of a table, and at the other
was seated one Lindley Murray, at the mention of whose name terror used to
seize my soul.

Murray has written some good, presentable English to the effect that young
Jay, even at that time, had the inclination and ability to focus his mind
upon the subject in hand. "He used to work just as steadily when his
employer was away as when he was in the office," a fact which the
grammarian seemed to regard as rather strange.

In a year we find that when Mr. Kissam went away he left the keys of the
safe in John Jay's hands, with orders what to do in case of emergencies.
Thus does responsibility gravitate to him who can shoulder it, and trust
to the man who deserves it.

It was in Kissam's office that Jay acquired that habit of reticence and
serene poise which, becoming fixed in character, made his words carry such
weight in later years. He never gave snapshot opinions, or talked at
random, or voiced any sentiment for which he could not give a reason.

His companions were usually men much older than he. At the "Moot Club" he
took part with James Duane, who was to be New York's first continental
mayor; Gouverneur Morris, who had not at that time acquired the wooden
leg which he once snatched off and brandished with happy effect before a
Paris mob; and Samuel Jones, who was to take as 'prentice and drill that
strong man, De Witt Clinton.

Before his years of apprenticeship were over, John Jay, the quiet, the
modest, the reticent, was known as a safe and competent lawyer--Kissam
having pushed him forward as associate counsel in various difficult cases.

Meantime, certain chests of tea had been dumped into Boston Harbor, and
the example had been followed by the "Mohawks" in New York. British
oppression had made many Tories lukewarm, and then English rapacity had
transformed these Tories into Whigs. Jay was one of these; and in
newspapers and pamphlets, and from the platform, he had pleaded the cause
of the Colonies. Opposition crystallized his reasons, and threats only
served to make him reaffirm the truths he had stated.

So prominent had his utterances made his name, that one fine day he was
nominated to attend the first Congress of the Colonies to be held in

In August, Seventeen Hundred Seventy-four, we find him leaving his office
in New York in charge of a clerk, and riding horseback over to the town of
Elizabeth, there joining his father-in-law, and the two starting for
Philadelphia. On the road they fell in with John Adams, who kept a diary.
That night at the tavern where they stopped, the sharp-eyed Yankee
recorded the fact of meeting these new friends and added, "Mr. Jay is a
young gentleman of the law ... and Mr. Scott says a hard student and a
very good speaker."

And so they journeyed on across the State to Trenton and down the Delaware
River to Philadelphia, visiting, and cautiously discussing great issues as
they went. Samuel Adams, too, was in the party, as reticent as Jay. Jay
was twenty-nine and Samuel Adams fifty-two years old, but they became good
friends, and Samuel once quietly said to John Adams, "That man Jay is
young in years, but he has an old head."

Jay was the youngest man of the Convention, save one.

When the Second Congress met, Jay was again a delegate. He served on
several important committees, and drew up a statement that was addressed
to the people of England; but he was recalled to New York before the
supreme issue was reached, and thus, through accident, the Declaration of
Independence does not contain the signature of John Jay.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Seventeen Hundred Seventy-eight, Jay was chosen president of the
Continental Congress to succeed that other patriotic Huguenot, Laurens.
The following year he was selected as the man to go to Spain, to secure
from that country certain friendly favors.

His reception there was exceedingly frosty, and the mention of his two
years on the ragged edge of court life at Madrid, in later years brought
to his face a grim smile.

Spain's diplomatic policy was smooth hypocrisy and rank untruth, and all
her promises, it seems, were made but to be broken. Jay's negotiations
were only partially successful, but he came to know the language, the
country and the people in a way that made his knowledge very valuable to

By Seventeen Hundred Eighty-one, England had begun to see that to compel
the absolute submission of the Colonies was more of a job than she had
anticipated. News of victories was duly sent to the "mother country" at
regular intervals, but with these glad tidings were requests for more
troops, and requisitions for ships and arms.

The American army was a very hard thing to find. It would fight one day,
to retreat the next, and had a way of making midnight attacks and flank
movements that, to say the least, were very confusing. Then it would
separate, to come together--Lord knows where! This made Lord Cornwallis
once write to the Home Secretary: "I could easily defeat the enemy, if I
could find him and engage him in a fair fight." He seemed to think it was
"no fair," forgetting the old proverb which has something to say about
love and war.

Finally, Cornwallis got the thing his soul desired--a fair fight. He was
then acting on the defensive. The fight was short and sharp; and Colonel
Alexander Hamilton, who led the charge, in ten minutes planted the Stars
and Stripes on his ramparts.

That night Cornwallis was the "guest" of Washington, and the next day a
dinner was given in his honor.

He was then obliged to write to the Home Secretary, "We have met the
enemy, and we are theirs"--but of course he did not express it just
exactly that way. Then it was that King George, for the first time, showed
a disposition to negotiate for peace.

As peace commissioners, America named Franklin, John Adams, Laurens, Jay
and Jefferson.

Jefferson refused to leave his wife, who was in delicate health. Adams was
at The Hague, just closing up a very necessary loan. Laurens had been sent
to Holland on a diplomatic mission, and his ship having been overhauled by
a British man-of-war, he was safely in that historic spot, the Tower of

So Jay and Franklin alone met the English commissioners, and Jay stated to
them the conditions of peace.

In a few weeks Adams arrived, still keeping a diary. In that diary is
found this item: "The French call me 'Le Washington de la Negociation': a
very flattering compliment indeed, to which I have no right, but sincerely
think it belongs to Mr. Jay."

Jay quitted Paris in May, Seventeen Hundred Eighty-four, having been gone
from his native land eight years. When he reached New York there was a
great demonstration in his honor. Triumphal arches were erected across
Broadway, houses and stores were decorated with bunting, cannons boomed,
and bells rang. The freedom of the city was presented to him in a gold
box, with an exceedingly complimentary address, engrossed on parchment,
and signed by one hundred of the leading citizens.

Jay spent just one day in New York, and then rode on horseback up to the
old farm at Rye, Westchester County, to see his father. That evening there
was a service of thanksgiving at the village church, after which the
citizens repaired to the Jay mansion, one story high and eighty feet long,
where a barrel of cider was tapped, and "a groce of Church Wardens" passed
around, with free tobacco for all.

John Jay stood on the front porch and made a modest speech just five
minutes long, among other things saying he had come home to be a neighbor
to them, having quit public life for good. But he refused to talk about
his own experiences in Europe. His reticence, however, was made up for by
good old Peter Jay, who assured the people that John Jay was America's
foremost citizen; and in this statement he was backed up by the village
preacher, with not a dissenting voice from the assembled citizens.

It is rather curious (or it isn't, I'm not sure which) how most statesmen
have quit public life several times during their careers, like the prima
donnas who make farewell tours. The ingratitude of republics is
proverbial, but to limit ingratitude to republics shows a lack of
experience. The progeny of the men who tired of hearing Aristides called
The Just are very numerous. Of course it is easy to say that he who
expects gratitude does not deserve it; but the fact remains that the men
who know it are yet stung by calumny when it comes their way.

That fine demonstration in Jay's honor was in great part to overwhelm and
stamp out the undertone of growl and snarl that filled the air. Many said
that peace had been gained at awful cost, that Jay had deferred to royalty
and trifled with the wishes of the people in making terms.

And now Jay had got home, back to his family and farm, back to quiet and
rest. The long, hard fight had been won and America was free. For eight
years had he toiled and striven and planned: much had been
accomplished--not all he hoped, but much.

He had done his best for his country, his own affairs were in bad shape,
Congress had paid him meagerly, and now he would turn public life over to
others and live his own life.

All through life men reach these places where they say, "Here will we
build three tabernacles"; but out of the silence comes the imperative
Voice, "Arise, and get thee hence, for this is not thy rest."

And now the war was over, peace was concluded; but war leaves a country in
chaos. The long, slow work of reconstruction and of binding up a nation's
wounds must follow. America was independent, but she had yet to win from
the civilized world the recognition that she must have in order to endure.

Jay was importuned by Washington to take the position of Secretary of
Foreign Affairs, one of the most important offices to be filled.

He accepted, and discharged the exacting duties of the place for five

Then came the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and the election of
Washington as President of the United States.

Washington wrote to Jay: "There must be a Court, perpetual and Supreme, to
which all questions of internal dispute between States or people be
referred. This Court must be greater than the Executive, greater than any
individual State, separated and apart from any political party. You must
be the first official head of the Executive."

And Jay, as every schoolboy knows, was the first Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court of the United States. By his sagacity, his dignity, his
knowledge of men, and love of order and uprightness, he gave it that high
place which it yet holds, and which it must hold; for when the decisions
of the Supreme Court are questioned by a State or people, the fabric of
our government is but a spider's web through which anarchy and unreason
will stalk.

In Seventeen Hundred Ninety-four, came serious complications with Great
Britain, growing out of the construction of terms of peace made in Paris
eleven years before.

Some one must go to Great Britain and make a new treaty in order to
preserve our honor and save us from another war.

Franklin was dead; Adams as Vice-President could not be spared; Hamilton's
fiery temper was dangerous--no one could accomplish the delicate mission
so well as Jay.

Jay, self-centered and calm, said little; but in compliance with
Washington's wish resigned his office, and set sail with full powers to
use his own judgment in everything, and the assurance that any treaty he
made would be ratified.

Arriving in England, he at once opened negotiations with Lord Grenville,
and in five months the new treaty was signed.

It provided for the payment to American citizens for losses of private
shipping during the war; and over ten million dollars were paid to
citizens of the United States under this agreement.

It fixed the boundary-line between the State of Maine and Canada; provided
for the surrender of British posts in the Far West; that neither nation
was to allow enlistments within its territory by a third nation at war
with another; arranged for the surrender of fugitives charged with murder
or forgery; and made definite terms as to various minor, but none the less
important, questions.

A storm of opposition greeted the treaty when its terms were made known in
America. Jay was accused of bartering away the rights of America, and
indignation meetings were held, because Jay had not insisted on apologies,
and set sums of indemnity on this, that and the other.

Nevertheless, Washington ratified the treaty; and when Jay arrived in
America there was a greeting fully as cordial and generous as that on the
occasion of his other homecoming.

In fact, while he was absent, his friends had put him in nomination as
Governor of New York. His election to that office occurred just two days
before he arrived, and when he landed his senses were mystified by hearing
loud hurrahs for "Governor Jay."

When his term of office expired he was re-elected, so he served as
Governor, in all, six years. The most important measure carried out during
that time was the abolition of slavery in the State of New York, an act
he had strenuously insisted on for twenty years, but which was not made
possible until he had the power of Governor, and crowded the measure upon
the Legislature.

Over a quarter of a century had passed since John Adams and John Jay had
met on horseback out there on the New Jersey turnpike. Their intimacy had
been continuous and their labors as important as ever engrossed the minds
of men, but in it all there was neither jealousy nor bickering. They were

At the close of Jay's gubernatorial term, President Adams nominated him
for the office of Chief Justice, made vacant by the resignation of Oliver
Ellsworth. The Senate unanimously confirmed the nomination, but Jay
refused to accept the place.

For twenty-eight years he had served his country--served it in its most
trying hours. He was not an old man in years, but the severity and anxiety
of his labors had told on his health, and the elasticity of youth had gone
from his brain forever. He knew this, and feared the danger of continued
exertion. "My best work is done," he said; "if I continue I may undo the
good I have accomplished. I have earned a rest."

He retired to the ancestral farm at Bedford, Westchester County, to enjoy
his vacation. In a year his wife died, and the shock told on his already
shattered nerves.

"The habit of reticence grew upon him," says one writer, "until he could
not be tricked into giving an opinion even about the weather."

And so he lived out his days as a partial recluse, deep in problems of
"raising watermelons, and sheep that would not jump fences." He worked
with his hands, wore blue jeans, voted at every town election, but to a
great degree lived only in the past. The problems of church and village
politics and farm life filled his declining days.

To a great degree his physical health came back, but the problems of
statecraft he left to other heads and hands.

His religious nature manifested itself in various philanthropic schemes,
and the Bible Society he founded endures even unto this day. These things
afforded a healthful exercise for that tireless brain which refused to run

His daughters made his home ideal, their love and gentleness soothing his
declining years.

Death to him was kindly, gathering him as Autumn, the messenger of Winter,
reaps the leaves.

       *       *       *       *       *

No one has ever made the claim that Jay possessed genius. He had something
which is better, though, for most of the affairs of life, and that is
commonsense. In his intellect there was not the flash of Hamilton, nor the
creative quality possessed by Jefferson, nor the large all-roundness of

He was the average man who has trained and educated and made the best use
of every faculty and every opportunity. He was genuine; he was honest; and
if he never surprised his friends by his brilliancy, he surely never
disappointed them through duplicity.

He made no promises that he could not keep; he held out no vain hopes.

As a diplomat he seems nearly the ideal. We have been taught that the line
of demarcation between diplomacy and untruth is very shadowy. But truth is
very good policy and in the main answers the purpose much better than the
other thing. I am quite willing to leave the matter to those who have
tried both.

We can not say that Jay was "magnetic," for magnetic men win the rabble;
but Jay did better: he won the confidence and admiration of the strong and
discerning. His manner was gentle and pleasing; his words few, and as a
listener he set a pace that all novitiates in the school of diplomacy
would do well to follow.

To talk well is a talent, but to listen is a fine art. If I really wished
to win the love of a man I'd practise the art of listening. Even dull
people often talk well when there is some one near who cultivates the
receptive mood; and to please a man you must give him an opportunity to be
both wise and witty. Men are pleased with their friends when they are
pleased with themselves, and no man is ever so pleased with himself as
when he has expressed himself well.

The sympathetic listener at a lecture or sermon is the only one who gets
his money's worth. If you would get good, lend your sympathy to a speaker,
and if, accidentally, you imbibe heresy, you can easily throw it overboard
when you get home.

John Jay was quiet and undemonstrative in speech, cultivating a fine
reserve. In debate he never fired all his guns, and his best battles were
won with the powder that was never exploded. "You had always better keep a
small balance to your credit," he once advised a young attorney.

When the first Congress met, Jay was not in favor of complete independence
from England. He asked only for simple justice, and said, "The middle
course is best." He listened to John Adams and Patrick Henry and quietly
discussed the matter with Samuel Adams; but it was some time before he saw
that the density of King George was hopeless, and that the work of
complete separation was being forced upon the Colonies by the blindness
and stupidity of the British Parliament.

He then accepted the issue.

During those first days of the Revolution, New York did not stand firm,
as did Boston, for the cause of independence. "The foes at home are the
only ones I really fear," once wrote Hamilton.

First to pacify and placate, then to win and hold those worse than
neutrals, was the work of John Jay. While Washington was in the field,
Jay, with tireless pen, upheld the cause, and by his speech and presence
kept anarchy at bay.

As president of the Committee of Safety he showed he could do something
more than talk and write. When Tories refused to take the oath of
allegiance he quietly wrote the order to imprison or banish; and with
friend, foe or kinsman there was neither dalliance nor turning aside. His
heart was in the cause--his property, his life. The time for argument had

In the gloom that followed the defeat of Washington at Brooklyn, Jay
issued an address to the people that is a classic in its fine, stern
spirit of hope and strength. Congress had the address reprinted and sent
broadcast, and also translated and printed in German.

His work divides itself by a strange coincidence into three equal parts.
Twenty-eight years were passed in youth and education; twenty-eight years
in continuous public work; and twenty-eight years in retirement and rest.

As one of that immortal ten, mentioned by a great English statesman, who
gave order, dignity, stability and direction to the cause of American
Independence, the name of John Jay is secure.


    I avow my adherence to the Union, with my friends, with my party,
    with my State; or without either, as they may determine; in every
    event of peace or war, with every consequence of honor or
    dishonor, of life or death.
    --Speech in the United States Senate, 1860

[Illustration: WILLIAM H. SEWARD]

When I was a freshman at the Little Red Schoolhouse, the last exercise in
the afternoon was spelling. The larger pupils stood in a line that ran
down one aisle and curled clear around the stove. Well do I remember one
Winter when the biggest boy in the school stood at the tail-end of the
class most of the time, while at the head of the line, or always very near
it, was a freckled, check-aproned girl, who once at a spellin'-bee had
defeated even the teacher. This girl was ten years older than myself, and
I was then too small to spell with this first grade, but I watched the
daily fight of wrestling with such big words as "un-in-ten-tion-al-ly" and
"mis-un-der-stand-ing," and longed for a day when I, too, should take part
and possibly stand next to this fine, smart girl, who often smiled at me
approvingly. And I planned how I would hold her hand as we would stand
there in line and mentally dare the master to come on with his dictionary.
We two would be the smartest scholars of the school and always help each
other in our "sums."

Yet when time had pushed me into the line, she of the check apron was not
there, and even if she had been I should not have dared to hold her hand.

But I must not digress--the particular thing I wish to explain is that one
day at recess the best scholar was in tears, and I went to her and asked
what was the matter, and she told me that some of the big girls had openly
declared that she--my fine, freckled girl, the check-aproned, the
invincible--held her place at the head of the school only through

I burned with rage and resentment and proposed fight; then I burst out
crying and together we mingled our tears.

All this was long ago. Since then I have been in many climes, and met many
men, and read history a bit--I hope not without profit. And this I have
learned: that the person who stands at the head of his class (be he
country lad or presidential candidate) is always the target for calumny
and the unkindness of contemporaries who can neither appreciate nor

Not long ago I spent several days at Auburn, New York, so named by some
pioneer who, when the Nineteenth Century was very young, journeyed
thitherward with a copy of Goldsmith's "Deserted Village" in his pack.

Auburn is a flourishing city of thirty thousand inhabitants. It has
beautiful wide streets, lined with elms that in places form an archway.
There are churches to spare and schools galore and handsome residences.
Then there are electric cars and electric lights and dynamos, with which
men electricute other men in the wink of an eye. I saw the
"fin-de-siecle" guillotine and sat in the chair, and the jubilant patentee
told me that it was the quickest scheme for extinguishing life ever
invented--patented Anno Christi Eighteen Hundred Ninety-five. Verily we
live in the age of the Push-Button! And as I sat there I heard a laugh
that was a quaver, and the sound of a stout cane emphasizing a jest struck
against the stone floor.

"We didn't have such things when I was a boy!" came the tremulous voice.

And then the newcomer explained to me that he was eighty-seven years old
last May, and that he well remembered a time when a plain oaken gallows
and a strong rope were good enough for Auburn--"provided Bill Seward
didn't get the fellow free," added my new-found friend.

Then the old man explained that he used to be a guard on the walls, and
now he had a grandson who occupied the same office, and in answer to my
question said he knew Seward as though he were a brother. "Bill, he was
the luckiest man ever in Auburn--he married rich and tumbled over bags of
money if he just walked on the street. He believed in neither God nor
devil and had a pompous way o' makin' folks think he knew all about
everything. To make folks think you know is just as well as to know, I
s'pose!" and the old man laughed and struck his cane on the echoing floor
of the cell.

The sound and the place and the company gave me a creepy feeling, and I
excused myself and made my way out past armed guards, through doorways
where iron bars clicked and snapped, and steel bolts that held in a
thousand men shot back to let me out, out into a freer air and a better
atmosphere. And as I passed through the last overhanging arch where a
one-armed guard wearing a G.A.R. badge turned a needlessly big key, there
came unbeckoned across my inward sight a vision of a check-aproned girl in
tears, sobbing with head on desk. And I said to myself: "Yes, yes! country
girl or statesman, you shall drink the bitter potion that is the penalty
of success--drink it to the very dregs. If you would escape moral and
physical assassination, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing--court
obscurity, for only in oblivion does safety lie."

All mud sticks, but no mud is immortal, and that senile fling at the name
of Seward is the last flickering, dying word of detraction that can be
heard in the town that was his home for full half a century, or in the
land he served so well. And yet it was in Auburn that mob spirit once
found a voice; and when Seward was Lincoln's most helpful adviser, and his
sons were at the front serving the country's cause, cries of "Burn his
house! Burn his house!" came to the distracted ears of wife and daughter.

But all that has gone now. In fact, denial that calumny was ever offered
to the name of Seward springs quickly to the lips of Auburn men, as they
point with pride to that beautiful old home where he lived, and where now
his son resides; and then they lead you, with a reverence that nearly
uncovers, to the stately bronze standing on the spot that was once his
garden--now a park belonging to the people.

Time marks wondrous changes; and the city where William Lloyd Garrison
lived in "a rat-hole," as reported by Boston's Mayor, now honors
Commonwealth Avenue with his statue. And so the sons of Seward's enemies
have devoted willing dollars to preserving "that classic face and
spindling form" in deathless bronze.

And they do well, for Seward's name and fame are Auburn's glory.

       *       *       *       *       *

I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that all the worry of the world is
quite useless. And on no subject affecting mortals is there so much worry
as on that of (no, not love!) parents' ambitions for their children. When
the dimpled darling toddles and lisps and chatters, the satisfaction he
gives is unalloyed; for he is so small and insignificant, his demands so
imperious, that the entire household dance attendance on the wee tyrant,
and count it joy. But by and by the things at which we used to laugh
become presumptuous, and that which was once funny is now perverse. And
the more practical a man is, the larger his stock of Connecticut
commonsense, the greater his disillusionment as his children grow to
manhood. When he beholds dawdling inanity and dowdy vanity growing lush as
jimson, where yesterday, with strained prophetic vision, he saw budding
excellence and worth, his soul is wrung by a worry that knows no peace.
The matter is so poignantly personal that he dare not share it with
another in confessional, and so he hugs his grief to his heart, and tries
to hide it even from himself.

And thus does many a mother scrub the kitchen-floor on her knees, rather
than face the irony of maternity and ask the assistance of the
seventeen-year-old pert chit with bangs, who strums a mandolin in the
little front parlor, gay with its paper flowers, six plush-covered chairs
and a "company" sofa.

The late Commodore Vanderbilt is reported to have said, "I have over a
dozen sons, and not one is worth a damn." I fear me that every father with
sons grown to manhood has at some time voiced the same sentiment,
curtailed, possibly, only as to numbers, and softened by another
expletive, which does not mitigate the anguish of his cry, as he sees the
dreams he had for his baby boys fade away into a mist of agonizing tears.

And is all this worry the penalty that Nature exacts for dreaming dreams
that can not in their very nature come true? Jean Jacques Rousseau, who
wrote so beautifully on child-study, avoided the risk of failure by
putting his children into an asylum; several "Communities" since have set
apart certain women to be mothers to all, and bring up and care for the
young, and strangely, with no apparent loss to the children; and Bellamy
prophesies a day when the worries of parenthood will all be transferred to
a "committee."

But the worry is futile and senseless, being born often of a blindness
that will not wait. Man has not only "Seven Ages," but many more, and he
must pass through this one before the next arrives. The Commodore
certainly possessed what is called horse-sense, and if his conceptions of
character had been clearer, he might have realized that in more ways than
one the abilities of his sons were going to be greater than his own. His
eldest son was, nevertheless, banished to a Long Island farm on a pension,
"because he could not be trusted to do business." The same son once
modestly asked the Commodore if he would allow him to have the compost
that had been for a year accumulating outside the Fifth Avenue barns.
"Just one load, and no more," said pater. William thereupon took twenty
teams and as many men, and transferred the entire pile to a barge moored
in the river. It was a barge-load. And when pater saw what had been done,
he said, "The boy is not so big a fool as I thought." The boy was
forty-five ere death put him in possession of the gold that the father no
longer had use for, there being no pockets in a shroud, and he then showed
that as a financier he could have given his father points, for in a few
years he doubled the millions and drove horses faster without a break than
his father had ever ridden.

Seward's father was a doctor, justice of the peace, merchant, and the
general first citizen of the village of Florida, Orange County, New York.
And he had no more confidence in his boy William than Vanderbilt had in
his. He educated him only because the lad was not strong enough to work,
and it seems to have been the firm belief that the boy would come to no
good end. In order to discipline him, the father put the youngster in
college on such a scanty allowance that the lad was obliged to run away
and go to teaching school in order to be free from financial humiliation.
Here was the best possible proof that the young man had the germs of
excellence in him; but the father took it as a proof of depravity, and
sent warning letters to the young school-teacher's friends threatening
them "not to harbor the scapegrace."

The years went by and the parental distrust slackened very little. The boy
was slim and slender and his hair was tow-colored and his head too big for
his body. He had gotten a goodly smattering of education some way and was
intent on being a lawyer. He seemed to know that if he was to succeed he
must get well away from the parent nest, and out of the reach of daily

His desire was to go "Out West," and the particular objective point was
Auburn, New York.

The father gave him fifty dollars as a starter, with the final word, "I
expect you'll be back all too soon."

And so young Seward started away, with high hopes and a firm determination
that he would agreeably disappoint his parents by not going back.

He reached Albany by steamboat, and embarked on a sumptuous canal packet
that bore a waving banner on which were the words woven in gold, "Westward

And he has slyly told us how, as he stepped aboard that "inland palace,"
he bethought him of having written a thesis, three years before, proving
that De Witt Clinton's chimera of joining the Hudson and Lake Erie was an
idea both fictile and fibrous. But the inland palace carried him safely
and surely. He reached Auburn, and instead of writing home for more money,
returned that which he had borrowed. The father, who was a pretty good
man in every way, quite beyond the average in intellect, lived to see his
son in the United States Senate.

And the moral for parents is: Don't worry about your children. You were
young once, even if you have forgotten the fact. Boys will be boys and
girls will be girls--but not forever. Have patience, and remember that
this present brood is not the first generation that has been brought
forth. There have been others, and each has been very much like the one
that passed before. The sentiment of "Pippa Passes" holds: "God's in His
Heaven, all's right with the world."

       *       *       *       *       *

In Eighteen Hundred Thirty-four, Seward was the Whig candidate for
Governor of New York. He was defeated by W.L. Marcy. Four years later he
was again a candidate against Marcy and defeated him by ten thousand

Seward was then thirty-six years of age, and was counted one of the very
first among the lawyers of the State, and in accepting the office of
Governor he made decided financial sacrifices.

Seward was a man of positive ideas, and, although not arbitrary in manner,
yet had a silken strength of will that made great rents in the mesh of
other men's desires. Before a court, his quiet but firm persistence along
a certain line often dictated the verdict. The faculty of grasping a point
firmly and securely was his in a marked measure. And any man who can
quietly override the wishes and ambitions of other men is first well
feared, and then thoroughly hated.

One of Seward's first efforts on becoming Governor was to insure a
common-school education among the children of every class, and especially
among the foreign population of large cities. To this end he advocated a
distribution of public funds among all schools established with that
object; and if he were alive today it is quite needless to say he would
not belong to the A.P.A. nor to any other secret society. He knew too much
of all religions to have complete faith in any, yet his appreciation of
the fact that the Catholics minister to the needs of a class that no
other denomination reaches or can control was outspoken and plain. This,
with his connection with the Anti-Masonic Party, brought upon his name a
stigma that was at last to defeat him for the Presidency. Seward's clear
insight into practical things, backed by the quiet working energy of his
nature, brought about many changes, and the changes he effected and the
reforms he inaugurated must ever rank his name high among statesmen.

By his influence the law's delay in the courts of chancery was curtailed,
and this prepared the way for radical changes in the Constitution. He
inaugurated the geological survey that led to making "Potsdam outcrop"
classic, and "Medina sandstone" a product that is so known wherever a man
goes forth in the fields of earth carrying a geologist's hammer.

Largely through his efforts, a safe and general banking system was brought
about; and the establishment of a lunatic asylum was one of the best items
to his credit during that first term as Governor. But there was one
philological change that proved too great even for his generalship. The
word "lunacy," as we know, comes from "luna," the belief in the good old
days being that the moon exercised a profound influence on the wits of
sundry people. I'm told that the idea still holds good in certain
quarters, and that if the wind is east and the moon shows a horn on which
you can hang a flatiron, certain persons are looked upon askance and the
children cautioned to avoid them.

Seward said that insane people were simply those who were mentally ill,
and that "Hospital" was the proper term. But the classicists retorted,
"Nay, nay, William Henry, you have had your way in many things and here we
will now have ours." It has taken us full a century officially to make the
change, and the plain folks from the hills still refuse to ratify it, and
will for many a lustrum.

It was during Seward's administration that the "debtors' prison" was done
away with, and it was, too, through his earnest recommendation that the
last trace of law for slaveholding was wiped from the statute-books of the
State of New York.

The question of slavery was taken up most exhaustively in what was known
as the "Virginia Controversy." This interesting correspondence can be seen
in a stout volume in most public libraries. It is a series of letters that
passed between Governor Seward of New York and the Governor of Virginia,
as to the requisition of two persons in New York charged by the Governor
of Virginia with abducting slaves. Seward made the patent point, and
backed it up with a forest of reasons in politest English, that the
accused persons being charged with abducting slaves, and there being no
such thing as slaves known in New York, no person in New York could be
apprehended for stealing slaves--for slaves were things that had no

Then did the Governor of Virginia admit that slaves could not be abducted
in New York; but he proceeded to explain in lusty tomes that slavery
legally existed in Virginia, and that if slaves were abducted in Virginia,
the criminal nature of the act could not be shaken off because the accused
changed his geographical base. Seward was a prince of logicians: the
subtleties of reasoning and the smoke of rhetoric were to his fancy, and
although there is not a visible smile in the whole "Virginia Controversy,"
I can not but think that his sleeves were puffed with laughter as he
searched the universe for reasons to satisfy the haughty First Families of
Virginia. And all the while, please note that he held the alleged
abductors safe and secure 'gainst harm's way.

In this correspondence he placed himself on record as an Abolitionist of
the Abolitionists; and the name of Seward became listed then and there for
vengeance--or immortality. The subject had been forced upon him, and he
then expressed the sentiment that he continued to voice until Eighteen
Hundred Sixty-five, that America could not exist half-free and half-slave.
It must be a land of slaveholders and slaves, or a land of free-men--he
was fully and irrevocably committed to the cause.

In Eighteen Hundred Forty, he was re-elected Governor. The second
administration was marked, as was the first, by a vigorous policy of
pushing forward public improvements.

At the close of his second term Seward found his personal affairs in
rather an unsettled condition, the expenses of official position having
exceeded his income. He had had a goodly taste of the ingratitude of
republics, and philosopher though he was, he was yet too young to know
that his experience in well-doing was not unique, a fact he came to
comprehend full well, in later years. And so he did that very human
thing--declared his intention of retiring permanently from public life.

Once back at Auburn, clients flocked to him, and he took his pick of
business. And yet we find that public affairs were in his mind. Vexed
questions of State policy were brought to him to decide, and journeys were
made to Ohio and Michigan in the interests of men charged with
slave-stealing. There was little money in such practise and small honors,
but his heart was in the work.

In Eighteen Hundred Forty-four, Seward entered with much zest into the
canvass in behalf of Henry Clay for President, as he thought Clay's
election would surely lead the way to general emancipation.

In Eighteen Hundred Forty-eight, he supported General Taylor with equal
energy. When Taylor was elected, there proved to be a great deal of
opposition to him among the members from the South, in both the Senate and
the House of Representatives. The administration felt the need of being
backed by strong men in the Senate--men who could think on their feet, and
carry a point when necessary against the opposition that sought to
confuse and embarrass the friends of the administration with tireless
windmill elocution.

From Washington came the urgent request that Seward should be sent to the
United States Senate. In Eighteen Hundred Forty-nine, he was chosen
senator and from the first became the trusted leader of the administration

The year after Seward's election to the Senate, President Taylor died and
Vice-President Fillmore (who had the happiness to live in the village of
East Aurora, New York) succeeded to the office, but Seward still remained
leader of the Anti-Slavery Party.

Seward's second term as United States Senator closed in Eighteen Hundred
Sixty-one. In Eighteen Hundred Fifty-five, when his first term expired,
there was a very strenuous effort made against his re-election. His strong
and continued anti-slavery position had caused him to be thoroughly hated
both North and South. He was spoken of as "a seditious agitator and a
dangerous man."

But in spite of opposition he was again sent back to Washington. Small,
slim, gentle, modest and low-voiced, he was pointed out in Pennsylvania
Avenue as "one who reads much and sees quite through the deeds of men."

Men who are well traduced and hotly denounced are usually pretty good
quality. No better encomium is needed than the detraction of some people.
And men who are well hated also have friends who love them well. Thus
does the law of compensation ever live.

In Eighteen Hundred Fifty-six, there was a goodly little demonstration in
favor of Seward for President, but the idea of running such a radical for
the chief office of the people was quickly downed; and Seward himself knew
the temper of the times too well to take the matter very seriously.

But the years between Eighteen Hundred Fifty-six and Eighteen Hundred
Sixty were years of agitation and earnest thought, and the idea that
slavery was merely a local question was getting both depolarized and
dehorned. The non-slaveholding North was rubbing its sleepy eyes, and
asking, Who is this man Seward, anyway? The belief was growing that
Seward, Garrison, Sumner and Phillips were something more than
self-seeking agitators, and many declared them true patriots. In every
town and city, in every Northern State, political clubs sprang into being
and their battle-cry was "Seward!" It seemed to be a foregone conclusion
that Seward would be the next President. When the convention met, the
first ballot showed one hundred seventy-three votes for Seward and one
hundred two for Lincoln, the rest, scattering. But Seward's friends had
marshaled their entire strength--all the rest was opposition--while
Lincoln was an unknown quantity.

When the news went forth that Lincoln was nominated, Seward received the
tidings in his library at Auburn; and the myth-makers have told us that
he cried aloud, and that the carved lions on his gateposts shed salty
tears. But Seward knew the opposition to his name, and was of too stern a
moral fiber to fix his heart upon the result of a wire-pulling convention.
The motto of his life had been: Be prepared for the unexpected. It may be
that the lions on the gateposts shed tears, and it is possible there was
weeping in the Seward household--but not by Seward.

He entered upon a hearty and vigorous campaign in support of
Lincoln--making a tour through the West and being greeted everywhere with
an enthusiasm that rivaled that shown for the candidate.

Seward said to his wife, when the news came that Lincoln was nominated:
"He will be elected, but he will have to face the greatest difficulties
and carry the greatest burdens that ever a man has been called to bear. He
will need me, but look you, my dear, I will not serve under him. I must be
at the head or nowhere."

Lincoln knew Seward, and Seward didn't knew Lincoln. And so after the
Convention Lincoln journeyed down East. It took two days to go from
Chicago to Buffalo, and there were no sleeping-cars; and then Lincoln went
on from Buffalo to Auburn--another day's journey. Lincoln wore his
habitual duster and the tall hat, a little the worse for wear. He
telegraphed Seward he was coming, and, of course, Seward met him at the
station in Auburn. Lincoln got off the car alone, unattended, carrying his
carpetbag, homemade, with the initials "A.L." embroidered on the side by
the fair hands of Fannie Anna Rebecca Todd.

Seward and his two sons--William and Frederick--met the coming President,
and the boys laughed at the dusty, uncouth, sad and awkward individual,
six feet five, who disembarked.

The carriage was waiting, but Lincoln refused to ride, saying, "Boys,
let's walk," and so they walked up the hill, in through past the stone
gateposts where the lions stood that shed tears. Seward ran ahead into the
house and said to his wife: "Look you, my dear, we have misjudged this
man. Do not laugh. He is the greatest man in the world!"

Three months later, Seward met Lincoln by appointment in Chicago; and from
that time on, to the day of Lincoln's death, Seward served his chief with
hands and feet, with eyes and ears, and with brain and soul. When Lincoln
was elected, his wisdom was at once manifest in securing Seward as
Secretary of State. The record of those troublous times and the masterly
way in which Seward served his country are too vivid in the minds of men
to need reviewing here, but the regard of Lincoln for this man, who so
well complemented his own needs, is worthy of our remembrance. Seward was
the only member of Lincoln's first Cabinet who stood by him straight
through and entered the second.

Early in April, Eighteen Hundred Sixty-five, Seward met with a serious
accident by being thrown from his carriage and dashed against the
curbstone. One arm and both jaws were fractured, and besides he was badly
bruised in other parts of his body. On April Thirteenth, Lincoln returned
from his trip to Richmond, where he had had an interview with Grant. That
evening he walked over from the White House to Seward's residence. The
stricken man was totally unable to converse, but Lincoln, sitting on the
edge of the bed and holding the old man's thin hands, told in solemn,
serious monotone of the ending of the war; of what he had seen and heard;
of the plans he had made for sending soldiers home and providing for an
army whipped and vanquished, and of what was best to do to bind up a
nation's wounds.

Five years before, these men had stood before the world as rivals. Then
they joined hands as friends, and during the four years of strife and
blood had met each day and advised and counseled concerning every great
detail. Their opinions often differed widely, but there was always frank
expression and, in the main, their fears and doubts and hopes had all been

But now at last the smoke had cleared away, and they had won. The victory
had been too dearly bought for proud boast or vain exultation, but victory
still it was.

And as the strong and homely Lincoln told the tale the stricken man could
answer back only by pressure of a hand.

At last the presence of the nurse told Lincoln it was time to go; in grave
jest he half-apologized for his long stay, and told of a man in Sangamon
County who used to say there is no medicine like good news. And rumor has
it that he then stooped and kissed the sick man's cheek. And then he went
his way.

The next night at the same hour a man entered the Seward home, saying that
he had been sent with messages by the doctor. Being refused admittance to
the sick-chamber, he drew a pistol and endeavored to shoot Seward's son
who guarded the door; but being foiled in this he crushed the young man's
skull with the heavy weapon, and springing over his body dashed at the
emaciated figure of Seward with uplifted dagger. A dozen times he struck
at the face and throat and breast of the almost dying man, and then
thinking he had done his work made rapidly away.

At the same time, linked by Fate in a sort of poetic justice, with the
thought that if one deserved death so did the other, Hate had with surer
aim sent an assassin's bullet home--and Lincoln died.

Weeks passed and the strong vitality that had served Seward in such good
stead did not forsake him. Men of his stamp are hard to kill.

On a beautiful May-day, Seward, so reduced that a woman carried him, was
taken out on the veranda of his house and watched that solid mass of
glittering steel and faded blue that moved through Pennsylvania Avenue in
triumphal march. Sherman with head uncovered rode down to Seward's home,
saluted, and then back to join his goodly company, and many others of
lesser note did the same.

Health and strength came slowly back, and happy was the day when he was
carried to the office of Secretary of State and, propped in his chair,
again began his work. Another President had come, but meet it was that the
Secretary of State should still hold his place.

Seward lived full eleven years after that, seemingly dragging with
unquenched spirit that slashed and broken form. But the glint did not fade
from his eye, nor did the proud head lose its poise.

He died in his office among his books and papers, sane and sensible up to
the very moment when his spirit took its flight.


    The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here,
    but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the
    living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which
    they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is
    rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining
    before us, that from these honored dead we take increased
    devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure
    of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall
    not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a
    new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the
    people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
    --Speech at Gettysburg

[Illustration: ABRAHAM LINCOLN]

No, dearie, I do not think my childhood differed much from that of other
good healthy country youngsters. I've heard folks say that childhood has
its sorrows and all that, but the sorrows of country children do not last
long. The young rustic goes out and tells his troubles to the birds and
flowers, and the flowers nod in recognition, and the robin that sings from
the top of a tall poplar-tree when the sun goes down says plainly it has
sorrows of its own--and understands.

I feel a pity for all those folks who were born in a big city, and thus
got cheated out of their childhood. Zealous ash-box inspectors in gilt
braid, prying policemen with clubs, and signs reading, "Keep Off the
Grass," are woeful things to greet the gaze of little souls fresh from

Last Summer six "Fresh Airs" were sent out to my farm, from the Eighth
Ward. Half an hour after their arrival, one of them, a little girl five
years old, who had constituted herself mother of the party, came rushing
into the house exclaiming, "Say, Mister, Jimmy Driscoll he's walkin' on de

I well remember the first Keep-Off-the-Grass sign I ever saw. It was in a
printed book; it wasn't exactly a sign, only a picture of a sign, and the
single excuse I could think of for such a notice was that the field was
full of bumblebee-nests, and the owner, being a good man and kind, did not
want barefoot boys to add bee-stings to stone-bruises. And I never now see
one of those signs but that I glance at my feet to make sure that I have
shoes on.

Given the liberty of the country, the child is very near to Nature's
heart; he is brother to the tree and calls all the dumb, growing things by
name. He is sublimely superstitious. His imagination, as yet untouched by
disillusion, makes good all that earth lacks, and habited in a healthy
body the soul sings and soars.

In childhood, magic and mystery lie close around us. The world in which we
live is a panorama of constantly unfolding delights, our faith in the
Unknown is limitless, and the words of Job, uttered in mankind's early
morning, fit our wondering mood: "He stretcheth out the north over empty
space, and hangeth the earth upon nothing."

I am old, dearie, very old. In my childhood much of the State of Illinois
was a prairie, where wild grass waved and bowed before the breeze, like
the tide of a summer sea. I remember when "relatives" rode miles and miles
in springless farm-wagons to visit cousins, taking the whole family and
staying two nights and a day; when books were things to be read; when the
beaver and the buffalo were not extinct; when wild pigeons came in clouds
that shadowed the sun; when steamboats ran on the Sangamon; when Bishop
Simpson preached; when Hell was a place, not a theory, and Heaven a
locality whose fortunate inhabitants had no work to do; when Chicago
newspapers were ten cents each; when cotton cloth was fifty cents a yard,
and my shirt was made from a flour-sack, with the legend, "Extra XXX,"
across my proud bosom, and just below the words in flaming red, "Warranted
Fifty Pounds!"

The mornings usually opened with smothered protests against getting up,
for country folks then were extremists in the matter of "early to bed,
early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." We hadn't much
wealth, nor were we very wise, but we had health to burn. But aside from
the unpleasantness of early morning, the day was full of possibilities of
curious things to be found in the barn and under spreading
gooseberry-bushes, or if it rained, the garret was an Alsatia unexplored.

The evolution of the individual mirrors the evolution of the race. In the
morning of the world man was innocent and free; but when
self-consciousness crept in and he possessed himself of that disturbing
motto, "Know Thyself," he took a fall.

Yet knowledge usually comes to us with a shock, just as the mixture
crystallizes when the chemist gives the jar a tap. We grow by throes.

I well remember the day when I was put out of my Eden.

My father and mother had gone away in the one-horse wagon, taking the baby
with them, leaving me in care of my elder sister. It was a stormy day and
the air was full of fog and mist. It did not rain very much, only in
gusts, but great leaden clouds chased each other angrily across the sky.
It was very quiet there in the little house on the prairie, except when
the wind came and shook the windows and rattled at the doors. The morning
seemed to drag and wouldn't pass, just out of contrariness; and I wanted
it to go fast because in the afternoon my sister was to take me somewhere,
but where I did not know, but that we should go somewhere was promised
again and again.

As the day wore on we went up into the little garret and strained our eyes
across the stretching prairie to see if some one was coming. There had
been much rain, for on the prairie there was always too much rain or else
too little. It was either drought or flood. Dark swarms of wild ducks were
in all the ponds; V-shaped flocks of geese and brants screamed overhead,
and down in the slough cranes danced a solemn minuet.

Again and again we looked for the coming something, and I began to cry,
fearing we had been left there, forgotten of Fate.

At last we went out by the barn and, with much boosting, I climbed to the
top of the haystack and my sister followed. And still we watched.

"There they come!" exclaimed my sister.

"There they come!" I echoed, and clapped two red, chapped hands for joy.

Away across the prairie, miles and miles away, was a winding string of
wagons, a dozen perhaps, one right behind another. We watched until we
could make out our own white horse, Bob, and then we slid down the hickory
pole that leaned against the stack, and made our way across the spongy sod
to the burying-ground that stood on a knoll half a mile away.

We got there before the procession, and saw a great hole, with square
corners, dug in the ground. It was half-full of water, and a man in bare
feet, with trousers rolled to his knees, was working industriously to bail
it out.

The wagons drove up and stopped. And out of one of them four men lifted a
long box and set it down beside the hole where the man still bailed and
dipped. The box was opened and in it was Si Johnson. Si lay very still,
and his face was very blue, and his clothes were very black, save for his
shirt, which was very white, and his hands were folded across his breast,
just so, and held awkwardly in the stiff fingers was a little New
Testament. We all looked at the blue face, and the women cried softly. The
men took off their hats while the preacher prayed, and then we sang,
"There'll be no more parting there."

The lid of the box was nailed down, lines were taken from the harness of
one of the teams standing by and were placed around the long box, and it
was lowered with a splash into the hole. Then several men seized spades
and the clods fell with clatter and echo. The men shoveled very hard,
filling up the hole, and when it was full and heaped up, they patted it
all over with the backs of their spades.

Everybody remained until this was done, and then we got into the wagons
and drove away.

Nearly a dozen of the folks came over to our house for dinner, including
the preacher, and they all talked of the man who was dead and how he came
to die.

Only two days before, this man, Si Johnson, stood in the doorway of his
house and looked out at the falling rain. It had rained for three days, so
that they could not plow, and Si was angry. Besides this, his two brothers
had enlisted and gone away to the War and left him all the work to do. He
did not go to War because he was a "Copperhead"; and as he stood there in
the doorway looking at the rain, he took a chew of tobacco, and then he
swore a terrible oath.

And ere the swear-words had escaped from his lips, there came a blinding
flash of lightning, and the man fell all in a heap like a sack of oats.

And he was dead.

Whether he died because he was a Copperhead, or because he took a chew of
tobacco, or because he swore, I could not exactly understand. I waited for
a convenient lull in the conversation and asked the preacher why the man
died, and he patted me on the head and told me it was "the vengeance of
God," and that he hoped I would grow up and be a good man and never chew
tobacco nor swear.

The preacher is alive now. He is an old, old man with long, white
whiskers, and I never see him but that I am tempted to ask for the exact
truth as to why Si Johnson was struck by lightning.

Yet I suppose it was because he was a Copperhead: all Copperheads chewed
tobacco and swore, and that his fate was merited no one but the living
Copperheads in that community doubted.

That was an eventful day to me. Like men whose hair turns from black to
gray in a night, I had left babyhood behind at a bound, and the problems
of the world were upon me, clamoring for solution.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was war in the land. When it began I did not know, but that it was
something terrible I could guess. I thought of it all the rest of the day
and dreamed of it at night. Many men had gone away; and every day men in
blue straggled by, all going south, forever south.

And all the men straggling along that road stopped to get a drink at our
well, drawing the water with the sweep, and drinking out of the bucket,
and squirting a mouthful of water over each other. They looked at my
father's creaking doctor's sign, and sang, "Old Mother Hubbard, she went
to the cupboard."

They all sang that. They were very jolly, just as though they were going
to a picnic. Some of them came back that way a few years later and they
were not so jolly. And some there were who never came back at all.

Freight-trains passed southward, blue with men in the cars, and on top of
the cars, and in the caboose, and on the cowcatcher, always going south
and never north. For "Down South" were many Rebels, and all along the way
south were Copperheads, and they all wanted to come north and kill us, so
soldiers had to go down there and fight them.

And I marveled much that if God hated Copperheads, as our preacher said He
did, why He didn't send lightning and kill them, just in a second, as He
had Si Johnson. And then all that would have to be done would be to send
for a doctor to see that they were surely dead, and a preacher to pray,
and the neighbors would dress them in their best Sunday suits of black,
folding their hands very carefully across their breasts, then we would
bury them deep, filling in the dirt and heaping it up, patting it all down
very carefully with the back of a spade, and then go away and leave them
until Judgment-Day.

Copperheads were simply men who hated Lincoln. The name came from
copperhead-snakes, which are worse than rattlers, for rattlers rattle and
give warning. A rattler is an open enemy, but you never know that a
copperhead is around until he strikes. He lies low in the swale and
watches his chance. "He is the worstest snake that am."

It was Abe Lincoln of Springfield who was fighting the Rebels that were
trying to wreck the country and spread red ruin. The Copperheads were
wicked folks at the North who sided with the Rebels. Society was divided
into two classes: those who favored Abe Lincoln, and those who told lies
about him. All the people I knew and loved, loved Abe Lincoln.

I was born at Bloomington, Illinois, through no choosing of my own, and
Bloomington is further famous as being the birthplace of the Republican
party. When a year old I persuaded my parents to move seven miles north to
the village of Hudson, that then had five houses, a church, a store and a
blacksmith-shop. Many of the people I knew, knew Lincoln, for he used to
come to Bloomington several times a year "on the circuit" to try cases,
and at various times made speeches there. When he came he would tell
stories at the Ashley House, and when he was gone these stories would be
repeated by everybody. Some of these stories must have been peculiar, for
I once heard my mother caution my father not to tell any more "Lincoln
stories" at the dinner-table when we had company.

And once Lincoln gave a lecture at the Presbyterian Church on the
"Progress of Man," when no one was there but the preacher, my Aunt Hannah
and the sexton.

My Uncle Elihu and Aunt Hannah knew Abe Lincoln well. So did Jesse Fell,
James C. Conklin, Judge Davis, General Orme, Leonard Swett, Dick Yates and
lots of others I knew. They never called him "Mister Lincoln," but it was
always Abe, or Old Abe, or just plain Abe Lincoln. In that newly settled
country you always called folks by their first names, especially when you
liked them. And when they spoke the name, "Abe Lincoln," there was
something in the voice that told of confidence, respect and affection.

Once when I was at my Aunt Hannah's, Judge Davis was there and I sat on
his lap. Years afterward I boasted to Robert Ingersoll that when I wore
trousers buttoned to a calico waist I used to sit on the lap of David
Davis, and Colonel Ingersoll laughed and said, "Now I know you are a liar,
for David Davis didn't have any lap." The only thing about the interview
I remember was that the Judge really didn't have any lap to speak of.

After Judge Davis had gone, Aunt Hannah said, "You must always remember
Judge Davis, for he is the man who made Abe Lincoln!"

And when I said, "Why, I thought God made Lincoln," they all laughed.

After a little pause my inquiring mind caused me to ask, "Who made Judge
Davis?" And Uncle Elihu answered, "Abe Lincoln."

Then they all laughed more than ever.

       *       *       *       *       *

Many volunteers were being called for. Neighbors and neighbors' boys were
enlisting--going to the support of Abe Lincoln.

Then one day my father went away, too. Many of the neighbors went with us
to the station when he took the four-o'clock train, and we all cried,
except mother--she didn't cry until she got home. My father had gone to
Springfield to enlist as a surgeon. In three days he came back and told us
he had enlisted, and was to be assigned his regiment in a week, and go at
once to the front. He was always a kind man, but during that week when he
was waiting to be told where to go, he was very gentle and more kind than
ever. He told me I must be the man of the house while he was away, and
take care of my mother and sisters, and not forget to feed the chickens
every morning; and I promised.

At the end of the week a big envelope came from Springfield marked in the
corner, "Official."

My mother would not open it, and so it lay on the table until the doctor's
return. We all looked at it curiously, and my eldest sister gazed on it
long with lack-luster eye and then rushed from the room with her check
apron over her head.

When my father rode up on horseback I ran to tell him that the envelope
had come.

We all stood breathless and watched him break the seals. He took out the
letter and read it silently and passed it to my mother.

I have the letter before me now, and it says: "The Department is still of
the opinion that it does not care to accept men having varicose veins,
which make the wearing of bandages necessary. Your name, however, has been
filed and should we be able to use your services, will advise."

Then we were all very glad about the varicose veins, and I am afraid I
went out and boasted to my play-fellows about our family possessions.

It was not so very long after, that there was a Big Meeting in the
"timber." People came from all over the county to attend it. The chief
speaker was a man by the name of Ingersoll, a colonel in the army, who was
back home for just a day or two on furlough. Folks said he was the
greatest orator in Peoria County.

Early in the morning the wagons began to go by our house, and all along
the four roads that led to the grove we could see great clouds of dust
that stretched away for miles and miles and told that the people were
gathering by the thousands. They came in wagons and on horseback, carrying
babies; two boys on one horse were common sights; and there were various
four-horse teams with wagons filled with girls all dressed in white,
carrying flags.

All our folks went. My mother fastened the back door of our house with a
bolt on the inside, and then locked the front door with a key, and hid the
key under the doormat.

At the grove there was much hand-shaking and visiting and asking after the
folks and for the news. Several soldiers were present, among them a man
who lived near us, called "Little Ramsey." Three one-armed men were there,
and a man named Al Sweetser, who had only one leg. These men wore blue,
and were seated on the big platform that was all draped with flags. Plank
seats were arranged, and every plank held its quota. Just outside the
seats hundred of men stood, and beyond these were wagons filled with
people. Every tree in the woods seemed to have a horse tied to it, and the
trees over the speakers' platform were black with men and boys. I never
knew before that there were so many horses and people in the world.

When the speaking began, the people cheered, and then they became very
quiet, and only the occasional squealing and stamping of the horses could
be heard. Our preacher spoke first, and then the lawyer from Bloomington,
and then came the great man from Peoria. The people cheered more than ever
when he stood up, and kept hurrahing so long I thought they were not going
to let him speak at all.

At last they quieted down, and the speaker began. His first sentence
contained a reference to Abe Lincoln. The people applauded, and some one
proposed three cheers for "Honest Old Abe." Everybody stood up and
cheered, and I, perched on my father's shoulder, cheered too. And beneath
the legend, "Warranted Fifty Pounds," my heart beat proudly. Silence came
at last--a silence filled only by the neighing and stamping of horses and
the rapping of a woodpecker in a tall tree. Every ear was strained to
catch the orator's first words.

The speaker was just about to begin. He raised one hand, but ere his lips
moved, a hoarse, guttural shout echoed through the woods, "Hurrah'h'h for
Jeff Davis!!!"

"Kill that man!" rang a sharp, clear voice in instant answer.

A rumble like an awful groan came from the vast crowd. My father was
standing on a seat, and I had climbed to his shoulder. The crowd surged
like a monster animal toward a tall man standing alone in a wagon. He
swung a blacksnake whip around him, and the lash fell savagely on two gray
horses. At a lunge, the horses, the wagon and the tall man had cleared the
crowd, knocking down several people in their flight. One man clung to the
tailboard. The whip wound with a hiss and a crack across his face, and he
fell stunned in the roadway.

A clear space of full three hundred feet now separated the man in the
wagon from the great throng, which with ten thousand hands seemed ready to
tear him limb from limb. Revolver shots rang out, women screamed, and
trampled children cried for help. Above it all was the roar of the mob.
The orator, in vain pantomime, implored order.

I saw Little Ramsey drop off the limb of a tree astride of a horse that
was tied beneath, then lean over, and with one stroke of a knife sever the

At the same time fifty other men seemed to have done the same thing, for
flying horses shot out from different parts of the woods, all on the
instant. The man in the wagon was half a mile away now, still standing
erect. The gray horses were running low, with noses and tails

The spread-out riders closed in a mass and followed at terrific speed. The
crowd behind seemed to grow silent. We heard the patter-patter of barefoot
horses ascending the long, low hill. One rider on a sorrel horse fell
behind. He drew his horse to one side, and sitting over with one foot in
the long stirrup, plied the sorrel across the flank with a big, white-felt
hat. The horse responded, and crept around to the front of the flying

The wagon had disappeared over a gentle rise of ground, and then we lost
the horsemen, too. Still we watched, and two miles across the prairie we
got a glimpse of running horses in a cloud of dust, and into another
valley they settled, and then we lost them for good.

The speaking began again and went on amid applause and tears, with
laughter set between.

I do not remember what was said, but after the speaking, as we made our
way homeward, we met Little Ramsey and the young man who rode the sorrel

They told us that they had caught the Copperhead after a ten-mile chase,
and that he was badly hurt, for the wagon had upset and the fellow was
beneath it. Ramsey asked my father to go at once to see what could be done
for him.

The man, however, was quite dead when my father reached him. There was a
purple mark around his neck: and the opinion seemed to be that he had got
tangled up in the harness or something.

       *       *       *       *       *

The war-time months went dragging by, and the burden of gloom in the air
seemed to lift; for when the Chicago "Tribune" was read each evening in
the post-office it told of victories on land and sea. Yet it was a joy not
untinged with black; for in the church across from our house, funerals had
been held for farmer boys who had died in prison-pens and been buried in
Georgia trenches.

One youth there was, I remember, who had stopped to get a drink at our
pump, and squirted a mouthful of water over me because I was handy.

One night the postmaster was reading aloud the names of the killed at
Gettysburg, and he ran right on to the name of this boy. The boy's father
sat there on a nail-keg, chewing a straw. The postmaster tried to shuffle
over the name and on to the next.

"Hi! Wha--what's that you said?"

"Killed in honorable battle--Snyder, Hiram," said the postmaster with a
forced calmness.

The boy's father stood up with a jerk. Then he sat down. Then he stood up
again and staggered his way to the door and fumbled for the latch like a
blind man.

"God help him! he's gone to tell the old woman," said the postmaster as he
blew his nose on a red handkerchief.

The preacher preached a funeral sermon for the boy, and on the little
pyramid that marked the family lot in the burying-ground they carved the
words: "Killed in honorable battle, Hiram Snyder, aged nineteen." Not
long after, strange, yellow, bearded men in faded blue began to arrive.
Great welcomes were given them; and at the regular Wednesday evening
prayer-meeting thanksgivings were poured out for their safe return, with
names of company and regiment duly mentioned for the Lord's better
identification. Bees were held for some of these returned farmers, where
twenty teams and fifty men, old and young, did a season's farm-work in a
day, and split enough wood for a year. At such times the women would bring
big baskets of provisions, and long tables would be set, and there were
very jolly times, with cracking of many jokes that were veterans, and the
day would end with pitching horseshoes, and at last with singing "Auld
Lang Syne."

It was at one such gathering that a ghost appeared--a lank, saffron ghost,
ragged as a scarecrow--wearing a foolish smile and the cape of a
cavalryman's overcoat with no coat beneath it. The apparition was a youth
of about twenty, with a downy beard all over his face, and countenance
well mellowed with coal-soot, as though he had ridden several days on top
of a freight-car that was near the engine.

This ghost was Hiram Snyder.

All forgave him the shock of surprise he caused us--all except the
minister who had preached his funeral sermon. Years after I heard this
minister remark in a solemn, grieved tone: "Hiram Snyder is a man who can
not be relied on."

       *       *       *       *       *

As the years pass, the miracle of the seasons means less to us. But what
country boy can forget the turning of the leaves from green to gold, and
the watchings and waitings for the first hard frost that ushers in the
nutting season! And then the first fall of snow, with its promise of
skates and sleds and tracks of rabbits, and mayhap bears, and strange
animals that only come out at night, and that no human eye has ever seen!

Beautiful are the seasons; and glad I am that I have not yet quite lost my
love for each. But now they parade past with a curious swiftness! They
look at me out of wistful eyes, and sometimes one calls to me as she goes
by and asks, "Why have you done so little since I saw you last?" And I can
only answer, "I was thinking of you."

I do not need another incarnation to live my life over again. I can do
that now, and the resurrection of the past, through memory, that sees
through closed eyes, is just as satisfactory as the thing itself.

Were we talking of the seasons? Very well, dearie, the seasons it shall
be. They are all charming, but if I were to wed any it would be Spring.
How well I remember the gentle perfume of her comings, and her warm,
languid breath!

There was a time when I would go out of the house some morning, and the
snow would be melting, and Spring would kiss my cheek, and then I would be
all aglow with joy and would burst into the house, and cry: "Spring is
here! Spring is here!" For you know we always have to divide our joy with
some one. One can bear grief, but it takes two to be glad.

And then my mother would smile and say, "Yes, my son, but do not wake the

Then I would go out and watch the snow turn to water, and run down the
road in little rivulets to the creek, that would swell until it became a
regular Mississippi, so that when we waded the horse across, the water
would come to the saddlegirth.

Then once, I remember, the bridge was washed away, and all the teams had
to go around and through the water, and some used to get stuck in the mud
on the other bank. It was great fun!

The first "Spring beauties" bloomed very early in that year; violets came
out on the south side of rotting logs, and cowslips blossomed in the
slough as they never had done before. Over on the knoll, prairie-chickens
strutted pompously and proudly drummed. The war was over! Lincoln had won,
and the country was safe!

The jubilee was infectious, and the neighbors who used to come and visit
us would tell of the men and boys who would soon be back. The war was

My father and mother talked of it across the table, and the men talked of
it at the store, and earth, sky and water called to each other in glad
relief, "The war is over!"

But there came a morning when my father walked up from the
railroad-station very fast, and looking very serious. He pushed right past
me as I sat in the doorway. I followed him into the kitchen where my
mother was washing dishes, and heard him say, "They have killed Lincoln!"
and then he burst into tears. I had never before seen my father shed
tears--in fact, I had never seen a man cry. There is something terrible in
the grief of a man.

Soon the church-bell across the road began to toll. It tolled all that
day. Three men--I can give you their names--rang the bell all day long,
tolling, slowly tolling, tolling until night came and the stars came out.
I thought it a little curious that the stars should come out, for Lincoln
was dead; but they did, for I saw them as I trotted by my father's side
down to the post-office.

There was a great crowd of men there. At the long line of peeled-hickory
hitching-poles were dozens of saddle-horses. The farmers had come for
miles to get details of the news.

On the long counters that ran down each side of the store men were seated,
swinging their feet, and listening intently to some one who was reading
aloud from a newspaper. We worked our way past the men who were standing
about, and with several of these my father shook hands solemnly.

Leaning against the wall near the window was a big, red-faced man, whom I
knew as a Copperhead. He had been drinking, evidently, for he was making
boozy efforts to stand very straight. There were only heard a subdued buzz
of whispers and the monotonous voice of the reader, as he stood there in
the center, his newspaper in one hand and a lighted candle in the other.

The red-faced man lurched two steps forward, and in a loud voice said,
"L--L--Lincoln is dead--an' I'm damn glad of it!"

Across the room I saw two men struggling with Little Ramsey. Why they
should struggle with him I could not imagine, but ere I could think the
matter out, I saw him shake himself loose from the strong hands that
sought to hold him. He sprang upon the counter, and in one hand I saw he
held a scale-weight. Just an instant he stood there, and then the weight
shot straight at the red-faced man. The missile glanced on his shoulder
and shot through the window. In another second the red-faced man plunged
through the window, taking the entire sash with him.

"You'll have to pay for that window!" called the alarmed postmaster out
into the night.

The store was quickly emptied, and on following outside no trace of the
red man could be found. The earth had swallowed both the man and the
five-pound scale-weight.

After some minutes had passed in a vain search for the weight and the
Copperhead, we went back into the store and the reading was continued.

But the interruption had relieved the tension, and for the first time that
day men in that post-office joked and laughed. It even lifted from my
heart the gloom that threatened to smother me, and I went home and told
the story to my mother and sisters, and they too smiled, so closely akin
are tears and smiles.

       *       *       *       *       *

The story of Lincoln's life had been ingrained into me long before I ever
read a book. For the people who knew Lincoln, and the people who knew the
people that Lincoln knew, were the people I knew. I visited at their
houses and heard them tell what Lincoln had said when he sat at table
where I then sat. I listened long to Lincoln stories, and "and that
reminds me" was often on the lips of those I loved. All the tales told by
the faithful Herndon and the needlessly loyal Nicolay and Hay were current
coin, and the rehearsal of the Lincoln-Douglas debate was commonplace.

When our own poverty was mentioned, we compared it with the poverty that
Lincoln had endured, and felt rich. I slept in a garret where the winter's
snow used to sift merrily through the slab shingles, but then I was
covered with warm buffalo-robes, and a loving mother tucked me in and on
my forehead imprinted a goodnight kiss. But Lincoln at the same age had no
mother and lived in a hut that had neither windows, doors nor floor, and a
pile of leaves and straw in the corner was his bed. Our house had two
rooms, but one Winter the Lincoln home was only a shed enclosed on three

I knew of his being a clerk in a country store at the age of twenty, and
that up to that time he had read but four books; of his running a
flatboat, splitting rails, and poring at night over a dog-eared law-book;
of his asking to sleep in the law-office of Joshua Speed, and of Speed's
giving him permission to move in. And of his going away after his "worldly
goods" and coming back in ten minutes carrying an old pair of saddlebags,
which he threw into a corner saying, "Speed, I've moved!".

I knew of his twenty years of country law-practise, when he was considered
just about as good and no better than a dozen others on that circuit, and
of his making a bare living during that time. Then I knew of his gradually
awakening to the wrong of slavery, of the expansion of his mind, so that
he began to incur the jealousy of rivals and the hatred of enemies, and of
the prophetic feeling in that slow but sure moving mind that "a house
divided against itself can not stand. I believe this Government can not
endure permanently half-slave and half-free."

I knew of the debates with Douglas and the national attention they
attracted, and of Judge Davis' remark, "Lincoln has more commonsense than
any other man in America"; and then, chiefly through Judge Davis'
influence, of his being nominated for President at the Chicago Convention.
I knew of his election, and the coming of the war, and the long, hard
fight, when friends and foes beset, and none but he had the patience and
the courage that could wait. And then I knew of his death, that death
which then seemed a calamity--terrible in its awful blackness.

But now the years have passed, and I comprehend somewhat of the paradox
of things, and I know that this death was just what he might have prayed
for. It was a fitting close for a life that had done a supreme and mighty
work. His face foretold the end.

Lincoln had no home ties. In that plain, frame house, without embellished
yard or ornament, where I have been so often, there was no love that held
him fast. In that house there was no library, but in the parlor, where six
haircloth chairs and a slippery sofa to match stood guard, was a marble
table on which were various giftbooks in blue and gilt. He only turned to
that home when there was no other place to go. Politics, with its
attendant travel and excitement, allowed him to forget the
what-might-have-beens. Foolish bickering, silly pride, and stupid
misunderstanding pushed him out upon the streets and he sought to lose
himself among the people. And to the people at length he gave his time,
his talents, his love, his life. Fate took from him his home that the
country might call him savior. Dire tragedy was a fitting end; for only
the souls who have suffered are well-loved.

Jealousy, disparagement, calumny, have all made way, and North and South
alike revere his name.

The memory of his gentleness, his patience, his firm faith, and his great
and loving heart are the priceless heritage of a united land. He had
charity for all and malice toward none; he gave affection, and affection
is his reward.

Honor and love are his.

       *       *       *       *       *


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