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Title: Beacon Lights of History, Volume 12 - American Leaders
Author: Lord, John, 1810-1894
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 "Beacon Lights of History, Volume 12 - American Leaders" ***

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The remarks made in the preface to the volume on "American Founders" are
applicable also to this volume on "American Leaders." The lecture on
Daniel Webster has been taken from its original position in "Warriors
and Statesmen" (a volume the lectures of which are now distributed for
the new edition in more appropriate groupings), and finds its natural
neighborhood in this volume with the paper on Clay and Calhoun.

Since the intense era of the Civil War has passed away, and Northerners
and Southerners are becoming more and more able to take dispassionate
views of the controversies of that time, finding honorable reasons for
the differences of opinion and of resultant conduct on both sides, it
has been thought well to include among "American Leaders" a man who
stands before all Americans as the chief embodiment of the "cause" for
which so many gallant soldiers died--Robert E. Lee. His personal
character was so lofty, his military genius so eminent, that North and
South alike looked up to him while living and mourned him dead. His
career is depicted by one who has given it careful study, and who,
himself a wounded veteran officer of the Union army, and regarding the
Southern cause as one well "lost," as to its chief aims of Secession and
protection to Slavery, in the interest of civilization and of the South
itself, yet holds a high appreciation of the noble man who is its chief
representative. The paper on "Robert E. Lee: The Southern Confederacy,"
is from the pen of Dr. E. Benjamin Andrews, Chancellor of the University
of Nebraska.

NEW YORK, September, 1902.




Early life of Jackson
Studies law
Popularity and personal traits
Sent to Congress
A judge in Tennessee
Major-general of militia
Indian fighter and duellist
The Creek war
Massacre at Fort Mims
Jackson made major-general of the regular army
The Creek war
At Pensacola
At Mobile
At New Orleans
The battle of New Orleans
Effect of his successes
The Seminole war
Jackson as governor of Florida
Senator in Congress
President James Monroe
President John Quincy Adams
Election of Jackson as president
Jackson's speeches
The "Kitchen Cabinet"
System of appointments
The "Spoils System"
Hostile giants in the Senate
Jackson's opposition to tariffs
Financial policy
The democracy hostile to a money power
War on the United States Bank
Nicholas Biddle
Isaac Hill and Secretary Ingham
Opposition to the re-charter of the bank
The President's veto
Removal of deposits
Jackson's high-handed measures
The mania for speculation
"Pet Banks"
Commercial distress
Sale of public lands
John C. Calhoun
The president's proclamation against the nullifiers
Compromise tariff
Morgan and anti-masonry
Private life of Jackson
His public career
Eventful administration



Birth and education
Studies law
Favorite in society
Settles in Lexington, Ky.
Absorbed in politics
Marriage; personal appearance
Member of Congress
Speaker of the House
Advocates war with Great Britain
His speeches
Comparison with Webster
Peace commissioner at Ghent
Returns to Lexington
Re-elected speaker
The tariff question
The tariff of 1816
The charter of the United States Bank
Beginning of slavery agitation
Beecher in England, on cotton as affecting slavery
The Missouri question
Clay as a pacificator
Internal improvements
Greek struggle for liberty
Tariff of 1824
The "American system"
The cotton lords
Clay's aspirations for the presidency
His competitors
Clay secretary of state for Adams
Jackson's administration
Clay as orator
His hatred of Jackson
The tariff of 1832
The compromise tariff of 1833
Clay again candidate for the presidency
Political disappointments
Bursting of the money bubble
Harrison's administration
Repeal of the Sub-Treasury Act
Slavery agitation
Annexation of Texas under Polk
Clay as pacificator of slavery agitation
John C. Calhoun
Anti-slavery leaders
Passage of Clay's compromise bill of 1850
Fugitive-slave law
Clay's declining health



General character and position of Webster
Birth and early life
Begins law-practice; enters Congress
His legal career
His oratory
Congressional services; finance
Industrial questions
Defender of the Constitution
Reply to Hayne of South Carolina
Webster's ambition
His political relations to the South
The antislavery agitation
Webster's 7th of March Speech
His loyalty to the Constitution and the Union
His political errors
Greatness and worth of his career
His death
His defects of character
His counterbalancing virtues
Permanence of his ideas and his fame



Rapid Rise of Calhoun
Education; lawyer; member of Congress
Early speeches
His enlightened mind
Secretary of war
Condition of the South
Calhoun's dislike of Jackson
The tariff question
Bears heavily on the South
Calhoun a defender of Southern interests
The tariff of 1832
Clay's compromise bill
Jackson's war on the bank
Calhoun in the Senate
His detestation of politics as a game
Lofty private life
Early speeches
The original abolitionists
Northern lecturers
Calhoun's foresight
Calhoun as logician
Southern view of slavery
Anti-slavery agitation
Slavery in the District of Columbia
John Quincy Adams and anti-slavery petitions
Southern opposition to them
Clay on petitions
Violence of the abolitionists
Misery of the slaves
Admission of Michigan and Arkansas into the Union
Triumphs of the South
Growth of the abolitionists
Texan independence
Annexation of Texas
The Mexican war
The war of ideas
Prophetic utterances of Calhoun
His obstinacy and arrogance
Admission of California into the Union
Clay's concessions
Calhoun dying
Compromise bill
Calhoun's career
His want of patriotism in later life
Nullification doctrines
Calhoun contrasted with Clay
His character



Lincoln's parentage
Rail splitter; country merchant
In the Black Hawk war
His aspirations and passion for politics
Stump speaker
Elected to the legislature
Lincoln as politician
Admitted to the bar
Elected member of Congress
His marriage
Lincoln as lawyer
On the slavery question
Anti-slavery agitation
The compromise of 1850
Stephen A. Douglas
Repeal of the Missouri Compromise
Charles Sumner
Dred Scott decision
Lincoln's antagonism to Douglas
His commitment to anti-slavery cause
Rise of the Republican party
Lincoln's debates with Douglas
Speaks in New York
Lincoln as statesman
Nomination for the presidency
His election
Lincoln's cabinet; Jefferson Davis
Fort Sumter
Lincoln as president
Bull Run
Concentration of troops in Washington
General McClellan
His dilatory measures
Gloomy times
Retirement of McClellan
General Pope
McClellan restored, fights the battle of Antietam
Inaction and final retirement of McClellan
Burnside and the battle of Fredericksburg
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation
General Hooker
Lee's raid in Pennsylvania
General Meade and the battle of Gettysburg
Lincoln overworked
Siege of Vicksburg
General Grant
Battle of Chattanooga
Grant made general-in-chief
March of Grant on Richmond
Military sacrifices
Siege of Petersburg
Surrender of Lee
Results of the war
Strained relations between Chase and Lincoln
Chase chief-justice
Lincoln's second inaugural
His profound wisdom
His assassination
Great services
Position in history




Birth, lineage, personal appearance, and early career.

A Virginian, he joins his State and the South in secession.

His seven days' fighting against McClellan; forces the latter to raise
the siege of Richmond.

"Stonewall" Jackson and his efficient fighting machine.

Wins at Antietam and Fredericksburg.

Outmanoeuvres Hooker at Chancellorsville.

Successes at Gettysburg and at the second battle of Bull Run.

Grant changes the fortune of war for the North.

Confederate dearth of necessaries and "dear money".

Lee's retreat and capitulation at Appomattox.

His personal characteristics.

Skill shown in his military career.

His manoeuvring tactics and masterful strategy.

High name among the great captains of history.

Gains of his leadership, in spite of "a lost cause".

Latter days, and presidency of Washington College, Lexington, Va.



Sherman's March to the Sea
_After the painting by F.O.C. Darley_.

James Monroe
_After the painting by Gilbert Stuart, City Hall, New York_.

Andrew Jackson
_After a photograph from life_.

Henry Clay
_From a daguerreotype_.

Martin Van Buren
_From a daguerreotype_.

Daniel Webster
_After a drawing from a daguerreotype_.

John C. Calhoun
_From a daguerreotype_.

James K. Polk
_From a daguerreotype_.

Abraham Lincoln
_After an unretouched negative from life, found in 1870_.

General George B. McClellan
_After a photograph from life in the possession of the War Department,
Washington, D.C._

Ulysses S. Grant
_After the painting by Chappel_.

Assassination of President Lincoln
_After the drawing by Fr. Roeber_.

Robert E. Lee
_From a photograph_.





It is very seldom that a man arises from an obscure and humble position
to an exalted pre-eminence, without peculiar fitness for the work on
which his fame rests, and which probably no one else could have done so
well. He may not be learned, or cultured; he may be even unlettered and
rough; he may be stained by vulgar defects and vices which are fatal to
all dignity of character; but there must be something about him which
calls out the respect and admiration of those with whom he is
surrounded, so as to give him a start, and open a way for success in the
business or enterprise where his genius lies.

Such a man was Andrew Jackson. Whether as a youth, or as a man pursuing
his career of village lawyer in the backwoods of a frontier settlement,
he was about the last person of whom one would predict that he should
arise to a great position and unbounded national popularity. His birth
was plebeian and obscure. His father, of Scotch-Irish descent, lived in
a miserable hamlet in North Carolina, near the South Carolina line,
without owning a single acre of land,--one of the poorest of the poor
whites. The boy Andrew, born shortly after his father's death in 1767,
was reared in poverty and almost without education, learning at school
only to "read, write, and cipher;" nor did he have any marked desire for
knowledge, and never could spell correctly. At the age of thirteen he
was driven from his native village by its devastation at the hands of
the English soldiers, during the Revolutionary War. His mother, a worthy
and most self-reliant woman, was an ardent patriot, and all her
boys--Hugh, Robert, and Andrew--enlisted in the local home-guard. The
elder two died, Hugh of exposure and Robert of prison small-pox, while
Andrew, who had also been captured and sick of the disease, survived
this early training in the scenes of war for further usefulness. The
mother made her way on foot to Charleston, S.C., to nurse the sick
patriots in the prison-ships, and there died of the prison fever, in
1781. The physical endurance and force of character of this mother
constituted evidently the chief legacy that Andrew inherited, and it
served him well through a long and arduous life.

At fifteen the boy was "a homeless orphan, a sick and sorrowful orphan,"
working for a saddler in Charleston a few hours of the day, as his
health would permit. With returning strength he got possession of a
horse; but his army associates had led him into evil ways, and he became
indebted to his landlord for board. This he managed to pay only by
staking his horse in a game of dice against $200, which he fortunately
won; and this squared him with the world and enabled him to start
afresh, on a better way.

Poor and obscure as he was, and imperfectly educated, he aspired to be a
lawyer; and at eighteen years of age he became a law-student in the
office of Mr. Spruce McCay in Salisbury, North Carolina. Two years
later, in 1787, he was admitted to the bar. Not making much headway in
Salisbury, he wandered to that part of the State which is now Tennessee,
then an almost unbroken wilderness, exposed to Indian massacres and
depredations; and finally he located himself at Nashville, where there
was a small settlement,--chiefly of adventurers, who led lives of
license and idleness.

It seems that Jackson, who was appointed district-attorney, had a
considerable practice in his profession of a rough sort, in that
frontier region where the slightest legal knowledge was sufficient for
success. He was in no sense a student, like Jefferson and Madison in the
early part of their careers in Virginia as village lawyers, although he
was engaged in as many cases, and had perhaps as large an income as
they. But what was he doing all this while, when he was not in his
log-office and in the log-court-room, sixteen feet square? Was he
pondering the principles or precedents of law, and storing his mind with
the knowledge gained from books? Not at all. He was attending
horse-races and cock-fightings and all the sports which marked the
Southern people one hundred years ago; and his associates were not the
most cultivated and wealthy of them either, but ignorant, rough,
drinking, swearing, gambling, fighting rowdies, whose society was
repulsive to people of taste, intelligence, and virtue.

The young lawyer became a favorite with these men, and with their wives
and sisters and daughters. He could ride a horse better than any of his
neighbors; he entered into their quarrels with zeal and devotion; he was
bold, rash, and adventurous, ever ready to hunt a hostile Indian, or
fight a duel, or defend an innocent man who had suffered injury and
injustice. He showed himself capable of the warmest and most devoted
friendship as well as the bitterest and most unrelenting hatred. He was
quick to join a dangerous enterprise, and ever showing ability to lead
it,--the first on the spot to put out a fire; the first to expose
himself in a common danger; commanding respect for his honesty,
sincerity, and integrity; exciting fear from his fierce wrath when
insulted,--a man terribly in earnest; always as courteous and chivalric
to women as he was hard and savage to treacherous men. Above all, he was
now a man of commanding stature, graceful manners, dignified deportment,
and a naturally distinguished air; so that he was looked up to by men
and admired by women. What did those violent, quarrelsome, adventurous
settlers on the western confines of American civilization care whether
their favorite was learned or ignorant, so long as he was manifestly
superior to them in their chosen pursuits and pleasures, was capable of
leading them in any enterprise, and sympathized with them in all their
ideas and prejudices,--a born democrat, as well as a born leader. His
claim upon them, however, was not without its worthy elements. He was
perfectly fearless in enforcing the law, laughing at intimidation. He
often had to ride hundreds of miles to professional duties on circuit,
through forests infested by Indians, and towns cowed by ruffians; and he
and his rifle were held in great respect. He was renowned as the
foremost Indian fighter in that country, and as a prosecuting attorney
whom no danger and no temptation could swerve from his duty. He was
feared, trusted, and boundlessly popular.

The people therefore rallied about this man. When in 1796 a convention
was called for framing a State constitution, Jackson was one of their
influential delegates; and in December of that year he was sent to
Congress as their most popular representative. Of course he was totally
unfitted for legislative business, in which he never could have made any
mark. On his return in 1797, a vacancy occurring in the United States
Senate, he was elected senator, on the strength of his popularity as
representative. But he remained only a year at Philadelphia, finding his
calling dull, and probably conscious that he had no fitness for
legislation, while the opportunity for professional and pecuniary
success in Tennessee was very apparent to him.

Next we read of his being made chief-justice of the Superior Court of
Tennessee, with no more fitness for administering the law than he had
for making it, or interest in it. Mr. Parton tells an anecdote of
Jackson at this time which, whether true or not, illustrates his
character as well as the rude conditions amid which he made himself
felt. He was holding court in a little village in Tennessee, when a
great, hulking fellow, armed with a pistol and bowie-knife, paraded
before the little court-house, and cursed judge, jury, and all
assembled. Jackson ordered the sheriff to arrest him, but that
functionary failed to do it, either alone or with a posse. Whereupon
Jackson caused the sheriff to summon _him_ as posse, adjourned court
for ten minutes, walked out and told the fellow to yield or be shot.

In telling why he surrendered to one man, when he had defied a crowd,
the ruffian afterwards said: "When he came up I looked him in the eye,
and I saw _shoot_. There wasn't _shoot_ in nary other eye in the crowd.
I said to myself, it is about time to sing small; and so I did."

It was by such bold, fearless conduct that Jackson won admiration,--not
by his law, of which he knew but little, and never could have learned
much. The law, moreover, was uncongenial to this man of action, and he
resigned his judgeship and went for a short time into business,--trading
land, selling horses, groceries, and dry-goods,--when he was appointed
major-general of militia. This was just what he wanted. He had now found
his place and was equal to it. His habits, enterprises, dangers, and
bloody encounters, all alike fitted him for it. Henceforth his duty and
his pleasure ran together in the same line. His personal peculiarities
had made him popular; this popularity had made him prominent and secured
to him offices for which he had no talent, seeing which he dropped them;
but when a situation was offered for which he was fitted, he soon gained
distinction, and his true career began.

It was as an Indian fighter that he laid the foundation of his fame.
His popularity with rough people was succeeded by a series of heroic
actions which brought him before the eyes of the nation. There was no
sham in these victories. He fairly earned his laurels, and they so
wrought on the imagination of the people that he quickly became famous.

But before his military exploits brought him a national reputation he
had become notorious in his neighborhood as a duellist. He was always
ready to fight when he deemed himself insulted. His numerous duels were
very severely commented on when he became a candidate for the
presidency, especially in New England. But duelling was a peculiar
Southern institution; most Southern people settled their difficulties
with pistols. Some of Jackson's duels were desperate and ferocious. He
was the best shot in Tennessee, and, it is said, could lodge two
successive balls in the same hole. As early as 1795 he fought with a
fellow lawyer by the name of Avery. In 1806 he killed in a duel Charles
Dickinson, who had spoken disparagingly of his wife, whom he had lately
married, a divorced woman, but to whom he was tenderly attached as long
as she lived. Still later he fought with Thomas H. Benton, and received
a wound from which he never fully recovered.

Such was the life of Jackson until he was forty-five years of age,--that
of a violent, passionate, arbitrary man, beloved as a friend, and feared
as an enemy. It was the Creek war and the war with England which
developed his extraordinary energies. When the war of 1812 broke out he
was major-general of Tennessee militia, and at once offered his services
to the government, which were eagerly accepted, and he was authorized to
raise a body of volunteers in Tennessee and to report with them at New
Orleans. He found no difficulty in collecting about sixteen hundred men,
and in January, 1813, took them down the Cumberland, the Ohio, and
Mississippi to Natchez, in such flat-bottomed boats as he could collect;
another body of mounted men crossed the country five hundred miles to
the rendezvous, and went into camp at Natchez, Feb. 15, 1813.

The Southern Department was under the command of General James
Wilkinson, with headquarters at New Orleans,--a disagreeable and
contentious man, who did not like Jackson. Through his influence the
Tennessee detachment, after two months' delay in Natchez, was ordered by
the authorities at Washington to be dismissed,--without pay, five
hundred miles from home. Jackson promptly decided not to obey the
command, but to keep his forces together, provide at his own expense for
their food and transportation, and take them back to Tennessee in good
order. He accomplished this, putting sick men on his own three horses,
and himself marching on foot with the men, who, enthusiastic over his
elastic toughness, dubbed him "Old Hickory,"--a title of affection that
is familiar to this day. The government afterwards reimbursed him for
his outlay in this matter, but his generosity, self-denial, energy, and
masterly force added immensely to his popularity.

Jackson's disobedience of orders attracted but little attention at
Washington, in that time of greater events, while his own patriotism and
fighting zeal were not abated by his failure to get at the enemy. And
very soon his desires were to be granted.

In 1811, before the war with England was declared, a general
confederation of Indians had been made under the influence of the
celebrated Tecumseh, a chief of the Shawanoc tribe. He was a man of
magnificent figure, stately and noble as a Greek warrior, and withal
eloquent. With his twin brother, the Prophet, Tecumseh travelled from
the Great Lakes in the North to the Gulf of Mexico, inducing tribe after
tribe to unite against the rapacious and advancing whites. But he did
not accomplish much until the war with England broke out in 1812, when
he saw a possibility of realizing his grand idea; and by the summer of
1813 he had the Creek nation, including a number of tribes, organized
for war. How far he was aided by English intrigues is not fully known,
but he doubtless received encouragement from English agents. From the
British and the Spaniards, the Indians received arms and ammunition.

The first attack of these Indians was on August 13, 1813, at Fort Mims,
in Alabama, where there were nearly two hundred American troops, and
where five hundred people were collected for safety. The Indians,
chiefly Creeks, were led by Red Eagle, who utterly annihilated the
defenders of the fort under Major Beasley, and scalped the women and
children. When reports of this unexpected and atrocious massacre reached
Tennessee the whole population was aroused to vengeance, and General
Jackson, his arm still in a sling from his duel with Benton, set out to
punish the savage foes. But he was impeded by lack of provisions, and
quarrels among his subordinates, and general insubordination. In
surmounting his difficulties he showed extraordinary tact and energy.
His measures were most vigorous. He did not hesitate to shoot, whether
legally or illegally, those who were insubordinate, thus restoring
military discipline, the first and last necessity in war. Soldiers soon
learn to appreciate the worth of such decision, and follow such a leader
with determination almost equal to his own. Jackson's troops did
splendid marching and fighting.

So rapid and relentless were his movements against the enemy that the
campaign lasted but seven months, and the Indians were nearly all
killed or dispersed. I need not enumerate his engagements, which were
regarded as brilliant. His early dangers and adventures, and his
acquaintance with Indian warfare ever since he could handle a rifle, now
stood him in good stead. On the 21st of April, 1814, the militia under
his command returned home victorious, and Jackson for his heroism and
ability was made a major-general in the regular army, he then being
forty-seven years of age. It was in this war that we first hear of the
famous frontiersman Davy Crockett, and of Sam Houston, afterwards so
unique a figure in the war for Texan independence. In this war, too,
General Harrison gained his success at Tippecanoe, which was never
forgotten; but his military genius was far inferior to that of Jackson.
It is probable that had Jackson been sent to the North by the Secretary
of War, he would have driven the British troops out of Canada. There is
no question about his military ability, although his reputation was
sullied by high-handed and arbitrary measures. What he saw fit to do, he
did, without scruples or regard to consequences. In war everything is
tested by success; and in view of that, if sufficiently brilliant,
everything else is forgotten.

The successful and rapid conquest of the Creeks opened the way for
Jackson's Southern campaign against the English. As major-general he was
sent to conclude a treaty with the Indians, which he soon arranged, and
was then put in command of the Southern Division of the army, with
headquarters at Mobile. The English made the neutral Spanish territory
of Florida a basis of operations along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico,
thus putting in peril both Mobile and New Orleans. They virtually
possessed Pensacola, the Spanish force being too feeble to hold it, and
made it the rendezvous of their fleets. The Spanish authorities made a
show, indeed, of friendship with the United States, but the English flag
floated over the forts of the city, and the governor was in sympathy
with England. Such was the state of affairs when Jackson arrived at
Mobile at the head of parts of three regiments of regulars, with a
thousand miles of coast to defend, and without a fort adequately armed
or garrisoned. He applied to the Secretary of War for permission to take
Pensacola; but the government hesitated to attack a friendly power
without further knowledge of their unfriendly acts, and the delayed
response, ordering caution and waiting, did not reach him. Thrown upon
his own resources, asking for orders and getting none, he was obliged to
act without instructions, in face of vastly superior forces. And for
this he can scarcely be blamed, since his situation demanded vigorous
and rapid measures, before they could be indorsed by the Secretary of
War. Pensacola, at the end of a beautiful bay, ten miles from the sea,
with a fine harbor, was defended by Fort Barrancas, six miles from the
town. Before it lay eight English men-of-war at anchor, the source of
military supplies for the fort, on which floated the flags of both
England and Spain. The fleet was in command of Captain Lord Percy, whose
flagship was the "Hermes," while Colonel Nichols commanded the troops.
This latter boastful and imprudent officer was foolish enough to issue a
proclamation to the inhabitants of Louisiana and Kentucky to take up
arms against their country. A body of Indians were also drilled in the
service of the British, so far as Indians can be drilled to
regular warfare.

As soon as the true intentions of the English were known to General
Jackson, who had made up his mind to take possession of Pensacola, he
wrote to the Spanish governor,--a pompous, inefficient old grandee,--and
demanded the surrender of certain hostile Creek chieftains, who had
taken refuge in the town.

The demand was haughtily rejected. Jackson waited until three thousand
Tennessee militia, for whom he had urgently sent, arrived at Mobile,
under the command of General Coffee, one of his efficient coadjutors in
the Creek War, and Colonel Butler, and then promptly and successfully
stormed Pensacola, driving out the British, who blew up Fort Barrancas
and escaped to their ships. After which he retired to Mobile to defend
that important town against the British forces, who threatened
an attack.

The city of Mobile could be defended by fortifications on Mobile Point,
thirty miles distant, at the mouth of the bay, since opposite it was a
narrow channel through which alone vessels of any considerable size
could enter the bay. At this point was Fort Bowyer, in a state of
dilapidation, mounting but a few pieces of cannon. Into this fort
Jackson at once threw a garrison of one hundred and sixty regular
infantry under Major Lawrence, a most gallant officer. These troops were
of course unacquainted with the use of artillery, but they put the fort
in the best condition they could, and on the 12th of September the enemy
appeared, the fleet under Captain Percy, and a body of marines and
Indians under Colonel Nichols. Jackson, then at Mobile, apprised of the
appearance of the British, hastily reinforced the fort, about to be
attacked by a large force confident of success. On the 15th of September
the attack began; the English battered down the ramparts of the
fortifications, and anchored their ships within gun-shot of the fort;
but so gallant was the defence that the ships were disabled, and the
enemy retreated, with a loss of about one hundred men. This victory
saved Mobile; and more, it gave confidence to the small army on whom
the defence of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico depended.

Jackson forthwith issued his bulletins or proclamations in a truly
Napoleonic style to the inhabitants of Louisiana, to rally to the
defence of New Orleans, which he saw would probably be the next object
of attack on the part of the British. On the 2d of December he
personally reached that city and made preparations for the expected
assault, and, ably assisted by Edward Livingston, the most prominent
lawyer of the city, enlisted for the defence the French creoles, the
American residents, and a few Spaniards.

New Orleans was a prize which the English coveted, and to possess it
that government had willingly expended a million of pounds sterling. The
city not only controlled the commerce of the Mississippi, but in it were
stored one hundred and fifty thousand bales of cotton, and eight hundred
and ten thousand hogsheads of sugar, all of which the English government
expected to seize. It contained at that time about twenty thousand
people,--less than half of whom were whites, and these chiefly French
creoles,--besides a floating population of sailors and traders.

New Orleans is built on a bend in the Mississippi, in the shape of a
horse-shoe, about one hundred miles from where by a sinuous
southeasterly course the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico. At the
city the river was about a mile wide, with a current of four miles an
hour, and back of the town was a swamp, draining to the north into Lake
Ponchartrain, and to the east into Lake Borgne, which opens out into the
Gulf east of the city. It was difficult for sailing-vessels at that time
to ascend the river one hundred miles against the current, if forts and
batteries were erected on its banks; and a sort of back entrance was
afforded to the city for small vessels through lakes and lagoons at a
comparatively short distance. On one of these lakes, Lake Borgne, a
flotilla of light gunboats was placed for defence, under the command of
Lieutenant Jones, but on December 14th an overpowering force of small
British vessels dispersed the American squadron, and on the
twenty-second about fifteen hundred regulars, the picked men of the
British army, fresh from European victories under Wellington, contrived
to find their way unperceived through the swamps and lagoons to the belt
of plantations between the river and the swamps, about nine miles below
New Orleans.

When the news arrived of the loss of the gunboats, which made the enemy
the masters of Lake Borgne, a panic spread over the city, for the forces
of the enemy were greatly exaggerated. But Jackson was equal to the
emergency, though having but just arrived. He coolly adopted the most
vigorous measures, and restored confidence. Times of confusion,
difficulty, and danger were always his best opportunities. He proclaimed
martial law; he sent in all directions for reinforcements; he called
upon the people to organize for defence; he released and enlisted the
convicts, and accepted the proffered services of Jean Lafitte, the
ex-"pirate"--or, rather, smuggler--of the Gulf, with two companies of
his ex-buccaneers; he appealed to "the noble-hearted, generous, free men
of color" to enlist, and the whole town was instantly transformed into a
military camp. Within a fortnight he had five thousand men, one-fifth
regulars and the rest militia. General Jackson's address to his soldiers
was spirited but inflated, encouraging and boastful, with a great
patriotic ring, and, of course effective. The population of the city was
united in resolving to make a sturdy defence.

Had the British marched as soon as they landed, they probably would have
taken the city, in the existing consternation. But they waited for
larger forces from their ships, which carried six thousand troops, and
in their turn exaggerated the number of the defenders, which at the
first were only about two thousand badly frightened men. The delay was a
godsend to the Americans, who now learned the strength of the enemy.

On the 23d--as always, eager to be at his enemy, and moving with his
characteristic energy--Jackson sent a small force down to make a night
attack on the British camp; also a schooner, heavily armed with cannon,
to co-operate from the river. It was a wild and inconsequent fight; but
it checked the advance of the British, who now were still more impressed
with the need of reinforcements; it aroused the confidence and fighting
spirit of the Americans, and it enabled Jackson to take up a defensive
line behind an old canal, extending across the plain from river to
swamp, and gave him time to fortify it. At once he raised a formidable
barricade of mud and timber, and strengthened it with cotton-bales from
the neighboring plantations. The cotton, however, proved rather a
nuisance than a help, as it took fire under the attack, and smoked,
annoying the men. The "fortifications of cotton-bales" were only a
romance of the war.

On the 25th arrived Sir Edward Pakenham, brother-in-law of Wellington
and an able soldier, to take command, and on the 28th the British
attacked the extemporized but strong breastworks, confident of success.
But the sharp-shooters from the backwoods of Tennessee under Carroll,
and from Kentucky under Coffee, who fought with every advantage,
protected by their mud defences, were equally confident. The slaughter
of the British troops, utterly unprotected though brave and gallant, was
terrible, and they were repulsed. Preparations were now made for a
still more vigorous, systematic, and general assault, and a force was
sent across the river to menace the city from that side.

On the 8th of January the decisive battle was fought which extinguished
forever all dreams of the conquest of America, on the part of the
British. General Pakenham, who commanded the advancing columns in
person, was killed, and their authorities state their loss to have been
two thousand killed, wounded, and missing. The American loss was eight
killed and thirteen wounded. It was a rash presumption for the British
to attack a fortified entrenchment ten feet high in some places, and ten
feet thick, with detached redoubts to flank it and three thousand men
behind it. The conflict was not strictly a battle,--not like an
encounter in the open field, where the raw troops under Jackson, most of
them militia, would have stood no chance with the veterans whom
Wellington had led to victory and glory.

Jackson's brilliant defence at New Orleans was admirably planned and
energetically executed. It had no effect on the war, for the treaty of
peace, although not yet heard of, had been signed weeks before; but it
enabled America to close the conflict with a splendid success, which
offset the disasters and mistakes of the Northern campaigns. Naturally,
it was magnified into a great military exploit, and raised the fame of
Jackson to such a height, all over the country, that nothing could ever
afterwards weaken his popularity, no matter what he did, lawful or
unlawful. He was a victor over the Indians and over the English, and all
his arbitrary acts were condoned by an admiring people who had but few
military heroes to boast of.

His successes had a bad effect on Jackson himself. He came to feel that
he had a right to ride over precedents and law when it seemed to him
expedient. He set up his will against constituted authorities, and
everybody who did not endorse his measures he regarded as a personal
enemy, to be crushed if possible. It was never said of him that he was
unpatriotic in his intentions, only that he was wilful, vindictive, and
ignorant. From the 8th of January, 1815, to the day of his death he was
the most popular man that this country ever saw,--excepting, perhaps,
Washington and Lincoln,--the central figure in American politics, with
prodigious influence even after he had finally retired from public life.
Immediately after the defence of New Orleans the legislatures of
different States, and Congress itself, passed grateful resolutions for
his military services, and the nation heaped all the honor on the hero
that was in its power to give,--medals, swords, and rewards, and
Congress remitted a fine which had been imposed by Judge Hall, in New
Orleans, for contempt of court. Jackson's severity in executing six
militia-men for mutiny was approved generally as a wholesome exercise of
military discipline, and all his acts were glorified. Wherever he went
there was a round of festivities. He began to be talked about, as soon
as the war was closed, as a candidate for the presidency, although when
the idea was first proposed to him he repelled it with genuine

Scarcely had the British troops been withdrawn from the Gulf of Mexico
to fight more successfully at Waterloo, when Jackson was called to put
an end to the Seminole war in Florida, which Spanish territory he
occupied on the ground of self-defence. The Indians--Seminoles and
Creeks--with many runaway negroes, had been pillaging the border of
Georgia. Jackson drove them off, seized the Spanish fort on Appalachee
Bay, and again took possession of Pensacola on the plea that the Spanish
officials were aiding the Indians. It required all the skill of the
government at Washington to defend his despotic acts, for he was as
complete an autocrat in his limited sphere as Caesar or Napoleon. The
only limits he regarded were the limits to his power. But in whatever he
did, he had a firm conviction that he was right. Even John Quincy Adams
justified his acts in Florida, when his enemies were loud in their
complaints of his needless executions, especially of two British
traders, Arbuthnot and Ambruter, whom he had court-martialled and shot
as abettors of the Indians. He had invaded the territory of a neutral
power and driven off its representatives; but everything was condoned.
And when, shortly after, Florida became United States territory by
purchase from Spain, he was made its first governor,--a new field for
him, but an appointment which President Monroe felt it necessary
to make.

In April, 1821, having resigned his commission in the army, Jackson left
Nashville with his family to take up his residence in Pensacola,
enchanted with its climate and fruits and flowers, its refreshing
sea-breezes, and its beautiful situation, in spite of hot weather. As
governor of Florida he was invested with extraordinary powers. Indeed,
there was scarcely any limit to them, except that he had no power to
levy and collect taxes, and seize the property of the mixed races who
dwelt in the land of oranges and flowers. It would appear that, aside
from arbitrary acts, he did all he could for the good of the territory,
under the influence of his wife, a Christian woman, whom he indulged in
all things, especially in shutting up grog-shops, putting a stop to
play-going, and securing an outward respect for the Sabbath. His term of
office, however, was brief, and as his health was poor, for he was never
vigorous, in November of the same year he gladly returned to Nashville,
and about this time built his well-known residence, the "Hermitage." As
a farmer he was unusually successful, making agriculture lucrative even
with slave-labor.

Jackson had now become a prominent candidate for the presidency, and as
a part of the political plan, he was, in 1823, made senator from
Tennessee in Congress, where he served parts of two terms, without,
however, distinguishing himself as a legislator. He made but few
speeches, and these were short, but cast his vote on occasions of
importance, voting against a reduction of duty on iron and woollen and
cotton goods, against imprisonment for debt, and favoring some internal
improvements. In 1824 he wrote a letter advocating a "careful tariff,"
so far as it should afford revenues for the national defence, and to pay
off the national debt, and "give a proper distribution of our labor;"
but a tariff to enrich capitalists at the expense of the laboring
classes, he always abhorred.

The administration of James Monroe, in two full terms, from 1817 to
1825, had not been marked by any great events or popular movements of
especial historical interest. It was "the era of good feeling." The
times were placid, and party animosities had nearly subsided. The
opening of the slavery discussions resulted in the Missouri Compromise
of 1820, and the irritations of that great topic were allayed for the
time. Like all his predecessors after Washington, Monroe had been
successively a diplomatist and Secretary of State, and the presidency
seemed to fall to him as a matter of course. He was a most respectable
man, although not of commanding abilities, and discharged his duties
creditably in the absence of exciting questions. The only event of his
administration which had a marked influence on the destinies of the
United States was the announcement that the future colonization of the
country by any European State would not be permitted. This is called the
"Monroe doctrine," and had the warm support of Webster and other leading
statesmen. It not only proclaimed the idea of complete American
independence of all foreign powers, but opposed all interference of
European States in American affairs. The ultimate influence of the
application of this doctrine cannot be exaggerated in importance,
whether it originated with the President or not. Monroe was educated for
the bar, but was neither a good speaker nor a ready writer. Nor was he a
man of extensive culture or attainments. The one great idea attributed
to him was: "America for the Americans." He was succeeded, however, by a
man of fine attainments and large experience, who had passed through the
great offices of State with distinguished credit.

In February, 1824, Jackson was almost unanimously nominated for the
presidency by the Democratic party, through the convention in
Harrisburg, and John C. Calhoun was nominated for the vice-presidency.
Jackson's main rivals in the election which followed were John Quincy
Adams and Henry Clay, both of whom had rendered great civil services,
and were better fitted for the post. But Jackson was the most popular,
and he obtained ninety-nine electoral votes, Adams eighty-four, and Clay
thirty-seven. No one having a majority, the election was thrown into the
House of Representatives. Clay, who never liked nor trusted Jackson,
threw his influence in favor of Adams, and Adams was elected by the vote
of thirteen States. Jackson and his friends always maintained that he
was cheated out of the election,--that Adams and Clay made a bargain
between themselves,--which seemed to be confirmed by the fact that Clay
was made Secretary of State in Adams's cabinet; although this was a
natural enough sequence of Clay's throwing his political strength to
make Adams president. Jackson returned, wrathful and disappointed, to
his farm, but amid boisterous demonstrations of respect wherever he
went. If he had not cared much about the presidency before, he was now
determined to achieve it, and to crush his opponents, whom he promptly
regarded as enemies.

John Quincy Adams entered upon office in 1825, free from "personal
obligations" and "partisan entanglements," but with an unfriendly
Congress. This, however, was not of much consequence, since no great
subjects were before Congress for discussion. It was a period of great
tranquillity, fitted for the development of the peaceful arts, and of
internal improvements in the land, rather than of genius in the
presidential chair. Not one public event of great importance occurred,
although many commercial treaties were signed, and some internal
improvements were made. Mr. Adams lived in friendly relations with his
cabinet, composed of able men, and he was generally respected for the
simplicity of his life, and the conscientious discharge of his routine
duties. He was industrious and painstaking, rising early in the morning
and retiring early in the evening. He was not popular, being cold and
austere in manner, but he had a lofty self-respect, disdaining to
conciliate foes or reward friends,--a New England Puritan of the
severest type, sternly incorruptible, learned without genius, eloquent
without rhetoric, experienced without wisdom, religious without
orthodoxy, and liberal-minded with strong prejudices.

Perhaps the most marked thing in the political history of that
administration was the strife for the next presidency, and the beginning
of that angry and bitter conflict between politicians which had no
cessation until the Civil War. The sessions of Congress were occupied
in the manufacture of political capital; for a cloud had arisen in the
political heavens, portending storms and animosities, and the discussion
of important subjects of national scope, such as had not agitated the
country before,--pertaining to finances, to tariffs, to constitutional
limitations, to retrenchments, and innovations. There arose new
political parties, or rather a great movement, extending to every town
and hamlet, to give a new impetus to the Democratic sway. The leaders in
this movement were the great antagonists of Clay and Webster,--a new
class of politicians, like Benton, Amos Kendall, Martin Van Buren, Duff
Green, W.B. Lewis, and others. A new era of "politics" was inaugurated,
with all the then novel but now customary machinery of local clubs,
partisan "campaign newspapers," and the organized use of pledges and
promises of appointments to office to reward "workers." This system had
been efficiently perfected in New York State under Mr. Van Buren and
other leaders, but now it was brought into Federal politics, and the
whole country was stirred into a fever heat of party strife.

In a political storm, therefore, Jackson was elected, and commenced his
memorable reign in 1829,--John Quincy Adams retiring to his farm in
disgust and wrath. The new president was carried into office on an
avalanche of Democratic voters, receiving two hundred and sixty-one
electoral votes, while Adams had only eighty-three, notwithstanding his
long public services and his acknowledged worth. This was too great a
disappointment for the retiring statesman to bear complacently, or even
philosophically. He gave vent to his irritated feelings in unbecoming
language, exaggerating the ignorance of Jackson and his general
unfitness for the high office,--in this, however, betraying an estimate
of the incoming President which was common among educated and
conservative men. I well remember at college the contempt which the
president and all the professors had for the Western warrior. It was
generally believed by literary men that "Old Hickory" could scarcely
write his name.

But the speeches of Jackson were always to the point, if not studied and
elaborate, while his messages were certainly respectable, though rather
too long. It is generally supposed that he furnished the rough drafts to
his few intimate friends, who recast and polished them, while some think
that William Lewis, Amos Kendall, and others wrote the whole of them, as
well as all his public papers. In reading the early letters of Jackson,
however, it is clear that they are anything but illiterate, whatever
mistakes in spelling and grammatical errors there may be. His ideas were
distinct, his sentiments unmistakable; and although he was fond of a
kind of spread-eagle eloquence, his views on public questions were
generally just and vigorously expressed. A Tennessee general, brought up
with horse-jockeys, gamblers, and cock-fighters, and who never had even
a fair common-school education, could not be expected to be very
accomplished in the arts of composition, whatever talents and good sense
he naturally may have had. Certain it is that Jackson's mind was clear
and his convictions were strong upon the national policy to be pursued
by him; and if he opposed banks and tariffs it was because he believed
that their influence was hostile to the true interests of the country.
He doubtless well understood the issues of great public questions; only,
his view of them was contrary to the views of moneyed men and bankers
and the educated classes of his day generally. It is to be remarked,
however, that the views he took on questions of political economy are
now endorsed by many able college professors and some American
manufacturers who are leading public opinion in opposition to tariffs
for protection and in the direction of free trade.

The first thing for Jackson to do after his inauguration was to select
his cabinet. It was not a strong one. He wanted clerks, not advisers. He
was all-sufficient to himself. He rarely held a cabinet meeting. In a
very short time this cabinet was dissolved by a scandal. General Eaton,
Secretary of War, had married the daughter of a tavern-keeper, who was
remarkable for her wit and social brilliancy. The aristocratic wives of
the cabinet ministers would not associate with her, and the President
took the side of the neglected woman, in accordance with his chivalric
nature. His error was in attempting to force his cabinet to accord to
her a social position,--a matter which naturally belonged to women to
settle. So bitter was the quarrel, and so persistent was the President
in attempting to produce harmony in his cabinet on a mere social
question that the ministers resigned rather than fight so obstinate and
irascible a man as Jackson in a matter which was outside his proper
sphere of action.

The new cabinet was both more able and more subservient. Edward
Livingston of Louisiana, who wrote most of Jackson's documents when he
commanded in New Orleans, was made Secretary of State, Louis McLane of
Delaware, Secretary of the Treasury; Lewis Cass, governor for
nineteen years of Michigan, Secretary of War; Levi Woodbury of New
Hampshire, Secretary of the Navy; Roger B. Taney of Maryland,
Attorney-General,--all distinguished for abilities. But even these able
men were seldom summoned to a cabinet meeting. The confidential advisers
of the President were Amos Kendall, afterwards Postmaster-General; Duff
Green, a Democratic editor; Isaac Hill, a violent partisan, who edited a
paper in Concord, New Hampshire, and was made second auditor of the
treasury; and William B. Lewis, an old friend of the general in
Tennessee,--all able men, but unscrupulous politicians, who enjoyed
power rather than the display of it. These advisers became known in the
party contests of the time as the president's "Kitchen Cabinet."

Jackson had not been long inaugurated before the influence of the
"Kitchen Cabinet" was seen and felt; for it was probably through the
influence of these men that the President brought about a marked change
in the policy of the government; and it is this change which made
Jackson's administration so memorable. It was the intrusion of
personality, instead of public policy, into the management of party
politics. Madison did not depart from the general policy of Jefferson,
nor did Monroe. "The Virginia dynasty" kept up the traditions of the
government as originally constituted. But Jackson cut loose from all
traditions and precedents, especially in the matter of assuming
responsibilities, and attempted to carry on the government independently
of Congress in many important respects. It is the duty of the President
to execute the laws as he finds them, until repealed or altered by the
national Legislature; but it was the disposition of Jackson to
disregard those laws which he disapproved,--an encroachment hard to be
distinguished from usurpation. And this is the most serious charge
against him as President; not his ignorance, but his despotic temper,
and his self-conceit in supposing himself wiser than the collected
wisdom and experience of the representatives of the nation,--a notion
which neither Washington nor Jefferson nor Madison ever entertained.

Again, Jackson's system of appointments to office--the removal of men
already satisfactorily doing the work of the government, in order to
make places for his personal and political supporters--was a great
innovation, against all the experience of governments, whether despotic
or constitutional. It led to the reign of demagogues, and gave rewards,
not to those who deserved promotion from their able and conscientious
discharge of duty in public trusts, but to those who most unscrupulously
and zealously advocated or advanced the interests of the party in power.
It led to perpetual rotations in office without reasonable cause, and
made the election of party chiefs of more importance than the support of
right principles. The imperfect civil service reforms which have been
secured during the last few years with so much difficulty show the
political mischief for which Jackson is responsible, and which has
disgraced every succeeding administration,--an evil so gigantic that no
president has been strong enough to overcome it; not only injurious to
the welfare of the nation by depriving it of the services of experienced
men, but inflicting an onerous load on the President himself which he
finds it impossible to shake off,--the great obstacle to the proper
discharge of his own public duties, and the bar to all private
enjoyment. What is more perplexing and irritating to an incoming
president than the persistent and unreasonable demands of
office-seekers, nine out of ten of whom are doomed to disappointment,
and who consequently become enemies rather than friends of the

This "spoils system" which Jackson inaugurated has proved fatal to all
dignity of office, and all honesty in elections. It has divested
politics of all attraction to superior men, and put government largely
into the hands of the most venal and unblushing of demagogues. It has
proved as great and fatal a mistake as has the establishment of
universal suffrage which Jefferson encouraged,--a mistake at least in
the great cities of the country,--an evil which can never be remedied
except by revolution. Doubtless it was a generous impulse on the part of
Jackson to reward his friends with the spoils of office, as it was a
logical sequence of the doctrine of political equality to give every man
a vote, whether virtuous or wicked, intelligent or ignorant. Until
Jackson was intrusted with the reins of government, no president of the
United States, however inclined to reward political friends, dared to
establish such a principle as rotation in office or removal without
sufficient cause. Not one there was who would not have shrunk from such
a dangerous precedent, a policy certain to produce an inferior class of
public servants, and take away from political life all that is lofty and
ennobling, except in positions entirely independent of presidential
control, such as the national legislature.

The Senate, especially during Jackson's administration, was composed of
remarkably gifted men, the most distinguished of whom opposed and
detested the measures and policy he pursued, with such unbending
obstinacy that he was filled with bitterness and wrath. This feeling was
especially manifested towards Clay, Webster, and Calhoun, the great
lights of the Senate Chamber,--although Jackson's party had the majority
of both Houses much of the time, and thus, while often hindered, he was
in the end unchecked in his innovations and hostilities. But these three
giants he had to fight during most of his presidential career, which
kept him in a state of perpetual irritation. Their opposition was to him
a bitter pill. They were beyond his power, as independent as he. Until
then, in his military and gubernatorial capacity, his will had been
supreme. He had no opponents whom he could not crush. He was accustomed
to rule despotically. As president he could be defied and restrained by
Congress. His measures had to be of the nature of recommendation, except
in the power of veto which he did not hesitate to use unsparingly; but
the Senate could refuse to ratify his appointments, and often did
refuse, which drove him beyond the verge of swearing. Again, in the
great questions which came up for discussion, especially those in the
domain of political economy, there would be honest differences of
opinion; for political economy has settled very little, and is not,
therefore, strictly a science, any more than medicine is. It is a system
of theories based on imperfect inductions. There can be no science
except what is based on _indisputable_ facts, or accepted principles.
There are no incontrovertible doctrines pertaining to tariffs or
financial operations, which are modified by circumstances.

The three great things which most signally marked the administration of
Jackson were the debates on the tariffs, the quarrel with the United
States Bank, and the Nullification theories of Calhoun. It would seem
that Jackson, when inaugurated, was in favor of a moderate tariff to aid
military operations and to raise the necessary revenue for federal
expenses, but was opposed to high protective duties. Even in 1831 he
waived many of his scruples as to internal improvements in deference to
public opinion, and signed the bills which made appropriations for the
improvement of harbors and rivers, for the continuation of the
Cumberland road, for the encouragement of the culture of the vine and
olive, and for granting an extended copyright to authors. It was only
during his second term that his hostility to tariffs became a
passion,--not from any well-defined views of political economy, for
which he had no adequate intellectual training, but because "protection"
was unpopular in the southwestern States, and because he instinctively
felt that it favored monopolists at the expense of the people. What he
hated most intensely were capitalists and moneyed institutions; like
Jefferson, he feared their influence on elections. As he was probably
conscious of his inability to grasp the complex questions of political
economy, he was not bitter in his opposition to tariffs, except on
political grounds. Hence, generally speaking, he left Congress to
discuss that theme. We shall have occasion to look into it in the
lecture on Henry Clay, and here only mention the great debates of
Jackson's time on the subject,--a subject on which Congress has been
debating for fifty years, and will probably be debating for fifty years
to come, since the whole matter depends practically on changing
circumstances, whatever may be the abstract theories of doctrinaires.

While Jackson, then, on the whole, left tariffs to Congress, he was not
so discreet in matters of finance. His war with the United States Bank
was an important episode in his life, and the chief cause of the enmity
with which the moneyed and conservative classes pursued him to the end
of his days. Had he let the Bank alone he would have been freed from
most of the vexations and turmoils which marked his administration. He
would have left a brighter name. He would not have given occasion for
those assaults which met him on every hand, and which history justifies.
He might even have been forgiven for his spoils system and unprecedented
removals from office. In attacking the Bank he laid a profane touch upon
a sacred ark and handled untempered mortar. He stopped the balance-wheel
which regulated the finances of the country, and introduced no end of
commercial disorders, ending in dire disasters. Like the tariff,
finances were a question with which he was not competent to deal. His
fault was something more than the veto on the recharter of the Bank by
Congress, which he had a constitutional right to make; it was a
vindictive assault on an important institution before its charter had
expired, even in his first message to Congress. In this warfare we see
unscrupulous violence,--prompted, not alone by his firm hostility to
everything which looked like a monopoly and a moneyed power, but by the
influence of advisers who hated everything like inequality of position,
especially when not usable for their own purposes. They stimulated his
jealousy and resentments. They played on his passions and prejudices.
They flattered him as if he were the monarch of the universe, incapable
of a wrong judgment.

Hostility to the money-power, however, is older than the public life of
Jackson. It existed among the American democracy as early as the time of
Alexander Hamilton. When he founded the first Bank of the United States
he met with great opposition from the followers of Jefferson, who were
jealous of the power it was supposed to wield in politics. When in 1810
the question came up of renewing the charter of the first United States
Bank, the Democratic-Republicans were bitter in their opposition; and so
effective was the outcry that the bank went into liquidation, its place
being taken by local banks. These issued notes so extravagantly that the
currency of the country, as stated by Professor Sumner, was depreciated
twenty-five per cent. So great was the universal financial distress
which followed the unsound system of banking operations that in 1816 a
new bank was chartered, on the principles which Hamilton had laid down.

This Bank was to run for twenty years, and its capital was thirty-five
millions of dollars, seven of which were taken by the United States;
many of its stockholders were widows, charitable institutions, and
people of small means. Its directors were chosen by the stockholders
with the exception of five appointed by the President of the United
States and confirmed by the Senate. The public money was deposited in
this Bank; it could be removed by the Secretary of the Treasury, but by
him only on giving his reasons to Congress. The Bank was located in
Philadelphia, then the money-centre of the country, but it had
twenty-five branches in different cities, from Portsmouth, N.H., to New
Orleans. The main institution could issue notes, not under five dollars,
but the branches could not. Langdon Cleves, of South Carolina, was the
first president, succeeded in 1823 by Nicholas Biddle, of
Philadelphia,--a man of society, of culture, and of leisure,--a young
man of thirty-seven, who could talk and write, perhaps, better than he
could manage a great business.

The affairs of the Bank went on smoothly for ten or twelve years, and
the financial condition of the country was never better than when
controlled by this great central institution. Nicholas Biddle of course
was magnified into a great financier of uncommon genius,--the first
business man in the whole country, a great financial autocrat, the idol
of Philadelphia. But he was hated by Democratic politicians as a man
who was intrusted with too much power, which might be perverted to
political purposes, and which they asserted was used to help his
aristocratic friends in difficulty. Moreover, they looked with envy on
the many positions its offices afforded, which, as it was a "government
institution," they thought should be controlled by the governing party.

Among Biddle's especial enemies were the members of the "Kitchen
Cabinet," who with sycophantic adroitness used Jackson as a tool.

Isaac Hill, of New Hampshire, was one of the most envenomed of these
politicians, who hated not only Biddle but those who adhered to the old
Federalist party, and rich men generally. He had sufficient plausibility
and influence to enlist Levi Woodbury, Senator from New Hampshire, to
forward his schemes.

In consequence, Woodbury, on June 27, 1829, wrote to Ingham, Secretary
of the Treasury, making complaints against the president of the branch
bank in Portsmouth for roughness of manner, partiality in loans, and
severity in collections. The accused official was no less a man than
Jeremiah Mason, probably the greatest lawyer in New England, if not of
the whole country, the peer as well as the friend of Webster. Ingham
sent Woodbury's letter to Biddle, intimating that it was political
partiality that was complained of. Then ensued a correspondence between
Biddle and Ingham,--the former defending Mason and claiming complete
independence for the Bank as to its management, so long as it could not
be shown to be involved in political movements; and the latter accusing,
threatening to remove deposits, attempting to take away the pension
agency from the Portsmouth branch, _et cetera_. It was a stormy summer
for the Bank.

Thus things stood until November, when a letter appeared in the New York
"Courier and Inquirer," stating that President Jackson, in his
forthcoming first annual message to Congress, would come out strongly
against the Bank itself. And sure enough, the President, in his message,
astonished the whole country by a paragraph attacking the Bank, and
opposing its recharter. The part of the message about the Bank was
referred to both Houses of Congress. The committees reported in favor of
the Bank, as nothing could be said against its management. Again, in the
message of the President in 1830, he attacked the Bank, and Benton, one
of the chief supporters of Jackson in spite of their early duel,
declared in the Senate that the charter of the Bank ought not to be
renewed. Here the matter dropped for a while, as Jackson and his friends
were engrossed in electioneering schemes for the next presidential
contest, and the troubles of the cabinet on account of the Eaton scandal
had to be attended to. As already noted, they ended in its dissolution,
followed by a new and stronger cabinet, in which Ingham was succeeded as
Secretary of the Treasury by Louis McLane.

It was not till 1832,--the great session of Jackson's
administrations,--that the contest was taken up again. The Bank aimed to
have its charter renewed, although that would not expire for five years
yet; and as the Senate was partly hostile to the President, it seemed a
propitious time for the effort. Jackson, on the other hand, fearing that
the Bank would succeed in getting its charter renewed with a friendly
Congress, redoubled his energies to defeat it. The more hostile the
President showed himself, the more eager were the friends of the Bank
for immediate action. It was, with them, now or never. If the matter
were delayed, and Jackson were re-elected, it would be impossible to
secure a renewal of the charter, while it was hoped that Jackson would
not dare to veto the charter on the eve of a presidential election, and
thus lose, perhaps, the vote of the great State of Pennsylvania. So it
was resolved by the friends of the Bank to press the measure.

Five months were consumed in the discussion of this important matter, in
which the leading members of the Senate, except Benton, supported the
Bank. The bill to renew the charter passed the Senate on the 11th of
June, by a vote of twenty-eight to twenty, and the House on the 3d of
July by a majority of thirty-three. It was immediately vetoed by the
President, on the ground that the Bank was an odious monopoly, with
nearly a third of its stock held by foreigners, and not only odious, but
dangerous as a money-power to bribe Congress and influence elections.
The message accompanying the veto was able, and was supposed to be
written by Edward Livingston or Amos Kendall. Biddle remained calm and
confident. Like Clay, he never dreamed that Jackson would dare to
persist in a hostility against the enlightened public sentiment of the
country. But Jackson was the idol of the Democracy, who would support
all his measures and condone all his faults, and the Democracy
ruled,--as it always will rule, except in great public dangers, when
power naturally falls into the hands of men of genius, honesty, and
experience, almost independently of their political associations.

The veto aroused a thunder of debate, Webster and Clay leading the
assault upon it, and Benton, with other Jacksonians, defending it. The
attempt to pass the re-charter bill over the veto failed of the
necessary two-thirds majority, and the President was triumphant.

Jackson had no idea of yielding his opinions or his will to anybody,
least of all to his political enemies. The war with the Bank must go on;
but its charter had three or four years still to run. All he could do
legally was to cripple it by removing the deposits. His animosity,
inflamed by the denunciations of Benton, Kendall, Blair, Hill, and
others, became ungovernable.

McLane was now succeeded in the Treasury department by Mr. Duane of
Philadelphia, the firmest and most incorruptible of men, for whom the
President felt the greatest respect, but whom he expected to bend to his
purposes as he had Ingham. Only the Secretary of the Treasury could
remove the deposits, and this Mr. Duane unexpectedly but persistently
refused to do. Jackson brought to bear upon him all his powers of
persuasion and friendship; Duane still stood firm. Then the President
resorted to threats, all to no purpose; at length Duane was dismissed
from his office, and Roger B. Taney became Secretary of the Treasury,
23d of September, 1833. Three days afterwards, Taney directed collectors
to deposit the public money in certain banks which he designated. It
seems singular that the man who two years later was appointed Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court, and who discharged the duties of that
office so ably and uprightly, should so readily have complied with the
President's desire; but this must be accounted for by the facts that in
regard to the Bank Taney's views were in harmony with those of Jackson,
and that the removal of the deposits, however arbitrary, was not

The removal of more than nine millions from the Bank within the period
of nine months caused it necessarily to curtail its discounts, and a
financial panic was the result, which again led to acrimonious debates
in Congress, in which Clay took the lead. His opposition exasperated the
President in the highest degree. Calhoun equalled Clay in the vehemence
of his denunciation, for his hatred of Jackson was greater than his
hostility to moneyed corporations. Webster was less irritating, but
equally strong in his disapproval. Jackson, in his message of December,
1833, reiterated his charge against the Bank as "a permanent
electioneering engine," attempting "to control public opinion through
the distresses of some, and the fears of others." The Senate passed
resolutions denouncing the high-handed measures of the government,
which, however, were afterwards expunged when the Senate had become
Democratic. One of the most eloquent passages that Clay ever uttered was
his famous apostrophe to Vice President Van Buren when presiding over
the Senate, in reference to the financial distress which existed
throughout the country, and which, of course, he traced to the removal
of the deposits. Deputations of great respectability poured in upon the
President from every quarter to induce him to change his policy,--all of
which he summarily and rudely dismissed. All that these deputations
could get out of him was, "Go to Nicholas Biddle; he has all the money."
In 1834, during the second term of Jackson's office, there were
committees sent to investigate the affairs of the Bank, who were very
cavalierly treated by Biddle, so that their mission failed, amid much
derision. He was not dethroned from his financial power until the United
States Bank of Pennsylvania--the style under which the United States
Bank accepted a State charter in 1836, when its original national
charter expired--succumbed to the general crash in 1837.

It is now generally admitted that Jackson's war on the Bank was violent
and reckless, although it would be difficult to point out wherein his
hostility exceeded constitutional limits. The consequences were most
disastrous to the immediate interests of the country, but probably not
to its ultimate interests. The substitution of "pet banks" for
government deposits led to a great inflation of paper money, followed by
a general mania for speculation. When the bubble burst these banks were
unable to redeem their notes in gold and silver, and suspended their
payments. Then the stringency of the money market equalled the previous
inflation. In consequence there were innumerable failures and everything
fell in value,--lands, houses, and goods. Such was the general
depression and scarcity of money that in many States it was difficult
to raise money even to pay necessary taxes. I have somewhere read that
in one of the Western States the sheriffs sold at auction a good
four-horse wagon for five dollars and fifty cents, two horses for four
dollars, and two cows for two dollars. The Western farmers were driven
to despair. Such was the general depression that President Van Buren was
compelled in 1837 to call an extra session of Congress; nor were the
difficulties removed until the celebrated Bankrupt Law was passed in
1840, chiefly through the efforts of Daniel Webster, which virtually
wiped out all debts of those who chose to avail themselves of the
privilege. What a contrast was the financial state of the country at
that time, to what it was when Jackson entered upon his administration!

It is not just to attribute all the commercial disasters which followed
the winding up of the old United States Bank to General Jackson, and to
the financial schemes of Van Buren. It was the spirit of speculation,
fostered by the inflation of paper money by irresponsible banks when the
great balance-wheel was stopped, which was the direct cause. The
indirect causes of commercial disaster, however, may be attributed to
Jackson's war on the Bank. The long fight in Congress to secure a
recharter of the Bank, though unsuccessful, was dignified and
statesmanlike; but the ungoverned passions displayed by the removal of
deposits resulted in nothing, and could have resulted in nothing of
advantage to any theory of the Bank's management; and it would be
difficult to say who were most to blame for the foolish and undignified
crimination and recrimination which followed,--the President, or the
hostile Senate. It was, at any rate, a fight in which Jackson won, but
which, from the animosities it kindled, brought down his gray hairs in
sorrow to the grave. It gave him a doubtful place in the history of
the nation.

If Jackson's hostility to the United States Bank was inexpedient and
violent, and resulted in financial disasters, his vigorous efforts to
put down Nullification were patriotic, and called forth the approval and
gratitude of the nation. This was a real service of immense value, and
it is probable that no other public man then on the stage could have
done this important work so well. Like all Jackson's measures, it was
summary and decided.

Nullification grew out of the tariffs which Congress had imposed. The
South wanted no protective duties at all; indeed, it wanted absolute
free trade, so that planters might obtain the articles which they needed
at the smallest possible cost, and sell as much cotton and tobacco as
they could with the least delay and embarrassment. Professor Sumner
argues that Southern industries either supported the Federal
government, or paid tribute to the Northern manufacturers, and that
consequently the grievances of the Southern States were natural and
just,--that their interests were sacrificed to national interests, as
the New England interests had been sacrificed to the national interests
at the time of the Embargo. Undoubtedly, the South had cause of
complaint, and we cannot wonder at its irritation and opposition to the
taxes imposed on all for the protection of American manufactures. On the
other hand, it was a grave question whether the interests of the nation
at large should be sacrificed to build up the interests of the
South,--to say nothing of the great moral issues which underlie all
material questions. In other words, in matters of national importance,
which should rule? Should the majority yield to the minority, or the
minority to the majority? In accordance with the democratic principles
on which this government is founded, there is only one reply to the
question: The majority must rule. This is the basal stone of all
constitutional government, whose disruption would produce revolution and
anarchy. It is a bitter and humiliating necessity which compels the
intellect, the wealth, the rank, and the fashion of England to yield to
the small majority in the House of Commons, in the matter of Irish Home
Rule, but an Irishman's vote is as good as that of the son of an
English peer. The rule of the majority is the price of political
liberty, for which enlightened nations are willing to pay.

Henry Clay deserves great praise and glory for his persistent efforts at
conciliation,--not only in matters pertaining to the tariff, but in the
question of slavery to harmonize conflicting interests. But Calhoun--the
greatest man whom the South has produced--would listen to no
concessions, foreseeing that the slightest would endanger the
institution with which the interests and pride of the Southern States
were identified. At this crisis the country needed a man at the helm
whose will was known to be inflexible.

In the session of 1830, on a question concerning the sales of public
(U.S.) lands in the several States, arose the great debate between
Colonel R.Y. Hayne, of South Carolina, and Daniel Webster on the
limitations of Federal power; and Hayne's declaration of the right of a
State to nullify a Federal law that was prejudicial to its interests
gained him great applause throughout the South. John C. Calhoun, United
States Senator from South Carolina, was at the head of the extreme State
Sovereignty party, and at a banquet celebrating the birthday of
Jefferson, January 13, 1830, he proffered the toast "The Union: next to
Liberty, the most dear; may we all remember that it can only be
preserved by respecting the rights of the States, and distributing
equally the benefit and burden of the Union." Jackson, as President, and
practical chief of the Democracy, was of course present at this
political banquet. His profound patriotism and keen political instinct
scented danger, and with his usual impulse to go well forward to meet an
enemy, he gave, "The Federal Union: it must be preserved." This simple
declaration was worth more than all the wordy messages and proclamations
he ever issued; it not only served notice upon the seceders of his time
that they had a great principle to deal with, but it echoed after him,
and was the call to which the nation victoriously rallied in its supreme
struggle with treason, thirty years later.

Notwithstanding the evident stand taken by the President, the Calhoun
party continued their opposition on State lines to the Federal
authority. And when Congress passed the tariff of July, 1832, the South
Carolina legislature in the autumn called a convention, which pronounced
that Act and the Tariff Act of 1828 unconstitutional,--"null and void,
and no law;" called on the State legislature to pass laws to prevent the
execution of the Federal revenue acts; and declared that any attempt at
coercion on the part of the Federal authorities would be regarded as
absolving South Carolina and all its people from all further obligation
to retain their union with the other States, and that they should then
forthwith proceed to organize a separate government, as a sovereign and
independent State.

If such a man as Buchanan had then been in the presidential chair there
probably would have been a Southern Confederacy; and in 1832 it might
have been successful. But Jackson was a man of different mould. Democrat
and Southern sympathizer as he was, he instantly took the most vigorous
measures to suppress such a thing in the bud, before there was time to
concert measures of disunion among the other Southern States. He sent
General Scott to Charleston, with a body of troops stationed not far
away. He ordered two war-vessels to the harbor of the misguided and
rebellious city. On December 4 in his annual message he called the
attention of Congress to the opposition to the revenue laws and
intimated that he should enforce them. On December 11 he issued a
proclamation to the inhabitants of South Carolina, written by
Livingston, moderate in tone, in which it was set forth that the power
of one State to annul a law of the United States was incompatible with
the existence of the Union, and inconsistent with the spirit of the
constitution. Governor Hayne issued a counter-proclamation, while
Calhoun resigned the vice-presidency in order to represent South
Carolina on the floor of the Senate. In January the President sent
another message to Congress asking for authority to suppress rebellion.

Congress rallied around the Executive and a bill was passed providing
for the enforcement of the collection of the customs at Charleston, and
arming the President with extraordinary powers to see that the dangers
were averted. Most of the States passed resolutions against
Nullification, and there was general approval of the vigorous measures
to be enforced if necessary. The Nullifiers, unprepared to resist the
whole military power of the country, yielded, but with ill grace, to the
threatened force. Henry Clay in February introduced a compromise tariff,
and on the 27th of that month it was completed, together with an
Enforcement Act. On March 3 it became a law, and on March 11 the South
Carolina Nullifiers held an adjourned meeting of their convention and
nullified their previous nullification. The triumph of Jackson was
complete, and his popularity reached its apex.

It is not to be supposed that the collection of duties in Southern parts
was the only cause of Nullification. The deeper cause was not at first
avowed. It was the question of slavery, which is too large a topic to be
discussed in this connection. It will be treated more fully in a
subsequent lecture.

An important event took place during the administration of Jackson,
which demands our notice, although it can in no way be traced to his
influence; and this was the Anti-Masonic movement, ending in the
formation of a new political party.

The beginning of this party was obscure enough. One Morgan in Western
New York was abducted and murdered for revealing the alleged secrets of
Freemasonry. These were in reality of small importance, but Morgan had
mortally offended a great secret society of which he was a member, by
bringing it into public contempt. His punishment was greater than his
crime, which had been not against morality, but against a powerful body
of men who never did any harm, but rather much good in the way of
charities. The outrage aroused public indignation,--that a man should be
murdered for making innocent revelations of mere ceremonies and
pretensions of small moment; and as the Masons would make no apologies,
and no efforts to bring the offenders to justice, it was inferred by the
credulous public that Masons were not fit to be entrusted with political
office. The outrage was seized upon by cunning politicians to make
political capital. Jackson was a Mason. Hence the new party of
Anti-Masons made war against him. As they had been his supporters, the
Democratic party of the State of New York was divided.

The leading Democratic leaders had endeavored to suppress this schism;
but it daily increased, founded on popular ignorance and prejudice,
until it became formidable. In 1830, four years after the murder, the
Anti-Masons had held conventions and framed a political platform of
principles, the chief of which was hostility to all secret societies.
The party, against all reason, rapidly spread through New York,
Pennsylvania, and New England,--its stronghold being among the farmers
of Vermont. Ambitious politicians soon perceived that a union with this
party would favor their interests, and men of high position became its
leaders. In 1831 the party was strong enough to assemble a convention in
Baltimore to nominate candidates for the presidency, and William Wirt,
the great Maryland lawyer, was nominated, not with any hope of election,
but with the view of dividing the ranks of the Democratic party, and of
strengthening the opposition headed by Clay,--the National Republican
party, which in the next campaign absorbed all the old Federalist
remnants, and became the Whig party.

All opposition to Jackson, however, was to no purpose. He was elected
for his second term, beginning in 1833. The Anti-Masonic movement
subsided as rapidly as it was created, having no well-defined principles
to stand upon. It has already passed into oblivion.

I have now presented the principal subjects which made the
administrations of Jackson memorable. There are others of minor
importance which could be mentioned, like the removal of the Indians to
remote hunting-grounds in the West, the West India trade, the successful
settlement of the Spoliation Claims against France, which threatened to
involve the country in war,--prevented by the arbitration of England;
similar settlements with Denmark, Spain, and Naples; treaties of
commerce with Russia and Turkey; and other matters in which Jackson's
decided character appeared to advantage. But it is not my purpose to
write a complete history of Jackson or of his administrations. Those who
want fuller information should read Parton's long biography, in which
almost every subject under the sun is alluded to, and yet which, in
spite of its inartistic and unclassical execution, is the best thesaurus
I know of for Jacksonian materials. More recent histories are
dissertations in disguise, on disputed points.

Here, then, I bring this lecture to a close with a brief allusion to
those things which made up the character of a very remarkable man, who
did both good and evil in his public career. His private life is
unusually interesting, by no means a model for others to imitate, yet
showing great energy, a wonderful power of will, and undoubted honesty
of purpose. His faults were those which may be traced to an imperfect
education, excessive prejudices, a violent temper, and the incense of
flatterers,--which turned his head and of which he was inordinately
fond. We fail to see in him the modesty which marked Washington and most
of the succeeding presidents. As a young man he fought duels without
sufficient provocation. He put himself in his military career above the
law, and in his presidential career above precedents and customs, which
subjected him to grave animadversion. As a general he hanged two
respectable foreigners as spies, without sufficient evidence. He
inflicted unnecessary cruelties in order to maintain military
discipline,--wholesome, doubtless, but such as less arbitrary commanders
would have hesitated to do. He invaded the territory of a neutral state
on the plea of self-defence. In his conversation he used expletives not
considered in good taste, and which might be called swearing, without
meaning any irreverence to the Deity, although in later life he seldom
used any other oath than "By the Eternal!"

Personally, Jackson's habits were irreproachable. In regard to the
pleasures of the table he was temperate, almost abstemious. He was
always religiously inclined and joined the Church before he
died,--perhaps, however, out of loyalty to his wife, whom he adored,
rather than from theological convictions. But whatever he deemed his
duty, he made every sacrifice to perform. Although fond of power, he
was easily accessible, and he was frank and genial among his intimate
friends. With great ideas of personal dignity, he was unconventional in
all his habits, and detested useless ceremonies and the etiquette of
courts. He put a great value on personal friendships, and never broke
them except under necessity. For his enemies he cherished a vindictive
wrath, as unforgiving as Nemesis.

In the White House Jackson was remarkably hospitable, and he returned to
his beloved Hermitage poorer than when he left it. He cared little for
money, although an excellent manager of his farm. He was high-minded and
just in the discharge of debts, and, although arbitrary, he was
indulgent to his servants.

He loved frankness in his dealings with advisers, although he was easily
imposed upon. While he leaned on the counsels of his "Kitchen Cabinet"
he rarely summoned a council of constitutional advisers. He parted with
one of the ablest and best of his cabinet who acted from a sense of duty
in a matter where he was plainly right. Toward Nicholas Biddle and Henry
Clay he cherished the most inexorable animosity for crossing his path.

When we remember his lack of political knowledge, his "spoils system,"
his indifference to internal improvements, his war on the United States
Bank, and his arbitrary conduct in general, we feel that Jackson's
elevation to the presidency was a mistake and a national misfortune,
however popular he was with the masses. Yet he was in accord with his

It is singular that this man did nothing to attract national notice
until he was forty-five years of age. The fortune of war placed him on a
throne, where he reigned as a dictator, so far as his powers would
allow. Happily, in his eventful administration he was impeded by hostile
and cynical senators; but this wholesale restraint embittered his life.
His great personal popularity continued to the end of his life in 1845,
but his influence is felt to this day, both for good and for evil. His
patriotism and his prejudices, his sturdy friendships and his relentless
hatreds, his fearless discharge of duty and his obstinacy of self-will,
his splendid public services and the vast public ills he inaugurated,
will ever make this picturesque old hero a puzzle to moralists. His life
was turbulent, and he was glad, when the time came, to lay down his
burden and prepare himself for that dread Tribunal before which all
mortals will be finally summoned,--the one tribunal in which he
believed, and the only one which he was prompt to acknowledge.


The works written on Jackson are very numerous. Probably the best is the
biography written by Parton, defective as it is. Professor W.E. Sumner's
work, in the series of "American Statesmen," is full of interesting and
important facts, especially in the matters of tariff and finance. See
also Benton's Thirty Years in the United States Senate; Cobbett's Life
of Jackson; Curtis's Life of Webster; Colton's Life and Times of Henry
Clay, as well as Carl Schurz on the same subject; Von Holst, Life of
Calhoun; Memoir of John Quincy Adams; Tyler's Life of Taney; Sargent's
Public Men; the Speeches of Webster, Clay, and Calhoun.




All the presidents of the United States, with the exception of three or
four, must yield in influence to Henry Clay, so far as concerns
directing the policy, and shaping the institutions of this country. Only
two other American statesmen--Hamilton and Webster--can be compared to
him in genius, power, and services. These two great characters will be
found treated elsewhere.

In regard to what is called "birth," Clay was not a patrician, like
Washington, nor had he so humble an origin as Andrew Jackson or Abraham
Lincoln. Like most other great men, he was the architect of of his own
fortunes, doomed to drudgeries in the early part of his career, and
climbing into notice by energy and force of character.

He was born, 1777, in a little Virginian hamlet called the "Slashes,"
in Hanover County, the son of a Baptist minister, who preached to poor
people, and who died when Henry was four years old, leaving six other
children and a widow, with very scanty means of support. The little
country school taught him "the rudiments," and his small earnings as
plough-boy and mill-boy meantime helped his mother. The mother was
marked by sterling traits of character, and married for her second
husband a Captain Watkins, of Richmond. This worthy man treated his
step-son kindly, and put him into a retail store at the age of fourteen,
no better educated than most country lads,--too poor to go to college,
but with aspirations, which all bright and ambitious boys are apt to
have, especially if they have no fitness for selling the common things
of life, and are fond of reading. Henry's step-father, having an
influential friend, secured for the disgusted and discontented youth a
position in the office of the Clerk of the High Court of Chancery, of
which the eminent jurist, George Wythe, was chancellor. The judge and
the young copyist thus naturally became acquainted, and acquaintance
ripened into friendship, for the youth was bright and useful, and made
an excellent amanuensis to the learned old lawyer, in whose office both
Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall had been students of law.

After serving four years, Clay resolved to become a lawyer, entered the
office of the Attorney-General of the State, and one year after was
admitted to the bar, having in all probability acquired much legal
knowledge from the communicative Chancellor, whom everybody loved and
honored,--one of the earliest in Virginia to emancipate his slaves, and
provide for their support. The young fellow's reading, also, had been
guided by his learned friend, in the direction of history, English
grammar, and the beginnings of law.

The young lawyer, with his pleasing manners, quick intelligence, and
real kindness of heart soon became a favorite in Richmond society. He
was neither handsome, nor elegant, nor aristocratic, but he had personal
geniality, wit, brilliancy in conversation, irreproachable morals, and
was prominent in the debating society,--a school where young men learn
the art of public speaking, like Gladstone at Oxford. It is thought
probable that Clay's native oratorical ability, which he assiduously
cultivated,--the gift which, as Schurz says, "enabled him to make little
tell for much, and to outshine men of vastly greater learning,"--misled
him as to the necessity for systematic and thorough study. Lack of
thoroughness and of solid information was his especial weakness through
life, in spite of the charm and power of his personal oratory.

It is always up-hill work for a young lawyer to succeed in a
fashionable city, where there is more intellect than business, and when
he himself has neither family, nor money, nor mercantile friends. So
Henry Clay, at twenty-one, turned his eyes to the West,--the land of
promise, which was especially attractive to impecunious lawyers, needy
farmers, spendthrift gentlemen, merchants without capital, and vigorous
men of enterprise,--where everybody trusts and is trusted, and where
talents and character are of more value than money. He had not much
legal knowledge, nor did he need much in the frontier settlements on the
Ohio and its valleys; the people generally were rough and illiterate,
and attached more importance to common-sense and industry than to legal
technicalities and the subtle distinctions of Coke and Blackstone. If an
advocate could grasp a principle which appealed to consciousness, and
enforce it with native eloquence, he was more likely to succeed than one
versed in learned precedents without energy or plausible utterances.

The locality which Clay selected was Lexington in Kentucky,--then a
small village in the midst of beautiful groves without underbrush, where
the soil was of virgin richness, and the landscape painted with almost
perpetual verdure; one of the most attractive spots by nature on the
face of the earth,--a great contrast to the flat prairies of Illinois,
or the tangled forests of Michigan, or the alluvial deposits of the
Mississippi. It was a paradise of hills and vales, easily converted into
lawns and gardens, such as the primitive settlers of New England would
have looked upon with blended envy and astonishment.

Lexington in 1797, the year that Clay settled in it as a lawyer, was
called "the intellectual centre of the Far West," as the Ohio valley was
then regarded. In reality it was a border-post, the inhabitants of which
were devoted to horse-racing, hunting, and whiskey-drinking, with a
sprinkling of educated people, among whom the young lawyer soon
distinguished himself,--a born orator, logical as well as rhetorical.

Clay's law practice at first was chiefly directed to the defence of
criminals, and it is said that no murderer whom he defended was ever
hanged; but he soon was equally successful in civil cases, gradually
acquiring a lucrative practice, without taking a high rank as a jurist.
He was never a close student, being too much absorbed in politics,
society, and pleasure, except on rare occasions, for which he "crammed."
His reading was desultory, and his favorite works were political
speeches, many of which he committed to memory and then declaimed, to
the delight of all who heard him. His progress at the bar must have been
remarkably rapid, since within two years he could afford to purchase six
hundred acres of land, near Lexington, and take unto himself a
wife,--domestic, thrifty, painstaking, who attended to all the details
of the farm, which he called "Ashland." As he grew in wealth, his
popularity also increased, until in all Kentucky no one was so generally
beloved as he. Yet he would not now be called opulent, and he never
became rich, since his hospitalities were disproportionate to his means,
and his living was more like that of a Virginia country gentleman than
of a hard-working lawyer.

At this time Clay was tall, erect, commanding, with long arms, small
hands, a large mouth, blue, electrical eyes, high forehead, a sanguine
temperament, excitable, easy in his manners, self-possessed, courteous,
deferential, with a voice penetrating and musical, with great command of
language, and so earnest that he impressed everybody with his blended
sincerity and kindness of heart.

The true field for such a man was politics, which Clay loved, so that
his duties and pleasures went hand in hand,--an essential thing for
great success. His first efforts were in connection with a
constitutional convention in Kentucky, when he earnestly advocated a
system of gradual emancipation of slaves,--unpopular as that idea was
among his fellow-citizens. It did not seem, however, to hurt his
political prospects, for in 1803 he was solicited to become a member of
the State legislature, and was easily elected, being a member of the
Democratic-Republican party as led by Jefferson. He made his mark at
once as an orator, and so brilliant and rapid was his legislative career
that he was elected in 1806 to the United States Senate to fill the
unexpired term, of John Adair,--being only twenty-nine years old, the
youngest man that ever sat in that body of legislators. All that could
then be said of him was that he made a good impression in the debates
and on the committees, and was a man of great promise, a favorite in
society, attending all parties of pleasure, and never at home in the
evening. On his return to Kentucky he was again elected as a member of
the lower House in the State legislature, and chosen Speaker,--an
excellent training for the larger place he was to fill. In the winter of
1809-10 he was a second time sent to the United States Senate, for two
years, to fill the unexpired term of Buckner Thurston, where he made
speeches in favor of encouraging American manufacturing industries, not
to the extent of exportation,--which he thought should be confined to
surplus farm-produce,--but enough to supply the people with clothing and
to make them independent of foreign countries for many things
unnecessarily imported. He also made himself felt on many other
important topics, and was recognized as a rising man.

When his term had expired in the Senate, he was chosen a member of the
House of Representatives at Washington,--a more agreeable field to him
than the Senate, as giving him greater scope for his peculiar eloquence.
He was promptly elected Speaker, which position, however, did not
interfere with his speech-making whenever the House went into Committee
of the Whole. It was as Speaker of the House of Representatives that
Clay drew upon himself the eyes of the nation; and his truly great
congressional career began in 1811, on the eve of the war with Great
Britain in Madison's administration.

Clay was now the most influential, and certainly the most popular man in
public life, in the whole country, which was very remarkable,
considering that he was only thirty-seven years of age. Daniel Webster
was then practising law in Portsmouth, N.H., two years before his
election to Congress, and John C. Calhoun had not yet entered the
Senate, but was chairman of the Committee of Foreign Relations in the
House of Representatives, and a warm friend of the Speaker.

The absorbing subject of national interest at that time was the
threatened war with England, which Clay did his best to bring about, and
Webster to prevent. It was Webster's Fourth-of-July Oration at
Portsmouth, in 1812, which led to his election to Congress as a
Federalist, in which oration he deprecated war. The West generally was
in favor of it, having not much to lose or to fear from a contest which
chiefly affected commerce, and which would jeopardize only New England
interests and the safety of maritime towns. Clay, who had from his first
appearance at Washington made himself a champion of American interests,
American honor, and American ideas generally, represented the popular
party, and gave his voice for war, into which the government had drifted
under pressure of the outrages inflicted by British cruisers, the
impressment of our seamen, and the contempt with which the United States
were held and spoken of on all occasions by England,--the latter an
element more offensive to none than to the independent and bellicose
settlers in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Clay is generally credited with having turned the scales in favor of the
war with Great Britain, when the United States comprised less than eight
millions of people, when the country had no navy of any account, and a
very small army without experienced officers, while Great Britain was
mistress of the seas, with an enormous army, and the leader of the
allied Powers that withstood Napoleon in Spain and Portugal. To the eyes
of the Federalists, the contest was rash, inexpedient, and doubtful in
its issues; and their views were justified by the disasters that ensued
in Canada, the incompetency of Hull, the successive defeats of American
generals with the exception of Jackson, and the final treaty of peace
without allusion to the main causes which had led to the war. But the
Republicans claimed that the war, if disastrous on the land, had been
glorious on the water; that the national honor had been vindicated; that
a navy had been created; that the impressment of American seamen was
practically ended forever; and that England had learned to treat the
great republic with outward respect as an independent, powerful, and
constantly increasing empire.

As the champion of the war, and for the brilliancy and patriotism of his
speeches, all appealing to the national heart and to national pride,
Clay stood out as the most eminent statesman of his day, with unbounded
popularity, especially in Kentucky, where to the last he retained his
hold on popular admiration and affection. His speeches on the war are
more marked for pungency of satire and bitterness of invective against
England than for moral wisdom. They are appeals to passions rather than
to reason, of great force in their day, but of not much value to
posterity. They are not read and quoted like Webster's masterpieces.
They will not compare, except in popular eloquence, with Clay's own
subsequent efforts in the Senate, when he had more maturity of
knowledge, and more insight into the principles of political economy.
But they had great influence at the time, and added to his fame as
an orator.

In the summer of 1814 Clay resigned his speakership of the House of
Representatives to accept a diplomatic mission as Peace Commissioner to
confer with commissioners from Great Britain. He had as associates John
Quincy Adams, James A. Bayard, Jonathan Russell, and Albert
Gallatin--the ablest financier in the country after the death of
Hamilton. The Commissioners met at Ghent, and spent five tedious months
in that dull city. The English commissioners at once took very high
ground, and made imperious demands,--that the territory now occupied by
the States of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and a part of Ohio
should be set apart for the Indians under an English protectorate; that
the United States should relinquish the right of keeping armed vessels
on the great Lakes; that a part of Maine should be ceded to Great
Britain to make a road from Halifax to Quebec, and that all questions
relating to the right of search, blockades, and impressment of seamen
should remain undiscussed as before the war. At these preposterous
demands Clay was especially indignant. In fact, he was opposed to any
treaty at all which should not place the United States and Great Britain
on an equality, and would not have been grieved if the war had lasted
three years longer. Adams and Gallatin had their hands full to keep the
Western lion from breaking loose and returning home in disgust, while
they desired to get the best treaty they could, rather than no treaty at
all. Gradually the British commissioners abated their demands, and gave
up all territorial and fishery claims, and on December 14, 1814,
concluded the negotiations on the basis of things before the war,--the
_status quo ante bellum_. Clay was deeply chagrined. He signed the
document with great reluctance, and always spoke of it as "a damned bad
treaty," since it made no allusion to the grievance which provoked the
war which he had so eloquently advocated.

Gallatin and Clay spent some time in Paris, and most of the ensuing
summer in London on further negotiations of details. But Clay had no
sooner returned to Lexington than he was re-elected to the national
legislature, where he was again chosen Speaker, December 4, 1815, having
declined the Russian mission, and the more tempting post of the
Secretary of War. He justly felt that his arena was the House of
Representatives, which, as well as the Senate, had a Republican
majority. It was his mission to make speeches and pull political wires,
and not perplex himself with the details of office, which required more
executive ability and better business habits than he possessed, and
which would seriously interfere with his social life. How could he play
cards all night if he was obliged to be at his office at ten o'clock in
the morning, day after day, superintending clerks, and doing work which
to him was drudgery? Much more pleasant to him was it to preside over
stormy debates, appoint important committees, write letters to friends,
and occasionally address the House in Committee of the Whole, when his
voice would sway the passions of his intelligent listeners; for he had
the power "to move to pity, and excite to rage."

Besides all this, there were questions to be discussed and settled by
Congress, important to the public, and very interesting to politicians.
The war had bequeathed a debt. To provide for its payment, taxes must be
imposed. But all taxation is unpopular. The problem was, to make taxes
as easy as possible. Should they be direct or indirect? Should they be
imposed for a revenue only, or to stimulate and protect infant
manufactures? The country was expanding; should there be national
provision for internal improvements,--roads, canals, etc.? There were
questions about the currency, about commerce, about the Indians, about
education, about foreign relations, about the territories, which
demanded the attention of Congress. The most important of these were
those connected with revenues and tariffs.

It was this latter question, connected with internal improvements and
the sales of public lands, in which Clay was most interested, and which,
more than any other, brought out and developed his genius. He is
generally quoted as "the father of the protective policy," to develop
American manufactures. The genius of Hamilton had been directed to the
best way to raise a revenue for a new and impoverished country; that of
Clay sought to secure independence of those foreign products which go so
far to enrich nations.

Webster, when reproached for his change of views respecting tariffs, is
said to have coolly remarked that when he advocated the shipping
interest he represented a great commercial city; and when he afterwards
advocated tariffs, he spoke as the representative of a manufacturing
State,--a sophistical reply which showed that he was more desirous of
popularity with his constituents than of being the advocate of
abstract truth.

Calhoun advocated the new tariff as a means to advance the cotton
interests of the South, and the defence of the country in time of war.
Thus neither of the great political leaders had in view national
interests, but only sectional, except Clay, whose policy was more
far-reaching. And here began his great career as a statesman. Before
this he was rather a politician, greedy of popularity, and desirous to
make friends.

The war of 1812 had, by shutting out foreign products, stimulated
certain manufactures difficult to import, but necessary for military
operations, like cheap clothing for soldiers, blankets, gunpowder, and
certain other articles for general use, especially such as are made of
iron. When the war closed and the ports opened, the country received a
great inflow of British products. Hence the tariff of 1816, the earliest
for protection, imposed a tax of about thirty-five per cent on articles
for which the home industry was unable to supply the demand, and twenty
per cent on coarse fabrics of cotton and wool, distilled spirits, and
iron; while those industries which were in small demand were admitted
free or paid a mere revenue tax. This tariff, substantially proposed by
George M. Dallas, Secretary of the Treasury, was ably supported by Clay.
But his mind was not yet fully opened to the magnitude and consequences
of this measure,--his chief arguments being based on the safety of the
country in time of war. In this movement he joined hands with Calhoun,
one of his warmest friends, and one from whose greater logical genius he
perhaps drew his conclusions.

At that time party lines were not distinctly drawn. The old Federalists
had lost their prestige and power. The Republicans were in a great
majority; even John Quincy Adams and his friends swelled their ranks
Jefferson had lost much of his interest in politics, and was cultivating
his estates and building up the University of Virginia. Madison was
anticipating the pleasures of private life, and Monroe, a plain,
noncommittal man, the last of "the Virginia dynasty," thought only of
following the footsteps of his illustrious predecessors, and living in
peace with all men.

The next important movement in Congress was in reference to the charter
of the newly proposed second United States Bank, and in this the great
influence of Clay was felt. He was in favor of it, as a necessity, in
view of the miserable state of the finances, the suspension of specie
payments, and the multiplication of State banks. In the earlier part of
his career, in 1811, he had opposed a recharter of Hamilton's National
Bank as a dangerous money-corporation, and withal unconstitutional on
the ground that the general government had no power to charter
companies. All this was in accordance with Western democracy, ever
jealous of the money-power, and the theorizing proclivities of
Jefferson, who pretended to hate everything which was supported in the
old country. But with advancing light and the experience of depreciated
currency from the multiplication of State banks, Clay had changed his
views, exposing himself to the charge of inconsistency; which, however,
he met with engaging candor, claiming rather credit for his ability and
willingness to see the change of public needs. He now therefore
supported the bill of Calhoun, which created a national bank with a
capital of thirty-five million dollars, substantially such as was
proposed by Hamilton. The charter was finally given in April, 1816, to
run for twenty years.

Doubtless such a great money-corporation--great for those times--did
wield a political influence, and it might have been better if the Bank
had been chartered with a smaller capital. It would have created fewer
enemies, and might have escaped the future wrath of General Jackson.
Webster at first opposed the bill of Calhoun; but when it was afterwards
seen that the Bank as created as an advantage to the country, he became
one of its strongest supporters. Webster was strongly conservative by
nature; but when anything was established, like Lord Thurlow he ceased
all opposition, especially if it worked well.

In 1816 James Monroe was elected President, and Clay expected to be made
Secretary of State, as a step to the presidency, which he now ardently
desired. But he was disappointed, John Quincy Adams being chosen by
Monroe as Secretary of State. Monroe offered to Clay the mission to
England and the Department of War, both of which he declined, preferring
the speakership, to which he was almost unanimously re-elected. Here
Clay brought his influence to bear, in opposition to the views of the
administration, to promote internal improvements to which some objected
on constitutional grounds, but which he defended both as a statesman and
a Western man. The result was a debate, ending in a resolution "that
Congress has power under the Constitution to appropriate money for the
construction of post roads, military and other roads, and of canals for
the improvement of water-courses."

Meanwhile a subject of far greater interest called out the best energies
of Mr. Clay,--the beginning of a memorable struggle, even the agitation
of the Slavery question, which was not to end until all the slaves in
the United States were emancipated by a single stroke of Abraham
Lincoln's pen. So long as the products of slave labor were unprofitable,
through the exhaustion of the tobacco-fields, there was a sort of
sentimental philanthropy among disinterested Southern men tending to a
partial emancipation; but when the cotton gin (invented in 1793) had
trebled the value of slaves, and the breeding of them became a
profitable industry, the philanthropy of the planters vanished. The
English demand for American cotton grew rapidly, and in 1813 Francis C.
Lowell established cotton manufactures in New England, so that cotton
leaped into great importance. Thus the South had now become jealous of
interference with its "favorite institution."

In an address in Manchester, England, October, 1863,--the first of that
tremendous series of mob-controlling speeches with which Henry Ward
Beecher put a check on the English government by convincing the English
people of the righteousness of the Federal cause during our Civil
War,--that "minister-plenipotentiary," as Oliver Wendell Holmes called
him, gave a witty summary of this change. After showing that the great
Fathers of Revolutionary times, and notably the great Southerners, were
antislavery men; that the first abolition society was formed in the
Middle and Border States, and not in the Northeast; and that
emancipation was enacted by the Eastern and Middle States as a natural
consequence of the growth of that sentiment, the orator said:--

"What was it, then, when the country had advanced so far towards
universal emancipation in the period of our national formation, that
stopped this onward tide? First, the wonderful demand for cotton
throughout the world, precisely when, from the invention of the cotton
gin, it became easy to turn it to service. Slaves that before had been
worth from three to four hundred dollars began to be worth six hundred
dollars. That knocked away one third of adherence to the moral law. Then
they became worth seven hundred dollars, and half the law went; then,
eight or nine hundred dollars, and there was no such thing as moral law;
then, one thousand or twelve hundred dollars,--and slavery became one of
the Beatitudes."

Therefore, when in 1818 the territory of Missouri applied for admission
to the Union as a State, the South was greatly excited by the
proposition from Mr. Tallmadge, of New York, that its admission should
be conditioned upon the prohibition of slavery within its limits. It was
a revelation to the people of the North that so bitter a feeling should
be aroused by opposition to the extension of an acknowledged evil, which
had been abolished in all their own States. The Southern leaders, on
their side, maintained that Congress could not, under the Constitution,
legislate on such a subject,--that it was a matter for the States alone
to decide; and that slavery was essential to the prosperity of the
Southern States, as white men could not labor in the cotton and rice
fields. The Northern orators maintained that not only had the right of
Congress to exclude slavery from the Territories been generally
admitted, but that it was a demoralizing institution and more injurious
to the whites even than to the blacks. The Southern leaders became
furiously agitated, and threatened to secede from the Union rather than
submit to Northern dictation; while at the North the State legislatures
demanded the exclusion of slaves from Missouri.

Carl Schurz, in his admirable life of Clay, makes a pertinent summary:
"The slaveholders watched with apprehension the steady growth of the
Free States in population, wealth, and power.... As the slaveholders
had no longer the ultimate extinction, but now the perpetuation, of
slavery in view, the question of sectional power became one of first
importance to them, and with it the necessity of having more slave
States for the purpose of maintaining the political equilibrium, at
least in the Senate. A struggle for more slave States was to them a
struggle for life."

Thus the two elements of commercial profit and political power were
involved in the struggle of the South for the maintenance and extension
of slavery.

The House of Representatives in 1819 adopted the Missouri bill with the
amendment restricting slavery, but the Senate did not concur; and
Alabama was admitted as a Territory without slavery restriction. In the
next Congress Missouri was again introduced, but the antislavery
amendment was voted down. In 1820 Mr. Thomas, a senator from Illinois,
proposed, as a mutual concession, that Missouri should be admitted
without restriction, but that in all that part of the territory outside
that State ceded by France to the United States, north of the latitude
of 36° 30' (the southern boundary of Missouri), slaves should thereafter
be excluded; and this bill was finally passed March 2,1820. Mr. Clay is
credited with being the father of this compromise, but, according to Mr.
Schurz, he did not deserve the honor. He adopted it, however, and
advocated it with so much eloquence and power that it owed its success
largely to his efforts, and therefore it is still generally ascribed
to him.

At that time no statesmen, North or South, had fully grasped the slavery
question. Even Mr. Calhoun once seemed to have no doubt as to the
authority of Congress to exclude slavery from the Territories, but he
was decided enough in his opposition when he saw that it involved an
irreconcilable conflict of interests,--that slavery and freedom are
antagonistic ideas, concerning which there can be no genuine compromise.
"There may be compromises," says Von Holst, "with regard to measures,
but never between principles." And slavery, when the Missouri Compromise
was started, was looked upon as a measure rather than as a principle,
concerning which few statesmen had thought deeply. As the agitation
increased, measures were lost sight of in principles.

The compromise by which Missouri was admitted as a slave State, while
slavery should be excluded from all territory outside of it north of 36°
30', was a temporary measure of expediency, and at that period was
probably a wise one; since, if slavery had been excluded from Missouri,
there might have been a dissolution of the Union. The preservation of
the Union was the dearest object to the heart of Clay, who was
genuinely and thoroughly patriotic. Herein he doubtless rendered a great
public service, and proved himself to be a broad-minded statesman. To
effect this compromise Clay had put forth all his energies, not only in
eloquent speeches and tireless labors in committees and a series of
parliamentary devices for harmonizing the strife, but in innumerable
interviews with individuals.

In 1820, Clay retired to private life in order to retrieve his fortunes
by practice at the bar. Few men without either a professional or a
private income can afford a long-continued public service. Although the
members of Congress were paid, the pay was not large enough,--only eight
dollars a day at that time. But Clay's interval of rest was soon cut
short. In three years he was again elected to the House of
Representatives, and in December, 1823, was promptly chosen Speaker by a
large majority. He had now recovered his popularity, and was generally
spoken of as "the great pacificator."

In Congress his voice was heard again in defence of internal
improvements,--the making of roads and canals,--President Monroe having
vetoed a bill favoring them on the ground that it was unconstitutional
for Congress to vote money for them. Clay, however, succeeded in
inducing Congress to make an appropriation for a survey of such roads as
might be deemed of national importance, which Mr. Monroe did not
oppose. It was ever of vital necessity, in the eyes of Mr. Clay, to open
up the West to settlers from the East, and he gloried in the prospect of
the indefinite expanse of the country even to the Pacific ocean. "Sir,"
said he, in the debate on this question, "it is a subject of peculiar
delight to me to look forward to the proud and happy period, distant as
it may be, when circulation and association between the Atlantic and the
Pacific and the Mexican Gulf shall be as free and perfect as they are at
this moment in England, the most highly improved country on the globe.
Sir, a new world has come into being since the Constitution was
adopted.... Are we to neglect and refuse the redemption of that vast
wilderness which once stretched unbroken beyond the Alleghany?" In these
views he proved himself one of the most far-sighted statesmen that had
as yet appeared in Congress,--a typical Western man of enthusiasm and
boundless hope.

Not less enthusiastic was he in his open expressions of sympathy with
the Greek struggle for liberty; as was the case also with Daniel
Webster,--both advocating relief to the Greeks, not merely from
sentiment, but to strike a blow at the "Holy Alliance" of European
kingdoms, then bent on extinguishing liberty in every country in Europe.
Clay's noble speech in defence of the Greeks was not, however, received
with unanimous admiration, since many members of Congress were fearful
of entangling the United States in European disputes and wars; and the
movement came to naught.

Then followed the great debates which led to the famous tariff of 1824,
in which Mr. Clay, although Speaker of the House, took a prominent part
in Committee of the Whole, advocating an increase of duties for the
protection of American manufactures of iron, hemp, glass, lead, wool,
woollen and cotton goods, while duties on importations which did not
interfere with American manufactures were to be left on a mere revenue
basis. This tariff had become necessary, as he thought, in view of the
prevailing distress produced by dependence on foreign markets. He would
provide a home consumption for American manufactures, and thus develop
home industries, which could be done only by imposing import taxes that
should "protect" them against foreign competition. His speech on what he
called the "American System" was one of the most elaborate he ever made,
and Mr. Carl Schurz says of it that "his skill of statement, his
ingenuity in the grouping of facts and principles, his plausibility of
reasoning, his brilliant imagination, the fervor of his diction, the
warm patriotic tone of his appeals" presented "the arguments which were
current among high-tariff men then and which remain so still;" while,
on the other hand, "his superficial research, his habit of satisfying
himself with half-knowledge, and his disinclination to reason out
propositions logically in all their consequences" gave incompleteness to
his otherwise brilliant effort. It made a great impression in spite of
its weak points, and called out in opposition the extraordinary
abilities of Daniel Webster, through whose massive sentences appeared
his "superiority in keenness of analysis, in logical reasoning, in
extent and accuracy of knowledge, in reach of thought and mastery of
fundamental principles," over all the other speakers of the day. And
this speech of. Mr. Webster's stands unanswered, notwithstanding the
opposite views he himself maintained four years afterwards, when he
spoke again on the tariff, but representing manufacturing interests
rather than those of shipping and commerce, advocating expediency rather
than abstract principles the truth of which cannot be gainsaid. The bill
as supported by Mr. Clay passed by a small majority, the members from
the South generally voting against it.

After the tariff of 1824 the New England States went extensively into
manufacturing, and the Middle States also. The protective idea had
become popular in the North, and, under strong protests from the
agricultural South, in 1828 a new tariff bill was enacted, largely on
the principle of giving more protection to every interest that asked
for it. This, called by its opponents "the tariff of abominations," was
passed while Clay was Secretary of State; the discontent under it was to
give rise to Southern Nullification, and to afford Clay another
opportunity to act as "pacificator." All this tariff war is set forth in
clear detail in Professor Sumner's "Life of Jackson."

This question of tariffs has, for seventy years now, been the great
issue, next to slavery, between the North and South. More debates have
taken place on this question than on any other in our Congressional
history, and it still remains unsettled, like most other questions of
political economy. The warfare has been constant and uninterrupted
between those who argue subjects from abstract truths and those who look
at local interests, and maintain that all political questions should be
determined by circumstances. When it seemed to be the interest of Great
Britain to advocate protection for her varied products, protection was
the policy of the government; when it became evidently for her interest
to defend free trade, then free trade became the law of Parliament.

On abstract grounds there is little dispute on the question: if all the
world acted on the principles of free trade, protection would be
indefensible. Practically, it is a matter of local interest: it is the
interest of New England to secure protection for its varied industries
and to secure free raw materials for manufacture; it is the interest of
agricultural States to buy wares in the cheapest market and to seek
foreign markets for their surplus breadstuffs. The question, however, on
broad grounds is whether protection is or is not for the interest of the
whole country; and on that point there are differences of opinion among
both politicians and statesmen. Formerly, few discussed the subject on
abstract principles except college professors and doctrinaires; but it
is a most momentous subject from a material point of view, and the great
scale on which protection has been tried in America since the Civil War
has produced a multiplicity of consequences--industrial and
economic--which have set up wide-spread discussions of both principles
and practical applications. How it will be finally settled, no one can
predict; perhaps through a series of compromises, with ever lessening
restriction, until the millennial dream of universal free trade shall
become practicable. Protection has good points and bad ones. While it
stimulates manufactures, it also creates monopolies and widens the
distinctions between the rich and the poor. Disproportionate fortunes
were one of the principal causes of the fall of the Roman Empire, and
are a grave danger to our modern civilization.

But then it is difficult to point out any period in the history of
civilization when disproportionate fortunes did not exist, except in
primitive agricultural States in the enjoyment of personal liberty, like
Switzerland and New England one hundred years ago. They certainly
existed in feudal Europe as they do in England to-day. The great cotton
lords are feudal barons under another name. Where money is worshipped
there will be money-aristocrats, who in vulgar pride and power rival the
worst specimens of an hereditary nobility. There is really little that
is new in human organizations,--little that Solomon and Aristotle had
not learned. When we go to the foundation of society it is the same
story, in all ages and countries. Most that is new is superficial and
transitory. The permanent is eternally based on the certitudes of life,
which are moral and intellectual rather than mechanical and material.
Whatever promotes these certitudes is the highest political wisdom.

We now turn to contemplate the beginnings of Mr. Clay's aspirations to
the presidency, which from this time never left him until he had one
foot in the grave. As a successful, popular, and ambitious man who had
already rendered important services, we cannot wonder that he sought the
envied prize. Who in the nation was more eminent than he? But such a
consummation of ambition is not attained by merit alone. He had enemies,
and he had powerful rivals.

In 1824 John Quincy Adams, as Monroe's Secretary of State, was in the
line of promotion,--a statesman of experience and abilities, the
superior of Clay in learning, who had spent his life in the public
service, and in honorable positions, especially as a foreign minister.
He belonged to the reigning party and was the choice of New England.
Moreover he had the prestige of a great name. He was, it is true, far
from popular, was cold and severe in manners, and irritable in
temperament; but he was public-spirited, patriotic, incorruptible, lofty
in sentiment, and unstained by vices.

Andrew Jackson was also a formidable competitor,--a military hero, the
idol of the West, and a man of extraordinary force of character, with
undoubted executive abilities, but without much experience in civil
affairs, self-willed, despotic in temper, and unscrupulous. Crawford, of
Georgia, Secretary of the Treasury, with great Southern prestige, and an
adroit politician, was also a candidate. Superior to all these
candidates in political genius was Calhoun of South Carolina, not yet so
prominent as he afterwards became.

The popular choice in 1824 lay between Jackson and Adams, and as no
candidate obtained a majority of the electoral votes, the election
reverted to the House of Representatives, and Adams was chosen, much to
the chagrin of Jackson, who had the largest number of popular votes, and
the disappointment of Clay, who did not attempt to conceal it. When the
latter saw that his own chances were small, however, he had thrown his
influence in favor of Adams, securing his election, and became his
Secretary of State. Jackson was indignant, as he felt he had been robbed
of the prize by a secret bargain, or coalition, between Clay and Adams.
In retiring from the speakership of the House, which he had held so
long, Clay received the formal and hearty thanks of that body for his
undeniably distinguished services as presiding officer. In knowledge of
parliamentary law and tactics, in prompt decisions,--never once
overruled in all his long career,--in fairness, courtesy, self-command,
and control of the House at the stormiest times, he certainly never had
a superior. Friends and enemies alike recognized and cordially expressed
their sense of his masterly abilities.

The administration of Adams was not eventful, but to his credit he made
only four removals from office during his term of service, and these for
good cause; he followed out the policy of his predecessors, even under
pressure from his cabinet refusing to recognize either friends or
enemies as such, but simply holding public officers to their duty. So,
too, in his foreign policy, which was conservative and prudent, and free
from entangling alliances, at a time when the struggle for independence
among the South American republics presented an occasion for
interference, and when the debates on the Panama mission--a proposed
council of South and Central American republics at Panama, to which the
United States were invited to send representatives--were embarrassing to
the Executive.

The services of Mr. Clay as Secretary of State were not distinguished.
He made a number of satisfactory treaties with foreign powers, and
exhibited great catholicity of mind; but he was embroiled in quarrels
and disputes anything but glorious, and he further found his situation
irksome. His field was the legislature; as an executive officer he was
out of place. It may be doubted whether he would have made as good a
President as many inferior politicians. He detested office labor, and
was sensitive to hostile criticism. His acceptance of the office of
Secretary of State was probably a blunder, as his appointment was
(though unjustly) thought by many to be in fulfilment of a bargain, and
it did not advance his popularity. He was subject to slanders and
misrepresentations. The secretaryship, instead of being a step to the
presidency, was thus rather an impediment in his way. It was not even a
position of as much power as the speakership. It gave him no excitement,
and did not keep him before the eyes of the people. His health failed.
He even thought of resignation.

The supporters of the Adams administration, those who more and more
came to rank themselves as promoters of tariffs and internal
improvements, with liberal views as to the constitutional powers of the
national government, gradually consolidated in opposition to the party
headed by Jackson. The former called themselves National Republicans,
and the latter, Democratic Republicans. During the Jacksonian
administrations they became known more simply as Whigs and Democrats.

On the accession of General Jackson to the presidency in 1829, Mr. Clay
retired to his farm at Ashland; but while he amused himself by raising
fine cattle and horses, and straightening out his embarrassed finances,
he was still the recognized leader of the National Republican party. He
was then fifty-two years of age, at his very best and strongest period.
He took more interest in politics than in agriculture or in literary
matters. He was not a learned man, nor a great reader, but a close
observer of men and of all political movements. He was a great favorite,
and received perpetual ovations whenever he travelled, always ready to
make speeches at public meetings, which were undoubtedly eloquent and
instructive, but not masterpieces like those of Webster at Plymouth and
Bunker Hill. They were not rich in fundamental principles of government
and political science, and far from being elaborate, but were earnest,
patriotic, and impassioned. Clay was fearless, ingenuous, and chivalric,
and won the hearts of the people, which Webster failed to do. Both were
great debaters, the one appealing to the understanding, and the other to
popular sentiments. Webster was cold, massive, logical, although
occasionally illuminating his argument with a grand glow of
eloquence,--the admiration of lawyers and clergymen. Clay was the
delight of the common people,--impulsive, electrical, brilliant, calling
out the sympathies of his hearers, and captivating them by his obvious
sincerity and frankness,--not so much convincing them as moving them and
stimulating them to action. Webster rarely lost his temper, but he could
be terribly sarcastic, harsh, and even fierce. Clay was passionate and
irritable, but forgiving and generous, loath to lose a friend and eager
for popularity; Webster seemed indifferent to applause, and even to
ordinary friendship, proud, and self-sustained. Clay was vain and
susceptible to flattery. No stranger could approach Webster, but Clay
was as accessible as a primitive bishop. New England was proud of
Webster, but the West loved Clay. Kentucky would follow her favorite to
the last, whatever mistakes he might make, but Massachusetts deserted
Webster when he failed to respond to her popular convictions. Both men
were disappointed in the prize they sought: one because he was not
loved by the people, colossal as they admitted him to be,--a frowning
Jupiter Tonans absorbed in his own majesty; the other because he had
incurred the hatred of Jackson and other party chiefs who were envious
of his popularity, and fearful of his ascendency.

The hatred which Clay and Jackson had for each other was inexorable. It
steeped them both in bitterness and uncompromising opposition. They were
rivals,--the heads of their respective parties. Clay regarded Jackson as
an ignorant, despotic, unscrupulous military chieftain, who had been
raised to power by the blind adoration of military success; while
Jackson looked upon Clay as an intriguing politician, without honesty,
industry, or consistency, gifted only in speech-making. Their quarrels
and mutual abuse formed no small part of the political history of the
country during Jackson's administration, and have received from
historians more attention than they deserved. Mr. Colton takes up about
one half of his first volume of the "Life of Clay" in dismal documents
which few care about, relating to what he calls the "Great Conspiracy,"
that is, the intrigues of politicians to rob Clay of his rights,--the
miserable party warfare which raged so furiously and blindly from 1825
to 1836. I need not here dwell on the contentions and slanders and
hatreds which were so prominent at the time the two great national
parties were formed, and which divided the country until the Civil War.

The most notable portion of Henry Clay's life was his great career as
Senator in Congress, which he entered in December, 1831, two years after
the inauguration of President Jackson. The first subject of national
importance to which he gave his attention was the one with which his
name and fame are mostly identified,--the tariff, to a moderate form of
which the President in 1829 had announced himself to be favorable, but
which he afterwards more and more opposed, on the ground that the
revenues already produced were in excess of the needs of the government.
The subject was ably discussed,--first, in a resolution introduced by
Senator Clay declarative of principles involving some reduction of
duties on articles that did not compete with American industries, but
maintaining generally the "American System" successfully introduced by
him in the tariff of 1824; and then, in a bill framed in accordance with
the resolution,--both of which were passed in 1832.

Clay's speeches on this tariff of 1832 were among the strongest and
ablest he ever delivered. Indeed, he apparently exhausted his subject.
Little has been added by political economists to the arguments for
protection since his day. His main points were: that it was beneficial
to all parts of the Union, and absolutely necessary to much the largest
portion; that the price of cotton and of other agricultural products had
been sustained and a decline averted, by the protective system; that
even if the foreign demand for cotton had been diminished by the
operation of this system (the plea of the Southern leaders), the
diminution had been more than compensated in the additional demand
created at home; that the competition produced by the system reduces the
price of manufactured articles,--for which he adduced his facts; and
finally that the policy of free trade, without benefiting any section of
the Union, would, by subjecting us to foreign legislation, regulated by
foreign interests, lead to the prostration and ruin of our

It must be remembered that this speech was made in 1832, before our
manufactures--really "infant industries"--could compete successfully
with foreigners in anything. At the present time there are many
interests which need no protection at all, and the protection of these
interests, as a matter of course, fosters monopolies. And hence, the
progress which is continually being made in manufactures, enabling this
country to be independent of foreign industries, makes protective duties
on many articles undesirable now which were expedient and even necessary
sixty years ago,--an illustration of the fallacy of tariffs founded on
immutable principles, when they are simply matters of expediency
according to the changing interests of nations.

We have already, in the lecture on Jackson, described the Nullification
episode, with the threatening protests against the tariff of 1828 and
its amendments of 1832; Jackson's prompt action; and Clay's patriotic
and earnest efforts resulting in the Compromise Tariff of March, 1833.
By this bill duties were to be gradually reduced from 25 per cent _ad
valorem_ to 20 per cent. Mr. Webster was not altogether satisfied, nor
were the extreme tariff men, who would have run the risks of the
threatened nullification by South Carolina. It proved, however, a
popular measure, and did much to tranquillize the nation; yet it did not
wholly satisfy the South, nor any extreme partisans, as compromises
seldom do, and Clay lost many friends in consequence, a result which he
anticipated and manfully met. It led to one of his finest bursts of

"I have," said he, "been accused of ambition in presenting this measure.
Ambition! inordinate ambition! Low, grovelling souls who are utterly
incapable of elevating themselves to the higher and nobler duties of
pure patriotism--beings who, forever keeping their own selfish aims in
view, decide all public measures by their presumed influence on their
own aggrandizement--judge me by the venal rule which they prescribe for
themselves. I am no candidate for any office in the gift of these
States, united or separated. I never wish, never expect to be. Pass this
bill, tranquillize the country, restore confidence and affection for
the Union, and I am willing to go to Ashland and renounce public service
forever. Yes, I have ambition, but it is the ambition of being the
humble instrument in the hands of Providence to reconcile a divided
people, once more to revive concord and harmony in a distracted
land,--the pleasing ambition of contemplating the glorious spectacle of
a free, united, prosperous, and fraternal people."

The policy which Mr. Clay advocated with so much ability during the
whole of his congressional life was that manufactures, as well as the
culture of rice, tobacco, and cotton, would enrich this country, and
therefore ought to be fostered and protected by Congress, whatever Mr.
Hayne or Mr. Calhoun should say to the contrary, or even General Jackson
himself, whose sympathies were with the South, and consequently with
slavery. Therefore Clay is called the father of the American System,--he
was the advocate, not of any local interests, but the interests of the
country as a whole, thus establishing his claim to be a statesman rather
than a politician who never looks beyond local and transient interests,
and is especially subservient to party dictation. The Southern
politicians may not have wished to root out manufacturing altogether,
but it was their policy to keep the agricultural interests in the

Soon after the close of the session of the Twenty-Second Congress, Mr.
Clay, on his return to Ashland, put into execution a project he had long
contemplated of visiting the Eastern cities. At that period even an
excursion of one thousand miles was a serious affair, and attended with
great discomfort. Wherever Mr. Clay went he was received with
enthusiasm. Receptions, public dinners, and fêtes succeeded each other
in all the principal cities. In Baltimore, in Wilmington, and in
Philadelphia, he was entertained at balls and banquets. In New York he
was the guest of the city and was visited by thousands eager to shake
his hand. The company controlling the line between New York and Boston
tendered to him the use of one of their fine steamers to Rhode Island,
where every social honor was publicly given him. In Boston he was
welcomed by a committee of forty, in behalf of the young men, headed by
Mr. Winthrop, and was received by a committee of old men, when he was
eloquently addressed by Mr. William Sullivan, and was subsequently
waited upon by the mayor and aldermen of the city. Deputations from
Portland and Portsmouth besought the honor of a visit. At Charlestown,
on Bunker Hill Edward Everett welcomed him in behalf of the city, and
pronounced one of his felicitous speeches. At Faneuil Hall a delegation
of young men presented him with a pair of silver pitchers. He was even
dragged to lyceum lectures during the two weeks he remained in Boston.
He thence proceeded amid public demonstrations to Worcester,
Springfield, Hartford, Northampton, Pittsfield, Troy, Albany, and back
again to New York. The carriage-makers of Newark begged his acceptance
of one of their most costly carriages for the use of his wife. No one
except Washington, Lafayette, and General Grant ever received more
enthusiastic ovations in New England,--all in recognition of his
services as a statesman, without his having reached any higher position
than that of Senator or Secretary of State.

In such a rapid review of the career of Mr. Clay as we are obliged to
make, it is impossible to enter upon the details of political movements
and the shifting grounds of party organizations and warfare. We must
not, however, lose sight of that most characteristic element of Clay's
public life,--his perennial candidature for the presidency. We have
already seen him in 1824, when his failure was evident, throwing his
influence into the scale for John Quincy Adams. In 1828, as Adams'
Secretary of State, he could not be a rival to his chief, and so escaped
the whelming overthrow with which Jackson defeated their party. In 1832
he was an intensely popular candidate of the National Republicans,
especially the merchants and manufacturers of the North and East and the
friends of the United States Bank; but Southern hostility to his tariff
principles and the rally of "the people" in support of Jackson's war on
moneyed institutions threw him out again in notable defeat. In 1836 and
again in 1840, Clay was prominent before the Conventions of the Whig or
National Republican party, but other interests subordinated his claims
to nomination, and the election of Van Buren by the Democrats in 1836,
and of Harrison by the Whigs in 1840, kept him still in abeyance. In
1844 Clay was again the Whig candidate, the chief issue being the
admission of Texas, but he was defeated by Polk and the Democrats; and
after that the paramount slavery question pushed him aside, and he
dropped out of the race.

The bitter war which Clay made on the administration of General Jackson,
especially in reference to the United States Bank question, has already
been noticed, and although it is an important passage in his history, I
must pass it by to avoid repetition, which is always tedious. All I
would say in this connection is that Clay was foremost among the
supporters of the Bank, and opposed not only the removal of deposits but
also the sub-treasury scheme of Mr. Van Buren that followed the failure
to maintain the Bank. Some of his ablest oratory was expended in the
unsuccessful opposition to these Democratic measures.

In 1837, came the bursting of the money-bubble, which had turned
everybody's head and led to the most extravagant speculations, high
prices, high rents, and lofty expectations in all parts of the country.
This was followed of course by the commercial crisis, the general
distress, and all the evils which Clay and Webster had predicted, but to
which the government of Van Buren seemed to be indifferent while
enforcing its pet schemes, against all the settled laws of trade and the
experiences of the past. But the country was elastic after all, and a
great reaction set in. New political combinations were made to express
the general indignation against the responsible party in power, and the
Whig party arose, joined by many leading Democrats like Rives of
Virginia and Tallmadge of New York, while Calhoun went over to Van
Buren, and dissolved his alliance with Clay, which in reality for
several years had been hollow. In the presidential election of 1840 Mr.
Van Buren was defeated by an overwhelming majority, and the Whigs came
into power under the presidency of General Harrison, chosen not for
talents or services, but for his availability.

The best that can be said of Harrison is that he was an honest man. He
was a small farmer in Ohio with no definite political principles, but
had gained some military _éclat_ in the War of 1812. The presidential
campaign of 1840 is well described by Carl Schurz as "a popular frolic,"
with its "monster mass-meetings," with log-cabins, raccoons, hard
cider, with "huge picnics," and ridiculous "doggerel about 'Tippecanoe
and Tyler too.'" The reason why it called out so great enthusiasm was
frivolous enough in itself, but it expressed the popular reaction
against the misrule of Jackson and Van Buren, which had plunged the
country into financial distress, notwithstanding the general prosperity
which existed when Jackson was raised to power,--a lesson to all future
presidents who set up their own will against the collected experience
and wisdom of the leading intellects of the country.

President Harrison offered to the great chieftain of the Whig party the
first place in his cabinet, which he declined, preferring his senatorial
dignity and power. Besides, he had been Secretary of State under John
Quincy Adams and found the office irksome. He knew full well that his
true arena was the Senate Chamber,--which also was most favorable to his
presidential aspirations. But Webster was induced to take the office
declined by Clay, having for his associates in the cabinet such able men
as Ewing, Badger, Bell, Crittenden, and Granger.

Mr. Clay had lost no time, when Congress assembled in December, 1840, in
offering a resolution for the repeal of the sub-treasury act; but as the
Democrats had still a majority in the Senate the resolution failed.
When the next Congress assembled, General Harrison having lived only one
month after his inauguration and the Vice-president, John Tyler, having
succeeded him, the sub-treasury act was repealed; but the President
refused to give his signature to the bill for the re-charter of the
United States Bank, to the dismay of the Whigs, and the deep
disappointment of Clay, who at once severed his alliance with Tyler, and
became his bitter opponent, carrying with him the cabinet, which
resigned, with the exception of Webster, who was engaged in important
negotiations in reference to the northeastern boundary. The new cabinet
was made up of Tyler's personal friends, who had been Jackson Democrats,
and the fruits of the great Whig victory were therefore in a measure
lost. The Democratic party gradually regained its ascendency, which it
retained with a brief interval till the election of Abraham Lincoln.

A question greater than banks and tariffs, if moral questions are
greater than material ones, now began again to be discussed in Congress,
ending only in civil war. This was the slavery question. I have already
spoken of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which Mr. Clay has the chief
credit of effecting, but the time now came for him to meet the question
on other grounds. The abolitionists, through the constant growth of the
antislavery sentiment throughout the North, had become a power, and
demanded that slavery should be abolished in the District of Columbia.

And here again I feel it best to defer what I have to say on antislavery
agitation to the next lecture, especially as Clay was mixed up in it
only by his attempt to pour oil on the troubled waters. He himself was a
Southerner, and was not supposed to take a leading part in the conflict,
although opposed to slavery on philanthropic grounds. Without being an
abolitionist, he dreaded the extension of the slave-power; yet as he
wished to be President he was afraid of losing votes, and did not wish
to alienate either the North or the South. But for his inordinate desire
for the presidential office he might have been a leader in the
antislavery movement. All his sympathies were with freedom. He took the
deepest interest in colonization, and was president of the Colonization
Society, which had for its aim the sending of manumitted negroes
to Liberia.

The question of the annexation of Texas, forced to the front in the
interest of the slaveholding States, united the Democrats and elected
James K. Polk President in 1844; while Clay and the Whig Party, who
confidently expected success, lost the election by reason of the growth
of the Antislavery or Liberty party which cast a large vote in New
York,--the pivotal State, without whose support in the Electoral College
the carrying of the other Northern States went for nought. The Mexican
War followed; and in 1846 David Wilmot of Pennsylvania moved an
amendment to a bill appropriating $2,000,000 for final negotiations,
providing that in all territories acquired from Mexico slavery should be
prohibited. The Wilmot Proviso was lost, but arose during the next four
years, again and again, in different forms, but always as the standard
of the antislavery Northerners.

When the antislavery agitation had reached an alarming extent, and
threatened to drive the South into secession from the Union, Clay
appeared once again in his great role as a pacificator. To preserve the
Union was the dearest object of his public life. He would by a timely
concession avert the catastrophe which the Southern leaders threatened,
and he probably warded off the inevitable combat when, in 1850, he made
his great speech, in favor of sacrificing the Wilmot Proviso, and
enacting a more stringent fugitive-slave law.

In 1848, embittered by having been set aside as the nominee of the Whig
party for the presidency in favor of General Taylor, one of the
successful military chieftains in the Mexican War,--who as a Southern
man, with no political principles or enemies, was thought to be more
"available,"--Clay had retired from the Senate, and for a year had
remained at Ashland, nominally and avowedly "out of politics," but
intensely interested, and writing letters about the new slavery
complications. In December, 1849, he was returned to the Senate, and
inevitably became again one of the foremost in all the debates.

When the conflict had grown hot and fierce, in January, 1850, Clay
introduced a bill for harmonizing all interests. As to the disputed
question of slavery in the new territory, he would pacify the North by
admitting California as a free State, and abolishing slavery and the
slave-trade in the District of Columbia; while the South was to be
placated by leaving Utah and New Mexico unrestricted as to slavery, and
by a more efficient law for the pursuit and capture of fugitive slaves.
His speech occupied two days, delivered in great physical exhaustion,
and was "an appeal to the North for concession and to the South for
peace." Like Webster, who followed with his renowned "Seventh-of-March
speech" and who alienated Massachusetts because he did not go far enough
for freedom, Clay showed that there could be no peaceable secession,
that secession meant war, and that it would be war to propagate a wrong,
in which the sympathy of all mankind would be against us.

Calhoun followed, defending the interests of slavery, which he called
"the rights of the South," though too weak to deliver his speech, which
was read for him. He clearly saw the issue,--that slavery was doomed if
the Union were preserved,--and therefore welcomed war before the North
should be prepared for it. It was the South Carolinian's last great
effort in the Senate, for the hand of death was upon him. He realized
that if the South did not resist and put down agitation on the slavery
question, the cause would be lost. It was already virtually lost, since
the conflict between freedom and slavery was manifestly irrepressible,
and would come in spite of concessions, which only put off the evil day.

On the 11th of March Seward, of New York, now becoming prominent in the
Senate, spoke, deprecating all compromise on a matter of principle, and
declaring that there was a "higher law than the Constitution itself." He
therefore would at least prevent the extension of slavery by any means
in the power of Congress, on the ground of moral right, not of political
expediency, undismayed by all the threats of secession. Two weeks
afterward Chase of Ohio took the same ground as Seward. From that time
Seward and Chase supplanted Webster and Clay in the confidence of the
North, on all antislavery questions.

After seven months of acrimonious debate in both houses of Congress and
during a session of extraordinary length, the compromise measures of
Clay were substantially passed,--a truce rather than a peace, which put
off the dreadful issue for eleven years longer. It was the best thing
to do, for the South was in deadly earnest, exceedingly exasperated, and
blinded. A war in 1851 would have had uncertain issues, with such a man
as Fillmore in the presidential chair, to which he had succeeded on the
death of Taylor. He was a most respectable man and of fair abilities,
but not of sufficient force and character to guide the nation. It was
better to submit for a while to the Fugitive Slave Law than drive the
South out of the Union, with the logical consequences of the separation.
But the abolitionists had no idea of submitting to a law which was
inhuman, even to pacify the South, and the law was resisted in Boston,
which again kindled the smothered flames, to the great disappointment
and alarm of Clay, for he thought that his compromise bill had settled
the existing difficulties.

In the meantime the health of the great pacificator began to decline. He
was forced by a threatening and distressing cough to seek the air of
Cuba, which did him no good. He was obliged to decline an invitation of
the citizens of New York to address them on the affairs of the nation,
but wrote a long letter instead, addressed more to the South than to the
North, for he more than any other man, saw the impending dangers.
Although there was a large majority at the South in favor of Union, yet
the minority had become furious, and comprised the ablest leaders,
concerning whose intention such men as Seward and Chase and John P.
Hale were sceptical. In the ferment of excited passions it is not safe
to calculate on men's acting according to reason. It is wiser to predict
that they will act against reason. Here Clay was wiser in his anxiety
than the Northern statesmen generally, who thought there would be peace
because it was reasonable.

Clay did not live to see all compromises thrown to the winds. He died
June 29, 1852, in the seventy-sixth year of his age, at the National
Hotel in Washington. Imposing funeral ceremonies took place amid general
lamentation, and the whole country responded with glowing eulogies.

I have omitted allusion to other speeches which the great statesman made
in his long public career, and have presented only the salient points of
his life, in which his parliamentary eloquence blazed with the greatest
heat; for he was the greatest orator, in general estimation, that this
country has produced, although inferior to Webster in massive power, in
purity of style, in weight of argument, and breadth of knowledge. To my
mind his speeches are diffuse and exaggerated, and wanting in
simplicity. But what reads the best is not always the most effective in
debate. Certainly no American orator approached him in electrical power.
No one had more devoted friends. No one was more generally beloved. No
one had greater experience, or rendered more valuable public services.

And yet he failed to reach the presidency, to which for thirty years he
had aspired, and which at times seemed within his grasp. He had made
powerful enemies, especially in Jackson and his partisans, and
politicians dreaded his ascendency, and feared that as President he
would be dictatorial, though not perhaps arbitrary like Jackson. He
would have been a happier man if he had not so eagerly coveted a prize
which it seems is unattainable by mere force of intellect, and is often
conferred apparently by accidental circumstances. It is too high an
office to be sought, either by genius or services, except in the
military line; but even General Scott, the real hero of the Mexican war,
failed in his ambitious aspirations, as well as Webster, Clay, Calhoun,
Benton, Seward, Chase, and Douglas, while less prominent men were
selected, and probably ever will be. This may be looked at as a rebuke
to political ambition, which ought to be satisfied with the fame
conferred by genius rather than that of place, which never yet made a
man really great. The presidency would have added nothing to the glory
which Clay won in the Congress of the United States. It certainly added
nothing to the fame of Grant, which was won on the battlefield, and it
detracted from that of Jackson. And yet Clay felt keenly the
disappointment, that with all his talents and services, weaker men were
preferred to him.

Aside from the weakness of Clay in attempting to grasp a phantom, his
character stands out in an interesting light on the whole. He had his
faults and failings which did not interfere with his ambition, and great
and noble traits which more than balanced them, the most marked of which
was the patriotism whose fire never went out. If any man ever loved his
country, and devoted all the energies of his mind and soul to promote
its welfare and secure its lasting union, that man was the illustrious
Senator from Kentucky, whose eloquent pleadings were household words for
nearly half a century throughout the length and breadth of the land.
With him there was no East, no West, no North, and no South, to be
especially favored or served, but the whole country, one and indivisible
for ages to come. And no other man in high position had a more glowing
conviction of its ever-increasing power and glory than he.

"Whether," says his best biographer, "he thundered against British
tyranny on the seas, or urged the recognition of the South American
sister republics, or attacked the high-handed conduct of the military
chieftain in the Florida war, or advocated protection and internal
improvements, or assailed the one-man power and spoils politics in the
person of Andrew Jackson, or entreated for compromise and conciliation
regarding the tariff or slavery,--there was always ringing through his
words a fervid plea for his country, a zealous appeal in behalf of the
honor and the future greatness and glory of the republic, or an anxious
warning lest the Union be put in jeopardy."

One thing is certain, that no man in the country exercised so great an
influence, for a generation, in shaping the policy of national
legislation as Henry Clay, a policy which, on the whole, has proved
enlightened, benignant, and useful. And hence his name and memory will
not only be honorably mentioned by historians, but will be fondly
cherished so long as American institutions shall endure. He is one of
the greater lights in the galaxy of American stars, as he was the
advocate of principles which have proved conducive to national
prosperity in the first century of the nation's history. It is a great
thing to give shape to the beneficent institutions of a country, and
especially to be a source of patriotic inspiration to its people. It is
greater glory than to be enrolled in the list of presidents, especially
if they are mentioned only as the fortunate occupants of a great office
to which they were blindly elected. Of the long succession of the
occupants of the Papal Chair, the most august of worldly dignities, not
one in twenty has left a mark, or is of any historical importance,
while hundreds of churchmen and theologians in comparatively humble
positions have left an immortal fame. The glory of Clay is not dimmed
because he failed in reaching a worthy object of ambition. It is enough
to be embalmed in the hearts of the people as a national benefactor, and
to shine as a star of the first magnitude in the political firmament.


Carl Schurz's Life of Henry Clay is far the ablest and most interesting
that I have read. The Life of Clay by Colton is fuller and more
pretentious, but is diffuse. Benton's Thirty Years in Congress should be
consulted; also the various Lives of Webster and Calhoun. See also
Wilson's Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America. The writings of
the political economists, like Sumner, Walker, Carey, and others, should
be consulted in reference to tariffs. The Life of Andrew Jackson sheds
light on Clay's hostility to the hero of New Orleans.


A.D. 1782-1852.


If I were required to single out the most prominent political genius in
the history of the United States, after the death of Hamilton, I should
say it was Daniel Webster. He reigned for thirty years as a political
dictator to his party, and at the same time was the acknowledged head of
the American Bar. He occupied two spheres, in each of which he gained
pre-eminence. But for envy, and the enemies he made, he probably would
have reached the highest honor that the nation had to bestow. His
influence was vast, until those discussions arose which provoked one of
the most gigantic wars of modern times. For a generation he was the
object of universal admiration for his eloquence and power. In political
wisdom and experience he had no contemporaneous superior; there was no
public man from 1820 to 1850 who had so great a prestige, and whose name
and labors are so well remembered. His speeches and forensic arguments
are more often quoted than those of any other statesman and lawyer the
country has produced. His works are in every library, and are still
read. His fame has not waned, in spite of the stirring events which have
taken place since his death. Great generals have arisen and passed out
of mind, but the name and memory of Webster are still fresh. Amid the
tumults and parties of the war he foresaw and dreaded, his glory may
have passed through an eclipse, but his name is to-day one of the
proudest connected with our history. Living men, occupying great
official positions, are of course more talked about and thought of than
he; but of those illustrious characters who figured in public affairs a
generation ago, no one has so great a posthumous fame and influence as
the distinguished senator from Massachusetts. No man since the days of
Jefferson is seated on a loftier pedestal; and no one is likely to live
longer, if not in the nation's heart, yet in its admiration for
intellectual superiority and respect for political services. While he
reigned as a political oracle for more than thirty years,--almost an
idol in the eyes of his constituents,--it was his misfortune to be
dethroned and reviled, in the last ten years of his life, by the very
people who had exalted and honored him, and at last to die
broken-hearted, from the loss of his well-earned popularity and the
failure of his ambitious expectations. His life is sad as well as
proud, like that of so many other great men who at one time led, and at
another time opposed, popular sentiments. Their names stand out on every
page of history, examples of the mutability of fortune,--alike joyous
and saddened men, reaping both glory and shame; and sometimes glory for
what is evil, and shame for what is good.

When Daniel Webster was born,--1782, in Salisbury, New Hampshire, near
the close of our Revolutionary struggle,---there were very few prominent
and wealthy families in New England, very few men more respectable than
the village lawyers, doctors, and merchants, or even thrifty and
intelligent farmers. Very few great fortunes had been acquired, and
these chiefly by the merchants of Boston, Salem, Portsmouth, and other
seaports whose ships had penetrated to all parts of the world Webster
sprang from the agricultural class,--larger then in proportion to the
other classes than now at the East,--at a time when manufactures were in
their infancy and needed protection; when travel was limited; when it
was a rare thing for a man to visit Europe; when the people were obliged
to practise the most rigid economy; when everybody went to church; when
religious scepticism sent those who avowed it to Coventry; when
ministers were the leading power; when the press was feeble, and
elections were not controlled by foreign immigrants; when men drank rum
instead of whiskey, and lager beer had never been heard of, nor the
great inventions and scientific wonders which make our age an era had
anywhere appeared. The age of progress had scarcely then set in, and
everybody was obliged to work in some way to get an honest living; for
the Revolutionary War had left the country poor, and had shut up many
channels of industry. The farmers at that time were the most numerous
and powerful class, sharp, but honest and intelligent; who honored
learning, and enjoyed discussions on metaphysical divinity. Their sons
did not then leave the paternal acres to become clerks in distant
cities; nor did their daughters spend their time in reading French
novels, or sneering at rustic duties and labors. This age of progress
had not arisen when everybody looks forward to a millennium of idleness
and luxury, or to a fortune acquired by speculation and gambling rather
than by the sweat of the brow,--an age, in many important respects,
justly extolled, especially for scientific discoveries and mechanical
inventions, yet not remarkable for religious earnestness or moral

The life of Daniel Webster is familiar to all intelligent people. His
early days were spent amid the toils and blessedness of a New England
farm-house, favored by the teachings of intelligent, God-fearing
parents, who had the means to send him to Phillips Academy in Exeter,
then recently founded, where he fitted for college, and shortly after
entered Dartmouth, at the age of fifteen. In connection with Webster, I
do not read of any remarkable precocity, at school or college, such as
marked Cicero, Macaulay, and Gladstone; but it seems that he won the
esteem of both teachers and students, and was regarded as a very
promising youth. After his graduation he taught an academy at Fryeburg,
for a time, and then began the study of the law,--first at Salisbury,
and subsequently in Boston, in the office of the celebrated Governor
Gore. He was admitted to the bar in 1805, and established himself in
Boscawen, but soon afterwards removed to Portsmouth, where he entered on
a large practice, encountering such able lawyers as Jeremiah Mason and
Jeremiah Smith, who both became his friends and admirers, for Webster's
legal powers were soon the talk of the State. At the early age of
thirty-one he entered Congress (1813), and took the whole House by
surprise with his remarkable speeches, during the war with Great
Britain,--on such topics as the enlargement of the navy, the repeal of
the embargo, and the complicated financial questions of the day. In 1815
he retired awhile from public life, and removed to Boston, where he
enjoyed a lucrative practice. In 1822 he re-entered Congress. So popular
was he at this time, that, on his re-election to Congress in 1824, he
received four thousand nine hundred and ninety votes out of five
thousand votes cast. In 1827 he entered the Senate, where he was to
reign as one of its greatest chiefs,--the idol of his party in New
England, practising his profession at the same time, a leader of the
American Bar, and an oracle in politics on all constitutional questions.

With this rapid sketch, I proceed to enumerate the services of Daniel
Webster to his country, since on these enduring fame and gratitude are
based. And first, I allude to his career as a lawyer,--not a narrow,
technical lawyer, seeking to gain his case any way he can, with an eye
on pecuniary rewards alone, but a lawyer devoting himself to the study
of great constitutional questions and fundamental principles. In his
legal career, when for nearly forty years he discussed almost every
issue that can arise between individuals and communities, some
half-a-dozen cases have become historical, because of the importance of
the principles and interests involved. In the Gibbons and Ogden case he
assumed the broad ground that the grant of power to regulate commerce
was exclusively the right of the General Government. William Wirt, his
distinguished antagonist,--then at the height of his fame,--relied on
the coasting license given by States; but the lucid and luminous
arguments of the young lawyer astonished the court, and made old Judge
Marshall lay down his pen, drop back in his chair, turn up his
coat-cuffs, and stare at the speaker in amazement at his powers.

The first great case which gave Webster a national reputation was that
pertaining to Dartmouth College, his _alma mater_, which he loved as
Newton loved Cambridge. The college was in the hands of politicians, and
Webster recovered the college from their hands and restored it to the
trustees, laying down such broad principles that every literary and
benevolent institution in this land will be grateful to him forever.
This case, which was argued with consummate ability, and with words as
eloquent as they were logical and lucid, melting a cold court into
tears, placed Webster in the front rank of lawyers, which he kept until
he died. In the Ogden and Saunders case he settled the constitutionality
of State bankrupt laws; in that of the United States Bank he maintained
the right of a citizen of one State to perform any legal act in another;
in that which related to the efficacy of Stephen Girard's will, he
demonstrated the vital importance of Christianity to the success of free
institutions,--so that this very college, which excluded clergymen from
being teachers in it, or even visiting it, has since been presided over
by laymen of high religious character, like Judge Jones and Doctor
Allen. In the Rhode Island case he proved the right of a State to modify
its own institutions of government. In the Knapp murder case he brought
out the power of conscience--the voice of God to the soul--with such
terrible forensic eloquence that he was the admiration of all Christian
people. No better sermon was ever preached than this appeal to the
conscience of men.

In these and other cases he settled very difficult and important
questions, so that the courts of law will long be ruled by his wisdom.
He enriched the science of jurisprudence itself by bringing out the
fundamental laws of justice and equity on which the whole science rests.
He was not as learned as he was logical and comprehensive. His greatness
as a lawyer consisted in seeing and seizing some vital point not
obvious, or whose importance was not perceived by his opponent, and then
bringing to bear on this point the whole power of his intellect. His
knowledge was marvellous on those points essential to his argument; but
he was not probably learned, like Kent, in questions outside his
cases,--I mean the details and technicalities of law. He did, however,
know the fundamental principles on which his great cases turned, and
these he enforced with much eloquence and power, so that his ablest
opponents quailed before him. Perhaps his commanding presence and
powerful tones and wonderful eye had something to do with his success at
the Bar as well as in the Senate,--a brow, a voice, and an eye that
meant war when he was fairly aroused; although he appealed generally to
reason, without tricks of rhetoric. If he sometimes intimidated, he
rarely resorted to exaggerations, but confined himself strictly to the
facts, so that he seemed the fairest of men. This moderation had great
weight with an intelligent jury and with learned judges. He always paid
great deference to the court, and was generally courteous to his
opponents. Of all his antagonists at the Bar, perhaps it was Jeremiah
Mason and Rufus Choate whom he most dreaded; yet both of these great men
were his warm friends. Warfare at the Bar does not mean personal
animosity,--it is generally mutual admiration, except in the antagonism
of such rivals as Hamilton and Burr. Webster's admiration for Wirt,
Pinkney, Curtis, and Mason was free from all envy; in fact, Webster was
too great a man for envy, and great lawyers were those whom he loved
best, whom he felt to be his brethren, not secret enemies. His
admiration for Jeremiah Mason was only equalled by that for Judge
Marshall, who was not a rival. Webster praised Marshall as he might have
Erskine or Lyndhurst.

Mr. Webster, again, attained to great eminence in another sphere, in
which lawyers have not always succeeded,--that of popular oratory, in
the shape of speeches and lectures and orations to the people directly.
In this sphere I doubt if he ever had an equal in this country,
although Edward Everett, Rufus Choate, Wendell Phillips, and others were
distinguished for their popular eloquence, and in some respects were the
equals of Webster. But he was a great teacher of the people,
directly,--a sort of lecturer on the principles of government, of
finance, of education, of agriculture, of commerce. He was superbly
eloquent in his eulogies of great men like Adams and Jefferson. His
Bunker Hill and Plymouth addresses are immortal. He lectured
occasionally before lyceums and literary institutions. He spoke to
farmers in their agricultural meetings, and to merchants in marts of
commerce. He did not go into political campaigns to any great extent, as
is now the custom with political leaders on the eve of important
elections. He did not seek to show the people how they should vote, so
much as to teach them elemental principles. He was the oracle, the sage,
the teacher,--not the politician.

In the popular assemblies--whether for the discussion of political
truths or those which bear on literature, education, history, finance,
or industrial pursuits--Mr. Webster was pre-eminent. What audiences were
ever more enthusiastic than those that gathered to hear his wisdom and
eloquence in public halls or in the open air? It is true that in his
later years he lost much of his wonderful personal magnetism, and did
not rise to public expectation except on great occasions; but in middle
life, in the earlier part of his congressional career, he had no peer as
a popular orator. Edward Everett, on some occasions, was his equal, so
far as manner and words were concerned; but, on the whole, even in his
grandest efforts, Everett was cold compared with Webster in his palmy
days. He never touched the heart and reason as did Webster; although it
must be conceded that Everett was a great rhetorician, and was master of
many of the graces of oratory.

The speeches and orations of Webster were not only weighty in matter,
but were wonderful for their style,--so clear, so simple, so direct,
that everybody could understand him. He rarely attempted to express more
than one thought in a single sentence; so that his sentences never
wearied an audience, being always logical and precise, not involved and
long and complicated, like the periods of Chalmers and Choate and so
many of the English orators. It was only in his grand perorations that
he was Ciceronian. He despised purely extemporary efforts; he did not
believe in them. He admits somewhere that he never could make a good
speech without careful preparation. The principles embodied in his
famous reply to Colonel Hayne of South Carolina, in the debate in the
Senate on the right of "nullification," had lain brooding in his mind
for eighteen months. To a young minister he said, There is no such
thing as extemporaneous acquisition.

Webster's speeches are likely to live for their style alone, outside
their truths, like those of Cicero and Demosthenes, like the histories
of Voltaire and Macaulay, like the essays of Pascal and Rousseau; and
they will live, not only for both style and matter, but for the exalted
patriotism which burns in them from first to last, for those sentiments
which consecrate cherished institutions. How nobly he recognizes
Christianity as the bulwark of national prosperity! How delightfully he
presents the endearments of home, the certitudes of friendship, the
peace of agricultural life, the repose of all industrial pursuits,
however humble and obscure! It was this fervid patriotism, this public
recognition of what is purest in human life, and exalted in aspirations,
and profound in experience,--teaching the value of our privileges and
the glory of our institutions,--which gave such effect to his eloquence,
and endeared him to the hearts of the people until he opposed their
passions. If we read any of these speeches, extending over thirty years,
we shall find everywhere the same consistent spirit of liberty, of
union, of conciliation, the same moral wisdom, the same insight into
great truths, the same recognition of what is sacred, the same repose on
what is permanent, the same faith in the expanding glories of this great
nation which he loved with all his heart. In all his speeches one
cannot find a sentence which insults the consecrated sentiments of
religion or patriotism. He never casts a fling at Christianity; he never
utters a sarcasm in reference to revealed truths; he never flippantly
aspires to be wiser than Moses or Paul in reference to theological
dogmas. "Ah, my friends," said he, in 1825, "let us remember that it is
only religion and morals and knowledge that can make men respectable and
happy under any form of government; that no government is respectable
which is not just; that without unspotted purity of public faith,
without sacred public principle, fidelity, and honor, no mere form of
government, no machinery of laws, can give dignity to political society."

Thus did he discourse in those proud days when he was accepted as a
national idol and a national benefactor,--those days of triumph and of
victory, when the people gathered around him as they gather around a
successful general. Ah! how they thronged to the spot where he was
expected to speak,--as the Scotch people thronged to Edinboro' and
Glasgow to hear Gladstone:--

     "And when they saw his chariot but appear,
      Did they not make an universal shout,
      That Tiber trembled underneath her banks
      To hear the replication of their sounds
      Made in her concave shores?"

But it is time that I allude to those great services which Webster
rendered to his country when he was a member of Congress,--services that
can never be forgotten, and which made him a national benefactor.

There were three classes of subjects on which his genius pre-eminently
shone,--questions of finance, the development of American industries,
and the defence of the Constitution.

As early as 1815, Mr. Webster acquired a national reputation by his
speech on the proposition to establish a national bank, which he
opposed, since it was to be relieved from the necessity of redeeming its
notes in specie. This was at the close of the war with Great Britain,
when the country was poor, business prostrated, and the finances
disordered. To relieve this pressure, many wanted an inflated paper
currency, which should stimulate trade. But all this Mr. Webster
opposed, as certain to add to the evils it was designed to cure. He
would have a bank, indeed, but he insisted it should be established on
sound financial principles, with notes redeemable in gold and silver.
And he brought a great array of facts to show the certain and utter
failure of a system of banking operations which disregarded the
fundamental financial laws. He maintained that an inflated currency
produced only temporary and illusive benefits. Nor did he believe in
hopes which were not sustained by experience. "Banks," said he, "are
not revenue. They may afford facilities for its collection and
distribution, but they cannot be sources of national income, which must
flow from deeper fountains. Whatever bank-notes are not convertible into
gold and silver, at the will of the holder, become of less value than
gold and silver. No solidity of funds, no confidence in banking
operations, has ever enabled them to keep up their paper to the value of
gold and silver any longer than they paid gold and silver on demand."
Similar sentiments he advanced, in 1816, in his speech on the legal
currency, and also in 1832, when he said that a disordered currency is
one of the greatest of political evils,--fatal to industry, frugality,
and economy. "It fosters the spirit of speculation and extravagance. It
is the most effectual of inventions to fertilize the rich man's field by
the sweat of the poor man's brow." In these days, when principles of
finance are better understood, these remarks may seem like platitudes;
but they were not so fifty or sixty years ago, for then they had the
force of new truth, although even then they were the result of political
wisdom, based on knowledge and experience; and his views were adopted,
for he appealed to reason.

Webster's financial speeches are very calm, like the papers of Hamilton
and Jay in "The Federalist," but as interesting and persuasive as those
of Gladstone, the greatest finance-minister of modern times. They are
plain, simple, direct, without much attempt at rhetoric. He spoke like a
great lawyer to a bench of judges. The solidity and soundness of his
views made him greatly respected, and were remarkable in a young man of
thirty-four. The subsequent financial history of the country shows that
he was prophetic. All his predictions have come to pass. What is more
marked in our history than the extravagance and speculation attending
the expansion of paper money irredeemable in gold and silver? What
misery and disappointment have resulted from inflated values! It was
doubtless necessary to do without gold and silver in our life-and-death
struggle with the South; but it was nevertheless a misfortune, seen in
the gambling operations and the wild fever of speculation which attended
the immense issue of paper money after the war. The bubble was sure to
burst, sooner or later, like John Law's Mississippi scheme in the time
of Louis XV. How many thousands thought themselves rich, in New York and
Chicago, in fact everywhere, when they were really poor,--as any man is
poor when his house or farm is not worth the mortgage. As soon as we
returned to gold and silver, or it was known we should return to them,
then all values shrunk, and even many a successful merchant found he was
really no richer than he was before the war. It had been easy to secure
heavy mortgages on inflated values, and also to get a great interest on
investments; but when these mortgages and investments shrank to what
they were really worth, the holders of them became embarrassed and
impoverished. The fit of commercial intoxication was succeeded by
depression and unhappiness, and the moral evils of inflated values were
greater than the financial, since of all demoralizing things the spirit
of speculation and gambling brings, at last, the most dismal train of
disappointments and miseries. Inflation and uncertainty in values,
whether in stocks or real estate, alternating with the return of
prosperity, seem to have marked the commercial and financial history of
this country during the last fifty years, more than that of any other
nation under the sun, and given rise to the spirit of extravagant
speculations, both disgraceful and ruinous.

Equally remarkable were Mr. Webster's speeches on tariffs and protective
industries. He here seemed to borrow from Alexander Hamilton, who is the
father of our protective system. Here he co-operated with Henry Clay;
and the result of his eloquence and wisdom on those great principles of
political economy was the adherence to a policy--against great
opposition--which built up New England and did not impoverish the West.
Where would the towns of Lowell, Manchester, and Lawrence have been
without the aid extended to manufacturing interests? They made the
nation comparatively independent of other nations; they enriched the
country, even as manufactures enriched Great Britain and France. What
would England be if it were only an agricultural country? It would have
been impossible to establish manufactures of textile fabrics, without
protection. Without aid from governments, this branch of American
industry would have had no chance to contend with the cheap labor of
European artisans. I do not believe in cheap labor. I do not believe in
reducing intelligent people to the condition of animals. I would give
them the chance to rise; and they cannot rise if they are doomed to
labor for a mere pittance. The more wages men can get for honest labor,
the better is the condition of the whole country. Withdraw protection
from infant industries, and either they perish, or those who work in
them sink to the condition of the laboring classes of Europe. Nor do I
believe it is a good thing for a nation to have all its eggs in one
basket. I would not make this country exclusively agricultural because
we have boundless fields and can raise corn cheap, any more than I would
recommend a Minnesota farmer to raise nothing but wheat. Insects and
mildews and unexpected heats may blast a whole harvest, and the farmer
has nothing to fall back upon. He may make more money, for a time, by
raising wheat exclusively; but he impoverishes his farm. He should raise
cattle and sheep and grass and vegetables, as well as wheat or corn.
Then he is more independent and more intelligent, even as a nation is by
various industries, which call out all kinds of talent.

I know that this is a controverted point. Everything _is_ controverted
in political economy. There is scarcely a question which is settled in
its whole range of subjects; and I know that many intellectual and
enlightened men are in favor of what they call free-trade, especially
professors in colleges. But there is no such thing as free-trade,
strictly, in any nation, or in the history of nations. No nation
legislates for universal humanity on philanthropic principles; it
legislates for itself. There is no country where there are not high
duties on some things, not even England. No nation can be governed on
abstract principles and in disregard of its necessities. When it was for
the interest of England to remove duties on corn, in order that
manufactures might be stimulated, they took off duties on corn, because
the laboring-classes in the mills had to be fed. Agricultural interests
gave way, for a time, to manufacturing interests, because the wealth of
the country was based on them rather than on lands, and because
landlords did not anticipate that bread-stuffs brought from this country
would interfere with the value of their rents. But England, with all
her proud and selfish boasts about free-trade, may yet have to take a
retrograde course, like France and Prussia, or her landed interests may
be imperilled. The English aristocracy, who rule the country, cannot
afford to have the value of their lands reduced one-half, for those
lands are so heavily mortgaged that such a reduction of value would ruin
them; nor will they like to be forced to raise vegetables rather than
wheat, and turn themselves into market-gardeners instead of great
proprietors. The landlords of Great Britain may yet demand protection
for themselves, and, as they control Parliament, they will look out for
themselves by enacting measures of protection, unless they are
intimidated by the people who demand cheap bread, or unless they submit
to revolution. It is eternal equity and wisdom that the weak should be
protected. There may be industries strong enough now to dispense with
protection; but unless they are assisted when they are feeble, they will
cease to exist at all. Take our shipping, for instance, with foreign
ports,--it is not merely crippled, it is almost annihilated. Is it
desirable to cut off that great arm of national strength? Shall we march
on to our destiny, blind and lame and halt? What will we do if England
and other countries shall find it necessary to protect themselves from
impoverishment, and reintroduce duties on bread-stuffs high enough to
make the culture of wheat profitable? Where then will our farmers find a
market for their superfluous corn, except to those engaged in industries
which we should crush by removing protection?

I maintain that Mr. Webster, in defending our various industries with so
much ability, for the benefit of the nation on the whole, rendered very
important services, even as Hamilton and Clay did; although the solid
South, wishing cheap labor, and engaged exclusively in agriculture, was
opposed to him. The independent South would have established
free-trade,--as Mr. Calhoun advocated, and as any enlightened statesman
would advocate, when any interest can stand alone and defy competition,
as was the case with the manufactures of Great Britain fifty years ago.
The interests of the South and those of the North, under the institution
of slavery, were not identical; indeed, they had been in fierce
opposition for more than fifty years. Mr. Webster was, in his arguments
on tariffs and cognate questions, the champion of the North, as Mr.
Calhoun was of the South; and this opposition and antagonism gave great
force to Webster's eloquence at this time. His sentences are short,
interrogative, idiomatic. He is intensely in earnest. He grapples with
sophistries and scatters them to the winds; both reason and passion
vivify him.

This was the period of Webster's greatest popularity, as the defender
of Northern industries. This made him the idol of the merchants and
manufacturers of New England. He made them rich; no wonder they made him
presents. They ought, in gratitude, to have paid his debts over and over
again. What if he did, in straitened circumstances, accept their aid?
They owed to him more than he owed to them; and with all their favor and
bounty Webster remained poor. He was never a rich man, but always an
embarrassed man, because he had expensive tastes, like Cicero at Rome
and Bacon in England. This, truly, was not to his credit; it was a flaw
in his character; it involved him in debt, created enemies, and injured
his reputation. It may have lessened his independence, and it certainly
impaired his dignity. But there were also patriotic motives which
prompted him, and which kept him poor. Had he devoted his great talents
exclusively to the law, he might have been rich; but he gave his time to
his country.

His greatest services to his country, however, were as the defender of
the Constitution. Here he soared to the highest rank of political fame.
Here he was a statesman, having in view the interests of the whole
country. He never was what we call a politician. He never was such a
miserable creature as that. I mean a mere politician, whose calling is
the meanest a man can follow, since it seeks only spoils, and is a
perpetual deception, incompatible with all dignity and independence,
whose only watchword is success.

Not such was Webster. He was too proud and too dignified for that form
of degradation; and he perhaps sacrificed his popularity to his
intellectual dignity, and the glorious consciousness of being a national
benefactor,--as a real statesman seeks to be, and is, when he falls back
on the elemental principles of justice and morality, like a late Premier
of England, one of the most conscientious statesmen that ever controlled
the destinies of a nation. Webster, like Burke, was haughty, austere,
and brave; but such a man is not likely to remain the favorite of the
people, who prefer an Alcibiades to a Cato, except in great crises, when
they look to a man who can save them, and whom they can forget.

I cannot enumerate the magnificent bursts of eloquence which electrified
the whole country when Webster stood out as the defender of the
Constitution, when he combated secession and defended the Union. How
noble and gigantic he was when he answered the aspersions of the
Southern orators,--great men as they were,--and elaborately showed that
the Union meant something more than a league of sovereign States! The
great leaders of secession were overthrown in a contest which they
courted, and in which they expected victory. His reply to Hayne is,
perhaps, the most masterly speech in American political history. It is
one of the immortal orations of the world, extorting praise and
admiration from Americans and foreigners alike. In his various
encounters with Hayne, McDuffee, and Calhoun, he taught the principles
of political union to the rising generation. He produced those
convictions which sustained the North in its subsequent contest to
preserve the integrity of the Nation. There can be no estimate of the
services he rendered to the country by those grand and patriotic
efforts. But for these, the people might have succumbed to the
sophistries of Calhoun; for he was almost as great a giant as Webster,
and was more faultless in his private life. He had an immense influence;
he ruled the whole South; he made it solid. The speeches of Webster in
the Senate made him the oracle of the North. He was not only the great
champion of the North, and of Northern interests, but he was the teacher
of the whole country. He expounded the principles of the
Constitution,--that this great country is one, to be forever united in
all its parts; that its stars and stripes were to float over every city
and fortress in the land, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the
river St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, and "bearing for their motto
no such miserable interrogatory as, What are all these worth? nor those
other words of delusion and folly, Liberty first and Union afterwards;
but that other sentiment, dear to every American heart, Liberty and
Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"

It was after his memorable speech in reply to Hayne that I saw Webster
for the first time. I was a boy in college, and he had come to visit it;
and well do I remember the unbounded admiration, yea, the veneration,
felt for him by every young man in that college and throughout the
town,--indeed, throughout the whole North, for he was the pride and
glory of the land. It was then that they called him godlike, looking
like an Olympian statue, or one of the creations of Michael Angelo when
he wished to represent majesty and dignity and power in repose,--the
most commanding human presence ever seen in the Capitol at Washington.

When we recall those patriotic and noble speeches which were read and
admired by every merchant and farmer and lawyer in the country, and by
which he produced great convictions and taught great lessons, we cannot
but wonder why his glory was dimmed, and he was pulled down from his
pedestal, and became no longer an idol. It is affirmed by many that it
was his famous 7th of March speech which killed him, which disappointed
his friends and alienated his constituents. I am therefore compelled to
say something about that speech, and of his history at that time.

Mr. Webster was doubtless an ambitious man. He aspired to the
presidency. And why not? It is and will be a great dignity, such as
ought to be conferred on great ability and patriotism. Was he not able
and patriotic? Had he not rendered great services? Was he not
universally admired for his genius and experience and wisdom? Who was
more prominent than he, among the statesmen of the country, or more
thoroughly fitted to fulfil the duties of that high office? Was it not
natural that he should have aspired to be one of the successors of
Washington and Adams and Jefferson? He comprehended the honor and the
dignity of that office. He did not seek it in order to divide its
spoils, or to reward his friends; but he did wish to secure the highest
prize that could be won by political services; he did desire to receive
the highest honor in the gift of the people, even as Cicero sought the
consulate at Rome; he did believe himself capable of representing the
country in its most exacting position. It is nothing against a man that
he is ambitious, provided his ambition is lofty. Most of the illustrious
men of history have been ambitious,--Cromwell, Pitt, Thiers, Guizot,
Bismarck,--but ambitious to be useful to their country, as well as to
receive its highest rewards. Webster failed to reach the position he
desired, because of his enemies, and, possibly, from jealousy of his
towering height,--just as Clay failed, and Aaron Burr, and Alexander
Hamilton, and Stephen Douglas, and William H. Seward. The politicians,
who control the people, prefer men in the presidential chair whom they
think they can manage and use, not those to whom they will be forced to
succumb. Webster was not a man to be controlled or used, and so the
politicians rejected him. This he deeply felt, and even resented. His
failure saddened his latter days and embittered his soul, although he
was too proud to make loud complaints.

I grant he did not here show magnanimity. He thought that the presidency
should be given to the ablest and most experienced statesman. He did not
appear to see that this proud position is too commanding to be bestowed
except for the most exalted services, and such services as attract the
common eye, especially in war. Presidents in so great a country as this
reign, like the old feudal kings, by the grace of God. They are selected
by divine Providence, as David was from the sheepfold. No American,
however great his genius, except the successful warrior, can ever hope
to climb to this dizzy height, unless personal ambition is lost sight of
in public services. This is wisely ordered, to defeat unscrupulous
ambition. It is only in England that a man can rise to supreme power by
force of genius, since he is selected virtually by his peers, and not by
the popular voice. He who leads Parliament is the real king of England
for the time, since Parliament is omnipotent. Had Webster been an
Englishman, and as powerful in the House of Commons as he was in
Congress at one time, he might have been prime minister. But he could
not be president of the United States, although the presidential power
is much inferior to that exercised by an English premier. It is the
dignity of the office, not its power, which constitutes the value of the
presidency. And Webster loved dignity even more than power.

In order to arrive at this coveted office,--although its duties probably
would have been irksome,--it is possible that he sought to conciliate
the South and win the favor of Southern leaders. But I do not believe he
ever sought to win their favor by any abandonment of his former
principles, or by any treachery to the cause he had espoused. Yet it is
this of which he has been accused by his enemies,--many of those enemies
his former friends. The real cause of this estrangement, and of all the
accusations against him, was this,--he did not sympathize with the
Abolition party; he was not prepared to embark in a crusade against
slavery, the basal institution of the South. He did not like slavery;
but he knew it to be an institution which the Constitution, of which he
was the great defender, had accepted,--accepted as a compromise, in
those dark days which tried men's souls. Many of the famous statesmen
who deliberated in that venerated hall in Philadelphia also disliked and
detested slavery; but they could not have had a constitution, they could
not have had a united country, unless that institution was acknowledged
and guaranteed. So they accepted it as the lesser evil. They made a
compromise, and the Constitution was signed. Now, everybody knows that
the Abolitionists of the North, about the year 1833, attacked slavery,
although it was guaranteed by the Constitution; attacked it, not as an
evil merely, but as a sin; attacked it, by virtue of a higher law than
constitutional provision. And as an evil, as a stain on our country, as
an insult to the virtue and intelligence of the age, as a crime against
humanity, these people of the North declared that slavery ought to be
swept away. Mr. Webster, as well as Mr. Fillmore, Mr. Lincoln, Mr.
Everett, and many other acknowledged patriots, was for letting slavery
alone, as an evil too great to be removed without war; which, moreover,
could not be removed without an infringement on what the South
considered as its rights. He was for conciliation, in order to preserve
the Constitution as well as the Union. The Abolitionists were violent in
their denunciations. And although it took many years to permeate the
North with their leaven, they were in earnest; and under persecutions
and mobs and ostracism and contempt they persevered until they created
a terrible public opinion. The South had early taken the alarm, and in
order to protect their peculiar and favorite institution, had at various
times attempted to extend it into newly acquired territories where it
did not exist, claiming the protection of the Constitution. Mr. Webster
was one of their foremost opponents in this, contesting their right to
do it under the Constitution. But in 1848 the Antislavery opinion at the
North crystallized in a political organization,--the Free-Soil Party;
and on the other hand the South proposed to abrogate the Missouri
Compromise of 1820 as an offset to the admission of California as a free
State, and at the same time asked in further concession the passage of
the Fugitive Slave Bill; and, in anticipation of failing to get these,
threatened secession, which of course meant war.

It was at this crisis that Mr. Webster delivered his celebrated 7th of
March speech,--in many respects his greatest,--in which he advocated
conciliation and adherence to the Constitution, but which was
represented to support Southern interests, which all his life he had
opposed; and more, to advocate these interests, in order to secure
Southern votes for the presidency. Some of the rich and influential men
of Boston who disliked Webster for other reasons,--for he used to snub
them, even after they had lent him money,--made the most they could of
that speech, to alienate the people. The Abolitionists, at last hostile
to Mr. Webster, who stood in their way and would not adopt their
dictation or advice, also bitterly denounced this speech, until it
finally came to be regarded by the common people, few of whom ever read
it, as a very unpatriotic production, entirely at variance with the
views that Webster formerly advanced; and they forsook him.

Now, what is the real gist and spirit of that speech? The passions which
agitated the country when it was delivered have passed away, and not
only can we now calmly criticise it, but people will listen to the
criticism with all the attention it deserves.

It is my opinion, shared by Peter Harvey and other friends of Mr.
Webster, that in no speech he ever made are patriotic and Union
sentiments more fully avowed. Said he, with fiery emphasis:--

"I hear with distress and anguish the word 'secession.' Secession!
peaceable secession! Sir, your eyes and mine are never destined to see
that miracle. The dismemberment of this great country without
convulsion! The breaking up the fountains of the great deep without
ruffling the surface! There can be no such thing as peaceable secession.
It is an utter impossibility. Is this great Constitution, under which we
live, to be melted and thawed away by secession, as the snows on the
mountains are melted away under the influence of the vernal sun? No,
sir; I see as plainly as the sun in the heavens what that disruption
must produce. I see it must produce war."

"Peaceable secession! peaceable secession! What would be the result?
Where is the line to be drawn? What States are to secede? What is to
remain American? What am I to be? Am I to be an American no longer,--a
sectional man, a local man, a separatist, with no country in common?
Heaven forbid! Where is the flag of the Union to remain? Where is the
eagle still to tower? What is to become of the army? What is to become
of the navy? What is to become of the public lands? How is each of the
thirty States to defend itself? Will you cut the Mississippi in two,
leaving free States on its branches and slave States at its mouth? Can
any one suppose that this population on its banks can be severed by a
line that divides them from the territory of a foreign and alien
government, down somewhere,--the Lord knows where,--upon the lower
branches of the Mississippi? Sir, I dislike to pursue this subject. I
have utter disgust for it. I would rather hear of national blasts and
mildews and pestilence and famine, than hear gentlemen talk about
secession. To break up this great government! To dismember this glorious
country! To astonish Europe with an act of folly, such as Europe for two
centuries has never beheld in any government! No, sir; such talk is
enough to make the bones of Andrew Jackson turn round in his coffin."

Now, what are we to think of these sentiments, drawn from the 7th of
March speech, so disgracefully misrepresented by the politicians and
the fanatics? Do they sound like bidding for Southern votes? Can any
Union sentiments be stronger? Can anything be more decided or more
patriotic? He warns, he entreats, he predicts like a prophet. He proves
that secession is incompatible with national existence; he sees nothing
in it but war. And of all things he dreaded and hated, it was war. He
knew what war meant. He knew that a civil war would be the direst
calamity. He would ward it off. He would be conciliating. He would take
away the excuse of war, by adhering to the Constitution,--the written
Constitution which our fathers framed, and which has been the admiration
of the world, under which we have advanced to prosperity and glory as no
nation ever before advanced.

But a large class regarded the Constitution as unsound, in some respects
a wicked Constitution, since it recognized slavery as an institution. By
"the higher law," they would sweep slavery away, perhaps by moral means,
but by endless agitations, until it was destroyed. Mr. Webster, I
confess, did not like those agitations, since he knew they would end in
war. He had a great insight, such as few people had at that time. But
his prophetic insight was just what a large class of people did not
like, especially in his own State. He uttered disagreeable truths,--as
all prophets do,--and they took up stones to stone him,--to stone him
for the bravest act of his whole life, in which a transcendent wisdom
appeared, and which will be duly honored when the truth shall be seen.

The fact was, at that time Mr. Webster seemed to be a croaker, a
Jeremiah, as Burke at one time seemed to his generation, when he
denounced the recklessness of the French Revolution. Very few people at
the North dreamed of war. It was never supposed that the Southern
leaders would actually become rebels. And they, on the other hand, never
dreamed that the North would rise up solidly and put them down. And if
war were to happen, it was supposed that it would be brief. Even so
great and sagacious a statesman as Seward thought this. The South
thought that it could easily whip the Yankees; and the North thought
that it could suppress a Southern rebellion in six weeks. Both sides
miscalculated. And so, in spite of warnings, the nation drifted into
war; but as it turned out in the end it seems a providential event,
--the way God took to break up slavery, the root and source of all our
sectional animosities; a terrible but apparently necessary catastrophe,
since more than a million of brave men perished, and more than five
thousand millions of dollars were spent. Had the North been wise, it
would have compensated the South for its slaves. Had the South been
wise, it would have accepted the compensation and set them free, But it
was not to be. That issue could only be settled by the most terrible
contest of modern times.

I will not dwell on that war, which Webster predicted and dreaded. I
only wish to show that it was not for want of patriotism that he became
unpopular, but because he did not fall in with the prevailing passions
of the day, or with the public sentiment of the North in reference to
slavery, not as to its evils and wickedness, but as to the way in which
it was to be opposed. The great reforms of England, since the accession
of William III., have been effected by using constitutional means,--not
violence, not revolution, not war; but by an appeal to reason and
intelligence and justice. No reforms in any nation have been greater and
more glorious than those of the nineteenth century,--all effected by
constitutional methods. Mr. Webster vainly attempted constitutional
means. He was a lawyer. He reverenced the Constitution, with all its
compromises. He would observe the law of contracts. Yet no man in the
nation was more impatient than he at the threats of secession. He
foretold that secession would lead to war. And if Mr. Webster had lived
to see the war of which he had such anxious prescience, I firmly believe
that he would have marched under the banner of the North with patriotism
equal to any man. He would have been where Mr. Everett was. One of his
own sons was slain in that war. He was not a Northern man with Southern
principles; his whole life attested his Northern principles. There never
was a time when he was not hated and mistrusted by the Southern leaders.
It is not a proof that he was Southern in his sympathies because he was
not an Abolitionist; and by an Abolitionist I mean what was meant thirty
years ago,--one who was unscrupulously bent on removing slavery by any
means, good or bad; since slavery, in his eyes, was a _malum per se_,
not a misfortune, an evil, a sin, but a crime to be washed out by the
besom of destruction.

Mr. Webster did not sympathize with these extreme views. He was not a
reformer; but that does not show that he was unpatriotic, or a Southern
man in his heart. "The higher law," to him, was the fulfilment of a
contract; the maintenance of promises made in good faith, whether those
promises were wise or foolish; the observance of laws so long as they
were laws. There was, undeniably, a great evil and shame to be removed,
but he was not responsible for it; and he left that evil in the hands of
Him who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay,"--as He did repay in
four years' devastations, miseries, and calamities, and these so awful,
so unexpected, so ill-prepared for, that a thoughtful and kind-hearted
person, in view of them, will weep rather than rejoice; for it is not
pleasant to witness chastisements and punishments, even if necessary
and just, unless the people who suffer are fiends and incarnate devils,
as very few men are. Human nature is about the same everywhere, and
individuals and nations peculiarly sinful are generally made so by their
surroundings and circumstances. The reckless people of frontier mining
districts are not naturally worse than adventurers in New York or
Philadelphia; nor is any vulgar and ignorant man, in any part of the
country, suddenly made rich, probably any coarser in his pleasures, or
more sensual in his appearance, or more profane in his language, than
was Vitellius, or Heliogabalus, or Otho, on an imperial throne.

But even suppose Mr. Webster, in the decline of his life, intoxicated by
his magnificent position or led astray by ambition, made serious
political errors. What then? All great men have made errors, both in
judgment and in morals,--Caesar, when he crossed the Rubicon;
Theodosius, when he slaughtered the citizens of Thessalonica; Luther,
when he quarrelled with Zwingli; Henry IV., when he stooped at Canossa;
Elizabeth, when she executed Mary Stuart; Cromwell, when he bequeathed
absolute power to his son; Bacon, when he took bribes; Napoleon, when he
divorced Josephine; Hamilton, when he fought Burr. The sun itself passes
through eclipses, as it gives light to the bodies which revolve around
it. Even David and Peter stumbled. Because Webster professed to know as
much of the interests of the country as the shoemakers of Lynn, and
refused to be instructed in his political duties by Garrison and Wendell
Phillips, does he deserve eternal reprobation? Because he opposed the
public sentiments of his constituents on one point, when perhaps they
were right, is he to be hurled from his lofty pedestal? Are all his
services to be forgotten because he did not lift up his trumpet voice in
favor of immediate emancipation? And even suppose he sought to
conciliate the South when the South was preparing for rebellion,--is
peace-making such a dreadful thing? Go still farther: suppose he wished
to conciliate the South in order to get Southern support for the
presidency--which I grant he wanted, and possibly sought,--is he to be
unforgiven, and his name to be blasted, and he held up to the rising
generation as a fallen man? Does a man fall hopelessly because he
stumbles? Is a man to be dethroned because he is not perfect? When was
Webster's vote ever bought and sold? Who ever sat with more dignity in
the councils of the nation? Would he have voted for "back pay"? Would he
have bought a seat in the Senate, even if he had been as rich as a
bonanza king?

Consider how few errors Webster really committed in a public career of
nearly forty years. Consider the beneficence and wisdom of the measures
which he generally advocated, and which would have been lost but for
his eloquence and power. Consider the greatness and lustre of his
congressional career on the whole. Who has proved a greater benefactor
to this nation, on the floor of Congress, than he? I do not wish to
eulogize, still less to whitewash, so great a man, but only to render
simple justice to his memory and deeds. The time has come to lift the
veil which for thirty years has concealed his noble political services.
The time has come to cry shame on those boys who mocked a prophet, and
said, "Go up, thou bald-head!"--although no bears were found to devour
them. The time has come for this nation to bury the old slanders of an
exciting political warfare, and render thanks for the services performed
by the greatest intellectual giant of the past generation,--services
rendered not on the floor of the Senate alone, not in the national
legislature for thirty years, but in one of the great offices of State,
when he made a treaty with England which saved us from an entangling
war. The Ashburton treaty is the brightest gem in the coronet with which
he should be crowned. It was the proudest day in Webster's life when
Rufus Choate announced to him one evening that the Senate had confirmed
the treaty. It was not when he closed his magnificent argument in behalf
of Dartmouth College, not when he addressed the intelligence of New
England at Bunker Hill, not when he demolished Governor Hayne, not when
he sat on the woolsack with Lord Brougham, not when he was entertained
by Louis Philippe, that the proudest emotions swelled in his bosom, but
when he learned that he had prevented a war with England,--for he knew
that England and America could not afford to fight; that it would be a
fight where gain is loss and glory is shame.

At last, worn out with labor and disease, and perhaps embittered by
disappointment, and saddened to see the increasing tendency to elevate
little men to power,--the "grasshoppers, who make the field ring with
their importunate chinks, while the great cattle chew the cud and are
silent,"--Webster died at Marshfield, Oct. 24, 1852, at seventy years of
age. At the time he was Secretary of State. He died in the consolations
of a religion in which he believed, surrounded with loving friends; and
even his enemies felt that a great man in Israel had fallen. Nothing
then was said of his defects, for great defects he had,--a towering
intellectual pride like Chatham, an austerity like Gladstone, passions
like those of Mirabeau, extravagance like that of Cicero, indifference
to pecuniary obligations, like Pitt and Fox and Sheridan; but these were
overbalanced by the warmth of his affections for his faithful friends,
simplicity of manners and taste, courteous treatment of opponents,
dignity of character, kindness to the poor, hospitality, enjoyment of
rural scenes and sports, profound religious instincts, devotion to what
he deemed the welfare of his country, independence of opinions and
boldness in asserting them at any hazard and against all opposition, and
unbounded contempt of all lies and shams and tricks. These traits will
make his memory dear to all who knew him. And as Florence, too late,
repented of her ingratitude to Dante, and appointed her most learned men
to expound the "Divine Comedy" when he was dead, so will the writings of
Webster be more and more a study among lawyers and statesmen. His fame
will spread, and grow wider and greater, like that of Bacon and Burke,
and of other benefactors of mankind; and his ideas will not pass away
until the glorious fabric of American institutions, whose foundations
were laid by God-fearing people, shall be utterly destroyed, and the
Capitol, where his noblest efforts were made, shall become a mass of
broken and prostrate columns beneath the débris of the nation's ruin!
No, not then shall they perish, even if such gloomy changes are
possible, any more than the genius of Cicero has faded among the ruins
of the Eternal City; but they shall shine upon the most distant works of
man, since they are drawn from the wisdom of all preceding generations,
and are based on those principles which underlie all possible


The Works of Daniel Webster, in eight octavo volumes, including his
speeches, addresses, orations, and legal arguments; Life of Daniel
Webster, by G.T. Curtis; Private Correspondence, edited by F. Webster;
Private Life, by C. Lanman; C.W. March's Reminiscences of Congress;
Peter Harvey's Reminiscences and Anecdotes; Edward Everett's Oration on
the Unveiling of the Statue in Boston; R.C. Winthrop and Evarts, on the
same occasion in New York; Contemporaneous Lives of Clay, Calhoun, and
Benton; the great Oration on Webster by Rufus Choate at Dartmouth
College; J. Barnard's Life and Character of Daniel Webster; E.P.
Whipple's Essay on Webster; Eulogies on the Death of Webster, especially
those by G.S. Hillard, L. Woods, A. Taft, R.D. Hitchcock, and Theodore
Parker, also Addresses and Orations on the One Hundredth Anniversary of
Webster's Birth, too numerous to mention,---especially the address of
Senator Bayard at Dartmouth College. The complete and exhaustive Life of
Webster is yet to be written, although the most prominent of his
contemporaries have had something to say.




The extraordinary abilities of John C. Calhoun, the great influence he
exerted as the representative of Southern interests in the National
Legislature, and especially his connection with the Slavery Question,
make it necessary to include him among the statesmen who, for evil or
good, have powerfully affected the destinies of the United States. He is
a great historical character,--the peer of Webster and Clay in
congressional history, and more unsullied than either of them in the
virtues of private life. In South Carolina he was regarded as little
less than a demigod, and until the antislavery agitation began he was
viewed as among the foremost statesmen of the land. His elevation to
commanding influence in Congress was very rapid, and but for his
identification with partisan interests and a bad institution, there was
no office in the gift of the nation to which he could not reasonably
have aspired.

John Caldwell Calhoun was born in 1782, of highly respectable
Protestant-Irish descent, in the Abbeville District in South Carolina.
He was not a patrician, according to the ideas of rich planters. He had
but a slender school education in boyhood, but was prepared for college
by a Presbyterian clergyman, entered the Junior Class of Yale College in
1802, and was graduated with high honors. He chose the law for his
profession, studied laboriously for three years, spending eighteen
months at the then famous law school at Litchfield, Connecticut, and
gave great promise, in his remarkable logical powers, of becoming an
eminent lawyer.

Whatever abilities Mr. Calhoun may have had for the law, it does not
appear that he practised it long, or to any great extent. His taste and
his genius inclined him to politics. And, having married a lady with
some fortune, he had sufficient means to live without professional
drudgery. After serving a short time in the State Legislature of South
Carolina, he was elected a member of Congress, and took his seat in the
House of Representatives in 1811, at the age of twenty-nine. From the
very first his voice was heard. He made a speech in favor of raising ten
thousand additional men to our army to resist the encroachments of Great
Britain and prepare for hostilities should the country drift into war.
It was an able speech for a young man, and its scornful repudiation of
reckoning the costs of war against insult and violated rights had a
chivalric ring about it: "Sir, I here enter my solemn protest against a
low and calculating avarice entering this hall of legislation. It is
only fit for shops and counting-houses.... It is a compromising spirit,
always ready to yield a part to save the residue." Here at an early date
we hear the key-note of his life,--hatred of compromises and
half-measures. If it were necessary to go to war at all, he would fight
regardless of expense.

Thus Calhoun began his public career as an advocate of war with Great
Britain. The old Revolutionary sores had not yet had time to heal, and
there was general hostility to England, except among the Virginia
aristocrats and the Federalists of the North. Although a young man,
Calhoun was placed upon the important committee of Foreign Affairs, of
which he was soon made chairman.

Calhoun's early speeches in Congress gave promise of rare abilities. The
most able of them were those on the repeal of the Embargo, in 1814; on
the commercial convention with Great Britain in 1816; on the United
States Bank Bill and the tariff the same year; and on the Internal
Improvement Bill in 1817. The main subject which occupied Congress from
1812 to 1814 was the war with Great Britain, during the administration
of Madison; and afterwards, till 1817, the great questions at issue were
in reference to tariffs and internal improvements.

In the discussion of these subjects Calhoun took broad and patriotic
ground. At that time we see no sectional interests predominating in his
mind. He favored internal improvements, great permanent roads, and even
the protection of manufactures, and a National Bank. On all these
questions his sectional interests at a later day led him to support the
exact opposite of these early national views. Says Von Holst: "His
speech on the new tariff bill (April 6, 1816) was a long and carefully
prepared argument in favor of the whole economical platform on which the
Whig party stood to the last day of its existence.... Even Henry Clay
and Horace Greeley have not been able to put their favorite doctrine
into stronger language.... His final aim was the industrial independence
of the United States from Europe; and this, he thought, could be
obtained by protective duties."

Calhoun's speeches, during the six years that he was a member of the
House of Representatives, were so able as to attract the attention of
the nation, and in 1817 Monroe selected him as his Secretary of War. And
he made a good executive officer in this branch of the public service,
putting things to rights, and bringing order out of confusion, living on
terms of friendship with John Quincy Adams and other members of the
cabinet, planning military roads, introducing a system of strict economy
in his department, and making salutary reforms. He tolerated no abuses.
He was disposed to do justice to the Indians, and raise them from their
degradation, even seeking to educate them, when it was more than
probable that they would return to their barbaric habits,--a race, as it
would seem from experience, very difficult to civilize. Adams thus spoke
of his young colleague: "Mr. Calhoun is a man of fair and candid mind,
of honorable principles, of quick and clear understanding, of cool
self-possession, of enlarged philosophical views, and of ardent
patriotism. He is above all sectional and factious prejudices more than
any other statesman of this Union with whom I have ever acted,"--a very
different verdict from what he wrote in his diary in 1831. Judge Story
wrote of him in 1823 in these terms: "I have great admiration for Mr.
Calhoun, and think few men have more enlarged and liberal views of the
true policy of the national government."

The post he held, however, was not Calhoun's true arena, but one which
an ambitious young man of thirty-five could not well decline, from the
honor it brought. The secretaryship of war is the least important of all
the cabinet offices in time of peace, and was especially so when the
army was reduced to six thousand men. Its functions amounted to little
more than sending small detachments to military posts, making contracts
for the commissariat, visiting occasionally the forts and
fortifications, and making a figure in Washington society. It furnished
no field for extensive operations, or the exercise of remarkable
qualities of mind. But inasmuch as it made Calhoun a member of the
cabinet, it gave him an opportunity to express his mind on all national
issues, and exercise an influence on the President himself. It did not
make him prominent in the eyes of the nation. He was simply the head of
a bureau, although an important personage in the eyes of the cadets of
West Point and of some lazy lieutenants stationed among the Indians. But
whatever the part he was required to play, he did his duty, showed
ability, and won confidence. He doubtless added to his reputation, else
he would not have been talked about as a candidate for the presidency,
selected as a candidate for the vice-presidency, and chosen to that
position by Northern votes, as he was in 1824, when the election was
thrown into the House of Representatives, and the friends of Henry Clay
made Adams, instead of Jackson, President. Calhoun's popularity with all
parties resulted in his election as vice-president by a very large
popular vote. He deserved it. The day had not come for the ascendency of
mere politicians, and their division of the spoils of office.

The condition of the slaveholding States at this period was most
prosperous. The culture of cotton had become exceedingly lucrative. Rich
planters spent their summers at the North in luxurious independence. It
was the era of general "good feeling." No agitating questions had
arisen. Young men at the South sought education in the New England
colleges; manufacturing interests were in their infancy, and had not, as
yet, excited Southern jealousy. Commercial prosperity in New England was
the main object desired, although the war with Great Britain had proved
disastrous to it. Political influence seemed to centre in the Southern
States. These States had furnished four presidents out of five. The
great West had not arisen in its might; it had no great cities: but
Charleston and Boston were centres of culture and wealth, and on good
terms with each other, both equally free from agitating questions, and
both equally benignant to the institution of slavery, which the
Constitution was supposed to have made secure forever. The Adams
administration was notable for nothing but beginnings of the tariff
question and the protectionist Act of 1828, the growth of the Democratic
party, the final intensity of the presidential campaign of 1828, and the
election of Jackson, with Calhoun as Vice-president.

As the incumbent of this office for two terms, Mr. Calhoun did not make
a great mark in history. His office was one of dignity and not of power;
but during his vice-presidency important discussions took place in
Congress which placed him, as presiding officer of the Senate, in an
embarrassing position. He was between two fires, and gradually became
alienated from the two opposing parties to whom he owed his election. He
could go neither with Adams nor with Jackson on public measures, and
both interfered with his aspirations for the presidency. His personal
relations with Jackson, who had been his warm friend and supporter,
became strained after his second election as Vice-President. He took
part against Jackson in the President's undignified attempt to force his
cabinet to recognize the social position of Mrs. Eaton. Further, it was
divulged by Crawford, who had been Secretary of the Treasury in Monroe's
cabinet when Calhoun was Secretary of War, that the latter had in 1818
favored a censure of Jackson for his unauthorized seizure of Spanish
territory in the Florida campaign during the Seminole War; and this
increased the growing animosity. What had been an alienation between the
two highest officers of the government ripened into intense hatred,
which was fatal to the aspirations of Calhoun for the presidency; for no
man could be President against the overpowering influence of Jackson.
This was a bitter disappointment to Calhoun, for he had set his heart
on being the successor of Jackson in the presidential chair.

There were two subjects which had arisen to great importance during Mr.
Calhoun's terms of executive office which not only blasted his prospects
for the presidency, but separated him forever from his former friends
and allies.

One of these was the tariff question, which gave him great uneasiness.
He opened his eyes to see that protection and internal improvements, so
ably advocated by Henry Clay, and even by himself in 1816, were becoming
the policy of the government to the enriching of the North. True, it was
only an economical question, but it seemed to him to lay the axe to the
root of Southern prosperity. It was his settled conviction that tariffs
for protection would increase the burdens of the South by raising the
price of all those articles which it was compelled to buy, and that
large profits on articles manufactured in the United States would only
enrich the Northern manufacturers. The South, being an agricultural
country exclusively, naturally sought to buy in the cheapest market, and
therefore wanted no tariff except for revenue. When Mr. Calhoun saw that
protectionist duties were an injury to the slaveholding States he
reversed entirely his former opinions. And what influence he could
exert as the presiding officer of the Senate was now displayed against
the Adams party, which had favored his election to the vice-presidency,
and of course alienated his Northern supporters, especially Adams, who
now turned against him, and as bitterly denounced as once he had favored
and praised him. Calhoun had now both the Jackson and Adams parties
against him, though for different reasons.

Up to this time, until the agitation of the tariff question began, Mr.
Calhoun had not been a party man. He was regarded throughout the country
as a statesman, rather than as a politician.

But when manufactures of cotton and woollen goods were being established
in Lowell, Lawrence, Dover, Great Falls, and other places in New
England, wherever there was a water-power to turn the mills, it became
obvious that a new tariff would be imposed to protect these infant
industries and manufacturing interests everywhere. The tariff of 1824
had borne heavily on the South, producing great irritation, and very
naturally "the planters complained that they had to bear all the burdens
of protection without enjoying its benefits,--that the things they had
to buy had become dearer, while the things produced and exported found a
less market." Financial ruin stared them in the face. It seemed to them
a great injustice that the interests of the planters should be
sacrificed to the monopolists of the North.

In the defence of Southern interests Mr. Calhoun in the Senate at first
appealed to reason and patriotism. It is true that he now became a
partisan, but he had been sent to Congress as the champion of the cotton
lords. He was no more unpatriotic than Webster, who at first, as the
representative of the merchants of Boston, advocated freer trade in the
interests of commerce, and afterwards, as the representative of
Massachusetts at large, turned round and advocated protective duties for
the benefit of the manufacturer. It is a nice question, as to where a
Congressman should draw the line of advocacy between local and general
interests. What are men sent to Congress for, except to advance the
interests intrusted to them by their constituents? When are these to be
merged in national considerations? Calhoun's mission was to protect
Southern interests, and he defended them with admirable logical power.
He was one of three great masters of debate in the Senate. No one could
reasonably blame him for the opinions he advanced, for he had a right to
them; and if he took sectional ground he did as most party leaders do.
It was merely a congressional fight.

But when, after the tariff of 1828, it appeared to Calhoun that there
was no remedy; that protection had become the avowed and permanent
policy of the government; that the tobacco and cotton of the South,
being the chief bulk of our exports, were paying tribute to Northern
manufactures, which were growing strong under protection of Federal
taxes on competing imports; and that the South was menaced with
financial ruin,--he took a new departure, the first serious political
error of his life, and became disloyal to the Union.

In July, 1831, he made an elaborate address to the people of South
Carolina, in which, discussing the theoretical relations of the States
to the Union, he put forth the doctrine that any State could nullify the
laws of Congress when it deemed them unconstitutional, as he regarded
the existing tariff to be. He looked upon the State, rather than the
Union of States, as supreme, and declared that the State could secede if
the Union enforced unconstitutional measures. This, as Von Hoist points
out, practically meant that, "whenever different views are entertained
about the powers conferred by the Constitution upon the Federal
government, those of the _minority_ were to prevail,"--an evident
absurdity under a republican government.

In June, 1832, was passed another tariff bill, offering some reductions,
but still based on protection as the underlying principle. In
consequence, South Carolina, entirely subservient to the influence of
Calhoun, who in August issued another manifesto, passed in November the
nullification ordinance, to take effect the following February. As
already recited, President Jackson took the most vigorous measures,
sustained by Congress, and gave the nullifiers clearly to understand
that if they resisted the laws of the United States, the whole power of
the government would be arrayed against them. They received the
proclamation defiantly, and the governor issued a counter one.

It was in this crisis that Calhoun resigned the vice-presidency, and was
immediately elected to the United States Senate, where he could fight
more advantageously. Then the President sent a message to Congress
requesting new powers to put down the nullifiers by force, should the
necessity arrive, which were granted, for he was now at the height of
his popularity and influence. The nullifiers enraged him, and though
they abstained from resorting to extreme measures, they continued their
threats. The country appeared to be on the verge of war.

The party leaders felt the necessity of a compromise, and Henry Clay
brought forward in the Senate a bill which, in March, 1833, became a
law, which reduced the tariff. It apparently appeased the South, not yet
prepared to go out of the Union, and the storm blew over. There was no
doubt, however, that, had the South Carolinians resisted the government
with force of arms they would have been put down, for Jackson was both
Infuriated and firm. He had even threatened to hang Calhoun as high as
Haman,--an absurd threat, for he had no power to hang anybody, except
one with arms in his hands,--and then only through due process of
law,--while Calhoun was a Senator, as yet using only legitimate means to
gain his ends.

In the compromise which Clay effected, the South had the best of the
bargain, and in view of it the culmination of the "irrepressible
conflict" was delayed nearly thirty years. Calhoun himself maintained
that the Compromise Tariff of 1833 was due to the resistance which his
State had made, but he also felt that the Force Bill with which Congress
had backed up the President was a standing menace, and, as usual with
him, he looked forward to impending dangers. The Compromise Tariff,
which reduced duties to twenty per cent in the main, and made provision
for still further reduction, found great opponents in the Senate, and
was regarded by Webster as anything but a protection bill; nor was
Calhoun altogether satisfied with it. It was received with favor by the
country generally, however, and South Carolina repealed her
nullification ordinance.

That subject being disposed of for the present, the attention of
Congress and the country was now turned to the President's war on the
United States Bank. As this most important matter has already been
treated in the lecture on Jackson, I have only to show the course Mr.
Calhoun took in reference to it. He was now fifty-three years old, in
the prime of his life and the full vigor of his powers. In the Senate he
had but two peers, Clay and Webster, and was not in sympathy with either
of them, though not in decided hostility as he was toward Jackson. He
was now neither Whig nor Democrat, but a South Carolinian, having in
view the welfare of the South alone, of whose interests he was the
recognized guardian. It was only when questions arose which did not
directly bear on Southern interests that he was the candid and patriotic
statesman, sometimes voting with one party and sometimes with another.
He was opposed to the removal of deposits from the United States Bank,
and yet was opposed to a renewal of its charter. His leading idea in
reference to the matter was, the necessity of divorcing the government
altogether from the banking system, as a dangerous money-power which
might be perverted to political purposes. In pointing out the dangers,
he spoke with great power and astuteness, for he was always on the
look-out for breakers. He therefore argued against the removal of
deposits as an unwarrantable assumption of power on the part of the
President, which could not be constitutionally exercised; here he
agreed with his great rivals, while he was more moderate than they in
his language. He made war on measures rather than on men personally,
regarding the latter as of temporary importance, of passing interest. So
far as the removal of deposits seemed an arbitrary act on the part of
the Executive, he severely denounced it, as done with a view to grasp
unconstitutional power for party purposes, thus corrupting the country,
and as a measure to get control of money. Said he: "With money we will
get partisans, with partisans votes, and with votes money, is the maxim
of our political pilferers." He regarded the measure as a part of the
"spoils system" which marked Jackson's departure from the policy of his

Calhoun detested the system of making politics a game, since it would
throw the government into the hands of political adventurers and mere
machine-politicians. He was too lofty a man to encourage anything like
this, and here we are compelled to do him honor. Whatever he said or did
was in obedience to his convictions. He was above and beyond all deceit
and trickery and personal selfishness. His contempt for political
wire-pullers amounted almost to loathing. He was incapable of doing a
mean thing. He might be wrong in his views, and hence might do evil
instead of good, but he was honest. In his severe self-respect and cold
dignity of character he resembled William Pitt. His integrity was
peerless. He could neither be bought nor seduced from his course.
Private considerations had no weight with him, except his aspiration for
the presidency, and even that seems to have passed away when his
disagreement with Jackson put him out of the Democratic race, and when
the new crisis arose in Southern interests, to which he ever after
devoted himself with entire self-abnegation.

In moral character Calhoun was as reproachless as Washington. He neither
drank to excess, nor gambled, nor violated the seventh commandment. He
had no fellowship with either fools or knaves. He believed that the
office of Senator was the highest to which Americans could ordinarily
attain, and he gave dignity to it, and felt its responsibilities. He
thought that only the best and most capable men should be elevated to
that post. Nor would he seek it by unworthy ends. The office sought him,
not he the office. It was this pure and exalted character which gave him
such an ascendency at the South, as much as his marvellous logical
powers and his devotion to Southern interests. His constituents believed
in him and followed him, perhaps blindly. Therefore, when we consider
what are generally acknowledged as his mistakes, we should bear in mind
the palliating circumstances.

Calhoun was the incarnation of Southern public opinion,--bigoted,
narrow, prejudiced, but intense in its delusions and loyal to its
dogmas. Hence he enslaved others as he was himself enslaved. He was
alike the idol and the leader of his State, impossible to be dethroned,
as Webster was with the people of Massachusetts until he misrepresented
their convictions. The consistency of his career was marvellous,--not
that he did not change some of his opinions, for there is no
intellectual progress to a man who does not. How can a young man,
however gifted, be infallible? But whatever the changes through which
his mind passed, they did not result from self-interest or ambition, but
were the result of more enlightened views and enlarged experience.
Political wisdom is not a natural instinct, but a progressive growth,
like that of Burke,--the profoundest of all the intellects of his

Calhoun made several great speeches in the Senate of the United States,
besides those in reference to a banking system connected with the
government, which, whether wise or erroneous, contained some important
truths. But the logical deduction of them all may be summed up in one
idea,--the supremacy of State rights in opposition to a central
government. This, from the time when the diverging interests of the
North and the South made him feel the dangers in "the unchecked will of
a majority of the whole," was the dogma of his life, from which he
never swerved, and which he pursued to all its legitimate conclusions.
Whatever measure tended to the consolidation of central power, whether
in reference to the encroachments of the Executive or the usurpations of
Congress, he denounced with terrible earnestness and sometimes with
great eloquence. This is the key to the significant portion of his
political career.

In his speech on the Force Bill, in 1834, he says:

"If we now raise our eyes and direct them towards that once beautiful
system, with all its various, separate, and independent parts blended
into one harmonious whole, we must be struck with the mighty change! All
have disappeared, gone,--absorbed, concentrated, and consolidated in
this government, which is left alone in the midst of the desolation of
the system, the sole and unrestricted representative of an absolute and
despotic majority.... In the place of their admirably contrived system,
the act proposed to be repealed has erected our great Consolidated
Government. Can it be necessary for me to show what must be the
inevitable consequences?... It was clearly foreseen and foretold on the
formation of the Constitution what these consequences would be. All the
calamities we have experienced, and those which are yet to come, are the
result of the consolidating tendency of this government; and unless this
tendency be arrested, all that has been foretold will certainly befall
us,--even to the pouring out of the last vial of wrath, military

That was what Mr. Calhoun feared,--that the consolidation of a central
power would be fatal to the liberties of the country and the rights of
the States, and would introduce a system of spoils and the reign of
demagogues, all in subserviency to a mere military chieftain, utterly
unfit to guide the nation in its complicated interests. But his gloomy
predictions fortunately were not fulfilled, in spite of all the misrule
and obstinacy of the man he intensely distrusted and disliked. The
tendency has been to usurpations by Congress rather than by the

It is impossible not to admire the lofty tone, free from personal
animus, which is seen in all Calhoun's speeches. They may have been
sophistical, but they appealed purely to the intellect of those whom he
addressed, without the rhetoric of his great antagonists. His speeches
are compact arguments, such as one would address to the Supreme Court on
his side of the question.

Thus far his speeches in the Senate had been in reference to economic
theories and legislation antagonistic to the interests of the South, and
the usurpations of executive power, which threatened directly the rights
of independent States, and indirectly the liberties of the people and
the political degradation of the nation; but now new issues arose from
the agitation of the slavery question, and his fame chiefly rests on his
persistent efforts to suppress this agitation, as logically leading to
the dissolution of the Union and the destruction of the institution
with which its prosperity was supposed to be identified.

The early Abolitionists, as I remember them, were, as a body, of very
little social or political influence. They were earnest, clear-headed,
and uncompromising in denouncing slavery as a great moral evil, indeed
as a sin, disgraceful to a free people, and hostile alike to morality
and civilization. But in the general apathy as to an institution with
which the Constitution did not meddle, and the general government could
not interfere, except in districts and territories under its exclusive
control, the Abolitionists were generally regarded as fanatical and
mischievous. They had but few friends and supporters among the upper
classes and none among politicians. The pulpit, the bar, the press, and
the colleges were highly conservative, and did not like the popular
agitation much better than the Southerners themselves. But the leaders
of the antislavery movement persevered in their denunciations of
slaveholders, and of all who sympathized with them; they held public
meetings everywhere and gradually became fierce and irritating.

It was the period of lyceum lectures, when all moral subjects were
discussed before the people with fearlessness, and often with acrimony.
Most of the popular lecturers were men of radical sympathies, and were
inclined to view all evils on abstract principles as well as in their
practical effects. Thus, the advocates of peace believed that war under
all circumstances was wicked. The temperance reformers insisted that the
use of alcoholic liquors in all cases was a sin. Learned professors in
theological schools attempted to prove that the wines of Palestine were
unfermented, and could not intoxicate. The radical Abolitionists, in
like manner, asserted that it was wicked to hold a man in bondage under
any form of government, or under any guarantee of the Constitution.

At first they were contented to point out the moral evils of slavery,
both on the master and the slave; but this did not provoke much
opposition, since the evils were open and confessed, even at the South;
only, it was regarded as none of their business, since the evils could
not be remedied, and had always been lamented. That slavery was simply
an evil, and generally acknowledged to be, both North and South, was
taking rather tame ground, even as peace doctrines were unexciting when
it was allowed that, if we must fight, we must. But there was some
excitement in the questions whether it were allowable to fight at all,
or drink wine at any time, or hold a slave under any circumstances. The
lecturers must take stronger grounds if they wished to be heard or to
excite interest. So they next unhesitatingly assumed the ground that war
was a _malum per se_, and wine-drinking also, and all slave-holding,
and a host of other things. Their discussions aroused the intellect, as
well as appealed to the moral sense. Even "strong-minded" women
fearlessly went into fierce discussions, and became intolerant.
Gradually the whole North and West were aroused, not merely to the moral
evils of slavery, which were admitted without discussion, but to the
intolerable abomination of holding a slave under any conditions, as
against reason, against conscience, and against humanity.

The Southerners themselves felt that the evil was a great one, and made
some attempt to remedy it by colonization societies. They would send
free blacks to Liberia to Christianize and civilize the natives, sunk in
the lowest abyss of misery and shame. Many were the Christian men and
women at the South who pitied the hard condition under which their
slaves were born, and desired to do all they could to ameliorate it.

But when the Abolitionists announced that all slaveholding was a sin,
and when public opinion at the North was evidently drifting to this
doctrine, then the planters grew indignant and enraged. It became
unpleasant for a Northern merchant or traveller to visit a Southern
city, and equally unpleasant for a Southern student to enter a Northern
college, or a planter to resort to a Northern watering-place. The
common-sense of the planter was outraged when told that he was a sinner
above all others. He was exasperated beyond measure when incendiary
publications were transmitted through Southern mails. He did not believe
that he was necessarily immoral because he retained an institution
bequeathed to him by his ancestors, and recognized by the Constitution
of the United States.

Calhoun was the impersonation of Southern feelings as well as the
representative of Southern interests. He intensely felt the indignity
which the Abolitionists cast upon his native State, and upon its
peculiar institution. And he was clear-headed enough to see that if
public opinion settled down into the conviction that slavery was a sin
as well as an inherited evil, the North and South could not long live
together in harmony and peace. He saw that any institution would be
endangered with the verdict of the civilized world against it. He knew
that public opinion was an amazing power, which might be defied, but not
successfully resisted. He saw no way to stop the continually increasing
attacks of the antislavery agitators except by adopting an entirely new
position,--a position which should unite all the slaveholding States in
the strongest ties of interest.

Accordingly he declared, as the leader of Southern opinions and
interests, that slavery was neither an evil nor a sin, but a positive
good and blessing, supported even by the Bible as well as by the
Constitution, In assuming these premises he may have argued logically,
but he lost the admiration he had gained by twenty years' services in
the national legislature. His premises were wrong, and his arguments
would necessarily be sophistical and fall to the ground. He stepped down
from the lofty pedestal he had hitherto occupied, to become not merely a
partisan, but an unscrupulous politician. He had a right to defend his
beloved institutions as the leader of interests intrusted to him to
guard. His fault was not in being a partisan, for most politicians are
party men; it was in advancing a falsehood as the basis of his
arguments. But, if he had stultified his own magnificent intellect, he
could not impose on the convictions of mankind. From the time he assumed
a ground utterly untenable, whatever were his motives or real
convictions, his general influence waned. His arguments did not
convince, since they were deductions from wrong premises, and premises
which shocked and insulted the reason.

Calhoun now became a man of one idea, and that a false one. He was a
gigantic crank,--an arch-Jesuit, indifferent to means so long as he
could bring about his end; and he became not merely a casuist, but a
dictatorial and arrogant politician. He defied that patriotic burst of
public opinion which had compelled him to change his ground, that
mighty wave of thought, no more to be resisted than a storm upon the
ocean, and which he saw would gradually sweep away his cherished
institution unless his constituents and the whole South should be made
to feel that their cause was right and just; that slavery had not only
materially enriched the Southern States, but had converted fetich
idolaters to the true worship of God, and widened the domain of
civilization. The planters, one and all, responded to this sophistical
and seductive plea, and said to one another, "Now we can defy the
universe on moral grounds. We stand united,--what care we for the
ravings of fanatics outside our borders, so long as our institution is a
blessing to us, planted on the rock of Christianity, and endorsed by the
best men among us!" The theologians took up the cause, both North and
South, and made their pulpits ring with appeals to Scripture. "Were
not," they said, "the negroes descendants of Ham, and had not these
descendants been cursed by the Almighty, and given over to the control
of the children of Shem and Japhet,--not, indeed, to be trodden down
like beasts, but to be elevated and softened by them, and made useful in
the toils which white men could not endure?" Ultra-Calvinists united
with politicians in building up a public sentiment in favor of slavery
as the best possible condition for the ignorant, sensuous, and
superstitious races who, when put under the training and guardianship
of a civilized and Christian people, had escaped the harder lot which
their fathers endured in the deserts and the swamps of Africa.

The agitation at the North had been gradually but constantly increasing.
In 1831 William Lloyd Garrison started "The Liberator;" in 1832 the New
England Antislavery Society was founded in Boston; in 1833 New York had
a corresponding society, and Joshua Leavitt established "The
Emancipator." Books, tracts, and other publications began to be
circulated. By lectures, newspapers, meetings, and all manner of means
the propagandism was carried on. On the other hand, the most violent
opposition had been manifested throughout the North to these so-called
"fanatics." No language was too opprobrious to apply to them. The
churches and ministry were either dumb on the subject, or defended
slavery from the Scriptures. Mobs broke up antislavery meetings, and in
some cases proceeded even to the extreme of attack and murder,--as in
the case of Lovejoy of Illinois. The approach of the political campaign
of 1836, when Van Buren was running as the successor of Jackson,
involved the Democratic party as the ally of the South for political
purposes, and "Harmony and Union" were the offsets to the cry for

By 1835 the excitement was at its height, and especially along the line
of the moral and religious argumentation, where the proslavery men met
talk with talk. What could the Abolitionists do now with their Northern
societies to show that slavery was a wrong and a sin? Their weapons fell
harmless on the bucklers of warriors who supposed themselves fighting
under the protection of Almighty power in order to elevate and
Christianize a doomed race. Victory seemed to be snatched from victors,
and in the moral contest the Southern planters and their Northern
supporters swelled the air with triumphant shouts. They were impregnable
in their new defences, since they claimed to be in the right. Both
parties had now alike appealed to reason and Scripture, and where were
the judges who could settle conflicting opinions? The Abolitionists,
somewhat discouraged, but undaunted, then changed their mode of attack.
They said, "We will waive the moral question, for we talk to men without
conscience, and we will instead make it a political one. We will appeal
to majorities. We will attack the hostile forces in a citadel which they
cannot hold. The District of Columbia belongs to Congress. Congress can
abolish slavery if it chooses in its own territory. Having possession of
this great fortress, we can extend our political warfare to the vast and
indefinite West, and, at least, prevent the further extension of
slave-power. We will trust to time and circumstance and truth to do the
rest. We will petition Congress itself."

And from 1835 onward petitions rolled into both Houses from all parts of
the North and West to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, which
Congress could constitutionally do. The venerable and enlightened John
Quincy Adams headed the group of petitioners in the House of
representatives. There were now two thousand antislavery societies in
the United States. In 1837 three hundred thousand persons petitioned for
the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. The legislatures
of Massachusetts and Vermont had gone so far as to censure Congress for
its inaction and indifference to the rights of humanity.

But it was in January, 1836, that John C. Calhoun arose in his wrath and
denied the right of petition. The indignant North responded to such an
assumption in flaming words. "What," said the leaders of public opinion,
"cannot the lowest subjects of the Czar or the Shah appeal to ultimate
authority? Has there ever been an empire so despotic as to deny so
obvious a right? Did not Caesar and Cyrus, Louis and Napoleon receive
petitions? Shall an enlightened Congress reject the prayers of the most
powerful of their constituents, and to remove an evil which people
generally regard as an outrage, and all people as a misfortune?"

"We will not allow the reception of petitions at all," said the
Southern leaders, "for they will lead to discussion on a forbidden
subject. They are only an entrance wedge to disrupt the Union. The
Constitution has guaranteed to us exclusively the preservation of an
institution on which our welfare rests. You usurp a privilege which you
call a right. Your demands are dangerous to the peace of the Union, and
are preposterous. You violate unwritten law. You seek to do what the
founders of our republic never dreamed of. When two of the States ceded
their own slave territory to the central government, it was with the
understanding that slavery should remain as it was in the district we
owned and controlled. You cannot lawfully even discuss the matter. It is
none of your concern. It is an institution which was the basis of that
great compromise without which there never could have been a united
nation,--only a league of sovereign States. We have the same right to
exclude the discussion of this question from these halls as from the
capitals of our respective States. The right of petition on such a
subject is tantamount to consideration and discussion, which would be
unlawful interference with our greatest institution, leading
legitimately and logically to disunion and war. Is it right, is it
generous, is it patriotic to drive us to such an alternative? We only
ask to be let alone. You assail a sacred ark where dwell the seraphim
and cherubim of our liberties, of our honor, of our interests, of our
loyalty itself. To this we never will consent."

Mr. Clay then came forward in Congress as an advocate for considering
the question of petitions. He was for free argument on the subject. He
admitted that the Abolitionists were dangerous, but he could not shut
his eyes to an indisputable right. So he went half-way, as was his
custom, pleasing neither party, and alienating friends; but at the same
time with great tact laying out a middle ground where the opposing
parties could still stand together without open conflict. "I am no
friend," said he, "to slavery. The Searcher of hearts knows that every
pulsation of mine beats high and strong in the cause of civil liberty.
Wherever it is practicable and safe I desire to see every portion of the
human family in the enjoyment of it; but I prefer the liberty of my own
country to that of other people. The liberty of the descendants of
Africa in the United States is incompatible with the liberty and safety
of the European descendants." Such were the sentiments of the leading
classes of the North, not yet educated up to the doctrines which
afterwards prevailed. But the sentiments declared by Clay lost him the
presidency. His political sins, like those of Webster, were sins of
omission rather than of commission. Neither of them saw that the little
cloud in the horizon would soon cover the heavens, and pour down a
deluge to sweep away abominations worse than Ahab ever dreamed of. Clay
did not go far enough to please the rising party. He did not see the
power or sustain the rightful exercise of this new moral force, but he
did argue on grounds of political expediency for the citizens' right of
petition,--a right conceded even to the subjects of unlimited despotism.
An Ahasuerus could throw petitions into the mire, without reading, but
it was customary to accept them.

The result was a decision on the part of Congress to admit the
petitions, but to pay no further attention to them.

The Abolitionists, however, had resorted to less scrupulous measures.
They sent incendiary matter through the mails, not with the object of
inciting the slaves to rebellion,--this was hopeless,--but with the
design of aiding their escape from bondage, and perchance of influencing
traitors in the Southern camp. To this new attack Calhoun responded with
dignity and with logic. And we cannot reasonably blame him for repelling
it. The Southern cities had as good a right to exclude inflammatory
pamphlets as New York or Boston has to prevent the introduction of the
cholera. It was the instinct of self-preservation; whatever may be said
of their favorite institution on ethical grounds, they had the legal
right to protect it from incendiary matter.

But what was incendiary matter? Who should determine that point?
President Jackson in 1835 had recommended Congress to pass a law
prohibiting under severe penalties the circulation in the Southern
States, through the mails, of incendiary publications. But this did not
satisfy the Southern dictator. He denied the right of Congress to
determine what publications should be or should not be excluded. He
maintained that this was a matter for the States alone to decide. He
would not trust postmasters, for they were officers of the United States
government. It was not for them to be inquisitors, nor for the Federal
government to interfere, even for the protection of a State institution,
with its own judgment. He proposed instead a law forbidding Federal
postmasters to deliver publications prohibited by the laws of a State,
Territory, or District. In this, as in all other controverted questions,
Calhoun found means to argue for the supremacy of the State and the
subordination of the Union. His bill did not pass, but the force of his
argument went forth into the land.

How far antislavery documents had influence on the slaves themselves, it
is difficult to say. They could neither read nor write; but it is
remarkable that from this period a large number of slaves made their
escape from the South and fled to the North, protected by
philanthropists, Abolitionists, and kind-hearted-people generally.

How they contrived to travel a thousand miles without money, without
suitable clothing, pursued by blood-hounds and hell-hounds, hiding in
the daytime in swamps, morasses, and forests, walking by night in
darkness and gloom, until passed by friendly hands through "underground
railroads" until they reached Canada, is a mystery. But these efforts to
escape from their hard and cruel masters further intensified the
exasperation of the South.

It was in 1836 that Michigan and Arkansas applied for admission as
States into the Union,--one free and the other with slavery. Discussions
on some technicalities concerning the conditions of Michigan's admission
gave Mr. Calhoun a chance for more argumentation about the sovereignty
of a State, which, considering the fact that Michigan had not then been
admitted but was awaiting the permission of Congress _to be_ a State,
showed the weakness of his logic in the falsity of his premise. Besides
Arkansas, the slave-power also gained access to a strip of free
territory north of the compromise line of 36°30' and the Missouri River.
In 1837 John Quincy Adams, "the old man eloquent" of the House of
Representatives, narrowly escaped censure for introducing a petition
from slaves in the District of Columbia. In 1838 Calhoun introduced
resolutions declaring that petitions relative to slavery in the District
were "a direct and dangerous attack on the institutions of all the
slave-holding States." In 1839 Henry Clay offered a petition for the
repression of all agitation respecting slavery in the District. Calhoun
saw and constantly denounced the danger. He knew the power of public
opinion, and saw the rising tide. Conservatism heeded the warning, and
the opposition to agitation intensified all over the South and the
North; but to no avail. New societies were formed; new papers were
established; religious bodies began to take position for and against the
agitation; the Maine legislature passed in the lower House, and almost
in the upper, resolutions denouncing slavery in the District; while the
Abolitionists labored incessantly and vigorously to "Blow the trumpet;
cry aloud and spare not; show my people their sins," as to slavery.

In 1840 Van Buren and Harrison, the Democratic and Whig candidates for
the presidency were both in the hands of the slave-power; and Tyler, who
as Vice-President succeeded to the Executive chair on Harrison's death,
was a Virginian slaveholder. The ruling classes and politicians all over
the land were violently opposed to the antislavery cause, and every test
of strength gave new securities and pledges to the Southern elements and
their Northern sympathizers.

Notwithstanding the frequent triumphs of the South, aided by Whigs and
Democrats from the North, who played into the hands of Southern
politicians, Mr. Calhoun was not entirely at rest in his mind. He saw
with alarm the increasing immigration into the Western States, which
threatened to disturb the balance of power which the South had ever
held; and with the aid of Southern leaders he now devised a new and bold
scheme, which was to annex Texas to the United States and thus enlarge
enormously the area of slavery. It was probably his design, not so much
to strengthen the slaveholding interests of South Carolina, as to
increase the political power of the South. By the addition of new slave
States he could hope for more favorable legislation in Congress. The
arch-conspirator--the haughty and defiant dictator--would not only
exclude Congress from all legislation over its own territory in the
national District, but he now would make Congress bolster up his cause.
He could calculate on a "solid South," and also upon the aid of the
leaders of the political parties at the North,--"Northern men with
Southern principles,"--who were strangely indifferent to the extension
of slavery.

The Abolitionists were indeed now a power, but the antislavery sentiment
had not reached its culmination, although it had become politically
organized. For the campaign of 1840, seeing the futility of petition
and the folly of expecting action on issues foreign to those on which
Congressmen had been elected, the Abolitionists boldly called a National
Convention, in which six States were represented, and nominated
candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency. It was a small and
despised beginning, but it was the germ of a mighty growth. From that
time the Liberty Party began to hold State and National Conventions, and
to vote directly on the question of representatives. They did not for
years elect anybody, but they defeated many an ultra pro-slavery man,
and their influence began to be felt. In 1841 Joshua R. Giddings, from
Ohio, and in 1843 John P. Hale from New Hampshire and Hannibal Hamlin
from Maine brought in fresh Northern air and confronted the slave-power
in Congress, in alliance with grand old John Quincy Adams,--whose last
years were his best years, and have illumined his name.

Most of the antislavery men were still denounced as fanatics, meddling
with what was none of their business. In 1843 they had not enrolled in
their ranks the most influential men in the community. Ministers,
professors, lawyers, and merchants generally still held aloof from the
controversy, and were either hostile or indifferent to it. So, with the
aid of the "Dough-Faces," as they were stigmatized by the progressive
party, Calhoun was confident of success in the Texan scheme.

At that time many adventurers had settled in Texas, which was then a
province of Mexico, and had carried with them their slaves. In 1820
Moses Austin, a Connecticut man, long resident in Missouri, obtained
large grants of land in Texas from the Mexican government, and his son
Stephen carried out after the father's death a scheme of colonization of
some three hundred families from Missouri and Louisiana. They were a
rough and lawless population, but self-reliant and enterprising. They
increased rapidly, until, in 1833, being twenty thousand in number, they
tried to form a State government under Mexico; and, this being denied
them, declared their independence and made revolution. They were headed
by Sam Houston, who had fought under General Jackson, and had been
Governor of Tennessee. In 1836 the independence of Texas was proclaimed.
Soon after followed the battle of San Jacinto, in which Santa Anna, the
President of the Mexican republic and the commander of the Mexican
forces, was taken prisoner.

Immediately after this battle Mr. Calhoun tried to have it announced as
the policy of the government to recognize the independence of Texas.
When Tyler became President, by the death of Harrison, although elected
by Whig votes he entered heart and soul into the schemes of Calhoun,
who, to forward them, left the Senate, and became Secretary of State, as
successor to Mr. Upshur. In 1843 it became apparent that Texas would be
annexed to the United States. In that same year Iowa and Florida--one
free, the other slave--were admitted to the Union.

The Liberty party beheld the proposed annexation of Texas with alarm,
and sturdily opposed it as far as they could through their friends in
Congress, predicting that it would be tantamount to a war with Mexico.
The Mexican minister declared the same result. But "Texas or Disunion!"
became the rallying cry of the South. The election of Polk, the
annexationist Democrat, in 1844, was seized upon as a "popular mandate"
for annexation, although had not the Liberty Party, who like the Whigs
were anti-annexationists, divided the vote in New York State, Clay would
have been elected. The matter was hurried through Congress; the Northern
Democrats made no serious opposition, since they saw in this annexation
a vast accession of territory around the Gulf of Mexico, of indefinite
extent. Thus, Texas, on March 1, 1845, was offered annexation by a Joint
Resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives, in the face of
protests from the wisest men of the country, and in spite of certain
hostilities with Mexico. On the following fourth of July Texas,
accepting annexation, was admitted to the Union as a slave State, to the
dismay of Channing, of Garrison, of Phillips, of Sumner, of Adams, and
of the whole antislavery party, now aroused to the necessity of more
united effort, in view of this great victory to the South; for it was
provided that at any time, by the consent of its own citizens, Texas
might be divided into four States, whenever its population should be
large enough; its territory was four times as large as France.

The Democratic President Polk took office in March, 1845; the Mexican
War, beginning in May, 1846, was fought to a successful close in a year
and five months, ending September, 1847; the fertile territory of
Oregon, purchased from Spain, had been peaceably occupied by rapid
immigration and by settlement of disputed boundaries with Great Britain;
California--a Mexican province--had been secured to the American
settlers of its lovely hills and valleys by the prompt daring of Capt.
John C. Frémont; and the result of the war was the formal cession to the
United States by Mexico of the territories of California and New Mexico,
and recognition of the annexation and statehood of Texas.

Both the North and the South had thus gained large possibilities, and at
the North the spirit of enterprise and the clear perception of the
economic value of free labor as against slave labor were working
mightily to help men see the moral arguments of the antislavery people.
The division of interest was becoming plain; the forces of good sense
and the principles of liberty were consolidating the North against
farther extension of the slave-power. The perils foreseen by Calhoun,
which he had striven to avoid by repression of all political discussion
of slavery, were nigh at hand. The politicians of the North, too,
scented the change, and began to range themselves with their section;
and, while there was a long struggle yet ahead before the issues would
be made up, to the eye of faith the end was already in sight, and the
"Free-Soilers" now redoubled their efforts both in discussion and in
political action.

Thus far, most of the political victories had been with the slave-power,
and the South became correspondently arrogant and defiant. The war of
ideas against Southern interests now raged with ominous and increasing
force in all the Northern States. Public opinion became more and more
inflamed. Passions became excited in cities and towns and villages which
had been dormant since the Constitution had been adopted. The decree of
the North went forth that there should be no more accession of slave
territory; and, more than this, the population spread with unexampled
rapidity toward the Pacific Ocean in consequence of the discovery of
gold in California, in 1848, and attracted by the fertile soil of
Oregon. Immigrants from all nations came to seek their fortunes in
territories north of 36°30'.

What Calhoun had anticipated in 1836, when he cast his eyes on Texas,
did not take place. Slave territory indeed was increased, but free
territory increased still more rapidly. The North was becoming richer
and richer, and the South scarcely held its own. The balance which he
thought would be in favor of the South, he now saw inclining to the
North. Northern States became more numerous than Southern ones, and more
populous, more wealthy, and more intelligent. The political power of the
Union, when Mr. Polk closed his inglorious administration, was
perceptibly with the North, and not political power only, but moral
power. The great West was the soil of freemen.

But the haughty and defiant spirit of Calhoun was not broken. He
prophesied woes. He became sad and dejected, but more and more
uncompromising, more and more dictatorial. He would not yield. "If we
yield an inch," said he, "we are lost." The slightest concession, in his
eyes, would be fatal. When he declared his nullification doctrines it
was because he thought that State rights were invaded by hostile
tariffs. But after the Mexican War slavery was to him a matter of life
and death. He made many excellent and powerful speeches, which tasked
the intellect of Webster to refute; but, whatever the subject, it was
seen only through his Southern spectacles, and argued from partisan
grounds and with partisan zeal. Everything he uttered was with a view of
consolidating the South, and preparing it for disunion and secession, as
the only way to preserve the beloved institution. In his eyes, slavery
and the Union could not co-exist. This he saw plainly, but if either
must perish it should be the Union; and this doctrine he so constantly
reiterated that he won over to it nearly the entire South. But in
consolidating the South, he also consolidated the North. He forced on
the issue, believing that even yet the South, united with Northern
allies, was the stronger, and that it could establish its independence
on a slavery basis. The Union was no union at all, and its Constitution
was a worthless parchment. "He proposed a convention of the Southern
States which should agree that, until full justice was rendered to the
South, all the Southern ports should be closed to the sea-going vessels
of the North." He arrogantly would deprive the North even of its
constitutional rights in reference to the exclusion of slavery from the
Territories. In no way should the North meddle with the slavery
question, on penalty of secession; and the sooner this was understood
the better. "We are," said he, "relatively stronger than we shall be
hereafter, politically and morally."

The great fight arose in 1849. The people in the Northwestern
territories had been encouraged to form governments, and had already
tasted the delights of self-rule. President Polk had recommended the
extension of the old Missouri Compromise line of 36° 30' westward to the
Pacific, leaving the territory south of that open to slavery. This would
divide California, and was opposed by all parties. Calhoun now went so
far as to claim the constitutional right to take slaves into any
Territory, while Webster argued the power of Congress to rule the
Territories until they should become States. So excited was the
discussion that a convention of Southern States was held to frame a
separate government for the "United States South." The threat of
secession was ever their most potent argument. The contest in Congress
centred upon the admission of California as a State and the condition of
slavery in the Territories of Utah and New Mexico.

A great crisis had now arrived. Clay, "the great pacificator," once more
stepped into the arena with a new compromise. To provide for concessions
on either side, he proposed the admission of California (whose new
constitution prohibited slavery); the organization of Utah and New
Mexico as Territories without mention of slavery (leaving it to the
people); the arrangement of the boundary of Texas; the abolition of
slavery in the District of Columbia; and the enactment of a more
stringent fugitive-slave law, commanding the assistance of people in the
free States to capture runaways, when summoned by the authorities.

The general excitement over the discussion of this bill will never be
forgotten by those who witnessed it. The South raged, and the North
blazed with indignation,--especially over the Fugitive-Slave Bill.

Meanwhile Calhoun was dying. His figure was bent, his voice was feeble,
his face was haggard, but his superb intellect still retained its vigor
to the last. Among the multitude of ringing appeals to the reason and
moral sense of the North was a newspaper article from _The Independent_
of New York, by a young Congregational minister, Henry Ward Beecher. It
was entitled "Shall we Compromise?" and made clear and plain the issue
before the people: "Slavery is right; Slavery is wrong: Slavery shall
live; Slavery shall die: are these conflicts to be settled by any mode
of parcelling out certain Territories?" This article was read to Calhoun
upon his dying bed. "Who wrote that?" he asked. The name was given him.
"That man understands the thing. He has gone to the bottom of it. He
will be heard from again." It was what the great Southerner had
foreseen and foretold from the first.

The compromise bill at last became a law. It averted the final outbreak
for ten years longer, but contained elements that were to be potent
factors in insuring the final crisis.

With the burden of the whole South upon his shoulders Calhoun tottered
to the grave a most unhappy man, for though he saw the "irrepressible
conflict" as clearly as Seward had done, he also saw that the South,
even if successful, as he hoped, must go through a sea of tribulation.
When he was no longer able to address the Senate in person he still
waged the battle. His last great speech was read to the Senate by Mr.
Mason of Virginia, on the 4th of March, 1850. It was not bitter, nor
acrimonious; it was a doleful lament that the Southern States could not
long remain in the Union with any dignity, now that the equilibrium was
destroyed. He felt that he had failed, but also that he had done his
duty; and this was his only consolation in view of approaching
disasters. On the last day of March he died, leaving behind him his
principles, so full of danger and sophistries, but at the same time an
unsullied name, and the memory of earlier public services and of private
virtues which had secured to him the respect of all who knew him.

In reviewing the career of Mr. Calhoun it would seem that the great
error and mistake of his life was his disloyalty to the Union. When he
advocated State rights as paramount over those of the general government
he merely took the ground which was discussed over and over again at the
formation of the Constitution, and which resulted in a compromise that,
with control over matters of interest common to all States, the central
government should have no power over the institution of slavery, which
was a domestic affair in the Southern States. Only these States, it was
settled, had supreme control over their own "peculiar institution." As a
politician, representing Southern interests, he cannot be severely
condemned for his fear and anger over the discussion of the slavery
question, which, politically considered, was out of the range of
Congressional legislation or popular agitation. But when he advocated or
threatened the secession of the Southern States from the Union, unless
the slavery question was let alone entirely both by Congress and the
Northern States, he was unpatriotic, false in his allegiance, and
unconstitutional in his utterances. A State has a right to enter the
Union or not, remaining of course, in either case, United States
territory, over which Congress has legislative power. But when once it
has entered into the Union, it must remain there as a part of the whole.
Otherwise the States would be a mere league, as in the Revolutionary

Mr. Calhoun had a right to bring the whole pressure of the slave States
on a congressional vote on any question. He could say, as the Irish
members of Parliament say, "Unless you do this or that we will obstruct
the wheels of government, and thus compel the consideration of our
grievances, so long as we hold the balance of power between contending
parties." But it is quite another thing for the Irish legislators to
say, "Unless you do this or that, we will secede from the Union," which
Ireland could not do without war and revolution. Mr. Calhoun, in his
onesidedness, entirely overlooked the fact that the discontented States
could not secede without a terrible war; for if there is one sentiment
dear to the American people, it is the preservation of the Union, and
for it they will make any sacrifice.

And the same may be said in reference to Calhoun's nullification
doctrines. He would, if he could, have taken his State out of the Union,
because he and the South did not like the tariff. He had the right, as a
Senator in Congress, to bring all the influence he could command to
compel Congress to modify the tariff, or abolish it altogether. And with
this he ought to have been contented. With a solid South and a divided
North, he could have compelled a favorable compromise, or prevented any
legislation at all. It is legitimate legislation for members of Congress
to maintain their local and sectional interest at any cost, short of
disunion; only, it may be neither wise nor patriotic, since men who are
supposed to be statesmen would by so doing acknowledge themselves to be
mere politicians, bound hand and foot in subjection to selfish
constituents, and indifferent to the general good.

Mr. Calhoun became blind to general interests in his zeal to perpetuate
slavery, or advance whatever would be desirable to the South,
indifferent to the rest of the country; and thus he was a mere partisan,
narrow and local. What made him so powerful and popular at the South
equally made him to be feared and distrusted at the North. He was a
firebrand, infinitely more dangerous and incendiary than any
Abolitionist whom he denounced. Calhoun's congressional career was the
opposite of that of Henry Clay, who was more patriotic and more of a
statesman, for he always professed allegiance to the whole Union, and
did all he could to maintain it. His whole soul was devoted to tariffs
and internal improvements, but he would yield important points to
produce harmony and ward off dangers. Calhoun, with his
State-sovereignty doctrines, his partisanship, and his unscrupulous
defiance of the Constitution, forfeited his place among great statesmen,
and lost the esteem and confidence of a majority of his countrymen,
except so far as his abilities and his unsullied private life entitled
him to admiration.


I know of no abler and more candid life of Calhoun than that of Von
Holst. Although deficient in incidents, it is no small contribution to
American literature, apparently drawn from a careful study of the
speeches of the great Nullifier. If the author had had more material to
work upon, he would probably have made a more popular work, such as Carl
Schurz has written of Henry Clay, and Henry Cabot Lodge of Daniel
Webster and Alexander Hamilton. In connection read the biographies of
Clay, Webster, and Jackson; see Wilson's History of the Rise and Fall of
the Slave Power, also Benton's Thirty Years of Congressional History,
and Calhoun's Speeches.




In the year 1830, or thereabouts, a traveller on the frontier
settlements of Illinois (if a traveller was ever known in those dreary
regions) might have seen a tall, gaunt, awkward, homely, sad-looking
young man of twenty-one, clothed in a suit of brown jean dyed with
walnut-bark, hard at work near a log cabin on the banks of the river
Sangamon,--a small stream emptying into the Illinois River. The man was
splitting rails, which he furnished to a poor woman in exchange for some
homespun cloth to make a pair of trousers, at the rate of four hundred
rails per yard. His father, one of the most shiftless of the poor whites
of Kentucky, a carpenter by trade, had migrated to Indiana, and, after a
short residence, had sought another home on a bluff near the Sangamon
River, where he had cleared, with the assistance of his son, about
fifteen acres of land. From this he gained a miserable and
precarious living.

The young rail-splitter had also a knack of slaughtering hogs, for
which he received thirty cents a day. Physically he had extraordinary
strength, and no one could beat him in wrestling and other athletic
exercises. Mentally, he was bright, inquiring, and not wholly
illiterate. He had learned, during his various peregrinations, to read,
write, and cipher. He was reliable and honest, and had in 1828 been
employed, when his father lived in Indiana, by a Mr. Gentry, to
accompany his son to New Orleans, with a flat-boat of produce, which he
sold successfully.

It is not my object to dwell on the early life of Abraham Lincoln. It
has been made familiar by every historian who has written about him, in
accordance with the natural curiosity to know the beginnings of
illustrious men; and the more humble, the more interesting these are to
most people. It is quite enough to say that no man in the United States
ever reached eminence from a more obscure origin.

Rail-splitting did not achieve the results to which the ambition of
young Lincoln aspired, so he contrived to go into the grocery business;
but in this he was unsuccessful, owing to an inherent deficiency in
business habits and aptitude. He was, however, gifted with shrewd sense,
a quick sense of humor with keen wit, and a marked steadiness of
character, which gained him both friends and popularity in the miserable
little community where he lived; and in 1832 he was elected captain of
a military company to fight Indians in the Black Hawk War. There is no
evidence that he ever saw the enemy. He probably would have fought well
had he been so fortunate as to encounter the foe; for he was cool,
fearless, strong, agile, and active without rashness. In 1833 he was
made postmaster of a small village; but the office paid nothing, and his
principal profit from it was the opportunity to read newspapers and some
magazine trash. He was still very poor, and was surrounded with rough
people who lived chiefly on corn bread and salt pork, who slept in
cabins without windows, and who drank whiskey to excess, yet who were
more intelligent than they seemed.

Such was Abraham Lincoln at the age of twenty-four,--obscure, unknown,
poverty-stricken, and without a calling. Suppose at that time some
supernatural being had appeared to him in a dream, and announced that he
would some day be President of the United States; and not merely this,
but that he would rule the nation in a great crisis, and save it from
dismemberment and anarchy by force of wisdom and character, and leave
behind him when he died a fame second only to that of Washington! Would
he not have felt, on awaking from his dream, pretty much as did the aged
patriarch whose name he bore, when the angel of the Lord assured him
that he would be the father of many nations, that his seed would
outnumber the sands of the sea, and that through him all humanity would
be blessed from generation to generation? Would he not have felt as the
stripling David, among the sheep and the goats of his father's flocks,
when the prophet Samuel announced to him that he should be king over
Israel, and rule with such success and splendor that the greatness and
prosperity of the Jewish nation would be forever dated from his
matchless reign?

The obscure postmaster, without a dollar in his pocket, and carrying the
mail in his hat, had indeed no intimation of his future elevation: but
his career was just as mysterious as that of David, and an old-fashioned
religious man would say that it was equally providential; for of all the
leading men of this great nation it would seem that he turned out to be
the fittest for the work assigned to him,--chosen, not because he was
learned or cultivated or experienced or famous, or even interesting, but
because his steps were so ordered that he fell into the paths which
naturally led to his great position, although no genius could have
foreseen the events which logically controlled the result. If Lincoln
had not been gifted with innate greatness, though unknown to himself and
all the world, to be developed as occasions should arise, no fortunate
circumstances could have produced so extraordinary a career. If Lincoln
had not the germs of greatness in him,--certain qualities which were
necessary for the guidance of a nation in an emergency,--to be developed
subsequently as the need came, then his career is utterly insoluble
according to any known laws of human success; and when history cannot
solve the mysteries of human success,--in other words, "justify the ways
of Providence to man,"--then it loses half its charm, and more than half
its moral force. It ceases to be the great teacher which all nations
claim it to be.

However obscure the birth of Lincoln, and untoward as were all the
circumstances which environed him, he was doubtless born ambitious, that
is, with a strong and unceasing desire to "better his condition." That
at the age of twenty-four he ever dreamed of reaching an exalted
position is improbable. But when he saw the ascendency that his wit and
character had gained for him among rude and uncultivated settlers on the
borders of civilization, then, being a born leader of men, as Jackson
was, it was perfectly natural that he should aspire to be a politician.
Politics ever have been the passion of Western men with more than
average ability, and it required but little learning and culture under
the sovereignty of "squatters" to become a member of the State
legislature, especially in the border States, where population was
sparse, and the people mostly poor and ignorant.

Hence, "smart" young men, in rude villages, early learned to make
speeches in social and political meetings. Every village had its
favorite stump orator, who knew all the affairs of the nation, and a
little more, and who, with windy declamation, amused and delighted his
rustic hearers. Lincoln was one of these. There was never a time, even
in his early career, when he could not make a speech in which there was
more wit than knowledge; although as he increased in knowledge he also
grew in wisdom, and his good sense, with his habit of patient thinking,
gave him the power of clear and convincing statement. Moreover, at
twenty-four, he was already tolerably intelligent, and had devoured all
the books he could lay his hand upon. Indeed, it was to the reading of
books that Lincoln, like Henry Clay, owed pretty much all his schooling.
Beginning with Weems's "Life of Washington" when a mere lad, he
perseveringly read, through all his fortunes, all manner of books,--not
only during leisure hours by day, when tending mill or store, but for
long months by the light of pine shavings from the cooper's shop at
night, and in later times when traversing the country in his various
callings. And his persistent reading gave him new ideas and
broader views.

With his growing thoughts his aspirations grew. So, like others, he took
the stump, and as early as 1832 offered himself a candidate for the
State legislature. His maiden speech in an obscure village is thus
reported: "Fellow citizens, I am humble Abraham Lincoln. My politics are
short and sweet, like the old woman's dance. I am in favor of a National
Bank, of internal improvements, and a high protective tariff. These are
my sentiments. If elected, I shall be thankful; if not, it will be all
the same."

Lincoln was not elected, although supported by the citizens of New
Salem, where he lived, and to whom he had promised the improvement of
the Sangamon River. Disappointed, he went into the grocery business once
again, and again failed, partly because he had no capital, and partly
because he had no business talents in that line; although from his known
integrity he was able to raise what money he needed. He then set about
the study of the law, as a step to political success, read books, and
the occasional newspapers, told stories, and kept his soul in
patience,--which was easier to him than to keep his body in
decent clothes.

It was necessary for him to do something for a living while he studied
law, since the grocery business had failed, and hence he became an
assistant to John Calhoun, the county surveyor, who was overburdened
with work. Just as he had patiently worked through an English Grammar,
to enable him to speak correctly, he took up a work on surveying and
prepared himself for his new employment in six weeks. He was soon
enabled to live more decently, and to make valuable acquaintances,
meanwhile diligently pursuing his law studies, not only during his
leisure, but even as he travelled about the country to and from his
work; on foot or on horseback, his companion was sure to be a law-book.

In 1834 a new election of representatives for the State legislature took
place, and Lincoln became a candidate,--this time with more success,
owing to the assistance of influential friends. He went to Vandalia, the
State capital, as a Whig, and a great admirer of Henry Clay. He was
placed on the Committee of Public Accounts and Expenditures, but made no
mark; yet that he gained respect was obvious from the fact that he was
re-elected by a very large vote. He served a second term, and made
himself popular by advocating schemes to "gridiron" every county with
railroads, straighten out the courses of rivers, dig canals, and cut up
the State into towns, cities, and house-lots. One might suppose that a
man so cool and sensible as he afterwards proved himself to be must have
seen the absurdity of these wild schemes, and hence only fell in with
them from policy as a rising member of the legislature, to gain favor
with his constituents. Yet he and his colleagues were all crude and
inexperienced legislators, and it is no discredit to Lincoln that he was
borne along with the rest in an enthusiasm for "developing the country."
The mania for speculation was nearly universal, especially in the new
Western States. Illinois alone projected 1,350 miles of railroad,
without money and without credit to carry out this Bedlam legislation,
and in almost every village there were "corner lots" enough to be sold
to make a great city. Aside from this participation in a bubble destined
to burst, and to be followed by disasters, bankruptcies, and universal
distress, Lincoln was credited with steadiness, and gained great
influence. He was prominent in securing the passage of a bill which
removed the seat of government to Springfield, and was regarded as a
good debater. In this session, too, he and Daniel Stone, the two
representatives from Sangamon County, introduced a resolution declaring
that the institution of slavery was "founded on both injustice and bad
policy;" that the Congress had no power to interfere with slavery in the
States; that it had power in the District of Columbia, but should not
exercise it unless at the request of the people of the District. There
were no votes for these resolutions, but it is interesting to see how
early Lincoln took both moral and constitutional ground concerning
national action on this vexed question.

In March, 1837, Lincoln, then twenty-eight years old, was admitted to
the bar, and made choice of Springfield, the new capital, as a
residence, then a thriving village of one or two thousand inhabitants,
with some pretension to culture and refinement. It was certainly a
political, if not a social, centre. The following year he was again
elected to the legislature, and came within a few votes of being made
Speaker of the House. He carried on the practice of the law with his
duties as a legislator. Indeed, law and politics went hand in hand; as a
lawyer he gained influence in the House of Representatives, and as a
member of the legislature he increased his practice in the courts. He
had for a partner a Major Stuart, who in 1841 left him, having been
elected Representative in Congress, and was succeeded in the firm by
Stephen T. Logan. Lincoln's law practice was far from lucrative, and he
was compelled to live in the strictest economy. Litigation was very
simple, and it required but little legal learning to conduct cases. The
lawyers' fees were small among a people who were mostly poor.
Considering, however, his defective education and other disadvantages,
Lincoln's success as a lawyer was certainly respectable, if not great,
in his small sphere.

In 1840, three years after his admission to the bar, Lincoln was chosen
as an elector in the Harrison presidential contest, and he stumped the
State, frequently encountering Stephen A. Douglas in debate, with great
credit to himself, for Douglas was the most prominent political orator
of the day. The heart of Lincoln, from the start, was in politics rather
than the law, for which he had no especial liking. He was born to make
speeches in political gatherings, and not to argue complicated legal
questions in the courts. All his aspirations were political. As early as
1843 he aspired to be a member of Congress, but was defeated by Colonel
Baker. In 1846, however, his political ambition was gratified by an
election to the House of Representatives. His record in Congress was a
fair one; but he was not distinguished, although great questions were
being discussed in connection with the Mexican War. He made but three
speeches during his term, in the last of which he ridiculed General
Cass's aspiration for the presidency with considerable humor and wit,
which was not lost on his constituents. His career in Congress
terminated in 1848, he not being re-elected.

In the meantime Lincoln married, in 1842, Miss Mary Todd, from
Lexington, Kentucky, a lady of good education and higher social position
than his own, whom he had known for two or three years. As everybody
knows, this marriage did not prove a happy one, and domestic troubles
account, in a measure, for Lincoln's sad and melancholy countenance.
Biographers have devoted more space than is wise to this marriage since
the sorrows of a great man claim but small attention compared with his
public services. Had Lincoln not been an honorable man, it is probable
that the marriage would never have taken place, in view of
incompatibilities of temper which no one saw more clearly than he
himself, and which disenchanted him. The engagement was broken, and
renewed, for, as the matter stood,--the lady being determined and the
lover uncertain,--the only course consistent with Lincoln's honor was to
take the risk of marriage, and devote himself with renewed ardor to his
profession,--to bury his domestic troubles in work, and persistently
avoid all quarrels. And this is all the world need know of this sad
affair, which, though a matter of gossip, never was a scandal. It is
unfortunate for the fame of many great men that we know too much of
their private lives. Mr. Froude, in his desire for historical
impartiality, did no good to the memory of his friend Carlyle. Had the
hero's peculiarities been vices, like those of Byron, the biographer
might have cited them as warnings to abate the ardor of popular idolatry
of genius. If we knew no more of the private failings of Webster than we
do of those of Calhoun or Jefferson Davis, he might never have been
dethroned from the lofty position he occupied, which, as a public
benefactor, he did not deserve to lose.

After his marriage, Lincoln was more devoted to his profession, and
gradually became a good lawyer; but I doubt if he was ever a great one,
like his friend Judge Davis. His law partner and biographer, William H.
Herndon, who became associated with him in 1845, is not particularly
eulogistic as to his legal abilities, although he concedes that he had
many of the qualities of a great lawyer, such as the ability to see
important points, lucidity of statement, and extraordinary logical
power. He did not like to undertake the management of a case which had
not justice and right on its side. He had no method in his business, and
detested mechanical drudgery. He rarely studied law-books, unless in
reference to a case in which he was employed. He was not learned in the
decisions of the higher courts. He was a poor defender of a wrong cause,
but was unappalled by the difficulties of an intricate case; was patient
and painstaking, and not imposed upon by sophistries.

Lincoln's love of truth, for truth's sake, even in such a technical
matter as the law, was remarkable. No important error ever went
undetected by him. His intellectual vision was clear, since he was
rarely swayed by his feelings. As an advocate he was lucid, cold, and
logical, rather than rhetorical or passionate. He had no taste for
platitudes and "glittering generalities." There was nothing mercenary in
his practice, and with rare conscientiousness he measured his charges
by the services rendered, contented if the fees were small. He carried
the strictest honesty into his calling, which greatly added to his
influence. If there was ever an honest lawyer he was doubtless one. Even
in arguing a case, he never misrepresented the evidence of a witness,
and was always candid and fair. He would frequently, against his own
interest, persuade a litigant of the injustice of his case, and induce
him to throw it up. If not the undisputed leader of his circuit, he was
the most beloved. Sometimes he disturbed the court by his droll and
humorous illustrations, which called out irrepressible laughter but
generally he was grave and earnest in matters of importance; and he was
always at home in the courtroom, quiet, collected, and dignified,
awkward as was his figure and his gesticulation.

But it was not as a lawyer that Lincoln was famous. Nor as a public
speaker would he compare with Douglas in eloquence or renown. As a
member of Congress it is not probable that he would ever have taken a
commanding rank, like Clay or Webster or Calhoun, or even like Seward.
His great fame rests on his moral character, his identification with a
great cause, his marvellous ability as a conservative defender of
radical principles, and his no less wonderful tact as a leader of men.

The cause for which he stands was the Antislavery movement, as it grew
into a political necessity rather than as a protest against moral evil.
Although from his youth an antislavery man, Lincoln was not an
Abolitionist in the early days of the slavery agitation. He rather kept
aloof from the discussion, although such writers as Theodore Parker, Dr.
Channing, and Horace Greeley had great charm for him. He was a
politician, and therefore discreet in the avowal of opinions. His turn
of mind was conservative and moderate, and therefore he thought that all
political action should be along the lines established by law under the

But when the Southern leaders, not content with non-interference by
Congress with their favorite institution in their own States, sought to
compel Congress to allow the extension of slavery in the Territories it
controlled, then the indignation of Lincoln burst the bounds, and he
became the leader in his State in opposition to any movement to
establish in national territory that institution "founded on both
injustice and bad policy." Although he was in Congress in 1847-8, his
political career really began about the year 1854, four years after the
death of Calhoun.

As has been shown in previous chapters, the great slavery agitation of
1850, when the whole country was convulsed by discussions and ominous
threats of disunion, was laid at rest for a while by the celebrated
compromise bill which Henry Clay succeeded in passing through Congress.
By the terms of this compromise California was admitted to the Union as
a free State; the Territories of New Mexico and Utah were organized to
come in as States, with or without slavery as their people might
determine when the time should arrive; the domestic slave-trade in the
District of Columbia was abolished; a more stringent fugitive-slave law
was passed; and for the adjustment of State boundaries, which reduced
the positive slave-area in Texas and threw it into the debatable
territory of New Mexico, Texas received ten millions of dollars.
Although this adjustment was not entirely satisfactory to either the
North or the South, the nation settled itself for a period of quiet to
repair the waste and utilize the conquests of the Mexican War. It became
absorbed in the expansion of its commerce, the development of its
manufactures, and the growth of its emigration, all quickened by the
richness of its marvellous new gold-fields,--until, unexpectedly and
suddenly, it found itself once again plunged into political controversy
more distracting and more ominous than the worst it had yet experienced.

For, while calmly accepting the divers political arrangements made for
distant States and Territories, the men of the North, who had fumed and
argued against the passage of the Fugitive-Slave Law, when its
enforcement was attempted in their very presence were altogether
outraged. When the "man-hunters" chased and caught negroes in their
village market-places and city streets, when free men were summoned to
obey that law by helping to seize trembling fugitives and send them back
to worse than death, then they burst forth in a fierce storm of rage
that could not be quieted. The agitation rose and spread; lecturers
thundered; newspapers denounced; great meetings were held; politicians
trembled. And even yet the conservatism of the North was not wholly
inflamed; for political partisanship is in itself a kind of slavery, and
while the Northern Democrats stood squarely with the South, the Northern
Whigs, fearing division and defeat, made strenuous efforts to stand on
both sides, and, admitting slavery to be an "evil," to uphold the
Fugitive-Slave Law because it was a part of the "great compromise." In
Congress and out, in national conventions, and with all the power of the
party press, this view was strenuously advocated; but in 1852 the
Democrats elected Franklin Pierce as President, while the compromising
Whigs were cast out. Webster, the leader of the compromisers, had not
even secured a nomination, but General Scott was the Whig candidate;
while William H. Seward, at the head of the Antislavery Whigs, had at
least the satisfaction of seeing that, amid the dissolving elements of
the Whig party, the antislavery sentiment was gaining strength day by
day. The old issues of tariffs and internal improvements were losing
their vitality, while _Freedom_ and _Slavery_ were the new poles about
which new crystallizations were beginning to form.

But the Compromise of 1850 had loosed from its Pandora's box another
fomenter of trouble, in the idea of leaving to the people of the
Territories the settlement of whether their incoming States should be
slave or free,--the doctrine of "popular sovereignty" as it was called.
The nation had accepted that theory as a makeshift for the emergency of
that day; but slave cultivation had already exhausted much of the
Southern land, and, not content with Utah and New Mexico for their
propagandism, the slaveholders cast envious eyes upon the great
territory of the Northwest, stretching out from the Missouri border,
although it was north of the prohibited line of 36° 30'. And so it came
about that, within four short years after the compromise of 1850, the
unrest of the North under the Fugitive-Slave Law, followed by the
efforts of the South to break down the earlier compromise of 1821, awoke
again with renewed fierceness the slavery agitation, in discussing the
bill for the organization of the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska,--an
immense area, extending from the borders of Missouri, Iowa, and
Minnesota, west to the Rocky Mountains, and from the line of 36° 30'
north to British America.

The mover of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, Stephen A. Douglas, Senator from
Illinois, a Democrat and a man of remarkable abilities, now came into
prominent notice. He wanted to be President of the United States, and
his popularity, his legal attainments, his congressional services, his
attractive eloquence and skill in debate, marked him out as the rising
man of his party, He was a Vermonter by birth, and like Lincoln had
arisen from nothing,--a self-made man, so talented that the people
called him "the little giant," but nevertheless inferior to the giants
who had led the Senate for twenty years, while equal to them in
ambition, and superior as a wire-pulling politician. He was among those
who at first supposed that the Missouri Compromise of 1821 was a final
settlement, and was hostile to the further agitation of the slavery
question. He was a great believer in "American Destiny," and the
absorption of all North America in one grand confederation, in certain
portions of which slavery should be tolerated. As chairman of the Senate
Committee on Territories he had great influence in opening new routes of
travel, and favored the extension of white settlements, even in
territory which had been given to the Indians.

To further his ambitious aspirations, Douglas began now to court the
favor of Southern leaders, and introduced his famous Kansas-Nebraska
Bill, which was virtually the repeal of the Missouri Compromise,
inasmuch as it opened the vast territories to the north of 36° 30' to
the introduction of slavery if their people should so elect. This the
South needed, to secure what they called the balance of power, but what
was really the preponderance of the Slave States, or at least the
curtailment of the political power of the Free States. In 1854, during
the administration of Franklin Pierce, and under the domination of the
Democratic party, which played into the hands of the Southern leaders,
the compromise which Clay had effected in 1821 was repealed under the
influence of his compromise of 1850, and the slavery question was thus
reopened for political discussion in every State of the Union,--showing
how dangerous it is to compromise principle in shaping a policy.

Popular indignation at the North knew no bounds at this new retrograde
movement. The Whigs uttered protests, while the Free-Soil party, just
coming into notice, composed mainly of moderate antislavery men from
both the old parties, were loud in their denunciations of the
encroachments of the South. Even some leading Democrats opened their
eyes, and joined the rising party. The newspapers, the pulpits, and the
platforms sent forth a united cry of wrath. The Whigs and the
Abolitionists were plainly approaching each other. The year 1854 saw a
continuous and solid political campaign to repress the further spread of
slavery. The Territories being then thrown open, there now began an
intense emulation to people them, on the one hand, with advocates of
slavery, and on the other, with free-soilers. Emigration societies were
founded to assist _bona fide_ settlers, and a great tide of families
poured into Kansas from the Northern States; while the Southern States,
and chiefly Missouri, sent also large numbers of men.

At the South the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was universally
welcomed, and the Southern leaders felt encouragement and exultation.
The South had gained a great victory, aided by Northern Democrats, and
boldly denounced Chase, Hale, Sumner, Seward, and Giddings in the
Congress as incendiaries, plotting to destroy precious rights. A
memorable contest took place in the House of Representatives to prevent
the election of Banks of Massachusetts as Speaker. But the tide was
beginning to turn, and Banks, by a vote of 113 against 104, obtained the

Then followed "border ruffianism" in Kansas, when armed invaders from
Missouri, casting thousands of illegal votes, elected, by fraud and
violence, a legislature favorable to slavery, accompanied with civil
war, in which the most disgraceful outrages were perpetrated, the
central government at Washington being blind and deaf and dumb to it
all. The _bona fide_ settlers in Kansas who were opposed to slavery then
assembled at Topeka, refused to recognize the bogus laws, and framed a
constitution which President Pierce--"a Northern man with Southern
principles," gentlemanly and cultivated, but not strong--pronounced to
be revolutionary. Nor was ruffianism confined to Kansas. In 1856 Charles
Sumner of Massachusetts, one of the most eloquent and forceful
denunciators of all the pro-slavery lawlessness, was attacked at his
desk in the Senate chamber, after an adjournment, and unmercifully
beaten with a heavy cane by Preston Brooks, a member of the House of
Representatives, and nephew of Senator Butler of South Carolina. It took
years for Sumner to recover, while the aristocratic ruffian was
unmolested, and went unpunished; for, though censured by the House and
compelled to resign his seat, he was immediately re-elected by his

But this was not all. In that same year the Supreme Court came to the
aid of the South, already supported by the Executive and the Senate. Six
judges out of nine, headed by Chief Justice Taney, pronounced judgment
that slaves, whether fugitive or taken by their masters into the free
States, should be returned to their owners. This celebrated case arose
in Missouri, where a negro named Dred Scott--who had been taken by his
master to States where slavery was prohibited by law, who had, with his
master's consent, married and had children in the free States, and been
brought back to Missouri--sued for his freedom. The local court granted
it; the highest court of the State reversed the decision; and on appeal
to the Supreme Court of the United States the case was twice argued
there, and excited a wide and deep interest. The court might have simply
sent it back, as a matter belonging to the State court to decide; but it
permitted itself to argue the question throughout, and pronounced on the
natural inferiority of the negro, and his legal condition as property,
the competence of the State courts to decide his freedom or slavery, and
the right of slaveholders under the Constitution to control their
property in the free States or Territories, any legislation by Congress
or local legislatures to the contrary notwithstanding. This was the
climax of slavery triumphs. The North and West, at last aroused,
declared in conventions and legislative halls that slavery should
advance no further. The conflict now indeed became "irrepressible."

At this crisis, Abraham Lincoln stepped upon the political stage, and
his great career began.

As a local lawyer, even as a local politician, his work was practically
done. He came forth as an avowed antagonist of Douglas, who was the
strongest man in Illinois, and the leader of the Democratic party in
Congress. He came forth as the champion of the antislavery cause in his
native State, and soon attracted the eyes of the whole nation. His
memorable controversy with Douglas was the turning-point of his life. He
became a statesman, as well as a patriot, broad, lofty, and indignant at
wrongs. Theretofore he had been a conservative Whig, a devoted follower
of Clay. But as soon as the Missouri Compromise was repealed he put
forth his noblest energies in behalf of justice, of right, and
of humanity.

As he was driving one day from a little town in which court had been
held, a brother lawyer said to him, "Lincoln, the time is coming when we
shall either be Abolitionists or Democrats;" to which he replied,
musingly, "When that time comes, my mind is made up, for I believe the
slavery question can never be successfully compromised." And when his
mind was made up, after earnest deliberation, he rarely changed it, and
became as firm as a rock. His convictions were exceedingly strong, and
few influences could shake them. That quiet conversation in his buggy,
in a retired road, with a brother lawyer, was a political baptism. He
had taken his stand on one side of a great question which would rend in
twain the whole country, and make a mighty conflagration, out of whose
fires the truth should come victorious.

The Whig party was now politically dead, and the Republican party
arose, composed of conscientious and independent-minded men from all the
old organizations, not afraid to put principle before party,
conservative and law-abiding, yet deeply aroused on the great
issue of the day, and united against the further extension of
slavery,--organizing with great enthusiasm for a first presidential
campaign in 1856, under Frémont, "the Pathfinder," as their candidate.
They were defeated, and James Buchanan, the Democratic candidate, became
President; but, accepting defeat as a lesson toward victory, they grew
stronger and stronger every day, until at last they swept the country
and secured to the principle "non-extension of slavery" complete
representation in the national government.

Lincoln, who was in 1857 the Republican candidate for United States
Senator from Illinois, while Douglas sought the votes of the Democracy,
first entered the lists against his rival at Springfield, in a speech
attacking that wily politician's position as to the Dred-Scott decision.
He tried to force Douglas to a declaration of the logical consequence of
his position, namely, that, while he upheld the decision as a wise
interpretation of the rights of the slave-owners to hold slaves in the
Territories, yet the people of a Territory, under "the great principle
of Popular Sovereignty" (which was Douglas's chief stock in trade),
could exclude slavery from its limits even before it had formed a State
constitution. "If we succeed in bringing him to this point," he wrote a
friend, "he will say that slavery cannot actually exist in the
Territories unless the people desire it, which will offend the South."
If Douglas did not answer Lincoln's question he would jeopardize his
election as Senator; if he did answer he would offend the South, for his
doctrine of "squatter sovereignty" conflicted not only with the
interests of slavery, but with his defence of the Dred-Scott
decision,--a fact which Lincoln was not slow to point out. Douglas did
answer, and the result was as Lincoln predicted.

The position taken by Lincoln himself in the debate was bold and clear.
Said he, "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this
government cannot endure half-slave and half-free. Either the opponents
of slavery will avert the further spread of it, and place it where the
public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of
ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward till it shall
become alike lawful in all the States,--old as well as new, North as
well as South." When his friends objected that this kind of talk would
defeat him for senatorship, he replied, "But it is _true_ ... I would
rather be defeated with these expressions in my speech held up and
discussed before the people than be victorious without it." He was
defeated: but the debates made his fame national and resulted in his
being president; while the politic Douglas gained the senatorship and
lost the greater prize.

In these famous debates between the leaders, Lincoln proved himself
quite the equal of his antagonist, who was already famous as a trained
and prompt debater. Lincoln canvassed the State. He made in one campaign
as many as fifty speeches. It is impossible, within my narrow limits, to
go into the details of those great debates. In them Lincoln rose above
all technicalities and sophistries, and not only planted himself on
eternal right, but showed marvellous political wisdom. The keynote of
all his utterances was that "a house divided against itself could not
stand." Yet he did not pass beyond the constitutional limit in his
argument: he admitted the right of the South to a fugitive-slave law,
and the right of a Territory to enact slavery for itself on becoming a
State; he favored abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia only
on the request of its inhabitants, and would forward the colonization of
the negroes in Liberia if they wished it and their masters consented. He
was a pronounced antislavery man, but not an Abolitionist, and took with
the great mass of the Northerners a firm stand against the _extension_
of slavery. It was this intuitive perception of the common-sense of the
situation that made him and kept him the remarkable representative of
the Northern people that he was to the very end.

Lincoln gained so much fame from his contest with Douglas that he was,
during the spring of the following year, invited to speak in the Eastern
States; and in the great hall of the Cooper Institute in New York, in
February, 1860, he addressed a magnificent audience presided over by
Bryant the poet. He had made elaborate preparation for this speech,
which was a careful review of the slavery question from the foundation
of the republic to that time, and a masterly analysis of the relative
positions of political parties to it. The address made a deep
impression. The speaker was simply introduced as a distinguished
politician from the West. The speech was a surprise to those who were
familiar with Western oratory. There was no attempt at rhetoric, but the
address was pure logic from beginning to end, like an argument before
the Supreme Court, and exceedingly forcible. The chief point made was
the political necessity of excluding slavery from the Territories. The
orator did not dwell on slavery as a crime, but as a wrong which had
gradually been forced upon the nation, the remedy for which was not in
violent denunciations. He did not abuse the South; he simply pleaded for
harmony in the Republican ranks, and avoided giving offence to extreme
partisans on any side, contending that if slavery could be excluded
from the Territories it would gradually become extinct, as both
unprofitable and unjust. He would tolerate slavery within its present
limits, and even return fugitive slaves to their owners, according to
the laws, but would not extend the evil where it did not at present
exist. As it was a wrong, it must not be perpetuated.

The moderation of this speech, coming from an Illinois politician, did
much to draw attention to him as a possible future candidate for the
presidency, to which, by this time, he undoubtedly aspired. And why not?
He was the leader of his party in Illinois, a great speech-maker, who
had defeated Douglas himself in debate, a shrewd, cool, far-sighted man,
looking to the future rather than the present; and political friends had
already gathered about him as a strong political factor.

Mr. Lincoln after his great speech in New York returned to his home. He
had a few years before given some political speeches in Boston and the
adjacent towns, which were well received, but made no deep
impression,--from no fault of his, but simply because he had not the
right material to work upon, where culture was more in demand than vigor
of intellect.

Indeed, one result of the election of Lincoln, and of the war which
followed, was to open the eyes of Eastern people to the intellect and
intelligence of the West. Western lawyers and politicians might not have
the culture of Sumner, the polished elocution of Everett, the urbanity
of Van Buren, and the courtly manners of Winthrop, but they had
brain-power, a faculty for speech-making, and great political sagacity.
And they were generally more in sympathy with the people, having mostly
sprung from their ranks. Their hard and rugged intellects _told_ on the
floor of Congress, where every one is soon judged according to his
merits, and not according to his clothes. And the East saw that
thereafter political power would centre in the West, and dominate the
whole country,--against which it was useless to complain or rebel,
since, according to all political axioms, the majority will rule, and
ought to rule. And the more the East saw of the leading men of the West,
the more it respected their force of mind, their broad and comprehensive
views, and their fitness for high place under the government.

It was not the people of the United States who called for the nomination
of Lincoln, as in the case of General Jackson. He was not much known
outside of Illinois, except as a skilful debater and stump orator. He
had filled no high office to bring him before the eyes of the nation. He
was not a general covered with military laurels, nor a Senator in
Congress, nor governor of a large State, nor a cabinet officer. No man
had thus far been nominated for President unless he was a military
success, or was in the line of party promotion. Though a party leader in
Illinois, Lincoln was simply a private citizen, with no antecedents
which marked him out for such exalted position. But he was
"available,"--a man who could be trusted, moderate in his views, a Whig
and yet committed to antislavery views, of great logical powers, and
well-informed on all the political issues of the day. He was not likely
to be rash, or impulsive, or hasty, or to stand in the way of political
aspirants. He was eminently a safe man in an approaching crisis, with a
judicial intellect, and above all a man without enemies, whom few
envied, and some laughed at for his grotesque humor and awkward manners.
He was also modest and unpretending, and had the tact to veil his
ambition. In his own State he was exceedingly popular. It was not
strange, therefore, that the Illinois Republican State Convention
nominated him as their presidential candidate, to be supported in the
larger national convention about to assemble.

In May, 1860, the memorable National Republican Convention met in
Chicago, in an immense building called the Wigwam, to select a candidate
for the presidency. Among the prominent Republican leaders were Seward,
Chase, Cameron, Dayton, and Bates. The Eastern people supposed that
Seward would receive the nomination, from his conceded ability, his
political experience, his prominence as an antislavery Whig, and the
prestige of office; but he had enemies, and an unconciliatory
disposition. It soon became evident that he could not carry all the
States. The contest was between Seward, Chase, and Lincoln; and when, on
the third ballot, Lincoln received within a vote and a-half of the
majority, Ohio gave him four votes from Chase, and then delegation after
delegation changed its vote for the victor, and amid great enthusiasm
the nomination became unanimous.

The election followed, and Lincoln, the Republican, received one hundred
and eighty electoral votes; Breckinridge, the Southern Democrat,
seventy-two; Bell, of the Union ticket--the last fragment of the old
Whig party--thirty-nine; and Douglas, of the Northern Democracy, but
twelve. The rail-splitter became President of the United States, and
Senator Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, Vice President. It was a victory of
ideas. It was the triumph of the North over the South,--of the aroused
conscience and intelligence of the people against bigotry, arrogance,
and wrong. Men and measures in that great contest paled before the
grandeur of everlasting principles. It was not for Lincoln that bonfires
were kindled and cannons roared and bells were rung and huzzas ascended
to heaven, but for the great check given to the slave-power, which,
since the formation of the Constitution, had dominated the nation. The
Republicans did not gain a majority of the popular vote, as the combined
opposing tickets cast 930,170 votes more than they; but their vote was
much larger than that for any other ticket, and gave them a handsome
majority in the electoral college.

Between the election in November, 1860, and the following March, when
Lincoln took the reins of government, several of the Southern States had
already seceded from the Union and had organized a government at
Montgomery. Making the excuse of the election of a "sectional and
minority president," they had put into effect the action for which their
leaders during several months had been secretly preparing. They had
seized nearly all the Federal forts, arsenals, dock-yards,
custom-houses, and post-offices within their limits, while a large
number of the officers of the United States army and navy had resigned,
and entered into their service, on the principle that the authority of
their States was paramount to the Federal power.

Amid all these preparations for war on the part of the seceding States,
and the seizure of Federal property, Buchanan was irresolute and
perplexed. He was doubtless patriotic and honest, but he did not know
what to do. The state of things was much more serious than when South
Carolina threatened to secede in the time of General Jackson. The want
of firmness and decision on the part of the President has been severely
criticised, but it seems to me to have been not without excuse in the
perplexing conditions of the time, while it was certainly fortunate that
he did not precipitate the crisis by sending troops to reinforce Fort
Sumter, in Charleston harbor, which was invested and threatened by South
Carolina troops. The contest was inevitable anyway, and the management
of the war was better in the hands of Lincoln than it could have been in
those of Buchanan, with traitors in his cabinet, or even after they had
left and a new and loyal cabinet was summoned, but with an undecided man
at the head. There was needed a new and stronger government when
hostilities should actually break out.

On the 4th of March, 1861, the inauguration of Lincoln took place, and
well do I remember the ceremony. The day was warm and beautiful, and
nature smiled in mockery of the bloody tragedy which was so soon to
follow. I mingled with the crowd at the eastern portico of the Capitol,
and was so fortunate as to hear and see all that took place,--the high
officials who surrounded the President, his own sad and pensive face,
his awkward but not undignified person arrayed in a faultless suit of
black, the long address he made, the oath of office administered by
Chief Justice Taney, and the dispersion of the civil and military
functionaries to their homes. It was not a great pageant, but was an
impressive gathering. Society, in which the Southern element
predominated, sneered at the tall ruler who had learned so few of its
graces and insincerities, and took but little note of the thunder-clouds
in the political atmosphere,--the distant rumblings which heralded the
approaching storm so soon to break with satanic force.

The inaugural address was not only an earnest appeal for peace, but a
calm and steadfast announcement of the law-abiding policy of the
government, and a putting of the responsibility for any bloodshed upon
those who should resist the law. Two brief paragraphs contain
the whole:--

"The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the
property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the
duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects
there will be no invasion, no use of force among the people anywhere.

"In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is
the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you.
You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors."

This was the original chart of the course which the President followed,
and his final justification when by use of "the power confided to him"
he had accomplished the complete restoration of the authority of the
Federal Union over all the vast territory which the seceded States had
seized and so desperately tried to control.

Lincoln was judicious and fortunate in his cabinet. Seward, the ablest
and most experienced statesman of the day, accepted the office of
Secretary of State; Salmon P. Chase, who had been governor of Ohio, and
United States Senator, was made Secretary of the Treasury; Gideon
Welles, of great executive ability and untiring energy, became Secretary
of the Navy; Simon Cameron, an influential politician of Pennsylvania,
held the post of Secretary of War for a time, when he was succeeded by
Edwin M. Stanton, a man of immense capacity for work; Montgomery Blair,
a noted antislavery leader, was made Postmaster-General; Caleb B. Smith
became Secretary of the Interior; and Edward Bates, of Missouri,
Attorney-General. Every one of these cabinet ministers was a strong man,
and was found to be greater than he had seemed.

Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, an old-time Democrat, was elected
President of the Southern Confederacy, and Alexander H. Stephens, a
prominent Whig of Georgia, Vice-President. Davis was born in Kentucky in
1808, and was a graduate of West Point. He was a Congressman on the
outbreak of the Mexican War, resigned his seat, entered the army, and
distinguished himself, rising to the rank of colonel. He was Secretary
of War in President Pierce's cabinet, and Senator from Mississippi on
the accession of President Buchanan,--a position which he held until the
secession of his State. He thus had had considerable military and
political experience. He was a man of great ability, but was proud,
reserved, and cold, "a Democrat by party name, an autocrat in feeling
and sentiment,--a type of the highest Southern culture, and exclusive
Southern caste." To his friends--and they were many, in spite of his
reserve--there was a peculiar charm in his social intercourse; he was
beloved in his family, and his private life was irreproachable. He
selected an able cabinet, among whom were Walker of Alabama, Toombs of
Georgia, and Benjamin of Louisiana. The Provisional Congress authorized
a regular army of ten thousand men, one hundred thousand volunteers, and
a loan of fifteen millions of dollars.

But actual hostilities had not as yet commenced. The Confederates,
during the close of Buchanan's administration, were not without hopes of
a peaceful settlement and recognition of secession, and several
conferences had taken place,--one overture being made even to the new
administration, but of course in vain.

The spark which kindled the conflagration--but little more than a month
after Lincoln's inauguration, April 12, 1861--was the firing on Fort
Sumter, and its surrender to the South Carolinians. This aroused both
the indignation and the military enthusiasm of the North, which in a
single day was, as by a lightning flash, fused in a white heat of
patriotism and a desire to avenge the dishonored flag. For the time all
party lines disappeared, and the whole population were united and solid
in defence of the Union. Both sides now prepared to fight in good
earnest. The sword was drawn, the scabbard thrown away. Both sides were
confident of victory. The Southern leaders were under the delusion that
the Yankees would not fight, and that they cared more for dollars than
for their country. Moreover, the Southern States had long been training
their young men in the military schools, and had for months been
collecting materials of war. As cotton was an acknowledged "king," the
planters calculated on the support of England, which could not do
without their bales. Lastly, they knew that the North had been divided
against itself, and that the Democratic politicians sympathized with
them in reference to slavery. The Federal leaders, on the other hand,
relied on the force of numbers, of wealth, and national prestige. Very
few supposed that the contest would be protracted. Seward thought that
it would not last over three months. Nor did the South think of
conquering the North, but supposed it could secure its own
independence. It certainly was resolved on making a desperate fight to
defend its peculiar institution. As it was generally thought in England
that this attempt would succeed, as England had no special love for the
Union, and as the Union, and not opposition to slavery, was the rallying
cry of the North, England gave to the South its moral support.

Lincoln assumed his burden with great modesty, but with a steady
firmness and determination, and surprised his cabinet by his force of
will. Nicolay and Hay relate an anecdote of great significance. Seward,
who occupied the first place in the cabinet, which he deserved on
account of his experience and abilities, was not altogether pleased with
the slow progress of things, and wrote to Lincoln an extraordinary
letter in less than a month after his inauguration, suggesting more
active operations, with specific memoranda of a proposed policy.
"Whatever policy we adopt," said he, "there must be an energetic
prosecution of it. For this purpose it must be somebody's business to
pursue and direct it incessantly. Either the President must do it
himself, or devolve it on some member of his cabinet. It is not my
especial province; but I neither seek to evade nor assume
responsibility." In brief, it was an intimation, "If you feel not equal
to the emergency, perhaps you can find a man not a thousand miles away
who is equal to it."

Lincoln, in his reply, showed transcendent tact. Although an
inexperienced local politician, suddenly placed at the head of a great
nation, in a tremendous crisis, and surrounded in his cabinet and in
Congress by men of acknowledged expert ability in statecraft, he had his
own ideas, but he needed the counsel and help of these men as well. He
could not afford to part with the services of a man like Seward, nor
would he offend him by any assumption of dignity or resentment at his
unasked advice. He good-naturedly replied, in substance: "The policy
laid down in my inaugural met your distinct approval, and it has thus
far been exactly followed. As to attending to its prosecution, if this
must be done, I must do it, and I wish, and suppose I am entitled to
have, the advice of all the cabinet."

After this, no member of the cabinet dared to attempt to usurp any
authority which belonged to the elected Commander-in-chief of the army
and navy,--unless it were Chase, at a later time. As the head of the
government in whom supreme Federal power was invested in time of war,
Lincoln was willing and eager to consult his cabinet, but reserved his
decisions and assumed all responsibilities. He probably made mistakes,
but who could have done better on the whole? The choice of the nation
was justified by results.

It is not my object in this paper to attempt to compress the political
and military history of the United States during the memorable
administration of Mr. Lincoln. If one wishes to know the details he must
go to the ten octavo biographical volumes of Lincoln's private
secretaries, to the huge and voluminous quarto reports of the
government, to the multifarious books on the war and its actors. I can
only glance at salient points, and even here I must confine myself to
those movements which are intimately connected with the agency and
influence of Lincoln himself. It is his life, and not a history of the
war, that it is my business to present. Nor has the time come for an
impartial and luminous account of the greatest event of modern times.
The jealousy and dissensions of generals, the prejudices of the people
both North and South, the uncertainty and inconsistency of much of the
material published, and the conceit of politicians, alike prevent a
history which will be satisfactory, no matter how gifted and learned may
be the historian. When all the actors of that famous tragedy, both great
and small, have passed away, new light will appear, and poetry will add
her charms to what is now too hideous a reality, glorious as were the
achievements of heroes and statesmen.

After the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861, won by the Confederate
General Beauregard over General McDowell, against all expectation, to
the dismay and indignation of the whole North,--the result of
over-confidence on the part of the Union troops, and a wretchedly
mismanaged affair,--the attention of the Federal government was mainly
directed to the defence of Washington, which might have fallen into the
hands of the enemy had the victors been confident and quick enough to
pursue the advantage they had gained; for nothing could exceed the panic
at the capital after the disastrous defeat of McDowell. The
demoralization of the Union forces was awful. Happily, the condition of
the Confederate troops was not much better.

But the country rallied after the crisis had passed. Lincoln issued his
proclamation for five hundred thousand additional men. Congress
authorized as large a loan as was needed. The governors of the various
States raised regiment after regiment, and sent them to Washington, as
the way through Maryland, at first obstructed by local secessionists,
was now clear, General Butler having intrenched himself at Baltimore.
Most fortunately the governor of Maryland was a Union man, and with the
aid of the Northern forces had repressed the rebellious tendency in
Maryland, which State afterward remained permanently in the Union, and
offered no further resistance to the passage of Federal troops.
Arlington Heights in Virginia, opposite Washington, had already been
fortified by General Scott; but additional defences were made, and the
capital was out of danger.

With the rapid concentration of troops at Washington, the government
again assumed the offensive. General George B. McClellan, having
distinguished himself in West Virginia, was called to Washington, at the
recommendation of the best military authorities, and intrusted with the
command of the Army of the Potomac; and soon after, on the retirement of
General Scott, now aged and infirm, and unable to mount a horse,
McClellan took his place as commander of all the forces of the
United States.

At the beginning of the rebellion McClellan was simply a captain, but
was regarded as one of the most able and accomplished officers of the
army. His promotion was rapid beyond precedent; but his head was turned
by his elevation, and he became arrogant and opinionated, and before
long even insulted the President, and assumed the airs of a national
liberator on whose shoulders was laid the burden of the war. He
consequently estranged Congress, offended Scott, became distrusted by
the President, and provoked the jealousies of the other generals. But he
was popular with the army and his subordinates, and if he offended his
superiors his soldiers were devoted to him, and looked upon him as a
second Napoleon.

The best thing that can be said of this general is that he was a great
organizer, and admirably disciplined for their future encounters the raw
troops which were placed under his command. And he was too prudent to
risk the lives of his men until his preparations were made, although
constantly urged to attempt, if not impossibilities, at least what was
exceedingly hazardous.

It was expected by the President, the Secretary of War, and Congress,
that he would hasten his preparations, and advance upon the enemy, as he
had over one hundred thousand men; and he made grand promises and gave
assurances that he would march speedily upon Richmond. But he did not
march. Delay succeeded delay, under various pretences, to the
disappointment of the country, and the indignation of the responsible
government. It was not till April, 1862, after five months of inaction,
that he was ready to move upon Richmond, and then not according to
pre-arranged plans, but by a longer route, by the way of Fortress
Monroe, up the Peninsula between the York and James rivers, and not
directly across Virginia by Manassas Junction, which had been evacuated
in view of his superior forces,--the largest army theretofore seen on
this continent.

It is not for me, utterly ignorant of military matters, to make any
criticism of the plan of operations, in which the President and
McClellan were at issue, or to censure the general in command for the
long delay, against the expostulations of the Executive and of Congress.
He maintained that his army was not sufficiently drilled, or large
enough for an immediate advance, that the Confederate forces were
greater than his own, and were posted in impregnable positions. He was
always calling for reinforcements, until his army comprised over two
hundred thousand men, and when at last imperatively commanded to move,
some-whither,--at any rate to move,--he left Washington not sufficiently
defended, which necessitated the withdrawal of McDowell's corps from him
to secure the safety of the capital. Without enumerating or describing
the terrible battles on the Peninsula, and the "change of base," which
practically was a retreat, and virtually the confession of failure, it
may be said in defence or palliation of McClellan that it afterwards
took Grant, with still greater forces, and when the Confederates were
weakened and demoralized, a year to do what McClellan was expected to do
in three months.

The war had now been going on for more than a year, without any decisive
results so far as the Army of the Potomac was concerned, but on the
contrary with great disasters and bitter humiliations. The most
prodigious efforts had been made by the Union troops without success,
and thus far the Confederates had the best of it, and were filled with
triumph. As yet no Union generals could be compared with Lee, or
Johnston, or Longstreet, or Stonewall Jackson, while the men under their
command were quite equal to the Northern soldiers in bravery and

The times were dark and gloomy at the North, and especially so to the
President, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, after all the
energies he put forth in the general direction of affairs. He was
maligned and misrepresented and ridiculed; yet he opened not his mouth,
and kept his soul in patience,--magnanimous, forbearing, and modest. In
his manners and conduct, though intrusted with greater powers than any
American before him had ever exercised, he showed no haughtiness, no
resentments, no disdain, but was accessible to everybody who had any
claim on his time, and was as simple and courteous as he had been in a
private station. But what anxieties, what silent grief, what a burden,
had he to bear! And here was his greatness, which endeared him to the
American heart,--that he usurped no authority, offended no one, and
claimed nothing, when most men, armed as he was with almost unlimited
authority, would have been reserved, arrogant, and dictatorial. He did
not even assume the cold dignity which Washington felt it necessary to
put on, but shook hands, told stories, and uttered jokes, as if he were
without office on the prairies of Illinois; yet all the while resolute
in purpose and invincible in spirit,--an impersonation of logical
intellect before which everybody succumbed, as firm, when he saw his way
clear, as Bismarck himself.

His tact in managing men showed his native shrewdness and kindliness, as
well as the value of all his early training in the arts of the
politician. Always ready to listen, and to give men free chance to
relieve their minds in talk, he never directly antagonized their
opinions, but, deftly embodying an argument in an apt joke or story,
would manage to switch them off from their track to his own without
their exactly perceiving the process. His innate courtesy often made him
seem uncertain of his ground, but he probably had his own way quite as
frequently as Andrew Jackson, and without that irascible old
fighter's friction.

But darker days were yet to come, and more perplexing duties had yet to
be discharged. The President was obliged to retire McClellan from his
command when, in August, 1862, that general's procrastination could no
longer be endured. McClellan had made no fatal blunders, was endeared to
his men, and when it was obvious that he could not take Richmond,
although within four miles of it at one time, he had made a successful
and masterly retreat to Harrison's Landing; yet the campaign against the
Confederate capital had been a failure, as many believed, by reason of
unnecessary delays on the part of the commander, and the President had
to take the responsibility of sustaining or removing him. He chose
the latter.

What general would Lincoln select to succeed McClellan? He chose General
John Pope, but not with the powers which had been conferred on
McClellan. Pope had been graduated at West Point in 1842, had served
with distinction in the Mexican War, and had also done good service in
the West. But it was his misfortune at this time to lose the second
battle of Bull Run, or Manassas, when there was no necessity of
lighting. He himself attributed his disaster to the inaction and
disobedience of General Porter, who was cashiered for it,--a verdict
which was reversed by a careful military inquiry after the war. Pope's
defeat was followed, although against the advice of the cabinet, by the
restoration of McClellan, since Washington was again in danger. After he
had put the capital in safety, McClellan advanced slowly against Lee,
who had crossed the Potomac into Maryland with designs on Pennsylvania.
He made his usual complaint of inadequate forces, and exaggerated the
forces of the enemy. He won, however, the battle of Antietam,--for,
although the Confederates afterwards claimed that it was a drawn battle,
they immediately retired,--but even then failed to pursue his advantage,
and allowed Lee to recross the Potomac and escape, to the deep disgust
of everybody and the grief of Lincoln. Encouraged by McClellan's
continued inaction, Lee sent his cavalry under Stuart, who with two
thousand men encircled the Federal army, and made a raid into
Pennsylvania, gathering supplies, and retired again into Virginia,
unhindered and unharmed. The President now deprived McClellan again of
his command, and that general's military career ended. He retired to
private life, emerging again only as an unsuccessful Democratic
candidate for the presidency against Lincoln in 1864.

It was a difficult matter for Lincoln to decide upon a new general to
command the Army of the Potomac. He made choice of Ambrose E. Burnside,
the next in rank,--a man of pleasing address and a gallant soldier, but
not of sufficient abilities for the task imposed upon him. The result
was the greatest military blunder of the whole war. With the idea of
advancing directly upon Richmond through Fredericksburg, Burnside made
the sad error of attacking equal forces strongly intrenched on the
Fredericksburg Heights, while he advanced from the valley of the
Rappahannock below, crossing the river under a plunging fire, and
attacking the enemy on the hill. It was a dismal slaughter, but Burnside
magnanimously took the whole blame upon himself, and was not disgraced,
although removed from his command. He did good service afterwards as a

It was soon after Burnside's unfortunate failure at Fredericksburg,
perhaps the gloomiest period of the war, when military reverses saddened
the whole North, and dissensions in the cabinet itself added to the
embarrassments of the President, that Lincoln performed the most
momentous act of his life, and probably the most important act of the
whole war, in his final proclamation emancipating the slaves, and
utilizing them in the Union service, as a military necessity.

Ever since the beginning of hostilities had this act been urged upon the
President by the antislavery men of the North,--a body growing more
intense and larger in numbers as the war advanced. But Lincoln remained
steady to his original purpose of _saving the Union,_---whether with or
without slavery. Naturally, and always opposed to slavery, he did not
believe that he had any right to indulge his private feeling in
violation of the Constitutional limitations of his civil power, unless,
as he said, "measures otherwise unconstitutional might become lawful by
becoming indispensable to the preservation of the Constitution through
the preservation of the nation."

Thus when in 1861 Frémont in Missouri proclaimed emancipation to the
slaves of persistent rebels, although this was hailed with delight by
vast numbers at the North, the President countermanded it as not yet an
indispensable necessity. In March, 1862, he approved Acts of Congress
legalizing General B.F. Butler's shrewd device of declaring all slaves
of rebels in arms as "contraband of war," and thus, when they came
within the army lines, to be freed and used by the Northern armies. In
March, May, and July, 1862, he made earnest appeals to the Border States
to favor compensated emancipation, because he foresaw that military
emancipation would become necessary before long. When Lee was in
Maryland and Pennsylvania, he felt that the time had arrived, and
awaited only some marked military success, so that the measure should
seem a mightier blow to the rebels and not a cry for help. And this was
a necessary condition, for, while hundreds of thousands of Democrats had
joined the armies and had become Republicans for the war,--in fact, all
the best generals and a large proportion of the soldiers of the North
had been Democrats before the flag was fired on,--yet the Democratic
politicians of the proslavery type were still alive and active
throughout the North, doing all they could to discredit the national
cause, and hinder the government; and Lincoln intuitively knew that this
act must commend itself to the great mass of the Northern people, or it
would be a colossal blunder.

Therefore, when Lee had been driven back, on September 22, 1862, the
President issued a preliminary proclamation, stating that he should
again recommend Congress to favor an Act tendering pecuniary aid to
slaveholders in States not in rebellion, who would adopt immediate or
gradual abolishment of slavery within their limits; but that on the
first day of January, 1863, "all persons held as slaves within any
State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall be in
rebellion against the United States, shall be thenceforward and forever
free." And accordingly,--in spite of Burnside's dreadful disaster before
Fredericksburg on December 13, unfavorable results in the fall elections
throughout the North, much criticism of his course in the
newly-assembled Congress, and the unpopular necessity of more men and
more money to be drawn from the loyal States,--on January 1, 1863, the
courageous leader sent forth his final and peremptory Decree of
Emancipation. He issued it, "by virtue of the power in me vested as
commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States in time of
actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the
United States, and as a fit and necessary war-measure for suppressing
said rebellion."

Of course such an edict would have no immediate force in the remoter
States controlled by the Confederate government, nor at the time did it
produce any remarkable sensation except to arouse bitter animadversion
at the North and renewed desperation of effort at the South; but it
immediately began to reduce the workers on intrenchments and
fortifications along the Confederate front and to increase those of the
Federal forces, while soon also providing actual troops for the Union
armies; and, since it was subsequently indorsed by all the States,
through an amendment to the Constitution by which slavery was forever
prohibited in the States and Territories of the United States, and in
view of its immense consequences, the Emancipation Proclamation of
Lincoln must be regarded as perhaps the culminating event in the war. It
was his own act; and he accepted all the responsibilities. The abolition
of slavery is therefore forever identified with the administration
of Lincoln.

In the early part of 1863 Lincoln relieved Burnside of his command, and
appointed General Joseph Hooker to succeed him. This officer had
distinguished himself as a brilliant tactician; he was known as
"fighting Joe;" but he was rash. He made a bold and successful march,
crossed the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers and advanced upon the enemy,
but early in May, 1863, was defeated at Chancellorsville, in one of the
bloodiest battles of the war. The Confederates were now exceedingly
elated; and Lee, with a largely increased army of ninety thousand
splendid fighting men, resolved on invading Pennsylvania in force.
Evading Hooker, he passed through the Shenandoah Valley, and about the
middle of June was in Pennsylvania before the Union forces could be
gathered to oppose him. He took York and Carlisle and threatened
Harrisburg. The invasion filled the North with dismay. Hooker, feeling
his incompetency, and on bad terms with Halleck, the general-in-chief,
asked to be relieved, and his request was at once granted.

General George C. Meade was appointed his successor on June 28. Striking
due north with all speed, ably supported by a remarkable group of
corps-commanders and the veteran Army of the Potomac handsomely
reinforced and keenly eager to fight, Meade brought Lee to bay near the
village of Gettysburg, and after three days of terrific fighting, in
which the losses of the two armies aggregated over forty-five thousand
men, on the 3d of July he defeated Lee's army and turned it rapidly
southward. This was the most decisive battle of the war, and the most
bloody, finally lost by Lee through his making the same mistake that
Burnside did at Fredericksburg, in attacking equal forces intrenched on
a hill. Nothing was left to Lee but retreat across the Potomac, and
Meade--an able but not a great captain--made the mistake that McClellan
had made at Antietam in not following up his advantage, but allowing Lee
to escape into Virginia.

To cap the climax of Union success, on the 4th of July General Ulysses
S. Grant, who had been operating against Vicksburg on the Mississippi
during four months, captured that city, with thirty-two thousand
prisoners, and a few days later Port Hudson with its garrison fell into
his hands. The signal combination of victories filled the North with
enthusiasm and the President with profoundest gratitude. It is true,
Meade's failure to follow and capture Lee was a bitter disappointment to
Lincoln. The Confederate commander might have been compelled to
surrender to a flushed and conquering army a third larger than his own,
had Meade pursued and attacked him, and the war might perhaps virtually
have ended. Yet Lee's army was by no means routed, and was in dangerous
mood, while Meade's losses had been really larger than his; so that the
Federal general's caution does not lack military defenders.
Nevertheless, he evidently was not the man that had been sought for.

More than two years had now elapsed since the Army of the Potomac had
been organized by McClellan, and yet it was no nearer the end which the
President, the war minister, the cabinet, and the generals had in
view,--the capture of Richmond. Thus far, more than one hundred thousand
men had been lost in the contest which the politicians had supposed was
to be so brief. Not a single general had arisen at the East equal to the
occasion. Only a few of the generals had seen important military service
before the war, and not one had evinced remarkable abilities, although
many had distinguished themselves for bravery and capacity to manage
well an army corps. Each army commander had failed when great
responsibilities had been imposed upon him. Not one came up to popular
expectation. The great soldier must be "born" as well as "made."

It must be observed that up to this time, in the autumn of 1863, the
President had not only superintended the Army of the Potomac, but had
borne the chief burden of the government and the war at large. Cabinet
meetings, reports of generals, quarrels of generals, dissensions of
political leaders, impertinence of editors, the premature pressure to
emancipate slaves, Western campaigns, the affairs of the navy, and a
thousand other things pressed upon his attention. It was his custom to
follow the movements of every army with the map before him, and to be
perfectly familiar with all the general, and many of the detailed,
problems in every part of the vast field of the war. No man was ever
more overworked. It may be a question how far he was wise in himself
attending to so many details, and in giving directions to generals in
high command, and sometimes against the advice of men more experienced
in military matters. That is not for me to settle. He seemed to bear the
government and all the armies on head and heart, as if the
responsibility for everything was imposed upon him. What had been the
history? In the East, two years clouded by disasters, mistakes, and
national disappointments, with at last a breaking of the day,--and that,
in the West.

Was ever a man more severely tried! And yet, in view of fatal errors on
the part of generals, the disobedience of orders, and the unfriendly
detractions of Chase,--his able, but self-important Secretary of the
Treasury,--not a word of reproach had fallen from him; he was still
gentle, conciliatory, patient, forgiving on all occasions, and
marvellously reticent and self-sustained. His transcendent moral
qualities stood out before the world unquestioned, whatever criticisms
may be made as to the wisdom of all his acts.

But a brighter day was at hand. The disasters of the East--for
Gettysburg was but the retrieving of a desperate situation--were
compensated by great success in the West. Fort Donelson and Columbus in
1862, Vicksburg and Port Hudson in 1863, had been great achievements.
The Mississippi was cleared of hostile forts upon its banks, and was
opened to its mouth. New Orleans was occupied by Union troops. The
finances were in good condition, for Chase had managed that great
problem with brilliant effect. The national credit was restored. The
navy had done wonders, and the southern coast was effectually blockaded.
A war with England had been averted by the tact of Lincoln rather than
the diplomacy of Seward.

Lincoln cordially sustained in his messages to Congress the financial
schemes of the Secretary of the Treasury, and while he carefully
watched, he did not interfere with, the orders of the Secretary of the
Navy. To Farragut, Foote, and Porter was great glory due for opening the
Mississippi, as much as to Grant and Sherman for cutting the Confederate
States in twain. Too much praise cannot be given to Chase for the
restoration of the national credit, and Lincoln bore patiently his
adverse criticism in view of his transcendent services.

At this stage of public affairs, in the latter part of 1863, General
Grant was called from the West to take command of the Army of the
Potomac. His great military abilities were known to the whole nation.
Although a graduate of West Point, who had, when young, done good
service under General Scott, his mature life had been a failure; and
when the war broke out he was engaged in the tanning business at Galena,
Illinois, at a salary of $800. He offered his services to the governor
of Illinois, and was made a colonel of volunteers. Shortly after
entering active service he was made brigadier-general, and his ability
as a commander was soon apparent. He gradually rose to the command of
the military district of Southeast Missouri; then to the command of the
great military rendezvous and depot at Cairo. Then followed his
expedition, assisted by Commodore Foote, against Fort Henry on the
Tennessee River, in the early part of 1862, with no encouragement from
Halleck, the commanding-general at St. Louis. The capture of Fort
Donelson on the Cumberland River came next, to the amazement and chagrin
of the Confederate generals; for which he was made a major-general of
volunteers. This was a great service, which resulted in the surrender of
Generals Buckner and Johnston with 15,000 Confederate soldiers, 20,000
stands of arms, 48 pieces of artillery, and 3,000 horses. But this great
success was nothing to the siege and capture of Vicksburg, July 4, 1863,
which opened the Mississippi and divided the Confederacy, to say nothing
of the surrender of nearly 30,000 men, 172 cannon, and 60,000 muskets.
Then followed the great battle of Chattanooga, which shed glory on
Thomas, Sherman, Burnside, and Hooker, and raised still higher the
military fame of Grant, who had planned and directed it. No general in
the war had approached him in success and ability. The eyes of the
nation were now upon him. Congress revived for him the grade of
lieutenant-general, and the conqueror of Vicksburg and Chattanooga
received the honor on March 3, 1864, the first on whom the full rank had
been conferred since Washington. The lieutenant-generalcy conferred on
Winfield Scott after the Mexican War was a special brevet title of
honor, that rank not existing in our army.

On the 8th of March the President met the successful and fortunate
general for the first time, and was delighted with his quiet modesty; on
the next day he gave him command of all the armies of the United States.
Grant was given to understand that the work assigned to him personally
was the capture of Richmond. But he was left to follow out his own
plans, and march to the Confederate capital by any route he saw fit.
Henceforth the President, feeling full confidence, ceased to concern
himself with the plans of the general commanding the Army of the
Potomac. He did not even ask to know them. All he and the Secretary of
War could do was to forward the plans of the Lieutenant-General, and
provide all the troops he wanted. Lincoln's anxieties of course
remained, and he watched eagerly for news, and was seen often at the war
department till late at night, waiting to learn what Grant was doing;
but Grant was left with the whole military responsibility, because he
was evidently competent for it; the relief to Lincoln must have been
immense. The history of the war, from this time, belongs to the life of
Grant rather than of Lincoln. Suggestions to that successful soldier
from civilians now were like those of the Dutch Deputies when they
undertook to lecture the great Marlborough on the art of war. To bring
the war to a speedy close required the brain and the will and the energy
of a military genius, and the rapid and concentrated efforts of veteran
soldiers, disciplined by experience, and inured to the toils and
dangers of war.

The only great obstacle was the difficulty of enlisting men in what was
now more than ever to be dangerous work. When Grant began his march to
Richmond probably half-a-million of soldiers had perished on each side,
and a national debt had been contracted of over two thousand millions of
dollars. In spite of patriotic calls, in spite of bounties, it became
necessary to draft men into the service,--a compulsory act of power to
be justified only by the exigencies of the country. In no other way
could the requisite number of troops be secured. Multitudes of the
survivors have been subsequently rewarded, at least partially, by
pensions. The pension list, at the close of Harrison's administration in
1892, amounted to a sum greater than Germany annually expends on its
gigantic army. So far as the pensioners are genuinely disabled veterans,
the people make no complaint, appreciating the sacrifices which the
soldiers were compelled to make in the dreadful contest. But so vast a
fund for distribution attracted the inevitable horde of small lawyers
and pension agents, who swelled the lists with multitudes of sham
veterans and able-bodied "cripples," until many eminent ex-soldiers
cried out for a purgation of that which should be a list of honor.

Nor is it disloyal or unpatriotic to shed a tear for the brave but
misguided men whom the Southern leaders led to destruction without any
such recompense for their wounds and hardships,--for the loss of their
property, loss of military prestige, loss of political power, loss of
everything but honor. At first we called them Rebels, and no penalties
were deemed too severe for them to suffer; but later we called them
Confederates, waging war for a cause which they honestly deemed sacred,
and for which they cheerfully offered up their lives,--a monstrous
delusion, indeed, but one for which we ceased to curse them, and soon
learned to forgive, after their cause was lost. Resentment gave place to
pity, and they became like erring brothers, whom it was our duty to
forgive, and in many respects our impulse to admire,--not for their
cause, but for their devotion to it. All this was foreseen and foretold
by Edward Everett during the war, yet there were but few who agreed
with him.

I can devote but little space to the military movements of General Grant
in Virginia until Richmond surrendered and the rebellion collapsed.
There was among the Southerners no contempt of this leader, fresh from
the laurels of Fort Donelson, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga; and the
Confederates put forth almost superhuman efforts to defend their capital
against the scientific strategy of the most successful general of the
war, supported as he was by almost unlimited forces, and the unreserved
confidence of his government.

The new general-in-chief established his headquarters at Culpeper Court
House near the end of March, 1864. His plan of operations was
simple,--to advance against Lee, before proceeding to Richmond, and
defeat his army if possible. Richmond, even if taken, would be
comparatively valueless unless Lee were previously defeated. Grant's
forces were about one hundred and fifty thousand men, and Lee's little
more than half that number, but the latter were intrenched in strong
positions on the interior line. It was Grant's plan to fight whenever an
opportunity was presented,--since he could afford to lose two men to one
of the enemy, and was thus sure to beat in the long run; as a
chess-player, having a superiority of pieces, freely exchanges as he
gets opportunity. There was nothing particularly brilliant in this
policy adopted by Grant, except the great fact that he chose the course
most likely to succeed, whatever might be his losses. Lee at first was
also ready to fight, but after the dreadful slaughter on both sides in
the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, and Cold Harbor, he
apparently changed his plans. One-third of his forces had melted away;
he saw that he could not afford to take risks, and retreated behind his
defences. Grant, too, had changed his operations, at first directed
against Richmond on the northwest; and, since he found every hill and
wood and morass strongly fortified, he concluded to march on Lee's flank
to the James River, and attack Richmond from the south, after reducing
Petersburg, and destroying the southern railroads by which the
Confederates received most of their supplies.

The Federal commander had all the men he wanted. A large force was under
Butler near Petersburg, and Sheridan had driven out the enemy from the
Valley of the Shenandoah with his magnificent cavalry. Lee was now
cooped up between Fredericksburg and Richmond. He was too great a
general to lead his army into either of these strongholds, where they
might be taken as Pemberton's army was at Vicksburg. He wisely kept the
field, although he would not fight except behind his intrenchments, when
he was absolutely forced by the aggressive foe.

Henceforth, from June, 1864, to the close of the war the operations of
Grant resembled a siege rather than a series of battles. He had lost
over fifty thousand men thus far in his march, and he, too, now became
economical of his soldiers' blood. He complained not, but doggedly
carried out his plans without consulting the government at Washington,
or his own generals. His work was hard and discouraging. He had to fight
his way, step by step, against strong intrenchments,--the only thing to
do, but he had the will and patience to do it. He had ordered an attack
on Petersburg, which must be reduced before he could advance to
Richmond; but the attack had failed, and he now sat down to a regular
siege of that strong and important position. The siege lasted ten
months, when Lee was driven within his inner line of defences, and,
seeing that all was lost, on April 2, 1865, evacuated his position, and
began his retreat to the west, hoping to reach Lynchburg, and after that
effect a junction with Johnston coming up from the south. But his
retreat was cut off near Appomattox, and being entirely surrounded he
had nothing to do but surrender to Grant with his entire army, April 9.
With his surrender, Richmond, of course, fell, and the war was
virtually closed.

Out of the 2,200,000 men who had enlisted on the Union side, 110,000
were killed or mortally wounded, and 250,000 died from other causes. The
expense of the war was $3,250,000,000. The losses of the Confederates
were about three-quarters as much. Of the millions who had enlisted on
both sides, nearly a million of men perished, and over five thousand
millions of dollars were expended, probably a quarter of the whole
capital of the country at that time. So great were the sacrifices made
to preserve the Union,--at the cost of more blood and treasure than have
been spent in any other war in modern times.

I am compelled to omit notices of military movements in other parts of
the Union, especially in the West, where some of the most gallant
actions of the war took place,--the brilliant strategy of Rosecrans, the
signal achievements of Thomas, Sherman's march to the sea, Sheridan's
raids, the naval exploits of Farragut, Porter, and Foote, and other acts
of heroism, as not bearing directly on the life of Lincoln. Of course,
he felt the intensest interest in all the military operations, and bore
an unceasing burden of study and of anxiety, which of itself was a great
strain on all his powers. If anything had gone wrong which he could
remedy, his voice and his hand would have been heard and seen. But
toward the last other things demanded his personal attention, and these
were of great importance. There never had been a time since his
inauguration when he was free from embarrassments, and when his burdens
had not been oppressive.

Among other things, the misunderstanding between him and Secretary
Chase was anything but pleasant, Chase had proved himself the ablest
finance minister that this country had produced after Alexander
Hamilton. He was a man of remarkable dignity, integrity, and patriotism.
He was not vain, but he was conscious both of his services and his
abilities. And he was always inclined to underrate Lincoln, whom he
misunderstood. He also had presidential aspirations. After three years'
successful service he did not like to have his suggestions disregarded,
and was impatient under any interference with his appointments. To say
the least, his relations with the President were strained. Annoyed and
vexed with some appointments of importance, he sent in his resignation,
accompanied with a petulant letter. Lincoln, on its receipt, drove to
the Secretary's house, handed back to him his letter, and persuaded him
to reconsider his resignation. But it is difficult to mend a broken jar.
The same trouble soon again occurred in reference to the appointment in
New York of an assistant-treasurer by Mr. Chase, which the President,
having no confidence in the appointee, could not accept; on which the
Secretary again resigned, and Lincoln at once accepted his resignation,
with these words: "Of all I have said in commendation of your ability
and fidelity, I have nothing to unsay; and yet you and I have reached a
point of mutual embarrassment in our official relations, which it seems
cannot be overcome or longer sustained consistently with the
public service."

Mr. Chase, however, did not long remain unemployed. On the death of
Chief Justice Taney, in October, 1864, Mr. Lincoln appointed him to the
head of the Supreme Court,--showing how little he cherished resentment,
and how desirous he was to select the best men for all responsible
positions, whether he personally liked them or not. Even when an able
man had failed in one place, Lincoln generally found use for his
services in another,--witness the gallant exploits of Burnside, Hooker,
and Meade, after they had retired from the head of the Army of the
Potomac. As a successor to Mr. Chase in the Treasury, the President, to
the amazement of the country, selected Governor Tod of Ohio, who wisely
declined the office. The next choice fell on Senator Wm. Pitt Fessenden,
who reluctantly assumed an office which entailed such heavy
responsibilities and hard work, but who made in it a fine record for
efficiency. It was no slight thing to be obliged to raise one hundred
millions of dollars every month for the expense of the war.

While General Grant lay apparently idle in his trenches before
Petersburg, the presidential election of 1864 took place, and in spite
of the unpopular draft of five hundred thousand men in July, and a
summer and Autumn of severe fighting both East and West, Mr. Lincoln
was elected. There had been active and even acrimonious opposition, but
who could compete with him? At this time his extraordinary fitness for
the highest office in the gift of the nation was generally acknowledged,
and the early prejudices against him had mostly passed away. He neither
sought nor declined the re-election.

His second inaugural address has become historical for its lofty
sentiments and political wisdom. It was universally admired, and his
memorable words sunk into every true American heart. Said he:--

"Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of
war may soon pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the
wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited
toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash
shall be paid with another drawn by the sword,--as was said three
thousand years ago, so still it must be said, 'The judgments of the Lord
are true and righteous altogether.'" And, as showing his earnest
conscientiousness, these familiar words: "With malice toward none, with
charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the
right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the
nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and
for his widow and orphans; to do all which may achieve and cherish a
just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." The
eloquence of this is surpassed only by his own short speech at the
dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, November 19, 1863,
which threw into the shade the rhetoric of the greatest orator of his
time, and stands--unstudied as it was--probably the most complete and
effective utterance known in this century.

That immortal inaugural address, in March, 1865;--so simple and yet so
eloquent, expresses two things in Mr. Lincoln's character to be
especially noted: first, the tenderness and compassion, blended with
stern energy and iron firmness of will, which shrank from bloodshed and
violence, yet counted any sacrifice of blood and treasure as of little
account in comparison with the transcendent blessing of national union
and liberty; and, secondly, the change which it would appear gradually
took place in his mind in reference to Divine supervision in the affairs
of men and nations.

I need not dwell on the first, since nothing is more unquestionable than
his abhorrence of all unnecessary bloodshed, or of anything like
vengeance, or punishment of enemies, whether personal or political. His
leniency and forgiveness were so great as to be denounced by some of his
best friends, and by all political fanatics. And this leniency and
forgiveness were the more remarkable, since he was not demonstrative in
his affections and friendships. From his judicial temper, and the
ascendency of his intellectual faculties over passion and interest, he
was apparently cold in his nature, and impassive in view of all passing
events, to such a degree that his humanity seemed to be based on a
philosophy very much akin to that of Marcus Aurelius. His sympathies
were keen, however, and many a distressed woman had cause for gratitude
to him for interference with the stern processes of army discipline in
time of war, much to the indignation of the civil or military martinets.

In regard to the change in his religious views, this fact is more
questionable, but attested by all who knew him, and by most of his
biographers. As a lawyer in Springfield his religious views, according
to his partner and biographer Herndon, were extremely liberal, verging
upon those advanced theories which Volney and Thomas Paine advocated,
even upon atheism itself. As he grew older he became more discreet as to
the expression of his religious opinions. Judge Davis, who knew him
well, affirms that he had no faith, in the Christian sense, but only in
laws, principles, cause and effect,--that is, he had no belief in a
personal God. No religion seemed to find favor with him except that of a
practical and rationalistic order. He never joined a church, and was
sceptical of the divine origin of the Bible, still more of what is
called providential agency in this world. But when the tremendous
responsibilities of his office began to press upon his mind, and the
terrible calamities he deplored, but could not avert, stirred up his
soul in anguish and sadness, then the recognition of the need of
assistance higher than that of man, for the guidance of this great
nation in its unparalleled trials, became apparent in all his
utterances. When he said, "as God gives us to see the right," he meant,
if he meant anything, that wisdom to act in trying circumstances is a
gift, distinct from what is ordinarily learned from experience or study.
This gift, we believe, he earnestly sought.

It must have been a profound satisfaction to Mr. Lincoln that he lived
to see the total collapse of the rebellion,--the fall of Richmond, the
surrender of Lee, and the flight of Jefferson Davis,--the complete
triumph of the cause which it was intrusted to him to guard. How happy
he must have been to see that the choice he made of a general-in-chief
in the person of Ulysses Grant had brought the war to a successful
close, whatever the sacrifices which this great general found it
necessary to make to win ultimate success! What a wonder it is that Mr.
Lincoln, surrounded with so many dangers and so many enemies, should
have lived to see the completion of the work for which he was raised up!
No life of ease or luxury or exultation did he lead after he was
inaugurated,--having not even time to visit the places where his earlier
life was passed; for him there were no triumphal visits to New York and
Boston,--no great ovations anywhere; his great office brought him only
hard and unceasing toil, which taxed all his energies.

It was while seeking a momentary relaxation from his cares and duties,
but a few weeks after his second inauguration, that he met his fate at
the hands of the assassin, from peril of whose murderous designs no
great actor on the scene of mortal strife and labor can be said to be
free. All that a grateful and sorrowing nation could do was done in
honor of his services and character. His remains were carried across the
land to their last resting-place in Illinois, through our largest
cities, with a funeral pageantry unexampled in the history of nations;
and ever since, orators have exhausted language in their encomiums of
his greatness and glory.

Some think that Lincoln died fortunately for his fame,--that had he
lived he might have made mistakes, especially in the work of
reconstruction, which would have seriously affected his claim as a great
national benefactor.

On the other hand, had he lived, he might have put the work of
reconstruction on a basis which would have added to his great services
to the country. The South had no better friend than he, and he was
incapable of animosity or revenge. Certain it is that this work of
reconstruction requires even yet the greatest patriotism and a
marvellous political wisdom. The terrible fact that five millions of
free negroes are yet doomed to ignorance, while even the more
intelligent and industrious have failed to realize the ideals of
citizenship, makes the negro question still one of paramount importance
in the South. The great question whether they shall enjoy the right of
suffrage seems to be disposed of for the present; but the greater
problem of their education must be solved. The subject is receiving most
serious consideration, and encouraging progress is already making in the
direction of their general and industrial training: but they are fast
increasing; their labor is a necessity; and they must be educated to
citizenship, both in mind and in morals, or the fairest portion of our
country will find their presence a continuous menace to peace and

These questions it was not given to Mr. Lincoln to consider. He died
prematurely as a martyr. Nothing consecrates a human memory like
martyrdom. Nothing so effectually ends all jealousies, animosities, and
prejudices as the assassin's dagger. If Caesar had not been assassinated
it is doubtful if even he, the greatest man of all antiquity, could have
bequeathed universal empire to his heirs. Lincoln's death unnerved the
strongest mind, and touched the heart of the nation with undissembled
sadness and pity. From that time no one has dared to write anything
derogatory to his greatness. That he was a very great man no one now

It is impossible, however, for any one yet to set him in the historical
place, which, as an immortal benefactor, he is destined to occupy. All
speculation as to his comparative rank is worse than useless. Time
effects wonderful changes in human opinions. There are some people in
these days who affect to regard Washington as commonplace, as the
lawyers of Edinburgh at one time regarded Sir Walter Scott, because he
made no effort to be brilliant in after-dinner speeches. There are
others who, in the warmth of their innocent enthusiasm, think that
Lincoln's fame will go on increasing until, in the whole Eastern world,
among the mountains of Thibet, on the shores of China and Japan, among
the jungles of India, in the wilds of darkest Africa, in the furthermost
islands of the sea, his praises will be sung as second to no political
benefactor that the world has seen. As all exaggerations provoke
antagonism, it is wisest not to compare him with any national idols, but
leave him to the undisputed verdict of the best judges, that lie was one
of the few immortals who will live in a nation's heart and the world's
esteem from age to age. Is this not fame enough for a modest man, who
felt his inferiority, in many respects, to those to whom he himself
intrusted power?

Lincoln's character is difficult to read, from its many-sided aspects.
He rarely revealed to the same person more than a single side. His
individuality was marvellous. "Let us take him," in the words of his
latest good biographer, "as simply Abraham Lincoln, singular and
solitary as we all see that he was. Let us be thankful if we can make a
niche big enough for him among the world's heroes without worrying
ourselves about the proportion it may bear to other niches; and there
let him remain forever, lonely, as in his strong lifetime, impressive,
mysterious, unmeasured, and unsolved."

One thing may be confidently affirmed of this man,--that he stands as a
notable exemplar, in the highest grade, of the American of this
century,--the natural development of the self-reliant English stock upon
our continent. Lowell, in his "Commemoration Ode," has set forth
Lincoln's greatness and this fine representative quality of his, in
words that may well conclude our study of the man and of the first full
epoch of American life:--

       "Here was a type of the true elder race,
     And one of Plutarch's men talked with us face to face.
       I praise him not; it were too late;
     And some innative weakness there must be
     In him who condescends to victory
     Such as the Present gives, and cannot wait,
       Safe in himself as in a fate.
         So always firmly he:
         He knew to bide his time,
         And can his fame abide,
     Still patient in his simple faith sublime,
         Till the wise years decide.
       Great captains, with their guns and drums,
         Disturb our judgment for the hour,
           But at last silence comes;
       These all are gone, and, standing like a tower,
       Our children shall behold his fame,
         The kindly earnest, brave, foreseeing man,
     Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame,
       New birth of our new soil, the first American."


The most voluminous of the Lives of Abraham Lincoln is that of Nicolay
and Hay, which seems to be fair and candid without great exaggerations;
but it is more a political and military history of the United States
than a Life of Lincoln himself. Herndon's Life is probably the most
satisfactory of the period before Lincoln's inauguration. Holland,
Lamar, Stoddard, Arnold, and Morse have all written interesting
biographies. See also Ford's History of Illinois, Greeley's American
Conflict, Lincoln and Douglas Debates, Lincoln's Speeches, published by
the Century Co., Secretary Chase's Diary, Swinton's Army of the Potomac,
Lives of Seward, McClellan, Garrison, and Grant, Grant's Autobiography,
McClure's Lincoln and Men of War Times, Wilson's History of the Rise and
Fall of the Slave Power.





Robert Edward Lee had perhaps a more illustrious traceable lineage than
any American not of his family. His ancestor, Lionel Lee, crossed the
English Channel with William the Conqueror. Another scion of the clan
fought beside Richard the Lion-hearted at Acre in the Third Crusade. To
Richard Lee, the great landowner on Northern Neck, the Virginia Colony
was much indebted for royal recognition. His grandson, Henry Lee, was
the grandfather of "Light-horse Harry" Lee, of Revolutionary fame, who
was the father of Robert Edward Lee.

Robert E. Lee was born on Jan. 19,1807, in Westmoreland County, Va., the
same county that gave to the world George Washington and James Monroe.
Though he was fatherless at eleven, the father's blood in him inclined
him to the profession of arms, and when eighteen,--in 1825,--on an
appointment obtained for him by General Andrew Jackson, he entered the
Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1829, being second in
rank in a class of forty-six. Among his classmates were two men whom one
delights to name with him,--Ormsby M. Mitchell, later a general in the
Federal army, and Joseph E. Johnston, the famous Confederate. Lee was at
once made Lieutenant of Engineers, but, till the Mexican War, attained
only a captaincy. This was conferred on him in 1838.

In 1831, Lee had been married to Miss Mary Randolph Custis, the
grand-daughter of Mrs. George Washington. By this marriage he became
possessor of the beautiful estate at Arlington, opposite Washington, his
home till the Civil War. The union, blessed by seven children, was in
all respects most happy.

In his prime, Lee was spoken of as the handsomest man in the army. He
was about six feet tall, perfectly built, healthy, fond of outdoor life,
enthusiastic in his profession, gentle, dignified, studious,
broad-minded, and positively, though unobtrusively, religious. If he had
faults, which those nearest him doubted, they were excess of modesty and
excess of tenderness.

During the Mexican War, Captain Lee directed all the most important
engineering operations of the American army,--a work vital to its
wonderful success. Already, at the siege of Vera Cruz, General Scott
mentioned him as having "greatly distinguished himself." He was
prominent in all the operations thence to Cerro Gordo, where, in April,
1847, he was brevetted Major. Both at Contreras and at Churubusco he was
credited with gallant and meritorious services. At the charge up
Chapultepec, in which Joseph E. Johnston, George B. McClellan, George E.
Pickett, and Thomas J. Jackson participated, Lee bore Scott's orders to
all points until from loss of blood by a wound, and from the loss of two
nights' sleep at the batteries, he actually fainted away in the
discharge of his duty. Such ability and devotion brought him home from
Mexico bearing the brevet rank of Colonel. General Scott had learned to
think of him as "the greatest military genius in America."

In 1852 Lee was made Superintendent of the West Point Military Academy.
In 1855 he was commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel of Col. Albert Sidney
Johnston's new cavalry regiment, just raised to serve in Texas. March,
1861, saw him Colonel of the First United States Cavalry. With the
possible exception of the two Johnstons, he was now the most promising
candidate for General Scott's position whenever that venerable hero
vacated it, as he was sure to do soon.

On the initiative of Mississippi, a provisional Congress had met at
Montgomery on Feb. 4, 1861, and created a provisional constitution for
the Confederate States of America. By March 11 a permanent constitution
was drafted, reproducing that of the United States, with certain
modifications. Slavery and State-sovereignty received elaborate
guarantees. Bounties and protective tariffs were absolutely forbidden.
Cabinet members had seats in Congress. Parts of appropriation bills
could be vetoed. The presidential term was six years, and a president
could not be re-elected. This constitution, having been ratified by five
or more legislatures, was set in play by the provisional Congress.
Virginia on seceding was taken into the Confederacy, and the Confederate
capital changed from Montgomery to Richmond.

Lee was a Virginian, and Virginia, about to secede and at length
seceding, in most earnest tones besought her distinguished son to join
her. It seemed to him the call of duty, and that call, as he understood
it, was one which it was not in him to disobey. President Lincoln knew
the value of the man, and sent Frank Blair to him to say that if he
would abide by the Union he should soon command the whole active army.
That would probably have meant his election, in due time, to the
presidency of his country. "For God's sake, don't resign, Lee!" General
Scott--himself a Virginian--is said to have pleaded. He replied: "I am
compelled to; I cannot consult my own feelings in the matter."
Accordingly, on April 20, 1861, three days after Virginia passed its
ordinance of secession, Lee sent to Simon Cameron, Secretary of War,
his resignation as an officer in the United States army.

Few at the North were able to understand the Secession movement, most
denying that a man at once thoughtful and honorable could join in it. So
centralized had the North by 1861 become in all social and economic
particulars, that centrality in government was taken as a matter of
course. Representing this, the Nation was deemed paramount to any State.
Governmental sovereignty, like travel and trade, had come to ignore
State lines. The whole idea and feeling of State-sovereignty, once as
potent North as South, had vanished and been forgotten.

Far otherwise at the South, where, owing to the great size of States and
to the paucity of railways and telegraphs, interstate association was
not yet a force. Each State, being in square miles ample enough for an
empire, retained to a great extent the consciousness of an independent
nation. The State was near and palpable; the central government seemed a
vague and distant thing. Loyalty was conceived as binding one primarily
to one's own State.

It is a misconception to explain this feeling--for in most cases it was
feeling rather than reasoned conviction--by Calhoun's teaching. It
resulted from geography and history, and, these factors working as they
did, would have been what it was had Calhoun never lived.

With reflecting Southerners Calhoun's message no doubt had some
confirmatory effect, because, historically and also in a certain legal
aspect, Calhoun's view was very impressive. That the overwhelming
majority of the early Americans who voted to ratify the national
Constitution supposed it to be simply a compact between the States
cannot be questioned, nor could ratification ever have been effected had
any considerable number believed otherwise. The view that a State
wishing to withdraw from the Union might for good cause do so was the
prevalent one till long after the War of 1812, yielding, thereafter, at
the North, less to Webster's logic than to the social and economic
development just mentioned.

At the South it did not thus give way. There the propriety of secession
was never aught but a question of sufficient grievance, to be settled by
each State for itself, speaking through a majority of its voters. When
the Secession ordinances actually passed, many individual voters in each
State opposed on the ground that the occasion was insufficient; but such
opponents, of whom Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia was one, nearly to a
man felt bound, as good citizens, to acquiesce in the decision of their
States and even to uphold this in arms.

Whether voting secession or accepting it on State mandate, Southern men
naturally resented being called traitors or rebels. By the Websterian
conception of the nature of our government they were so, but by
Calhoun's they were simply acting out the Constitution in the best of
faith. No recognized arbiter or criterion existed to determine between
the two views. Massachusetts denounced seceding South Carolina as a
traitor: South Carolina berated Massachusetts, seeking to impose the
Union on the South against its will, as a criminal aggressor. An
intelligent referee with no bias for either must have pronounced the
judgments equally just.

These considerations explain how Colonel Lee, certainly one of the most
conscientious men who ever lived, felt bound in duty and honor to side
with seceding Virginia, though he doubted the wisdom of her course.

Lee was from the first Virginia's military hero and hope, but he did not
at once become such to the Confederacy at large. He did not immediately
take the field. Till after Bull Run he remained in Richmond, President
Jefferson Davis's adviser and right hand man in organizing the forces
incessantly arriving and pushing to the front.

In his brief West Virginia campaign, where he first came in contact with
McClellan, being looked upon as an invader rather than a friend, Lee had
scant success. Some therefore called him a "mere historic name,"
"Letcher's pet," a "West Pointer," no fighting general. He went to South
Carolina to supervise the repair and building of coast fortifications
there, and it was no doubt in large part owing to his engineering skill
then applied that Charleston, whose sea-door the Federals incessantly
pounded from the beginning, probably wasting there more powder and iron
than at all other points together, was captured only at the end of the
war and then from the land side. In March, 1862, General Lee again
became President Davis's military adviser.

But though thus in relative obscurity, Lee was not forgotten. President
Davis knew his man and knew that his hour would come. When, in May,
1862, the vast Federal army stood almost at Richmond's gates, Albert
Sidney Johnston being dead and Joseph E. Johnston lying wounded, the
Confederacy lifted up its voice and called Robert E. Lee to assume
command upon the Chickahominy front. This he did on June 1, 1862.

The Confederates' ill-success on the second day of the Fair Oaks battle
was to them a blessing in disguise. It put McClellan at his ease, giving
Lee time to accomplish three extremely important ends. He could rest and
recruit his army, fortify the south of Richmond with stout works, a
detail which had not been attended to before, and send Stonewall Jackson
down the valley of Virginia, so frightening the authorities in
Washington that they dared not re-enforce McClellan.

Brilliant victory resulted. Leaving only 25,000 men between his capital
and his foe, Lee, on June 26, threw the rest across the upper
Chickahominy and attacked the Federal right. Fighting terribly at
Mechanicsville and Gaines's Mill, A.P. Hill and Jackson, the latter
having made forced marches from the Shenandoah to join in the movement,
pushed back Fitz-John Porter's corps across the Chickahominy, sundering
McClellan entirely from his York River base. The Union army was now
nearer Richmond than the bulk of Lee's, which was beyond the
Chickahominy, at that time none too easily crossed. Had McClellan been
Lee or Grant or Sherman he would have made a dash for Richmond. But he
was McClellan, and Lee knew perfectly well that he would attempt nothing
so bold. Retreat was the Northerner's thought, and he did retreat--in
good order, and hitting back venomously from White Oak Swamp and Malvern
Hill--till he had reached Harrison's Landing upon the James, where
gunboats sheltered and supply-ships fed his men.

Lee felt disappointed with the seven days' fighting in that he had not
crushed McClellan. He had, however, forced him to raise the siege of
Richmond and to retreat thirty or forty miles. The Confederacy breathed
freely again, and its gallant chieftain began to be famous.

The new leader had thus far given only hints of his fertile strategy.
McClellan's army was still but two days' march from Richmond. Its front
was perfectly fortified,--McClellan was an engineer; gunboats protected
its flanks. Lee--an engineer, too--knew that to attack McClellan there
would be too costly; yet McClellan must be removed, and this before he
could be re-enforced for an advance. His removal was accomplished.

General Pope was threatening Richmond from the North. The government
expected great things of him. In a pompous manifesto he had given out
that retreating days were over, that his headquarters were to be in the
saddle, and, that, as he swept on to Richmond, where he evidently
expected to arrive in the course of a few days, his difficulty was going
to be not to whip his enemy but to get at him in order to do so.

When Pope wrote that manifesto he knew many men, but there was one man
whom he did not yet know. It was Stonewall Jackson, the most unique and
interesting character rolled into notice by those tempestuous years,
unless Nathan Bedford Forrest is the exception. Like the great
Moslem warrior,

     "Terrible he rode, alone,
      With his Yemen sword for aid;
      Ornament it carried none
      Save the notches on its blade."

Jackson was an intensely religious man. Unlike many good soldiers he
wore his piety into camp and on to the battlefield, and would not have
hesitated to offer prayer to the God of battles where every one of his
thirty thousand men could see and hear. And all those soldiers believed
in the efficacy of their commander's prayers. Jackson was also a stern
disciplinarian. If men in any way sought to evade duty, provost-marshals
were ordered to bring them into line, if necessary at the pistol's
point. In consequence, when the day of battle came, there was not a man
in the corps who did not feel sure that if he shirked duty Stonewall
Jackson would shoot him and God Almighty would damn him. This helped to
render Jackson's thirty thousand perhaps the most efficient
fighting-machine which had appeared upon the battlefield since the
Ironsides of Oliver Cromwell.

Pope was destined to make Jackson's acquaintance speedily--and rather
unceremoniously, for Jackson was ill-mannered enough, instead of passing
in his card at Pope's front door, as etiquette required, to present it
at the kitchen-gate. Before Pope was aware, his enterprising opponent,
whose war motto was that one man behind your enemy is worth ten in his
front, had gone around through Thoroughfare Gap to Manassas Junction and
planted himself (August 26, 1862) square across the only railroad that
ran between Pope's army and Washington. Pope should have volted and
struck Jackson like lightning before the rest of Lee's army could come
up; but two considerations made him slow. One was that Longstreet's wing
of Lee's army was now rather close in his front, and the other,
mortification at turning back after having started southward with such a
blare of trumpets.

Brave Confederate soldiers who were at Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run,
and Chantilly, bear witness that the blood Pope's men shed in those
battles ran red. But dazed, tired, lacking confidence, and at last on
short rations, and faced or flanked by Lee's whole army, while but part
of McClellan's was at hand, they fought either to fall or to
retreat again.

No one witnessing it can ever forget the consternation which prevailed
in the fortifications about Washington the night after the battle of
Chantilly. The writer's own troop, manning Fort Ward, a few miles out
from Alexandria, stood to its heavy guns every moment of that dismal
night, gazing frontwards for a foe. The name "Stonewall Jackson" was on
each lip. At the break of dawn, when to weary soldiers trees and fences
easily look "pokerish," brave artillerists swore that they could see the
dreaded warrior charging down yonder hill heading a division, and in
almost agonizing tones begged leave to "load for action."

Lee probably made a mistake in entering Maryland after the battle of
Chantilly, and his report implies that he would not at this time have
done so for merely military reasons. But, having crossed the Potomac, he
did well to fight at Sharpsburg (Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862) before
recrossing. This was well, because it was bold. Moreover, by bruising
the Federals there he delayed them, getting ample time for ensconcing
his army on the Rappahannock front for the winter.

Also for the battle of Fredericksburg (Dec. 13, 1862) Lee deserves no
special praise. Doubtless his unerring engineer eye picked the
fighting-line, and his already great prestige inspired his brave army.
But that was all. The pluck of his officers and men and Burnside's
incapacity did the rest.

Never did a general carry to battle a better plan of battle than
Fighting Joe Hooker's at Chancellorsville (May 2-3, 1863), and rarely
has one marched from a battle that had proved for his own side a more
lamentable fiasco. Taking the offensive with vast advantage in numbers,
he proposed to hold Lee in place with one of his wings while he thrust
the other behind Lee's left, between the Confederate army and Richmond.
But he had started a game at which two could play and had challenged a
more deft and daring gamester than himself. Early divining his purpose,
Lee, leaving a small part of his force to engage Hooker's left, with the
rest vigorously assumed the counter-offensive, sending Jackson, as
usual, around Hooker's extreme right. Both movements completely

Now appeared the folly of promoting a general to the headship of a great
army simply because of his fighting-quality and his success with a
division or a corps. Attacked in front and routed on his flank, Hooker
did exactly what all who knew him would have taken oath that he would
never do. Instead of going straight ahead with vengeance and bidding his
far left do the same, he ordered and executed a retreat to his old
position north of the Rappahannock.

There were those who laid this disaster to Hooker's intemperance.
President Lincoln probably had such a suspicion, when, sending General
Hooker west to join General Sherman, he admonished him in passing
through Kentucky "to steer clear of Bourbon County." Though Hooker was
not a total-abstainer, Chancellorsville is not to be explained by that
fact any more than Jubal A. Early's defeat by Sheridan in the Shenandoah
Valley is referrible to his use of apple-brandy.

Hooker did not create his own defeat, as Burnside may, with little
exaggeration, be said to have done at Fredericksburg. Lee defeated him,
and deserved the immense fame which the victory brought. No wonder he
began to plan for the offensive again. Soon the ever-memorable
Gettysburg campaign was begun.

The details of this campaign, even those of the battle itself (July
1-3, 1863), we cannot give here. Nor need we. The world knows them:--the
first day, with Hill's and Ewell's success, costing the Union the life
of its gallant General Reynolds, commanding the First Corps; the second
day, when, back and forth by the Devil's Den, Hood on one side and Dan
Sickles on the other, fought their men as soldiers had never fought on
the American continent before; and the third day, when for an hour a
hundred cannon on Seminary Ridge belched hell-fire at a hundred cannon
on Cemetery Ridge, prelude, in the natural key, to Pickett's
death-defying charge.

     "A thousand fell where Kemper led,
      A thousand died where Garnett bled.
      In blinding flame and strangling smoke
      The remnant through the batteries broke
      And crossed the works with Armistead."

The Union army was for the first time fighting a great battle on Union
soil. The homes of many who were engaged stood within sound of the
Gettysburg cannon. As the Confederates did in many other engagements,
the Federals here felt that they were repelling an invader, and they
fought accordingly, with a grim iron resisting power which they had
never displayed before.

Great praise was due to General Hancock, and perhaps still more to
General Howard, for early perceiving the strength of Cemetery Hill as a
defensible position. On the first day, after General Reynolds had
fallen at his post of duty with the First Corps, General Doubleday, next
in command, was on the point of ordering a retreat, the attack seeming
too fearful to be withstood. But Howard, coming up with the Eleventh
Corps and assuming command of the field, overruled Doubleday, and, by
enforcing a most stubborn resistance against Hill's and Ewell's
desperate onsets, probably saved Cemetery Hill from capture
that evening.

So far as has ever yet been made apparent, every plan which Lee formed
for the battle of Gettysburg, every order which he gave, was wise and
right. We do not except even his management on the third day. It is easy
to find fault with dispositions when they have failed of happy results.
Men have said that instead of attacking in front on that day Lee should
have drawn Ewell from the left and thrown him to Longstreet's right,
manoeuvring Meade out of his position. But in this matter, too, Lee's
judgment was probably good. Changing his plan of attack would have been
a partial confession of defeat, to some extent disheartening his men.
The Union Sixth Corps, fresh and free, General John Sedgwick at its
head, was sure to have pounced on any troops seeking to trouble Meade's
left, and, had Meade been successfully flanked and forced back, he would
have retired to Pipe Creek and been stronger than ever.

Of course, Pickett should never have been sent forward alone. You could
wade the Atlantic as easily as he, unsupported, could go beyond that
stone wall. But, from all one can learn, Lee was in fact not responsible
for Pickett's lack of support, although in almost guilty nobleness of
spirit he assumed the responsibility, and silently rested under the
imputation of it till his death.

Had Lee's great subordinates, Ewell at nightfall on the first day, and
Longstreet on the other two days, seconded him with the alacrity and
devotion usually displayed by them, or had Stonewall Jackson been still
alive and in the place of either of these generals, the issue of the
battle would almost to a certainty have been very different from what it
was. A soldier who had often followed to victory the enterprising Graham
of Claverhouse, but, under a weaker leader, saw a battle wavering, cried
out, "O for one hour of Dundee!" So must Lee often have sighed for
Stonewall, the loss of whom at Chancellorsville made that, for the
Confederacy, a sort of Pyrrhic victory.

Lee's skill at Gettysburg has been questioned in that he fought his army
upon the longer line, the big fishhook described by his position lying
outside the little one formed by the Federal army. But Lee fought on the
outer line also at Second Bull Run, winning one of the neatest victories
in modern warfare.

John Codman Ropes, the well-known military critic, says of this battle:
"It would be hard to find a better instance of that masterly
comprehension of the actual condition of things which marks a great
general than was exhibited in General Lee's allowing our formidable
attack, in which more than half the Federal army was taking part, to be
fully developed and to burst upon the exhausted troops of Stonewall
Jackson, while Lee, relying upon the ability of that able soldier to
maintain his position, was maturing and arranging for the great attack
on our left flank by the powerful corps of Longstreet."

In Prussia's war with Austria in 1866, Von Moltke's plan at the battle
of Sadowa, where he splendidly triumphed, was in the same respect a
close imitation of Lee's at Gettysburg. The Prussians occupied the outer
fish-hook line, the Austrians the inner. When the pickets closed in the
morning Von Moltke saluted King William and said: "Your Majesty will
to-day win not only the battle but the campaign." At noon this did not
appear possible. Prince Frederick Charles's corps were withering under
the hottest artillery fire of the century, save that at Gettysburg, just
three years earlier to the hour. It seemed as if in fifteen minutes they
must give way. But, hark! What means that cheering on the left? New
cannons boom and the Austrian fire slackens! Von Moltke knows perfectly
well what it means. The Crown-Prince has arrived with his fresh corps.
He has stormed the Heights of Chlum--the Culp's Hill of that
battlefield. He enfilades the whole Austrian line. Benedek is beaten; on
to Vienna; the war is ended!

It was with a heavy heart that General Lee ordered his brave men
southward again--a heart made heavier by many a stinging criticism
against him in the Southern press. The resolution that bore him up at
this crisis was morally sublime. He could not hope to strengthen his
army more. For a time he had to weaken it by sending Longstreet west to
assist Bragg in fighting the battle of Chickamauga. Clothing, rations,
animals, and forage, as well as men, were increasingly scarce. The South
was exhausted much sooner than any expected, having greatly
overestimated its wealth by taking exports and imports for gauge.
Doubtful if ever before was so large and populous a region so far from
self-sustaining. The force against Lee, on the other hand, was daily
becoming stronger.

Till Gettysburg, Lee had toyed with the Army of the Potomac--not because
the rank and file of that army was at fault, and not mainly because of
its generals' inability, but mostly because of political interference
with its operations. The great and revered President Lincoln, with all
his powers, was not a military man. No more was Secretary Stanton. They
secured the best military aid they could. From an early period General
Halleck--"Old Brains," men called him because of his immense military
information--was their constant adviser; and though he was a scholar
rather than a genius, he could doubtless have saved them many an error
had they heeded his counsel instead of civilian clamor.

How impressively did not the Civil War teach that fine military
scholarship alone, while it may greatly add to a general's efficiency,
cannot make a true military leader! Compare Halleck with Grant or
Sherman! The Creoles of Louisiana considered their Beauregard the _ne
plus ultra_ military genius of the South. One of them was once asked his
opinion of General Lee. He replied in his broken English: "O, Gen Lee a
ve'y good gen'l, ve'y good gen'l indeed; Gen Beaugar speak ve'y fav'ble
of Gen Lee." So, at last, did Halleck speak "ve'y fav'ble" of Grant.

But Gettysburg convinced Lee that he could toy with the Potomac army no
longer, and this was more than ever impossible after Grant took command.
Then Greek met Greek, and the death grapple began. At the Wilderness, at
Spottsylvania, and most mercilessly of all at Cold Harbor, Grant drove
his colossal battering-ram against Lee's gray wall, only to find it
solid as Gibraltar.

This struggle tested both commanders' mettle to the utmost. At the end
of the hammering campaign, after losing men enough to form an army as
large as Lee's, Grant's van was full twice as far from Richmond as
McClellan's had been two years before. Not once was Lee flanked, duped,
or surprised. As always hitherto, so now, his darling mode of defence
was offence,--to fight,--Grant's every blow being met with another
before it hit. Only once were Lee's lines forced straight back to stay.
Even then, at the Spottsylvania "bloody angle," the ground he lost
hardly sufficed to graveyard the Union men killed in getting it. In
swinging round to Petersburg, and again at the springing of the
Petersburg Mine, Grant thought himself sure to make enormous gains; but
Lee's insight into his purposes, and lightning celerity in checkmating
these, foiled both movements, giving the mine operation, moreover, the
effect of a deadly boomerang.

Spite of all this, the end of the Confederacy was in sight from the
moment of Grant's arrival at Petersburg. During the three years that Lee
and his indomitable aides and soldiers had been holding at bay brave and
perfectly appointed armies vastly outnumbering them, and twice boldly
assuming the offensive, with disaster indeed, yet with glory, two other
grand campaigns had been going on wherein the Confederacy had fared much
worse. The capture of New Orleans, of Island No. Ten, and of Vicksburg,
had let the Father of Waters again run "unvexed to the sea." A second
line of operations _via_ Murfreesborough, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and
Savannah, had divided the Confederacy afresh. Sherman's army, which had
achieved this, began on Feb. 1, 1865, to march northward from Savannah.

Bravery in camp and field and deathless endurance at home could not take
the place of bread. The blockade was, to be sure, for some time
extensively evaded, admitting English wares of all sorts in great
quantities. But in no long time the blockade tightened. Moreover,
comparatively little cotton was raised which could in any event have
been exported. Credit failing, imports, if any, had to be paid for in
money. This, of course, was soon spent, and then importation ceased.
Privateers destroyed but could bring nothing home.

As the war progressed, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana, and
with the fall of Vicksburg the whole immense Trans-Mississippi tract,
were lost to the Confederacy. Sherman's march isolated also Mississippi,
Alabama, and Georgia.

The dearth of necessaries, save corn and bacon, became desperate. Salt
and wheat bread were rare luxuries. In 1864 a suit of jean cost $600, a
spool of cotton $30, a pound of bacon $15. It should, of course, be
borne in mind that these high prices in part represented the
depreciation of Confederate paper money. Drastic drafting and the arming
of negroes could avail little for lack of accoutrements and food. Thus
Lee's capitulation at Appomattox (April 9, 1865) represents less a
defeat of his army than the breakdown of the Confederacy at large. So
true and impressive is this that reflection upon it makes the last year
of Lee's commandership seem peculiarly glorious. Only by rarest genius,
surely, were those dazzling tactics, that lynx-eyed, sleepless
watchfulness, that superhuman patience and superhuman valor, protracted,
incessant for a whole year, keeping intact, victorious, and full of
inspiration that gray line, ever longer, ever thinner, of men
outnumbered two, then three, and at last five to one, whose food and
clothing grew scantier with the days, while the bounties of a continent
replenished their opponents,--keeping that tenuous line unbroken till
very starvation unfitted soldiers to handle muskets which must be used
empty if at all, because ammunition was spent! And when we recall that
all this was accomplished not because the Union army was cowardly,
ill-led, or asleep, but in spite of Grant's relentless push and an ably
led army as brave, wary, and determined as ever marched: let us ask
critics versed in the history of war, if books tell of generalship more
complete than this!

Lee's military conduct revealed, it must be admitted, one weakness, that
of undue leniency toward slack, dilatory, and opinionated subordinates.
This was, however, only in part Lee's personal fault. Mainly it was the
military counterpart of the rope-of-sand infirmity inherent in a
Confederacy which in every possible way deified the individual State and
snubbed the central power. Without jeopardizing the Confederacy, Lee
could not at Gettysburg deal with Longstreet as Grant did with Warren at
Five Forks, or as Sherman did with Palmer in North Carolina. It seems
that Lee's orders to his main subordinates were habitually of the nature
of requests. Yet what obedience was not accorded him in spite of this!

Most striking among the characteristics of General Lee which made him so
successful was his exalted and unmatched excellence as a man, his
unselfishness, sweetness, gentleness, patience, love of justice, and
general elevation of soul. Lee much loved to quote Sir William
Hamilton's words: "On earth nothing great but man: in man nothing great
but mind." He always added, however: "In mind nothing great save
devotion to truth and duty." Though a soldier, and at last very eminent
as a soldier, he retained from the beginning to the end of his career
the entire temper and character of an ideal civilian. He did not sink
the man in the military man. He had all a soldier's virtues, the
"chevalier without fear and without reproach," but he was glorified by a
whole galaxy of excellences which soldiers too often lack. He was pure
of speech and of habit, never intemperate, never obscene, never profane,
never irreverent. In domestic life he was an absolute model. Lofty
command did not make him vain.

The Southern army had one prominent officer with a high ecclesiastical
title, the Rt. Rev. Lieutenant-General Leonidas Polk, D.D., LL.D.,
Bishop of Louisiana, commanding a corps in Bragg's army. He was killed
in battle at Pine Mountain, Ga., during Sherman's advance on Atlanta.
Stonewall Jackson was so famed for his rather obtrusive though awfully
real piety that men named him the Havelock of the army. But none who
knew the three will call Lee less a Christian than either of the others.
He prayed daily for his enemies in arms, and no word of hate toward the
North ever escaped his tongue or his pen. He had the faith and devotion
of a true crusader. His letters breathe the spirit of a better earth
than this. Collected into a volume, they would make an invaluable book
of devotional literature. No wonder officers and men passionately loved
such a commander, glad, at his bidding, to crowd where the fight was
thickest and death the surest.

Sir Thomas Malory's words are not inaptly applied to Lee: "Ah, Sir
Lancelot, thou wert head of all Christian knights; thou wert never
matched of earthly knight's hand; and thou wert the courtliest knight
that ever bare shield; and thou wert the kindest man that ever strake
with sword; and thou wert the goodliest person that ever came among
press of knights; and thou wert the meekest man and the gentliest that
ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou wert the sternest knight to thy
mortal foe that ever put spear in rest."

Exquisitely appropriate is also Professor Trent's comparison of Lee
"with Belisarius and Turenne and Marlborough and Moltke, on the one
hand, and on the other with Callicratidas, and Saint Louis, with the
Chevalier Bayard and Sir Philip Sidney."

A remarkable trait of General Lee's military character was his tireless
and irresistible energy. While one whom he deemed a foe of his State
remained on her soil, he could not rest. From the moment he took command
of the Army of Northern Virginia, all was action in that army. During
the nine weeks after A.P. Hill struck Mechanicsville that earthquake
shock, how did not the war-map change! Richmond was set free; Washington
was threatened. Lee whipped McClellan before Pope could help, then Pope
before McClellan could help. The first evening at Gettysburg, Longstreet
having impressively pointed out the strength of Meade's position on
Cemetery Hill, Lee instantly replied, "If he is there in the morning, I
shall attack him." The second morning of the Wilderness battle, Grant,
obviously expecting to anticipate all movement upon the other side,
ordered charge at five o'clock. Lee charged at half-past four. Grant was
determined to reach Spottsylvania first, but there, too, Lee awaited
him, having had some hours to rest. Prostrate and half-delirious in his
tent one day during Grant's effort to flank him, he kept murmuring: "We
must strike them; we must not let them pass without striking them."
Longstreet was too slow for him, and so was even the ever-ready A.P.
Hill. Years later, Lee's dying words were: "Tell Hill he _must_
come up."

To appreciate his cat-like agility, one must remember that Lee was the
oldest general made famous by the war. It is thought that years
accounted for Napoleon's refusal to fight the Old Guard at Borodino, as
his ablest generals urged. Napoleon was then forty-three, eleven years
younger than Lee was when our war began. It is to young Napoleon we must
turn to find parallels for Lee's celerity. Second Bull Run and
Chancellorsville may fitly be compared to Arcola and Rivoli. It has been
observed that, like Napoleon, Lee avoided passive defence, seeming the
assailant even when on the defensive. Like him, he was swift and
terrible in availing himself of an enemy's mistakes. It can hardly be
doubted that Lee's campaigns furnished more or less inspiration and
direction for Von Moltke's immortal movements in 1866 and in 1870-71.

That Lee was brave need not be said. He was not as rash as Hood and
Cleburne sometimes were. He knew the value of his life to the great
cause, and, usually at least, did not expose himself needlessly.
Prudence he had, but no fear. His resolution to lead the charge at the
Bloody Angle--rashness for once--shows fearlessness. Tender-hearted as
he was, Lee felt battle frenzy as hardly another great commander ever
did. From him it spread like magnetism to his officers and men,
thrilling all as if the chief himself were close by in the fray,
shouting, "Now fight, my good fellows, fight!" Yet such was Lee's
self-command that this dreadful ardor never carried him too far. Once,
namely, at Fredericksburg, recovery from the fighting mood perhaps
occurred too promptly. Some have thought this, suggesting that had the
leash not been applied to the dogs of war so early, Burnside's retreat
might have been made a rout.

But Lee possessed another order of courage infinitely higher and rarer
than this,--the sort so often lacking even in generals who have served
with utmost distinction in high subordinate places, when they are called
to the sole and decisive direction of armies: he had that royal mettle,
that preternatural decision of character, ever tempered with caution and
wisdom, which leads a great commander, when true occasion arises,
resolutely to give general battle, or to swing out away from his base
upon a precarious but promising campaign. Here you have moral heroism;
ordinary valor is more impulsive. A weaker man, albeit total stranger to
fear, ready to lead his division or his corps into the very mouth of
hell, if commanded, being set himself to direct an army, will be either
rash or else too timid, or fidget from one extreme to the other,
losing all.

Hooker began bravely at Chancellorsville, but soon grew faint and
afraid. Hood says that Hardee's timidity lost him a great victory at
Decatur, Ga., the day the Union General McPherson fell; and that
Cheatham's, at Spring Hill, during his northward pursuit of Thomas, lost
him another. Yet Hooker, Hardee, and Cheatham were men to whom personal
fear was a meaningless phrase. Stonewall Jackson was personally no
braver than they; it was his bravery of the higher sort that set him as
a general so incomparably above them. The same high quality belonged to
Grant and Sherman, and to Washington and Greene in the Revolutionary War.

It was in this supreme kind of boldness that Robert Lee pre-eminently
excelled. Cautious always, he still took risks and responsibilities
which common generals would not have dared to take; and when he had
assumed these, his mighty will forbade him to sink under the load. The
braying of bitter critics, the obloquy of men who should have supported
him, the shots from behind, dismayed him no more than did Burnside's
cannon at Fredericksburg. On he pressed, stout as a Titan, relentless as
fate. What time bravest hearts failed at victory's delay, this
Dreadnaught rose to his best, and furnished courage for the whole

Lee's campaigns and battles "exhibit the triumph of profound
intelligence, of calculation, and of well-employed force over numbers
and disunited counsels."

Lee always manoeuvred; he never merely "pitched in." As he right-flanked
McClellan, so both at Manassas and at Chantilly he right-flanked
Pope,--all three times using for the work Jackson, the tireless and the
terrible. At Second Bull Run, to show that he was no slave to one form
of strategy, he muffled up Pope's left instead of his right, here using
Longstreet. His tactics were as masterful as his strategy. At Second
Bull Run, fearfully hammered by the noble Fifth Corps, that had fought
like so many tigers at Gaines's Mill and Malvern Hill, even Stonewall
Jackson cried to Lee for aid. Aid came, but not in men. Longstreet's
cannon, cunningly planted to enfilade the Fifth Corps' front, shattered
the Federals' attacking column and placed Stonewall at his ease.

Considering everything, his paucity of men and means, the necessity
always upon him of reckoning with political as well as with military
situations, and his success in holding even Grant at bay so long, Lee's
masterful campaigns of 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865 not only constitute
him the foremost military virtuoso of his own land, but write his name
high on the scroll of the greatest captains of history, beside those of
Gustavus Adolphus, William of Orange, Tilly, Frederic the Great, Prince
Eugene, Napoleon, Wellington, and Von Moltke.

In a sense, of course, the cause for which Lee fought was "lost;" yet a
very great part of what he and his _confrères_ sought, the war actually
secured and assured. His cause was not "lost" as Hannibal's was, whose
country, with its institutions, spite of his genius and devotion,
utterly perished from the earth. Yet Hannibal is remembered more widely
than Scipio. Were Lee in the same case with Hannibal, men would magnify
his name as long as history is read. "Of illustrious men," says
Thucydides, "the whole earth is the sepulchre. They are immortalized not
alone by columns and inscriptions in their own lands; memorials to them
rise in foreign countries as well,--not of stone, it may be, but
unwritten, in the thoughts of posterity."

Lee's case resembles Cromwell's much more than Hannibal's. The _régime_
against which Cromwell warred returned in spite of him; but it returned
modified, involving all the reforms for which the chieftain had bled. So
the best of what Lee drew sword for is here in our actual America, and,
please God, shall remain here forever.

Decisions of the United States Supreme Court since Secession give a
sweep and a certainty to the rights of States and limit the central
power in this Republic as had never been done before. The wild doctrines
of Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens on these points are not our law. If the
Union is perpetual, equally so is each State. The Republic is "an
indestructible Union of indestructible States." If this part of our law
had in 1861 received its present definition and emphasis, and if the
Southern States had then been sure, come what might, of the freedom they
actually now enjoy each to govern itself in its own way, even South
Carolina might never have voted secession. And inasmuch as the war,
better than aught else could have done, forced this phase of the
Constitution out into clear expression, General Lee did not fight in
vain. The essential good he wished has come, while the Republic, with
its priceless benedictions to us all, remains intact. All Americans thus
have part in Robert Lee, not only as a peerless man and soldier, but as
the sturdy miner, sledge-hammering the rock of our liberties till it
gave forth its gold. None are prouder of his record than those who
fought against him, who, while recognizing the purity of his motive,
thought him in error in going from under the Stars and Stripes. It is
likely that more American hearts day by day think lovingly of Lee than
of any other Civil War celebrity, save Lincoln alone. And his praise
will increase.

It was thoroughly characteristic of Lee that he would not after the war
leave the country, as a few eminent Confederates did, and also that he
refused all mere titular positions with high salaries, several of which
were urged on him out of consideration for his character and fame. He
was, however, persuaded to accept in 1865 the presidency of Washington
College, at Lexington, Va., an institution founded on gifts made by
Washington, and at present known as Washington and Lee University. In
this position the great man spent his remaining years, joining
refinement and dignity to usefulness, and revered by all who came within
the charmed circle of his influence. Since 1863 he had suffered more or
less with rheumatism of the heart, and from the middle of 1869 was never
quite strong. Spite of this, with the exception of brief holidays, he
performed all his duties till Sept. 28, 1870, when, at his family
tea-table as he stood to say grace;--it was his wont to say grace before
meat and to stand in doing so,--he was stricken, had to sit, then be
helped to his bed. He never rose, though languishing a number of days.
He died at nine in the morning, Oct. 12, 1870. _Ave, pia anima!_


E. Lee Child, "Life and Campaigns of Robert Edward Lee." London, 1875.

Edward A. Pollard, "Life and Times of Robert Edward Lee." New York,

John William Jones, "Personal Reminiscences of Robert E. Lee."
New York, 1874.

Walter II. Taylor, "Four Years with General Lee." New York, 1878.

A.L. Long, "Memoirs of Robert E. Lee." New York, 1887.

Charles Marshall, "Life of Lee."

W.P. Trent, "Robert E. Lee." Boston, 1899.

William Allan, "The Army of Northern Virginia in 1862." Boston, 1892.

"Battles and Leaders of the Civil War." New York, 1887.

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