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His Relations to Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams 


- s. 


AnI Address delivered before the ChicagoJHistdrical 

Society, May 20, 1884 



Published for the Chicago Historical Society 

1885 . 

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• H is Relations to Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams 




An Addrbss dblivbrbd bbforb thb Chicago Historical 

SociBTY,! May 20, 1884 


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Published for the Chicago Historical Society 


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An adjourned quarterly meeting of the Society was held May 
20, 1884. Vice President E. B. Washburne occupied the chair. 
From the Librarian's Report it appeared that the accessions to 
the Library during the quarter were 226 bound volumes and 170 
unbound books and pamphlets. 

Judge Mark Skinner introduced the following tribute to the 
memory of the late President of the Society, Hon. I. N. Arnold, 
which was unanimously adopted : 

^^ Resolved^ ist, In the removal by death of the Hon. Isaac N. 
Arnold, the Historical Society mourns the loss of one of its origi- 
nal founders, of one of its most active, efficient, and reliable mem- 
bers, and its honored and greatly respected President. 

" During all the active years of a brief and well-spent life, 
Mr. Arnold has been a citizen of Chicago, contributing by his 
indefatigable industry, unimpeachable integrity, his patriotism, 
his public spirit, his rare abilities, his great acquirements, his 
spotless moral character, his high qualifications, and his instincts 
as a thorough gentleman, to give luster to the city, his residence, 
and to the generation to which he belonged. 

"A successful lawyer, that stood in the front rank of his pro- 
fession, a cautious, far-seeing and wise legislator, distinguishing 


vi Introductory. 

himself in the halls of legislation, as well national as state, a suc- 
cessful public speaker, and a writer of great power and wide- 
spread popularity, he has left to the generations that succeed him 
the legacy of a noble example and a good name ; therefore, 

'''' Resolved y 2nd, That the Hon. E. B. Washburne be re- 
quested to prepare and deliver before this Society, at his con- 
venience, a memorial address commemorative of the life and 
character of the Hon. Isaac N. Arnold." 

Mr. Washburne responded to the resolution as follows : 

"I am certain that all the members of the Chicago Historical 
Society, and all others present, will have heard with emotion the 
resolution in respect to our President. 

*' The Society has met with a great and almost irreparable 
loss in the death of Mr. Arnold. Long identified with it, giving 
to it his attention and his services, he has done much to elevate 
its character and increase its usefulness. We can never forget 
with what courtesy and dignity he presided at our meetings. 
Dying, as it were, in the harness, he has left to us the recollection 
of an honest man, a cultivated gentleman, a good citizen, and an 
honored public servant. At some time in the future, the Society 
will pay appropriate honors to his memory." 

Hon. William Bross was requested by the Society to prepare 
and read before it a memorial notice of the late Thomas H. 
Armstrong, who was for some time the Secretary and Treasurer 
of this Society. 

Mr. E. H. Sheldon introduced the following memorial notice 

of the late Sir Alpheus Todd, which was unanimously adopted 

and ordered spread upon the records : 

'' Sir Alpheus Todd, late of Ottawa, Canada, was born in 
England in 1821, and at the age of twelve emigrated to Canada. 
In 1856 he became Librarian of the Legislative Assembly of 
Canada and held the position till the time of his death. In 1866 
Mr. Todd was elected a corresponding member of this Society. 
He wrote several works, which were highly commended, relating 
to the government of Canada and England. The ability and 

Introductory. vii 

noble manhood exhibited in Mr. Todd's works won for him the 
honor of knighthood and the high esteem of those who knew him. 
"As a mark of respect, this Society places his name with 
the honored dead upon its records." 

The President appointed Messrs. E. H. Sheldon, Mark 
Skinner, and W. K. Ackerman a committee to draft resolutions 
of respect to the memory of the late Cyrus H. McCormick. an 
annual member of this Society. 

The President then introduced Mr. Wm. Henry Smith, who 
read the following historical paper upon '* Charles Hammond 
and his relations to Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams." 

Upon the address being concluded. General A. L. Chetlain 
moved that the thanks of this Society be tendered to Mr. Smith 
for his excellent historical paper, and a request was made that he 
furnish the Society a copy for its archives. The motion was 
unanimously adopted and the meeting adjourned. 

ALBfiRT D. Hager, Secretary. 


, » 


In the winter of 1 860-1, on the eve of the great 
civil war, I heard that brilliant Democratic orator, 
Ex-Senator Geo. E. Pugh, declare to an audience that 
filled the old Smith & Nixon's Hall, and embraced 
the intelligence and wealth of Cincinnati, that if the 
differences between the North and South resulted in 
war, the commerce of Cincinnati would be destroyed, 
grass would grow in her streets, and the glory of the 
Queen City would depart forever. The eloquent Sena- 
tor doubtless expressed his honest convictions ; he 
certainly did express the opinion of a large number of 
the business men of that city. Considerations of 
patriotism, of legal rights, and of manhood, did not 
enter into their thoughts. The only question was, how 
could the trade of the South be preserved for Cin- 
cinnati? These merchants thought most sarely by 
asking the South to write the terms on which they 
would consent to remain in the Union, and continue 
to govern the country. They called this conserva- 
tism — a word often representing 'wisdom in the ad- 
ministration of affairs. But there is conservatism and 
conservatism. This of the eventful period preceding 
the war, was what Carlyle would have called "slothful 
cowardice," but what may be more accurately described 


lo Charles Hammond. 

as the conservatism of cowardice — destructive of the 

This was but the echo of other days. The fathers 
of many there present had heard a similar prediction 
from the lips of a distinguished citizen (sometime jus- 
tice of the Supreme Court, and United States Senator), 
if the subject of slavery were even permitted to be 
discussed by the press north of the Ohio river, and in 
this opinion there seemed to be for a season an almost 
universal concurrence. There was, however, one man, 
in that day the most eminent of the citizens of Ohio 
or of the West, who controverted that opinion, and who 
continued to discuss the subject of slavery, its relations 
to society and the state, despite the passionate remon- 
strances of friends, and in the face of mobs, with 
sublime courage, and a calmness and wisdom that dis- 
armed the violent and carried conviction to thousands. 
This was the conservatism of life — the power of truth 
that ever has and ever will put the devil to flight. 

The ghost of a controversy is haunting the present 
generation, seeking to be laid when it shall be de- 
termined who first proposed immediate emancipation. 
What does it matter? Gradual emancipation at one 
time, through restrictive measures was practicable; but 
the conservatism of cowardice had permitted greed and 
lust for power to so far override the spirit of the Con- 
stitution as to fasten the evil of slavery firmly upon 
the Union, so that emancipation, except by the sword, 
was impracticable. It has come to be fashionable to 
seek for heroes supposed to be, in the days when there 
was a shadow over the land, the sole keepers of the 
conscience of the Republic. Bronze monuments are 


Charles Hammond. ii 

— ■ ■ ■ ■ ■■ •■' MW" — ^■ " * ■■ - ^■- ■ ■■ ■ ■ I ■ ■ I ■ ■ ■ I ■ ■ ■ ■■ II ■ ■■■. I. ■■■■»»■■■■ »■■ M ■■ ■ ■ ■ I ■ I 

erected in memory, and verses are sung by immortal 
bards in honor of men (a few impracticables) who de- 
nounced the Constitution as "a covenant with death, 
and an agreement with hell." Forgotten are the wise 
men, who abhorring wrong, addressed themselves to the. 
task of securing the amelioration of slavery through 
practicable means under the Constitution. The venerable 
Franklin petitioning for the restriction of slavery at 
the seat of government by legal enactment; Charles 
Hammond, insisting that slavery should be discussed 
with the same freedom as any other question affecting 
the welfare of society; John Quincy Adams in the 
midst of a storm of passions asserting the right of peti- 
tion ; and Owen Lovejoy, defending his press with his 
life, are figures that stand out boldly in the history of 
this great moral contest, and challenge the grateful ad- 
miration of the American people. Their influence was 
the power that created a healthy public opinion ; it was 
the influence of a noble manhood. Yet they did not 
indulge in idle denunciation. They labored to give to 
the people an intelligent and just appreciation of their 
own rights, and to establish the true relations of the 
states to each other under the Constitution, which they 
believed, as we believe to-day, was and is the most ben- 
eficent instrument of government ever devised by man. 
Passion may serve as a spur, but it is the judgment 
intrenched in conviction that endures in the hour of 
trial, and commands success. 

Pardon this long prologue. It seemed necessary to 
properly introduce my subject. Perhaps it may not be 
unprofitable to draw the line between those who receive 
and those who deserve the mead of praise. 

12 Charles Hammond. 

I am to speak to you to-night of the career of Charles 
Hammond, a famous man in his time, who conferred 
honor upon two professions, and left the world richer 
for his having lived. The American people are greatly 
indebted to him. As we have chiefly to do with pub- 
lic aflFairs, I shall omit details of Hammond's early 
life, merely remarking by way of introduction, that he 
was born near Baltimore, Maryland, September 19, 
1779. ^'^ parents, George and Elizabeth Wells 
Hammond, belonged to the Episcopal Church, were 
well educated and noted for strong traits of character. 
With their help and that of a tutor in mathematics and 
Latin, Charles received the basis of that thorough cul- 
ture which he afterwards acquired. 

There are men who are superior mentally, and to 
whom the extrinsic aids aflForded by a thorough college 
course do not seem to be necessary. Charles Ham- 
mond was of this class. There is little in journalistic 
or periodical writing equal to his for directness, sim- 
plicity, and beauty of diction ; or in the productions 
of the Bar, in logical force and perspicuity. His 
printed legal arguments, we are assured by an admiring 
contemporary, were the pride and delight of the Bar in 
his day. One of these, I chanced to find among some 
rubbish fifteen years ago, with the title page missing, 
and no mark to indicate the author. It was an argu- 
ment in criticism of the opinion of Chief Justice 
Mashall, in Wayman v. Southard, in 1825. So perfect 
was the construction, and so direct and natural the ar- 
gument, that I said there were not more than two men 
in the United States who could have written that, and 
one of them was Hammond, and bore the precious 

Charles Hammond. 13 

document away and had it bound with Hammond's 
name. Since then in letters to Henry Clay and Judge 
Wright, I found the authorship avowed. 

*' Hammond spoke at the Bar," said the venerable 
Thomas Ewing three or four years before his death, 
" Hammond spoke at the Bar as good English as Ad- 
dison wrote in the Spectator." And Ex-Justice Swayne 
remarked to me recently that, "It was Mr. Ham- 
mond's habit to argue great questions of constitutional 
law in the editorial columns of the 'Gazette. The 
depth, the fine discrimination, the iron-linked logic of 
those disquisitions, were surpassed by nothing I heard 
from the first lawyers of the land while on the Supreme 
Bench." . 

Mr. Edward D. Mansfield said that he knew of no 
writer who could express an idea so clearly and so 
briefly. " He wrote the pure old English — the 
vernacular tongue, unmixed with French or Latin 
phrases or idioms, and unperverted with any scholastic 
logic. His language was like himself — plain, sensible, 
and unaffected. His force, however, lay not so much 
in this as in his truth, honesty, and courage, those 
moral qualities which made him distinguished at that 
day, and would distinguish him now." 

The Revolutionary War left George Hammond poor, 
and hoping to better his condition, he removed with 
his family and slaves to Western Virginia, in 1785, 
locating near Wellsburg, in Brooke county. 

Judge Cranmer, of the Wheeling Bar, says that **he 
was a man of education and some culture, and possessed 
a retentive memory and an appreciative taste. He 
would frequently recite whole plays of Shakespeare, and 

14 Charles Hammond. 

he had committed to memory Young's Night Thoughts, 
and many other poems. He was a man of uncommon 
mental force and physical endurance. He was tall and 
spare; his carriage was erect and imposing. He had 
firm, practical judgment, uncompromising prejudices,, 
was a thoughtful reader, and a good talker." 

A picture of no common man. 

Charles Hammond inclined to the printing business, 
but finding no encouragement in Washington, whither 
he had gone, he returned to the West, and in 1800 en- 
tered the law oflice of Philip Doddridge, a name not 
without honor in the Old Dominion. Hammond was 
admitted to practice in the state courts and, the courts 
of the United States, in 1803. In the first year of his 
graduation as an attorney, he married Sarah Tilling- 
hast, and settled in Wheeling. 

Something of the intellectual grasp that so greatly dis- 
tinguished Alexander Hamilton was also characteristic 
of the mind of Charles Hammond ; not in as high degree, 
perhaps, but still in a high degree. Within a year after 
his admission to the Bar, and when only twenty-four 
years of age, Hammond was employed in a case arising 
under the excise law, and made an argument on the 
constitutional questions involved that attracted very 
wide attention. It was issued in the East and accepted 
by the Federalists as sound in doctrine. The editor of 
the United States Gazette, who printed it entire to the 
exclusion of much other matter, said that the import- 
ance of the questions discussed and the ability displayed 
were sufficient apology to his readers for giving so much 
space to it. 

I pass directly to a celebrated case, in which Ham- 


Charles Hammond. 15 

mond and Clay were pitted against each other, merely 
noting chronologically that it was in 18 10 that Ham- 
mond removed to Ohio and settled on a farm near St. 
Glairsville ; that a year later, he began the publication 
of the Ohio Federalist, which he continued until 181 8 ; 
that the exigencies of the Federalist party, of which he 
was the leader, required him, in 1813, to stand for the 
State Senate, to which he was elected ; that at the re- 
quest of the Bar, he served as a member of the House 
for five years, refusing, in 1821, to spend further time; 
that he made a revision of the laws of Ohio, and was 
the author of the acts regulating the course of descents, 
distribution of personal estates, and chancery proceed- 
ings ; and that he accepted the appointment of Re- 
porter for the Court in Bank, and edited the first ten 
volumes of Ohio Reports. During all these years, he 
was exceedingly busy in the practice, the interests of his 
clients often calling him to Washington. 

The melancholy failure of Mr. Madison's adminis- 
tration, and the financial distress logically resulting from 
embargoes and unsound theories inherited from the Jef- 
ferson administration, unwise relations between the na- 
tional treasury and state banks and overtrading on 
every hand, compelled the establishment of a new 
United States Bank in 18 16. Mr. Calhoun reported 
the bill, and led the debate in favor of the meas- 
ure in speeches that contrast strangely with his nullify- 
ing arguments sixteen years later. Mr. Madison signed 
the bill with great reluctance. When in operation, the 
Bank established branches in diflFerent cities, and, among 
other places, at Cincinnati and Chillicothe, Ohio. The 
people of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys were largely 
indebted for land, and, instead of finding relief through 

i6 Charles Hammond. 

* these banking agencies, their embarrassments became so 
onerous as to lead them to cast about for some agency 
of relief more closely allied to their interests than the 
eastern corporation. They saw, or fancied they sa^v, 
the little specie in the Mississippi Valley fast disappear- 
ing over the mountains and the ruin of the business 
newly begun since the close of the war. Hence, the 
anti-bank movement in Ohio. Here, parties were 
changed in their relations to the institution. The 
JefFersonians who had denounced the old United States 
Bank were the supporters of the new United States 
Bank, and the Federalists were the leaders in the oppo- 
sition, although all parties shared in the feeling of dis- 

In 1 8 19, Ohio passed a general act, taxing banks,, 
individuals, and companies transacting a banking busi- 
ness in the state without being authorized to do so by 
the laws thereof, and providing that if the United States 
Bank should continue to transact business in the state 
after the 15th September ensuing, it should pay a tax of 
$50,000 for each branch, and made it mandatory on^the 
Auditor of State to assess and collect the tax. Ralph 
Osborn was Auditor, and on the day assigned, his 
agent, John L. Harper, assisted by Thomas Orr, ap- 
peared at the Chillicothe Bank just as the cashier was 
opening the safe and forcibly took possession of jfjioo,- 
000 in coin and bank notes, which they bore off to 
Columbus and deposited with H. M. Curry, Treasurer 
of the State. Curry, upon retiring from office, deliv- 
ered this money to his successor, Mr. Sullivan, and in- 
formed him that it was the money collected from the 
United States Bank. It was kept separate and apart 
from the State deposits, in obedience to an injunction 


Charles Hammond. 17 

granted by the United States Circuit Court. These are 
the names that figure as appellants in the celebrated case 
of Osborn v. The Bank of the United States. There was 
intense excitement throughout the Union at this forci- 
ble entry of the bank by officers of the state. In view 
of the decision of the Supreme Court in McCulloch v.- 
The State of Maryland, the bold act seemed like defi- 
ance of national authority. The Bank employed 
Henry Clay as attorney, and the state Charles Ham- 
mond. Harper and Orr went to jail, where they re- 
mained for many months, refusing the bail the Bank 
pressed upon them. Details of the legal fencing in this 
case would be interesting had we time. When a decision 
was reached in the Circuit Court, in 1821, Hammond 
appealed the case to the Supreme Court of the United 
States. Pending final hearing, there was great activity 
in the public prints, among legal pamphleteers. The 
Ohio Legislature published an appeal to the people 
(written by Hammond), copies of which were sent to 
JeflFerson and Madison and drew forth guarded compli- 
ments from these retired statesmen. The Governor and 
General Assembly of Connecticut and the Legislatures 
of New Hampshire and New York had something to 
say upon the contest. Virginia and Georgia had cases 
of their own, and an effort was made to combine the 
influence of these with Ohio so as to make the opposi- 
tion to the Bank side more formidable. Expectation in 
the West already contemplated' a victory. Governor 
Brown declared that, in his opinion, the Ohio pamphlet 
reviewing the decision of the court in McCulloch v. 
Maryland so completely refuted the Supreme Court 

1 8 Charles Hammond. 

that, as the judges were not deficient in intelligence, 
they could not fail to feel much chagrin. The manage- 
ment of the Bank was very exasperating. ^* The mam- 
moth Bank," says Hammond to Wright, December 14, 
** has been taking more rash measures. It has required the 
poor devils at Cincinnati to renew their notes and pay 
the reductions and discounts at Chillicothe. They have 
demurred, and y^sttYd2Ly precipes came to the Clerk of 
the Federal Court, putting the whole debts in suit — 
about one hundred. Gen. Harrison's heart began to 
misgive him for uniting in my report to put them out 
of the protection of state laws. These precipes come 
opportunely to brace his resolution." 

The question was, what would the great Chief Justice 
do.? Would he permit a review of McCulloch v. 
Maryland? To solve the doubt, Hammond, in 1823, 
wrote an argument, which he submitted to Marshall, 
accompanied by a letter, in which the wishes of the an- 
ti-bank party were frankly expressed. The response is 
not without interest to us : 

Marshall to Hammond. 

Richmond, December 28, 1823. 
Dear Sir : 

I received some time past your printed argument in 
the case of Sullivan and others against the Bank of the 
United States, and, a day or two afterwards, your letter 
of the 4th instant which was intended to accompany it. 
I have read the argument with that pleasure which I 
always feel in reading or hearing one in which the sub- 
ject is discussed with real ability, whether I concur or 
not in opinion with the person who makes it. This is 


Charles Hammond. 


certainly exempt from any thing like the charge of 
Jacobinism or disrespect to the court, and is at the 
same time, I think, less vulnerable than a certain re- 
port* to which you allude, which, however, was far 
from being deficient in vigor. 

If Judge Washington will not consent to receive it 
absolutely and unconditionally as an argument, it must 
be read over in court, and he must view it in the light 
of notes, and as a substitute for those which might be 
taken by himself. 

I abstain scrupulously from all intermeddling in the 
election of President ; but as your letter on that sub- 
ject was undoubtedly intended to be seen, I have shown 
it to some gentlemen who will not fail to communicate 
its contents to others. A resolution is now before our 
House of Delegates recommending a congressional 
caucus. It may probably pass ; but not without some 
considerable opposition. It is supported by the friends 
of Mr. Crawford, who undoubtedly constitute a ma- 
jority of the assembly, and I believe of the state. I 
rather conjecture that Mr. Clay is the second man with 
Virginia. I, however, know too little of public opin- 
ion to say any thing about it which deserves attention. 
For myself I can say that I consider Mr. Clay as an 
enlighted statesman who has ever since his mission to 
Europe acted on a system which displays enlarged and 
liberal views ; and I think him entitled to particular 
credit for having brought the Missouri conflict to a 

* Doubtless the report to the Ohio Legislature written by Ham- 

20 Charles Hammond. 

peaceful termination. I shall be perfectly content with 
the choice of the nation, whoever he may be. 

With great respect and esteem, I am, sir, your obedi- 
ent J. Marshall. 

This argument was finally made before the court in 
February, 1824. It was a master-piece. Admirable in 
temper, perfect in logical construction, comprehensive 
in its grasp of principles, original, and as a specimen 
of English composition, will challenge comparison with 
any thing emanating from the most eminent of the 
legal profession. Hammond's reputation was already 
great, but this increased it although the decision of the 
Supreme Court was against him. To attempt to give 
you a clear idea of the argument, would be to mar a 
work that should be considered as a whole to be en- 
joyed and appreciated. 

Mr. Edward D. Mansfield in his Memoirs says, that 
Hammond in his argument advocated States Rights, 
an error inexcusable in so industrious a writer. Mr. 
Hammond was a Nationalist of the Washington school, 
and in this Bank case he was careful to leave no doubt 
of his position. He was endeavoring to ascertain the lia- 
bilities of states — their constitutional limitations, as 
well as to have determined the extent of the jurisdiction 
of the Circuit Courts. He laid down the proposition 
that the State of Ohio was the sole defendant in this 
cause, and by the eleventh amendment of the Constitu- 
tion of the United States, the Circuit Court was ex- 
cluded — that it was a case of original jurisdiction in 
which the Supreme Court alone was authorized to act. 
This proposition is enforced with a clearness of ex- 

Charles Hammond, 21 

plication and force of reasoning that seems to leave no 
opening for further discussion. " The question whether 
the Bank of the United States," said Mr. Hammond, 
"as now constituted, is exempt by the Constitution of 
the Union from the taxing power of the state, depends 
upon the nature and character of the institution. If it 
stands upon the same foundation with the mint and 
post-office — if its business can justly be assimilated to 
the process and proceedings of the federal courts, I 
admit without hesitation that it is entitled to the ex- 
emption it claims. The states can not tax the offices, 
establishments, and operations of the national gov- 
ernment. It is not the argument of the opinion in 
Maryland and McCulloch, but the premises upon 
which that argument is founded, that I ask the court 
now to re-examine and re-consider. I ask what that 
opinion, as I conceive, does not contain — a full, dis- 
tinct, and explicit exposition and definiton of the true 
nature and character of the Bank." 

** Whether Congress could constitutionally create a 
Bank, was not and ought not to have been considered 
an open question in 1819. It was certainly injudicious 
to move this question, and connect it with that of ex- 
emption from taxation by the states, when they stand 
wholly unconnected. The power to incorporate a Bank 
is one thing, the privileges with which it may be in- 
vested is another, and a very different thing. The old 
Bank established in 1791, preserved faithfully the 
character given to it by its founders ; it answered all the 
purposes, and effected all the advantages anticipated by 
its friends, and terminated its existence without pro- 
ducing any of the mischief predicted by its enemies. 

22 Charles Hammond. 

It originated, existed, and acted in the true spirit of 
the Constitution; and of necessity, good, and not evil 
was the result." 

The original founders of the first Bank of the United 
States did not claim for it immunity from taxation, as 
incident to its charter. Nor did the politicians or 
jurists of the time consider it as entitled to any privi- 
lege of the kind. It was taxed by the State of Georgia; 
the tax was collected and kept. The opinion of the 
court in the case of Deveaux seemed obviously to 
recognize the power of taxation. It treated the Bank 
as a company of traders, not as a public institu- 

The second Bank of the United States — the Bank of 
1816 — was established under different circumstances, 
and by different hands. It was established by those 
who once represented an incorporation as some "great, 
independent, substantial thing ; as a political end of 
peculiar magnitude and moment." And although the 
attempt to fasten this character upon it, was made, 
for the purpose of proving it an alien to the Consti- 
tution, yet, in perfect consistency with their original 
opinions, they claimed for the institution in their hands, 
that very character, so earnestly disclaimed by the 
original advocates of the power to incorporate. They 
were not content to derive quality and capacity from 
their charter. They claimed political power and politi- 
cal exemption. 

The corollary resulting from Mr. Hammond's reason- 
ing was, that the creation of a corportion did not con- 
fer political power or political character, and that the 

ifc » ■ 

Charles Hammond. 23 

operations, as well as the property of the Bank, were 
subject to the same rule of taxation as the operations 
and property of other associations. The Bank, not- 
withstanding their charter, remained a private associa- 
tion, bound by a contract for a consideration paid, to 
perform certain employments for the government. To 
decide that the Bank was a public instrument stand- 
ing in the same relation to the government as a public 
office and its incumbent, would necessarily involve the 
government in some strange and monstrous practices. 
The very fact that the stockholders paid a consideration 
in money for their chartered privileges, forbade attach- 
ing to their public employments the character of a 
public office. 

"Let the doctrine be established," said he, ''that 
the states can not tax either the institutions, or the 
property of the nation, and that Congress can with- 
draw nothing that is private from the taxing power of 
the states, and the division line is clearly and distinctly 

** It derogates nothing from the supremacy of the 
national government to assert that private property 
neither exists nor is introduced by its authority. Its 
objects are national, not municipal. If it creates pri- 
vate property by a grant of lands, its power over the 
land ceases when the grant is completed ; its subsequent 
disposition and protection appertains to the states. If 
it grant a patent for useful inventions, it is in virtue of 
a specific power, and the invention when brought into 
use becomes subject to state legislation. So if it grant 
a corporate franchise to individuals to conduct a private 

24 Charles Hammond. 

trade, it confers a capacity, but can not regulate the 
business. It may provide for the naturalization of 
aliens^ but it can not authorize aliens to acquire or hold 
estates. In all these cases, the act done by the na- 
tional government is supreme, so far as its power ex- 

Mr. Hammond concluded as follows : " The prop- 
osition I have labored to sustain, is plain, precise, and 
unambiguous. It is, that whatever is private property 
is subject to the taxing power of the states; that what- 
ever is private business and employment, is subject to 
the same power, excepting a tax on exports, imports and 
tonnage. This proposition is founded upon the express 
letter of the Constitution, and in its very terms excludes 
all pretension to tax the offices, institutions, or property 
of the national government. If this power of assess- 
ing taxes be confined to the private individual property 
found or employed within the territorial limits of the 
state, its exercise never can become repugnant to the 
constitutional laws of the Union. If a law of the 
Union be enacted, which assumes to restrain the exer- 
cise of this power upon the ground of repugnancy, such 
law can not be warranted by the Constitution. For the 
Constitution can not, at the same time, authorize an 
exercise of power by the states and a restraint of that 
power by the nation. 

"This proposition, so simple in its terms, so easy to 
be understood, so free from all complexity or difficulty 
in its application, is neither denied nor admitted. But 
an attempt is made to escape its consequences by advanc- 
ing other propositions, and deducing corroUaries, by 
which the question is instantly involved in confusion. 

Charles Hammond. 25 

from which the most highly-gifted powers of argument 
have failed to extricate it. 

" It has ever appeared to me that the error of the 
argument I have endeavored to confute, consists in two 
misconceptions of the case — first, in considering the 
Bank, as an institution of the government, of a strictly 
public character ; and, secondly, in regarding the power 
of taxation claimed for the states as extending to every 
description of property and business, national as well 
as individual, public as well as private. It has been my 
object to remove these misconceptions and place the 
subject before the court in what I have considered its 
true light — the Bank, as an association of individuals, 
conducting a private trade for their own advantage and 
emolument; the right of taxation as extending to noth- 
ing but the property and business of private individ- 
uals. When thus considered, I have attempted to dem- 
onstrate that the power to tax is not repugnant to the 
power to create or preserve, and can not be drawn into 
collision with any legitimate power of the national gov- 

'' I have founded no argument upon a supposed 
abuse of power by Congress. I have sought to recon- 
cile no inconsistencies by ^ the magic of the word con- 
fidence.' In governments constituted like ours, such 
topics of argument are, at best, of little force. If the 
national government may abuse power, so may the 
states ; if the states may call for confidence, so may the 
national government. Where power is conferred, con- 
fidence is reposed that it will be executed for the public 
good. Where power is denied, the public good can not 

a 6 Charles Hammond. 

justify an attempt to exercise it. If the Constitution 
leaves, in the hands of the states, power by which they' 
may do mischief, this court can not deprive them of it. 
If the action of the national government be imperfect 
in consequence of a defect of power, this court can not 
help it. The Constitution itself is the rule. To that 
we must resort; and we must determine the extent of 
its provisions by the known and established maxims of 
interpretation. It has declared the cases in which the 
states shall not exercise the power of taxation. The 
effect of this declaration is, that they can not be re- 
strained in the exercise of this power in any cases but 
those specified. Every attempt to withdraw individual 
property from the action of this power, in other cases, 
is an attempt to do that which the people in their sov- 
ereign capacity alone can do — to change the principles of 
the Constitution." 

The point raised by Mr. Hammond as to jurisdiction 
moved the court to ask for areargument, and the Bank 
hastened to bring in Daniel Webster and John Sergeant 
to assist Mr. Clay. It is not known how the court 
was divided originally on the question of jurisdiction, 
but after the reargument Justice Johnston only dis- 

** The full pressure of this argument is felt," said the 
great Chief Justice, ''and the difficulties it presents are 
acknowledged. The direct interest of the state in the 
suit, as brought, is admitted; and had it been in the 
power of the Bank to make it a party, perhaps no de- 
cree ought to have been pronounced in the cause, until 
the state was before the court. But this was not in the 
power of the Bank. The eleventh amendment of the 

i_ . 

Charles Hammond. 27 

Constitution has exempted a state from the suits of cit- 
izens of other states, or aliens; and the very difficult 
question is to be decided, whether in such a case the 
court may act upon the agents employed by the state, 
and on the property in their hands." 

And then, before proceeding with his 'argument, he 
indulges in a patriotic exordium, which, in the light of 
more recent history, has a striking, a pathetic interest 
to us. 

The great Virginian is at his best. In pertinence of 
illustration, in vigor and in subtlety of reasoning, per- 
haps no other one of his remarkable opinions surpasses 
this. He boldly asserts the public character of the 
Bank, and at a stroke evades the dilemma presented by 
Hammond, and rescues the opinion in the case of 
McCulloch V. Maryland, thus opening the Circuit Courts 
to the Bank of the United States without limitation. 
The patriotic impulse carried him beyond the logical 
line of his argument, into the realm of partisanship. 
The determination to strengthen the Bank by bringing 
to its support in all cases the protection of the Federal 
Courts is apparent. As a political policy, this was 
unwise. The anti-bank party leaders were not slow to 
seize upon the advantage thus given to them and to 
stimulate popular prejudices against the consolidation 
of political power with wealth. Upon this wave, An- 
drew Jackson and the modern Democratic party rode 
into power. 

There is one point in that decision which has an 
important bearing on a question of living interest, viz : 
the relations of the national government to corpora- 
tions. Marshall said : 

**That the mere business of banking is, in its own 

28 Charles Hammond. 

nature, a private business, and may be carried on by- 
individuals or companies having no political connection 
with the government, is admitted; but the Bank is 
not such an individual or company. It was not created 
for its own sake, or for private purposes* It has never 
been supposed that Congress could create such a corporation.^* 
You mark the passage. Has Congress, as this language 
of the greatest expounder of the Constitution implies, 
chartered railroad and other companies without due au- 
thority ? 

We have had a glimpse, and I fear a very imperfect 
and unsatisfactory one, of Charles Hammond as a jurist. 

Before dismissing this part of our subject, it will be 
interesting to know something of Chief Justice Marsh- 
all's opinion of Hammond. The compliment paid in 
the letter I read and in the decision of the court, was 
repeated a few months later in a private conversation, 
and being free from all official formality, is more in- 
teresting to us. 

Lieut. Governor Greene, of Rhode Island, relates that 
in 1824, after the conclusion of the great Bank case, he 
took a trip with Chief Justice Marshall down the Poto- 
mac, and the latter made many inquiries about Ham- 
mond. *'He spoke of his remarkable acuteness and 
accuracy of mind, and referred with emphatic admira- 
tion to his argument before the Supreme Court in the 
Bank case. He said that he had met no judicial record 
of equal intellectual power since Lord Hardwick's 

Governor Greene, who knew Hammond intimately 
during the last twenty years of his life, and himself 
was prominent as a lawyer, expressed the opinion pub- 

Charles Hammond. 29 

licly after Hammond's decease that, "intellectually he 
was without a superior in our country." 

** In the legal action of his mind, he was eminently self- 
reliant, and cared little for what is called authority, except 
as it agreed with his own views. In this respect, he be- 
longed to the same class as the English Holt, Hard- 
wick, and Mansfield, and the American Marshall, Par- 
sons, and Webster. These men got their law from 
their own minds, and not mainly from books that re- 
corded the opinions of others ; in other words they 
made authority rather than followed it." 

So much for Hammond's career at the Bar. 

Personally, I have a deeper interest in him as a 
journalist and popular advocate of principles dear to 
mankind, and we shall now consider his work in this 
field. Charles Hammond was the most distinguished 
American editor of his day. In one respect, he has 
never been equaled. In a consistent adherence to 
principle, through a long series of years of professional 
labor. On this account quite as much as on account 
of great ability, is to be attributed the extent and en- 
durance of his influence. Many a young journalist 
since his day has found the shadow of this traditional 
fame following him in all his eflForts, and while crushed 
by the inevitable comparison he has been nerved to 
greater eflFort. Yet journalism to Hammond was an 
incident merely in his career. He was by intellectual 
endowments, education, temperament, and taste, fitted 
for the bar. He said that he added journalism to eke 
out an income sufficient for his family. It is true that 
until he reached the age of forty-five he was poor; but 
I suspect that writing was essential to his complete in- 

30 Charles Hammond. 

tellectual enjoyment. He had a message to deliver to 
the world, if you please, an irresistible impulse to be 
useful to society. The newspaper was the means. Mr. 
Hammond was a man of strong political convictions, 
but a pure and lofty patriotism was the guiding princi- 

George Hammond was a slaveholder, and it is be- 
lieved that a repugnance to the system is what induced 
Charles to cross the river into Ohio, in 1810. He 
never failed to speak plainly of it on ail appropriate 
occasions. A newspaper was the medium through 
which he could most effectually reach the public con- 
science. The political principles which he had espoused, 
were being trampled in the dust, and he seized the 
opportunity to enter the arena, and bid defiance to all 
comers. He established the Ohio Federalist^ at St. 
Clairsville, and became the leader of the party in the 
state. The weight of his opposition was felt. Em- 
bargo laws and war with England, were themes treated 
by him with greater wit and sarcasm than was displayed 
by '*A New England Farmer." 

We learn something of this Federalist in the Per- 
sonal Recollections which that sterling citizen, Robert 
Buchanan left. He says: 

" My first aquaintapce with Mr. Hammond was 
about 1813, through his paper the Ohio Federalist^ then 
published at St. Clairsville. I had met with it casually, 
and noticing some pungent and witty articles against 
the war then in full blast, and Mr. Clay, who in after 
years was his bosom friend, I subscribed for it — weekly 
JJ53.50 per annum. 

^' It was against my politics, for like all boys, I 

Charles Hammond. 31 

was for the present and next war, careless of conse- 
quences, and Mr. Clay, being then a strong advocate of 
the war in Congress, was a great favorite. But I loved 
fun, and in Mr. Hammond's articles that was to be 

The publication of the Federalist ceased in 18 18, and 
Hammond, with all the rest of the Federalists, was ab- 
sorbeH by the Republican party, under the influence of 
the Monroe administration. But he was no less a 
Washington Federalist than before, for twenty years 
later we find him saying: '* It is, it has been my pride 
to follow in the paths where they (Washington, Hamil- 
ton, and Jay) led, longum intervallum^ indeed, but with 
unshaken confidence and unfaltering step." 

All questions of interest to the American people 
were discussed by him during these years of activity at 
the Bar, including the question of slavery. Of these, 
his earlier utterances, I shall make no mention, as prior 
to the Missouri controversy, the shadow over the Union 
was but as the breadth of one's hand. 

He influenced the Legislature of Ohio, in 18 19, to 
adopt his views, and to declare that the existence of 
slavery had ever been deemed a great moral and political 
evil ; that its tendency was to impair our national 
character and materially affect .our national happiness; 
and that inasmuch as the extension of a slave population 
in the United States was fraught with the most fearful 
consequences to the permanency and durability of our 
Republican institutions, therefore it should be strenu- 
ously resisted, and the Senators of that state in Con- 
gress were instructed accordingly. 

Later, in his correspondence in 1820, he flamed out 

32 Charles Hammond. 

against this proposed extension of slavery : ** I am 
filled with wrath," said he to John C. Wright, "at the 
trick put upon the yankees in the Senate plan to bring 
in Maine. Let Maine go to the devil (the state, a 
legal entity now-a-days) rather than make a state of it 
in concession to the slave interest. 

" The Slave States move in a compact body. Others 
are disturbed by constitutional scruples. I am in hopes 
the states where there are no slaves, can in due season 
find men who do not bogle upon that point. That is, 
in my mind, a great question, and fraught with im- 
portant consequences. A new state of parties must 
grow out of it. Give me a Northern President, 
whether John Quincy Adams or DeWitt Clinton, or 
anybody else, rather than that things should remain as 
they are." 

The depth of Mr. Hammond's hatred of slavery, 
with which he was associated in his youth, is shown in 
this proposition to make Mr. Adams the candidate, 
toward whom he felt a prejudice on account of what he 
believed to be his apostacy from Federalism during 
Mr. Jefferson's administration. He would condone 
this grave political sin to advance the cause of freedom. 

The West resolved to stand by Mr. Clay, and under 
the leadership of Mr. Hammond, the contest was 
fought out with great vigor. His plan was to have 
Mr. Clay first nominated by the Legislature of Ohio, 
and then to combine the States of Ohio, Indiana, 
Illinois, and Kentucky in his support. To further this 
plan he wrote a pamphlet as early as 1822, which was 
widely circulated. 

In 1823, Hammond opened the campaign formally 

^ ^_ " "•* 

Charles Hammond. ^^ 

in the Gazette, in an able discussion of men and 
measures which would engage the attention of the 
American people. He foresaw that the election would 
be carried into the House, The important measures, 
internal improvements and domestic manufactures, were 
to be the test of political wisdom, and govern the ulti- 
mate choice. *' To make effective these principles of 
public policy," said Hammond, "involving the mani- 
fest interests of the nation, we want no military man at 
the head of our affairs, but, on the contrary, a states- 
man, well versed in the science of government, a man 
of moderation, yet firm and resolute, and possessed of 
a steady but pacific temperament. Such a man, if we 
have been rightly informed, is not General Jackson. 
He is impatient and impetuous, and loves the noise and 
din of the camp more than the peaceful labors of the 

But while thus conducting Mr. Clay's campaign — what 
is more correctly the Clay-Adams campaign — he did not 
cease to strike heavy blows at slavery. The supporters 
of the system had become aggressive. The success in 
the case of Missouri incited them to seek new territory 
for their property. Thus, Dr. Floyd, of Virginia, had 
used this language in an address to his constituents : 
" The grand objection to Mr. Adams is his having ceded 
to Spain the province of Texas, a territory which would 
have made two Slave-holding States, and secured to the 
Southern interest four Senators." 

*'Such language," said Mr. Hammond, "is too plain 
to be misapprehended, and coming from a member of 
Congress, discovers the views and feelings which will 
prevail among the slave-holding members on every im- 


34 ' Charles Hammond. 

portant national question. A coalition, cemented by 
a sameness of manners, and by a mutuality of interests, 
will be formed, and when once it can get the predomin- 
ance, will overpower and trample under foot all opposi- 
tion. We can not help making the inquiry whether 
such views are not opposed to the prosperity and peace 
of the United States ? And whether men who wish an 
extension of slavery for political purposes, are not ad- 
vocating measures which lead not only to moral degra- 
dation and misery, but to great ultimate national calam- 
ities. To urge the farther extention of involuntary serv- 
itude, appears, not only morally wrong, but politically 
dangerous." Words of wisdom, but alas ! unheeded 
by government or people then. In time all became 
conscious of their sagacity. Men individually rarely, 
and organized into communities never, at first choose 
as the Corinthian hero of old — 

**Life or death, 
But never death in life for me. O King." 

The campaign which began in 1824, having for its 
ultimate object the possession of political power, and 
the distribution of the spoils, was the most remarkable in 
many respects in the history of our government — re- 
markable in its violence of conduct and abuse of men, 
and in the fact that a political party depended entirely 
upon greed, ignorance, prejudice, and passion, for suc- 
cess. It would have succeeded in 1824, but for a single 
circumstance, viz : the financial distress of the country, 
which compelled attention to business interests. The 
value of property had fallen 50 per cent in ten years. 
The balance of trade being largely against us, the 

Charles Hammond. 35 

country was drained of its specie, and there was em- 
barrassment in all of the centers of trade, and distress 
cvery-where. The protective policy was extorted from 
unwilling public men, whose favorite theory did not ad- 
mit of its necessity to an agricultural and commercial 
people. The result was the election of Adams through 
the help of Clay, and the postponement of the Jackson- 
Democratic spoils era for four years. 

During the contest, Hammond, in a pamphlet form- 
ulated the platform for the Adams-Clay party. It was 
Protection to American Industry^ and Internal Improve^ 
ments. What came after in Whig days, was but a repe- 
tition of this in more elaborate phrase, suited to the 
growing importance of Mr. Clay's American system. 
An attempt was made to compel Jackson to show his 
hand on the tariff, but that old fox was quietly making 
terms with Pennsvlvania, before the vote of Tennessee 
was recorded. ** How is it," wrote Hammond to Clay, 
"that no one speaks freely of this man? Is he not act- 
ing the part of a most contemptible seeker after popu- 
larity ? Instead of being a frank, open, fearless, honest 
man, is he not the victim of strong passions and preju- 
dices, violent when irresponsible, cautious when differ- 
ently situated, ambitious, vain and hasty, a fit instru- 
ment for others to work upon, subject to be governed 
by flatterers, and still inclined to hate every man of tal- 
ents who has firmness to look through him, and speak 
of him as he deserves ? I think he is strongly endowed 
with these traits of character, and that if classed as a 
mere animal, he would be a kind of monkey-tiger. I 
do not know but that it would be well for such a 
monster to be placed in the Presidential chair for the 

36 Charles Hammond. 

next term. King Snake succeeding King Log, and the 
citizen frogs made to scamper. I am almost sure that if 
I had been this winter at Washington, I should have 
contrived to quarrel with him. I dislike him for cause, 
I hate him peremptorily, and I could wish that his sup- 
porters for the presidency, one and all were snugly by 
themselves in some Island of Barrataria, and he be their 
King, provided, that they constituted the entire popula- 
tion. They would make a glorious terrestrial pande- 
monium, and as fast as they cut each other's throats the 
world would be rid of very troublesome politicians, and, 
in general, right worthless citizens." But instead of an 
island, we know that His Majesty, in 1829, took pos- 
session of the continent, and punished his enemies in 
right royal style; and that he set such an example of 
lust for power as to move almost the entire population 
of these United States to emulate it; every boy carry- 
ing pinned in his hat this legend: The highest prize is 
possible to every American. 

But to return to Mr. Clay's campaign of 1824: 
During the campaign, Hammond was urged from 
Washington to undertake to form a union between Mr. 
Crawford and Mr. Clay, but he declined to be the agent. 
Mr. Clay, in a confidential letter from Frankfort, Oc- 
tober 25th, said: **You treated the proposition from 
the friends of Mr. Crawford in regard to the Vice-Pres- 
idency, transmitted to you, with much discretion and 
propriety. ... It was impossible to accede to it, 
and it was impracticable if it had been accepted. As 
for me, before I could listen to it, I must entirely 
change my nature and character and violate all the prin- 
ciples which I have made my guide during the agitation 


2jta»- fc -J-*' — 

Charles Hammond. 37 

of the Presidential question. According to these prin- 
ciples, I have felt it my duty to abstain from every spe- 
cies of compromitment ; to reject every overture look- 
ing to arrangements or compromises ; and to preserve 
my perfect freedom of action, whether I am elected or 

. . . **Of one thing you and the rest of my 
friends may be perfectly assured, that if I am elected, I 
shall enter upon the office without one solitary promise 
or pledge to any man to redeem ; and if 1 am not elected, 
I will at least preserve unsullied that public integrity 
and those principles which my friends have supposed 
me to possess. 

"What course my friends may take, what it may be 
proper for me to pursue in the event of my not enter- 
ing the House of Representatives, I have not yet de- 
termined. I have indeed purposely postponed the con- 
sideration of that question, partly from a* hope that it 
may not be necessary to decide it, and partly from the 
embarrassments incident to it. 

" There are strong objections to each of the three 
gentlemen from among whom we may have to make a 
selection. How can we get over in regard to Mr. 
Crawford : 

" I. The caucus nomination by a minority. 
" 2. The state of his health. 

"3. The principles of administration which there is 
reason to fear will be adopted by him from his position 
and his Southern support ? " , 

Mr. Clay had sanguine expectations of the West. 
He said he might lose one vote in Illinois, but the rest 
would undoubtedly stand by him. If New York 

3 8 Charles Hammond. 

should vote for either Mr. Adams or Mr. Crawford he 
did not despair of Virginia. 

This letter has a historic value, as we shall see later 
when we come to consider the charges of bargain and 

As to what should be Mr. Clay's policy if defeated, 
Mr. Hammond advised that he should retain the office 
of Speaker of the House, as in no subordinate position 
could he be so useful. It was the chiefest blunder of 
his career that Mr. Clav failed to heed this advice of 
his friend. But ambition knows no halting place short 
of the possession of power. If it can not possess the 
throne, it must possess the power behind the throne. 
The office of Secretary of State was supposed to be the 
place of power. From that office, Presidents had 
stepped into the White House for a quarter of a cen- 
tury, y 

The Jackson leaders were determined that Mr. Clay 
should not take that step. When they failed to make a 
bargain — for a bargain they attempted — with Clay, they 
opened a war of slander — slander the most vile that 
disappointment could invent. They charged bargain 
and sale against Adams and Clay, and invented testi- 
mony to sustain the charge. Out of their own evil 
hearts, they judged these two. There is abundant evi- 
dence accessible now to prove this. Mr. Clay, justly 
indignant at the personal assaults, unwisely took notice 
of his detractors, and in a public card denounced the 
Pennsylvanian who circulated the slander as '^an infa- 
mous caluminator, a dastard, and liar." Very true 
words, but Mr. Clay should have been superior to 
their utterance. Hammond saw the mistake. To a 

Charles Hammond. 39 

correspondent, he wrote under date of February loth: 
" I am concerned at Clav's card. He is out of tem- 
per. He calls hard names. He lets himself down to 
the level of Printers' Devils, which things ought not to 
be. But we are not all wise at all times. There are 
some poor devils in the Pennsylvania delegation who 
are beneath his level, and his publication will not bring 
them out — and if it does, where's the honor ? and if it 
does not, who is disgraced? I regret the publication, 
and have no more to say." 

When Clay's nomination came before the Senate for 
confirmation. Branch, of North Carolina, made a vio- 
lent speech against it; and all of the Jackson men, and 
some of Crawford's friends, voted against confirmation. 
Revenge did not control all, as we learn from a letter 
from General Harrison to Hammond, dated March 9th, 
1825, that ** Mason told Rowan and myself yesterday 
that his vote against Clay was not on account of his 
conduct on the election of President, but for his con- 
struction of the Constitution, I suppose, in relation to 
internal improvements." 

You have in this the real reason for the alliance be- 
tween Adams and Clay : it was one of principle. They 
both favored protection to American industry and gov- 
ernmental aid to internal improvements. It was on that 
platform that the campaign was conducted by the friends 
of Mr. Clay, as we have seen ; and Mr. Adams was the 
only one of the three entering the House who sympa- 
thized with this policy. For Mr. Clay to have cast his 
vote for either Crawford or Jackson would have been to 
sacrifice his principles and his friends. We have seen 
what he said in his letter to Hammond about the ex- 

40 Charles Hammond. 

treme Southern views of Crawford which he could not 
approve. Not only did this objection Ije against Jack- 
son, but there was also a personal antagonism of long 
standing. Why did not intelligent men accept these 
rational and natural reasons for Mr. Clay's course? 
Because party necessity required a campaign of detrac- 
tion and misrepresentation to render nugatory the meas* 
ures of the new administration, so strong in capacity, 
and the elements of usefulness. 

Hammond struck such vigorous blows upon the ene- 
my as to receive compliments from Peter Force and a 
warm letter of thanks from Clay. 

The campaign of slander was prosecuted with con- 
stantly augmenting violence during the Adams admin- 
istration. The conspirators had succeeded so well in 
poisoning the public mind by 1826 as to foreshadow 
their success in 1828. The opposition was consoli- 
dated. "There is a terrible feeling of rancor," wrote 
Hammond, "infused into the public mind against 
Clay. The union of Crawford, Calhoun, Jackson, and 
Clinton to attack him is rather unexpected. They have 
at least that point of cohesion — deadly enmity — which 
their united strength can alone gratify. It is perhaps 
as strong as any other — at least, for the purpose of de- 

During the contest the Crawford business was 
brought forward to prove Clay's corruption. As Ham- 
mond represented Clay, upon receipt of a letter from 
his friend, he came forward with a clear, manly state- 
ment addressed to Gales and Seaton, but it was refused 
admittance to the columns of the Intelligencer. If a 
newspaper of to-day were to refuse such an act of 

Charles Hammond. 41 

justice towards a man of Mr. Clay's prominence, it 
would dig its own grave. 

John Randolph, of Roanoke, whom it would be 
charity to suppose mad, was put forward to lead the 
opposition in Congress. The speeches on the Panama 
Mission were designed to consolidate the slaveholders 
against the administration. The shocking black- 
guardism which characterizes them, was merely inci- 
dental. "I should suppose/' said Hammond, **that 
the cloven foot of negro slavery and Southern dominancy 
is so manifest in the votes connected with Randolph's 
speeches, that some of our free state Jacksonians must 
open their eyes." He improved the opportunity to 
discuss the question of slavery in a series of brilliant 
editorials in the Gazette, which created a profound im- 
pression. His argument hewed to the constitutional 
line, and the rights of all under the fundamental law 
were clearly defined. To Hayne's appeal to the House, 
*' Let us then cease to^talk of slavery; let us cease 
to negotiate upon any subject connected with it," 
Hammond replied, pointing out the absurdity of such 
a proposition, which was made within three years of 
the adoption of a resolution requesting the President 
to prosecute negotiations with the maritime powers for 
the effectual abolition of the slave trade. Hammond's 
argument was on the clauses of the Constitution bear- 
ing on slavery, apportionment, representation, the pro- 
tection of states against domestic violence, etc. 

The power to regulate commerce among the several 
states, is given to Congress. Traffic in slaves was one 
species of commerce, and was therefore subject to the 
regulations of the national government. The power of 

42 Charles Hammond. 

prohibiting this commerce altogether, and to confine the 
slaves to their habitations in the slave states, was neces- 
sarily involved in this provision. The right to property 
in slaves, he said, could not be questioned by the Fed- 
eral Government, or by any state beyond its own terri- 
tory. But in every thing else, slaves and slavery, like 
other persons, property, and things, were subjects, and 
proper subjects of legislation and negotiations, not to 
be slightly interfered with, but when a proper case 
should arise, to be acted upon calmly, decisively, and 
fearlessly, regardless of the blustering of interested de- 
nunciation. ^' Ftat justitia^ ruat coelum^ 

Randolph, he styled the Senatorial Thersites, and 
proved that he filched from Burke in the oratory which 
the faithful deemed matchless. With the skill of a 
master in Hudabrastic work, he drew from the Iliad a 
striking portrait of the man of Roanoke, whose sharp 
voice pierced the ears of his auditor in shrillest tone. 

" Loquacious, loud and turbulent of tongue : 

Awed by no shame by no respect controlled ; 

In scandal busy, in reproach bold ; 

Scorn all his joy, and laughter all his aim ; 

But chief he gloiied with licentious style, 

To lash the great, and statesmen to revile. 

His figure such as might his soul proclaim. 
. • • * . 

Spleen to mankind his envious soul possest. 

And much hated all, but most the best." 

One fact will explain the anomalous condition of 
things during these days of party strife. Mr. Adams's 
Postmaster-General was a Jackson man, and participated 
in the warfare upon the President and his Secretary of 

Charles Hammond. 43 

State. Such a lack of the sense of honor in a man who 
afterwards held a position on the Supreme Bench, and 
aspired to the highest place seems almost inexplicable. 
His own correspondence which I have seen, makes it a 
clear case of disingenuousness. In a letter, April 19, 
1826, from Mr. Clay to Mr. Hammond, I find the 
following statement: 

"As to the association of our names, I have seen 
nothing to wound me. I am provoked with a little 
article smuggled into the National Intelligencer under 
the editorial head (I understand by the Postmaster- 
General) casting an indecent reflection on you, as the 
assumed author of a certain letter." 

And then he refers to a delicate subject I suspect 
much nearer his heart : 

" The Panama articles in the Liberty Hall are able 
and highly useful. The remarks on slavery are fully 
justified by the course of Mr. Randolph, etc., still it is 
a subject on which there should be mutual forbearance, 
and perhaps most on the side of the non-slaveholding 
states, as the stronger, safer, and happier party.'* 
Thirteen years later, when Henry Clay himself was 
constrained to appear in the Senate as the defender of 
the institution of Slavery, Hammond reminded him of 
this letter approving his editorial on the Panama Mis- 
sion, which was written when he was in the vigor of a 
noble manhood. 

I must pass by Mr. Clay's aflfair of honor with Ran- 
dolph, and his correspondence with Hammond in 
which much interesting history of a personal character 
is to be found. Clay said that he was compelled to 
send the challenge; that he rejoiced that no injury had 
happened to Randolph; and that he regretted only 

44 Charles Hammond. 

that the religious and moral part of the community 
would feel offended. Submission longer on his part 
would have rendered existence intolerable. 

The din of personal warfare did not prevent the 
friends from indulging in much pleasant confidential 
correspondence on the political outlook. Clay was 
disappointed in the result of the Illinois election, but 
his optimistic mind drew comfort and hope from Mary- 
land, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. ^^ Fas est doceri 
ab hoste^ — it is proper to take counsel from one's ene- 
my — wrote Hammond, and he expressed the hope that 
Mr. Adams would disappoint Tazewell & Co., by leav- 
ing no vulnerable point of attack in his message. The 
message is to Hammond's taste, brief, statemanlike, 
and written in a style that may very well serve as a 
model to Presidents. 

These days of hope and sunshine are but for a season. 
The war of detraction, of villiany, goes on more vigor- 
ously than ever. In a little over a year the political 
sky is overcast with thunderous clouds. Hammond 
instituted a libel suit in his own defense, and advised 
Clay *'to accept the defiance of his enemies and ask of 
the House an investigation of the charges against him." 

Clay lost the control of his own state, and in despair 
Hammond gave him up for 1828. He suggested that 
it might be well to hint to Virginia to break down the 
new Democracy by bringing father Monroe once more 
to the front. But it was .decided all round that Mr. 
Adams should be supported as against Jackson. This 
decision was reached with great reluctance. Why ? 
The answer will be found to be instructive to us. The 
administration of Mr. Adams must stand in our history 

Charles Hammond. 45 

as one of the purest and ablest since the foundation of 
the government. It was devoted to the fostering of the 
industrial interests and the direction of public affairs on 
strict business principles. It stands out as the one non- 
partisan administration. It had not a trace of color 
in it. And here was the trouble. There was nothing 
for the boys to rally round. The business people, gen- 
erally, were for the re-election of Mr. Adams. He had 
influenced the adoption of wise financial and commercial 
measures, and the golden music of a sound currency 
was heard in the land once more. But there was noth- 
ing for ambition to lay hold of. Nobody was turned 
out of office except for cause, and death seldom entered 
the Federal temples. Hammond had to protest most 
vigorously against the threatened appointment of John 
McLean (the Jackson Postmaster-General) to fill a va- 
cancy in the Circuit Court. He said to his friend, " I 
• shall consider the appointment of McLean as an indis- 
cretion, evincing such incorrect views, or such incapacity 
of judgment as makes it clear that the administration 
can not sustain itself. No administration ever did, no 
one ever can succeed, that proceeds upon the ground of 
conciliating open or covert hostility. Such conduct is 
the result of fear, of a total want of confidence in them- 
selves and their supporters ; it necessarily intimidates 
friends, as it certainly stimulates and encourages oppo- 

Mr. Adams was charged with being imprudent in his 
communications which reached the public. Thus on 
the ebony and topaz business, Hammond pours out his 
feelings to Mr. Clay: 

" I wish Mr. Adams's ^^(?/ry and topaz were submerged 

46 Charles Hammond. 

in the deepest profound of the bathos. You great men 
have no privilege to commit blunders. You belong to 
others whom you can not always consult, and whom it 
IS not always safe to confide in. I had said to myself, 
Mr. Adams wrote for Walsh the article on the Colonial 
trade, and I am resolved to have him in high estimation, 
and here comes this (I have no name for it) to mar all 
my resolutions. Is there no hope for Walsh ? I wish 
he were pleased or would go over to the enemy." 

The whole business lacked the spirit and passion of 
party. Yet let it not be supposed that the evil of office- 
seeking had yet tempted any to attempt a departure 
from the methods of a constitutional civil service. 
Hammond, on behalf of the good citizens of Ohio, ex- 
pressed their preference for the appointment of a com- 
petent and reputable man for district attorney, and sug- 
gested the propriety of the Representatives joining in 
the recommendation. There was no soliciting from a 
Senatorial Boss — a Boss Roscoe, Boss Don, or Boss 
Jack, for the Senate then considered nominations to 
office, sitting as a court, and had not usurped the 
function of appointment conferred by the Constitution 
upon the President. The necessities of the bosses 
have worked a revolutionary change in the fundamental 
law which originally contemplated the dignity of the ex- 
ecutive and the rights of the people. Now the power 
and the dignity and the rights are all embraced in the 
Senatorial office. 

We have reached the last Presidential contest between 
Adams and Jackson. The scheme of opposition which 
had been formed originally had been pursued with hard 
persistence for three years — three years of falsehood, 

Charles Hammond. 47 

blackguardism, and violence, as well as of idiotic adu- 
lation of a man possessed of some good, and many bad 
traits, but who had had the fortune to defend New Orleans 
and defeat the British. Around him gathered the cor- 
rupt and vicious, and waged a war of defamation against 
upright statesmen. Jackson was herein the leader, as 
he was in all movements with which he was connected. 
He shrewdly understood the advantage of constantly 
pressing his enemy. '*Say what you will," wrote Ham- 
mond, '* these Jacksonians are excellent politicians." 
And so they were, if the word " excellent," may be in- 
terpretated to mean shrewd, cunning, false, and 

" I assert," said McDuflie, ^*and am willing to stake 
my humble stock of reputation upon the truth of the 
assertion, that the circumstances of the extraordinary 
coalition between Adams and Clay, furnish as strong evi- 
dence of an abandonment of political principle on the 
part of Mr. Clay, and of a corrupt political bargain be- 
tweeen him and Mr. Adams, as is ordinarily required 
to establish the guilt of those who are charged in a 
Court of Quarter Sessions with the common crimes 
known to the law." 

This published in the Heroite prints, and in the Ja- 
cobin Clubs, and reiterated in every gin shop, made a 
great impression on the people* Against it only the 
simple facts could be related. But 

"Truth lies entrapped where cunning finds no bar." 

There was one friend of the administration who had 
the courage to face this clamorous horde and assail their 
leader single handed. In November, 1827, Hammond 
wrote Mr. Clay : 

48 Charles Hammond. 

" I send you the prospectus of a new work, intended 
to be conducted with spirit, and calculated to travel into 
all the by-ways of politics. It will be adapted to the 
meridian of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and not un- 
suited to Pennsylvania. If the press can effect any 
thing we are determined to do what we can in that way." 

The title of this unique campaign paper was " Truth's 
Advocate," which Hammond edited in addition to his 
practice at the Bar and work on the Gazette. It was an 
extraordinary paper. "It was terribly severe on Jack- 
son," says Mr. Mansfield, in his Memoirs, ** chiefly 
because it was truth that it stated and proved. But of 
what value is truth when opposed to human passions?" 
The historical articles on Jackson's military career, his 
arbitrary conduct, despotic character, and illegal mar- 
riage provoked Jackson to retaliatory measures. He 
threatened to challenge Clay and force a duel. This 
phase will be explained by the following letters : 

Clay to Hammond. 

Washington, December 23, 1826. 

Dear Sir : 

I had a curious call the day before yesterday from 
Major Eaton. He came at the instance of General 
Jackson to inform me that the General had received a 
letter from some person in Kentucky (whose name was 
not given), communicating to him that you had, during 
your visit to Kentucky, last summer, obtained from me 
papers which I had collected for the purpose of an at- 
tack on Mrs. Jackson which you were preparing; and 

Charles Hammond. 49 

to inquire if I had furnished any such papers. As 
there was not a particle of truth in the communication 
which had been made to the General, I, of course, con- 
tradicted it, adding what is perfectly true that I had 
never seen the papers relating to the transaction re- 
ferred to, nor did I know that you had on your above- 
mentioned visit procured any such papers. I stated 
that I saw you in Lexington a day or two, and that I 
understood when you left it you passed by Paris to 
visit Judge Trimble on your return home. 

I have now no recollection that the case of Mrs, 
Jackson formed any topic of conversation between us 
when you were in Lexington. I do recollect that you 
mentioned something about a suit in chancery concern- 
ing the purchase of the press in Lexington, and that 
you had obtained a copy of the bill, etc. 

The session so far remains calm. In what quarter 
the storm of opposition will burst forth can only now 
be a matter of conjecture. I think it will be the Brit- 
ish colonial question, on what, if I am not greatly de- 
ceived, you will agree with me in thinking that the ad- 
ministration stands on perfectly impregnable ground. 

The subject of the Vice-Presidency begins to engage 
conversation. My name, I find, is spoken of by some. 

I confess my judgment leans against its use. What 

is your opinion ? 

I am yours with great regard. 


50 Charles Hammond. 

Hammond to Eaton. 

Cincinnati, January 3, 1827. 
Sir : 

I am advised information has been communicated to 
General Jackson that Mr. Clay had furnished me with 
certain documents in relation to Mrs. Jackson, upon 
which I was preparing an attack on her. I deem it an 
act of justice to say to you that this information is 
wholly incorrect. I never received from Mr. Clay any 
paper or document upon that subject ; it was never but 
once a subject of conversation between us. According 
to my present recollection, from my earliest knowledge 
of General Jackson's character, I had heard exception 
taken to the manner in which his connubial relation was 
commenced. I had heard various stories with respect 
to it. At Columbus, in the summer of 1824, I en- 
quired of Mr. Clay what was the true state of facts. 
He stated that he knew nothing but by report. The 
relation he gave was palliatory, and he expressed his 
opinion that the subject ought not to be brought be- 
fore the public. I mentioned this conversation to Col- 
onel Andrew Mack, of this city, on our return from 
Columbus, who is now and was then a warm supporter 
of General Jackson for the Presidency, and he expressed 
himself entirely satisfied with the conduct of Mr. Clay. 

It has been for some time my opinion that this mat- 
ter should be investigated, and I set on foot an inquiry 
to obtain the information that would enable me to de- 
cide, for myself, at least, how far the public were inter- 
ested in it. From Mr. Edward Day, a traveling col- 
lector for merchants of Baltimore, I obtained reference 

Charles Hammond. 51 





to the petition of Roberts for a divorce, addressed to 
the Virginia Legislature in 1790; the act that was 
passed by that body December 20th of the same year, 
and the judicial proceedings founded upon it, in Mercer 
county, Kentucky. What use I shall make of these 
documents, and the facts connected with them, must de- 
pend upon future events. I meditate no attack upon 
Mrs. Jackson. I do not view the character of the Gen- 
eral in a light so favorable as you and many others do ; 
and I propose to use this affair in no other manner than 
to elucidate my estimate of that character. I wish to 
shun no proper responsibility, and should I make any 
publication, it will be accompanied with my name. 

This letter is addressed to you in a spirit of frank- 
ness to prevent any misconception of my intention, 
and any mistake as to the channels through which I de- 
rived my information. 

Respectfully yours, etc., 
(To John H. Eaton, Esq.) C. HAMMOND. 

One purpose Hammond had in view in reciting the 
story of the Hero's life, was accomplished: Jackson 
drew off his dogs for a time and the administration had 
a few weeks of peace. 

A glance at *' Truth's Advocate" may not prove un- 
acceptable. Besides the telling exposition of Jackson's 
\ career of blood and violence, there are thoughtful and 

able discussions of public affairs, and the qualifications 
requisite in an administrator of civil government, and 
many flashes of wit and humor interspersed. Among 
the lighter papers, a drama in five acts, entitled " The 
Hero of two Wars," well pays a reading. The verse 

5 a Charles Hammond. 

is much above the average of such productions, the wit 
is capital, and the political characterizations accurate. 
The characters are Hero, Lady Hero, Antiquary (Caleb 
Atwater)j Toady (Lee), Director (Van Buren), Out- 
cast (Aaron Burr), Cypher, Orator PufF, citizens, 
messengers, and ghosts, the latter seven in number, 
representing the shades of the seven, including Harris, 
the Baptist preacher, whose violent deaths Jackson. was 
responsible for. The drama opens — scene, an inn at 
the capitol — with Hero soliloquizing and plotting for 
the overthrow of Adams and Clay : 

Hero: Kremer, importing charge of vile intrigue, 

Corruption, management, and base design, 

Against the opposers of my great intent, 

Has laid the corner-stone on which I'll build 

The glorious edifice of future fame. 

Born in the tempest of tumultuous war, 

I relish not this '' piping times of peace ;" 

Hero must be foremost or be nothing. 

Sink to oblivion, and be known no' more, 

*' Or mount the whirlwind and direct the storm." 

Propitious now the season to begin, 

ril fan the spark of slander's fiery brand, 

Until ril wrap the nation in a flame 

That shall consume my foes, though they were pure 

As min'st'ring angels from the realms of light. 

*^f ^^ ^^ ^f ^^ 

^^^ *^% ^^* ^^* ^^^ 

The disaflected first I'll conjure up. 
Mischief! how apt a counsellor art thou, 
For now thou dost remind me of a wretch 
Whom once his country at her bar arraigned 
For deep conspiracy against the state. 
And though he 'scaped the meshes of the law, 
Yet dark suspicion fastened on his name, 
For which he bears that country deadly hate. 

Charles Hammond. 53 

This person, of course, is Burr, to whom the Hero- 
writes and dispatches the letter by a messenger, and 
then adds : 

He wants no prompter 
But his strong revenge — no spur to action, 
But his, and kindred spirits aggrandisement. 
Thus will I start the quarry, and the pack 
Of hungry office-hunters will join in, 
And raise the general clamor of the chase. 

The portrait of Van Buren and his attempt to over- 
reach Aaron Burr, is a cleVer piece of work. I can 
read but two or three passages : 

Van Buren is introduced as Director. He is not 
prepared to trust the Hero, without further information 
as to his faithfulness to political pledges. If this is 
favorable, he resolves to accept the trust and become 
Hero's manager. He decides to go and consult Out- 
cast (Burr). 

He knows this chieftain well — has fully proved him ; 

His nerves, his faith, his mighty master passion, 

Have all been probed ; their deep and secret working 

Drawn to the surface, and made bare before him. 

The times are in conjunction too, with Outcast ; 

His friends are in repute, and he looks upward : 

A second Marius from the dust of Afric, 

Rising to wreak his vengeance on his country, 

And die with gloating joy, a bloody dotard. 

His hopes are in full action, and awake him 

To old ambitions and deep smothered vengeance. 

*Tis long since he were soothed with courtier-language, 

'Twill steal upon his soul, as I shall use it — 

Oh thou ! the subtle genius, by whose aid 

I have threaded the dark maze of policy, 

54 Charles Hammond. 

In all its crooked windings, and have reached 

The lofty pinnacle on which I stand ! 

Inspire me now with Machiavelian skill ; 

Grant that the bland, insinuating smile 

In all its softest tints may rest upon me ; 

Let every look evince sincerity, 

And every motive seem as undisguised 

As maiden's blushes at a tale of love. 

Give me the eye of Argus : let me hear 

As with a thousand ears : let nought escape me, 

For now the crisis of my fate approaches, 

I rise to power, or fall to rise no more. 

Scene shifts again, a parlor in which is Outcast seated. 
Cypher enters and informs him that Director seeks a 
private interview. 

Outcast. — With me, and does not name the object of it ? 

Cypher. — He does so ; and he says he has good reasons, 

Which, when disclosed, you will appreciate. 

He speaks you fairly, as it is his wont. 

When he would serve himself by others' aid. 

Matters of high import, of deep concernment, 

To you, your friends ; thus he speaks : 

Smiles graciously, and grasps the yielding palm, 

Presses it softly, looking wondrous things. 

Outcast knows his man and reads him unerringly. 
He resolves to expose him and teach him a lesson in the 
art of the crafty politician. He consents to see Director, 
and appoints an hour and place of meeting. He sends 
word to his associates to meet him at the appointed 
place, where they lie concealed, and appear at a given 
signal to the confusion of Director. 

Last scene. — A chamber dimly lighted. I wish I 
could give you this scene entire. As a subtle piece of 

Charles Hammond. 55 

wit and character delineating, it is well worth reading. 
The old politician outshines the new in blandishments, 
and outwits him in craft. At a signal his witnesses 
appear, but the Director, although knowing that he is 
caught, preserves a calm exterior. He greets the 
friends cordially as compatriots banded in the common 

" Give me your hands ; I hope to know you better. 
The fiat shall go forth. The mouthing herd, 
The hurrah boys, can not be safely trusted. 
Power must be wrested from them, and confided 
To our kindred spirits who will wield it. 
To place our chieftain in the highest seat. 
Success is never treason. Mv humble board, 
My services are all at your command ; 
Time moves apace. My honored friends, adieu." 
{Exit Director^ smiling' and bowing gracefully^ 
Outcast. — And this man passes for a deep intriguer I 
The times indeed are altered. Can it be 
The great Magician,* my once hated rival, 
Was duped by such a caitiff? 
Cypher — Nothing more certain ; but his powers were 

And death removed him from the humiliation, 
As in compassion of his former greatness. 
Toady. — ^*T is useless to disparage the Director. 
Say what you may, he's a well spoken man, 
A polished gentleman — his easy manner, 
His sweet insinuating smile, his bow, 
The pressure of his hand, his every motion. 
Steal on the good opinion of his friends- 
He 's almost Hero's equal in the graces. 

The reflections of Outcast need not be rehearsed. 
He is sure of outwitting the Director in case of Hero's 

* Alexander Hamilton. 


56 Charles Hammond. 

election. When, he exclaims, was a southern nabob 
ruled by Low Dutch cunning ! 

Towards the close of Mr. Adams' administration, 
the President tendered to Clay a position on the 
Supreme Bench — :a fact communicated to Hammond in 
one of those confidential letters Mr. Clay was wont to 
write to him. Later, this appointment was tendered to 
Mr. Hammond, and was declined. In my opinion it 
was declined because the place had first been oflFered to 
another. Hammond knew that he was better fitted for 
a judicial position than Clay, and he knew, too, that his 
great services merited high recognition. I know the 
friends of Hammond assign another reason, but the 
correspondence to which I have referred to-night, and 
human nature confirm my opinion. It is true Ham- 
mond refused all political honors, but the Bench was his 
place, and there his great talents would have shown 
brilliantly. In 1829, the correspondence between Clay 
and Hammond ceased, and was not renewed until 1832, 
after the nomination at Baltimore. During this and 
the following year, the great editor with characteristic 
independence, wrote a series of articles to show that the 
strength of Jacksonism was so great, a new policy 
should be adopted, and the old leaders retired. This 
gave oflFense to Clay. In 1832, Hammond wrote Clay 
a manly letter vindicating his independence. One pas- 
sage is worth our attention : *' My life," wrote he, " has 
been devoted to politics rather as a master passion, than 
from any yearning of the most honorable ambition. I 
have never wished or sought public employment, either 
for the pecuniary reward, or that of distinction. 
Though always an ardent actor, I felt myself a disinter- 

Charles Hammond. 57 

ested one, and have therefore (not very modestly per- 
haps) claimed to be a more impartial judge of surround- 
ing prospects than others of equal experience." 

Mr. Hammond had found a new favorite, and one 
with tastes in harmony with his own. *^ I am much 
gratified to mark how rapidly Mr. Webster is growing 
in public estimation. That such a man acquires a per- 
manent popularity, as he becomes better known, is 
highly creditable to the good sense of the community. 
In my view it is a redeeming trait in the character 
of a people sufficient to atone for very many aberra- 
tions/' This was in 1826. Later, he submitted to 
Mr. Webster, a plan for the reorganization of the 

Hammond had formed a much higher opinion of Mr. 
Adams, whose motives in political action he had come 
to understand better. I am tempted to read to you a 
letter from Mr. Adams after he had retired from office, 
but our brief time will not admit of it. 

The history of the effort to crush out the freedom of 
speech and the press in America in the interest of the 
slave-holders of the Southern States, is full of exciting 
interest and deep humiliation. You are familiar with 
the Virginia Bill of rights drawn by George Mason, 
and the fact of the opposition to the adoption of the 
Federal Constitution by Southern Statesmen, because a 
similar clause had not been incorporated in that instru- 
ment. Either these distinguished gentlemen were mere 
theorists or their successors were degenerate in a love 
of liberty. Most conspicuous in the Virginia Consti- 
tution during these years whose events we are consider- 
ing, was this clause : 

**The freedom of the press is one of the great bul- 

58 Charles Hammond. 

warks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by 
despotic governments." 

We have seen that Charles Hammond freely dis- 
cussed the slavery question in its relations to govern- 
ment and society for years, while being a leader of his 
party and intimately associated with Mr. Clay. The 
influence of his pen was widely felt. We have seen how 
Hayne, White, and others, demanded that all discus- 
sions, and all negotations affecting slavery, should cease. 
In time other men came to the front, who were not con- 
tent to abide by constitutional rights, or rely on a firm 
assertion of the same, but who, holding that slavery was 
,a sin, proclaimed a crusade against the Constitution it- 
self. The combined commercial and political power of 
the South was exerted, after 1830, to crush out agitation 
with remarkable vigor. The general acquiescence on the 
part of the North was no less remarkable. The moral 
degradation, and the subserviency to party must have been 
great when a President could recommend in an annual mes- 
sage, the exclusion from the mails of anti-slavery litera- 
ature ; ^nd when his Postmaster-General openly en- 
couraged the rifling of the public mail. And yet these 
things were done under the administration of Andrew 

The logical result of all this was a resort to mob 
violence, and the attempted forcible suppression of the 
freedom of speech. Hammond continues his manly 
assertion of constitutional rights, and in this way is surely 
quickening the conscience, self-respect, and manhood of 
the North which in time shall be overwhelming. His 
soul is moved as never before. He strikes ponderous 
blows. He is indignant at the subserviency of the 

Charles Hammond. 59 

NtJTtti. The radiant humor that has heretofore charac- 
terized his editorials, gives place to sarcasm and fierce 
denunciation. The Methodist General Conference of 
the West met alid resolved that the church was opposed 
to modern abolitionism, and disclaimed any purpose to 
interfere between master and slave. Hammond's com- 
ment was brief but effective: "What strange revolu- 
tions of feelings and sentiment are produced in which 
just principles bear no part! If, at the General Con- 
ference of 1828, it could have been suggested that such 
a proceeding could have been had at the General Con- 
ference of 1836, every member would have indignantly 
exclaimed : * Are we dogs that we should do this 

To those who demanded that agitation should cease 
because slavery was recognized in the Constitution, he 
replied with crushing force: ** It is said the Constitu- 
tion has secured slave property, and now none should 
argue against it. Yes, the Constitution has secured it, 
and how ? By never naming it. By a kind of shame- 
faced endurance of it ! But the Constitution has se- 
cured freedom of speech by a broad, strong, explicit 
declaration, and now collision has arisen between that 
which is barely tolerated as an admitted curse, and that 
which is asserted as an essential good, viz. : * Freedom 
of speech and of the press.' " 

James G. Birney, Gamaliel Bailey, Dr. Colby, and- 
others, had established a press in Cincinnati, under the 
direction of the Anti-Slavery Society of Ohio. The 
Philanthropist newspaper had Achiles Pugh for printer 
and publisher. These are familiar names. In the sum- 
mer of 1836, there was an active agitation in the com- 

6o Charles Hammond. 

munity against the publication of this paper, which 
culminated in a citizens' meeting in Lower Market, and 
the appointment of a committee to endea.vof to secure 
its suppression by peaceful means. On that committee 
were such distinguished citizens as Judge Jacob Burnet, 
Nicholas Longworth, Morgan Neville, John C. Wright, 
Wm. Greene, David T. Disney, Robert Buchanan, and 
John P. Foote. These gentlemen represented to Mr. 
Birney and his associates that the publication of the 
Philanthropist would drive away the Southern trade, 
and ruin the property interests of the city, and begged 
them to desist. This being refused, a mob under the 
direction of the mayor, took possession of the city for 
two days and nights, destroyed the presses and office of 
Mr. Pugh, destroyed the residences of several inoffen- 
sive colored people, and established a reign of terror. 
During the progress of the storm, Mr. Hammond 
called a few citizens together at the Gazette office, and 
arranged for a public meeting at the court-house of the 
friends of law and order and the Constitution. The 
call bears the names of forty well known citizens, in- 
cluding Charles Hammond, W. D. Gallagher, and 
Salmon P. Chase, the latter a young man then pre- 
paring for the great part he was afterwards to take in 
public affairs. When these law and order citizens and 
friends of the Constitution went to the court-house, 
they found a meeting already organized in the interest 
of the other side. The only way to reach the public 
was through the columns of the Gazette. Mr. Ham- 
mond made a public statement, and in it included what 
he had prepared for adoption at the meeting. 

Charles Hammond. 6i 

The spirit of it will be understood from the follow- 
ing paragraph : 

" We regard slavery as a domestic institution of the 
states in which it exists, with which the other states have 
no right to interfere. But while we respect the rights of 
our fellow-citizens of the slave-holding states, and 
would, by no means, break through or suffer any others 
to break through the sacred barriers of the law for the 
purpose of invading those rights ; we also respect the 
rights of our fellow-citizens of the non-slave-holding 
states, and will never suffer the law and Constitution to 
be trampled in the dust for the purpose of destroying 
those rights. Among these rights — and of all the dear- 
est, because it is the bulwark of all the rest, is the right 
of FREE DISCUSSION — the right of every citizen to write, 
speak, and print upon every subject as he may think 
proper, being responsible to the laws and the laws only, 
for the abuse of that liberty. If this right shall perish 
through the violence of a mob, the grave that entombs 
it must be the sepulchre of American freedom. True- 
hearted Americans, therefore, must defend this right at 
all times, in all places, under all circumstances, by 
whomsoever assailed. When this right is abused, the 
remedy is at hand. The courts are open. If the ex- 
isting laws do not provide an efficient remedy, let new 
laws, adapted to the object, be enacted. The annual 
sessions of our Legislature are held for that purpose. 
But let not the hand of violence be raised against the 
exercise of this precious right. However obnoxious 
the exercise may be, let the right itself be acknowledged 
and respected. Let us not for the sake of removing 

62 Charles Hammond. 

some unsightly blemish, pull out the very corner-stone 
of the great temple of constitutional liberty," 

Hammond's calm statement exasperated the desperate 
men in control of the city. They sent bullies to attack 
him and threaten his life, and mobs with tar and 
feathers to terrify him, but these he faced with splendid 
courage, and single and alone drove them before him — 
the cowardly scullions ! A night raid on the Gazette 
office was organized, but the sight of that brave man 
scattered the mob: 

The successive issues of the Gazette for several days 
had no editorial comments, but instead, contained that 
chapter from Job, in which the just man says: 

" Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the 
night in which it was said, ' there is a man child con- 

Passages from the Declaration of Independence, the 
Constitution, and the Ordinance of 1787, bearing on the 
freedom of speech and the press. A contemporary, an 
eloquent divine, says that the citizeas concerned in the 
disgraceful events I have described, afterwards attempted 
to destroy the records of their shame, and that the 
Gazette for July 24, 1836, was removed from the 
library files. After the civil war had destroyed slavery, 
he referred to Hammond's work in these words : 
" Since now no wind on this mighty continent bears 
on its wings the sigh of a slave, or will bear one for- 
ever, let Charles Hammond's biography be written. 
Let our children's children declaim his sentences. Let 
their prize orations paint him at that darkest hour of 
the Republic, far darker than the darkest . battle-day of 
the war, standing here at the commercial head-quarters 

Charles Hammond. 63 

of slavery, and standing alone against the brutal terrors 
of mobs by which many fell ; against aristocratic threats 
and hatred; against children weeping and entreating; 
against the diabolical ferocities of caste ; against the 
fulminations of the sanhedrims of Protestantism ; 
against mercantile avarice and greed ; against all his 
political enemies and associates; yet standing at the 
wheel when all the timbers below him were cracking and 
giving way ; the fragments of three abolition presses 
broken by mobs lying round his feet*; driven back, ab- 
solutely pushed out of his own editorial chair, retreat- 
ing behind the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, 
the Bill of Rights, and by the sole force of his integrity 
and truth, filling the assailants of freedom and justice 
with such terror, as to drive them to seek the shelter of 
oblivion, by destroying the records of. that day." 

Mobs at Alton, mobs at Boston, and mobs at Phila- 
delphia, are also notable events. But these are chiefly 
exhibitions of passion aroused by prejudice and ignor- 
ahce. Far different were the scenes enacted in Congress 
during this, the midnight of the American dark 
age. In the House of Representatives, surrounded 
by men whose faces indicated fierce passions and in- 
tense hate, there stood a man day after day, and week 
after week, defending and upholding the Constitution, 
asserting the right of petition, and the freedom of 
debate — to my eyes the noblest figure ever seen in 
the American Congress, and one of the noblest and 
grandest ever seen in parliament of men in any 
country — this Old Man Eloquent, then and there in 
the nineteenth century, representing the conscience and 
manhood yet alive in the nation. As for myself, I 
can not think of this struggle for constitutional princi- 

64 Charles Hammond. 

pies without emotion, and a feeling of thankfulness 
that, under divine Providence, America was then blessed 
with men of courage and wisdom and patriotism like 
John Quincy Adams and Charles Hammond. I can 
not look upon the cramped handwriting of these letters 
which tell the story of the struggle for freedom, without 
a feeling of reverence for this the noblest of all the 
Adamses. He was the superior man contending for 
righteousness in the midst of " the thieves of virtue." 
Possessing that sublime courage, unerring vision, and 
largeness of soul, that distinguishes the man gf action 
from his fellows. It is profitable to dwell on this scene. 
A man who has enjoyed the highest honors, pos- 
sessed of wealth, and invited to the comforts of leisure, 
filling a lower station, surrounded by warring elements, 
and of these, he only comprehending the danger to the 
Republic. Will he to the rescue ? 

** On a sudden, from the opposite side of the hori- 
zon, see, miraculous Opportunity, rushing hitherward 
-^swiftj terrible, clothed with lightning like a courser 
of the gods ;— dare he clutch him by the thunder-mane, 
and fling himself upon him, and make for the Empy- 
rean by that course rather? Then must he be quick 
about it ; the time is now or never ! " 

The deed is done ! Freedom of the press, the right 
of petition, are saved to the citizens, and under their 
blessed influence in time, Liberty and Union do be- 
come one and indivisible. 

Fifteen years before Adams, Hammond was discuss- 
ing these very principles. He now rejoices that a voice 
is heard in the Halls of Congress, proclaiming the truth. 
He says, in the Gazette, February 16, 1837 : 

Charles Hammond, 65 

** The course of J. Q. Adams, in Congress, on the 
subject of presenting abolition petitions, has been cen- 
sured by some. It meets my unqualified approbation. 
I rejoice that there is one manin Congress who has the 
boldness to stand up for what is right ; the firmness to 
maintain his ground against denunciation ; the talent to 
sustain himself, though assailed by violence on one side 
and meanly deserted by cowardly skulkers on the 

*' Mr. Adams is avowedly no abolitionist. He 
plants himself upon the right of petition ; upon the 
right of every citizen to present his grievances for hear- 
ing and redress to a legislative body whom the peti- 
tioner honestly supposes may act upon his case. 

. . . ** The Constitution of the United States 
secures the right of petition. The provision is found 
in the first amendment ; that amendment originated in 
Virginia, and is in these words : " 

(Here follows the amendment.) 

" The right to petition is here secured in connection 
with the right to enjoy religious opinion and the free- 
dom of speech and of the press. Thus, this right of 
petition is arranged with, and noted as one of the great 
fundamental rights of freemen. Mr. Adams does 
nothing but maintain this right in presenting abolition 
petitions. In the uproar raised by Southern members 
of Congress against receiving these petitions, there is a 
direct attempt to subvert a constitutional right. I ven- 
erate the man who distinguishes between the unwise use 
of a right on one side, and an unconstitutional effort to 
subvert that right on the other: who plants himself in 


66 Charles Hammond. 

the breach, between fanaticism and usurpation, and re- 
gardless of consequences does his duty. 

<< < In Freedom's field, advancing his firm foot, 
He plants it on the line that Justice draws, 
And will prevail or perish in her cause/ " 

Then follows an argument on the duty of Congress 
to act on the subject of slavery in several particulars, 
which are specified, and the powers of that body under 
the Constitution. Mr. Hammond concludes in these 
words : 

** In respect to abolition petitions, the South* has as- 
sumed an unconstitutional attitude. She denies the right 
to petition. She denounces the exercise of the right, and 
she contemns members of Congress, who differently 
regard their constitutional obligations, as no better than 
incendiaries. Mr. Adams, in the true spirit of those 
who threw the tea into the water, says : 

" ' Nay, gentlemen, I take no sides with these peti- 
tioners. I disapprove their object, but they have rights 
under the Constitution, and they ask me to assert these 
rights here in their behalf, and I do so. I regret to 
give you offense. I more than regret the fury you 
manifest; but I can not swerve from the performance 
of a duty which I feel that I owe to the Constitution 
and to the rights of a fellow-citizen, however injudi- 
ciously asserted.' In this light I regard the course 
of Mr. Adams, that has recently brought upon him so 
much opprobrium. Thus viewing it, I deem it my 
duty, as I feel it my privilege^ to express my opinion in 
relation to it. Were I a member of Congress I should 
be glad to stand by Mr. Adams in the contest in which 

Charles Hammond. 67 

he IS engaged. Regardless who are the petitioners, or 
what the object, if the one be respectful, and Congress 
can have power over the other, I would never shrink 
from their presentation, or be driven, unless by brute 
force, from maintaining the right to present them." 

Mr. Adams acknowledged the help he had received 
in this letter, the chirography of which is so cramped as 
to require to be written out before it could be publicly 
read : 

Adams to Hammond. 

' Washington, March 2^^ ^^837. 

Dear Sir : 

In the severe trial through which I was destined to 
pass, during the session of Congress now closed, 
nothing occurred more cheering and encouraging to me 
than the notices taken of the debates in your paper, and 
your friendly letter of the i6th of February. 

The abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, 
in the purpose of the petitioners for it, is a step towards 
the abolition throughout the Union of the Institution 
of Domestic Slavery — and indeed throughout the wor|d. 
The object is noble — the motive pure — but the under- 
taking of such tremenddus magnitude, difficulty, and 
danger, that I shrink from the contemplation of it, and 
much more from any personal agency in promoting it. 
I have abstained, sometimes perhaps too pertinaciously 
abstained, from all participation in measures leading to 
that conflict for life and death between Freedom and 
Slavery^ through which I have not yet been able to see 
how this Union could ultimately be preserved from 
passing. While the people of the Slave-holding States 

68 Charles Hammond. 

professed the speculative opinions upon the subject of 
slavery, of which Mr. Jefferson was the principal pro- 
mulgator, I had flattered myself that slavery was in this 
Union gradually perishing with a marasmus, and that 
its dissolution and interment might be left to those of 
whose constitutions it formed a part. This hope I was 
encouraged to entertain by the continual progress of the 
spirit of emancipation, manifested by the abolition of 
the African slave trade, spreading all over Europe, and 
enacted by our own Congress, even before I thought 
they were authorized by the Constitution of the United 
States to exercise that legislative power ; by the earn- 
estness with which Great Britain was pursuing the policy 
of emancipation, and by the co-operation, apparently 
cordial, which our government under slave-holding 
Presidents, was yielding to that policy. But the conse- 
quences of the emancipation by Great Britain of all her 
slaves in the West Indies, with the abolition of slavery 
in all the new South American Republics, on the one 
hand, and of the Southampton insurrection, and the 
subsequent debates in the Legislature of Virginia on 
the other, have gone far towards bringing my hopes to 
a pause. Since then, the spirit of universal emancipa- 
tion has been ripening into a religious principle, fortified 
with unanswerable logic, stimulated by the fervor of 
conscience, and armed with the irrepressible energies of 
martyrdom. On the other hand slavery, driven from 
her strongholds of power, has changed her tone and be- 
come a reasoner. Professor Dew, of William and 
Mary College, Virginia, Chancellor Harper, and Gov- 
ernor McDuffie, of South Carolina, have become the 
founders of a new school of political morality for Re- 

Charles Hammond. 69 

publics founded upon the Declaration of Independence, 
and the unalienable rights of man. Their first princi- 
ple is that the negro is an inferior race, neither pos- 
sessing nor entitled to the rights of man, but born for 
servitude, and destined to it as long as this globe shall 
last. That this degradation of the African black, was 
intended by the Creator, for the express benefit of the 
white Anglo-Saxon^ for his temporal and spiritual im- 
provement in wisdom, virtue, and especially freedom, 
and that your negro-driver is the only man upon earth 
who understands and practices the true principles of 

These doctrines, with the atrocious aggravations ot 
oppression in the recent sharpening of the Draconian 
black code of our Southern States, with their demands 
upon the free States to deliver up their citizens to their 
revenge, and upon Congress to strangle the circulation 
of free thought by the mails, have, I confess, moved 
my indignation, and sometimes provoked me to think 
it time to try their temper in turn. Yet, so strong has 
been the current of popular feeling in all the free States, 
to support the slavery of the South, and against the 
Abolitionists, that when I found myself almost the only 
man in the House who dared ever to present their peti- 
tions, they crowded upon me in such multitudes, that 
for merely presenting them I brought all the resent- 
ments of the South upon me without even a prospect 
of support from my own constituents, representing as 
I did, a district where the abolition cause is in special 
disfavor. The articles in your paper were almost my 
only support in the House, and the blind fury of the 

yo Charles Hammond. 

nullification party which took the lead for the South in 
in the House broke them down there. 

Presidential electioneering, remote as well as present, 
makes up a false issue against the Abolitionists, in all 
the free States, where alone they are permitted even to 
exist. For the first time since the existence of the Con- 
stitution of the United States, the election of a Presi- 
dent has turned exclusively upon the slavery and 
abolition conflict. It is the only point upon which the 
new President has declared his fixed and irrevocable de- 
termination in advance. Is not our whole political 
system irresistibly tending to turn upon that hinge 
alone ? I am deeply apprehensive that it is. 

I took the pen only to thank you for the articles in 
your Gazette, on my trial, and for your kind letter; 
and tender you my respectful salutations and good 


(Charles Hammond, Esq., Cincinnati, O.) 

The lateness of the hour warns me to bring my address 
to a close. I pass by the subsequent discussions in 
which Mr. Adams and Mr. Hammond are concerned, 
and turn to a new scene, in which Henry Clay is the 
central figure. 

"What a loud-roaring, loose and empty matter,'* 
says Carlyle, " is this tornado of vociferation which 
men call ' Public Opinion ! ' " 

True. But we have seen wha,t tremendous power it 
had in these dark days, and how only a very few refused 
to be silent. It presses Mr, Clay so hard that he con- 
sents to come to the front as the apologist and defender 

Charles Hammond. 71 

of the Southern view. The hope of the Presidency is, 
alas ! greater than the love of truth and the aspiration 
to do right in the sight of God. 

Mr. Hammond is called on to publicly criticise his 
old. friend, which he does fearlessly and most thoroughly 
in a series of nine editorials. He is in feeble health; 
the beckonings from the Silent Land are now discerni- 
ble, and he can leave his house but seldom. All of his 
strength is husbanded to perform a few duties of deep 
concernment to others and to his country, which he has 
loved with such fervid, unselfish patriotism ; and this 
protest against the utterances of his life-long friend is 
one of them. The editorials appeared at intervals dur- 
ing a period of two months immediately following Mr. 
Clay's speech. 

It would be a vain task to attempt to describe these 
articles which embrace the best thoughts of the patriot 
whose light is nearly out. Mr. Clay quickly heard of 
them, and in a touching note, from Washington, asked 
his old friend to send him copies as they appeared. 

Towards the close, Hammond, in a tone of sadness, 
considers the effect of the influence of the great name 
of his friend, now used freely by the enemies of the 
Constitution — the old Constitution of freedom as they 
once both read it — but he warns him that even this will 
suffice only for a season: that the South are seeking to 
[j crush out rights founded upon divine law that will 

surely be vindicated in the future. 
^ "I say the opponents of slavery must be heard. The 

4 great question of human liberty in this land can not be 

decided by the denunciation of masters, the accommo- 
dations of trade, or the impulsive violence of infuri- 


72 Charles Hammond. 

ated men. Mr. Clay himself can not effect this. The 
effort he has made, strong as it is, must fail in compro- 
mitting to his views the slavery antagonists of the land. 
Their passive deference to his behests, can not be pressed 
too far." 

" Has all discretion," asked Hammond, on another 
occasion, "deserted the owners of slaves? Do they 
suppose that blood liable to be heated flows in no veins 
but their own ? One day they must learn otherwise." 

With this warning, and the light of this prophecy 
streaming into the future, I close this very imperfect 
record of the life-work of Charles Hammond, who, for 
over forty years, was one of the Republic's ablest, most 
unselfish, and most faithful sons, and a witness to the 
spirit and principles of government as established by 
the Fathers. 

*- ' 






NOV 1 2 1936