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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by 


In the OflBcc of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

All rights reserved. 

. Pb p5) 

C M. El. 




FELiciTER ct;m makito nobili i:t amante ad finem perdcctos 



It is often, if not always, said, by way of general criticism 
on such a work as this, that a son ought not to undertake to 
be his father's biographer. The qualities demanded in the 
historian include strict impartiality, freedom from personal 
bias, and skill and fearlessness in analyzing his subject ; but 
these cannot be expected where the inspiring motive of the 
writer is filial affection, and where the object to be studied is 
rendered precious in his eyes by the threefold power of the 
tie of blood, the precept of " the first commandment with 
promise," and a love and admiration which have gi'own and 
deepened with each added year. I feel the force of these 
considerations as I begin my task: they would have put a 
stop to farther progress had I thought that men differed seri- 
ously in their estimate of my father's life and work, or that 
I should have to deal with transactions which, for the honor 
of the name, I should be compelled to explain or tempted to 
cover up. But in his case a verdict has already been pro- 
nounced, which attests the confidence and respect in which 
he was held by his fellow-countrymen. I know nothing in 
the record which, if now disclosed for the first time, would 
be likely to change the judgment of the people, nor do I be- 
lieve that much diversity of opinion exists among us as to his 
career in general, or particular matters involving his reputa- 



tion and his honor. These considerations have lessened my 
rehictanco to attempt the present task ; and since I am urged 
on every side to do the work myself, and not to intrust it to 
another hand, there seems to be no alternative but to proceed 
as best I may. I do not, however, conceal the fact that the 
inspiring motive of this effort to tell the story of my father's 
life is that veneration for him which grew with the compan- 
ionship of more than fifty years, and was stronger than ever 
when, kneeling by his bedside, 1 closed his dying eyes. There 
would be no adequate motive to write the history unless I be- 
lieved tliat it was a noble life, and that they who come after 
us will be the better for knowing what he did to the glory 
of Almighty God and the good of his fellow-men, and in the 
service of a country which he loved with the devotion of a 
loyal and patriotic heart. 

My father's eighty years cover a great part of the history 
of the Republic. Born just before the close of the eighteenth 
century, ho left us when the nineteenth was far in its last 
quarter. lie was one of those who formed the link between 
the period of the Kevolution and that of the final and per- 
petual consolidation of the American Union. His acts are 
interwoven with the records of an age of wonderful events 
and impressive phenomena. His was a life of untiring activ- 
ity, wherein he served the State with hand and head, with 
sword and pen, and always ably ; and the proof of the public 
confidence in him lies in this fact, that he was called to almost 
every office which a citizen can hold. And while his natural 
gifts, ample and varied, rendered him competent to meet the 
requirements of public life, he conducted himself, in each po- 
sition, in such a manner as to inspire a universal belief in his 
integrity. Again and again was this common faith in him 
exhibited in a practical way ; for the reader of this memoir 
will observe how often, in times of perplexity, when a mere 



name, with wliat it stood for, might restore a sense of secu- 
rity, ho was called upon, and set in full view of the people, 
with the investiture of power and the commission to do what- 
ever might be necessary ; and how rapidly, at such times, the 
clouds dispersed. This occurred, not once only, nor twice, but 
often ; and thereon do I claim for him a place among the 
purest of patriots, the wisest of counsellors, and the most 
honest of men. Nor did his patriotism waver even in the 
darkest hours ; nor can I say that his faith ever failed, though 
I remember more than one conversation from which I in- 
ferred that his concern for the future of the commonwealth 
had led him almost to doubt its ability to overcome the cor- 
nipting and demoralizing influences that sap the foundations 
of the State. Meanwhile, amid the cares and duties of a very 
full life, he found time to pursue certain studies which gave 
him the reputation of a scholar, and an enviable place in the 
world of letters. There are departments of literature in 
which his knowledge was full and critical and his attain- 
ments were uncommon ; and in this he resembled those great 
statesmen of the mother country who wear a crown of double 
honor — men strong in the forum, on the platform, and in the 
council-chamber, yet happier in those secluded walks where 
converse is held with the poet, the philosopher, and the sage. 
But what, after all, were these things, compared with others, 
to us who lived our life close by his, and were with him from 
day to day ? We only who were of his house and blood can 
fully appreciate that personality, that strong individuality, 
which conFlitutes the chief treasure of our recollections, and 
has left the impression of a sweet, simple-hearted, tender soul, 
which loved its own devotedly, and revered God, and won 
from men a deeper affection as, drawing nearer, they saw 
what he was. I have no terms to express my feelings on this 
point ; nor will I attempt to do so, lest this sketch should sud- 



denly lose its liistoric cast, and take the form of another " In 
Memoriam," laden with vain regrets and longings for the re- 
turn of one beloved, whose place knoweth him no more. 

Many years ago we began to urge my father to write his 
biography. Ilis incessant occupations, however, were an ob- 
stacle to the task ; he never had time for it. He hardly knew 
what release from active duty meant; up to within forty- 
eight hoars of his death he was transacting official business ; 
he found not the leisure to do what we asked. But when 
seventy years old he wrote, for our amusement, a little history 
of his boyhood, covering the first twelve or fifteen years of 
his life ; and to this he subsequently added a few pages, bring- 
ing the memoranda down to the year 1820. These fragments 
I shall now transcribe, precisely as he left them, adding some 
notes, by way of additional information, on points which he 
merely touched in passing, convinced that the reader will be 
glad to have this autograph introduction to what is to come 
after. But, first, a few words concerning those of his name 
who preceded him in this country. 

The family were of English stock, and Puritans. The 
name of Anthony Dix appears in the Plymouth Records in 
1623 ; he was admitted as a freeholder in that town in 1631, 
and at Salem in 1632. Edward Dix, of "Watertown, admitted 
freeman 1635, had a son, John, born in 1640 ; he appears to 
have died July 9, 1660. Hali^h Dix, a descendant, was one of 
the early settlers of Ipswich. Mass. ; he died at Reading, Sep- 
tember 24, 1688. His grandson, Jonathan, born at the home- 
stead in Reading, resided at Littleton, whence he removed to 
Boscawen, N. II., or, as it was originally called, Contoocook. 
He was a good man, and for more than seventy-five years a 
member of the Congregational Church ; he married Sarah, 
daughter of the Rev. Benjamin Shattuck, of Littleton, Mass. ; 



and died at the residence of liis son Timothy, December 24, 
1804, having attained the age of 94 years, 8 months, and 13 
days. Timotliy Dix, a native of Littleton, Mass., was a man 
of some eminence in his day, a patriot and a soldier ; he held 
a lieutenant's commission in the Eevolutionary War, and 
raised a company for that service ; he was also postmaster at 
Boscawen, under President Jefferson's administration. His 
character is portrayed by contemporaneous chroniclers as that 
of a man of promptitude and decision, devotedly attached to 
the cause of his country, firm and jjatient under the many 
trials of his life; one who, in public as well as in private 
relations, was remarkable for strict integrity and fidelity to 
duty. Ilis son, Timothy Dix, Jr., my grandfather, is remem- 
bered in ISTew Hampshire as an active, enterprising, liberal, 
and enlightened citizen, distinguished for his courteous bear- 
ing and honorable character. He held the office of Select- 
man of the town, and represented it in the State Legislat- 
ure in the years 1801-'4. In 1812, when the war broke out 
between Great Britain and the United States, he received 
a commission in the Tiegular Army, and at the time of his 
death, which occurred in face of the enemy, at French Mills, 
Canada East, November 14, 1813, was Lieutenant-colonel of the 
Fourteenth Eegiment of Infantry. His wife was Abigail Wil- 
kins, of Amherst ; her lather was a captain in the Provincial 
Service, and lost his life during the ill-fated expedition of 
General Richard Montgomery against Quebec. Of these par- 
ents, and of that honest, God-fearing, and joatriotic stock, on 
the 24th day of July, a.d. 1798, and in the village of Bos- 
cawen, in the State of New Hampshire, John Adams Dix 
was born. 

I proceed, without more words, to the little history of his 
earliest years, written by him for the entertainment of his 

r ir.~~ 





Boyhood.— Youth.— Army Life (a.d. 1798-1831) i 


Washington.— New York.— Europe (a,d. 1821-1828) G3 



Rural Life.— The Law.— Prelude to Political Career Ud 
1828-1830) ." ! 83 



Adjutant-general.— Secretary of State.— Superintendent of 
Common Schools.— Member op the Legislature (a d. 1830- 

^s^2) : ... 123 


Madeira.— Spain.— Italy (a.d. 1842-1844) 173 


A.D. 1845-1853 jgg 






New York— EunoPE (a.d. 1853-1860) 379 


Postmaster of New York.— Secretary of the Treasury (a.d. 

1860-1861) 325 


Jons A. Dix, Secretary of State, Albany, N. Y. (from a Tortrait by 

James E. Freeman, Painted in 1836) Frontispiece. 

(SUil Plate.) 

Catharine M. Dix (from a Portrait by Charles Ingham, in 1836) . faces 160 

(Stetl Piatt.) 

Sketches made During the Ecrofean Tour .... 292, 293, 295 296 297 

Pine Street Meeting: Signatures in Fac-simile faces 349 

Fac-simile op the Despatch «« 3^0 








A.D. iros-issi. 


Boscawcn. — The Ilomcstcad. — School. — Daniel "Webster and Grace 
Fletcher.— The Village Cemetery.— Eclipse of the Sun in 180G.— First 
Death in the Family. — Study of English Authors. — Death of his 
Mother. — The Congregational Meeting-house and the Preacher. — Re- 
ligious Questions. — The Villagers. — Militia Company. — Drill in a 
Thunder-storm. — Joe "Wheat, Stage -driver and Musician. — Sent to 
School at Salisbury. — Dramatic Performances in the Meeting-house: 
David and Goliath. — Exeter Academy. — Dr. Abbott. — Sparks and 
Palfrey. — Speech on the War of Troy. — Montreal : the Petit Seminaire. 
— Thorougli Grounding in Latin and French. — The Good Priests. — 
1812: the "War witli England.— Boston.— Dr. George C. Shattuck.— 
His Father Commissioned in the Fourteenth Regiment United States 
Infantry. — Enters the Army at Fourteen Years of Age. — Cadet. — En- 
sign in his Father's Regiment. — Sackett's Harbor. — Adjutant to Gen- 
eral Uphani, — Movements on the St. Lawrence. — Fight at Chrystler's 
Fields. — Death of Lieutenant-colonel Dix at French Mills. — 1814 : Fort 
Constitution, Portsmouth, N. H. — Colonel "Wulbach. — Domestic Anxi- 
eties and Triak^. — 1818: Fort "Washington, ou the Potomac, — 1819: 
Fort Columbus, New York Harbor. — Aide-de-camp to General Jacob 
Brown. — Brownsville, N. Y. — "Washington, D. C. — John C. Callioun. — 
Visits to Montpelier and Monticcllo. — Madison. — Jefferson. — Debates 
in Congress. — Pinkuey of Maryland. — Rufus King. — John Randolph 
of Roanoke. 






I REVISIT, after the lapse of fifty years, the scenes of my 
childhood. The old familiar objects around me wear new 
aspects, and yet they have lost nothing of their identity. The 
outlines are the same, but how strangel}' shrunken they appear 
to be in their proportions ! Our minds and our bodies, by 
force of some incomprehensible law, expand together. As 
we increase in stature the physical objects which surround us 
seem to diminish in magnitude. Most of us, I think, are con- 
scious of this change. The river which is flowing past as it 
has flowed for ages, and which had to my sight an immeasura- 
ble distance across when I was a child, looks like a mere brook 
in my manhood. But I have in the mean time stood on the 
banks of the Mississippi and the Missouri, and these are now 
my stand.ards of comparison. The mountain on the opposite 
side, which always appeared to me to have some vague and 
inconceivable height, has dwindled into a hill of the most 
inconsiderable dimensions : but I have crossed the Kocky 
Mountains, the Alps, and the Apennines, and I instinctively 
measure all inequalities of the earth's surface by these gigan- 
tic elevations. Yet this miniature mountain, which filled my 
childish conceptions, and which I can still fancy draped, as of 

■ \ } 



-1. 1 


old, in gorgeous foliage, ntul casting its cool shadows far down 
into the meadows as the sun Avas pinking behind it, is as 
familiar as ever to my sight. But, in the progress of settle- 
ment, it has been denuded of trees ; and its stony front, as its 
covering has been stripped off, reveals itself in deep seams 
and sharp protuberances of granite. 

But let mo turn from the present to the distant jiast. 


I was born in a village in New Hampshire.* It was a full 
mile in length. Its single street was terminated at one ex- 
tremity' by the meeting-house, and at the other by a bridge 
crossing a small stream. On one side, half a mile off, the 
Merrimack Iliver flowed quietly along, with an intervening 
flat, known as the intervale.f On the ojiposite side was a 

* In the year 1732, memorable as that in which George Washington 
was born, a number of men, mostly natives of Newbury, in the Province 
of Massachusetts Bay, associated themselves together with a view to 
founding a new settlement. Two years later they went forth and made 
their home on the west bank of the Merrimack River, in the district of 
New Ilamjishire, which was then under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. 
The proprietors gave to the township, which was seven miles square, the 
Indian name of Contoocook. An act of incorporation was obtained 
April 22, 17C0, and the town was thenceforth known as Boscawen. The 
change of appellation was natural. The old name was associated with 
images of misery and sorrow ; the settlers had been harassed by the 
savage allies of the French ; their lives were spent in fear ; and every 
man was of necessity a soldier. While the petition of tlie proprietors 
for a charter was before the government of the Province of New Hamp- 
shire, the reduction and demolition of Louisburg took place, and Gen- 
erals Amherst and Wolfe and Admiral Boscawen became the heroes of 
the day. Thus it happened that the brave old sailor gave liis name to 
the newly-organized plantation, to the great delight of the inhabitants, 
whose gloomy recollections were changed to auguries of brighter days. 

t "The territory may be divided into three general divisions, viz., i/jto'- 
val, pine-plain, and ?iig?i land, requiring a different cultivation. 

" The interval upon the Merrimack, nearly the whole length of the 
town, is in many places widely extended, originally covered with a heavy 


range of thickly-wooded hills. I have seen many more beau- 
tiful villages, but none that had for me the attraction of this. 
It may be because it was my birthplace. My father was one 
of the first settlers, lie was active and indefatigable in busi- 
ness, and he soon gathered a community about him. He 
knew that in order to make his neighbors contented he must 
bring within their reach everything essential to their comfort. 
lie hired a storekeeper, opened a store, and filled it with dry- 
goods, hardware, and groceries, enlarging his list from time to 
time as the settlers became able to increase their indulgences. 
Wagon-loads of supplies were brought from Boston as the 
stock on hand became low, and the arrival of one of th'^se 
trains — for there were generally three or four wagons in com- 
pany — was a source of the greatest interest and excitement. 
As soon as the goods were opened and ready for purchasers 
they were visited, inspected, and gradually bought and con- 
sumed. The women came to see the new calicoes and taste 
the fresh sugar, and the men to handle the axes and spades. 

As the village increased in population and means mv father 
established a school. He hired the teachers and provided the 
school-books. In process of time a school-house was built, 
and the school became one of the most noted in the country. 
My father was very scrupulous in regard to the teachers. He 
would have none but the very first, both in regard to qual- 
ifications and respectability of character. They sometimes 
insisted that he should receive them into his own family ; and 
in several instances he did so, rather than lose them. Some 
of the most distinguished men in the State — afterward known 

growth of elm, butternut, maple, and basswoocl. When cultivated it 
proved very productive, and even at this period bountifully rewards 
the labor of the husbandman." — A Chronological Register of Boseawen, in 
the County of Merrimach and State of New Hampshire, from the first settle- 
ment of the toicn to 1820. In three parts: Descriptive, Historical, and 
Miscellaneous. Compiled by an order of the town, passed March, 1819. 
By Ebenezer Price, A.M., Pastor of the Second Churcli in said town. 
Concord: Printed by Jacob B. Moore, 1823. 8vo, 116 pp. 



throughout the Union for tlicir great abilities — were among 
our village Bchool-niasters. \\\ the summer wo had female 
teachers, and tliey were of the same liigh rank in talent and 
character. One of them became the wife of a jurist and 
statesman who has had few equals in public reputation.* It 
was in this school that I received the rudiments of my educa- 
tion. I was a favorite with them all, and I cherish the remem- 
brance of their good opinion as a distinction to bo proud of. 
The teachers being sometimes inmates of my father's family, 
I was almost constantly with them ; and when I was suffi- 
ciently advanced to be sent to an academy I became sensible 
of the great advantage I had derived from the influence of 
these excellent persons. Indeed, I think I have felt it strong- 
ly in every period of my life. 

The village, as I remember it after the lapse of fifty yeai*s, 
consisted of some thirty dwelling-houses, standing, in about 
equal number, on opposite sides of the long, straight street. 
A few were white, but they were for the most part painted 
in Spanish brown or a dirty red. There were a tavern and 
a blacksmith's shop near the centre of the village. The 
school-house was also midway between the two extremities, 
and directly back of it was the bnrying-ground. I think the 
school-liouso lot was originally a ])art of it. It was an odd 
fancy to put them in this close contact — to bring together 

* My father, in a private letter referring to tlic curly family history, 
says : " I remember an oration delivered by Daniel Webster on the 4tli 
of July, 180G, at Concord, 'before the Federal gentlemen of Concord and 
its vicinity,' as set fortli on the title-page of the pamphlet copy. He was 
then in the practice of the law, and an inmate of my father's family. 
They were zealous political opponents, but personal friends, although the 
lines were at that period very sharply drawn between the Federal and 
Republican parties. My father took great interest in the village school, 
and in many instances procured the teachers. I have a distinct recollec- 
tion of General Fesscnden, the father of the late Senator Fessendcn of 
Maine, as one of them, and also of Grace Fletcher, one of the loveliest of 
women, with wliom Mr. Webster became acquainted at my father's house 
while she was teaching, and whom he afterward married." 


those who were preparing for the battle of life and those who 
had fought and fallen in it. I «lo not renicniher, while 1 was 
at school, to have received any gloomy impression from this 
near neighborhood of the dead. On the contrary, it was no 
uncommon thing for me and my jjlayfellows to chunber over 
the fence, and carry on our games among the graves. But 
after I had left school tombstones were erected to mark the 
resting-places of my mother, a little sister, and my only broth- 
er ; and 1 never afterward approached the spot without a deep 
feeling of depression. 

One of my earliest recollections is the total eclipse of the 
sun in 180(). It was about the middle of June, and vegeta- 
tion was in full luxuriance. Four or live beautiful trees stood 
in front of my father's house. lie had planted them fifteen 
years before. One was an elm, and a robin had built her nest 
among its branches. I had been told that the earth would be 
covered with darkness, and that the beasts and birds would be 
deceived by the counterfeit night. I watched the robin with 
the deepest interest. As the darkness deepened the fowls 
hurried to their roosts, and the robin, to my great delight, 
flew to her nest. It was appalling to see the beams of the 
sun wholly intercepted at mid-day, and the face of the earth 
buried in gloom. As the moon passed over the sun's disk it 
seemed as though a funereal pall was drawn over it. As soon 
as my boyish curiosity in regard to the fowls was satisfied 
a feeling of terror came over me. I ran into the house. I 
could not bear the outer darkness. The family had gone out 
to witness a phenomenon never to occur again within the 
compass of any of our lives, and had left my youngest sister, 
then about two years old, in her cradle. I took her up and 
held her in my arms, to relieve the feeling of awe caused by 
the sudden disappearance of the sunlight ; for, although the 
gloom had come on gradually, it seemed to me at the last that 
the total darkness was instantaneous, like that which follows 
the extinction of a lamp. But the light soon began to re- 
turn, and I recovered from my panic in time to go out and 

>!» > 


'I > 


If I 



Bee the simple birds and fowls leaving their nests and roosts, 
with the idea, no doubt, that they were waking up to a new day. 
The next winter* death — thenceforth to be but too fre- 
quent a visitor — first appeared in our family. My grandfa- 
ther lived near us. Two gardens, his own and my father's, 
separated the two families ; a broad gravelled walk ran through 
the grounds, and our communications with each other were 
carried on without going into the street. My great-grandfa- 
ther, who lived with my grandfather, was near a hundred years 
old ; but until within a short period before his deatli he was 
in full possession of his bodily and mental powers. His great- 
est weakness was the garrulousness of age. On Thanksgiving- 
day the two families were always united, and four generations 
sat down together at my father's table. A few weeks after 
one of these reunions (the last we were to know) my grandfa- 
ther came to our liouse at daybreak and told us the old man 
was dead. His spirii had passed away in the stillness of the 
night, and so quietly that my grandfather and grandmother, 
who occupied the adjoining room, with a door open into his, 
were unaware of it until tlicy rose. The shock which the 
intelligence gave to us children was indescribable. The pres- 
ence of our aged ancestor, who moved about among us in 
patriarchal solemnity, and to whom we clung like vines to a 
tree of stately growth, seemed a part of our own existence ; 
and I could hardly understand at first how his life could be 
taken away without violence to our own. I incline to think 
this is a common feeling with children when Death for the 

* I leave this as it stands, although there is undoubtedly a mistake. 
The date of the total eelijise is correctly given by my father as 180C ; but 
the death of his great-grandfather occurred eighteen months before, and 
not after, the eclipse. Tlic error is a slight one ; it jirobably arose from 
the double impression made on the boy's mind by the shadow over the 
earth and the deeper shadow in the house — he associated the two horrors 
of great darkness with each other, as though they merged into one. And 
it may also be noted that a death occurred just as he states — that of his 
brother, in October, 1806. 



first time separates them from one of tlieir own family. It 
is for this reason that they feel a terror never equalled at any 
re-appearance of the same unwelcome visitor. As we ad- 
vance in age we become more familiar with his presence ; 
and, after threescore years, I think few persons, excepting 
those who are conscience - stricken by the remembrance of 
great crimes, view his near apj)roach -with insupportable 
dread. My feelings of horror were at their height when the 
funeral procession moved away from my grandfather's house. 
There were no hearses with us in those primeval days. The 
coffin, covered with its sable pall, was laid upon a bier, and was 
borne by four men to the grave. The earth was white with 
snow, and as the bearers passed on with their burden they 
formed together the blackest of all contrasts. I turned away 
from the w'indow and buried my face in my mother's bosom 
— the tender mother who was in a few years to be followed 
to the same resting-place by the same ghastly procession of 
sorrowing friends. 

But her hour was not to come until she had herself been 
overwhelmed with a new and a deeper grief. My only broth- 
er* was two years older than myself. lie was bold, active, 
and intelligent. He was a leader in every enterprise among 
those of his own age. Though but eleven years old, he had 
all the self-j)OSsession and fearlessness of a man. He was pas- 
sionately fond of horses, and, as my father kept several, he 
was constantly on horseback. One day a new one was brought 
home in my father's absence ; he was young, and only partially 
broken. My brother was innnediately on his back, galloping 
up and down the street. The animal ran away, and threw 
him. He was taken up and brought home in a state of insen- 
sibility, but without any ostensible injury. The next day he 
seemed well again ; but in a short time he began to droop, and 
in a few weeks was laid by the side of my great-grandfather. 

This calamity made the deepest impression upon me. I 


* Timotliy Fuller Shattuck Dix, born Feb. 11, 1796 ; died Oct. 10, 1800. 




had idolized my brother, and was his companion in all his 
enterprises and excnrsions, wandering with him among the 
fields, fishing with him in summer, and in winter following 
him on my sled down the sides of the steepest hills. It was 
many months before I could be induced to go out as usual 
and join my playfellows in their sports. I kept almost con- 
stantly in the house with my mother. My father had, for 
that period, a good English library. I had scarcely ever look- 
ed into a book, except such as contained my lessons at school. 
In the first days of my grief, while strolling listlessly about, I 
entered the library. A book lay upon the table ; I took it up, 
and found it to be a volume of Goldsmith ; I opened it at the 
"Good-natured Man." My interest was excited; I finished 
the play without laying down the book. The moment dinner 
was over I hurried to the library, and did not leave it until it 
was too dark to read. For months I literally lived upon the 
English poets and essayists. I was then but nine years of 
age, but .iiy thirst for reading was insatiable. For a full year 
I scarcely took time for exercise. My father and mother in- 
dulged me in my passion ; and I have since thought that the 
latter, with a secret consciousness that our earthly communion 
was soon to end, encouraged me, for the purpose of having me 
always in her sight. I cannot remember at this remote j)eriod 
all the authors I read. Those which made the strongest im- 
pression on me at first \7cvq Goldsmith and Addison; but 
they were soon laid aside for Shakspeare. I did not confine 
myself to the poets and essayists. There was no system in 
my reading. I literally devoured whatever I chanced to take 
up — poetry, histoiy, and now and then a book of a lighter 
character, though my father's library contained few other than 
standard works. He was too much immersed in business at 
home and abroad to pay much attention to mc, and my mother 
left me to the guidance of my own impulses, satisfied with 
the assurance that in a well-chosen library I could not go far 
astray, and probably thinking that my interest would be more 
likely to be kept up, if uncontrolled. 

I ; 



She never recovered from the shock of my brother's death. 
Iler health had been delicate for many years : it now began 
rapidly to decline. If I had been older I could not have fail- 
ed to notice the change, slow and insidious as it was ; but I 
was constantly with her, and for this reason was the less likely 
to mark the almost imperceptible stages of its progress. I 
look back to this year as the happiest of my life — precursor 
as it was to the year of sorrow which was to succeed it. As 
I recur to it a thousand little incidents crowd on my memory, 
unthought of then, but rising up now to rebuke my blindness. 
I remember how often, as I was kneeling at her feet or resting 
my head on her shoulder, I was struck by the jiallor of her face 
and by the thinness of her white fingers as she passed them 
through my flowing hair or pressed them against my cheek. 
I fancy her now averting her coimtenance, after gazing long 
and affectionately on me, to conceal from me the tears with 
which her eyes were overflowing — eyes always brilliant, but 
now, though dimmed with tears, shining with an unnatural 
light. I thought it was my lost brother on whom her 
thoughts were intent. I am sure, now, tliat she was sorrow- 
ing for the child from whom she was about to part, and not 
for the one she was so soon to meet. It was not until she 
had reached the last stage of weakness that the conscious- 
ness of a coming horror awoke witliin me. During the last 
months of her illness its progress was marked by more fre- 
quent and perceptible changes. At first she often walked out 
with me, holding my hand in hers, listening to my comments 
on what I had read — for books were at that time almost the 
chief subject of my thoughts — or talking to me in tones of 
angelic sweetness, that still seem to fall like notes of distant 
music on my ear. The beautiful nature around us — the calm, 
blue skies, the green fields, the luxuriance of trees and flowers 
— was all in harmony with her own. I have never since met 
with such gentleness or sweetness of temper. In all the 
neighborhood there was not a single person, young or old, 
whose heart she had not won. These walks filled up the last 



happy summer of my boyhood. As the autumn advanced 
she grew weaker, and they fatigued her. For a month more 
she drove out. Then she remained always in the house, for a 
while moving wearisomely about, and at last never leaving her 
bed. I think it was not until then, when one day she pressed 
me to her bosom, and I felt how thin the arms which encircled 
me had grown, and heard her whispered benediction, as if she 
were about to set out on a distant journey, that the coming 
calamity broke upon me, as the morning breaks on the uncon- 
scious darkness of the night. It was a moment of agony and 
horror I cannot, even after the lapse of fifty years, bear to 
look back upon. I burst into a flood of tears and filled her 
chamber with my sobs. There needed no farther interchange 
of intelligence between us. No word had been spoken ; but 
she knew that the dark truth was unveiled to me, and during 
the few days that remained to us — days passed constantly to- 
gether — her calm resignation, her hoj)efulness of the future 
life, and the endearments showered uj)on me, almost recon- 
ciled me to her translation to the bright heaven the portals 
of wliicli were opening for her. It was only the dark cloud 
about to fall upon mo that overwhelmed me with grief. 

But let me dwell no longer on these bitter experiences. In 
her last hour she gave birth to a daughter, and endowed it 
with the feeble remnant of her own life. 

Another funeral train — the saddest of all — went out from 
my father's house, and she was laid by my brother's side.* 
A few weeks later her infant followed lier.f Her grave was 
re-opened, and the lifeless child was laid on her bosom, there 
to rest until the Great Day. 

My father, who had long foreseen the coming calamity, 
took refuge in his extended and engrossing business, pursu- 
ing it with redoubled energy. My sisters had returned from 
boarding-school in a distant town a few days before my moth- 

* She died December 3, 1808. 

t Martha Sherman Dix, born October 16, 1808; died January 11, 1809. 

»! 'f I 



er's death. My father resolved that they should remain at 
home, and he brought with him from Boston a governess to 
take charge of them. In addition to the ordinary routine of 
English instruction, she taught them music and drawing — 
accomplishments at that time unknown in the sequestered 
region where we lived. My father was a tasteful musician, 
and drew with the pencil of an artist. lie had transmitted 
his tastes to his children, and I was soon a proficient, under 
the new governess, in both arts. But my new occupation did 
not interfere with my reading. I was still as indefatigable as 
ever, until I grew feeble. M^' sleep was disturbed, and I of- 
ten rose in the night under strong nervous excitement and 
left my room, wandering about the house. My father found 
me twice under these circumstances, and became alarmed for 
my health. He determined to detach me for a time from 
my studies. He had a passion for shooting, and with either 
the rifle or shot-gun was an unerring marksman. When he 
first settled in the country the woods were full of bears, 
wolves, and pantliers, and he had waged perpetual warfare 
with them. They had gone farther back with the advance of 
settlement, and were at tliat time rarely seen. On his return 
from his next visit to Boston he gave me a silver-mounted 
fowling-piece, and instructed me in the use of it.* It struck 

* Here is a letter about tliib fowling-piece, addressed to " Master John 

Adams Dix, Student, Exeter." The precautions to be observed in its use 

must have rendered it, for the time, a harmless -weapon, and quite safe in 

a boarding-school : 

" Boscawcn, Sept. 19, 1809. 

"Adams, — You will receive herewith your military clothes and my sil- 
ver-mounted fowling-piece ; 'tis very unsuitable for a training gun, and 
I very much fear 'twill get injured; 'tis so very slender a little hard 
usage would spoil it. I do not wish you to use any powder, have there- 
fore put a piece of wood in place of a flint, and desire you may not take 
it out, or suffer it to be taken out, till you see me ; you will probably con- 
ceive it to be rather hard to be debar'd the use of powder, but must al- 
low me to be the best judge, and will, I presume, be perfectly satisfied 
on my saying that I have sufficient reasons for it. I shall set out to-mor- 
row for Dixville ; expect to be gone three weeks. Shortly after I return I 




a secret vein within me, and from that moment I became an 
indefatigable sportsman. Tlie passion now at seventy years 
of age is as strong as ever, and 1 have indulged it through life, 
whenever I have been able to escape from the urgency of my 
private business or public employments. After practising for 
a few days at a mark, I singled out a bird near the house and 
brought him to the ground. I could not have made a more 
unfortunate essay of my skill. It was a lark, which sang upon 
the trees in front of the door, and greeted my father as he 
awoke from his slumbers with its matin song. When he told 
me this, and expressed his sorrow for what I had done, I felt 
as though the mark of Cain was blazoned upon my forehead. 
I looked upon the instrument of death with inexpressible 
loathing, and hid it away for several days. My father, think- 
ing I had suffered enough for my thoughtlessness, took me 
into the woods with him. The wild-pigeons were flying, and 
we tilled our pouches with game. As we were clambering 
over the hills a tremendous rustling was heard in a thicket 
before us ; it was the sudden flight of a covey of partridges. 
I had never heard the sound before, and expected every in- 
stant to see a panther emerge from the woods. 1 confess to a 
moment of fear, and I think I unconscic asly fell behind my 
father. lie was a man of action, and not of words. Without 
speaking, he turned back on me a look, as I interj)reted it, of 
reproach and scorn. It seemed to say, " Have I a coward in 
my family ?" I felt it keenly. The blood, which my momen- 
tary alarm had thrown back upon my heart, rushed to my ex- 
tremities, and no doubt crimsoned my cheeks. My self-pos- 
session was regained as rapidly as it had been lost. I cocked 
my piece instinctively and planted myself directly before 
him. I shall never forget the smile of approbation he gave 

expect to go to Portsmouth — shall go or come thro' Exeter. Wo arc 
all well. Your mamma ami sisters all desire much love to you. Mine 
and your mamma's compliments to Mrs. Giddings and daughters. 

" In baste. Yr. Father, 

"T. Dix.jR." 



nie ; it said to me more distinctly than any words could have 
done : " I am satisfied — you will not be found wanting in try- 


ing emergencies. ' I have often thought, if some wild beast 
had come out upon us, as I expected, how poor a match I 
should have been for it, with my slender fowling-piece and 
the small shot with which it was charged. Eelieved by my 
father's explanations from all apprehension of any such un- 
equal adversaries, I now lived, in fair weather, in the woods, 
j)ursuing my studies at home only on rainy days. In a few 
months my cheeks had become ruddy again and my constitu- 
tion invigorated with fresh strength. 

The period was approaching when I was to be sent away 
from home for my classical education ; but, before I enter 
upon it, let mc cast back some glances at my native village. 
I have spoken of the meeting-house at one of its extremities. 
The society was Congregational in its form. It acknowledged 
no earthly head. I had a distinct idea of this peculiarity in its 
doctrine from the conversations which I heard at my father's 
house. My mother was a sincere, devout, and tnistful Chris- 
tian. My father was a believer, but not a member of the 
Church. I sometimes thought his views did not accord with 
those of the preacher ; but he said nothing to warrant such 
an inference. No man was more regular than himself in his 
attendance on divine worship on Sundays, and they were the 
only days in the year on which any religious exercises were 
observed, except the first Monday of every month, on which 
evening a prayer-meeting was held. I derived no agreeable 
impression whatever from these religious observances. The 
meeting-house was, like most others at that day, painted white, 
covered with shingles, full of windows, with plain, plastered 
walls inside ; it was cold and dreary in its aspect within and 
without. It had no window-blinds ; and as the sun moved 
round the building in summer the congregation moved about 
in their pews, to escape from his burning rays. The winters 
were awful : the thermometer often fell twenty or thirty de- 
grees below zero. There was no fireplace or furnace, not even 



a stove. To this arctic temperature we were exposed two 
hours in tlie morning and two in the afternoon.* The ser- 
mon was ahnost always an hour long; and the prayers and 
psalms, and reading of the Scriptures, occupied about the 
same time. In my whole life I have never suffered so much 
from cold. My mother always took a foot-stove with her, 
and it was more frequently under my feet than hers. In the 
sleigh on our way to meeting we were always comfortable, for 
we were enveloped in buffalo-skins. But we could not take 
them with us into the meeting-house. When the wind was 
high the cold was nearly insupportable. The window-sashes 
vibrated and rattled in their loose frames, and the cold air 
poured upon us through numberless inlets. My feelings were 
anything but devotional ; and I pray God to forgive me the 
many secret irreverences of which I was guilty. The preach- 
er was a learned and a conscientious man ;f but I hated his 
long discourses (drawn out, as it seemed to me, with a malicious 
perverseness) when I was perishing with cold. The strangest 
speculations took possession of my mind. I had read in some 
book in my father's library that certain holy men had volun- 
tarily submitted to the severest inflictions. One, whose name 
does not occur to me, lived on the top of a column for a num- 
ber of years, exposed to all the vicissitudes of the seasons. 
Supposing him to have lived in a good climate, I wondered 
whether ho suffered as much as our preacher, holding forth by 
the hour in an atmosphere fifty degrees below freezing-point. 
I wondered whether the latter, like the holy father, was acting 
on a principle of self-infliction, or whether he was punishing 
his congregation for their stubbornness in sin. If his motive 
was merely personal, then I wondered why he could not dis- 
miss the congregation and perform the jjenance by himself. 

* It appears that in 1827 a stove was purchased, the following item ap- 
pearing on the society records: "Voted to purchase at auction one cord 
hard pine- wood, two feet long, split for stove, to be cut in the spring; 
which was struck off to Lieut. Nathan H. Holt, at $1 50." 

t The Rev. Samuel Wood, 




instead of making us tlie companions and the victims of his 
martyrdom. I could not help secretly wishing, on these 
wretched occasions, that he might freeze his feet, that his 
arm might become so benumbed with cold that he could not 
gesticulate, or that his tongue might cleave to the roof of his 
mouth. It was not because I had any malice against him in 
my heart, but because he was, by protracting his sermons so 
unreasonably, inflicting on me sufferings too great to be borne. 
I knew him better in after-years, and became sincerely attach- 
ed to him ; and if ho had not been ignorant of all that passed 
through my mind during those winter services, I Would have 
confessed my uncharitableness and implored his forgiveness. 
But there never could have been any reconciliation between 
me and the meeting-house. I always detested it; I never 
looked upon it as the house of God. Town - meetings and 
elections were held in it. I had seen it defiled with tobacco- 
juice ; I had seen it desecrated by fisticufiing in the heat of 
political conflicts ; I had heard its bare walls ring with tumult- 
uous laughter, when some man, who had been prosperous in 
money-making and assumed airs, was elected hog-constable by 
acclamation. These scenes were too often uppermost in my 
thoughts when the sermon was in progress, and a devotional 
frame of mind was impossible. 

I am sure these impediments in my path were not the fruit 
of any constitutional impiety. On the contrary, I have from 
my youth been a believer, and became many years ago a mem- 
ber of the Church. My mother's affectionate teachings had 
implanted within me grains of devotion w^liich time could not 
fail to bring forth and ripen. But her God never seemed to 
me the same Deity who was worshipped at the meeting-house. 
Hers was all goodness and mercy and pardoning love ; while 
the other seemed to me a severe master, burning with anger 
at the impenitence of the human race. In my simplicity I 
asked my father, after my mother's death, why I felt so. He 
bade me trust to my mother, and consider our Divine Master 
as she had described him. I often think how much more 
I.— 2 




\ ■ 




:'': \ 

wholesomo her teachings were than those to which she had 
been accustomed to listen. I remember asking my father 
why our meeting-liouse was so uncomfortable. I reminded 
him that our house had warm rooms, cushioned chairs, and 
nicely papered walls ; and asked him if we ought not to make 
God's house as good as our own. I never could get any sat- 
isfactory answers to such inquiries as this last. Indeed, he 
evaded them, or told mo I would understand these things 
better when I grew older. 

Such were my early impressions in regard to religious wor- 
ship ; and, but for the remembrance of my mother, I fear a 
much longer time would have elapsed before they were sup- 
planted by better ones. 

The people of our village, though unsophisticated, were not 
wanting in intelligence or in the rudiments of education. 
They were entirely ignorant of the world, and heard little of 
it except from my father, who made frequent visits to Bos- 
ton, and who, on his return, always imparted to his wondering 
neighbors the knowledge he had there gained. Newspapers 
were rare in those days, and the villagers who had not been 
bom in the place came from equally sequestered districts. 
Yet, with the exception of a few laboring men who led unset- 
tled lives, I doubt whether there was a single person in the 
village, male or female, who could not read and write. Their 
reading was, certainly, confined to a very limited range of 
books — the Bible, "Pilgrim's Progress," Baxter's "Saint's 
Kest," Fox's " Lives of the Martyrs," and some elementary 
works on geography and history. There were a few families, 
however, whose field of literary research was wider and more 
varied ; and I remember that there were books in my father's 
library which went the rounds of the more intelligent house- 
holds. The simplicity of our neighbors was well illustrated 
by an incident which occurred in my presence. My father 
had brought home a Boston paper, and was reading to a num- 
ber of them a paragraph which, he said, he believed to be un- 
true. " Why," said one of his auditors, " do you believe they 

1798-1821.] 0177? VILLAGE MILITIA COMPANY. 



would print a lie ?" He, no doubt, believed lies might bo told 
— such acts of turpitude might even have been committed 
within the sphere of his own experience — but the enormity 
of deliberately putting a lie in typo was one which his untu- 
tored fancy had never conceived. 

The grandest and most exciting event in our village life, 
and one of the very earliest of which I have a distinct recol- 
lection, was the organization of a company of militia. My 
father was chiefly instrumental in getting it up, but declined 
(with a disinterestedness, as ) thought, which should have given 
him an immortal fame) all share in its honors. He would 
neither be captain nor corporal, though, I believe, he was 
pressed to accept both those distinguished positions. If I 
could have seen him marching either in front or in rear of 
this formidable body — the first I had ever seen in military 
array — my happiness would have been comj^lete. 

The day appointed for the first drill was one of the sultriest 
I ever knew. It was about the middle of July, and the heat 
of the sun was inconceivable. In my impatience to see the 
parade commence I may have done the company injustice; 
but I suspected them of a disposition to postj)one the exer- 
cises to a cooler hour of the day ; whereas I expected to see 
them, like the heroes of the " Iliad," setting the elements at 
defiance. There was nothing said to warrant my suspicion. I 
only inferred it from the discussions which were kept up for 
several hours as to certain details of the organization — partic- 
ularly as to questions of precedence ; that is, who should inarch 
next to the captain, and who should bring up the rear. I 
found that the social position of the parties was an important 
element in settling the controversy ; whereas, in the regular 
service, the whole thing is disposed of by stature, the tallest 
men being assigned to the flanks, with a uniform descent 
from each to the common centre. But of these ingenious de- 
vices I had no knowledge at that early period of my life. 

While engaged in the settlement of the preliminaries refer- 
red to a furious storm arose. My youthful imagination may 












I I 

il \ 




have exaggerated it, but I think I have never since witnessed 
such thunder and lightning. In a few minutes tlio rain pour- 
ed down in torrents, and continued for two houre without 
diminution. Tlic wliole surface of tlic eartli was flooded, and 
the street was a pool of water. Tlio moment the rain ceased 
the lino was formed. My heart beat tumultuously as it filed 
off from the front of my father's store. I was not conscious 
of any organic defects at the time, though I could not fail to 
notice the great want of uniformity in dress and equipment. 
Most of the privates were in their shirt-sleeves, the officers 
only, with a becoming tenaciousncss of their dignity, keeping 
on their coats. There were not many muskets, and, I believe, 
not a single bayonet in the whole line. The guns were chiefly 
fowling-pieces, and there were a number of very inferior sub- 
stitutes. I suspected one of the privates of carrying on his 
shoulder the butt-end of one of my fish-poles, broken off for 
the purjiose, and 1 know that a pitchfork was abstracted for 
the emergency from my father's stable. But I had read 
enough of war to understand its exigencies, and I considered 
them as fully justifying acts which, if counnitted under a 
less imperious necessity, would have been wholly indefensible. 
When 1 saw the men moving off under their gallant com- 
mander into the centre of the street, with the water ankle- 
deep, and marching through it with heroic indifference, I felt 
the deep injustice I had done them, before the storm, in sus- 
pecting them of shrinking from the sun. It occurred to me, 
it is true, that after the fiery heat of the day, which was not 
yet entirely allayed, the water was anything but unpleasant. 
But I indignantly dismissed this suggestion, as the offspring 
of an unworthy suspicion, and was sure that they would have 
marched through a pool of molten lead with the same alacrity, 
if the good of their country had demanded such an act of 

To one familiar with military exhibitions the fact that 
there was no drum or fife would have detracted materially 
from the effect of this. It was a want which, in my igno- 

11 <l 



ranco, I neither felt nor noticed. Tlic military body before 
ino had, as 1 thought, its appropriate musician.* He was a 
man who played the clarionet — inferior, certainly, to the trum- 
pet, as a military instrument, but reproducing with a softened 
expression some of its lower and milder tones. The perform- 
er was remarkable for an enormous nose of the aquiline form, 
and as he marched down the street at the head of the column 
(if a single file could be so called), playing an animating air, 
his aspect struck mo as even more martial than that of the 

The effect this military display made upon mo was almost 
magical. I fancied myself in the presence of heroes. I almost 
felt transformed into a hero myself. I was sure these uncon- 
querable men, notwithstanding their defective armament, were 
equal to the direst emergency. As the thunder rolled in the 
distance I likened it to volleys of artillery discharged by an 
enemy, which these gallant spirits were marching out to defy 
and to conquer. They seemed to me to be thirsting for mili- 
tary glory, and longing only for a foe on whom they might 
wreak their vengeance. I caught the contagion, and made 
to myself a sacred vow that, if ever I grew into manhood, 
I would become a soldier or perish in the attempt. 

My first lessons in the dead languages were given by the 
clergyman under whose hibernal discourses I had suffered so 
much. He lived three miles from the village, and had usually 


♦ " I cannot remember how often the stages ran from Boscawen, north 
and south ; but I have a vivid recollection of Joseph Wheat as the driver 
to Concord, and at one time to Amherst, I believe — a very remarkable man 
in his way. He hnd an enormous nose, which gave rise to numerous 
jokes, of many of which ho was himself the author, for he was, like poor 
Yorick, ' a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.' I remember 
him also marching through the village at the head of a company of 
militia, just organized, and playing on the clarionet, he being the only 
musician on the occasion, which was a company drill, preparatory to the 
general muster, or ' general training,' as the regimental x^aradc was usu- 
ally called.'" — From a private letter. 

I V 7 



H- ( 

half a dozen young gentlemen living in his family, and pre- 
paring themselves, under his direction, for college, lie was 
an excellent Latin and Greek scholar, and one of the best of 
men. He had a farm of some twenty or thirty acres, and cul- 
tivated it with his own hands, with the assistance of a single 
hired man. His life was as simple as it was exemplary. He 
rose at daybreak in summer, and in winter long before light, 
and was busy in his study till breakfast preparing his sermons 
for the succeeding Sabbath. The rest of the day was divided 
about equally between his pupils and his farm. In his agri- 
cultural labors he made no distinction between liis hired man 
and himself. He did his full share of ploughing, planting, 
and harvesting. The only occupation in which he took no 
part was the care of the horses. I do not think his sermons 
were ever fully written out. He had very copious notes, and 
in his anxiety to illustrate his points with clearness he be- 
came tedious in spite of his learning and his unalTected piety. 
Yet there was an earnestness and a solemnity in his exhorta- 
tions which were very impressive. To his pupils lie was all 
that a parent and a teacher could be — kind, patient, and inde- 
fatigable. This was my first absence from home. It lasted 
some six months, and in that time I had not only mastered 
my Latin and Greek grammars, but had made such proficiency 
in both tongues as to be able to translate easy exercises with 
facility. My fellow pupils were among tlie first young men 
in the State. One became, years afterward, Speaker of the 
House of Representatives, and another a minister at a foreign 
court.* The half year I was with them passed away almost 

* Tlicre is, perhaps, an error here ; for in a private letter subsequently 
written, and to which I occasionally refer in these notes, my father 
writes: "I was for a portion of a year (1809, 1 think) an inmate of lis 
(Rev. Dr. Wood's) fixmily, with Charles Haddock, who was Chargd d' Af- 
faires at Lisbon during General Taylor's administration ; Charles "" /ood- 
man, at one time Speaker of the lower branch of the New Hampshire 
Legislature; and one of the Dr. Kitlredges so familiar to the memory of 
the men of that period as memberj of the medical faculty of the State." 



Imperceptibly. I had no feeling of home-sickness after the 
first few days. I became sincerely attached to our teacher. 
His unceasing kindness was irresistible. And yet he was the 
unconscious author of a new grief to me. It was the long 
prayer over the breakfast-table. It answered the double pur- 
pose of a morning-prayer and grace before meat. It com- 
menced as soon as the breakfast was on the table, and lasted 
from ten to fifteen minutes. There was no actual sufEering 
in the " hope deferred " of which these protracted supplica- 
tions were the source except when our appetites were unusu- 
ally keen ; but I really believe the annoyance was ycry little 
inferior to that which the long winter sermons had caused 
me. My heart sunk as I saw the smoking viands grow cold, 
and the vapor issuing from the spouts of the teapot and cof- 
fee-urn gradually fading away and giving evidence of the 
cooling process within. I fear my thankfulness to Provi- 
dence for the good things before me was marred by a vin- 
dictive feeling toward the venerable pastor, who was making 
them comparatively worthless by his untimely prolixity. I 
am sure the cook — who v as always called in to unite in the 
family devotions — often betrayed anmistakable signs of re- 
sentment, as she saw the gravies and melted butter, on 
which she had expended herself, relapsing into their pri- 
meval solidity. I relate these things as they actually oc- 
curred. They are obsolete customs now; and they seem 
strange to me as I recall them to recollection. The age has 
grown shrewder and, let us hope, not less grateful to Provi- 
dence for its mercies, even if we do not think it necessary 
to couple the expression of our thankfulness with personal 

I think my father's object in sending me so short a distance 
from home was to make the wider separation he had in view 
less trying. While I was with the village clergyman I always 
saw him and my sisters on Sundays, and passed with them 
the intermission between the two sermons. At the end of 
six months I was sent to an academy several miles farther off, 




I f 






and was only to come home three times a year.* The village, 
of which it was the principal ornament and pride, was larger 
than the one in which my father resided, but less attractive to 
me. Indeed, it must have been so to any lover of fine natu- 
ral objects, for it lacked the ri v^er and the mountains, which, 
when I was at home, were always in my sight. There was 
but one place of public worship. The society was Congrega- 
tional, and the clergyman, with whom I boarded, was known 
throughout the State as a man of learning and genius. His 
wife was one of the kindest of women, and I soon became her 
special favorite. She often talked to me of my mother, whom 
she had known, and I have no doubt this circumstance had 
much to do with her great kindness to me, though the good- 
ness of her heart would naturally have led her to distinguish 
me from the other children committed to her care, wh j had 
known no such sorrow as mine. While I was conscious of 
her partiality to me, shown as it was in a thousand ways, I do 
not think it was noticed by the others, so faithfully was her 
duty discharged to all. She had no children of her own, and 
if she had been thus favored I am sure she could not have 
watched over them with more affection or care. Not long 
after my arrival tliere was a terrific thunder-storm ; it was not 
much inferior to that with which the first military parade in 
my native village was accompanied. A tree near the house 
was struck by the lightning, filling all our liearts with terror. 
Undaunted herself, she gathered us together and took us into 
a dark passage in the centre of the house, as far as possible 
from the chimney-stacks, where she supposed there would be 
the least danger, and, making us kneel down behind her, she 
prayed with all the ferv(>r and tenderness of a mother for the 
preservation of her "dear children," as she called us, from 

* This school was at Salisbury. Stephen 11, Long, afterward a dis- 
tinguished officer of United States Engineers, was preceptor. My father 
was lodged with the Rev. Dr. Worcester, who, like Dr. Wood, was held 
in high esteem in the ministry. 




the fury of the storm. She made no allusion to herself, and 
I do not think her own danger ever occurred to her, so ab- 
sorbing was her anxiety for us. The kindness of this excel- 
lent woman is ever fresh in my remembrance. I have never 
since found any one whor.e affection so nearly resembled, in 
its outward manifestations, that which I had known in my 

The principal of the academy — the Preceptor, as he was 
called — was a young man of more than ordinary capacity and 
attainments. He had graduated at college as a finished 
classical scholar and an excellent mathematician ; and he was 
known afterward as one of the first Engineei's in the Un'^^'^d 
States. He ruled us with firmness ; but he was always con- 
siderate and just, and I do not think there was a single pupil 
who did not love and respect him. The year I passed under 
his direction was one of the happiest I have known since my 
mother's death. There was a girls' as well as a boys' depart- 
ment, and several of the misses were fellow-boarders with us. 
They were all of excellent families, and one only of them 
turned out badly in her womanhood. She had more personal 
attractions than any of her associates, and a serenity of tem- 
per which no provocation could disturb. She was, indeed, the 
belle of the village as well as the school. "We boarded to- 
gether, and I became her devoted admirer, though she was 
two years older than myself. But for this disparity of age 
and my extreme youth, I am sure our watchful female guar- 
dian would not have allowed us to be so much together. AVe 
were inseparable companions, and she was as warmly attached 
to me as I was to her. There was no need of keeping us 
apart. I was but ten years of age, and she only twelve. It 
is true, as time advanced and I was a year older, it occurred 
to me that when I became a man the difference between us 
would disappear, and then there would be no obstacle to a 
nearer association — an association which conveyed to my mind 
no other idea but that of perpetual companionship. But no 
such intimation passed between us. I have often wondered 



V f 

since v:liethcr this thought (for it was nothing more), if it had 
been expressed, would have had any influence in saving her 
from the infamy of her after-life. It is a wretched history of 
ruin to her and misery to her respectable family — a history I 
do not intend to narrate. "When we parted 1 sincerely be- 
lieve she was as pure in heart as she was in conduct. We 
met once afterward in Boston. Ten years had gone by, and 
I was a man. I went to see her, knowing her guilt and her 
imj)enitence. She was then in the full bloom of womanhood, 
and surpassingly beautiful. The interview was a very dis- 
tressing one. It was unexpected to her, and the sight of me, 
her friend and admirer in the days of her innocence, filled her 
heart for the first time with shame and remorse. Two days 
afterward her earthly career, begun in prosperity and virtue, 
and ending in dishonor and guilt, was suddenly closed. It 
was many weeks before I recovered from the shock I received 
from this meeting and its sad sequel. I have anticipated the 
close of this unhappy episode in my life in order to dismiss 
it forever hereafter from my thoughts. If she had lived in 
the days of Charles II. site might hav^e been a Duchess of 
Cleveland, or, in the reign of the late King of Bavaria, a 
Countess of Landsfeldt. May God forgive her many trans- 
gressions, and, above all, the last act, by which she terminated 
her miserable life ! 

I was not long in taking a high rank among the pupils of my 
own age. I had a remarkable facility for acquiring languages ; 
and as the classics were at that day the chief branch of academ- 
ic instruction, my proficiency was very marked. I also made 
good progress as a speaker. A few years later an eminent 
tragedian, who had given me a series of lessons in elocution, 
said to my father, then in command of a regiment in the army 
of the United States, " Colonel, your son has great constitu- 
tional facilities for becoming an orator." I believe this was 
the judgment — though it would have been expressed in less 
sounding phrase — of the preceptor, the pupils, and the people 
of the surrounding country, for it was not long before I ap- 

*> I 




peared before them as a public speaker. The occasion to 
which I refer was the semi-annual examination, or rather the 
exhibition, as it was appropriately termed. To be more ac- 
curate, the examination of the students, which took place at 
the academy, was followed by an exhibition at the meeting- 
house of the oratorical and dramatic powers of the pupils. It 
was got up with the most studied preparation and all the 
scenic effect of a country theatre. The pews, occupying about 
one-third of the area of the building, were boarded over and 
converted into a stage, reserving a small space in the rear for 
robing. It was an era in the lives of those of us who had 
never witnessed a dramatic performance. I had read all of 
Goldsmith's and most of Shakspeare's plays, but had not the 
faintest conception of the mode in which they were repre- 
sented. One of the older pupils, who had a knack at paint- 
ing, got up some sketches of trees and foliage for the sides 
and background of the stage. We had no shifting scenes; 
and as we came to the performances, which were quite varied, 
it occurred to me that the actors, when they should, accord- 
ing to the book, have been conversing in drawing-rooms or 
streets, were always holding communion with each other in 
umbrageous solitudes. The drop-curtain was unexception- 
able. It was muslin of a fiery red ; and to my sight the ef- 
fect, as it rose or fell, concealing or displaying the green trees 
behind it, was gorgeous beyond anything I had conceived. I 
think it made the same impression on the spectators, vho 
were, at least nine out of ten, inhabitants of the neighboring 
country, and as ignorant as myself of dramatic representa- 
tions. Oui-s commenced in the morning about ten o'clock, 
and lasted till one. After that we had an intermission of an 
hour for dinner. At two they recommenced, and continued 
till eight in the evening. It was midsummer, and in that 
northern latitude the twilight ran far into the night. We 
played "Tlio Taming of the Shrew" with unbounded ap- 
plause. The genteel portions of the comedy were, as I 
thought, glorious ; but the drunken tinker filled the measure 

II r 



i J 








of my conception in regard to the power of imitation. I was, 
in fact, Bo convulsed with laughter that the performance 
which was to follow, and in which I was to bear the most dis- 
tinguished part, was at one time in imminent peril of miscar- 
riage. It was a dialogue between David and Goliath, taken 
from one of Hannah More's sacred dramas. I need not say 
which part was assigned to me. When the preceptor pro- 
posed it I shrunk from it, as far exceeding my powers. I was 
only familiar with the history of the giant and his youthful 
antagonist through the seventeenth chapter of the Fii*st Book 
of Samuel. I knew I was to be armed with a sling, and I was 
somewhat familiar with its use, but I did not think myself 
sufficiently expert to hit my adversary in the forehead in 
good faith and actually bring him to the ground, as I took it 
for granted the spectators would expect — at least with a rea- 
sonable resemblance to the reality. But when I read Miss 
More's poetical version of the meeting, which the preceptor 
put into my hands, and found that after the challenge had 
been given and accepted the parties, by virtue of the Ex- 
eunt (that ingenious device of the play-writers), were to re- 
tire, leaving the audience to learn the particulars of the com- 
bat from Abner, the captain of the host — in a word, when I 
found that the impossibilities of the drama were to be enacted 
behind the scenes, I entered upon my task with the utmost 
enthusiasm. I may truly say, in modern phrase, that my per- 
formance was " a great success " — I do not think the drunken 
tinker carried away as many laurels as myself. My adversary 
was an overgrown youth of some twenty-two years of age, who 
had just left the plough and commenced his classical educa- 
tion with a view to the ministry. He was full six feet in 
height, and his frame was dilated and hardened by field labor. 
When he stood before me and waved his enormous wooden 
spear over my head, with those terrific words — 

" Around my spear I'll twist tliy shining locks, 
And toss in air tby head all gash'd with wounds"— 

li ) 




(a feat to which he was quite equal), the intrepidity with 
which I withstood and defied tlie giant was rapturously ap- 
plauded. But when I, a mere stripling, bade my colossal ad- 
versary follow me out, and pronounced the concluding lines — 

" The God of battle stimulates my arm, 
And fires my soul with ardor not ^ts own " — 

the enthusiasm of the audience was boundless. I was called 
back upon the stage to receive tlie congratulations of the ad- 
miring spectators. The meeting-house was crowded. Hun- 
dreds of bright eyes looked down upon me from the galleries. 
Tumultuous applause greeted my re-appearance. I did not 
know that this was a common occurrence in theatrical life. 
It seemed to me to be a new-born distinction, the offspring of 
an unexampled success. My triumph was complete. It was 
the greatest day of my life. I felt that I had done a noble 
deed. I do not think that David himself could have been 
better satisfied with his own performance in the original 
drama. But I was not intoxicated by my success. Like that 
exemplary Israelite, I resolved not to disappoint the public 
expectation. I would live and devote myself to the perform- 
ance of great and virtuous actions. I considered myself called 
on thus to dedicate myself by the unbounded applause I had 
received. I have often looked back, not altogether without a 
sense of the comic, on these innocent dawnings of youthful 
ambition. There is, nevertheless, a serious aspect in these 
retrospections — in the dissipation of pleasant and inspiring 
illusions, when we compare the aspirations of boyhood with 
the tmths taught by our experience in after-life. My tri- 
umph was not a mere ephemeral achievement of the day. 
For a long time I saw myself noticed by the country jjcople 
as they passed me in their wagons ; and on one occasion a 
red-cheeked girl driving by pointed me out to her companion 
as blooming as herself, and I heard her say, " There's the fine 
little fellow that acted David." 





1 had reached an age when my father thought I might be 
sent to the principal academy of my native State at Exeter, 
and placed under the tutelage of the celebrated Dr. Abbott, 
who was for more than half a century the principal of that 
institution. During that period it gathered within its walls 
more distinguished men than any other academy of New 
England.* The students were of a higher order than those 

* Phillips Exeter Academy, one of the oldest endowed classical schools 
in New England, was founded by Dr. John Phillips, of Andover. Its char- 
ter is dated April 3, 1781 ; it is therefore the oldest institution of learn- 
ing established by State authority in New Hampshire, Dartmouth Col- 
lege having been chartered by royal grant in 1769. Dr. Abbott was 
principal for just half a century — from 1788 to 1838. 

In the Catalogue for 1869 there is a charming picture of Dr. Abbott, 
who is represented as a man of firmness and dignity of character united 
with great natural sweetness of disposition and suavity of manners: " He 
never met the youngest academy scholar in the street without lifting his 
hat entirely from his head, as in courteous recognition of an equal ; and 
an abashed and awkward attempt to return the compliment was the ur- 
chin's first lesson in good-manners and respect for his teacher." Among 
the characteristic usages of the academy were these : 

"4. After worship is begun they are not to rise up to any who may 
enter. At all other times they shall rise and bow respectfully to gentle- 
men Avhen they enter the room and when they leave it. 

" 5. Every student shall be exact upon his attendance on all the exer- 
cises of this academy. He shall carefully prepare for them, and not fail 
to sweep, kindle fire, ring the bell, shut up the academy, tend the fire, 
etc., each in his turn, and exactly at the time required. 

" 9. As the character and usefulness of men greatly depend upon ami- 
able and engaging manners, the Preceptor would highly recommend, and 
strictly requires, a constant and persevering attention to the rules of true 
honor and politeness, and a careful endeavor to express tiie principles of 
unaffected benevolence, by a cheerful readiness to perform every kind of- 
fice in their power, and to do it in the most obliging and becoming man- 
ner; ever remembering that great favors are diminished, and that small 
ones greatly increase, by the manner in which they are conferred. A 
gift may be unkindly bestowed, and a favor kindly and politely refused. 

"10. All students shall strictly observe and persevcringly practise 




in the academy I had just left. I found a large number of 
young men of the most respectable families of Massachusetts, 
and some, from that State, who became distinguished in after- 

good-manners and civility to all ; condescension and kindness to those 
younger than themselves, affability and good-manners to their equals, 
and their language and behavior to superiors shall be decent and respect- 
ful, never speaking disrespectfully of them or their conduct when absent. 
This rule is carefully to be observed to all men of public character. 
These important rules are highly recommended and strongly enforced, 
ns containing the sum of virtue and benevolence, agreeable to that com- 
plete rule of virtue and honor — whatsoever you can rationally desire 
others should do for you, that do for them in the kindest manner." 

I add the following eulogy of Dr. Abbott, from the work already re- 
ferred to : 

" It was not strange, then, that he gained so strong a hold upon the 
love and respect of his pupils. To them he always appeared as if sur- 
rounded by some invisible enclosure, which even the boldest could not 
overstep without a bowed head and a feeling almost of awe. Others 
may have been equally or even more successful as mere teachers ; but in 
the gcDcral discipline of mind and character, in exerting an influence 
upon the boy which continued through the subsequent life of the man, 
no instructor ever surpassed him. It was a common remark among his 
pupils that it was a shame to deceive Dr. Abbott, or to tell him a lie ; 
and even if one ventured to do so he had a sort of uncomfortable con- 
sciousness that the doctor had detected him, but saw fit to overlook the 
offence and allow it to be its own punishment. He was a competent 
scholar after the fashion of his day, though he made no pretension to 
wide and accurate learning. It was rather his pride to induce his pupils, 
by their own efforts, to surpass their instructor in scholarshij). But he 
had excellent taste, and a hearty appreciation of the beauties of the Latin 
and Greek authors, which he never failed to impart to his classes. 

"To those who never studied under Dr. Abbott this picture may seem 
overcharged ; but it was not mere accident which procured for him un- 
interrupted success and surpassing influence as head of the academy for 
fifty years, or which gave him such pupils as Lewis Cass, Joseph Stevens 
Buckminster, Daniel Webster, Lcverett Saltonstall, Nathaniel A. Haven, 
Joseph Q. Cogswell, Theodore Lyman, Edward Everett, the twin Pea- 
bodys, John A. Dix, John G. Palfrey, Jared Sparks, George Bancroft, 
Jonathan Chapman, Ephraim Peabody, and a host of others whom the 
country delights to honor." 







life for their literary acqiurements. Sparks was just leaving, 
and Palfrey was a fellow-student with mo for more than a 
year. There was a gravity, not to say a stateliness, in the ad- 
ministration of this institution which was in strong contrast 
with the easy-going management of the other. The extended 
career of Dr. Abbott furnishes the best proof of his fitness for 
the position which he held with such distinguished success. 
I remember him as a man of solemnity, and not seeming to 
me to possess those qualities which invito familiarity on the 
part of his pupils. Those who knew him intimately may 
have found in him qualities which a student, meeting him 
only as one in authority, would fail to discover. I should de- 
scribe him as very able, very just, and very devoted. That he 
had a rich vein of humor I know, for it was my fortune to 
open and develop it. But for the circumstance I allude to 
I think I should have terminated my connection with this in- 
stitution without leaving any trace of my presence, except the 
registration of my name in the catalogue of students. I be- 
lieve I was diligent, and made good progress in my classical 
course. It was as a speaker that I was remembered by the 
academic staff and my fellow-pupils ; though it must be con- 
fessed that my notoriety (I cannot call it distinction) was not 
of the most exalted character. My performance came off at 
one of the periodical exercises in public speaking. I had 
found in an old English magazine a burlesque account of the 
Siege of Troy, and after some hesitation 1 resolved to test the 
self-possession of our grave and reverend seigniors. I under- 
stood perfectly that it was an audacious experiment, and that 
unless it was as audacious in the execution as in the design it 
would prove an ignominious failure. I determined, therefore, 
that it should not miscarry for want of dramatic effect. I in- 
trusted no one with my secret, not even my fellow-boarders. 
Palfrey prepared the way for me by a recitation calculated to 
deepen the prevailing gravity. "When he pronounced the 
first line — 

"In yonder cave, formed by no mortal hand, a hermit lived" — 

<( I. 




he undertook, by an appropriate motion^of liis own mortal 
liand, to show liovv it was done. After a very creditable per- 
formance for an imdisciplined neophyte in the school of ora- 
tory he made his exit, deepening the natural solemnity of the 
piece by a kindred gravity of manner. If, as has been said, 
there is always a charm in contrasts, the field for my perform- 
ance could not have been better prepared ; and I had the fore- 
sight to see that I could make it more striking by keeping up 
a discordance between my manner and my matter. My grav- 
ity was not exceeded by that of my predecessor. It was, there- 
fore, like a sudden awakening from a solemn reverie when I 
made the customary academic bow and commenced : 

" Tlie Grecians came running to Troy — 
The Trojans went running to meet tbcm : 
It is known to eacli little school-boy " 

[an appropriate gesture, embracing the whole body of stu- 
dents. Sparks included] 

" How tlie Greeks they horse-jockeyed and beat them." 

My solicitude as to the reception of my performance was in- 
creased during the recital of tlie first two lines by an expres- 
sion on the face of Dr. Abbott, which I fancied to be a doubt 
on his part whether he should let me proceed or order me off 
the stage. But the horse - jockeying was too much for his 
gravity and that of the other professors, and the students, en- 
couraged by the sign, gave audible vent to their mirth. Thus 
relieved from my anxiety, I delivered the remaining stanzas 
with an effect which was received with clamorous applause : 

" No house could that day be endured — 
They made them too hot for the holders ; 
And ^neas, not being insured, 

Set off with his dad on his shoulders. 

" His fortune ho tried on the ocean — 
And then such palavering stories ! 
To Dido he told with emotion — 
Jubes renovare dolores. 


': ! 




"When he'd gained all his ends, ' Dear ^ncas,' 
Said she, ' if you love your poor Dido, 
When you're coming this way, call and sec us.* 
Thinks he, 'I'll be hanged if I do.' 

" ' Sister Anne,' then said she, ' all is done, 
And he's off— only see what a way 'tis; 
He's gone with his saucy young son, 
And that rascal his Jidtis Ac/uites.'' 

" A cord round her neck she suspended, 
The one end a bedpost was tied to — 
I'm sorry the story's so ended. 
But there was an end of poor Dido !" 

T retired, "with my pockct-Landkercliief to my eyes, in mock 
distress at the tragical end of the disconsolate widow, and was 
followed by long- continued plaudits, in which the Faculty 
joined. Some months afterward a simple-minded youth at- 
tempted to repeat the experiment; but he liad hardly pro- 
nounced the first line when the Rev. Principal called out, in 
a voice of thunder, " Leave the stage, sir!'^ It was one of 
those achievements of which the flavor, as well as the glory, 
evaporates with the first performance. 

At the end of a year my studies terminated, and without 
leaving any strong impression on my mind as to the institu-. 
tion except that its administration was orderly and ably con- 
ducted. There was nothing in my associations or my i^ersonal 
experience so strongly marked as to be often recurred to in 
subsequent years. 

The following year I was sent to Montreal, and became a 
pupil in the College. I made the dreariest of all journeys 
through New Hampshire and Vermont. It was in the latter 
part of the month of March, and the snow was rapidly dissolv- 
ing, so that the gentleman who had charge of me, and I, were 
frequently under the necessity of going on foot while the 
horses were drawing the sleigh painfully over the bare ground. 
It was during the prevalence of that horrible hibernal disease 




known as tho spotted fever, and wo were several nights 
obliged to stop in taverns, whoso inmates were lying ill 
with it. At length we reached the St. Lawrence and crossed 
it on foot. The last sleigh had broken in, and tho next 
day the river showed only a mass of moving ice. Such was 
my introduction to Montreal.^ 

My father sent me to tho college principally for the pur- 
pose of acjuiring the French language ; and as English was 
not spoken, with a single exception, by any of the professors 

* Tlie following letter, written to liim by his father, will be read with 

interest : 

" Boscawcn, May 27tli, 1811. 

" Adams, my deau Boy, — Wc have waited long and witii niueh anxi- 
ety till lust week to hear from you, when wc received yours of the 25th 
March, and with it a letter from Mr. Atkinson of the 30th Ap'l. We 
liad, liowever, three or four weeks previously rcc'd a letter from Mr. 
Wilkins, informing us of 'your safe arrival at Montreal after a tedious 
journey, of your health, etc' I con ludc your journey must have been 
very tedious, if you were, as Mr, AtU nson tells nie, ' compelled to stump 
thro' tlie mud on foot from Burling i ;' am much pleased that you so 
soon gained a situation in the College, I hope it vill prove both agree- 
able and advantageous; I do not entertain a doubt that your conduct 
will be such as to secure not only the approbation but the applause of 
the Government of the College, to do which may bo of much importance 
to you. We were a little disappointed in not receiving a longer letter 
from you, with a more particular account of your journey, of the novel- 
ties you have seen, and the new scenes you have witnessed. We con- 
clude, however, you wanted time, and have them in reserve for future 
letters, which we depend on receiving soon, and certainly shall not 
peaceably dispense with ; 'tis now time that we had three letters from 
you, and have had but one, and that dated more than two months ago ; 
you must not neglect us so. 

" I was at my settlement in Dixville a few weeks ago. I was then, I 
suppose, within aljout 100 miles of Montreal ; I thought of you and 
looked over the mountains, but could not see you. I shall go to Bos- 
ton to-morrow, and shall hope and expect to find letters from you on my 
return, in about 8 days. The children and our friends are all well ; all 
that can lisp of the former send love to you. Give my compliments to 
Messrs. Atkinson, Peterson, and Wilkins. 

" Your father, Timothy Dix, Jr. 

"John Adams Dix." 



n I 


and few of the students, my progress was very rapid. Here, 
too, I may say, although I had studied Latin and Greek in the 
superficial way in which those languages were taught in the 
academies in the United States at that period, the real founda- 
tions of my classical education were laid. Every step was 
thoroughly mastered before another was allowed to be taken. 
I had never felt much interest in these studies before ; but I 
now acquired a fondness for them, and particularly the Latin, 
which I have never lost, and vhich has led me to pursue them 
to some extent under the most unfavorable circumstances and 
at the most laborious periods of my life. I attribute it alto- 
gether to the clear comprehension which I acquired of their 
structure ; for it is not easy to take an interest in thtit wdiich 
we do not understand. My knowledge of the Greek was lost, 
I am sorry to say, after a few years ; but the Latin I have 
continued to study and read every day, w4th brief periods of 
intermission ; and if anything I have written or spoken in a 
somewhat extended career of official service has any force, I 
believe it to be chiefly due to my constant acquaintance with 
a language which condenses so much thought into so small a 
volume of words. 

The principal. Monsieur Roque, and the professors for the 
most part, were priests, adherents of Louis XYL, who had 
emigrated from France during the Revolution. They were 
men of learning, perfect purity of character, and above all 
narro\> ness of thought and action. I lived in the College, and 
wa& required to conform to its religious as well as its scholastic 
discipline ; that is, 1 attended all the services in the chapel of 
the College during the six days in the week, and on Sunday 
marched with my fellow-students in procession, escorted by 
the professors, to the Cathedral Church in the city, to attend 
the celebration of Grand Mass. There were a few other stu- 
dents from the United States ; yet no attempt was made, even 
by indirection, to influence our religious opinions. When I 
left the College to return to my home. Monsieur Roque, on 
taking leave of me, with strong and affectionate expressions 




of interest in my future welfare, said to me, " You have, no 
doubt, noticed that we have never spoken to you on the sub- 
ject of religion ; but you know, from the frequency of our 
daily services, how essential to our salvation we consider it. 
We knew that your father was a Protestant, and it was as a 
Protestant child that he placed you with us for your educa- 
tion ; and we should have been guilty of a breach of trust if 
we had sought to convert you from his way of thinking. 
But I trust, my dear child, that you will be a religious man, 
and that you will never allow a day to pass without thank- 
ing our Heavenly Father for his mercies to you, and asking 
liis blessing on your future life." I need not say that I was 
deeply affected by this good man's parting words. The other 
priests — Iloudet, Riviere, and Richards — took leave of me in 
the same affectionate manner, and I had a pleasant correspond- 
ence with several of them until the bonds between us were sev- 
ered by their deatli. My conduct was satisfactory to them, 
and my proficiency in study was in advance of that of most of 
my fellow-students. Indeed, I was usually at the head of my 
class, or next to the head ; and my instructors often encour- 
aged me to exertion by telling me that I had talents, which, 
with diligent cultivation, would give me a distinguished career 
in life. I paid a visit to the College not long ago. It had 
been removed from a suburb on the river to the mountain 
which overlooks the city and giv^es it its name, Mont-rdal. Of 
the personnel of the institution none remained but the porter, 
who was nearly a hundred years of age ; and us my visit 
brought to my remembrance the good men who had sent out 
on the voyage of lite hundreds of youths with so rich a freight 
of well-formed liabits and pure counsels, it suggested with 
striking vividness a thought whieli has recently by a popular 
author been moulded into a beautiful and just tribute to tho 
imobtrusive labors of some of the world's best benefactors and 
guides : " Tlic growing good of the world is jiartly dependent 
on iinhistoric acts ; and that things are not so ill with you 
and me as they might have been is half owing to the nura- 

V 1 

% \ 



l I 


ber who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited 

The year 1812 is made memorable in our history by the 
declaration of war against Great Britain. Wearied with her 
long-continued depredations on our commerce and her insults 
to our flag, Congress began early in the year to prepare for 
seeking redress by an appeal to arms, and by passing an act 
to raise a large military force. I was then nearly fourteen 
years of age, and had been fifteen months in College. My 
father intended that I should remain there another year ; but 
in view of the threatening aspect of our relations with Great 
Britain he determined to withdraw me, and wrote that he 
would call for me and take me with him to Quebec, which he 
wished to see.f Before he could execute his purpose he re- 

* My father's stay at the College of 3Iontreal, though brief, was not 
■witliout a strong and lasting influence on his life. He held the place, 
and the venerable and devoted priests, in loving and grateful remem- 
brance, and delighted to recall incidents connected with the time spent 
under their care. I remember, in particular, his account of the Easter 
service in the chapel ; and how he would repeat, and sing to the old 
plain song tune, the hymn which the school-boys sung that day: 

" O Filii et Filia;, 
Hex coelestis. Rex gloria? 
Morte surrexit hodie, 
Alleluia! Alleluia!" 

The visit to his old Alma Mater, to which he modestly alludes, was 
made in the year 1805, when he wn? u major-general in the United States 
service, and Commander of the Department of the East. Being in 
Montreal on business of the Government, he was invited to the College, 
and received there with every attention and honor. My father had 
nothing of that strong feeling against the Roman Catiioli'^ Church 
Avhich was, and is, so marked a feature in the Puritans and their de- 
scendants. He had devoted friends and lovers among its people ; when 
he lay ill prayers were offered for him daily in more than one religious 
house, and, after his death, the holy s.icrificc was tenderly offered on their 
altars for the repose of his soul. 

+ " Boscawcn, May, 13, 1812. 

" My DEAii Boy, — I have written to Mr. Peterson to make preparations 




ceived the appointment of major in the army, and sent me a 
summons to return home immediately. I had hardly reached 
the frontier when war was declared, and all citizens of the 
United States over fourteen years of age were ordered to leave 
Canada, or take the oath of allegiance to Great Britain. It 
was a source of great regret to my father, and has always been 
to me, that my studies in this excellent institution were thus 
abruptly and prematurely terminated. I spoke French with 
tolerable fluency, and had acquired a perfect accc^ic, but an- 
other year was needed to enable me to write and speak it with 
the same freedom as my native tongue. No child ever had 
greater cause for thankfulness to a parent than I had to my 
father for his untiring efforts to give me a superior education.* 

for your return the last of this month ; am very sorry that my business 

is such as to prevent me from coming for you. I had anticipated much 

pleasure from an idea of the journey. Adams, you will be careful of 

yourself, your trunks, etc., on your journey. You must have a trunk that 

will hold your books and clothes, and they must be stowed perfectly 

close and crowded very hard, oilierwise when you travel in the stages 

your things will be worn to a chowder; very particular attention is 

necessary in this respect when journeying in stages. Doct. Shattuck is 

desirous that you sliould be at Boston in the month of June, otherwise I 

.should not have sent for you until 3 ou could have had Mr. Peterson's 

company. I am not without hopes, however, that you will still have his 

or that of some other acquaintance or gentleman travelling this way. 

Adams, do not fail to tender my warmest thanks and your own to your 

Avorthy governors and tutors, for their paternal care and kind attention 

to you. Am m haste, my dear boy, 

" Your affectionate Fatlier, T. Dix, Ju. 

"John Adams Dix." 

* The following letter, addressed to his father by Monsieur Roque, tlie 
head of the seminary, is a testimonial to the merit of the student and the 
fidelity of the teachers : 

"MoNSiEun, — Jc ne rdpondis point dans Ic tems S la lettrc par laquelle 
vous m'annonciez votre fils, parcequ'il me dit que vous n'auriez point u 
portCe quelqu'un pour la traduire. Muintcnant il la traduira lui-m6me. 
11 poss&de passablement la langue fran9oise, ct il auroit encore mieux 
rC'ussi si sa sautC n'avait pas 6t6 dfirangde de tems en tems. ]\Ialgr6 



On my return from Montreal I was sent to Boston, and 
placed in the family of Dr. George Cheyne Shattiick, a dis- 
tant relative of the family, and one of the most eminent phy- 
sicians of that city. My father was first appointed to the 
New Hampshire Eegiment, which was to form a part of the 
new levies ; but the numerical force of the regiments having 
been reduced from two thousand to one thousand men, he 
was transferred to the corps to be raised in Maryland, and 
was ordered to Baltimore to recruit his battalion.* It was 

cela, il a occupC Ics plus liautes places dans sa classe. On I'a appliqufi 
au fran^ois, au Latin, et it la g6ograi>hie. J'ai recounu en lui du talent, 
et j'ai dtC satisfait de sa conduite. Mr. Peterson m'a ofTert vos remerci- 
ments. Pour moi, je dCsire que cet enfant vraimeut interessant rdussisse 
dans son Education, et que le peu que nous avons fait jjour lui contribue 
a en faire un lionnGte homme et un bon ChrCticn. 

"J'ai riionneur d'etre, avec consideration. Monsieur, 

" Votre trcs-humble et tri5s-ob6issant serviteur, 


" P'"- direct'- du petit sdminaire. 
"Montreal, 23 Mai, 1813." 

* Major Dix was very restless at being kept in Baltimore on the dull 
business of recruiting. He wrote to the Secretary of War as follows : 

" Baltimore, October 17, 1812." 
" Hon. Wm. Eustis, Secretary of War: 

" Sir, — At the time I accepted an appointment in the army I was in 
daily expectation of a war with Great Britain. A zealous desire to take 
an active part in avenging the wrongs of our much-injured and degraded 
countrj', and a desire of distinction as a soldier, were my inducements 
for entering the lists. I have now for five months been actively engaged 
in the recruiting service, and could I suppose that the interest of my 
country would be promoted by my continuance in this service, I would 
be silent still. But, Sir, the season is far advanced; it is imijossible to 
raise recruits fast here, or in this vicinity ; it is not probable that more 
than another comjiany can be sent from here in time to serve in this 
year's campaign ; the troops which are to go from here next week will 
be in season to see actual service, and so strong is my inclination to pro- 
ceed with them that I know not how to be reconciled to remain. Could 
I be assured that ' the battles would not all be fought and the laurels all 
gathered ' the present campaign, I would content myself to stay. But, 
Sir, if it is the expectation and intention to force as far as possible into 




under these circumstances that Dr. Shattuck took charge of 
me. He spared time from an extensive practice to hear my 
recitations in Latin, and ho engaged several personal friends 
to give me instruction in other studies. Nathan Hale, editor 
of the Boston Advertiser, gave me lessons in mathematics ; 
Senor Sales, afterward Professor of Modern Languages at Har- 
vard University, in Spanish ; and Captain Morse, of the new 
levies, a tragedian of some note at that period, who had just 
received his commission, and was recruiting his company, in 
elocution. It was the latter who, as has been mentioned 
previously in these memoirs, gave my father a flattering ac- 
count of my progress under his tuition. I was unquestion- 
ably greatly benefited by his instniction. Whether it would 
have been of a different cliaracter if he had been preparing 
me for the stage, I cannot say. But there was nothing in his 
teachings wliich had the least savor of the dramatic. It was the 
calmness and dignity of the forum, which he took pains to im- 
press on me as characteristic of the highest order of oratory.* 

the enemy's lines this season, I beseccli you that I may not be left be- 
hincl. I have the honor to be, etc., T. Dix, Jn., 

" Major, Utli Regiment U. S. Infantry," 

His services, however, were deemed of too much importance to be dis- 
pensed with, and he was required to remain. 

* " Baltimore, October 3, 1813. 

"Adams, MY deau Boy, — You are, I conclude, pursuing your studies 
with as much zeal as your health will allow of. Should jou attend to 
mathematics more than one quarter, I wish you may at the same time 
attend to elocution with Mr. Slorso, provided he is in Boston and can 
attend you. In case you cannot have his instruction, probably there is 
some other person you can have. I wish you to commence the study of 
the Spanish language soon ; I think four or six weeks more at mathe- 
matics will be as much as will be profitable at present. You ought oc- 
casionally to look into your Greek and Latin books, I have wi'itten to 
Dr. Shattuck on the subject of your studies. 

" Your affectionate Father, Timothy Dix, Major, 

" 14th Regt. U. S. Infantry, 

" Baltimore, Maryland. 
" N.B. — Address your letters as above." 

r \ 








The six months which I passed under the direction of these 
accomplished gentlemen were months of unceasing labor, and 
the habits of application which I acquired were of infinite 
service to me in after-life. Certainly, no young man of my 
age could have had advantages superior to mine ; and when 
thrown upon my own unassisted exertions, a few years later, 
I often felt that I had not profited by them as I might have 
done if I had appreciated them at tlie time as I ought. But 
I had become possessed with so strong a desire to go into the 
military service, that I was becoming indifferent to my studies, 
and Dr. Shattuck advised my father to gratify me.* The lat- 

* With what reUictancc Dr. Shattuck consented may be inferred from 
the following letter, which my fatlier preserved with tho utmost care, 
and gave to me, years ago, for safe keeping : 

"Dear Sir, — I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of yours 
in relation to Adams' going to the army. While my mind is filled with 
regret that a lad of such promise is to be surrounded with temptations 
almost too heavy not to canker his present unexceptionable habits of in- 
dustry and virtue, some solace is found in the expectation that he will be 
pretty constantly guarded by a father's vigilance. Your son has a genius 
which quite as well qualifies him for excellence in the civil as the mili- 
tary department; and the civil departm-^nt holds uj) more splendid rec- 
ords for the exercise of great talents than are to be found in the military 
of a Republic which is little liable to invasion. These remarks are found- 
ed on the possibU influence of an acquaintance in the army to give your 
son an unconquerable predilection for a military life, which, if there be 
stability in our republican institutions, could promise no man of talents 
any adequate reward. Capt. Ebcnezer Morse says Adams possesses un- 
common constitutional facilities for becoming an orator — the forum, not 
the camp, is the place for the gift of tongues. I hope you will not relin- 
quish the idea of his becoming a graduate at some respectable university, 
and that you will encourage him in gaining an extended knowledge of 
the Latin and Greek languages and of mathematics, before he may go 
to the university. The Hon. J. Q. Adams is said to have translated (on 
paper) the classics into English, which, at thcsame time it directed his 
attention to the critical comprehension of the learned languages, gave 
him great facility in English composition. Your son has translated into 
English the orations of Cicero, which he has studied while at our house. 
I submit it to your serious consideration whether Adams would not be 



ter, wlio wished me to go to college, and then embrace one of 
the learned professions, did everything in his power to discour- 
age me ; and it was not until I had actually filled up and 
signed a blank enlistment, and asked him to let me go into 
the service as a common soldier, that he gave way. When 
the Senators from New Hampshire, recommended him for a 
major's appointment he wrote to the Secretary of War that he 
would not refuse a captaincy, if he could not have a higher 
rank, and that he was determined to go into the service, even 
if he had to go as volunteer.* I asked him whether so patri- 
otic an example by the father ought not to be followed by the 
son. lie had no answer to such a home question, and finally 
told me he would endeavor to procure for me the appoint- 

advantaged by making a careful written translation of all the Latin and 
Greek classics he may study. 

"Adams has pledged his word that all his time (not necessarily de- 
voted to the study of military tactics) shall be consumed in the study of 
languages and mathematics, Tliat you may be prospered in all your 
laudal)le undertakings, but especially your efforts to train Adams to a 
high degree of honorable usefulness, ia the earnest wisli of, Sir, your 
friend and servant, Geo. C. Shattuck. 

" Timothy Dix, Esquire. 
"Boston, January 17, 1813." | 

* The following is a copy of the letter referred to. It is uncertain to 

whom it was addressed, but probably to one of the Senators from New 

Hampshire, at Washington : 

" Boscawen, February 34, 1813. 

"My dear Sir, — Yours of the 5th instant has just come to hand. 
Could I be assured that my only destination would be a descent on the 
Canadas, I would accept the command of a company, or even less. In 
fact, I am determined, in such an event, to go in some capacity, if it 
should be that of a private volunteer. But I have no notion of being 
concerned in any long, lazy establisiiment, or in an idle Oxford war, or 
even in a stationary guard for our seaboard fortitications. An idea that 
I might be of some use to my country in case of a descent on Canada, 
was my motive for proposing myself as a candidate for a field-ofHce ; and, 
actuated by the same motive, I will not refuse an inferior command, pro- 
vided you are confident this will be my only destination. In any other 
I am sure I could not be useful. Yours truly, 

" TiMO. Dix, Jr." 

I' i 



i.(( t 




ment of cadet. To satisfy liim how well qualified I was to 
endure the hardships of a campaign, I availed myself of the 
opportunity, while visiting friends twenty-eight miles out of 
Boston, to walk into the city between breakfast and tea, with 
a crust of bread in my pocket, greatly to the distress of my 
legs and the disturbance of my digestion for the next three or 
four days. The cadet's appointment came at last : 

" Wnr Department, December 11, 1812. 
"Sm, — Herewith enclosed you will receive the appointment of Cadet 
in the Service of the United States; on receipt of which you will please 
to communicate your acceptance or non-acceptance, and in case of ac- 
cepting, you will report yourself to Major Dix, of the 14th Infantry, and 
receive his orders. Respectfully, 

" Cadet J. A. Dix, Boston." 

Accompanying this was the following letter : 

" Baltimore, December 14, 1813. 

" MoN ciiEU FiLS, — You will find herewith an appointment which will 
doubtless be gratifying to you. I must, however, caution you against 
being too much gratified, I really have many doubts whether it will or 
will not eventually be for your advantage. 

"You will not by any means suffer it to interrupt your literary pur- 
suits. In fact, ?no)i chcr Jik, you must 'double your diligence,' and the 
zeal of your exertions for useful knowledge must be limited only by a 
regard for your health. 

♦' Should you think proper to accept the appointment, something like 
the enclosed will be proper for your answer to the Secretary of War ; 
copy it handsomely on a good sheet of letter paper, and enclose it in an- 
other thick paper. I shall write you again and give you some direc- 
tions. You will write to me immediately on receipt of this. 
" Am in much haste, mon cherjils, 

" Your afiectionate Father, T. D., Jr. 
"J. A. D." 

In pursuance of this exhortation to renewed diligence I 
had no sooner reached Baltimore than my father entered my 
name as a day-scholar in St. Mary's College ; and in the even- 
ing, and often before school-hours in the morning, I assisted 





him in liis duties as a recruiting officer.* With these com- 
bined occupations I think I was as diligently employed dur- 
ing the ensuing three months as I had ever been at any period 
of my life. 

In March, 1813, my father's battalion and two or three ad- 
ditional companies were ready for the field, and he took me 
with him to Washington, to close his recruiting accounts.f 

* There were other duties in addition to these. In the latter part of 
the year 1813 the towns in the Chesapeake were threatened by the Brit- 
ish fleet, and Major Dix was, in addition to his duties at Baltimore, 
charged with the command of Annapolis, forty miles distant. The fol- 
lowing letter, written by him to the Adjutant-general, shows his activity 
and devotion to the public service : 

" Baltimore, December 14, 1813. 

" Sin, — After parting with the Secretary of War you permitted me to 
make my election whether to go to Annapolis myself, or send one of my 
captains. On considering all circumstances I think it most advisable to 
do both ; that is, I will repair to Annapolis immediately, and take charge 
of the forts. I can, without injury to the recruiting rendezvous, take 
sixty-five recruits and a captain witii me. I will spend Mondays, Tues- 
days, and Wednesdays (and Thursdays, if thought necessary) at the forts, 
and the remaining time at Baltimore. 

"... I will call my son (John A. Dix), lately appointed a cadet,who 
is subject to my order, here immediately, to serve me as a clerk. He is 
capable, honest, and faithful; may receive all communications in my ab- 
sence, and transmit me by mail to Annapolis, immediately, copies of such 
as are necessary. ... It will make my task a little more arduous, but I 
am willing to undertake it. I have a horse that will carry me to An- 
napolis in four hours; therefore do not value the travelling. 

"However, this or any other arrangement that may be considered 
advisable will be promptly attended to. 

" I have the honor to be, etc., T. Dix, 

" Major, 14th Regiment U. S. Infantry. 

"T. 11. CusniNO, Esq., Adjutant-general." 

t " Baltimore, March 3, 1813. 

" Sin, — You will doubtlessly blame me for not writing you sooner, but 
I have been very much engaged since I have been here, and have bad 
time to write home but once. 

" On my arrival here I found I had more to do than I had imagined. 
"a^Y father, besides inspecting the accounts of all the ofBcers in his dis- 




He presented nic as a newly-appointed cadet to General Arm- 
strong, the Secretary of War, who said to me, " So you arc 
going to the Military Academy ; what preparation have you 
made?" I told him what my studies had been during the 
two preceding years, and what progress I had made in French, 
Spanish, mathematics, and the classics, when he said, " Well, 
young gentleman, I think there is not much for you to learn 
at West Point, except military tactics. How would you like 
to go to the frontier V I replied, of course, that I should be 
delighted. " Then," said he, " if your father will consent, I 
will give you an ensign's commission." The consent was 

trict, has six returns to make out every week, duplicates of wliich lie for- 
wards to tiic Adjutant-general at Washington ; has the command of two 
forts at Annapolis ; and has to receive and deliver clothing, money, etc., 
to all the recruiting officers in Maryland and the District of Columbia. 

"I am kept continually on the run or delivering clothing to the offi- 
cers. I have been to Washington, Annapolis, and Georgetown, and 
expect to go to Annapolis again in a short time. 

"My father has been very much engaged for a week in sending a de- 
tachment of men to the lines, consisting of three companies of infantry 
and one of riflemen, under the command of Colonel Winder, 

" Tiicy will march for Albany to-morrow, and there will receive fur- 
ther orders, which will probably be to join General Dearborn's army, 

"By the short description which I have given you of the situation of 
our atfairs you will easily discover that I have but little time to study, 
but depend that little shall be well employed. When the men are gone 
and afl'airs a little settled, I shall write to Miss Williams and Mr, Doane. 

"I am very sorry for having incurred perhaps your displeasure for not 
writing sooner, but I shall be more punctual in future, as I shall have less 
to do, and more of my time also will be devoted to my studies. 

" It is impossible to fix upon any number of hours to study, as on some 
days I have eight or ten hours, and on others not more than two or three, 
I shall not go to Annapolis to study, as I expected to do when I left Bos- 
ton, but shall continue here to assist my father until he marches to Can- 
ada, which will be at tiie end of spring, 

" Please to present my respects to Sirs, Derby, Mrs, Davis, Mrs, Siiat- 
tuck. Miss Williams, Mr. Doane, Mr. West, and Capt. Morse, 

" Your humble servant, 

John Adams Dix. 

" Dr. Geo. C. Suattuck." 




obtained, and on the 8th of March, 1813, when I lacked four 
months of being fifteen years of age, I was appointed an en- 
sign in the Fourteenth Ileginient of U. S. Infantry, and joined 
the army, at Sackett's Harbor, in tlie following April, a few 
days after General Jacob Brown, then a militia officer, and 
afterward Commander-in-chief of the army, repulsed an at- 
tack by the British forces, and the naval commander, despair- 
ing of the result, burnt all the naval and military stores cap- 
tured the previous autumn at Little York, now Toronto.* 

♦ " Sackett's Harbor, August 8, 1813. 

"Honored Sin, — You will pardon my long silence when I inform you 
what has boon my employment, and how much I liavc been engaged 
since I wrote you last; shortly after which I received the appointment 
of an ensign in the Fourteenth Regiment. About the same time my futiier 
received orders to collect his troops, and prepare himself to march to 
the lines. To do this, settle his accounts with the officers, organize the 
troops, and prepare for the march, occupied our time day and night, till 
we marched, on the 2Cth of 3Iay. I left the College at Baltimore with 
some reluctance. My prospects for improvement were tolerable, and I 
had formed several acquaintances with young gentlemen of the College 
which were interesting ; among them was young Bonaparte, and sev- 
eral others of the best families in Baltimore. 

" Our march from Baltimore to this place was very pleasant. On ar- 
riving at West Point my father, two or three of the officers, and myself 
went on shore, visited the old forts, the Military Academy, etc., etc. 

"The forts were out of repair, but were to be repaired inunediately. 
There were but seventeen scliolars at the Academy; about fifty more 
were expected in a few weeks. Cajjtain Partridge, of the Engineers, had 
command of the post. A lieutenant from Massachusetts was the second 
in command. Tiiese were the only officers there. 

"The lieutenant has been in the service two or three years; said he 
, was at Cambridge College with you. We were treated with great po- 
liteness by both of the officers. 

" I had the pleasure at Utica to find my old friend and correspondent 
Kirkland, whom you have often heard me mention. lie is now a mem- 
ber of the Hamilton College. His father is a wealthy, respectable law- 
yer. My father halted the troops one day at Utica. I spent the whole 
time with Kirkland at his father's, and on a visit to the College. 

"The College is in Clinton, a considerable large village, eight or nine 



Sliortly after my arrival an inflopendcnt l)attalion was or- 
ganized, conKiHtin*; of nine companies, and ]>laccd under tho 
command of Major Timothy Upham, of the Twenty-first U. S. 
Infantry, wlio ajjpointed me his adjutant. From June to Oc- 
tober tliis portion of llic army was in entire inaction. It was 
then united witli tlio troo^w which had been acting on tho 
Niagara frontier, and tho combined force was i)laced under 
the command of General Wilkinson for the expedition against 





:J^ • 

n' 'I! 


niilos from Utica. It is situated on a hill, about half of a mile from tho 
centre of the village. It is of wood — three stories high, and appears 
very elegant from tlie village. There were but twenty or thirty scholars 
there, but the number is fast increasing. 

" We parted with some reluctance, I assure you, though with tho 
promise of writing one another once a week. 

"My attention is at present somewhat engaged with military affairs, 
and I am very much jjleased with the employment, I assure you, but be- 
lieve I shall not lose my relish for civil society. I am attached to a 
company, and do my sliare of all the duties. I spend two or three houra 
each day in the Adjutant -general's office as an assistant. This will 
afford me an opportunity of understanding all the details of an army. 
The Adjutant-general is a smart, active, vigilant, and experienced officer, 
and possesses very brilliant talents. 

" I will mention a circumstance which, I fancy, will please you. Jly 
father, before he would permit me to accept my appointment, required 
me to give him a bond under hand and seal obligating me to 'remain 
in the service no more than two years, then to leave the army and finish 
my studies, unless I should obtain his permission ; or, in case of his de- 
cease. Dr. Shattuek's permission to remain a longer time.' 

"I brought with me a number of school-books, Avhich I attend to two 
or three hours each day. I shall endeavor, therefore, to hold my grouml 
at least in literature. 

" My father sends his respects to your family. Please to j 
to :Mrs. Derby's and Mr. West's families, iMr?. Davis, Mrs. Shall MuUc 
moisellc Williams, Monsieur Doane, etc. 

" Votre tris-7iu7nble scrviteur, 

"J. A. Dix„ 

"Dr. Geo. C. Soattuck. 

" N.B. — Please to direct a letter to ' Ensign John A. Dix, 14th Regt., 
U. S. Inf., Sackett's Harbor, N. Y.' " 





^[ontrcal, in which (irencral Hampton was to co-opcratc with 
an army concentrated at natt8hur<jf. The movement disas- 
trously failed, from a want of liarmony between these two 
jealous commanders. 

Amon^ the officers from my native State there were two 
who were as distin<i;uished for their eccentricity as they were 
cons])icuous for their coolness and courage in battle. One 
was Major James Miller, of the Twenty-first llegiment of 
Infantry. In the battle of Uragona, or Lundy's Lane, as it 
was commonly called, the British army occupied a height de- 
fended by guns, by which our troops were greatly annoyed. 
(Tcneral Brown rodo up to Major Miller, who was at the head 
of his battalion, and, ])ointlng to the height, said, "Major, can 
you take that battery f The major's prompt reply was, " I'll 
try, sir." He put Ids battalion in motion, and when about 
half-way up the height the guns opened on him, and about 
twenty men at the head of the colunni fell. There was a mo- 
ment of wavering ; when the major, putting himself in front, 
and waving his sword, called out, " Come along, boys ; what 
are you afeared of ? Xobody wants to hurt you !'' His 
speech was like an electric spark, and before the guns were 
reloaded they were in our possession. 

The other was Lieutenant-colonel McNeil, of the same regi- 
ment. He was six feet six inches in height, and better pro- 
portioned than most men of his stature. He was shot in the 
knee in the same battle and lamed for life. After the Avar 
ho was on a certain occasion at Concord, .at the ojiening of the 
session of the Legislature. The general was proud of his lame- 
ness, and took it for granted that every man, woman, and 
child in Kcw Hampshire knew how it liappcned. AVhile 
limping about in front of the Capitol a fresh member of the 
Legislature, not much more than five feet high, was introduced 
to him. The little fellow, as full of his own importance as 
the general, putting his arms a-kimbo, said, " General, I am 
very glad to make your acquaintance : how did you get 
hurt?" The general, drawing himself up his full height, 
L— 4 




I! J 



and looking down upon Lis interrogator with supremo con- 
tempt, replied, " I fell through a barn-floor, you devilish fool ! 
Did you never read the history of your country ?" 

Both these officers were brevetted for gallant conduct, and 
were known throughout the State as Generals Miller and 

I now approach the most trying period of my life. My 
father had an attack of fever, and was in a very feeble state 
when the movement down the St. Lawrence commenced. 
The surgeon of !ns regiment urged him not to join in it, and 
General Wilkinson offered to leave him in command of Sack- 
ett's Harbor. But his regiment, a part of which had been on 
the Niagara frontier, was now concentrated, and the lieuten- 
ant-colonel commanding having been captured by the enemy, 
the command devolved on him, and he refused to give it up 
to a junior in rank. The descent of the river by our army 
was unopposed until the morning of the 11th of November. 
It had bivouacked the evening of the 9th on the Canadian 
side, near the licad of the Long Sault Rapid. It was follow- 
ed by a number of British gun-boats, which had hung upon 
our rear after passing Fort Prescott, opposite Ogdensburg. 
My father's regiment constituted the rear-guard The after- 
noon of the loth he had been seized with a sudden and se- 
vere attack of pneumonia, and was carried from his boat to a 
house on the bank of the river. At daybreak on the 11th 
the enemy's giui-boats appeared, and for the first time opened 
their fire upon us ; and my recollection is that the conunand- 
er of the bi-igade, General Swartwout, ordered the troops to 
embark and fall farther down. My father's disease had made 
such rapid progress that he was unable to walk, and he was 
borne by two of his officers (Lieutenants Parker and Bennett) 
and myself to his boat. Lieutenant Parker was killed the fol- 
lowing sj)ring in the ill-advised attack on La Calle Mill, near 
Plattsburg ; Lieutenant Bennett survived the war, and be- 
came a paymaster in the army. I mention their names, be- 
cause they are inseparably connected in my memory with my 




father's last appearance at the liead of his regiment. The bat- 
tle of Chrystler's Field coininenecd soon after the rear-guard 
had fallen down the river about a mile from the point at 
which it was attacked, and where the farther advance of the 
enemy's gun-boats had been checked. I was now but little 
over a mile from the field, and the roar of the artillery and 
the incessant report of fire-arms were too much for me to 
resist. Learning from the surgeon that iny father was in no 
immediate danger, I collected, without a Avord to any one, 
about twenty of the men who had been employed as oars- 
men, furnished them Avith arms and ammunition, and started 
for the field. I had marched about half ^hc distance when I 
met Major !N^ourse — aide-de-camp, 1 think, to General Wilkin- 
son — who Avas escorting a number of prisoners just captured, 
and he ordered me to take charge of them and return to the 
boats. I entreated him to let me go on ; but he Avas inexor- 
able, as he said the guard Avith them AA'as much more likely to 
be serviceable than my hastily gathered squad, and I had to 
turn back, lie said afterAvard that I cried because I Avas not 
alloAA'cd to go into the fight. It is not unlikely. I do not 
remember the tears ; but 1 shall never forget my disappoint- 
ment and vexation. It Avas, no doubt, for the best ; for I 
might not luiA'e returned to afford my father the consolation 
of my j^resence in the last liours of his life, and receive his 
dying messages to the other members of his family. The 
only object of the British conmiander in making the attack 
on the rear of our army — for a i)ortion of it had the day be- 
fore moved doAvn to Cornwall, at the foot of the Long Sault — 
\y?s, to harass and annoy us. lie could have had no hope of 
arresting, or even of retarding materially, our advance. The 
result Avas a hotly-contested battle-field, the loss of a few hun- 
drrl men on both sides, and a nnituai claim to the honors of 
a disputed victory. "VVe passed the ni^ilt on the banks of the 
riA'er, and the next day descended the rapid Avlthout farther 
molestation, and joined our advanced forces at CoruAvall. 
There intelligence Avas received from Hampton's diA'ision 



I ^ 

ii i 

which led to the abandonment of the expedition against 
Montreal, and the aimy went into winter-quarters at French 
Mills, on Salmon River, I pass over the last two days of my 
painful experience. On arriving at Cornwall, after the de- 
scent of the Long Sault, I was relieved from duty, and sum- 
moned to my father, whose recovery was declared to be hope- 
less. He was conlined to the close cabin of a decked boat, 
and died in it a few hours after our arrival at French Mills. 
His death was that of a Christian and a soldier. Niles's 
WeeMy jR'gister, the principal statistical publication of the 
day, hud the following paragraph : 

" Colonel Dix, of the Fourteenth Regnnent, a very valuable officer, 
(lied of au inflummatioa of the lungs ou the morning of the 14th." 

And M'ith this brief notice passed into oblivion, cxcejit in 
the remembrance of his family and acquaintances, a most in- 
telligent, enterprising, and patriotic citizen, of elevated tastes 
and aims, of perfect integrity, and, as Mr. Webster once said 
to me when we were members of the United States Senate, 
" one of the most gentlemanly men I ever knew." 

Major Upham, of the Twenty-first Regiment of Infantry, 
who had appointed me adjutant of his independent battalion 
at Sackett's Harbor, urged me to obtain a transfer to his regi- 
ment ; and hav'ng procured a furlough, I returned with him 
to New Hampshire, my native State, to aid in settling my fa- 
ther's affairs, which Avere hopelessly embarrassed. They Averc 
soon closed, and my step-mother removed, with my brothers 
and sisters, eight in number, to Massachusetts. Early in the 
'spring of ISll I reported for duty to Major Upham, and was 
soon afterward ordered to Fort Constitution, at tlio entrance 
of the harbor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Navy- 
yard at this port made the station one of leading importance, 
and the command of the forts by which it was defended was 
intrusted to Colonel J. B. AValbach, who had received his mili- 
tary education in the Austrian service, and had distinguished 
himself by his gallantry as Adjutant-general at the battle of 




Clirystler's Farm. In the course of the summer the force oc- 
cupying the forts and the adjoining grounds numbered about 
twenty-five hundred men. 

A British fleet was on the coast, and an attack was confi- 
dently expected. But it was not made, and the war closed 
with tlie Treaty of Ghent, in February, 1815. Colonel Walbach 
appointed me his adjutant, and I served in that capacity until 
the garrisons were put on a peace establishment, when I was 
assigned to company duty. I remained under his command 
until 1818. During these three years I was an assiduous stu- 
dent, chiefly of history and the classics. For this industrious 
occupation of my time I was greatly indebted to the friend- 
shij) of Captain Fabius Whiting, an accomplished officer, and 
to an occasional letter of encouragement from Dr. Shattuck, 
whose friendship I enjoyed to the close of his life. Colonel 
AValbach was a most rigid disciplinarian, and for several years 
after the termination of hostilities kept the garrison, in every- 
thing but numbers, on a war-footing, though there was not 
an enemy within thousands of miles. An officer of the guard 
was regularly detailed, and was compelled to sit up all night. 
My turn came about once a week. AV^e had a guard-book, in 
which we were required, in order to insure our watchfulness, 
to record the state of the weather at every hour of tlie night. 
This book was submitted to the colonel's inspection by the 
ofiicer of the guard every morning, and at Captain AVhiting's 
suggestion I undertook to break the monotony of the registra- 
tion, which was as barren as a ship's log on a smooth voyage, 
by (piotations from tlie poets. It was not without some ap- 
prehension of a rebuke from the colonel that I handed him 
the book in the morning, with the following notes on a gath- 
ering storm, and on the coming of the dawn : 






*' The weary clouds, slow meeting, mingle into solid gloom." 

"Aurora now, fair daughter of the dawn, 
In rosy lustre gilds the dewy hnvu." 



I incline to the belief that this is the first instance in which a 
guard-hook has been enlivened by poetical annotations on the 
phenomena of the atmosphere. It was an agreeable relief 
when the colonel, after devotijig more time to the inspection 
of it than usual, handed it back to me, with a grim smile, 
without saying a word. 

I commenced at this early period a ^ ractice from which I 
have derived the greatest benefit — that of committing to writ- 
ing the impressions I received from all I read. The benefit 
was twofold. It served to fix more durably in my memory 
the facts and the ideas which 1 deemed most valuable ; and it 
tended to give me a freedom of style, which was of infinite 
advantage when I became actively engaged in the business of 
life. I was not in the habit of submitting those critiques and 
compendiums (for my compositions took both forms) even to 
friendly criticism ; aiid in looking into them after the lapse of 
years I found the earlier ones abounding in verbiage, and run- 
ning into a turgidity of style which gradually disappeared as 
I became familiar with the best Englisli writers, and especially 
as my acquaintance with the Roman authors grew more inti- 
mate. From the latter I made copious quotations, and was in 
the habit of using them quite freely at a later period, when I 
became a writer for the periodical press. ^ think it safer for 
very young Avriters to err on the side of inflation than severity 
of style ; for while good taste eventually chastises and corrects 
the former, the latter is almost certain to run into meagre- 
ness and inelegance. For this reason the pruning of youth- 
ful compositions should be guided by a prudent forbearance 
on the part of instructors. 

The years which follo"' 'd my father's death were full of 
anxiety and trial for me. As I have said, his affairs had be- 
come hopelessly embarrassed, and his large family were left 
with very inadetiuate means of sujiport. AVith the small sal- 
ary which I derived from my connnission I nevertheless, by 
rigid economy, was able to contribute something to eke out 
their annual income ; and I think this necessity, Avhich render- 




ed it impossible for rae to take part in amusements and social 
indulgences requiring the expenditure of money, served to 
make my devotion to study more unremitting. 1 owe much 
to the habits of economy thus forced upon me for years, and 
engrafted on me, as it were, in my youth. One of their in- 
separable accompaniments is a dread of debt. It has accom- 
panied me through life. During the sixteen years of my ser- 
vice in the army I only once made a loan. I borrowed one 
hundred dollars of a friend in an emergency, and repaid him 
in less than two months. Another accompaniment equally 
inseparable, and equally important in an economical as well as 
a moral sense, is never to use for a single day a single dollar 
paid into our hands for others. In the financial trusts con- 
fided to me I have never violated in any instance for a single 
hour this cardinal rule of fiduciary obligation. How much of 
personal dishonor would have been preserved from taint, 
how much of distress and mortification have been sjjarcd, if 
tl'is rule were generally respected ! 

A year or two after the close of the war my step-mother 
received a pension, as the widow of an ofticer who had lost his 
life in the military service ; and as my sisters grew up they 
married, and the condition of the family became free from care. 
AVhile Colonel Walbach was in command at Portsmouth 
the artillery arm of the military service was organized as a 
corps, and I was transferred to it from the Twentj'-first Regi- 
ment of Infantry. It was subsequently divided into four regi- 
ments, and Colonel House, a most accomplished ofiicer and a 
perfect gentleman, became the commander of the regiment, 
formed out of the companies in the Eastern States. He ap- 
pointed me his adjutant, and after a year I was again placed on 
company service, and was assigned to the command of Fort 
Washington, on the Potomac, opposite Mount Yernon, at the 
close of the year 1818, while the fortification was in process of 
construction. I was there but a few months. Another stalf 
appointment — that of regimental quarter-master — took me to 
Fort Columbus, in the Harbor of ISTew York, in January, 1810. 



\i I 


In the month of March following I was appointed aide-de- 
camp to Major-general Jacob Brown, then in command of the 
Northern Military Department of the United States, while 
Major-general Andrew Jackson, afterward President of the 
United States, connnanded the Sonthern. From the close of 
the War of 1812- -in February, 1814 — I had been for the 
most part in garrison and a diligent student. As one of 
General Brown's military family my life underwent a radical 
change. I was from that moment involved for a portion of 
the year in all the activities, excitements, and indulgences of 
fashionable society. The presence of the general, Avhose dis- 
tinguished military career ranked him among the first of 
American commanders, was eagerly sought, and I remember 
my first appearance on his staif was at a brilliant assemblage 
of the beauty, talent, and wealth of the city of New^ York at 
the house of one of its most conspicuous citizens. I was de- 
clining to allow him to present me to one of the belles of the 
city, renowned for her wit as well as her grace, because, as I 
said, I was afraid I might be expected to ask her to dance, an 
accomplishment I had not then acquired. I was not aware 
that she was standing so close to us that she could not help 
overhearing our conversation. With her readiness to meet 
emergencies she turned toward us, and, addressing the gen- 
eral, said, " General, if you were to ask me to dance, I should 
be under the painful necessity of refusing you, for I am en- 
gaged for the rest of the evening." In the midst of my con- 
fusion he presented me, and it was the beginning of an ac- 
quaintance which ripened into a lasting friendship. 

The general passed liis winters in AVashington, and his sum- 
mers, excepting when he was engaged in tours of inspection, 
at Brownvillc, Jefferson County. We set out immediately for 
his home, and at Albany he was again intercepted, to dine 
with Do AVitt Clinton, then Governor of the State, whose 
dignified and connnanding presence made an impression on 
me which I have never forgotten. My awe might have been 
somewhat diminished if I could have looked forward half a 


A^ v2c^^^\ 






century and seen myself occupying the same distinguished 

Brownvillc was a quiet, pleasant village of very moderate 
dimensions. The inhabitants consisted chiefly of the laboring 
classes, with two or three families only of whom the general 
visited. After testing my capacity by giving me two or 
three despatches to write, he intrusted to me nearly all of his 
general official correspondence ; yet in a country village, free 
from social exactions, I still had a good deal of time at my 
disposal, and I did not fail to avail myself of it to pursue my 
studies. The prospect of a long peace seemed to me to afford 
little opportunity for gaining distinction, and 1 decided to 
commence the study of the law, with a view to resign my mil- 
itary commission and engage in civil pursuits. I connnenced, 
like most law students, with the inevitable Blackstone, and, 
with some friendly counsel from the village lawyer, I made 
very respectable progress in my new undertaking during the 
two summers I was under his supervision. The winters I 
passed in Washington, gaining more and more knowledge of 
the world, and becoming acquainted with most of the distin- 
guished men of that day, but with little respite from the 
social exigencies incident to my position for study and mili- 
tary duty. My name, however, was entered in the office of 
William Wirt, the Attorney-general of the United States, and 
under his friendly auspices I was admitted to the Bar of the 
District of Columbia, although never engaged in practice 
there. My most familiar association was with Mr. Calhoun, 
then Secretary of AVar under Mr. Monroe's administration, 
and for several years after I left Washington a contidential 
correspondence was carried on between us. Political differ- 
ences in 1828 estranged us ; but we sat together in the United 
States Senate in 18'16-'47, and with no diminution of our 
mutual respect and good-will. 

Mr. Calhoun was a man of singular personal purity, and his 
charms of conversation were irresistible, particularly to young 
men, who always received from him esjiecial kindness and 




ii ! 




courtesy. His intellectual powers, the vicissitudes of Lis 
career, and liis peculiar construction of the Constitution, form 
too large a theme for these reminiscences. lie was a contem- 
porary and a competitor with "Webster and Clay for political 
honors, and a frequent antagonist witli them in debate in the 
Senate of the United States ; and it may be justly said that he 
came out of these encounters without forfeiting his claim to a 
place in the same plane of public distinction. 

In the sjwing of I went witli General Brown on an 

excursion into the interior of Virginia, the chief object of 
which M'as to pay a visit to Mr. Madison and Mr. Jefferson. 
Our first pause was at Montpelier, the residence of the former, 
in Orange County. It was under his administration that the 
general received the commission which laid tlie foundation of 
his military reputation, and I need not say that the meeting 
was a cordial one on both sides. We passed two days with 
him, charmed with his interesting and instructive conversa- 
tion, the graceful and unaffected hospitality of his v.'ife, and 
the devoted attention of his son, Payne Todd. Mr. Madison 
was of low stature and quiet manners, and with no physical 
traits to mark the eminence he had attained ; but liis conver- 
sation, though simple and unpretending, would soon have im- 
pressed one entirely ignorant of his political career with the 
conviction tliat he was a man of great intellectual jiower, with 
a large and varied experience in public affairs. 

Mr. Jefferson, whose house (Monticello), in Albemarle 
County, we reached the night of the day on which we left 
Montpelier, contrasted strongly in person and manners with 
Mr. Madison. He was tall, dignified, and stately, less conver- 
sational, except Avhen warmed by a congenial topic, but com- 
menting with singular frankness and freedom on men as 
well as things. I cannot better illustrate this last trait than 
by repeating a remark in regard to Mr. Monroe, who was 
President of the United States from 1817 to 1825, and to 
whom, I believe, he was attached by a life-long friendship. 
" Monroe," he said, " was a man of remarkable judgment and 



common -sense. If an object was placed before liim lie would 
be sure to reach it, but he could never tell you how he got 
there." lie spoke of the family of Louis XVI. with great 
contempt, with an obvious sympathy with the French lievo- 
lution, apart from its atrocities. The leaning of Mr. Madison 
in the same dh'cction may be referred, perha])s, without a 
forced construction to the fact that he gave a French name to 
his residence. Mr. Jefferson must unquestionably be consid- 
ered, when his varied accomplishments are taken into account, 
the most remarkable man of his time. He was a natural phi- 
losopher, profoundly versed in political science, an accom- 
plished musician, and a tasteful architect. His house, design- 
ed by himself, was a faultless specimen of Italian architecture. 
I was much addicted in my young days to drawing, and as I 
was finishing a sketch of it he came along, and, looking over 
my shoulder, said, much to my gratification, " Very exact." I 
believe this sketch furnished the illustration in Randall's Life 
of Jefferson. The preceding year, while at an evening party 
in New York, at which there was a good deal of nmsic. Cap- 
tain Bibby, the host, said to me, " I see you are very fond of 
music ; do you play on any instrument ?" I answered that I 
played a little on the violin. " That," said he, " was my instru- 
ment when I was a young man." lie then told mc that he 
was an aide-de-camp of the British General Frazcr, who was 
killed at Saratoga a few days before the surrender of Bur- 
goyne ; that he was sent as a prisoner of war to Charlottes- 
ville, three miles from Monticcllo, and that he had played 
duets with Mr. Jefferson on the violin. He added, " Mr. Jef- 
ferson was one of the best amateur violinists I ever knew." 

I mentioned this conversation to Mr. Jeiferson, who re- 
membered Captain Bibby perfectly ; and he then told me he 
had practised four hours a day on the violin for ten years 
when he was a young man ; that he had taken lessons of one 
of the first violinists in France while he was Minister at 
Paris, and that he gave up his violin when he became Secre- 
tary of State to General "Washington. He added, "I wish I 


V} ;1 



luul learned to play on the liarpsiehord, as niy fingers are too 
stiff for the violin, for in that case 1 might have amused my- 
self in my old age." 

I was very nmch sm-prised at these personal revelations. 
I had practised on the violin two hours a day for five years, 
and was able to play music not very difficult. I'ut I gave up 
my violin soon afterward, for I said to myself, " If Mr. Jeffer- 
son gave up his after so much more practice than I, I will 
act on his suggestion, and learn the piano sufficiently well to 
amuse myself." 1 did so ; and I will add that 1 do not think 
I have ever lost any valuable time by studying music; for 
my practice has always been after full hours of labor, when 
I should otherwise have given myself up to lounging. 

The winters I passed in Washington M'cre prolific of excit- 
ing debates in Congress, to many of which I was an auditor. 
The one which was most fruitful of angry controversy, of 
wide-spread interest, of deep feeling, and even of fears in tim- 
id quarters for the preservation of the Union, was in regard 
to the admission of the State of Missouri into the Union, with 
a provision prohibiting slavery north of the latitude of 3G° 30'. 
I was so fortunate as to hear the two speeches Avhich, on op- 
posite sides of the question, were considered the most able 
and are to this day the most noted — those of Mr. Pinlcney of 
Maryland against the prohibition, and Rufus King of New 
York in favor of it. It would be difficult to conceive a 
greater contrast than that in the oratory of the two senators. 
Mr. King's was calm, dignified, argumentative, forcible, and 
at times fervid. Pinkney's was impassioned, fiery, and some- 
times bordering on violence, but sustained throughout with 
surpassing logical power. It is generally conceded to have 
been the most effective effort of his life ; and in the history 
of our public debates nothing, perhaps, is so much to be re- 
gretted as the fact that this speech was not fully reported. 
Rufus King responded in all respects to my conception of an 
old Roman senator, maintaining in his manner the quiet dig- 
nity appropriate to the undisputed masters of the greatest 




empire of the ancient world. Mr. Pinkney seemed to mo 
like one of the democratic orators of antic^uity, whose aim it 
was to carry with them the jjassions as well us the convictions 
of the masses, l)y whom the movements of the govermnent 
were awaycd. 1 thought in one or two instances that the ve- 
hemence of the manner was disproportioned to the thought 
which it was intended to emphasize. For instance, I remem- 
ber as he stood beside his seat he rushed forward three or 
four steps, and, with a tremendous suj)pIoslo pedis, one of 
the devices of ancient oratory, he pronounced the words, 
" Distance is a mighty engine !" Untrained as I was at that 
time in the school of oratory, it struck me that the sentiment, 
separated from the accessary, did not justify so passionate an 
utterance. But of the immense power of the orator and his 
finished delivery no listener could entertain a doubt. 

One of the chief celebrities of the time when I was hiber- 
nating in AVashington was John llandolph of Iloanoke. lie 
was as remarkable in his dress as he was in physical character- 
istics. Tall, lean, straight as an arrow, his ungainly walk was 
made more conspicuous by a jockey-cap and a cape over a 
long surtout. 

Willard's Hotel, on the Pennsylvania Avenue, near tlie 
Treasury Department, was then known as Strothers'. It was 
the chief hotel in the city, and contained numy of the most 
distinguished members of both Houses of Congress. Mr. Van 
Bm*en, Louis McLane, and CIcncral Van llensselaer of Albany, 
known as the Patroon, had then parlors which were fashion- 
able resorts in the evening. The most frequented of these 
places of meeting was that of John D. Dickinson, a mem- 
ber of the House of Representatives, from Troy, N. Y. His 
daughter, an only child — afterward the wife of Ogle Tayloe, 
of AVashington — made it jjarticularly attractive by her charm- 
ing manners and conversation, as well as by her musical tal- 
ent. I was then practising on the violin, and we played in- 
numerable duets — generally by ourselves, but sometimes for 
the entertainment of others, llandolph was an occasional 






visitor, and paid courtly attentions to tlio yonnij^ lady — not 
with any hymeneal purpose, for, apart from the disparity of 
age, he was notoriously not a marrying man. One Saturday 
evening, Avhen I^frs. Dickmson's jjarlor was thronged with tho 
elite of the eai)ital, tlie suhject of conversation was Edward 
Everett, then a young Unitarian clergyman, who had como 
to AVashingtou witli a distinguished reputation as a pulpit 
orator, and whose frieiuls had obtained permission for him to 
preach the following day in the Hall of the House of llepre- 
Bentatives. Mr. UaJidolj)!! came in when discussion was at its 
height. He took no part in it, until Mrs. Dickinson, turning 
to him, said, "Mr. Tiandolph, arc you going to hear INfr. Ever- 
ett to-morrow ?" I rememher well, as the hush of voices in- 
dicated the general interest in his answer, how a low murmur 
of mingled import ran through the room, as he replied, in a 
sententious fashion not unusual Avith him, and in his high- 
toned, squeaking voice, " Can't patronize Antichrist, madam." 
I r^id not know to what branch of the Christian Church ho 
belonged ; it Avas rpiite manifest that ho was not unwilling to 
proclaim himself an uncompromising Trinitarian. 

[Here my fatlier's memoranda come abrnptlj' to an end, and I must 
continue the work alone, to my great regret, and, no doubt, to that of 
the readers of the pages which follow.] 

:! 'S 

I ! 




A.x). isai-isas. 




Desire to Leave the Army. — Law Stuclics. — Presidential Campaign of 
1824. — Admiration for Mr. Calhoun. — Contributions to Journals of the 
Period. — "Twelfth Night" Party at the Capital: Miss Wirt the 
Queeii. — Ill-health. — Doctor Abcrnethy's Prescription for DyspejDsia. 
— Romance. — ^ladame ChCgaraye's School. — Jolui J. Morgan. — A 
Young Del'utante at "Washington. — Engagement. — 1820: Marriage to 
Catharine Morgan. — Special Slessengcr to Court of Denmark. — Toiu- 
tlirough England. — Hamburg. — Ilolstein. — Copenhagen. — Travelling 
Post in Sweden. — Return Home. — Fortress Monroe : Trying Experi- 
ences in Virginia. — 1828: Resignation from the Military Service. 

i It 





My father's notes of his childhood and earlier years come 
down to 1S21. That date is important, as foreshadowing the 
transition from the military service to the occupations of civil 
life. lie has mentioned the strong opposition made to his 
entering the army, and how earnestly he was counselled to 
leave it as soon as a proper time should arrive. Inclining to 
this advice, he began, as early as the year 1810, to read law, 
and, although still in the military service, pursued his studies 
with a view to a change of profession. The design is stated 
in a letter to the Iloiiorable Xathan Stmford, from which I 
make the following extract : 

'■ Washington, January 31, 1823. 

"My dear Sir, — I beg leave to congratuUito you on your nomination 
to tlic office of Chancellor of Xew York, and on the certainty ■with which 
the conlirmatiou is nnnounccd from r.U quarters. In this event no one 
will rejoice more sincerely than myself, and 1 trust you will enjoy a per- 
manency of situation, of which the characteristic instability of Xew York 
politics would not in general authorize tlie expectation. 

" In about two months I sliall leave Washington for your city, and 
engage earnestly in the study of (he law. I Iiavc already studied two 
years within the limits of tlie State ; and when I shall have completed 
the legal term, and have so familiarized myself with the details of prac- 
tice as to be justified in the belief that my industry will ])rocure me 
a subsistence, I intend to present myself for aduiittancc at the Bar, and 
divest myself of all my military connections." 

The studies referred to were pursued at Brownsville, and 
elsewhere in the !St ate of ]Scw York, and continued at AVash- 
ington under the direction of AVilliani Wirt, Attorney-general 
of the United States 

Long before my father resigned his commission he had 
I.— 5 

f 'U 




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' ill] 










become well known us an able controversialist and an intelli- 
gent critic of jiublic affairs. It Avas natnral that he should 
feel a deep interest in the politics of the day. lie seems to 
have taken as active a part in them as was consistent Avith his 
position in the military service. The Presidential campaign 
which resulted in the election of John Quincy Adams, in the 
year 1824, was hotly contested. Five candidates were in the 
Held : John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War under President 
Monroe; "William II. Crawford, Secretary of the Treasury; 
John (^nincy Adams, Secretary of State ; llemy Clay, Speaker 
of the House of llcpresentatives ; and General Andrew Jack- 
son. I shall have occasion again to refer to that remarkable 
canvass in cunnectiuu with my father''s political history ; for 
the present it is sufficient to say that, like most of the gentle- 
men of the army, he was an enthusiastic admirer and staunch 
supporter of Mr. Calhoun, whoso cause he advocated with a 
practised and facile ])en. That distinguished statesman, in a 
letter to him from AVashington, September 28, 1823, attests 
the value and importance of his work as a writer on public 
affairs : 

" I write at present, not to communicate information (for I 
believe my friends in Ts'ew York are Avell informed), but to 
express the pleasure which 1 have derived fr:,m the perusal of 
your letters. I see the cause begins to be supported as it 
ought to be in your city. Let the same spirit of free, bold, 
and enlightened discussion be extended to the other great 
cities, and the good effects will soon be visible. This can best 
be effected by corrosp.>ndence." 

Colonel Cliarles G. Haines, a member of the New York Bar, 
and a prominent politician of that day, writes to him about 
the same time, referring to certain articles from his pen : 

"It is proper for me to remark that your essiiys have been 
republished very generally throughout the western country."- 
The junior editor of the Statebuian informs me that they are 

* I.e., the western counties of tLc State of New York. 




reinarkiil^ly popular, and I have seen them reprinted in sev- 
eral of the Eastern papers. All this is gratifying to nie. Any 
tribute to your genius gives nie joy and ^^Icasure." 

I may add here that Colonel Haines Avas Adjutant-general 
of the State under Governor Clinton ; that he and my father 
were warm friends and constant correspondents ; and that, 
upon the death of Colonel Haines, my father Avrotc and pub- 
lished an obituary notice of him. 

I have before me a largo volume of newspaper cuttings, 
containing a striking proof of his industry. There are articles, 
published under divers nonis de 2)lume, in many of the leading 
journals of Washington, New York, and Albany, and compris- 
ing contributions on all kinds of subjects. In the columns of 
the Wi(6-hhi(jf(ni lu'jniUlccoV^ and Wit tonal InteUitjencei' he 
replies to criticisms on the economy and efficiciu-y of the Sec- 
retary of War, aiul defends the department or which Mr. Cal- 
houn was then the head from "gross and unfounded charge'i." 
In the New York Statesman for the years 1822 and 1S23 
may be found articles, under the signatures oi 'Tericles," 
"Amphion," and "Publicola," relating to the political state 
of Europe, iinance, music, and the fine arts. He also gave 
a history of the ]Magara campaign of 1812, in six successive 
numbers of that journal. f The JVew York Patriotic contains 
dissertations on the tariff, national defence, and agriculture 
and manufactures, together with a sjries of brilliant and caus- 
tic letters in which he paid special, and prol)ably unwelcome, 
respects to Major Mordecai M. Noah. Did the space at my 
command peraiit it, I might justify, by reprinting several of 
these conununications, the opinion tliat they display a nuitu- 
rivy of thought :nid a polish of style, a force of logic and an 
amount of literary attaimnent remarkable iji so young a man ; 
and that they had much to do with estal)Hbiiing his re])utation 
for briglitness and ability, and preparing for the transition 

* A.D. 1822, signed "X." 

J A.D. 1833. siigucd " Fabius." 

t A.D. 1822, signed "Cinion.'' 



A 1 




1^ hi 

from tliG narrow sphere of the military profession to the 
broader field of political life. Meanwhile, he did not deem it 
beneath him to woo the Muse of Poetry, as is evident from 
the contents of another nuuiuscri[)t volume, filled with copies 
of veri?es a aich, no doubt, Avero highly ajipreciated by the fair 
ladies to whom most of them were addressed. There are 
acrostics and charades, iiionodies over the brevity of life, com- 
plimentary stanzas to reigning belles, and divers sportive effu- 
sions. Among these I find one headed with this memorandum : 

"It has been customary in Washington, on the Twelfth- 
night of each year, to crown a rpieen, and it was the l)usines3 
of the king to address her majesty, and to impose her regal 
honors npon her head. In 18:22 Miss Wirt (the daughter of 
the Attorne^'-general) was selected for queen, and I had the 
lionor of being selected for king. The following address was 
delivered at her coronation, in full assembly of heads of de- 
partments, members of Congress, foreign muiisters, etc." 

Then follow verses snch as might have been expected on 
the occasion, together with the queen's gracious reply to the 
king's addiess. 

It touches the heart to read these little poems, now dim in 
the faded ink, and like withered leaves from which the color 
fied long since ; yet it seems hardly worth while to give them 
a new life in these pages. Every youth has his dream-day, 
wherein he takes naturally to rhyming, and seeks to express in 
that form emotions that move the soul ; but the era passes by, 
and Avith it, perhaps, n'ight bettci perish the frail memorials 
of that transitory existence. The queen of the Twelfth-night, 
and her king, and all her court, are dust ; the sound of their 
merriment Mas hushed long since ; and now, in turning over 
these little compositions, one by one, I lose sight of the young 
soldier, and sec him as he vras forty-one years afterward, gray 
and weather-worn, and seated in his (puirters at Fortress Mon- 
roe, overshadowed by the Avide war-cloud, thinking of country 
and God, and translating the awful Dies //w, when the night- 
Avatch had been set, and his own night Avas far spent. 



During those early years my father bore the cross of ill- 
health. His account of his varied miseries and trials is suffi- 
ciently entertaining to merit preservation, especially as it re- 
lates a characteristic; interview M'ith one of the most learned 
and eccentric of the medical profession in England. I take 
it from the jSfciv Yorh Avwriean. It is headed by the omi- 
nous word " Dyspepsia," and begins as follows : 

" 3Ir. Editor, — The multitiule of counsellors on this prevailing infirm- 
ity, who have humanely been spreading iiifore mankind the history of 
their experience, and laying down rules lor our physical government, 
have so distntcted their fellow-sufferers by a variety, and even a contrari- 
ety, of ])recept, that I consider it no more than charity to attempt the 
solution of all this apparent mystery in the treatment of tlie disease. In 
the fu'st i)lace, however, let us take a peep at my credentials. I have 
been a dyspeptic since the year 1813, and a coniirmed one since 1820. 
The foundations of my complaint were laid during the campaign of 
1813, by a slow fever, jaundice, and camp disease at Sackett's Harbor; by 
bad pork {pcstc soit a messieurs les contnidcurs !) ; sleeping in swamps and 
mud-puddle$, on General Wilkinson's celebrated movement down the 
St. Lawrenje in the same year; and living in a tent at French Mills, lati- 
tude 4-1'' K, until the 4th of December. From 1818 to 1825 I was five 
times salivated for the liver complaint — which I never had; my person 
was subjv!cted by tlie first pliysicians of the country to every variety of 
process which the healing art (ah, much abused in name I) could devise, 
and at the end of that time I was discharged as incurable; and a host 
of leecliers, cuppers, bleeders, and apothecaries, rife with my spoils, were 
turned off to prey upon other victims. I commenced travelling; ex- 
hausted my own country in novelty, from Elaine to Florida, and fro;u 
Lake Superior to Long Island Sound; traversed the Caril)bean Sea, and 
luxuriated as Avell as a miserable invalid might amid its enchanting 
isles; crossed the Atlantic — 'Mutatis tcrris ipiantum oculis' — visited al- 
most every civilized country in Europe, and I'nally drew up in despair 
at the den of that medical bear, as the world has grossly miscalled him, 
Mr. Abernethy, of London, lie received me with great civility, heard a 
few words of my story, and cut me short as follows : 

" ' Sir, you are pretty i'ar gone, and tlie wonder is you are not gone en- 
tirely. If you had consulted common-sense instead of the medical fac- 
ulty you would i)rol>ably have been well years ago. I can say nothing 
to you excepting this : you must take regular exercise, as much as you can 
bear without fatigue ; as little medicine as possible, of the simplest kind, 

t * 



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III 1 


and this only M'hcn absolutely necessary ; and a moderate quantity of 
plain food, of the quality wliicii you find by experience best to agree 
with you. No man, not even a physician, can prescribe diet for another : 
"a stomach is a stomach ;" and it is impossible for any one to reason with 
safety from his own to that of any other person. There are a few gen- 
eral rules -which any man of common-sense may learn in a week — such as 
this, that rich food, high seasoning, etc., are injurious. I can say no 
more to you, sir: you must go and cure yourself 

"This is the only common-sense I have heard on the subject of dys- 
pepsia in the whole course of my life. From this time my cure com- 
mences; and, if I meet with no accident, I shall probably l)o seen some 
thirty years hence enjoying a green old age and a sound digestion." 

These hopes were fulfilled ; he did live to a green old age, 
attaining nearly eighty-one years, and I remember liow often 
he spoke of Abernethy, in what veneration he held him, and 
with what zest he would tell of the interview which he thus 

Still, the torment of a subtle disease gave him much annoy- 
ance, and even at one time threatened his hopes of success in 
the life of a civilian. In the year 1825 he appears to have 
decided to remain in the army, lia writes to a friend as 
follows : 

"My physician has been very frank with me in relation to my health, 
and has extended his view to my future course of life as connected witii 
it. I was in some measure prepared for what he said by the opinion of 
Dr. 15ell, Avho, in passing through Philadelpliia, had used the same free- 
dom witli me. The conviction, however, which my mind has yielded to 
their opinions is not the less distressing to my feelings, nor has it been 
conceded but upon a course of inde])endent rellections of my own. In 
one word, they have botli expressed the opinion tliat I cannot expect to 
regain my healtli Avith sedentary habits, and that I must give up for a 
time, if not forever, my new professional pursuits. Dr. Bell went so far 
as to say that to return to my office would be taking a direct and certain 
road to my grave, and that I could not expect to enjoy my health, if I 
should once regain it, in a city, with the regular application of law jjur- 
suits. It is unnecessary to say that thj necessity of abandoning the ob- 
jects to which I have devoted all my efforts and thoughts for the last 
six years gave a severe shock to my feelings. I cannot, however, con- 
tend against what is inevitable, and I have done what I could to recon- 

II ! 





cile myself to my fate. ... I of course nee<l not say that, in abandoning 
my new profession, I again become depenilent on my commission, which 
is tliiit of Captain of Artillery. My regiment is to be stationed in New 
England in the spring, so that I sliall i)c in some city in my native sec- 
tion of the country and the neighborhood of my friends. . . . For myself 
I cannot be idle, and I must seek in the army that preferment for which 
my health has forbidden me to iiope ii, another profession. Perhaps I 
could not be I)etter provided witli facilities for re-establishing my health 
than by my New England destination; but I have now an unlimited 
furlough for its recovery." 

The cause of the dcsponclency hctrayed in this letter was 
ultimately removed. It was after this that he fell in with his 
medical " guide, philosopher, and friend," in London ; and an 
improvement in health encouraged him to take the long-med- 
itated step and retire from the army. 

There Avas another desire m his heart, to which it is next in 
order to refer. I read Avith tenderness the idyl of my father's 
youth ; it became the life-poem of his fifty-three years of man- 
hood and old age, for the vision never faded away. It began 
when he was on the staff of General Brown. Ilis relations 
Avith that distinguished olticer Avere not merely those of an 
aide-de-camp, but also of an intimate and confidential friend ; 
in llie general's house he Avas as one of tlie family. It so 
liappened that, in the year 1S22, a danghter of the general's 
Avas in Ncav York, at a celebrated school of the period kept 
by ]\rademoiselle Desabeye, afterward knoAvn as Madame 
C/hegarayc. Tlio major, having been sent one day by his 
chief Avith a message to his daughter, saAv Avhilc there, in the 
school parlor, a young lady Avho Avas receiving the visit of a 
friend. My father always gallantly insisted that it Avas one 
of those cases in Avhich the first sight decides the future, and 
that he made a resolve at that moment Avhich, some years 
later, he AA'as so happy as to be able to fulfil. The name of 
this young gentlcAvoman Avas Catharine Morgan ; she Avas the 
adojited daughter of John J. Morgan, then a Member of Con- 
gress from the State of Ncav York, and at that time a1)sent at 
Washington. I nuist pause in this narration and say a few 




!i ' 

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words about a man to wlioin my father was so greatly in- 

John Jordan Morgan was born in the city of New York 
in the year 17GS. lie was a Welshman by descent ; the fam- 
ily were loyalists before the Revolution, and destined him for 
the Iwoyal iS^avy ; but inidcr the new order of things their 
prospects changed, and they adhered to the cause of the Ee- 
public. lie was twice married. His first wife, Catharine 
Warne by name, a woman of great beauty and loveliness 
of character, was a niece of Colonel Marinus AVillett. She 
died three years after their marriage. A child, aged four 
months, had preceded her. The shock of these successive 
afflictions was so great that Mr. Morgan's health, not strong 
before, gave way, and he was sent abroad for a change of 
climate and scene. In Lisbon the pulmonary disorder, which 
had threatened to end in early death, was arrested ; and, 
after some time spent in travel, he turned his face home- 
ward, restored to health. He sailed from Penzance in a 
l^acket - shij) bound for New York. Among his travelling 
companions were the family of Mr. Robert Baldwin, for- 
merly Mayor of Cork, who was going out to seek a home in 
the New AVorld. Some tvro or three years afterward he mar- 
ried one of the daughters, Eliza Baldwin, The Baldwin fam- 
ily settled in Canada, where, by their talents and abilities, and 
by fortunate intermarriages, they became wealthy, prosperous, 
and influential.* Some time after his second nuirriage Mr. 

* The party who sailed from Penzance for a home in the Western 
world consisted of Robert Baldwin, his sons William Warren Baldwin 
and John Sj)read Baldwin, and his daughters Eliza (afterward Sirs. Mor- 
gan), Alice, Anna Maria, who died unmarried, and Mary Warren, after- 
ward Mrs. Breakenridge. Augustus Warren Baldwin, anotlier sou, was 
not with liis father at that time, being in the Royal Navy; the eldest 
daughter, Barbara, came out afterward. The Baldwin family became 
distinguished in Canada, and were notable for integrity, industry, and 
intelligence. Dr. William W. Baldwin was both a lawyer and a physi- 
cian, and of high standing in each i^rofession. His sou Robert was 

' M 



Morgan atlopted tlio little daughter of his first wife's hrother, 
whose mother also was dead. The child had hecn cliristened 
Catharine Morgan, and on her adoption that becunie her full 

Some arc yet living who remember Mr. Morgan as he was 
in the maturity of his powers. The image thus retained is 
that t>f one who merited the somewhat worn but just descrip- 
tion of "a gentlenum of the old school;" no other phrase ex- 
presses what he was. Highly educated and acconii)lislied, 
a good Latin scholar, Meriting and speaking the French lan- 
guage fluently, and having the manners of a day that has 
passed, he adorned the society in which he moved. He served 
the State as a Member of Assembly, and the country in Con- 
gress, and Avas at one time Collector of the Port of New 
York. AVhile still a young man he made an investment in 
lands in Madison, Herkimer, and Chenango counties, in this 
State, and for more than fifty years he never failed to spend 
the summer at a farm in ]>rooklield, some twenty-four miles 
south of Utica, where he indulged the tastes of an ardent dis-^ 
eij)le of Izaak Walton and a lover of country life. Thclaiids 
were purchased by him, under patent, from the State, lie 
was fond cf saying that he was tlttj first white man who ever 
owned them. When he went there, with his family, to take 
possession they had to find their way through the woods by 
the blaze-marks on the trees, and were supplied with fish and 


among the most prominent men of his time in Canada, being a member 
of Lord Elgin's Cabinet, and more than once Premier. Augustus W. 
Baldwin was Admiral of the Blue at the time of his death, and a perfect 
specimen of the old British officer. John Baldwin made a fortune iu 
business, nnd left a large family. Three of his sons took holy orders: 
the Rev. Edmund Baldwin was connected with St. James's Cathedral, 
Toronto ; ]\Iaurice Baldwin is now Dean of Montreal ; and Arthur 
Baldwin is Rector of a vigorous parish in Toronto. It may be said of 
the original family and its descendants that thoy were of an upright, 
honorable, clever stock, not slothful in business, and distinguished for 
their earnest religious character and firm faith. 

I) "' 

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game by Indiana, wlio still rouincd tlio forest. Mr. Morgan 
was one of those men who, in principle intensely democratic, 
are personally as intense aristocrats, lie deemed repnblican- 
ism the best form of government, bnt for li's house and social 
relations he luul another code. There is a line which men are 
compelled to draw who, whatever their political opinions, 
would maintain their jiersonal dignity and self-respect, and 
he drew it with rigor and precision. Such was the man 
who became, in time, the young offieer''s father-in-law, and 
remained through life his devoted friend. 

It may have been a year after the accidental interview 
wliich I have described when Major Dix met Miss Morgan 
in Washington. Ilcr father, unwilling to leave her behind 
him again, took her to the capital at the next session of Con- 
gress. Mrs. Morgan, when calling one day on a lady whose 
cards were out for a ball, was asked to bring her daughter 
with her. She declined, on the ground that she was too 
young to go into society, and added, " She will be just fifteen 
years old the day of your ball." " That," re])lied her friend, 
" is the more reason why she should come : make it her h\vi\\- 
(\^y fi'tey Consent Vv'as given; the young girl went to that 
ball and, after ti'at, to every one of the season. The circum- 
stances were propitious to the success of a suit, which Major 
Dix soon afterward began to press ; and the result was an en- 
gagement, which, after the lapse of two or three years, was 
ha])pily terminated by their marriage. 

Mr. Morgan took a warm interest in the prospects of his 
future son-in-law. lie encouraged his wish to leave the army 
and pursue the profession of the law, foreseeing that, in time, 
he would be called to the higher duties and responsibilities 
of the statesman. The f;'tes, however, appeared unpropitious, 
and, in consequence of continued ill- health, he became de- 
spondent on the subject of the desired change. The pros- 
pect of a brilliant career seemed likely to fade out altogeth- 
er ; and this was the more trying, because personal influences 
had been at work by which the door to civic honors would 



have been opened the nioment lie should liavc hiid the sword 
aside. A year before his marriage he had made u]) liis mind 
that he must remain in the army, and that he eould offer to 
the woman of his choice notliing better tlian the uncertain- 
ties and trials M'hich environ the lot of a soldier's Avife. 

In the year 182(5 a convention was concluded at "Washing- 
ton between the United States and the Kingdom of Den- 
mark, and a special messenger was to be sent to Copenhagen, 
charged with delivering that treaty to our rciiresentative in 
that country. The Precidcnt instructed Mr. ('lay to offer 
that service to Major Dix, and to require his departure on his 
mission with as little delay as pi'acticable. The letter is 
dated May 10, the copy of instructions May 17. On the 2i)tli 
of that month the marriaije of John A. Dix and Catharine 
Morgan took place, at St. John's Chapel, in the parish of 
Trinity Church, in the city of New York, the Kcv. Ijcujamin 
T. Ouderdonk, an assistant minister of the parish, officiating. 
Immediately after the wedding they embarked for England 
in the packet-ship William T/iomj>i^on, Captain Bowne, and 
arrived at Liverpool on the 29th of June. A fortnight was 
pleasantly passed in England, during which they visited Ches- 
ter and the Yale of Llangollen, Lichfield, Kenilworth, War- 
wick, and Stratford-on-Avon, Oxford, and London. Thence, 
on the 15th of July, they set sail for lland)urg, on the way to 
Cox^enhagen. I have before me a journal of their tour, full 
of entertaining sketches of persons and jilaces, from which I 
shall make a few extracts, by way of a S2)ecimen of their ad- 

From Ilandiurg they posted to Kiel, crossing what was then 
the Danish province of Ilolstein, and were not a little em- 
barrassed by the fact that no one could speak any language 
which they understood, in consequence of which they were 
"under the necessity of exercising a system of pantomime 
whenever they had any want to satisfy." On that painful 
progress, says the writer in the journal, " we were more than 
once compelled to gnaw our fingers for half an hour before 

, •\ 





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|M 112.5 








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WEBSTER, N.Y. 14S80 

(716) 872-4503 






we could make tliem comprehend that we Avanted something 
to eat, and as to any details they were altogether hopeless. 
Whenever a gleam of intelligence shot across their features 
in the course of the dumb -show we were carrying on, the 
exclamation always was, ' Butter und hrod, yaw /' and bread 
and butter was oil that we could get. By the middle of the 
second day we were almost reduced to desperation for the 
want of meat, and we looked around in vain for something 
which would convey the idea of animal food. Not a fowl, a 
pig, or a sheep was to be seen in the yard ; we even glanced 
about for a kitten or a puppy, but our researches were in vain, 
and we were finally compelled to dine on ' huttcr und hrod,'' 
as we had breakfasted that morning and supped the night 

From Kiel they crossed to Coj)enhagen. Official duties 
having been performed, some time was spent in visiting 
places of interest in the vicinity of the city. There is a 
graphic account of their attempt to effect an entrance into 
the palace of Fredericsborg : 

" On the 27th, immediately after breakfast, we disposed our- 
selves for an inspection of the interior of the palace, and after 
passing through the gates we looked around for some one to 
direct us. The first animate object was a boy, of a sort of 
Flibbertigibbet air and manner, drawing rai)i- water from a 
barrel, which he was watching with the strictest vigilance in 
order to put the tap in at the very nick of time — when the 
liquid should reach the brim of the receiving vessel. We 
asked him in English where we could find the keeper of the 
palace, and were probably just as well understood as we 
should have been if we had addressed hiui in Hebrew or 
Chaldaic. lie answered in Danish, which was about as intel- 
ligible to us as any of tlie languages spoken at Babel at the 
time of the confusion ; but in both tliese operations he kept 
his eyes riveted steadfastly upon the water-cask. In this 
hopeless condition of our department of intelligence we con- 
cluded to wait patiently until the boy's eyes were somewhat 




relieved of the urgency of their present occupation. "VVe did 
not wait long, and after divers attempts to light up his feat- 
ures by the force of signs with a ray of comprehension, we 
set off for a building across the court to which he motioned 
us. At this building we were motioned to another, on the 
opposite side, where we were again motioned to another. But 
at this last we found immediately that we were upon the right 
scent ; for, on repeating to a female at the door the motions 
we had made to the boy, she pointed to the stairs, up which 
we ascended without hesitancy. After knocking a long time 
another female showed herself, in slippers down at the heel, a 
flannel night-dress wrapped round her, and her hair put up in 
paj)ers in the best modern taste. She looked so French in 
every respect that we could not refrain from addressing her 
in that language ; and, to our unspeakable joy, she rcijlied to 
us, with one of those half-hackneyed and half-natural smiles 
which none but a Frenchwoman can manage with effect. 
Under her direction, attended by the keeper, who lodged in 
an adjacent apartment, we at last commenced an examina- 
tion of the palace." 

From Denmark they went over into Sweden, and spent 
some days at a watering-place called Ramlosa. Travelling in 
that country at that time was attended with difficulties now, 
happily, unknown. They had their own carnage, but were 
dependent for horses on a crude post - service, the farmers 
throughout the country being required by law to provide 
those animals for the use of travellers, together with a wagon 
and driver for persons who needed them. If the tourist had 
his own carriage, but no coachman, the farmer drove ; but 
where there were both carriage and coachman, the farmer 
who furnished the horses mounted the box with the coach- 
man, surrendering the reins, and only assisting in whipping 
the horses. This aid, it would appear, was invaluable. 

" Sometimes wo had horses which were able-bodied enough, 
but so invincibly lazy that they required a constant applica- 
tion of the lash, like machines that stop the instant the impel- 


. ',i' 







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, i 



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ling force is withdrawn; and on tlif j occasions we found an 
incalculable advantage in having a coachman who could whip 
one horse while the farmer was whipping the other. Our 
equipage was not like that of Iludibras, who, by putting one 
side of his steed in motion, was sure the other would follow : 
we had, unluckily, two distinct wills to influence, and they 
had not even the advantage of inanimate bodies in a momen- 
tum, by which the movement is kept up for a while after the 
propelling power ceases ; but the instant the lash was removed 
from the back of either animal he became as motionless as a 
statue. This perversity in our cattle was a source of no little 
embarrassment to us for a while ; but by the ingenious device 
of two whips in constant operation — a contrivance for which 
we were indebted to the joint deliberations of the Swedish 
farmer and our Swedish coachman — we managed to keep the 
backs of both perj)etually exercised, and by this means the 
regular rate of progression w^as maintained." 

Here is a pretty description of a scene on the shore of the 
Sound : 

" From the height you look down upon the Sound, but two 
miles distant, and always whitened with the canvas of j)assing 
ships. Beyond it lies in full view iclie opposite coast of Den- 
mark, but four miles from the Swedish shore, covered with 
farm-houses and windmills, and inore strongly marked in the 
spires and castellated turrets of Elsinore, where every trad- 
ing vessel to and from the Baltic is compelled to stop and pay 
tribute. Lower down lies the island of AVen, where Tycho 
Brahe resided, and held his nightly consultations with the 
heavens ; and in the opposite direction you catch a glimpse 
of the little Swedish town of Ilelsingborg, overlooked by a 
huge quadrangular tower, which is fast mouldering into ruin, 
upon a neighboring height." 

Returning to Copenhagen, they proceeded by steamer to Lu- 
beck, and so back to Hamburg. A brief tour through Holland 
ended the Continental expedition, and, embarking soon after 
from an English port, they returned to the United States. 



That autumn Major Dix was ordered to Fortress Monroe. 
Tlic following winter was spent at that station. His young 
wife's experience of domestic life in a garrison was equally 
novel and disagreeable. To some of their trials she thus 
alludes in a letter home : 

" Old Point Comfort, Dcccmbci' 21, 1820. 
. " My dear Father and Mother, — To-morrow will be a week since 
we arrived, here, and during that time we have not heard from you, and 
there is no hope of getting a letter to-day, for the Norfolk steamboat has 
brought us nothing. We are expecting our furniture very anxiously, and 
tiie moment it comes we shall take possession of our two rooms, without 
waiting for a carpet. We should build a kitchen, if we considered our- 
selves established here for any length of time. We have two very hand- 
some rooms, with marble mantel-pieces and folding-doors; but not a 
store-room, nor a closet, nor a pantry is to be found on our premises. 
We are going to have pine cupboards made, and our dinner-table can bo 
supplied with meat from the mess-room. I have seen nothing here that 
deserves the name of a vegetable. It is tlie poorest place, I believe, on 
the whole face of the earth. The worst part of Sweden is a garden com- 
pared with it. I give you my word there is not an eatable thing to be 
procured here but oysters and fish. They send to Norfolk, and Wash- 
ington even, for the commonest articles of food, and have to pay high 
for them ; and then such servants — all black ; and so careless and im- 
provident ! The other day I had been asking repeatedly for wood, and 
was getting almost out of patience, when our maid came and said to me 
that if I could wait a few moments longer Ilippon woidd saw some. This 
is always the case in Virginia, they tell me. Foresight'' — [here the let- 
ter is continued in my father's handwriting] — "I suppose Catharine 
meant to saj-, is a thing altogether unknown in the domestic economy 
of Virginia. And as she has been called off to attend to some engage- 
ment, I have taken upon myself to finish her letter. 

"Since the first moment of my arrival here I have been incessantly oc- 
cupied — on drill, on parade, on guard, on court-martial, on inspection, 
on review ; and busied with a thousand other modes of duty, which 
scarcely give me time to think. ... I am no more strongly enamored 
than I was before I came here of my profession, although the duties are 
not very disagreeable; but everything like a systematic application of 
the mind to any purpose of improvement is out of the question. One is 
no sooner in the midst of a reverie on some interesting or important 
matter, than a fellow comes in to break off the chain of thought with — 

n i 





\ ' 







' Captain, the sergeant won't lot »nc have my rations of whiskey ;' or, 

'Captain, Private Such-a-one has got tlrunlc and lost his musket.' 

"Catharine endures her separation from you with much firmness, 

though she feels the whole extent of tlie loss. AVe l)oth hojie for better 

times, when we shall all be united. I will write again in a day or two, 

and in the mean time am ever most affectionately yours, 

" J. A. Dix. 

"The New Hampshire delegation have unanimously recommended mo 

to the President for the appointment I had in view. I received a day or 

two ago a copy of the paper addressed to him."* 

A letter from General Brown to Mr. Morgan in the fol- 
lowing year shows the esteem in which my father was held 
in the military service of the United States : 

" Ilcad-quartcrs, Washington, January 15, 1837. 
"My deau Sir, — Yours of the 13th this moment came to hand; and 
I have to say, and with much pleasure, that I liavc heard oftru from 
Captain Dix and your daughter, and always to my satisfoctfrn. Your 
son is gaining an army character of great value. Mrs. Vinlon had a let- 
ter from Captain Dix a day or two since ; all well. 

" Mrs. Brown and Mary will thank me for remembering them, with 
friendly regard, to you and IMrs. Morgan. 

" I am yours truly, Jac. Browx. 


In consequence of continued ill-health, and on a strong rec- 
ommendation from the post surgeon, Major Dix was relieved 
from duty at Fortress Monroe early in the summer of 1827 

* Tlie paper referred to in the postscript is as follows ; 

" To tlie President of the United States: 

"If it bo contemplated to appoint a ChargC d'Affaircs to reside at 
Stockholm or Naples, the iindersigned beg leave to express their con- 
fidence in the integrity and talents of Mr. John A. Dix, of New Hamp- 
shire, and their v.jsh for his appointment, should the public interest 
justify the same. "Signed, Thomas WiiirPLE, Jr., 

Jonathan Harvey, 
Joseph Healley, 
Iciiabod Bartlett, 
NEHEMfAn Eastman, 
Titus Brown." 



and sent to New York. Time passed on, and his dissatisfaction 
with the duties of his profession, dull and spiritless in time 
of peace, increased ; until the wish to leave the army revived 
with added strength. In this desire he was seconded by his 
wife, while her father, Mr. Morgan, not only encouraged 
him in his projects but offered assistance, without which it 
would, perhaps, have been impossible to take the contemplated 
step. Besides the estate in Madison, Herkimer, and Chenango 
Counties, Mr. Morgan also owned lands in Otsego County, in 
the neighborhood of the beautiful village of Coopei*stown. 
For the care of these he needed an agent. The position was 
offered to his son-in-law, on condition that he should leave 
the military service, fix his residence in that region, and com- 
mence the practice of the law. Nothing could have accorded 
better with his inclinations, esiiecially as he disliked towns, 
and had a strong relish for a country life. The following 
documents give the conclusion to this period of the history : 

" West Point, July 2t), 1828. 
" Sin,— I have the honor to resign my commission as Captain of the 
Third Regiment of Artillery. After sixteen years' service in tlie army, in 
wliich I have lost my health, I trust it will not be tleemccl too much if I 
ask that my resignation may be accepted on the 1st of July or August, 
1829, and that I be in the mean time permitted to remain on furlough. 
I could not in less time make my arrangements for engaging iu another 
profession. I should have gone to Providence on the recruiting service 
for a few months, but I thought it would but occasion inconvenience to 
the Government, if I were to go tliere and resign almost as soon as the 
establishment was formed. This consideration only has induced me to 
send in my resignation at this time instead of a later day; particularly 
as the place which I have purchased is now under a lease, so that I can- 
not get possession of it for several months. I mention all these circum- 
stances, although I indulge the hope that the consideration of my long 
service and enfeebled health will alone insure the indulgence I ask — the 
last it will be in my power to ask of my military superiors. 
" I am, Sir, very respectfully, 

" Your most obedient servant, 

" John A. Dix. 
"Major-general Macomb " 

I.— G 





ii ' 


I :f[; 


i i 




" Adjutant-generara Office, Washington, August 6, 1823. 

«' Order No. 41. 

" Tlie resignation of Captain J. A. Dix, of the Third Regiment of Artil- 
lery, has been accepted by the President of the United States, to take 
effect the 31st of December next. 

" By Order. R. Jones, Adjutant-general." 

" Adjutant-general's Office, Washington, August 7, 1828. 
" Special Order No. 80. 

" Captain Dix, of the Third Artillery, has authority to be absent on 
furlough until the 31st of December next, when his resignation will 
take effect, as announced in ' Order' No. 41. 

"By order of Major-general ^lacomb. 

"R. Jones, Adjutant-general." 

And thus my father's connection with the army was sev- 
ered — not to be resumed till the year 1861, and in the most 
trying days of the history of the Republic. 






A.n, 18S8-1830. 


I' Ij 



Cooperstown. — " Apple Ilill." — Long Winters. — Ilousc-kceping. — Offer 
of a Foreign Appointment. — Samuel F. B. Morse. — First Effort at 
Speaking without Notes. — Village Excitements ; Religious Revivals. — 
Quiet Years Formative of the Future. — Political History of New York. 
— Review of the History of Parties in the United States. — Federalists. 
— Administration of John Adams. — Democratic Triumph under Jeffer- 
son. — The Hartford Convention. — Do Witt Clinton. — The Bucktails. — 
Convention of 1821; State Constitution Revised. — Colonel Haines. — 
Major M. M. Noah.. — General Brown's Relations to President Adams 
and Governor Clinton. — Anti-Masonic Excitement. — Disappearance of 
William Morgan. — General Jackson's Administration. — Views of John 
Adams Dix on Anti - Masonry. — Slavery; African Colonization. — 
Speeches on Negro Emancipation. — Opposition to Aljolitionism. — In 
1830 appointed Adjutant-general of the State of New York. — Fare- 
well to Otsego. 




The place at Cooperstown referred to in the letter of res- 
ignation was purchased by Mr. Morgan for his son and daugh- 
ter in the year 1828. They took possession of their new home 
late in the autumn, and spent the following winter there. The 
village of Cooperstown, first settled by Judge AVilliam Coop- 
er, A.D. 1790, and famous as the birthplace of James Fcnimoro 
Cooper, our immortal novelist, is situated at the southern 
end of Otsego Lake, a lovely sheet of water, ten miles in 
length, in which the Susquehanna River takes its rise. My 
father's residence was known as " Ajiple Hill." It was on an 
eminence which commands a full view of the lake ; and just 
below the bank the Susquehanna pursued a winding course 
beneath the willow-trees. The house was a large, old-fash- 
ioned structure, without pretension to architectural effect, but 
homely and spacious ; an avenue of great trees led to it from 
the village street ; my father's modest law - office was also 
within the enclosure. lie took delight in the scenery, and 
particularly in the view of the lake from the veranda. Once, 
when a guest had arrived late in the evening, he prepared an 
agreeable surprise. Leading him forth in the morning, with- 
out a word of introduction, he suddenly showed him the pros- 
pect, and stood awaiting the exclamations of delight which 
ought to have followed. But the imperturbable traveller, 
casting an indifferent glance about, merely observed, " W/if/, 
I see you have got quite a ;pond here.'''' I have heard my 
father tell the story and descant on his intense humiliation 
and disgust. Such persons as these are painful social trials. ■ 
It is related of a member of the fraternity, who was encoun- 
tered in Lombardy, on his w^ay South, and asked whether he 










liad como across tlie Alps, that lie replied, " Well, I gnesa we 
did come over rislti' ground.''' 

The winters were terrible for their length, and for the 
M'eary hiding of the earth under the snow ; not so hard, how- 
ever, as those in his native New England, where sometimes 
the ground would crack open with a loud report under the 
effect of the frost. There was one long, long winter, when, 
from November until April, they never once saw the ground ; 
and my mother L'ticU down and kissed the first bright blade 
of grass in the spring.* 

1 have old letters, good store, which passed between Apple 
Hill and No. !■! Bond Street, the country and the town homos. 
They tell of the changes of the seasons, the hard winters, the 
hopeful spring-tides, and the mellow autumn days. In the 
sunnucr all were together. My father threw himself with his 
characteristic ardor into the pursuits of rural life, declining 
no responsibility of a householder. Writing to his wife, in 
New York, on the 30th of April, 1820, he says : 

"It will be three weeks since we parted, and I verily be- 
lieve it is the longest period of bachelorhood I have known 
these three years. At all events it has beci' .. most dreadfully 
solitary and gloomy one. Wc are very bus}- ; but, unluckily, 
our minds are not as attentive as our hands to the matters in 
operation. Mine is constantly stealing over the Vision,f 
thence to the Hudson ; and down its waters, you know, the 
transition is an easy one to the city and Bond Street. To- 

* Referring to those New England winters, my father told n.c how, 
when a little fellow, he came back to his mother, who had seen him off 
to school, and solemnly told her that there was a crack iu the ground 
too wide for him to cross. He was an imaginative child — one of those 
whose fancy evolves wonders from its laboratory. He would gravely tell 
of things which could not have taken place— of having beheld creatures 
flying which cannot fly, and of encounters with unknown and terrific 
beasts. It was the play of the imagination ; for otherwise the lad was 
the soul of truth and honor, as the man was to the very end. 

t The name of a mountain iu the vicinity. 




morrow is tlio Ist of May, and do ask your father and mother 
if tliey will consider mo unconscionable in thinking of com- 
ing for you in about ten days. You know we shall bo re- 
united hero soon, and I am such a poor devil without you 
that they nmst be magnanimous and give you up. 

"We are exceedingly engaged. I have taken down and 
put up thirty-two windows. The house is thoroughly cleaned. 
Yesterday and to-day I have been laboring at making fence ; 
and the lot is assuming an entirely different appearance. I 
am very tired ; it is a long time since I liavo labored in the 
fields. I recollect riding liorse to plough when I was a small 
boy ; but I got thrown in cutting some caper with the horse, 
and was turned over to the school-master as a bad subject. 
To-morrow 1 hope to commence the garden arrangements. 
The chickens have come; and although there are only six hens 
they gave us five eggs before they had been three hours witli 
us. The rooster, in violation of all good - manners, deserted 
the ladies in a few hours after his arrival, and went prowling 
about the neighboring barn-yards ; but in an hour afterward he 
returned with as thorough a trouncing as a rooster could wish 
to have. lie is all blood now, and I venture to predict that 
he will not quit his own premises again for a twelvemonth." 

That these efforts to please the maitresse de malson were 
successful mr.y be inferred from a letter written on her return 
from New York : 

"Coopcrstown, May 20, 1820. 
" My dear Fatiieu and Mothek, — We arrived here safely yesterilay, 
all well, but very much fatigued. The roads were -. try bad, and, notwith- 
standing careful driving and excellent springs, my bones ache yet most 
dreadfully. Margaret says she is enchanted with our situation and all 
the comforts of our establishment. You have no idea how beautiful wc 
look; and then we have music incessantly — during the day the birds 
and frogs sing in chorus, and in the evening and at night the whippoor- 
"will regales us with his melancholy note. There have been a great many 
improvemento made during my absence, and even now it is a perfect lit- 
tle paradise. I wish, my dear father and mother, you could take a peep 
at it, and if you did not immediately exclaim, ' How dreadful it would 
be if thoy were obliged to go to France!' I should think you had more 






taste for diplonacy than for the charms of nature. , . . The mail closes in 

a few moments, and Mr. Dix wishes to say something. God bless you, 

my dear fV.ther and mother ; and in the hope that it may not be very long 

before we meet again, I am your affectionate child, 

" C. M. Dix. 

"Mr. Dix has just shot a jioor wliippoorwill, and he will send it to 

Mr. Baldwin, in order that he may satisfy himself upon the old disputed 


The letter runs on, but in my father's handwriting : 

" My dear IMoTiiEn, — We were all so tired yesterday that we could 
not make the effort to Avrite. . . . While Catharine was finishing the above 
I heard the note of a whippoorwill, and although it went more against 
my conscience than anything I ever committed, I ehot him wliile his 
note was unfinished in his throat, in order to satisfy tlie long-disputed 
question of his identity with the night-hawk. 'Tis a horrid taurder, 
and it is the only (I may say, too, it will be the last) bird shot on Apple 
Hill while this domain has been under my management. 

" Catharine thinks it is far better, even for liealth, to be here than to 
be sitting eight or ten hours a day in a hot city, even tliough it were 
Paris, copying the Minister's despatches. However, if the appointment 
had come, and not an inquiry, I should have accepted it." 

The explanation of the closing paragraph is given in a let- 
ter addressed to Mr. Morgan by Mr. Van Buren, who was at 
that time Secretary of State under General Jackson. I copy 
it as it lies before me : 

" Private. 

" My deau Sir, — No ChargCs will be sent out before the meeting of 
Congress, and then the list of applicants is immense. Would IMajor Dix 
like to go to France as Secretary of Legation, with a most agreeable man 
as Minister, and start by the first of ^^j" J 1 I do not know that I can 
obtain his appointment, as there are many applicants, etc., etc. Let me 
know at the earliest moment. Remember me kindly to Mrs. M., and be- 
lieve me to be, in great haste, Yours very sincerely, 

" M. Van Buren. 

" Mb. Morgan." " Washington, May 11, 1829. 

This offer, on being communicated to my father, was at 
once declined. His reasons, though not stated to Mr. Van 



Buren, -were, tliat it came in tlie fomi of a friendly inquiry 
merely ; that there was no certainty of his being appointed, 
in case his assent had been given ; and that it would have made 
his position a very embarrassing one, if the President, on be- 
ing advised with, should not have deemed it proper to make 
the appointment. If the inquiry had been put in the shape 
of a direct oifer it would have been accepted, as the impor- 
tance of the mission gave the station an extraordinary value. 

The society of Cooperstown, thougli small, was agreeable. 
Mr. James Fenimore Cooper and his family were in Europe, 
l)ut others of the name remained, who, with the Bowei-s, 
Phinneys, Pomeroys, and Metcalfes, formed a delightful cir- 
cle. At the north end of the lake was " Ifyde," the country- 
seat of Mr. Hyde Clark, who had married the widow of Mr. 
Richard Cooper. My father's house was generally full of 
guests ; among them was one whose fame has since that day 
become world - wide, Samuel F. B. Morse. A painter of no 
small reputation, and, I think. President of the National 
Academy of Design, yet scantly furnished with ducats, as is 
the wont M'itli devotees of the graphic arts, he came to Coop- 
erstown with a mind to paint a portrait or two, and was in- 
vited to Apple Hill. My mother seems to have appreciated 
the solemnity of the situation. She writes : 

" I get along admirably with my visitors, or rather visitor, 
Mr. Morse, of whom I felt a little afraid, considering that I 
had seen him only twice before, besides his liaving been to 
Europe, and being a member of the tmi, as well as literary 
and philosophical societies. He is a very agreeable man, and 
the admiration of all the young ladies here, notwithstanding 
he is a widower with three children, and hero and there a 
gray hair. He takes admirable portraits : the price is twenty- 
live dollars." 

A cousin of my mother's, Margaret Willett (the same whom 
she mentions in her letter of May 20), daughter of the old 
Colonel Marinus Willett, and then a young and beautiful girl, 
was with them at Apple 11 ill. To her charms the portrait- 




i .. 


painter was so far sensible that lie put her and my mother 
into a landscape which he painted for Mr. Dewitt Bloodgood, 
of Albany. Many years afterward this picture came into my 
father's possession, and thenceforth formed one of the chief 
treasures of his little gallery. The scene is taken from Apple 
Hill ; the lake and its enclosing hills are in the distance ; state- 
ly pine-trees stand at the side, and in the foreground are two 
young ladies grouped near the stump of some old monarch of 
the " forest primeval," over which relic they have carelessly 
thrown their shawls. 

In Cooperstown my father made his first attempt at public 
speaking. The Eev. Mr. Tiffany, pastor of the Ei^iscopal 
Church, invited him to address the Sunday-school. The occa- 
sion must have been deemed important, for he made elabo- 
rate prej^aration ; and having written out what he intended to 
say, and, as he supposed, connnitted it perfectly to memory, 
set forth, rashly leaving the manuscript at home. " I remem- 
ber," writes one who was present, " just how he looked, as he 
stood a short distance from the front pews. lie went on very 
smoothly for some time ; but then, forgetting what came next, 
and becoming confused, and not being especially familiar with 
the subject, he had to make his way out of it as best he could. 
I was so confused myself that I never could remember how 
he did it. When we reached home the first thing he asked 
was how I felt when ho broke down. lie often spoke of it 
in after-years, with great anmsement over his ill-success on 
that first appearance as a public speaker." 

Some of our most fluent orators can, no doubt, recall simi- 
lar incidents in their own experience. Such failures may, 
perhaps, be almost necessary to insure a final success. It 
was so with my father, who in after-life spoke witli perfect 
self-possession, used nu notes, and appeared completely inde- 
pendent of external helps in his oratory. 

Half-way up the lake stood a large building, known as the 
Fish House, to which the people resorted in excursions and 
picnics. A boat, having as its motive-power a pair of super- 




animated horses, plied to and fro, carrying many a merry par- 
ty, duly supplied with the implements of the angler's craft. 
Feasts and dances followed on their landing. In the autumn, 
when the salmon-trout came out of the lake, it was a pretty 
sight to see the river below us filled with boats, each having 
a blazing pine-knot in the bow, by the light of which men 
speared the fish as they rose toward the flame. 

I have before me an anmsing letter, written by my mother 
to a young girl who had been near them at boarding-school; 
it gives a pleasant insight into their village life : 

"My deak C, — I received your last letter the other evening, just as I 
was preparing to pour out tea tor u party of old married ladies: sociable 
visits are all the rage nowadays, and I have been going the rounds of 
the village in this mode of entertainment. There has not been a party 
since you left here, so you have nothing to regret on that score. You 
have heard, no doubt, of the 'awakening' in our Presbyterian Church, 
and would be amazed to see the alterations occasioned by it in some of 

your friends. A smile has not visited the countenances of Rachel 

or IMary for many a long day, and they both look as i^ale and emaci- 
ated as if they were 'without hope,' instead of having experienced it. 

Maria , Helen , and the two 's, are also among the ^ clianged.'' 

Mr. Tiffany has profited by the example of his neighbor church, and 
made very great exertions toward the advancement of his own. lie has 
service in the church every "Wednesday evening, besides three classes for 
religious instruction, which he attends to weekly ; the married ladies, 
the young ladies, and about eighteen gentlemen, young and old; so that 
I think even you would not have Ijccn in very great danger of total ruin 

this winter. There is a prayer-meeting every evening at Mr. 's, and 

often before sunrise young and old are seen Avending their way toward 

the house of prayer. Mr. and 3Irs. and ]\Iiss , all members of 

the meeting, have left it, and become, I liopc, good E[)iscopalians. Mrs. 

and T\Irs. do not visit, and scarcely speak when they meet ; 

mutual intolerance seems to be the cause of the trouble between them. 
Of your beaus I know nothing, excepting that they are alive and well; 

Mr. is still in Mr. 's office; and every Sunday I hear the notes 

of Mr. "s flute mingling Avith the choir. Old Mr. iieejjs abroad 

now and then, and has found his Avay to Apple Hill just once since you 
lefl us. Tlie children are well, and unite Avith me in Ioa'C to you, your 
mother, and sisters." 








Quiet and commonplace as was my father's life during 
the three years spent in the pretty village by the lake, it has 
a peculiar interest as the preparation for a career among the 
most brilliant recorded in the history of our country — the 
prelude to honor, influence, and their attendant cares ; thence 
was he to go forth, led by God's providence, to fill in turn al- 
most every position of trust which it was in the power of his 
fellow-citizens to bestow. He who was destined to become 
Adjutant-general of the State, Secretary of State and Super- 
intendent of Public InstiTiction, member of the State Legisla- 
ture, Senator of the United States, Assistant Treasurer and 
Postmastu' of the city of New York, Minister Plenipotentiary' 
to a foreign «ourt, member of the Cabinet at the most critical 
epoch in our national history. Major-general in the United 
States service, and Governor of the State of Kew York, com- 
pleted his preparation for the half century of responsibility 
and toil in the tranquillity and comparative obscurity of a 
rural life. To that life he was always devoted ; more and 
more fondly did his heart turn to it as circumstances forced 
him farther away. But a sense of his fitness for public life 
was growing in certain quarters where able men were needed ; 
and it was not possible that such a one as he, trained in the 
school of the army, well read in the law, already a finished 
scholar, master of three or four languages besides his own, 
highly connected, accomplished in many arts, and cultivated 
by foreign travel, could be hidden away. There were those, 
in short, who knew what he was, and wanted the help which 
he was fitted to give./ 

It cannot, I think, be doubted that he must have displayed 
at that time the qualities for which he was noted in after- 
life — the sagacity and good judgment, the activity and energy, 
the tireless industry and the versatile genius, which guarantee 
success. His reputation, indeed, was already made ; nothing 
was wanting but the opportune moment to call him to higher 
duties and a wider sphere. That moment soon arrived ; and, 
with itj another change in the varied history. Beginning life 

I I 




as a soldier, lie had, after fourteen years, resigned his commis- 
sion and commenced the practice of the law. Scarcely four 
years elapsed before he put off the robe of the jurist and en- 
tered on the higher duties of the politician and the statesman. 
They stood high in those days ; it may not be so now. Then 
it was an advance to go from the Bar to public life ; when 
office sought men, not men the office ; when to be a scholar 
and a gentleman, to be conspicuous for good-breeding, literary 
attainments, and high social position was neither a disadvan- 
tage nor likely to impair the prospect of success ; ere yet the 
pathway to distinction had become a gauntlet-race between 
Jines of vulgar and selfish inferiors, whom he must flatter and 
propitiate who would secure their support. 

And here, perhaps, as well as anywhere, I may add this — in 
which they who knew him best will bear me out — that all his 
life through he was what he was at the outset — the same hon- 
est, sterling character, ever true to his convictions, and con- 
sistent when tried hy standards that do not change ; and 
especially that he was a man who detested the lower arts of 
the politician. Using that word in the sense which it now 
bears, it would be incorrect to speak of w\y father as a politi- 
cian ; he should rather be called a man of state. lie was not 
of those who manoenvre to gain a public position. One after 
another offices came to him ; not through his bidding for 
them ; often against his will ; simply because men needed the 
help which they knew him able to give. 1 wish to emphasize 
the fact that in my father there was no resemblance to the 
politician of our day ; and the proof is, that he was never 
popular in political rings, but rather detested by the men who 
compose them. It is easy to account for a dislike which they 
did not affect to conceal. They could not depend on him to 
farther their selfish aims, nor count on him for personal 
favors in return for partisan support; he was above their 
plane, and they lost no opportunity to do him a mischief 
when they could. It would not be true to say of him that 
he disliked office, position, and power. A man naturally 

[» rr;' 



'(' -I 


likes to do wliat he knows he can do well, and he thoroughly 
understood the science of governing. But this he did un- 
selfishly, without personal ambition, on high principle, with- 
out dread of criticism, for the welfare of the Commonwealth, 
in the fear of Almighty God. Therefore his part was that 
of the statesman, and therefore was he disliked and mistrusted 
by the common politicians, who gave him their support only 
when they could not help it, or when they hoped to profit 
indirectly by an influence which they could not bend to do 
them a favor. 

I hope to justify this estimate of my father's character as 
I proceed. The time has come to begin the story of his 
political life. This I shall attempt to relate with such aid as 
I could obtain from books, letters, and conference with men 
familiar with the transactions of former days. But, since this 
memoir was not intended for the eye of persons deeply versed 
in American politics, while yet some knowledge of them is 
indispensable as we proceed, I venture to begin by jffering 
the reader what I have gathered with my own hand in that 
rich yet tangled field, while seeking to comprehend the po- 
sition and the course of one who ranks among the most con- 
spicuous figures in the scene. 

The author of the work entitled " The History of Political 
Parties in the State of New York, from the Ratification of 
the Federal Constitution to December, 1840," makes the fol- 
lowing somewhat discouraging observations : 

"It has often been remarked by citizens and politicians of 
our sister States that the action of political parties in the 
State of Xew York was to them unaccountable and myste- 

And he adds : " Hundreds of strangers have said to me that 
the politics of New York were to tliem a perfect enigma."* 

If persons familiar with the political history of our country 
and public affairs arc thus perplexed, how much more difficult 

♦ Vol. i., p. 1G8. 

1828-1830.] ^'THE TIltGINIA PLAN" ADOPTED. 


must it be for one not vei*sed in those subjects to find his 
way through the maze! My object is, not to discourse at 
length on national or State politics, but only to trace the 
course held by one man across that field ; to tell why he chose 
the path M-hich he pursued, and what he accomplished as he 
trod it. For this end, however, it seems necessary to take a 
general view of the subject, for the benefit of readers who, 
like myself, desire to know prominent facts, and are content 
to disregard questions of minor importance. 

Such a moderate knowledge of American history as every 
cultivated and intelligent citizen ought to possess is suflicient 
to enable the reader to follow me, while I remind him of the 
early conliicts of the States, just freed from the leading-strings 
of the transatlantic government. AVhen, in the year 17S3, 
the Independence of the Colonies was acknowledged by Great 
Britain, the future became a subject of anxious consideration. 
It was evident that the " Articles of Confederation," adopted 
in 1777, were not sufticicnt to hold the States together, or to 
provide against external dangers ; a movement for a more 
perfect union was inevitable. But at once several and diverse 
tendencies appeared : one toward a strong, consolidated, quasi- 
monarchical system, with a President and Senate elected for 
life ; another, toward the establishment of a series of inde- 
pendent democratic governments, confederated for the com- 
mon defence, but separate and autonomous. In addition to 
these two there was a third idea — a compromise between the 
extremes, known as " the Virginia Plan " — which in its main 
features was ultimately adopted. 

In the State of New York there was strong opposition to 
the formation of the National Union. The " State Sover- 
eignty " idea was ably represented there, and party lines were 
first drawn on that question. Alexander Hamilton, a genius 
of the highest order, stood at the head of the Federalists ; 
George Clinton, the popular Governor of the State, led the 
opposition. The United States Constitution was adopted in 
1788, under the protest of the New York delegates, Hamilton 



! '/! 




alone excepted : of tlic nine States wliose assent constituted 
its ratification New York was not one. Wlien the fact be- 
came known in New York tlie question was raised, whether 
to enter the Union or to stand apart, independent and untram- 
melled. The Antifederalists gave way reluctantly, and un- 
der protest, and thus, with hesitation and difficulty. New York 
came into the Union. It was a triumph for the Federalists ; 
but it left them face to face with a discontented and able 

Upon the refusal of General Washington to serve a third 
term as President, John Adams, a Federalist, was elected his 
successor. At that time John Jay was Governor of New 
York. The National and State Governments were both Fed- 
eralist, and in full accord. But, as often happens, the beaten 
party was really the stronger of the two, and it took but a lit- 
tle while to demonstrate the fact. The spirit of democracy, 
or republicanism (for the opposition party claimed for itself 
both those names), was in the air ; and a course had begun 
which no human power could have prevented from running 
to its logical end. 

Looking back to those days, one sees that the Federalists 
were doomed. They contributed, no doubt, also, by more than 
one blunder, to their fall ; or it may be that, like the House 
of Bourbon, the}'' eould not see and would not learn, and were 
too honorable to change their convictions. The constitu- 
tion of the State Government was anything but democratic. 
There was a body known as the " Council of Revision," which, 
acting wuth the governor, had an absolute veto on the acts of 
the Legislature. There was a S3'stem by which the governor, 
with a " Council of Appointment," hud the entire political 
patronage of the State, and disposed of every office. The 
right of suffrage was much restricted. When the Legislature 
assembled the custom was that the governor should appear 
and make them a speech, to which they returned a formal re- 
ply. Many other customs, which had obtained under the 
ante-Revolutionary domination, were kept up. Imagine how 



the spirit of republicanism fretted and chafed ! The Federal- 
ists, in power, used their opportunity to maintain their posi- 
tion. To do this they were forced to employ an unpopular 
machinery, and nuide it, thereby, still more unpopular ; while 
their adversaries, partly from a firm belief in democracy, and 
partly from the sheer necessity of gaining power, denounced 
the existing system, and demanded reform. The well-known 
sympathy of the Federalists with England, and their detesta- 
tion of the French Revclution, added to the prejudices which 
were daily growing against them. 

The year which followed the election of the elder Adams 
was one of furious political excitement. The friends of his 
administration were denounced as in treasonable correspond- 
ence with Great Britain, and intending, by a series of gradual 
changes, to uproot republicanism and establish a limited mon- 
archy. Doubtless these charges were unfounded ; but it is as 
certain that the Federal jwrty did not believe in the people, 
nor think it possible that a pure, representative, popular gov- 
ernment could succeed. "VVe do not doubt the purity of the 
motives of the Federalists of 1798; but as little can we doubt 
the sincerity of the Eepublicans in supposing that a gradual 
subversion of the government Avas in progress by those in 
power. Such an impression gave to the opposition a tremen- 
dous clan. 

Accordingly, in the year 1800 the Democratic or Republi- 
can party triumphed. Thomas Jefferson was elected Presi- 
dent of the United States; George Clinton, Hamilton's life- 
long adversary, was still Governor of New York ; and all over 
the Union the Antifedcralists were victorious. 

If anything were needed to complete the ruin of the Fed- 
eralists it was the attitude assumed by many of tliem during 
the war of 1812-15. That conflict was the expression of au 
intense hostility to Great Britain, and a sense of insults, in- 
juries, and wrongs which stung the American people to the 
quick, and led them, though comparatively weak, to strike 
ba'ik blow for blow. But the Federalists, who, notwithstand- 
I.— 7 




ing their discomfiture, still continued to act as a party, o\y- 
posed the war. Nay, so disastrous were some of the features 
of the conflict, that Federalism revived, notably in New Eng- 
land and New Jcrsoy, and distinguished itself by at least ono 
remarkable performauco. While the State of New York, 
under Governor Daniel D. Tompkins, stood by the general 
government, and voted men and supplies for the war, unterri- 
lied even by the capture and burning of Washington in Au- 
gust, 1814, there were signs in the New England States of a 
design to secede from the Union, set up a separate govern- 
ment, and make peace with Great Britain. Such tendencies 
appear to have sought expression in the notorious " Hartford 
Convention," which met in December, 1814, and of which the 
history forms an important episode in our national annals. 
But the Peace of Ghent, in 1815, brought these schemes to 
an end, strengthened the government, and prostrated the 
Federalists, who never, as a party, returned to power. They 
continued, by their old name, as an element in politics; but 
the arm was fallen from the shoulder blade and broken at 
the bone. 

My father and grandfather were both in the army during 
those trying years, and devoted heart and soul to the Ameri- 
can cause. It was then that my father formed the opinion of 
the Federalists which he always held, and of which he has left 
a record, from which I shall make, at this point, some extracts. 
It is not strange that he should have felt disgust for those who 
opposed the war ; such was the natural sentiment of the ill- 
clad, half-starved, suffering soldiers toward those at home who 
could not conceal their sympathy with the enemies of the 
United States Government. His views of the Hartford Con- 
vention, and of the principles and history of the Federalists, 
come in here in their proper place. They are contained in 
an article published in the Albany Daily Argus, and headed, 
"J/?'. Justice Story and the Hartford Convention. — The Fed- 
eral Party, and the Importance of our National UnionP 
Of the Hartford Convention he says : 




"Wc believe tlicre is nothing better settled in the public mind than 
the conviction that the Hartford Convention, in its various relations of 
time and purpose, was inimical in the highest degree to our national 
tranquillity and honor. . . . We consider it as the most prominent case 
of infidelity to the interests of the country that has yet arisen under our 
free institutions; wo conceive it to have been infinitely more mischiev- 
ous in its tendences than the two petty insurrections whicli occurred in 
the early stages of the government, because it was sanctioned by some 
of the first names iu New England ; and we should regard any diminu- 
tion of the opprobrium which has fallen upon it as the result of indiffer- 
ence to our social and political blessings." 

lie then proceeds to treat of tlie opponents of the war of 
1812, and of tlie liistory and aims of tlio Federalists, as fol- 
lows : 

*' There are many individuals now living, and bearing about them in 
scars and physical infirmities honorable testimony of their dangers and 
exposure in the country's service, who will not readily forget the sneers 
and execrations with which they were followed in leading through 
Massachusetts their little bands of combatants to the tiieatre of hostili- 
ties. They cannot readily forget the attempts which were made to si- 
lence the drum, to dissuade the citizens from enlisting, and from provid- 
ing those indispensable supplies of money and subsistence which were 
required for the support of the public forces. There are many others 
who witnessed the constant opposition of the Massachusetts delegation 
on the floor of Congress to all bills for levying new forces, and even for 
supplying with food and munitions those which were already levied and 
contending in the field of battle against the enemies of the Republic. 
These are things not to be forgotten, and we believe we are not unchar- 
itable in saying that they arc not easily to be forgiven. Yet we are told 
that the Federal party failed, not through treaciicry — ' for truer spirits 
the world could not boast'— but through despondence. Despondence 
may produce inactivity and an abandonment of spirit ; but we apprehend 
that it is a more vehement impulse tlmt excites to open opposition, and 
so obscures the sentiment of patriotism as to lead its subjects to seek 
success at the expense of their country's reputation. In Great Britain 
political opposition has always restricted itself to such a course of meas- 
ures as would consist with the duty which every citizen or subject owes 
to the community or state of which he is a member: it has never per- 
verted or obliterated the sentiment of country, or so depraved the heart 
and the reason as to make the disgrace more acceiitable than the glory 

i 1 





of tlic public arms. Wo take a position of tlio truth of whicli wc uro 
well assured wlien wo say that the Fetleral party, iu Miisaachusctts and 
Connecticut cBpccially, rejoiced in tlio failure of our military cnturprises 
and in the triumph of the British forces over ours. 

"The writer of this article will never forget that ho himself was nt a 
private dinner-table in IJoston, in 1813, when the news of General Hull's 
surrender was received, and that a gentleman bearing one of the most 
respectable names in that city gave as a toast — 'A similar fate to all our 
generals!' lie was then a youth; but he still retains a strong sense of 
the disgust which this impiety excited upon his own unformed senti- 
ments, although it was received with ajiplausc by twelve or fifteen per- 
sons of strong minds and refined education. 

" We are disposed to overlook altogether the opposition of the Federal 
party to the government during the long series of embarrassments which 
preceded the war. The country was at peace, or at least was involved 
in no declared hostilities with foreign powers; and the measures of the 
Federal party, however indispensable in particular cases, were fairly 
adopted for the purpose of destroying the influence of their opi)onent8. 
A strong distinction is to be taken between measures agreeing in all 
particulars, excepting the single one of belonging to a state of peace or 
a state of war. A declaration of hostilities is the common signal at 
Avliich all parties arc bound to unite in rallying around the standard of 
the country. Upon this the Federal party throughout the country 
divided in 1812; and it is this division that will constitute the criterion 
of tlieir admission to the public confidence. Those who abandoned the 
party at that epoch, and supported the government in its trials, cannot 
be distinguished from the most meritorious classes of citizens. Those 
who continued to oppose the principle of the war, but still contributed 
their best exertions to bring it to an honorable termination by sharing 
its perils, contributing to its resources, or by voting supplies of men and 
money in Congress, are entitled to the same honorable distinction. But 
we avow our total want of charity for those who contributed all in their 
power to embarrass the government, to obstruct the successful prosecu- 
tion of hostilities, and who were willing to purchase the downfall of the 
prevailing party at the price of the public dishonor. That there were 
many such, we know ; that they composed a majority of the New Eng- 
land Federalists, we fear, if we do not believe. We deny to these all 
claim to public confidence, because we consider their aberrations as 
the result, not of infirmity of judgment, but of depravity of principle, 
which time has no power to change. The oblivion which the author of 
the article under review implores is their only refuge ; but it is not to be 
won by palliating their ofl'cnces and asserting their purity ; the outraged 





sensibility of tlio public must be conciliated by tlieir silence, by a studi- 
ous concealment of their guilt; by trusting to its mercy, and not by 
appealing to its justice. 

" We are told, also, tliat the debt of gratitude to the Federal party can 
never bo extinguished. To our oars, we confess, these are unaccustomed 
sounds, and wo do not feel that the reason or the heart respoi-ln to the 
sentiment. We know that many illustrious individuals of that party 
contributed to the formation of the Constitution, and the organization of 
the government under it, and that scmic of their early measures were 
well chosen for the prosperity of the country. But we know, also, that 
as many distinguished members of the Republican party bore tlieir share 
in those early operations of government* that the career of the Federal 
party was marked at its fust stages by a perversion of the fundamental 
doctrines of our Republican system, and that it went on with headlong 
precipitation to an extremity which wrought its own downfall by arous- 
ing the ])opular indignation. We cannot but feel also that such is the 
irresistible tendency of the principles upon which that party proceeded, 
and that, in the vicious examples which they have interwoven with our 
public history, they have done an injury to the cause of liberal institu- 
tions, which could have found no adequate redress but in the accom- 
panying retribution which fell ui)on them in the fulness of their pros- 
perity and strength. 

"We appeal to the writer of the article under review to say whether 
Washington or Hamilton, or any other illustrious name, which he claims 
as belonging to the Federal party at the organization of the govern- 
ment, would have been found in its ranks in 1812 ? Wc have in strict- 
ness nothing to do with the party in its infancy. Most parties arc virt- 
uous and disinterested in the season at which they take their rise. But 
they are to be judged by their results — by the evils or benefits wiiich 
are the natural consequences of their principles. It was impossible that 
the principles of the Federal party should produce much else than evil, 
for they were in direct hostility to the fundamental principles of the 
system to which they arc applied. As the reviewer admits, the Federal 
party 'wanted a just confidence in our free institutions, and in the moral 
ability of the people to uphold them ;' whereas our whole political sys- 
tem proceeds upon the assumption that the people are competent to self- 
government. It was a necessary consequence of this fundamental error 
that measures should be adopted, even in the most virtuous days of the 
party, in counteraction of the first principles of the Republic ; that it 
should be considered necessary to infuse a more energet'o iction into 
tlie machine of government, and to diminish the control of the people 
over it, by usurping the exercise of powers which they had reserved to 




themselves. No obligation, whicli any member or members of the Fed- 
eral party have conferred ou the country, can counteract the evils of 
these precedents ; and how stands the account, when we follow out their 
principles to the consequences in which they terminated — to a long and 
vindictive struggle against the supremacy of the people, to a factious 
opposition wlien the necessities of the country demanded their aid and 
sympatliy, and to a treacherous indifference to the public interests when 
all was iinally jjut at hazard by an appeal to arms ? This is a fearful 
balance, which we are sure no friendly hand will attempt to strike ! 

" Wc repeat, the only refuge for the Federal party is in oblivion ; and 
he who seeks to palliate its errors inflicts upon it the greatest of inju- 
ries ; he excites recollections which might not have been disturbed, and 
calls forth expositions alike ungrateful to the feelings of tlieir authors, 
and reproachful to the character of those whose conduct and actions 
furnish the occasion for them." 

!: II 


The Federalists received tlieir death-blow, as a political or- 
ganization, in the year 1815. The instability of temporal af- 
faire, however, generally forbids a long enjoyment of prosper- 
ity. Scarcely were Republicans victorious, when they began 
to disintegrate. Murmurs we^e heard, from time to time, 
against the " Virginia Dynasty," and lines were drawn be- 
tween North and Soutlv There were symptoms of trouble 
long before that day. The Presidents of the United States 
had, for twenty-four years out of twenty-eight, been taken 
from Virginia : George Washington for his two terms, 
Thomas JeSerson for as many more ; Madison for eight more 
years. Adams, of Massachusetts, had served but one term. 
The Madison administration now nominated another Virgin- 
ian, James Monroe, for the succession. The movement dis- 
pleased many at the North ; and dissensions and divisions fol- 
lowed which ultimately had the effect of breaking up the Re- 
publicans. Mr. Monroe's election did not heal the breach, but 
merely postponed the inevitable catastrophe : Governor Tomp- 
kins went into office with him as Vice-President. 

At this time there rose to power one of the most remarka- 
ble men that New York ever produced. De Witt Clinton, 
nephew of the first Governor of this State, was for many 

1 V 




years the centre about which the political sphere revolved : it 
may be said that the people of New York were gathered into 
two hostile camps, as Clintonians and Anti-Clintonians. In 
1818 a permanent separation took place between the support- 
ers and opposers of his administration, though both sides be- 
longed to one and the same political school. The opposition 
to Governor Clinton was headed by Martin Van Buren, the 
most skilful politician of his day ; he was the life and soul of 
an organization which ultimately became dominant in the 
State. In the city of New York, and out of Tammany Hall, 
sprung up a clique of able and restless men known as the 
"Bucktails." Hostile to Clinton, they constituted, as has 
been said, " an organized opposition to the State administra- 
tion, and political opponents to the Democratic party in the 
State represented by the governor as its chief." 

In the year 1821 a great revohition occurred in the State 
of New York, though without tlie effusion of blood or the 
help of bayonets. At a convention held at Albany the con- 
stitution of the State was revised, or rather made over, so 
that old things passed away, and changes which would have 
been considered impossible a quarter of a century before were 
effected. It was a complete triumph for the Antifederalist, 
Anti-Clintonian Democracy; from that date the Clintonian 
party, as such, ceased to exist. To enumerate the changes is 
unnecessary; they were in the line of Republican progress, 
and among those things which logically follow on the appli- 
cation of certain principles. The last vestiges of the ancient 
regime passed away, and the government became popular in 
spirit as well as in name. 

On the 1st day of January, 1823, Governor Joseph C. 
Yates was inaugurated at Albany. It may be said that the 
State of New York was at that time in profound political 

But the clearest weather is often a breeder of the heaviest 
storm, and in the following year that unity was shivered all 
to pieces. In the United States the Presidential question do- 





ranges everything else ; the battle for the chief magistracy, 
which, unhappily for us, occurs once in every four years, is the 
measure of the progress of events and the state of parties. 
To the question who should succeed Mr. Monroe discordant 
replies were given ; and no less than five Richmonds took the 
field, in the persons of Calhoun, Clay, Jackson, Adams, and 
Crawford. Of these Mr. Calhoun, the Secretary of War, was 
the favorite of the younger army men. My father, then sta- 
tioned at Washington, and aide to the general of the army, 
was, as I have previously observed, one of his ardent support- 
ers. Mr. Van Buren, o»i the other hand, a Senator of the Unit- 
ed States, and still actively interested in New York politics, 
took the side of William II. Crawford. The Crawford move- 
ment was so distasteful to many in the State of New York, 
that a party of considerable strength, known as the People's 
Party, was formed, rather to oppose him than to support 
any particular candidate. The opposition was successful, and 
resulted in the election of John Quincy ^Adams, of Massa- 

In tl it celebrated campaign my father took an active part. 
Among the means employed to defeat Mr. Crawford was the 
establishment of a newspaper in this city, called the JVew 
York Patriot. Its editor. Colonel Charles G. Ilaincs, was a 
native of New Hampshire, a man of ability, and an intelli- 
gent, zealous politician. The more immediate object of the 
attacks of the Patriot was Major Mordecai M. Noah, the edi- 
tor of a rival journal. My father, a warm friend and con- 
stant correspondent of Colonel Ilaines, wrote for the Pa- 
triot, advocating the cause of Mr. Calhoun, and taking 
special and particular delight in vivisecting Major Noah. 

The inauguration of Mr. Adams in 1825 was followed in a 
few months by the return of Do Witt Clinton to power in the 
State of New York. The manner of this re-appearance was 
intensely dramatic ; it constituted the sensation of the day. 
The Crawford party, then in the ascendant in the Legisla- 
ture, intending to place their adversaries in a dilemma, rashly 




attacked Mr. Clinton, and turned him out of a minor office 
which he had held for many years. The result was to make 
him the most popular man in the State. Aroused at an un- 
called-for and wanton affront like this, men started up on all 
sides, called meetings, lighted bonfires, launched anathemas at 
the political blunderers at Albany, and vowed that Mr. Clin- 
ton's wrongs should be avenged. It is certain that Mr. Van 
Burcn, always shrewd and sagacious, had nothing to do with 
this business, the result of which was ruinous to the man 
whom he supported. A coalition took place between the 
People's Party and the friends of Mr. Clinton ; and in the 
autumn of 1825 he was again elected Governor of the State 
of New York. One of his earliest acts was to call Colonel 
Ilaiucs to Albany and make him his Adjutant-general. 

In connection with this period in the history of our State 
politics I present the reader with the following letter, which 
shows the head of the army in the light of Mentor to his im- 
petuous young friend, and contains a just tribute to Mr. Clin- 
ton. It is dated at head-quarters, June 22, 1825, midway be- 
tween the inauguration of the President and the election in 
New York. After some remarks of little interest here the 
general continues : 

" You must be aware that, as General-in-cliief, it is very clcsirablc that 
I should be on terms of frienilsliip with the President; and as he has 
made me understand liow dtjsirous he was and is for my good-will, we 
can but march on together in good-fellowship. I say to you that Mr. 
Adams has my regard, and I wish him so fortunate as to be re-elected 
without opposition. I must not be suspected of any other sentiment. 

"My feelings in relation to Mr. Clinton are of a dilferent cliuractcr. 
He is a man very much after my own heart. Such men as Clinton arc 
always ready to put all to hazard in a great cause. They tlo not stop to 
calculate when they should act. De Witt Clinton has carried his coun- 
try forward a quarter of a century at least, by the undoubting movement 
lie made in commencing the New York canals. I mention tliis to show 
my estimate of his mind. Had he been Governor of New York in 1812 
he would have taken possession of Canada very far down the St. Law- 
rence as a duty and as a business of course about which not much 


I ' 

■■ 1 

• 1 


' f, 


Ii'ii.'i ■ 



' fi 






speaking or writing would have been called forth. It would have 
turned upon the efficiency of a single mind acting upon a great body 
like New York, and the utter insignificance of Canada to Quebec at the 
opening of the war. Mr. Clinton is no ordinary man, and though his fame 
is as lasting as the waters of the great lakes, he will be politically pros- 
trated again, if he and his distinguished friends are found in the ranks 
against Mr. Adams. Mr. Clinton and his friends must not be found in 
opposition to the administration of Adams, if they intend to hold the 
government of New York. If you cannot bring yourself to entertain 
kind feelings toward Mr. Adams, you can, I hojie, desire the political 
prosperity of Mr. Clinton. If so, give him your most zealous, your most 
devoted support as Governor of New York, and never allow him to be 
represented as in opposition to the National Government. Re-elect him 
by some twenty thousand majority, and then, yes, then keep quiet, at 
least modest, on the Presidential question. I am out of all patience 
with the ridiculous, the empty friends of Governor Clinton, who name 
him for the office so well filled by Mr. Adams before they are sure of 
even the State of New York. 

" You are presumed to know me ; you do know me ; and on all proper 
occasions I ask you to say that I am devoted to the administration of 
Adams, and that I think the State of New York would be disgraced if 
she should again forget what is due to Clinton. 

"Mr. Adams is willing to believe you are his friend. Your burlesque 
of Governor Troup's Message* is too good to be lost. It gave the Presi- 
dent a few moments of the most hearty enjoyment. Be not alarmed : 
he can enjoy a good thing in silence as well as any man. 

*' WImt think you of our friend Calhoun's speeches to the South ? I 
pray God that he may prosper, but believe me when I say that he cannot 
be President of this happy country before he is turned of sixty. He will 
be convinced of this truth before he is much older, and then he may 
place his influence where it may serve the cause of a great man. Write 
me often and fully. Yours, Jac. BuowN."t 

* George M. Troup, Governor of Georgia, and a pronounced " States 
Rights" man. 

t By way of sequel to this letter I have placed in the Appendix a 
document which, probably, now first sees the light. It was found among 
my father's private papers, endorsed by him, and carefully put away. It 
is interesting, not only as a contribution to the political history of the 
era, but also as showing how intimate were the relutious between Gen- 
eral Brown and my father, and how ample were his opportunities of 



I have readied the year in which my father's active politi- 
cal life began. It was during the canvass of 1828. Andrew 
Jackson and John C. Calhoun were candidates for the Presi- 
dency and Vice-Presidency. General Jackson was supported 
by those who opposed the re-election of Mr. Adams. In Ot- 
sego County a Kepublican committee was formed, of which 
my father was chairman. In maintaining the cause of Gen- 
eral Jackson lie was also obliged to resist one of the most re- 
markable political movements that ever agitated the people of 
the State of New York. 

In the summer of 1826, while Major Dix was in Europe on 
his mission to the Danish Court, a great sensation was caused 
in the neighborhood of Buffalo by the disai^pearance of one 



This man, a member of the Order of 

Free and Accepted Masons, suddenly vanished from the sight 
of his friends ; nor, to this hour, is it certainly known what 
was his fate. But he had betrayed the secret of the Order, 
and there is little doubt that he was murdered by members of 
that society. Investigation disclosed the fact of the nocturnal 
journey of a coach, drawn by relays of swift horses, and the 
conveyance of a mysterious victim to the borders of Lake 
Erie ; and there were rumors of the launching of a boat on 
the gloomy waters at midnight, and its return with one man 
less than it bore away. The whole western part of the State 
became excited over the crime ; that excitement became in^ 
tense as time passed on, and it was found impossible either to 
detect the perpetrators of the outrage or ascertain the fate of 

studying the movements of that day. Wliatever helps us to discover 
the motives and comprehend the thouglits of men in liigh position is of 
general benefit; and no one can fail to observe, in reading the follow- 
ing paper, how keen was the sense of honor of tlie public men of that 
day, to whom it was matter of grave concern that the shadow of a sus- 
picion of their motives should tall upon the record of their lives. The 
subject referred to, as will be seen, is the attitude of Mr. Calhoun before 
the country in connection with the Presidential canvass of the year 1824. 
(See Appendix, No. I.) 

* ■ I 
s - I 





their victim. Failing in the attempt to bring the criminals 
to justice, the people in that part of the State, conceiving a 
horror of Freemasonry, determined to obtain, through the 
ballot, some reparation for the murder of Morgan. They ac- 
cordingly resolved that no man belonging to the Order of 
Masons ought to hold any public office ; and they made this 
the issue wherever called upon to vote. 

The movement had, at the outset, no reference to the polit- 
ical question of the hour. It showed itself first in the local 
elections of tlie autumn of 1826, as a personal matter exclu- 
sively — no Mason of any party was to be voted for or allowed 
to hold office. It was the result of a feeling, partly of terror, 
and partly of indignation against a secret society, which ap- 
peared to be able to spirit men out of this world with impu- 
nity, and defended the acts of its members to any extent 
to which they might go. As time passed on the excitement 
increased ; the Antimasons, as they were called, enraged at 
the failure of each successive attempt to detect the authors of 
the crime, and stimulated by fresh disclosures of the incidents 
of that fatal summer's night, kept growing in number, until 
they began to carry county after county, and assumed pro- 
portions which astonished the leaders of the old parties, and 
made them doubtful what course to pursue. Political Anti- 
masonry had as yet no existence ; but it became daily more 
evident that the movement must ultimately take that di- 

Thus matters stood when the administration of Mr. Adams 
drew toward its end, and the question of the succession came 
up. The people of this State, other than those engaged in 
the Antimasonic movement, divided, part desiring the re- 
election of the President, and part favoring a change. It be- 
gan to be believed that Governor Clinton and Mr. Van Buren, 
who at that time was still in the United States Senate, would 
unite in supporting General Jackson for the Presidency. But 
General Jackson was not only a Mason, but very high in the 
Order. Governor Clinton also belonged to it. The friends of 


I h 



Mr. Adams saw tliat to carry the State for liim against Jack- 
son it would be of infinite value to secure the Antimasonic 
vote. But the difficulty lay here : that the Antimasons, bent 
solely on their one idea, declined to unite with either party, 
and refused to merge their organization in any other. Such 
was the state of affairs when Governor Clinton passed from 
the scene. lie died suddenly, on the 11th day of February, 
1828, at a moment when his popularity and influence were 
greater, perhaps, than at any former period of his life. 

In the autumn of that year occurred the elections for 
President of the United States and Governor of the State of 
New York. The party who styled themselves National Re- 
publicans supported Mr. Adams for President, and Francis 
Granger for Governor. Had the Antimasons joined them 
the alliance would have been irresistible : instead of doing 
so, they jwt up a candidate of their own, Solomon Southwick. 
The selection could hardly have been more unfortunate. The 
result was that Mr. Yan Buren was elected Governor by the 
Jackson party, although the Antimasons carried fifteen coun- 
ties, and polled nearly seventy thousand votes. Their move- 
ment had assumed gigantic proportions. 

General Jackson was inaugurated March 4, 1829. He im- 
mediately invited Governor Yan Buren to a place in his cabi- 
net, as Secretary of State. The invitation was accepted ; and 
on the 12th of March Lieutenant-governor Enos B. Throop 
became Acting Governor of this State. The condition of 
New York politics was critical. Of the thirty-six electoral 
votes General Jackson had received twenty, the remaining 
sixteen being cast for Mr. Adams. The Antimasonic voters, 
having no Presidential candidate of their own, united with 
the supporters of Mr. Adams against General Jackson, and 
thus the electoral vote was nearly equally divided. As the 
National Republicans were declining, while the Antimasons 
remained enthusiastic and hopeful, it seemed possible that the 
latter might become the great opposition party of the future. 
In effect, in the year 1830, as we shall see, they polled 128,000 



<■ I 



, % 

votes, and came near electing their candidate for governor. 
They were already preparing to extend their organization 
into other States, to hold a National Convention, and to take 
steps to secure, if possible, the Presidency. 

It was with this singular body, in the earlier stage of its his- 
tory, that my father had to contend, as a supporter of General 
Jackson and Mr. Van Buren. During the years 1828, 1829, 
and 1830 he was actively engaged in the Jackson movement, 
as chairman of the Republican Committee of Otsego County. 
Ilis name is signed to more than one address to tlie electors 
of that county, in which the character of political Antima- 
sonry is critically analyzed. According to him, it was no 
longer inspired by an honest and virtuous feeling growing 
out of the violence committed on the person of Ca^^tain Mor- 
gan, and aiming at the punishment of the perpetrators, but 
had become a political instrument for the elevation of ambi- 
tious men to power. lie held that its princijjles involved an 
indiscriminate condemnation of the innocent and the guilty ; 
that it had proved itself i^roscriptive, uncharitable, and bar- 
barous ; that in certain parts of the State it had separated 
parents and children, friends and neighbors, dissolved the 
very ties of blood, and in more than one case invaded the 
altars of religion, showing itself to be the same spirit which 
in other countries had shaken the fabric of society to its 
foundations, and filled them with scenes of disorder and ca- 
lamity.* For these and other reasons, he strenuously op- 
posed a party which, already identified with the fanatics of 
an earlier date, and now rapidly taking the shape of a purely 
political organization, disputed the field with the old Demo- 
cratic Republicans, and aimed at securing the control, not of 
the State of New York only, but ultimately of the National 
Government. In an article published in the JFreemaii's Jour- 
nal, May, 1829, ho thus discusses the subject : 


* Addresses, dated Cooperstown, October 20, 1839, and October 25, 
1830, and issued by tlic Republican Central Corresponding Committee. 




•' There are but two views in which it is capable of presenting itself — 
first, as a moral, and, second, as a political question ; and these we shall 
briefly examine. 

" First, as a moral question. There can be no difference of opinion as 
to the outrage otfered to the civil institutions of the country and tlie 
principles of humanity in the violence committed on the person of Mor- 
gan. It is an act wliich carries its own condemnation with it into tlie 
heart of every one ; and it deserves tliat all the energy of the laws should 
be exerted to visit upon those concerned in it a retribution suited to its 
enormity. But it is difficult to perceive in what manner it differs essen- 
tially from ordinary offences of tlie same denomination. In degree it 
certainly bears no comparison with the repeated murders of Patty Can- 
non and her coadjutors, which have recently been brought to light in 
Delaware ; and if the motives which instigate to enormities of this sort 
deserve a comparison, it would be an extremely difficult task to deter- 
mine the relative degrees which revenge and avarice bear to each i^ther 
in the scale of guilt. If it be said that the abduction of Morgan was the 
result of a combination, and a deliberate plan matured and executed by 
a mutual counsel and a concerted action, the reply is that the same char- 
acteristics belong to the other cases Avhich have been cited ; that they 
are violent aggravations of the guilt; that no effort should be spared to 
pursue the culprits into their most secret retreats, and to lay bare the 
conspiracy to its minutest and most distant ramifications. If it be as- 
serted that it was only by means of the Masonic institution that the mur- 
der of Morgan could be perpetrated and concealed, we deny the posi- 
tion. Far wider and more desolating conspiracies have been formed and 
executed with no other bond of secrecy than that which is contained in 
a common interest and a common passion. Who, for instance, believes 
that the conspiracy which was near overturning the Roman Republic 
would have been better confirmed and concealed by the mysterious sanc- 
tions of Masonry, than by the barbarous pledges which each one gave to 
his fellows in the humnni corporis snnguiiiem vino permixtum in patcrisf 
But even were it conceded that the bond of Masonry lias in this in- 
stance been instrumental to the perpetration and concealment of a deed 
of blood, what institution is exempt from the same imputation ? The 
most extensive and barbarous conspiracies in the history of society are 
those v/hich have been formed, and in some instances accomplished, un- 
der the sanction of religious tics. It is only necessary to cite the Gun- 
powder Treason in England, and the Eve of St. Bartholomew in France, 
to fuel the force of this observation. If it be said that the spirit of Ma- 
sonry leads, by force of any inherent tendency, to the production of vio- 
lence and social disorder, the history of society may safely be appealed 




I .in y 

^■t t 



to for a refutation of tlio assertion. Tlio institution 1ms enjoyed, in a 
quiet and inotfensive way, its idle mysticisms. "VVe look upon it with no 
very friendly prepossessions; on the contrary, we have always deemed it 
a mere collection of formalities, unworthy the very time expended on 
them. But on this point we acknowledge our profound ignorance; and, 
in doing so, wc might, but for a reluctance to give pledges with regard 
to our future course in life, even go farther, and unite with a fallen poli> 
tician in saying that we 'never shall be a Mason.' But the time, wc 
trust, is long past when the guilt of a few members of any society is to 
draw along with it the condemnation and punishment of all the others. 
It is one of the characteristics of an enlightened age to separate the 
innocent and the guilty, to distinguish between individuals and the 
societies or institutions of which they chance to be members. It is the 
province of ignorance and barbarism to punish the individual by anni- 
hilating the mass, to retribute particular guilt by general condemnation. 
The abduction of Morgan is unquestionably, as to all the guilty, a remove 
from the refinements and charities of th age towartl the rudeness and 
barbarism of ages Avhich are past. To visit that act with indiscriminate 
punishment would be a similar remove on the part of the whole com- 
munity. That such will be our course we are not yet prepared to be- 
lieve : that such a doctrine can long be even covertly propagated we do 
not believe. The whole matter of Morgan, as a moral question, resolves 
itself into a case of great simplicity. An outrage has been committed 
against the laws, which have appointed the penalty and prescribed the 
method of investigation. If they arc inadequate, in this case, to detect 
the authors, it is the result of that imperfection in which all human insti- 
tutions pailicipate; and it is to be remembered that far more atrocious 
deeds of violence and cruelty have eluded forever the researches of man, 
and are reserved for that final retribution which no device of art, no 
bond of secrecy, can escape. 

" Second, as a political question. As long as the efforts of Antima- 
sonry were honestly directed to the detection and exposure of a crime 
and the punishment of its jjerpetrators, it was purely a moral question. 
But in the course of its progress it has assumed a totally different com- 
plexion, not only by means of new elemints combined with it, but by 
means of the new objects which it proposes for attainment ; and it has 
now become entirely a political question. It is almost unnecessary to 
trace the influences by which this excitement has been gradually con- 
verted, from a virtuous and disinterested, into a base and personal im- 
pulse. The history of all free governments, in which great results are to 
be produced by acting upon public opinion, is jirolific in instances of the 
same nature. There is always a body of disappointed individuals, the 


1828-1830.] BIRTU OF A NEW "WHIG" PARTY. 


outcasts and remnants of party ; men who arc ever sagacious in discover- 
ing that a declining cause has ' no ground of principle,' and tiiat a rising 
one is the cause of religion and philanthropy ; whoso hopes of success 
depend upon disturbing the established order and institutions of society; 
and who are always prompt to advocate excitement of any species, with- 
drawing its cftbrts from its legitimate aims, and going on in friendly 
companionship in its course to power. Among the Antimasons there are 
many virtuous individuals, who will in future times, Avhen the present 
indignation shall have had its crisis, be surprised at the transition which 
has taken place in their measures, while their motives have remained the 
same — who will be unable to comprehend how they have been deluded 
into the support of men whom, in dispassionate moments, they would 
deem utterly unworthy of their co-operation and confidence. It should 
have been a rcflectii n with every honest man, when the eflforts of Anti- 
masons were first po ntcd to the acquisition of political power, whether 
lie would be willing to share political power with such coadjutors. 
Nothing but undue passion could have overlooked the inquiry or ob- 
scured the reply. Happily the inquiry has now become a common one, 
and the process of separation is going on so rapidly that we may soon 
expect to see the Antimasonic phalanx reduced to a meagre array of 
bigotry and prejudice, supported, or rather enfeebled, by those derelicts 
of party who, for the last ten years, have been volunteers at every gath- 
ering, and fugitives at every defeat. 

" The whole matter of Antimasonry, as a political question, resolves 
itself into a very simple proposition, which this community is called on 
to decide. Shall the reins of government be continued in the hands of 
the party which now holds them — the party which has always been 
faithful to the great cause of Republican principles — the party with which 
all our most grateful recollections and our best hopes are associated ; or 
shall this party be abased, and insanity and passion be elevated to the 
scats of power? We would not wrong this community so much as to 
entertain the slightest doubt of the manner in which this question will 
be put at rest. Even if the issue of the late elections in the very strong- 
holds of this new political sect, where its merits are best appreciated, 
had not brought us unerring assurance of its approaching downfall, 
respect for the people of this State would forbid us to entertain a sus- 
picion which would be equally inconsistent with their good-sense and 
justice, and with the intellectual light of the age in which we live." 

The Antimasonic movement ultimately died out; but in 
expiring it gave birth to a new party, which in after-years 
I.— 8 



attained to the political control of the State of New York. 
AsBuming the title of " Wnio," and thus cunningly casting 
on the old organization the reflection of Toryism, tiiis new 
organization disputed the field with such success that, in the 
year 1839, its candidate, "William II. Soward, was elected Gov- 
ernor. Thus parties rise and decline, succeeding one another 
in a measured procession, and each perishing, apparently, of 
diseases engendered in its full prosperity. 

I proceed to a subject which began to engage my father's 
serious thoughts during his residence in Otsego County. 
The question of slavery was, undoubtedly, one of the gravest 
that ever engaged the attention of American statesmen. On 
this his views never changed; they were the same in 1829 as 
in 1859. "What they were may be seen from two addresses 
delivered by him, one in Cooperstown, in 1829, the otlier in 
Albany, two years later, in the interests of the Colonization 

A plan for colonizing the free blacks of the United States 
in some foreign country was first proposed in the Legislature 
of the State of Yirginia ; in the year 1816 a joint resolution 
was adopted, with only ten dissenting voices in both branches 
of that body, authorizing the Executive of the State to solicit 
the aid of the general government in attaining the contem- 
plated objects. Similar resolutions were soon afterward pass- 
ed by the Legislatures of the States of Maryland, Georgia, and 
Tennessee, all looking to the colonization of the free blacks of 
the United States in some distant region, where they might 
participate, in fact as well as in form, in the benefits of a free 
and independent government, and enjoy the consideration 
and privileges from which they were debarred here by the 
structure of society and individual prejudice. The first prac- 
tical attempt to give effect to these declarations was made in 
the year 1816, when a society was organized in the city of 
"Washington, with Judge Washington, of the Supreme Court 
of the United States, at its head, under the name of the Soci- 
ety for Colonizing the Free People of Color of the United 


States. Under the auspices of this society several establish- 
ments were formed at Cape Monserrado and its vicinity, on 
the Gold Coast of Africa ; an extensive tract of country, under 
the name of Liberia, was ceded to the society, for the pur- 
poses of colonization, by the surrounding tribes of natives ; 
and tlie results were so successful as to lead to attempts to 
extend the influence of tho Society by every suitable means, 
especially lus the enterprise rested on tho exertions of individ- 
ual zeal and benevolence. 

Accordingly, a meeting of citizens of tho county of Otsego 
was held at tho Court-house in the village of Cooperstown, 
on tho evening of the 12th of November, 1829, to take into 
consideration the propriety of forming an auxiliary society. 
Samuel Nelson, Circuit Judge, and one of the Vice-Presidents 
of the State Society, took the chair ; and Levi Beardsley, of 
Cherry Valley, was appointed secretary. The objects of tho 
meeting having been stated from the chair, the following 
resolution was offered by Mr. Dix : 

'■'■ Resolved, That this meeting, entertaining a liigh sense of the benefits to 
be expected from African colonization, proceed to organize a County So- 
ciety, as an auxiliary of tho State Society of New York, for the purpose 
of facilitating the transportation to Liberia of such free people of color 
as may be disposed to be transported to that colony." 

The resolution was moved in an able address ; and, as this 
was the first public occasion on which the subject had been 
agitated in Otsego County, the speaker went more extensively 
into detail than would otherwise have been necessary, in ex- 
plaining the design of the American Colonization Society, 
the advantages which it promised, and the progress which 
had been made in the execution of its objects. 

The same subjects were handled in another speech, made at 
the Capitol in Albany, April 2, 1831, on the occasion of the 
first anniversary meeting of the New York State Colonization 
Society, at which General Dix was present by special invi- 


1 1 



i !)') 

;■ » 

I refer to these two speeclies in order to show my father's 
estimate of the institution of slavery ; how profound was his 
horror of it, and liow keen his sense of the evils resulting 
from it ; while at the same time he felt the grave difficulties 
of the subject, and respected the position and the constitu- 
tional rights of those persons who had the misfortune to be 
slave-holders. Referring to the free blacks, and the benefits 
which they would derive from emigration, he says : 

"There is not in tlic history of civilization— nay, not in the liistory of 
barbarism itself — an instance of degradation so fixed and liopelcss as 
tiiat to wliich this unhappy race is consigned among us. It would be 
inaccurate to say that Nature has set up between us and them an insuper- 
able barrier. But certain it is that the difference of color, which is in 
the order of nature, has grown, through the infamous institution of slav- 
eiy — through tlie act of man and not of God — to be a living memento 
of bonds and servitude which Nature herself cannot efface. Among the 
nations of antiquity there was no such obstacle to tiie elevation of the 
slave to the grade of the master. There was no difference of color, no 
constitutional incongruity of the species, by means of which the act of 
manumission could possibly leave behind it a vestige of degradation. 
Freedom exhibited itself to him with all the allurenumts of consideration 
and equality; it excited the spirit of ambition, and animated the exertions 
of industry. Accordingly we find in the ranks of servitude men who 
added lustre to the age in which they lived. But I hazard nothing in 
saying that if these men liad sprung up among this outcast race, no 
brilliancy of genius could have silenced the suggestions of prejudice and 
raised them, as they were raised, to the level of their masters. It is in 
vain, under the influence of such discouragements, that civil rights and 
equality of political privileges are extended, iu a spirit of justice and 
philantiiropy, to blacks among us. It is a mere mockery of freedom, 
when our jorojudices render inoperative all concessions in their favor; 
when they are still consigned, by the condemnations ot opinion, to an in- 
feriority without hope and without limit. It is impossible that such a 
condition of moral proscription can bring forth any fruit of excellence or 
virtue. Ambition and the very hope of distinction arc poisoned at their 
source ; debasement grows into a habit, and the sense of subjection be- 
comes a part of the mind itself. I know that it has been asserted that 
the Africsn race is originally inferior in point of mental endowments to 
the race of whites. Sir, this is not a proper occasion for eutonng into a 
discussion of this question ; but it is worthy of reflection w iiether this 



deduction, wliich professes to be drawn from certain peculiarities of or- 
ganization, or from the degraded condition of tlie blacks among us — I 
say it is worthy of our reflection whether this is not a mere arbitrary 
deduction, whether it is not at war with all legitimate philosophy, and 
whether tliere is not an unpardonable degree of moral presumption 
in attempting the solution of such a problem with such uncertain 
lights. ... At all events, it would be both unjust and unphilosophical 
to deduce their inferiority from the very degradation which wo our- 
selves have created, to expect any bright examples of virtue or genius 
from tiiose whom we have oppressed for a long sencs of generations 
with all the burdens of an ignominious servitude, and whom wo have 
finally endued with nominal freedom, merely to degrade them still far- 
ther with a moral proscription as oppressive, and more insulting, than 
the very bonds with which it has been exchanged. 

"I am aware, Mr. Chairman, that this condition of the free blacks 
among us is altogether witliout remedy ; that here they must forever re- 
main outcasts from the pale of our affections and almost of our sympa- 
thies. It is only necessary for each of us to refer to his own breast to 
feel that this is the fact. For where is the man who would admit them 
to farther privileges, who would elevate them to his own rank in society 
or give them access to tlie bosom of his family ? Where is the man who 
does not feel that tliey are a burden and an encumbrance to the body 
politic, pressing with a leaden weight upon its foundations, disfiguring 
its proportions, and impairing its strengtli? Sir, it is this very convic- 
tion — the conviction that their condition here is without remedy — which 
should render us the more ser'^ible to the long series of injustice with 
wliich they have been visited ; wliich should stimulate us to do all in 
our power to provide for them a refuge from their present debasement, 
where they may assume their proper rank in tlie scale of being, and 
where at least their degradation may not be perpetuated by rearing up 
their children and forming their minds amid associations of inferiority 
and social subjection." 

Again, lie says: 

"It is worthy of I'cflection whetlier any sincere friend of emancipation 
can, without inconsistency, withhold his assistance from the plan of col- 
onization — whether it is not a misconceived and a misdirected mercy, 
which would strike off the fetters of the slave to consign liiin to a state 
of moral proscription differing from physical bondage only in the name. 
Emancipation, as it exists among ue, is, in fact, a mere exchange of phys- 
ical for moral servitude ; and if the latter is not attended with all the 



! II' 

x :i 

I \l 

1 1 '/• 

restrictions of the former, neitlier is it attended with the parental super- 
vision and providence which arc often its companions." 

There can be no doubt as to the views of one who uttered 
the following words : 

" Considered as a mere measure of political economj-, colonization has 
as strong a claim upon us in its tendency to liasten the extinction of 
slavery as any measure whir Ji can be devised for the promotion of the 
productive industry of tlie United States. It is an opinion as ancient 
as slavery itself, that the labor of bondmen is gradually destructive of 
the soil to which it is applied." 

Then, after fortifying this view by a variety of arguments 
and illustrations from Pliny, Tacitus, and other writers, an- 
cient and modern, and by the result of our own experience, 
he continues : 

" It is not merely because slavery is an impediment to the develop- 
ment of our national resources that its presence among wi is to be de- 
plored. It is an impediment also to the assertion of the rank which we 
claim to hold among the advocates of the rights of man. It may not 
put at hazard the success of the great experiment which we are carrying 
on of the competency of mankind to self-government ; for it is not incon- 
sistent with its success that he who is fitted for freedom should hold in 
bondage his fellow-man. But it involves, unquestionably, a denial of the 
fundamental doctrine of our political institutions, that life, liberty, and 
the pursuit of happiness are natural and inalienable rights. It is a 
degradation of the tenure of freedom from a principle above all human 
law to the princii^le of brute force — the principle from which despotism 
itself derives its title. It may not impair the stability of our free insti- 
tutions, but it impairs our influence in promoting the diffusion of their 
princiiiles. For who shall be bound to attend to tiie assertion of rights 
by us which we refuse to recognize in others ? With what effect can 
we pronounce the eulogium of free institutions when our utterance is 
mingled and confounded witii tlic accents of oppression and servitude ? 
We have, unquestionably, a justification in the fact that slavery Avas im- 
posed ui)on us against our wishes, during our dependence upon a foreign 
state ; but this circumstance will cease to be a justification the moment 
we falter in our exertions to redress the injury. 

" In speaking these sentiments I say nothing to which the sentiments 
of every liberal gentleman in the South will not respond. Nor do I 




fear, Sir, that their utterance here will be misapprehended. I believa the 
universal feeling of this assembly will bear me out in saying *^lv..t the 
slave-holding States themselves would not be more ready t'mn we to 
resist any attempt to exterminate the unquestionable evil of slavery by 
measures not warranted by the Constitution under which we live. That 
it has been abolished with us is the happiness of an accidental position; 
that it still exists in other sections of the Union is the misfortune of 
theirs. When and in what manner it shall be abolished within the lim- 
its of individual States must be left to their own voluntary deliberations. 
The Federal Government has no control over this subject : it concerns 
rights of property secured by the Federal compact upon which our civil 
liberties mainly depend; it is a part of the same collection of political 
rights ; and every invasion of it would impair the tenure by which every 
other is held. For this reason alone, if for no other, we would discoun- 
tenance and oppose any attempt to control it by unconstitutional inter- 
ference. . . . The American Society has disclaimed from the first moment 
of its institution all intention of interfering with rights of property 
recognized by the Federal compact to which the States are ijartics. It 
contemplates no purpose of abolition ; it touches no slave until his fet- 
ters have been voluntarily stricken o^ by the hand of his own master: 
all its purposes are subordinate to the rules of public law and liie sug- 
gestions of private justice and humanity. But it is to the South — to 
Virginia — that we are indebted for the origin of this great plan ; and we 
are indebted to that State at least for a co-operation in every plan which 
has tended to elevate the human character or to promote the interests and 
honor of the Republic. Iler voice was raised against the intrusion of 
slaves upon her during her Colonial subjection ; and, faithful to her 
principles, she was the first among the Southern States in endeavoring to 
free herself from the incumbrance when she had risen to Independence." 

These extracts present as clearly as possible the views of 
the speaker on the terrible subj'ect to which they relate. lie 
regarded slavery as in itself an evil, a blot on onr institu- 
tions, and an injury to us politically, sociallj', and morally. 
Still, it was an evil which had been forced upon us, and one 
which must be left to work itself out. The process, though 
slow, would be sure ; under the pressure of irresistible laws 
it must gradually disappear. No one might justly interfere 
with it where it already existed ; the rights of the owner 
of slaves must be respected and maintained. Still, the ulti- 



i\ m 








■ i 



mate abolition of the institution was merely a question of 
time ; he looked for it with assurance as a thing greatly to be 
desired, and in this he claimed that the sympathies even of 
intelligent Southerners must be with him. His closing words 
are strong and forcible : 

" Wc are bound by every motive of patriotism to promote tlie emigra- 
tion of a caste, whose presence among us is an impediment to the devel- 
opment of our national resources, to the progress of our social improve- 
ment, and to the fulfilment of our destinies as a great people. And we 
are bound by our devotion to the cause of liberal government to unite 
in the execution of a plan of which the most distant result may be the 
extinction of an institution wliich stands alone and isolated among 
the other institutions of society — a solitary monument op a BAnBAU- 


Such were my father's views on the question which embar- 
rassed our statesmen from the first, and ultimately led to the 
Civil AVar. I think they never changed. He was no aboli- 
tionist in the technical sense in which the word came to be 
used, but he cordially disliked slavery, and desired its extinc- 
tion ; yet not by measures which would have invaded the 
rights of our Southern brethren under the compact of the 
Federal Constitution. 

In the year 1830 the home at Coopcrstown was broken up. 
Toward the close of the summer the office of Adjutant-gen- 
eral of the State of New York became vacant, in consequence 
of the death of its incumbent, Is icliolas F. Beck. In accord- 
ance with the wishes of political friends, Mr. Dix allowed his 
name to be presented to Governor Throop. He did not, how- 
ever, desire the appointment ; ho was happy and contented in 
his quiet country home by the beautiful lake. Writing to an 
intimate friend, on the 18th of July, he says : 

" I allowed my name to be presented to the Governor, with 
the expectation, at the time, that I could pass at least seven 
months here. I am told, however, that my residence must be 
in Albany, and I am, therefore, thinking of withdrawing my 
name. There is much to be considered on both sides. The 



Balary is only $800, but the Adjutant-general is one of * the 
ilegency,' and shares a portion of the odium of all mishaps 
which occur in the administration of the government — a re- 
sponsibility which would be particularly agreeable to me. In 
short, it is a political station, besides being a military post 
of considerable importance — and a station, too, in immediate 
connection with the government. My means of forming ac- 
quaintances and of attracting public attention would be highly 
favorable. On the other hand, I must break up my establish- 
ment here, abandon my law business, which is increasing, and 
give up my hopes from popular favor. I know not what to 
do, and I must decide before I can receive the benefit of 
your counsels." 

On the 20th he writes to the same friend : 

" As to the Adjutant-generaley, I have concluded to let the 
mutter take its course. I shall make no exertion to obtain 
it. My name is before the Governor, and I do not wish the 
ajipointmeut, unless he M'ishes me to take it." 

When the offer came it was accepted. His promotion had 
been rapid, yet not more so than might have been exjjccted. 
It is observed by Hammond that, " from the character and 
talents of Mr. Dix, and more especially from the knowledge 
he had acquired of military science in the service of the 
United States, his selection by Governor Throop as Adju- 
tant-general was very judicious, and the appointment was 
approved by the public."* 

In a letter dated December 19, 1830, my father says : 

" I am compelled to write you in great haste, an i can only 
say that we are breaking up house-kee^jing to go to Albany. 

"It is with great regret that I leave this place. 1 have 
been happy here, and, what is more, quiet .ind tranquil. I 
now go to scenes of turbulence and commotion ; and, al- 
though I am fond of active life, I have no doubt that I shall 
look back with regret upon the peaceful valleys of Otsego." 

* Vol. ii., p. 241. 






: V 




A.T>. 1830-184S. 

Albany. — Military Affairs of the State.— Report on the Militia System. — 
General Jackson's Second Term. — Society Melee at Washington ; Mrs. 
Eaton. — Rejection of Mr. Van Buren's Nomination as Minister to Eng- 
land. — Governor Marcy. — 1833: Secretary of State. — Nullification. — 
Speech at the Capitol at Albany. — Thorough Organization of New 
York Democracy. — "The Albany Regency." — Report on Public Ed- 
ucation. — Report on the Geological Survey of the State. — Decisions as 
Superintendent of Common Schools. — Financial Distress in 1834. — 
Rise of the Whig Party. — AVilliam II. Seward. — Coin and Paper-mon- 
ey. — Wild Speculations. — 1836: Election of Martin Van Buren, Presi- 
dent. — Banking Business, and the Sub-treasury. — Troubles in Canada ; 
the " Sons of Liberty." — Papineau, McKcnzie, Rolph. — 1838 : Triumph 
of the Whigs. — Retirement into Private Life. — Albany Society. — Home 
Life.— School— St. Peter's Church.- The Rev. Horatio Potter.— Tlic 
Log-cabin and Hard-cider Campaign, in 1839. — Editorial Labors. — 
"The Northern Light."— Literary Work.— 1841: Elected Member of 
the Legislature.- Illness of ^Mrs. Dix. — 1842 : Departure from Albany. — 
Voyage to Madeira. 





The removal from Cooperstown to Albany took place in 
the depth of the winter. For the twelve following years my 
father resided in that city, enjoying the genial and pleasant 
society of the place. His life was one of incessant activity 
and industry. lie filled three or four offices of importance 
in succession, and threw himself with ardor into the work de- 
manded by each. 

As Adjutant - general he had tlie supervision of military 
affairs in the State of New York. The security of the 
civil order depends upon its possessing ample means of de- 
fence against external enemies, and of protection from law- 
less and seditious persons at home. For these purposes 
standing armies are employed by despotic and monarchical 
governments ; while reijublics have been accustomed to rely 
on the vigilance and patriotism of the great body of the citi- 
zens. To raise and train an adequate and efficient militia is, 
therefore, an object of great importance in a country like our 
own. Among the duties of Congress, as prescribed in the 
Constitution of the United States, is that of providing a na- 
tional militia, to execute the laws of the Union, suppress in- 
surrections, and repel invasions.* It is the duty of the States 
to promote the design by such additional legislation as is 
adapted to insure the efficiency of our National Guard. 

A report on the subject of the Militia System of the State 
of New York was made to the Legislature, January 5, 1832, 
by the Adjutant-general. It may be found in full in vol. ii. 
of his Speeches and Addresses. It was called forth by a refer- 


* Art. II., sec. viii., 12, 13, 15, 10, 18. 




V :l\ 

ence to him of certain bills which had been introduced in the 
previous sessio'i. The tendency of those bills was to treat 
the militia system as supei-tluous and burdensome, and still 
farther to diminish its efficiency. These attacks upon the 
system were not confined to the Legislature alone, but were 
set on foot in the principal cities by mock organizations, 
which paraded the streets in fantastical garb and absurd par- 
aphernalia, in derision of the militia. Tlie same spirit was 
prevalent elsewhere. In the Legislature of Massachusetts, in 
the session of 1830-'31, a committee was instructed, by a vote 
of fifty-two majority, to bring in a bill to abolish all drills, in- 
spections, and reviews of the militia, and such a bill was re- 
ported accordingly. Tlio effect, however, was to alarm the 
conservative men of the House, and cause them to look into 
the principles of the institution, and the alternative which its 
abolition presented. After a fortnight's debate the bill was 
rejected by a majority of fifty - six, and another was intro- 
duced giving greater encouragement to the militia than any 
passed since the war of 1812. General Dix was in corre- 
spondence with the Adjutant-general of Massachusetts, Wil- 
liam IL Sumner, on these nuitters, as regards which the two 
officers appear to have been of one mind. His views are pre- 
sented in his report already referred to. He argued that the 
safety of the Republic required that the whole body of the 
people should be trained to arms, and that a sufficient organi- 
zation of our military force should be kept up to maintain, 
against external and internal dangers, the public rights and 
those of the private citizen. Instead of approving the bills 
referred to him, he therefore urged a more thorough organi- 
zation and equipment of the militia, in view of dangers 
abroad and at home. It becomes a great people to be always 
prepared for war, and able to resist and suppress internal dis- 
order and violence. "While, under our institutions, a standing 
army is inadmissible, there ought to be ample provision for a 
^National Guard, and for the education of officers to take the 
men into the field whenever it may be necessary. He re- 

i! I 



garded tho militia of the United States, provided for by the 
Constitution, as a strictly military institution, peculiar in its 
character to the civil order of which it wjis designed to be 
the protection and support ; the aim being to arm and disci- 
pline every citizen, so as to be prepared to sustain, in all 
emergencies, by the united force of the whole conununity, a 
system established for the benefit of the whole, lie did not 
deny that there were defects in the militia system ; his train- 
ing as a soldier made him competent to discover them and 
to suggest improvements ; but his dread of a large standing 
army is evident, and he considered that the true source of 
national order and safety is the intelligence and patriotism 
of the citizens. As to remedies, he thought that they must 
be sought from Congress, and not from the State Legislat- 
ures ; the general government had cognizance of the subject, 
and the duty of the State organizations was to carry out 
constitutional provisions, not to reverse or nullify them. In 
this view of the paramount powers of Congress, and the pro- 
priety of looking to them for the necessary remedies for ex- 
isting defects, the Legislatures of Massachusetts and Virginia 
aj)pear to have concurred.* 

Referring to the peculiar local situation of the city of New 
York, he speaks of the importance and value of that uni- 
formed volunteer force which has now grown to our splen- 
did " First Division :" 

" Looking to external dangers," he observes, " the city, from 
its exposed situation, should be covered by a more numerous 
and better-trained force than would be required if its position 
were more central. But the danger from abroad is not the 
only one. Wherever great ^v ealth is accumulated are sure to 
be found those vices which seftk an unlawful sustenance by 
preying upon it. Great numbers of persons without visible 

* The reader may refer, in this connection, to the report of General 
Townsend and that of the Military Committee of the New York Legis- 
lature, in 1881. 




occupations liave their habitations witliin the city ; and the 
detection of crimes lias more tlian once led to the exposure of 
organized bands of marauders, depredating under the cover 
of secrecy upon the property of the citizens. The dangers to 
be apprehended from riots and resistance of the public author- 
ities are nmch increased by the presence of such an abandoned 
class of transient persons. Tliat these elements of disordor 
have not led ere this to far more serious evils is, perhap 
be ascribed to the restraint of a numerous and wcll-traiK^d 
volunteer force, ca])able of being arrayed at a moment's warn- 
ing in defence of the lives and propex'ty of the citizens. In 
this view the uniformed corps of the city may be regarded 
as a part of the municipal police, and in times of emergency 
by far the most efficient part. The destruction of these corps 
would expose the vast wealth of the city to depredation, and 
the public order to scenes of violence and confusion." 

Several chapters have been added to the history of the 
Kew York mobs since that day ; and each attempt on their 
part to break loose confirms the justness of these views. The 
First Division of the New York State National Guan^ 
been growing constantly in efficiency. The interest o" 
Adjutant-general in it was rewarded by the sight of its fine 
condition when, many years afterward, he became its Com- 

I shall make but one more extract from this report. It 
concludes in the following impressive terms : 

"Nothing conUl be more nnimating to the enemies of liberal govern- 
ment than to behold the people of the United States, under the influ- 
ence ot inconsiderable evils, voluntarily laying aside their arms, and 
declining to prepare themselves, by exercise and discipline, for the pres- 
ervation of social institutions and privileges which their ancestors pur- 
chased witli years of suffering and a profuse expenditure of treasure and 
blood. No other event, it is conceived, would furnish evidence so con- 
clusive of tlie decline of tluit moral spirit in the people upon which our 
public liberties are dependent. 

"As a final observation, it may be remarked that, by impairing the 
cflSciency of the militia, the strongest argument is furuishe*! in favor of 



incrcnsing tho regular nrmy. "Whenever it slmll become apparent tliat 
the former is inado(iiiatc to the public tlefonce — ii period which may bo 
indefinitely postponed l»y a continuance of murtial exercises — tho whole 
responsibility of maintaining the public order must be confided to regu- 
lar troops, in the pay and under the control of the central government. 
Under such circumstances the close of a war would no longer be a sig- 
nal for disbanding tlic army emj)loyed in carrying it on, but it would 
bo kept up as a provision both against internal and external dangers. 
Without reference to the incompatibility of this order of things with tho 
great principles of our political system, the vast expense of such a mili- 
tary preparation would be a constant drain upon our ])ublic wealth, and 
impair our ability to meet future exigencies, by diverting our resources 
from the higher and more beneficial purposes of improving our internal 
condition. In a word, it is only under the protection of tho militia sys- 
tem that the country is enabled at the termination of every contest to 
lay aside the more massive and burdensome parts of its armor, and to 
become prepared, with energies renewed by that very capacity, for suc- 
ceeding scenes of danger." 

The views presented in tliis report were am])ly vindicated 
during tlio late Civil War. Without the aid of the militia 
regiments, which marched to the defence of the national 
capital at tlio first note of alarm, the Federal Government 
might have been overturned or driven from its seat by the 
insurgents; and it is bt "ved thii<" the arguments are as ap- 
plicable to the subject \u, : as when presented to the Legis- 
lature nearly half a century ago. The report constitutes a de- 
fence of the system of a National Guard as an essential ingre- 
dient in the political organization of the State. The necessity 
of such a rampart against the public enemies can never again 
be doubted. The dangers which menace our peace and pros- 
perity are greater now than ever before ; nor are they likely 
to diminish, so long as base men are able, by the abuse of uni- 
versal suffrage in our large cities, to secure and retain power, 
and so long as the philosophical theories of the Socialist de- 
ceive the ignorant with their fallacious promise, and the out- 
breaks of the Communist stimulate the passions of the mob. 

Brought into immediate connection with the government, 
General Dix found himself at once affected by the agitations 

i Bffa|t 

W ' 







ft f 'i ■ ?' 

of the period and a sharer in the political fortunes of those in 
puhlic office. The times were full of excitement. In the 
year 1830 the people of the State of New York were broadly 
divided into two great parties : the Democratic Republicans, or 
Jackson Democrats, and the " National Republicans," as they 
called themselves. General Jackson was in the White House, 
and the State administration was in the hands A his friends. 
But a powerful organization had been formed, with a view to 
elect Henry Clay to the Presidency in 1833 ; and although 
General Jackson, when iirst nominated, had declared his Uii- 
willingness to serve a second term, his views had imdergone a 
change. Mr. Van Buren, his Secretary of State, and Mr. Cal- 
houn, then Vice-President, were already spoken of for the suc- 
cession. General Jackson was determined that, whatever else 
might happen, Mr. Calhoun should not have his place ; and, 
owing to the strength of the movement for Mr. Clay, and un- 
der the influence of Mr. Van Buren's friends, the President 
yielded, and consented to run for the second term. It does 
not belong to this biograjihy to treat at length of the many 
exciting events of General Jackson's administration, such as 
the rejection of the nomination of Mr. Van Buren as Minister 
to England ; the veto of the bill for the renewal of the charter 
of the United States Bank ; and the fearful feud at the capi- 
tal, when society was convulsed on the subject of the wives 
of the Ministers of the Army, the Navy, and the Treasury, 
and when the Cabinet was broken up, after the President's 
failure to arrange the visiting lists of Mesdames according to 
his pleasure. The latter story reads like genteel comedy. 
Nothing can be inore entertaining tlian to discover the old 
hero of New Orleans in ignominious retreat before Mrs. Cal- 
houn and Mrs. Ingham, Mrs. Branch and Mrs. Berrien, who, 
notwithstanding the ukase from the White House, resolutely 
refuse to visit Mrs. Eaton or to invite her to visit them ; nor 
can one fail to be impressed by the agitated protests of their 
Imsbands, who assure the President that as to matters of this 
nature they are powerless to oblige him, and must decline the 










attempt to coerce tlieir wives into visiting anybody whom 
they had made up their minds not to visit. In vain did the 
old hero storm and rage, becoming, indeed, " so much excited 
that he was like a roaring lion." Meanwhile, Mr. Van Buren 
(fortunate in being a widower) prudently kept out of the melee 
— the only calm personage in the tableau. This was in the year 
1830. The next year Mr. Van Buren resigned ; the Cabinet 
was shivered to pieces, and a new one was formed ; and from 
that time Mr. Calhoun severed his relations with the Presi- 
dent and Mr. Van Buren, and took his own course, regardless 
of old associations. 

During the following year the political excitement in- 
creased ; the whole country was in a ferment about the 
United States Bank, the tariff, the threatening attitude of 
South Carolina, and the coming Presidential election. Fresh 
fuel had been added to the flame by the insult offered to Mr. 
Van Buren by the Senate of the United States, to which I 
have already referred. Appointed Minister to the Court of 
St. James, he went to England in September, 1831, although 
the nomination had not yet been acted on by the Senate, 
which, indeed, was not to meet until the following December. 
Meanwhile, an opposition was developed, under influence hos- 
tile to the President, by whom the new minister had been ap- 
pointed, as well as to Mr. Van Buren himself, who was already 
regarded as a candidate for the Presidency. More than two 
months had elapsed since Mr. Van Buren's arrival in London 
before the Senate met. A long delay ensued after his name 
had been sent in, until, in January, 1832, by the castirig-vote 
of Mr. Calhoun, the nomination was rejected. Nothing could 
have been more mortifying than the position in which that 
distinguished gentleman was thus placed. The action of the 
Senate was without a prccedcrit in the history of our diplo- 
matic service, and the indignation caused by his treatment 
was prodigious. His friends in the Legislature, together with 
many of the leading citizens of Albany, concurred in calling 
a public meeting to denounce the action of the Senate. Geu- 






1 J- ^ 1 

^) ■ i 


eral Dix was tlic first speaker. He discussed, not merely the 
direct occasion wliicli had called forth that protest, but also 
the history of the negotiations with Great Britain on the sub- 
ject of our commercial intercourse with her New England 

"It is well known," he said, "that this is the first instance in the his- 
tory of the government in which the nomination of a Minister by the 
President has been rejected by the Senate ''.fter entering on the duties 
of his office. The President is charged by the Constitution with the 
management of our relations with foreign states ; and it has alwaj's been 
deemed profior that he should, as the responsible persoli, have tlie selec- 
tion of his agents. So novel and extraordinary was this case, that it was 
confidently expected by many that a removal of the injunction of secrecy 
wovild exhibit sufficient evidences of tlie necessity of making it au ex- 
ception to the general rule. It has exhibited no such thing ; it has dis- 
closed nothing of which the public were not already apprised, nothing 
which has not already been pronounced upon by the judgment of the peo- 
ple. It is true, we are informed by private letters, that imputations derog- 
atory to the moral character of Mr. Van Buren were introduced into tlio 
Senate — imputations contradicted by the whole tenor of his life, imputa- 
tions sustained by no proof, disreputable in their grossness to the indi- 
viduals who gave countenance to them, and insulting, beyond measure 
insulting, to tlie body to whirh they were addressed. If they shall ever 
see the light, they will be indignantly resented by all parties, whatever 
may be their political predilections, as an outrage to justice and truth." 

The only reason of a public nature relied on as a justifica- 
tion for the rejection of Mr. Van Buren appears to have been 
the tenor of his instructions to Mr. McLane upon the negotia- 
tion of the latter with Great Britain in relation to the West 
India trade. After an argument in defence of Mr. Van Buren 
on this point. General D'x concluded by showing that politi- 
cal hostility to the President was the moving spring of the 
attack on the Minister to the Court of St. James, lie ends 
with these words : 

"I will no longer occupy the attention of this meeting. I feel that I 
have already too long occupied it, although much remains to be said. 
I am persuaded that I do not overrate the justice of the American people 
when I .say that there is no riluge for the authors of this blot upon the 



national character, and that time will record their indelible disgrace. 
They will stand before the world, not merely in the light of men who 
have brought dishonor upon the character of the country, but in the still 
more odious light of political adversaries, who, in ministering to the pur- 
poses of injustice and i)ersccution, have accomplished a double object 
of personal revenge."' 

There can be no doubt that the attack on Mr. Yan Buren, 
by directing general attention to him, as a sufferer under a 
malicious persecution, proved to be one of the causes of his 
nomination by the Baltimore Convention, in the following 
May, for the office of Vice-President. 

In the autumn of 1832 the Presidential election took place, 
as well as that for Governor of this State. General Jackson 
was the candidate of the Democratic Republicans ; Henry 
Clay was nominated by the National Republicans ; while the 
political Antimasons supported Mr. William "VVirt. On the 
question of Governor the National Republicans and Anti- 
masons united on Francis Granger; the candidate of the 
Administration party was William L. Marcy. The result was 
that Mr. Marcy received a majority of about 13,000, while 
the President was kept in office for a second term. Mr. Van 
Buren, the successful rival of Mr. Calhoun, was elected Vice- 
President, and thus advanced one step nearer to the highest 
prize in American politics. 

The election of Governor Marcy caused a vacancy in the 
Senate of the United States, whicli was filled by the appoint- 
ment of Silas AVright, then Comptroller of the State. Aza- 
riah C. Flagg became Comptroller in Mr. Wright's place, and 
General Dix was made Secretary of State, in the place of Mr. 
Flagg. Ilis appointment, January 15, 1833, was accepted on 
the following day. 

AVith the opening of that year came a renewal of excite- 
ment in the political world. The policy of the government 
on the tariff question had assumed a grave significance in con- 
sequence of the action of South Carolina, where the doctrine 
was now advanced that a State has the right to nullify the 

» 1 'i 

'I -»! 





laws of Congress and secede from the Union. The President 
liad already announced, in a proclamation dated December 10, 
1832, the course which he intended to take in case the advo- 
cates of nullification should force a crisis ; and, as an adminis- 
tration measure, a bill was pending in Congress, introduced 
by Mr. Verplanck, chairman of the Committee of "Ways and 
Means in the House of Representatives, which had for its ob- 
ject a reduction of the tariff, with a view to such limitation of 
the revenues of the country to its expenditures as should be 
consistent with the simplicity of the government and an effi- 
cient public service. This reduction was strongly opposed by 
the manufacturing interest in the Northern and Eastern sec- 
tions of tlie country. Under these circumstances a move was 
made in Albany to obtain, if possible, an expression of public 
opinion adverse to the Tariff Bill ; and for that purpose a pub- 
lic meeting was called, to take action, as was said, on the Presi- 
dent's proclamation and on Mr. Verplanck's measure. The 
promoters of this movement appear to have concealed their 
object so successfully as to induce large numbers of the Presi- 
dent's friends to sign the call ; but when they discovered that 
the real design was, while approving the course of the Presi- 
dent toward the South Carolina malcontents, to oppose, and 
instnict our representatives in Congress to oppose, any farther 
legislation on the tariff, the indignation of the victims of the 
ruse was intense, and they resolved to repair to the meeting, 
defeat its objects, and give true expression to their sentiments 
on questions before the peojile. The leading part in this pro- 
gramme was assigned to the newly-chosen Secretary of State. 
The meetini; was held in the Citv Hall. It was called to 
order, and organized without opposition, by those who had 
originally moved in the affair. Then a series of resolutions 
was read ; but before the question could be taken on their 
adoption General Dix arose and asked a hearing. He said 
that he was not prepared to give his assent to all the reso- 
lutions ; to those which related to the tariff he felt it his 
duty to object ; and he moved, as a substitute, a series which 



he read. A scene of great confusion followed ; an attempt 
was made to prevent him from being heard ; but loud cries 
at once arose from all parts of the hall, and he was called 
to the main staircase, whence he addressed the assemblage in 
a speech which was received with long and loud applause. 
Subsequently the uproar was renewed, and a scene of tumult 
was presented which the witnesses describe as beggaring de- 
scription, with shouts and cries of " Order !" " Question on the 
substitute," "■ Question on the resolutions," etc., the original 
promoters of the meeting exhausting their efforts to control 
the assembly. At this stage of proceedings Mr. Livingston, 
ascending the staircase, exclaimed, at the top of his clear voice, 
''^Friends of Andrew Jackson and of the suhstltute, to the 
Capitol! Here loe have no fair chance of heing heard P'' 
The cry was echoed by a thousand voices ; some two-thirds of 
those present at once left the building and, with loud cheers, 
proceeded to the Capitol. The great hall of that edifice was 
filled to overflowing in a very few minutes. Judge Suther- 
land was called to the chair ; Chancellor Walworth and Gen- 
eral Gansevoort were appointed vice-presidents, and General 
Dix and William Seymour, secretaries. Addresses were made 
by gentlemen previously prevented from speaking; an en- 
thusiastic endorsement of the administration was given ; and 
resolutions offered by General Dix, and including the substi- 
tute previously offered by him at the City Hall, were adopted 
with great cheering and without a dissenting voice ; while 
copies of his speech, and of that of Mr. Benjamin F. I3utler, ^ 
were requested for publication. 

There are parts of this address which have a prophetic 
sound ; they breathe that intense devotion to the Union 
which Avas witli hii^^ a ruling passion. Alhiding to tlio 
spectre of Secess" ^ oven then looming on the view, he said : 

"If the value of the Union shall be drawn into doubt for a moment in 
the mind of any one, let him advert to the condition of tlio country when 
it was formed : let bini follow out its liistory durii.g the half-century, 
now nearly complete, that we have lived under it : let him contemplate 



-' « -i 



I ' ' \ 


the wealtb, the strength, the national character, the iiublic security, and, 
above all, the internal tranquilllt}', which it has brought. Let him learn 
from all this the value of that sacred tie which binds us together as one 
people, vast as is the surface over which we are spread, uniting those 
who with an unconquerable enterprise have penetrated the forests be- 
yond the AUeghanics with the regions of cultivation from which they 
came. And then let hira turn to the reverse of the picture. Let him 
merely contemplate the first fruits of disunion. Let him behold the fab- 
ric of our government, the only existing monument to jiopular liberty, 
upturned from its deepest foundations; disorder and confusion over- 
spreading the face of the land ; hostile forces, bearing the same fraternal 
blood, arrayed against eacli other, and animated by new and unnatural 
impulses into the most fierce and unrelenting animosity. Finally, let 
him behold the seceding State appealing to some foreign power for pro- 
tection against her sisters, whose fellowship she had abjured; and from 
the proud condition of equality in the noblest Union of free and enlight- 
ened States the world ever saw, sinking, irretrievably sinking, into the 
degradation of Colonial dependence ! I envy not the man who can dwell 
without emotion upon scenes like these — who can stand without falter- 
ing upon the prcciijice of disunion and look into the abyss beneath. . . . 
"The considerations by which the necessity of preserving the Union 
is supported are not to be measured by our own interests alone.- I have 
said, and I repeat, that it is connected with the cause of liberal institu- 
tions throughout the world. A separation of these States would be a 
direct retrogradation in the career of free government. Such an event 
would come strongly in aid of the princii^les which in other countries 
are arrayed against the extension of popular rights. It behooves us, 
then, to advert to the relation whicli we bear to other nations. We 
stand before the world in a pr'^ition which no other country ever occu- 
pied. Our social and political institutions ; the great results which we 
have accomplislied by our enterprise and industry in converting a vast 
wilderness from barrenness to fertility; the principles of political right, 
which we have reduced to successful j^ractice upon a theatre almost un- 
bounded in extent, attract to us the attention of the whole civilized 
world. The friends of free government, wherever they arc to be found, 
turn to us as to the last hope of liberal institutions ; and witli an anxie- 
ty the more intense, as all the lessons whicli history has furnished have 
for them been lessons of discouragement. On us is devolved tlie solemn 
responsibility of solving the problem, whether the highest degree of so- 
cial happiness and political liberty may, under the same form of govern- 
ment, be combined with strength, security, and wide extent of territory. 
We are literally performing an experiment which may settle forever the 




competency of mankind to self-government. A vast responsibility rests 
upon us, tt responsibility to be measured, not by our interests alone, but 
by the pov.'cr nf our example over tlie fortunes of otlicr countries ; a re- 
sponsibility only to be borne and fulfilled by maintaining inviolate, in 
the whole extent of their application, the great i^riuciples whicii wc have 
assumed and announced to the world as the only just basis of human 

" Let us, then, deeply impressed with a sense of this high responsi- 
bility, esteem no other obligation so imperious as that of discharging it. 
Let us not forget that the fabric of this Union, once torn from its foun- 
dations, can never be reconstructed with its present proportions and 
strength ; that no human art can re-assemble its scattered materials, and 
relay them as they now are laid. . . . Let us do all that justice, all that 
liberality demands. Let us discharge every obligation due to fraternal 
friendship and union. . . . When we shall have done nil this, if the tem- 
pests of disaffection shall still overspread our political horizon, menacing 
the durability of government and of civil liberty — if tiie storm must 
come — then may we, with no other regret than that which so painful 
an alternative must excite, rally around the Constitution of the country, 
and, in the language of the Declaration of Independence, pledge to each 
other 'our lives, our property, and our sacred lionor' for its defence." 

Never was a political body in better condition or more 
tlioroiiglily organized than the Democratic Eepublican party 
at the beginning of Governor Marcy's administration. It is 
refreshing to look back and study the character and quality 
of the men who then held the reins. At the head of the na- 
tion was General Jackson, distinguished not more for his iron 
will, nerve, and determination than for his exalted jjatriotism 
and unchallenged honesty and integrity. Mr. Yan Buren, 
one of the ablest and purest of statesmen, occupied the Vice- 
President's chair, as chief officer of the United States Senate. 
Governor Marcy was a man of extraordinary ability — calm, 
wise, judicious. The officers of the State Government were : 
John Tracy, Lieutenant-governor ; John A. Dix, Secretary of 
State; Azariah C. Flagg, Comptroller; Greene C. Bronson, 
Attorney - general ; and Abraham Iveyser, Treasurer. The 
President enjoyed an immense and well-deserved popularity ; 
the banking interest was on the side of the government ; An- 



< J 



( |i 

timasonry was practically defunct. Those were halcyon days. 
I.i the State of New York the practical control of affairs was 
in the hands of a small number of men, to whom Mr. Weed 
had given the name of " The Albany Regency." Prominent 
among them were Silas Wright, Edwin Croswell, Benjamin 
Knower, James Porter, and General Dix. They were men of 
great sagacity and, above all, honest — as it has been well re- 
marked, aggressively honest ; not satisfied with being above 
reproach themselves, but refusing to tolerate in those whom 
they could control what their own fine sense of honor did 
not approve. The action of the Democratic party was deter- 
mined by the deliberations of these leading men ; they ruled 
with a sway under which public affairs were sure to be pru- 
dently and ably administered. With the Governor they were 
in constant and confidential communication. I have heard 
my father relate how they were always favored with the first 
reading of Mr. Marcy's Messages, which he submitted to their 
censure or aj)proval before sending them to the Legislature ; 
and that on such occasions they endeavored to ascertain what 
portions the Governor deemed best, with a view to make them 
the special mark of criticism/' Mr. Thurlow Weed, now far 
advanced in years, and probably more familiar than any liv- 
ing man with the history of the politics of the State of New 
York, in a conversation which I held with him recently,* 
broke forth into an eloquent panegyric on the old liegency. 
Himself one of their most earnest and honest opponents in 
those days, he yet bore witness to their virtues, and said that 
he had never known a body of men who possessed so much 
power and used it so well. Their enemies, he added, found 
neither flaw in their character nor blot on their names, nor 
could they ever gain an advantage over them, excepting in 
those rare instances in which they made mistakes in their 
policy, thereby showing themselves to be fallible men./ 
General Dix held the office of Secretary of State from 

* Written in July, 1880. 

! : f Ji 




February 1, 1833, until February 4, 1839. His labors during 
those six years were incessant. The subject of public educa- 
tion belonged to his department, since the Secretary of State 
was also Superintenaent of Common Schools ; and to him, un- 
doubtedly, the State of New York is indebted in great meas- 
ure for its Public School system. An act of the Legislature 
Avas passed May 2, 183-1, entitled, "J[?i Act concerning the 
Literature FundP As it related to the education of the 
teachers of our common - schools, under the direction of the 
Regents of the University, a certified copy of it was sent to 
that Board. They referred it to Messrs. Dix, Bnel, and Gra- 
ham, with directions to prepare and present to the Regents a 
plan for carrying the provisions of the act into operation. 
The report, written by Mr. Dix, as chairman of the committee 
of" reference, was given to the Regents at their annual meet- 
ing, January 8, 1835. It forms the basis of the system of 
education of teachers in the common-schools of this State. 

An examination of this report, which is contained in the 
second volume of the " Speeches and Occasional Addresses," 
cannot fail to interest those who regard the liberal education 
of its future citizens as essential to the stability of a free gov- 
ernment. The writer, after reviewing the systems pui'sued in 
France, Germany, and Prussia, gives an historical sketch of 
common-school instruction in this State. The leading and 
acknowledged defect of the schools at that day was the want 
of competent instructors ; the object aimed at was to remedy 
that defect, and to make our system of popular instruction 
equal in efficiency, as it was then suj)erior in extent, in propor- 
tion to our population, to any other in the world. The plan 
of establishing separate seminaries for the training of teachers 
appears to have been abandoned by the Legislature ; it was 
considered more advantageous to engraft on existing acade- 
mies departments of instruction for that purpose. The report 
recommends the establishment of such higher courses of in- 
struction at a sufficient number of points to be easily accessi- 
ble from every county in the State ; and considers, among 



i >hS |{ 


1 'Si 

■ If' 

(Is ; 





,1 ' 

I i 

other topics, the course and subjects of study, the duration of 
the course, and the necessary books and apparatus, togctlier 
witli the evidence of qualification to teach, wliich shall be 
given by individuals trained in those higher departments. 
On all these jioints the recommendations of the report are 
practical and minute. 

I cannot conclude this hasty sketch of an interesting state 
paper without presenting to the reader two extracts as speci- 
mens of its style and substance. The lirst of those relates to 
the object of education : 

"It should not be for a moment forgotten tlmt tlic object of ecliication 
is, not merely to amass the greatest possible amount of information, but 
at the same time to develop and diseipline the intellectual and moral 
faculties. It is in vain that the stores of knowledge are enlarged, if the 
skill to apply them for useful purposes be not also acquired. At every 
step the mind should be taught to rely on the exercise of its own pow- 
ers. The pupils should be required to assign reasons for every position 
assumed in their various studies, not barely with a view to give them a 
thorough comprehension of the subject, but for the purpose also of cul- 
tivating that habit of critical investigation which is unsatisfied until 
every part of the subject of inquiry is understood. The result of com- 
mon-school education in most cases is to burden the memory with facts 
and rules, of which the proper practical operation is but imperfectly 
comprehended. This defect is at war with the spirit of the age, which 
is to probe to its inmost depths every su!)ject of knowledge, and to con- 
vert the results of our inquiries to useful purposes. Practical usefulness 
is the great end of intellectual discipline; it should be kept steadily iu 
view by the teacher; and he will soon learn that his lesson, when its rea- 
son and its object are presented to the mind of his pupil, will arouse an 
interest which, in the absence of this full understanding of the subject, 
he would have labored in vain to excite. 

" In the present condition of our common schools much time is lost and 
labor misapplied by injudicious systems of instruction; they are fields 
for collecting facts and details rather than for disciplining the faculties. 
This radical error should be corrected. Pupils should be made to think 
for themselves, instead of treasuring up merely the results of other men's 
thoughts. The great instrument of reform will be to make demonstration 
keep pace with knowledge. Nothing should be left unexplained ; nor 
should anything be allowed to rest on mere authority, excepting where, 
from the nature of the subject, it admits of no other foundation." 


The following picture of the teacher must, I think, have 
been painted from recollection of the dignified and conscien- 
tious guides of his own youth : 

" The cominittec cftnnot forbear to add that the instructors, in tho 
academics witli which the proposed departments may be connected, 
should labor to impress on tho minds of those who may be preparing 
themselves for tho vocation of teachers a deep sense of the responsiljili- 
ty which belongs to it. There is, in truth, no other in which a conscien- 
tious and discreet discharge of its appropriate duties can well produce 
more beneficial or lasting effects. It is from the conduct and precepts 
of the teacher that the minds committed to his guidance are destined to 
receive impressions wliich may accompany tlie individuals through life, 
and give a determining cast to the character. In his demeanor they may 
read impressive lessons of moderation, forbearance, and self-control ; from 
his rules of government they may learn the value of firmness, justice, and 
impartiality; or they may find, in exhibitions of petulance, unsteadiness 
of purpose, and unjust distributions of favor, a license for the indulgence 
of their own prejudices and passions. Nothing is more vital to the suc- 
cessful government of the teaclier, and to the execution of his plans of 
instruction, than a steady self-command. The most certain mode of 
bringing his own authority into contempt is to show tliat he is not his 
own master. The moral atmosphere of the school-room will be pure 
or impure according to the conduct and character of him who presides 
over it. On his example will, in no inconsiderable degree, depend, for 
good or tvil, the destiny of numbers whoso influence will, in turn, bo 
felt by the political society in the operations of which they arc to take 
an active part. The teacher should be made to feel so sensibly the im- 
portance of his position, that it may be continually present to his 
thoughts, and become the guide and rule of his actions. He should 
bear perpetually in mind that he is the centre of a little system, which, 
as time advances, is destined to spread itself out and carry with it, for 
the benefit or injury of all whom it reaches, the moral influences im- 
parted by himself." 

"With another department of our State annals General 
Dix- s name is honorably associated : I refer to the Geological 
Survey of the State of New York. By resolution of the 
Assembly, dated April 18, 1835, the Secretary of State was 
" requested to report to the Legislature, at its next session, 
the most expedient method of obtaining a complete geologi- 



cal Rurvey of tlio State, which fihall furnish a scientific and 
perfect account of its rocks, soils, and minerals, and of their 
localities ; a list of all its mineralogical, botanical, and zoologi- 
cal productions, and provide for procuring and preserving 
Bpeciniens of the same ; together with an estimate of the ex- 
penses which may attend the prosecution of the design, and of 
the cost of publication of an edition of three thousand copies 
of the report, drawings, and geological map of the results." 

Such were the large instructions of the Legislature ; and I 
remember to this day the effect produced on our household. 
My father was delighted at the additional work thus thrown 
on him, and particularly at its character ; he began at once to 
collect nuiterials, and inform himself fully on the vast subject 
committed to him. The house was soon flooded with books 
on geology ; Lyell, Mantell, and other authors appeared, and 
we children used to wonder at the plates representing incom- 
prehensible monsters (the Plcsiosaurus, the Megatherium, the 
Pterodactyl, and heaven knows what other shapes), which, 
far more awful than any in the " Arjibian Nights," confronted 
ns as we peeped into those mysterious volumes. The General 
became an enthusiastic student of these works, and enlisted 
the family for the same pursuit. He entered into corre- 
spondence with the persons then looked up to as authorities 
in physical cience ; ho was knee-deep in rocks and minerals, 
organic remains and alluvial detritus, and the treasure of the 
animal and floral kingdoms. The result may be seen in his 
report to the Legislature, dated January 0, 183G, and in the 
subsequent appearance of that groat work known as the 
" Natural History of the State of New York." It was com- 
menced in the year 1837, continued at intervals during a pe- 
riod of nearly a quarter of a century, and although ^ ^ ''"' 
not yet completed, already consists of 23 thick 

taining innumerable illustrations of the t 



the substantial outcome of the report mad* Gene 

the Legislature of the State in response to their i'.btnictions 

in 1835. 



It is liiirdly ncpossary to remark that in tlieac labors Gen- 
eral Dix had the sympathy of scientific gentlemen through- 
out the country, who watched with interest the ])rogres8 of so 
grand a scheme. Professor Silliman writes to him from New 
Haven, July 11, 1835, as follows : 

"I am gmtitleil that your groat and important territory is about to bo 
surveyed geologically, and that all its natural productions are to be taken 
into the account. 

"Our first anxiety should be that the work be thoroughly done, and 
that neither tiie time, the money, nor the men requisite to a masterly 
survey should be stinted. No doubt you will feel that the honor of tho 
State as well as its interests and those of our country demand that a 
liberal and enlarged view should bo taken of the subject. My friend 
and pupil, Professor Hitchcock, has done nobly in his survey of Massa- 
chusetts, considering tho means that were placed at his disposal— still, I 
should regret to see the enterprise commenced in New York even upon 
the Massachusetts scale. The plan, no doubt you will agree, should bo 
such as to furnish time, means, and induceuionts adequate to an investi- 
gation of the most thorough character." 

Governor Cass writes thus : 

" Washington, Junuary 2.5, 1830. 
"Deau Sin, — I am greatly obliged to you for your report. You have 
condensed, within tho narrowest compass, a vast mass of the most im- 
portant information, a complete sketch of the natural kingdoms of your 
State. I do trust that New York will carry out this plan. It would bo 
a glorious monument to all of you. 

" I am, dear Sir, truly yours, Lew. Cass. 

'•Geneual Dix." 

His old friend, General Upham, to whom he referred with 
such warmth in his autobiographical sketch, wrote to him on 
the same subject : 

" Portsmouth, N. 11., January 30, 1836. 
"My dear Sik, — I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of 
your report to tiie Legislature of New York in relation to a Geological 
Survey of that State. I have read it with attention, and have derived 
from it much valuable information. I beg to tender you sincere thanks 
for this renewed mark of your attention. The pleasure I received from 
it is greatly increased by the recollections of our early acquaintance, and 



the deep (I had almost permitted myself to add parental) interest with 
■which I have followd your subsequent course and rapid advancement. 
It has been to me a constant source of gratification to learn that in 
every station you have occupied the just expectations of your friends 
have been realized. 

"The confidence and applause of political friends follow, as a matter 
of course, the display of talents, industry, and extraordinary exertions in 
support of the principles they have adopted ; it seems to be your good 
fortune, my dear Sir, to enjoy the confldence and respect of your politi- 
cal opponents — at least, I have reason to believe it so, for from such has 
my information respecting you been obtained. 

" That you may through life enjoy the consolations of an approving 

conscience, and at the last receive tlie Heavenly benediction, ' Well done, 

thou good and faithful servant,' is the sincere and ardent prayer of your 

old friend antl 

" Most obedient servant, 

"Tim". Upham, 
"General John A. Dix, Albany, N. Y." 

I shall add no more to this brief notice of a work which 
reflects lasting honor on all who had a hand in it ; few at this 
day know, and those who knew have probably forgotten, that 
the first impulse to that successful enterprise came from my 
father's hand. I have often wondered how he found time to 
do so much, or how he bore the fatigue of his official duties. I 
have referred to his labors in connection with three subjects 
of vast importance : the military systeui of the State, the edu- 
cation of its youth, and the description of its physical struct- 
ure and resources. This by no means completes the cata- 
logue of the results of the labors of those years. The State 
Library at Albany contains the following documents, in ad- 
dition to the reports to which I have called the reader's at- 
tention : 

'1 ! 

t ; ' . 

1. Decisions of tbe'Superintendent of Common Schools of the State of 
New York. Selected and arranged by Jolin A. Dix, Superintendent. . . . 
Published by the Legislature. Albany, 1837, pp. viii., 479. 8vo. 

(All thes:, decisions are either by Azariah C. Flagg or John 
A. Dix. Each decision shows who was the author of it.) 

u .,. I 



2. Annual Reports of the Secretary of State and Superintendent of 
Common Scliools, as follows : 

(rt) January 8, 1834, pp. 104, of whicli 30 are tlie report proper. 

(6) " 7,1835, " 107, 

(c) " G, 183G, " 130, 

{d) " 1837, 

(e) " 5, 1838, " 109, 

(/) " 3, 1839, " 163, 





















At tlie end of tins last report are some very interesting ob- 
serA'ations on tlic libraries of the district schools, a subject in 
which he took great interest. 

3, Special Reports by the Secretary of State, during a period of six 
years, among wliicli arc one respecting convictions for criminal offences, 
and another made when transmitting reports of tlic New York and Erie 
Raih'oad Company. 

It is a remarkable fact that mnrders were so rare in those 
days that, whenever one occurred, it gave a shock to the com- 
munity. My impression is that during one year there was 
not a single conviction for murder in the State of Xew York. 
I remomber a house ■which stood near the roadside, a little 
way below the city ; in it a man named John Whipple was 
murdered by one Jesse Strang, who was tried, convicted, and 
executed in the summer of 1827. The peculiar circumstances 
of the case gave it notoriety ; and the scene of the crime had 
a mysterious fascination for us. We children never passed 
that way witliout profound sensations, whispering that it was 
the house in which ^^the nuirder" was connuitted. Xow 
there is a murder every day, and few give it a second thought, 
so familiar are we grown with that primal, monstrous outrage 
against God and man. 

Keference has been made to the thorough organization of 
the J^emocratic Ilepublican party during Governor Marcy's 
administration. A powerful cond)ination against it was form- 
ed by a union of all the elements opposed to the State and 
national administrations. The success of this new movement 
was in great measure due to "^^'le derangement of business and 
I.— 10 




fill ; 







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I I 

I f 

consequent financial distress occasioned by the action of the 
President in M'ithdrawing the government deposits from tlie 
Bank of the United States at Philadelphia and placing them 
in local State institutions. This measure, although resisted 
by Congress, and even by the Secretary of the Treasury, was 
pushed on by General Jackson, who preferred discharging his 
Minister of Finance, and appointing another of his own mind, 
to failure in carrying out his pet measure. The consequent 
contraction of the currency, and the disasters to which it gave 
rise, brought on a revulsion throughout tlic country, tlie peo- 
ple reproaching tlie national administration as the authors of 
their distress. In the State of New York the evils referred 
to were not so seriously felt as elsewhere, and the elections 
of 1834 resulted in another victory for the Democratic party. 
Their position, however, was rapilly becoming critical, con- 
fronted as they were by a powerful coalition of National Ke- 
publicans and Antimasons. The candidate of the opposition 
in ISB-i was AVilliam II. Seward; a man dc^stined to achieve, 
within a few years, a political triumi^h in the State of New 
York, and subscqucnuy to attain honorable as well as perilous 
distinction in the trying years of the Civil War. 

Governor Marc}^, in his annual Message to the Legislature 
in 1830, referred to the dangers to be anticijiatcd from a spirit 
of wild and reckless si"»cculation which was then abroad. It 
appears to have been the result of great national prosperity. 
Our foreign credit was good, the products of agriculture com- 
manded a high price, and, since nothing seemed easier than 
to make money, every one hastened to grow rich. It is said 
that the passion for speculation in stocks and real estate pre- 
vailed to an extent unknown in this country before that day. 
Extravagant schemes of internal improvement were thrust 
before the Legislature, who were clamorously besieged by the 
demand for appropriations of the public money to carry them 
into effect. In vain the Governor protested against pledging 
the State credit in aid of public works until the Legislature 
should have pvovidcd, by taxation or otherwise, for paying 


tlie interest on loans for that purpose. To these and similar 
subjects General Dix alludes in a letter addressed to the Vice- 
President. The letter runs thus : 

•' Albany, June 4, 1836. 
"My DEAn Sir, — It wtis mj- intention to have written to you long ago; 
but, to tell the truth, I had none but unpleasant toi)ics, and I supposed 
Washington would furnish vexation enough to try your equanimity 
without superadding our own. We had, as you may imagine, a most 
disagreeable winter; and although, as I said in a letter to Mr. Wright 
early in the session of the Legislature, I had more apprehension on the 
subject of internal improvements than banks, the friends of both contin- 
ued so to mix them up together that we have added near six millions of 
dollars to our bank capital, and provided for increasing our public debt 
about seven millions. The legislation of the whole winter has been a 
matter of bargain and sale ; and if we cannot get a different class of 
men into the Legislature, the sooner we go into a minority the better. 
Wc have been betrayed by the inordinate spirit of speculation which 
is abroad. It has taken possession of too many of our own political 
friends ; and it is not to be disguised that their conduct is more under 
the regulation of pecuniary considerations than motives of a higher ori- 
gin and character. Our electoral ticket will save us next fall; but, un- 
less our selections for the Legislature are more judicious than thoy were 
last year, another session will wind up our concerns for a short time, at 
least. I sliould lament such a change ; but I consider it infinitely prefer- 
able to the state of things which wc have had this winter. We must 
have less strengtli or more virtue, if we would administer the affairs of 
the State either for our own honor or the public good. The indications 
of a wholesome purification of our legislative halls are favorable. Only 
two papers iu the State assail Colonel Young and ]Mr. Van Schaick : not 
one undertakes to defend Kcmble and Eishop,* exccjjt the Troy Budget, 
which is edited by the former. If the people will look to their candi- 
dates for office this fall, we may do sometiiing next winter to retrieve 
our reputation; but much mischief has been done which cannot be ro- 

* ]\Iessrs, Kemblc and Bishop were charged before the Senate Avith 
fraudulent speculations in stocks, and with complicity in the transactions 
of a defaulting cashier. Kemble resigned his seat before the ques- 
tion »va9 acted on. Bishop was found guilty of moral and official mis- 
conduct, yet there was a majority against his expulsion. Upon this 
Colonel Young and ]\Ir. Van Schaick resigned, saying tiiat they would 
not belong to a body which recognized as members men whom, by 
their ofiicial vote, they had found guilty of flagrant misdoings. 


' '; I' V 










f II 






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paired. The vote in the Senate on Bishop's case can only be cured by 
expunging — a remedy I hope to see applied. 

" In relation to our internal improvements there is still great cause for 
apprehension. Our troubles with the New York and Erie Railroad are, 
perhaps, but just commenced. I anticipate an application from the com- 
pany at the opening of the next session of the Legislature for an imme- 
diate loan of three millions, without waiting lor any part of the road to 
be completed. Indeed, I should not be surprised if we were to have an 
application to complete the road at the expense of the State. I have no 
faith in the project; and I think we should take ground against any 
farther countenance of it on the part of the State, even though we lose 
the southern tier of counties by a course. The history of the Che- 
nango Canal furnishes a precedent, of which we are constantly feeling 
the ill t'fTects. It has stimulated other counties to put a price on their 
political lidelity. Wheucver a local project is started we are threatened 
with the dereliction of the regions interested in it unless it is carried as 
a party measure. The principle involved in the success of applications 
advocated on such grounds is corrupt, and must be fatal if conceded. If 
we must purchase with approjiriations of money the i)olitical lidclity of 
every county which can get up a scheme of local improvement, we shall 
within ten years, if not in half that time, be obliged to sell out to some 
great banking institution, in order to recruit our pecuniary resources; 
and without the excuse which Pennsylvania has— tluit of continuing in 
existence an institution already established within her own territory'. 
Indeed, I have some fears that we may find difficulty in sustaining our 
I)rescnt pecuniary burdens, as there appears to be a settled determination 
that not a single dollar shall be raised by taxation for the support of the 

"I trust we shall see you soon; but, from all appearances, I suppose 

that Congress will not adjourn until tlie latter part of the month. 

'' I am, dear Sir, yours respectfully and truly, 

" John A. Dix. 
"Hon. M.Van BuREN." 

In a letter to a private friend lie makes some forcible re- 
marks on the same theme : 

" Albany, November 28, 1S30. 

"My dear . S and B have failed. I entreated the for- 
mer long ago to ^" ; up speculations. Sudden prosperity is the lot of 
but a few. while the ])ursuit of it seduces thousands to their ruin. . . . 

" We are on the eve of one of the severest reactions in business of 
almost every description with which wc liave been visited for years. I 

a fa . - .. f .-i ^ , -^\ 



have expected it for months. The 3 who can live through tlie present 
year may save themselves; but the pressure lias, I think, but just com- 
menced. Speculation is the great cause of the evil. It has deranged 
everything, and locked up, where it cannot be reached, a vast amount 
of capital. Time will release tlio capital so diverted, but not until large 
numbers of persons shall have fallen before the storm which is about to 
sweep over the community. Do not set me down for a croaker. I S2)eak 
strongly, with the hope that you may learn a lesson from it. Eschew 
si^eculation. Consider industry and frugality as the true sources of 
wealth ; and, if you arc never opulent, you will at least be secure from 
those disasters which arc brought on by putting what little one lias at 

Tlic elections of 183G resulted in a victory for the Demo- 
cratic candidates. Martin Yan Buren was elected President ; 
William L. Marcy was re-elected Governor of the State of 
New York, and bj a majority of nearly thirty thousand votes. 
Mr. Yan Buren was inaugurated March 4, 1837; Governor 
Marcy continued in office ; and the Legislature re-elected 
Silas Wright for the six years' term in the Senate of the 
United States. The ascendency of the Democratic party was 

"■ Never," says Hammond, in referring to that epoch, " did 
a political party whose ascendency depended on the voice of 
a free and intelligent people seem more lirmly and perma- 
nently established than the Democratic party in the State of 
New York in the winter of 1837. 

" In the Executive chair of the nation their former leader 
and favorite son was fixed, at least for four years to come ; 
their Governor — a man confessed by his opponents to jiossess 
talents which eminently qualified him for his station, and a 
most spotless private character — had been re-elected by the 
unprecedented majority of 29,000 ; in the popular branch of 
the State government nearly two to one of the members Avere 
Democrats, and in the Senate, the permanent body, they held 
a majority of more than five to one. In every town and 
county in the State the Democratic party was jierfect in its 
organization and discipline, and at the same time the moneyed 

IM Pi 


, ; 

:*..-! 4 



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-:, B^ 




interest in the State was most decidedly in favor of sustaining 
both tlic State and National administrations." 

It took hut a very little time, however, to pull their house 
down about the heads of those who deemed themselves secure 
for years to come — the customary successes turned to ruin- 
ous defeats. The reverses of the Democratic party were due 
mainly to their position on those questions of finance which so 
often frustrate the wisdom of men and make jiolitical diviners 
mad. The suspension of specie payments in the spring of 
1837, just before the adjournment of the Xew York L-^gisla- 
ture, became general throughout the United States, and spread 
consternation in every direction. It would be diffici .t for one 
outside the political field to enumerate, or even to compre- 
hend, the varied phenomena of the agitation of that day. But 
in reading the history of the period 1 was struck by the prom- 
inence given to the question about the disposal of the funds of 
the government. The revenues of the nation : where should 
they be kept ? Not in a national bank ; that plan had been 
tried; and Genci-al Jackson had destroyed the Bank of the 
United States, to the satisfaction of local institutions, which 
found their profit in the overthrow of the gigantic monster. 
In those State banks, then ? That plan had also been tried, and 
with bad results : they were regarded by the President and 
his leading advisers as unsafe. The conclusion reached was, 
that the government should do its own banking business ; 
that there ought to be a total separation of the business and 
property of the National Government from the business and 
concerns of State institutions. President Van Bureu urged 
this on Congress in a Message recommending a scheme of an 
Independent Treasury. An extra session of Congress was 
called for September 4 to consider this subject. The result 
was to array the local banking interest against the adminis- 

Then there was more trouble, and in more dangerous quar- 
ters, about the currency. An act had passed the Legislature, 
March 31, 1835, prohibiting the issue of bank bills below the 




denomination of five dollars. Many able men would have 
gone much farther, favoring such a system as that prevailing 
in England, where the five-pound note ($25) is the smallest 
denomination, and people must use gold and silver in all trans- 
actions below that sum. The measure referred to was very 
unpopular ; an attempt to repeal the act was defeated ; the 
popular outcry against it rose to angry denunciation, and the 
party in power were accused, not only as having brought on a 
serious evil, but as obstinately determined that it should not 
be abated. 

The Albany Regency were divided on some of these ques- 
tions. General Dix stood firm in his hard money convictions, 
and in favor of the separation of the govermnent business 
from that of State institutions, although he foresaw the dan- 
ger which must ensue to the administration. I quote from a 
letter on the subject, dated at Albany, August 20, 1837: 

"I dread nothing so nmcli in this country as the influence 
of pecuniary interests upon government. The d;nigor to be 
apprehended from a great moneyed institution is sufficiently 
apparent in the history of the United States Bank. From 
a large number of small institutions at a distance from each 
other, and apparently incapable of any concert of action, there 
would seem to be no cause for apprehension. But I am not 
sure that they may not, by an interconnnunication of views, 
accomplish as much as a single institution of larger capital. 
They have certainly the advantage that they move by detach- 
ments, and do not create the agitation or excite the alarm 
Avhicli are attendant on the movement of a single body of 
greater force. Individuals in their interest may be put in 
office in diilerent districts without any apparent concert, until 
a sufficient number is obtained to control the action of the 
government. Sucii attempts were made by the United States 
Bank, and they are likely to be repeated l)y the State banks. 
Indeed, some movements have recently been made in this 
State which indicate a settled purpose to build up a Bank 
party. Whatever may come, the Democratic party should 


\ '\ 




p i 



' in 

have no connection with it. I have no hostility to the State 
banks ; I would not break them down, nor would I oppress 
them by imposing on them unnecessarily severe restrictions. 
But their abuses should be corrected with an unflinching 
hand; and the first indications of an attempt to throw into 
our legislative bodies individuals in tlieir interest should bo 
resisted by every friend of free government. 

"I consider the prevailing derangement of our moneyed 
affairs as having been brought on principally by over-banking. 
The Legislature of this State has been exceedingly liberal to 
our btii^ks, by releasing them for a limited time from the pen- 
alties which they had incurred by pre-existing laws, in con- 
sequence of suspending specie payments. They should be 
contented with this indulgence, protecting them, as it does, 
against the consequences of their own imjirudence, and exert 
every effort to resume specie payments. I fear they are not 
all disposed to do so. ^There are a few sound bankers who 
are doing all they can to accomplish the object at the earliest 
practicable da}'. But a large portion of the banks will, I am 
satisfied, resist as long as they can, and finally, if compelled, 
come into the measure with reluctance. All the speculators 
in the State, together with those who owe the banks more 
money than they can pay, are averse to the resunqition of 
specie payments. They know that the restoration of a sound 
state of things will be their ruin. But their ruin is inevitable, 
whether the banks resume or not ; and if they could be saved 
by postponing a rcsumjition, it would be unjust to ninetcen- 
twentieths of the M'hole community, who are sustaining injury 
for the benefit of the other twentieth. The worst feature in 
the aspect of the times is the total insensibility of a large por- 
tion of the community to the character of a suspension of 
specie payments in a moral point of view. I regard it as dis- 
graceful in the highest degree. It was brought on by misman- 
agement and fraud, for the sound banks in this State would 
have sustained themselves if they had not been broken down 
by the weak and dishonest ones. To continue such a state of 


-ifcV.>m.-iiM"JVJ» jT "- 




things unnecessarily for a single day would bo the grossest 

" These measures should be insisted on as indispensable to 
a sound state of the moral and political body : 

"1. Let the banks resume specie payments at the earliest 
practicable day. 

"2. Expel from circulation all notes under $20 — not too 
hastily, but gradually, and without doing violence to existing 

"3. Establish some general law by which capital may bo 
employed in banking with special acts of incorporation, so 
that the legislative body may not be in danger of being cor- 
rujDted by combinations to control it for mercenary ends. 

" 4. Separate the government from all banking institutions 
in the collection and disbursement of its revenue. 

" If these obfccts are not accomplished I shall have serious 
apprehensions for the jiurity of the government. Corruption 
and profligacy arc inseparable from the control of moneyed 
influences. Banks accomplish their objects by loans and dis- 
counts ; these appliances are a part of their machinery, and 
the suggestion that such means may not be legitimately em- 
ployed for the purpose of promoting the interest of an insti- 
tution by gaining over individuals to its views would be con- 
sidered, by most of them, as savoring of squeamishness, if not 
of absolute folly. The more distant such establishments are 
from the government the better. They are the ministers of 
commerce; they should desire to serve no other master. 
Above all, should they not desire to play the master over 
those whose breath has warmed them into life, the people. I 
am sorry to say that too many M'ho stand to these institutions 
in the relation of stockholders, or in the still more delicate 
one of debtors, are busy in seeking to give to our local politics 
a direction in favor of them — in other words, to protect the 
banks against the people. These movements are exceedingly 
ill-judged. There is no danger that the people will act harsh- 
ly; and the distrust which is manifested as to their intentions 



U'> 1)1 








11 ' 

betrays, at least, a consciousness tliat their confidence has 
been abused." 

This letter has in it the very ring of the ])recious metals ; 
and I can say that my father's views on these points never 
changed. He was, to the end of his life, a hard-money man ; 
ho opjiosed the legal-tender act, even as a war measure ; he 
believed in nothing but a coin basis for private and public 
business ; he abhorred suspension of specie payments ; and it 
is a fact that he always carried some few pieces of gold coin 
with him, even through all the paper-money years during and 
after the war. The })recious metals alone he regarded as real 
money ; and he deplored the measures by which they were 
banished from circulation. And I confess to being unable to 
understand why the English system should succeed, in whicli 
all transactions involving sums less than five pounds must be 
carried on in coin, while Americans seem unable to exist 
without bank-notes of small denominations, and even now 
lament the want of that detestable fractional currency which 
was for so long a time a medium of exchange, down even to 
bills for three cents. It is one of the marvels of which we 
outsiders would be happy to have a thoroughly satisfactory 
solution. Yet it is a matter of history that the defeat of the 
Democratic party was due in part to its position on the bank- 
note question ; and it is said that the opponent of Governor 
Marcy, himself a man of comparatively small stature, received 
the affectionate soubriquet of " Small Bill Seward," expressive 
of the confidence of the people that his election would result 
in restoring to them their notes of small denomination, invid- 
iously termed "shin-plasters" by their adversaries. On that 
point the convictions of the average American appear to be 
settled past all power to change them. 

Misfortunes rarely come single, but by twos and threes, if 
not in droves ; it was so at that time. The dominant party, 
represented by the State administration, made additional ene- 
mies by taking the course which any respectable party in 
power at the time must have taken in an unfortunate and 




disagreeiiblo emergency. I refer to those outbreaks 'wliicli 
occurred in Canada about the close of the year 1837, when 
certain persons styling themselves " Patriots," or " Sons of 
Liberty," and led l)y Louis Joseph Papineau, at Montreal, and 
"William Lyon Mackenzie, in Toronto, made an ill-judged and 
abortive attempt at obtaining independence. It is loss of time 
to study the movement, which from the outset M'as destined 
to failure ; I mention the affair only because of the damage 
which resulted indirectly to Governor MarcyVs administra- 
tion. To preserve neutrality, and prevent Americans from 
aiding the insurgents, were the obvious duties of the national 
and State governments; but the excitable and the ignorant 
do not discriminate on such occasions, and political enemies 
easily reap advantage from such a position of affairs. It need 
hardly be said that there was a strong sympathy witli the in- 
surgents, especially in the parts of the State bordering on the 
Canadian line. The causes which led to the outbreak were 
analogous to those which brought on our own Ivcvolution : it 
was the old dispute between the constitutional and monarchi- 
cal ideas ; whether the Canadians should govern themselves 
by their own legislatures, or be governed by the British Par- 
liament. So the affair had a thorough republican smack 
about it, which naturally took the American fancy ; and 
when the defeat came, and the leaders were in flight from the 
British regulars and loyal militia, and when many poor fel- 
lows were lying dead in the blood-stained snow, and not a few 
were swinging from gibbets, and some were hunted for the 
price set on their heads, and refugees were coming across our 
lines, sympathy became indignation. The party in power at 
such a time must suffer. Bound to observe the rules of in- 
ternational law and the comity of sovereign states, it fulfils 
its duty at the expense of popularity. No doubt Governor 
Marcy lost many votes, especially in the frontier counties, 
where sympatliy for the miserable rebels was strong and 
men were eye-witnesses of their tribulation. 

To the family- of General Dix the Canadian emeute had 

) k 


1 nnj 

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more than a political interest ; it came straight into tlic home 
circle. Amonj; the leading families of (;ana(la none were 
more conKpicnous at that time tliati the naklwiiis. Tlioy were 
connections of ours by marriage, and connnunication was con- 
stant between the households in Toronto, New York, and Al- 
bany. Tlie lion. Kobert Baldwin, at one time District Attor- 
ney of the Upper Province, was a man of great intelligence, 
and conspicuous for patriotism and enlightened statesman- 
ship. To liim, togeiher M'ith Dr. Baldwin, Dr. T'olph, and 
Mr. Marshall S. I'idwell, the Liberal party in Canailahad been 
accustomed to look for advice and direction, ^[r. Bldwell 
was requested by Sir Francis Head, the Governor-general, to 
leave the province at once, not from any suspicion that ho 
was concerned in Mackenzie's movement, but because of his 
well-known political opinions and supposed iniluence. Dr. 
lloljih escaped Avith ditlieulty; a price of £500 was offered 
for his capture ; if taken he would undoubtedly have been 
executed. There was much anxiety lest some of the Bald- 
wins might have become objects of suspicion ; and although 
it soon became evident by their letters that there was no 
ground for that alarm, the circumstances gave to what would 
otherwise have been a mere political question the painful 
interest of a possible domestic calamity.* 

Thus little by little the trouble grew, and the Democratic 
horizon became darker day by day. The fall election of 1837 
was a warning of the disasters of the follewing year; the 
Whig party carried the State, or rather swept it, gaining six 
out of eight Senat^' ial districts, and electing 101 out of 128 
members of Assembly. General Dix foresaw what was com- 
ing next, and probably felt that it could not be averted. 
AVriting to Mr. Morgan on the IGth of December, he says : 

"Between ourselves, I have become recently greatly dis- 
couraged at our political prospects — not because there is any 
need of our being beaten anotlier year, but because conserva- 

* See Appendix, No. II. 

U i 

i 11 

1830-1842.] MR. MOllGAN WITTILY CARlCATUIiEl). 


tisin is likely to bu kept alive by the conduct of influential 
individualrt here, who by means of speculations have become 
the dependents of bankiui^ institutions. Mr. Flagj; and my- 
self have both within the last two or three days been sepa- 
rately sounded with re<i;ard to the expediency of repealing 
the small-bill law for a limited time, and both of us took 
strong ground against it. It will, however, be carried, and 
most probably with the consent and approbation of almost 
every one here, excepting Mr. Flagg and myself ; for it un- 
fortunately happens that \\v are almost the only ones who arc 
not connected with the banks in the relation of stockholders, 
directors, or debtors. The course of things hero this winter 
will be, in all probability, to disgust still more the sound 
liepublicans, and to keep up the divisions which defeated us 
this fall. I shall, therefore, make uj) my mind to go out of 
office next winter. 

"I consider the present attitude of the banks erpially dis- 
honorable and immoral. There is no shadow of an excuse for 
continuing the suspension of sjiecie payments a single day 

It may be noted that the reaction against the Democratic 
party was felt even in their stronghold, the citv of Xew York. 
Mr. Morgan was candidate for Mayor that year. \\\i was de- 
feated by Aaron Clark, the Whig nominee. Much amusement 
was caused in our home circle by one of the political carica- 
tures of the day. which represented my grandfather as going 
forth to his ofiicial duties, warmly M'rapped up in overcoat, 
muffler, and ample capes, and attended by servants bearing 
pillows, umbrellas, overshoes, and similar articles. It was a 
smart allusion to his habits, M'liich were those of one who had 
preserved his health only by great care, and owed his sound 
condition to the avoidance of exposure and a strict and tem- 
perate regimen. The joke was a fair one, and fully appre- 

And so at length came on the long-dreaded day. In the 
autumn of 1838 "NViUiani II. Seward and Luther Bradish were 

1 9 



1 '1 

1 ; I 


1 i 

''■ M 

I ''1 


n I > 




M i 


elected Governor and Lieutenant-governor of the State of 
I^ew York, and William L. Murcy and John Tracy yielded, 
with dignity, to the fiat of the people. The inauguration of 
the new State officers took place January 1, 1839. A caucus 
of the Whig nienihcrs of the Legislature was held January 31, 
to nominate State officers, and on the 4th of February en- 
suing General Dix withdrevr to private life, and gave place 
to John C. Spencer, his able and accomplished successor. As 
if to fill up the measure of their misfortunes, le Democrats 
lost their majority in the Senate in the elections of the fol- 
lowing autumn, a majority which the party had held during 
eighteen successive years. It was the crowning disaster of 
the series. 

Events like those which I have related are severely felt in 
the private circles which they directly affect. General Dix 
had exchimgcd a growing law business, which promised to be 
l)oth lucrative and permanent, for the uncertainties of political 
life. On his retirement from office it became a serious ques- 
tion with him, not only how to maintain his family, but how 
to employ energies Avhich demanded an ample field for their 
exercise. The loss of his public position M'as regarded as ?. 
calamity in that household which had been forming gradually, 
and of which, thus far, I have made scarcely any mention. 
This seems the proper place in which to say a few words 
about that home in Albany which had become very dear to 
us, and about which there still shines a pleasant light, as I 
recall a ^el•y ha]ipy boyhood and dream myself back into 
those far-off days. 

The city of Albany was at that time one of the mosit inter- 
esting to-'vns in the State : the seat of our government ; the 
home of a cultivated, genial, and polite society; the shrine of 
historical recollections. Something of the quaintness of old 
time still lingered in irs precincts ; there were traces even of 
the Dutch, rejime in its architecture, in the names of its citi- 
zens, and elsewhere. After living there some time one became 
perforce a loyal " Ivnickerbocker." I recollect more than ono 




house with the liigli gable hrolccn, from caves to peak, into 
steps, and displaying, in groat iron letters fast anchored into 
the Holland brick, the venerable date of its construction ; the 
wide porches at the doors, with seats on either side, where the 
citizens would spend the placid hour of twilight ; the words 
in our vocabulary at whose odd, outlandish sound some of our 
friends from abroad M'erc wont to smile. As for the society, 
it could hardly have been more agreeable ; there was neither 
formalism nor ostentation, nor yet oppressive ceremony ; peo- 
ple were easy-going, friendly, hospitable. The names of the 
Van Eensselaers and Gansevoorts, the Bleeckers and Ten 
Eycks, tiie Paiges, Wheatons, and Rathbones, the Pruyns and 
Comings, the Planchards and Stantons, the Townsends and 
Forsyths, indicate the tone of the jilace. Governor ]\Iarcy's 
family was one of the most delightful of the city. In liter- 
ary circles Dr. Beck was conspicuous ; Dr. James McXaugh- 
ton, our "beloved physician," adorned the medical ])rofession; 
and prominent among the clergy were Dr. Horatio Potter, 
Hector of St. Peter's Church ; Dr. Spraguc, the eminent Pres- 
byterian pastor ; and Dr. Welsh, one of the lights of the Baji- 
t: )i: denomination. 

My father, after residing a while in Hawk Street and Elk 
Street, had liiuilly fixed his domicile in Washington Street, 
now called Washington Avenue. The lauiily then consisted 
of four children. I, the eldest, was born in Kew York, in 
1827; my brother Baldwin, at Cooperstown, Xovember 28, 
1821); another brother, John Wilkins, and my eldest sister, 
Elizabeth Morgan, were added to the number in Albany. 
We were a happy and united family of young folks, knit to- 
gether in love, and blessed M'ith the care of God-fearing par- 
ents, who Avatched our progress M'ith conscientious thonght, 
and did their duty by us. My fath.f^r always interested him- 
self in our studies ; he examined us at home on what we had 
done at school ; to him we vrcnt, with confidence, for help, 
whenever avc happened to stick fat't on a tough Rcraj) of 
Latin or liarti sum in aritlnnetic ; and many v;ere the even- 


I. i I 



.1 . \ 


I •! 





ing-s -when, laying aside Lis work, he -would turn affectionate- 
ly to his little lads and pull them through the rough places, 
showing them M'hat they had overlooked, or exjilaining what 
they did not understand. Music was a part of our education ; 
its sound was always heard in the house ; both our parents 
played the piano with taste and sang agreeably. I do not 
know which of them I loved most to listen to. The echo of 
the old songs rings on still within my soul, and will do so till 
the end. 

Our house was of great size, M'ith a Avidc entrance-hall and 
large rooms. There was a fine shrubbery between it and the 
street ; on either side and in the rear was a garden, with grass- 
plats, fiowei's, and fruit - trees. "We had dogs, with classical 
names, one of which, a Spanish pointer, bore on his collar 

the words 

" Et trux cum La'lape Tiieuon.'' 

We had ponies to ride, and rabbits ; and there "was a long 
wood-house, wherein ^\'Q learned to be good pistol-shots and 
marksmen with the boM' ; and in the bitter winters we Imilt 
snow forts at the bottom of the garden, and had battles a bou- 
hi hianc. In the sunmier-time my father used to take us to 
a little island opposite the city, where he taught us to swim ; 
and in the winter we went to the river sometimes to learn to 
skate, and sometimes for a drive on the smooth, shining ice 
between our own home and the rival city of Troy. 

The house M'as never without guests ; usually some mem- 
bers of the family, either from the New England States, or 
New York, or Canada, were there ; hos])itali<^y was tlie law of 
the establishment. We went occasionally to New York, to see 
our grandparents ; our summers we spent, as happy as children 
could ]>e, at ^Vv. Morgan's favorite farm-house in r.rookfield, 
]\Iadlson County, which was known as ''the TTnadilla." As 
children we were deeply impressed by Avhat we considered the 
stately splendors of the New York residence. It Bond Street. 
It Mas one of a row of white marble houses, once known as 
" the B <1 Street Palaces ;" and if one would have a striking 

li " f? 










1 V 

:' ■ I 



v I ■ 

l.lj I 




i f' 



!i<i not 11 fide! 
• i was ahv" 
jMiivijti the 
know whicli ^i 

the okl bOii' • 


hip " (Jtectumate- 

ugh places, 

vpiaiiiing wli*t 

our education ; 

^fh rmr parent.s 

' do not 

• echo of 

'-• ■'• m. 


. waA'a gardeit^ with jmi«8i- 

-, Wo had dog<s, with classical 

'^S'anish ])(>inter. l>on> ou iiis collar 



s to vide, uiid rabbits; and there >vi)> u long 
, ii.'ftria wo loaruod to bo gotvl pictoi-tshot? and 
marksjien wilii tlio bow: and ir. tho bitter wititwfl wo bviilt 
snow forts ar the bottom oT th" w^'i Kad battl' ^f 

Id blah f\ in tht' f.nni77ioM- u>ind to tfa;Jfc<^ ua to 

a li^tlf i^i.'Uid rir.]^>f>si*.' t]i<. . 

and m tho ^^i!!ftvr wf» A«-t-iu to iho riwr is<v; 
•:';i*fcp'» and i^ometimc? for a d.nv';: aft ; i 

>vnn ; 
n to 

uu^ ice 



It Wiia 0;u' 

"the Bond 


... . .>..iU!.s, or 
.W:lrt tho liiw of 

• '<-. . ^./■\v i'ork,to HOC 
.,. n: - »--»',, >!iJ u;t](j>y 118 t'hiidren 

• - ^*" • • in IbNioktitiid, 
-' ■;..'.}; ir " Uio rnadilla/' Ac 

we (considered the 

Mir..n..toc, 14 Bond >^troet, 

tie iii'Uso;?'. onee Icnown ^p 

;. one would liave a .strilring 


I l 


i i|i 

!(i '■• 





.:! t'l 




proof of tliG mutations of this wor]d, and tlie change in our 
standard of magniticence, let liim go and look at tlio poor 
shadow of the past, as it stands there defaced by tradesmen's 
signs and patient under a series of profanities, and try to real- 
ize that it could ever have been called " a ])alace.'" 

My father's interest in our education, together with his re- 
luctance to send us into the thick of a miscellaneous herd of 
boys, induced him to try and secure for us the benefits of 
more select and private in Auction. One day there came to 
Albany an Englislnnan named "William II. Duff, once in the 
British army. His wife was remarkable for personal beauty 
and refinement of manners. They w^n'o in quest of the means 
of a livelihood, and it resulted in their opening a little school, 
to which my father sent us. There were some two dozen 
boys there of the best families in Albany. We were taught 
Latin and Englisli, drawing, fencing, and militaiy exercise. 
Old-fashioned drilling in Latin was the foundation of every- 
thing else, and to this department my father Avas jiarticularly 
attentive in his habitual examination of our progress. After 
some time the school broke up, and we were sent to the Pearl 
Street Academy, a much larger establishment. My father 
never lost his interest in Major Duff. Years afterward, when 
the war witli Mexico came on, he got him a connuission in 
one of tlie new regiments of dragooT\s raised for that service. 
Major Duff went to the field, but never came back ; his bones 
still lie there in the land of the stranger, with those of other 
gallant men who perished of disease or fell in battle. 

St. Peter's was the parish church ; the Ilcv. Dr. Horatio 
Potter our devoted pastor. Ho has since completed twenty- 
five years in the Episcopate, illustrating the virtues which form 
the apostolic description of a bishop. As to tlie old church, 
it was simply and merely frightful in an architectural point 
of view, though it dated fi'um Colonial times, and had the' 
arms of good Queen Anne on its communion plate. Xo such 
arrangement of chancel was over heard of, to the best of my 
belief, before or since. "What seemed to be two squarish tub^ 
L— 11 - 

• I 





iu J 


i ( 

of miiliogany, Avitli fronts shaped like the dasli-hoard of a 
sleigli, projected from the wall, ])recisely alike in shape and 
size ; their farther advance ni)on the congregation was re- 
strained by a stout rail, which kept them in and left room in 
the midst for a " comnuinion-table ;" in these alternately the 
service was read and the sermon preached. We had a large, 
square pew in the north-west cornei", Avith a table for books ; 
and there the whole family could be seen in their place as 
regularly as the Lord\"vday came round. At home my father 
read the household prayers ; at church he M'as always present ; 
the Rector was ever our honored guest. The faithful pastor 
liad the love and coniidence of his Hock, and their sym])athy 
in many domestic afflictions ; he went quietly and steadily on 
the round of duty, little disturljed by the chances and changes 
of this mortal life. 

Some time in those years Lord Morpeth came to Albany, 
and my father took him to St. Peter's. His lordship, appar- 
ently pleased with what he had heard, remarked to my father 
as they left the church together, "Ah! they do the music 
nicelj' !" This critical observation enchanted my father, who 
often told the story, with a hearty laugh at the civility of the 
apjireciative peer. 

Thus we passed the years fi-om 1S30 to 1842, when the 
home was broken up, and a period of wandering began. A 
hundred recollections of those days come back, with anecdotes 
and reminiscences innumerable ; and, if this were a mono- 
graph covering that period only, I might fill a fair-sized pam- 
phlet with them. But I pass on, merely adding that we grew 
to love Albany as a sweet home, and looked back to it through 
the unsettled years that followed as persons who have lost 
some good thing. ]^or did that feeling ever die away. 
When, in the year 1873, my parents returned thither upon 
the GeneraFs election as Governor, it was to no strange city, 
but to a familiar scene ; and they were welcomed by kind 
friends who still remained, or by the inheritors of the names 
and traditions of the past, and lovingly greeted as persons 



who come once more to tlieir own, and find their own faith- 
ful and true as of old. 

Innncdiately after tlie fall election in 1838 Mr. Morgan 
received a letter from the President, urgiufij him to induce 
General Dix to remain at Albany. Mr. Van Buren, still hope- 
ful of his re-election, no doubt desired to have at the State 
capital some person possessing his full confidence, loyal to his 
administration, and ready to lend aid in the uncertain future, 
for the struggle for tlie Presid';ncy Avas yet two years oif. I 
give the correspondence : 

" Washington, November 14, 1SC8. 

"My DEAn Sir, — Will you excuse mc for troul)ling you upon a point 
with wliicli I liave perhaps nothing to do ? Our friend General Dix will, 
•without doubt, fall a sacrifice to Whig vengeance, lie is too honest, too 
usei'iil, and too proud to avoid it. What is he to do ■\vitli himself until 
the people recall him into their service? You know tlic anxiety our 
friends feel to retain him at Albany, which has been the theatre of his 
usefulness, and where he established for himself a reputation Avhich few 
men of his age have been able to arrive at. Would the sacrifice of his 
remaining there a few years without the certainty of public employment 
be too great for the occasion ? You arc a better judge of the wliole mat- 
ter than I can jjossibly be, and will, I doubt not, advise him for the best. 
It is my knowledge of the respect he so properly entertains for your 
opinion, and the hope that it may be favorable, which have tempted 
me to hazard the step I have taken in directing your attention to the 

" Our reverses in New York have indeed been severe, but with courage 
and constancy they may not only be overcome, but converted to our 
future and permanent advantage. 

"IJcmeniber me kindly to Mrs. Morgan, and believe mc to be very 
truly yours, M. Van Buuen. 

"JouN J. Morgan, Esq." 


To this Mr. Morgan replied : 

"New York, November 20, 1838. 

"My dear Sir, — Mr. Dix liajipened to be in New York on official 

business when I received your letter of the 14th inst. He expects, of 

course, tlie visitation of Whig vengeance, and had made up his mind to 

return to Cooperstown, and to occupy himself with the education of his 

' i 




\m *'fl'l 

children and such business connected with his profcs^'on fts might bo 
committed to him, and by country nir and exercise to repair tlic inroads 
made upcm his liealtli by tlie severe labors and close confinement to 
which he has been subjected by his present office. Your wish in respect 
to his residence in All)any was the sul)ject of our conversation while ho 
remained with us. We arc fully sensible how necessary it is that some 
one who took an active part in all the measures of the administration 
nt Albany, and who is capable of defending them, should remain there; 
but, without him, arc there not there those who are eminently so qual- 
ified? The difficulty with him, and in respect to a continued rosidenco 
in Albany, is, that he will l)e without sufficient emi)loyment, and that, to 
ft man of ids turn of mind and active habits, Avould be very distressing. 
Still, the expression of a wish from you in the matter is sufficient to 
make us pause. At all events he will not leave Albany till the latter 
part of April, and by that time he may be better able to decide upon his 
course. Tlie victory over us here is a commercial victory, anc^ I have 
not a doubt that our loss in this State will greatly contribute to c iir gain 
elsewhere, and will only the more certainly secure our final success in 
this great struggle. You boldly brought before the people the question 
on which I think their freedom depends; you knew the hazards to which 
it would subject your popularity, and that nuiny of those who called 
themselves your friends would desert you, and tluit possibly even your 
native State might for a while abandon you ; but you knew the people, 
and you knew that tliey would finally and in good season determine 
to govern themselves, and not be governed by merchants, banks, and 
speculators. Very sincerely yours, 


In pending a copy of this correspondence to my mother 
Mr. Morgan generously removed one of the obstacles in the 
way of a continued residency at the capital, as shown in the 
following lines: 

" Mr. Dix must not he deterred from doing what he wishes 
on account of pecuniary calculations. AVe, and I say emphat- 
ically wc, can aiford to ho ahovc them, when consistency of 
character, health, or real comfort requires it." 

It was then decided that General Dix should remain at 
Albany. The President earnestly desired it ; and Mr. Morgan 
again proved his devoted friend, by averting the inconven- 
ience of the loss of salary at a time when his income from 

1830-1842.] "LOG CABIN AND lIAlil) CIDER CAMl'AlQSr 165 

Other sources was very small. I have a special reason for 
mentioning these facts, which will appear hereafter, and jus- 
tify this introduction of personal details at this point of the 

AVhatcver may have been the political hopes entertained 
by the friends of Mr. Van IJuren, they were destined to bitter 
disappointment. In the summer of IS.'Jl) he made a tour of 
the State of Xew York, but without the sid)stantial residts 
which were anticipated — the fates had pronounced against 
him. The following year brought on the "battle royal," 
which resulted in the total rout of theadnnnlstration. 1 shall 
never forget the oddities and whimsicalities of the day, wisely 
encouraged and stimulated by the shrewd leaders of the oppo- 
sition. It was known as the ''''Log Cahui and llavd (J'uler 
CampaUjnr All over the land rude huts were erected, and 
cider was on draught, flowing freely ; and, what with these 
novelties and the halo of military renown encircling the liead 
of General William Henry Harrison, the impulse toward a 
change i)rovtd irresistil>le. This appears to be the first time 
in our history in Mdiich a direct appeal was made to the 
lower classes by exciting their curiosity, feeding the desire 
for amusement, and presenting what is low and vulgar as 
an inducement for support. Since that day the thing has 
been cai'ried farther, until it is actually a disadvantage to be 
of good stock and to have inherited " the grand old name of 
geuileman." Then began the passion for titles betokening 
Innnble antecedents — the procession of "Mill Boys," "Ilail- 
splitters," "■ Shoemakers," "■ Canal-boat Drivers," then first set 
forth upon the stage of American politics — till now, if a can- 
didate be so unfortunate as to have had illustrious ancestors, it 
beliooves him in his own interests to hush the matter up. In 
the midst of these attractions — contemptible in themselves, 
but formidable as engines of influence — paltry, one-story shan- 
ties, with live raccoons crawling about them, and strings of 
pumpkin drying on the roof ; barrels duly labelled with titles 
appetizing to the thirsty throats of the "great unwashed;" 


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medals with the effigies of epauletted chieftains, neckties 
woven of motley hues, and other like toys, gravely presented 
to the eager populace — and with campaign songs setting forth 
the power and prestige of " Tippecanoe and Tyler too," and 
announcing the conviction that "little Van was a used-up 
man," the autumnal days wore aw\ay ; and hot strife grew 
among us school-boys of the period, and I and my brothers 
stood valiantly up, as became us, for the powers that were, 
while yet we secretly admired and horribly envied the seduc- 
tive paraphernalia which the boys of Whig families flaunted 
in our faces, and by means whereof they embittered our exist- 
ence. When at length things came to the supreme test of 
the ballot-box, and when the blow fell and the worst had ar- 
rived, and it could no longer be concealed that General Har- 
rison, rich already in logs, and cabins, and raccoons, and kegs, 
and cider more or less hard, and flags, and guns, and Indian 
scalps, had the Presidency also, there was weeping and wailing 
and gnashing of teeth among us juveniles, quite as sincere, 
though not so permanent, as that to which our elders might 
have given way. 

It came over our house as a great disaster. The home 
seemed likely to be broken up by the political revolution. 
There w^as no longer an object such as that which had induced 
my father, at the earnest instance of President Van Buren, to 
remain in Alban3^ He was at a loss what to do; the date 
at which to re-enter public life seemed indefinitely remote: 
again he thought of resuming his profession and bidding pol- 
itics a long farewell. My mother wrote : 

"We are cast down to cavth, polliioalli/ . . . the world is 
all before us again; and where to choose a resting-place is 
now the question to be decided. One day it is thought best 
to go down the river, the next to go far beyond it, and some- 
times fancy wings her way across the sea, and we imagine our- 
selves settled {!) in Italy — but this is too foreign a flight to 
please me, although I shall not oppose any arrangement that 
wiser heads than mine may think it advisable to adopt. My 



hnsband goes to Boston in a few days to deliver a lecture, not 
a shcmp speech; and as lie stops in New York on his way lie 
and papa will doubtless come to some sage determination." 

The letter from which I have just quoted r-istles with in- 
dignation against the fickle and inconstant people, of whose 
" virtue " and " intelligence " my mother appears at that mo- 
ment to have entertained a contemptible opinion. The Gen- 
eral, however, adds a re-assuring postscript in their vindica- 
tion, from Boston (November 26, 1840), saying : 

" My confidence in the ' virtue and intelligence of the peo- 
ple ' is unshaken. They have been deceived ; but I await the 
' sober second thought,' and even the third, if necessary." 

But Lis own sober second thought was that it was best to 
remain where he was ; he felt, no doubt, that his career as a 
public man was not yet finished ; he had, perhaps, the intui- 
tion of future successes. 

AVhat the address or lecture was which he went to Boston 
to deliver I do not know, and have not been at the pains to 
find out ; but there is a point in connection with it too good 
to be lost. Writing to his brother, Captain Roger S. Dix, of 
the army, after his return, December 13, 1810, and referring 
to what he had been told — that the newspapers in Boston, 
with one exception, had spoken well of it — he says : 

" I wish to know what paper is referred to as an exception, 
and what it said. I desire to know for my own benefit. 
Nothing does a man so much good as honest criticism, how- 
ever severe it may be. I can truly say I have never been 
anxious to hunt up compliments, when I have been told that 
they have been paid to me. But fault-finding criticisms 
I am always desirous of seeing, because they often furnish 
hints which may be turned to good account. As I have been 
of late, and shall probably be hereafter, somewhat engaged in 
public speaking, I wish to know what my faults are, that I 
may correct them if I can." 

Thus thrown out of public life, General Dix directed his 
attention to a new pursuit. Desiring to add something to 



his incomo, and to find a proper field for liis versatile genius 
and indefatigable activity in useful and congenial occupation, 
he resolved to adopt the profession of editor. It was deter- 
mined to establish a journal of a literary and scientific char- 
acter ; of this he was to have the immediate supervision, while 
gentlemen conspicuoiis in various professions were to aid in 
the editorial work. The name selected was The Northern 
Light I and with General Dix there were associated Dr. T. 
Romeyn Beck, author of a treatise on Medical Jurisprudence, 
which was regarded as a standard work in Europe as well as 
in this country ; Gideon Ilawley, Secretary to the Board of 
Begents of the University ; Amos Dean, Professor of Medi- 
cal Jurisprudence in tha Albany Medical College: Thomas 
W. Olcott, President of the Mechanics' and Farmers' Bank, 
in Albany ; and Edward C. Delevan, who was for many years 
at tlie head of the temperance movement in the United States. 
It seems that the object had in view was at first misunder- 
stood. An unkindly notice of it appeared in the columns of 
the New York Evening Express, which gave General Dix the 
opportunity of defining its character in a communication to 
the editor of that newspaper. He says : 

"The notice is founded upon so entire a misapprehension of tlie de- 
sigu of The Northern Light, that I deem it due to the j^roprietors and the 
gentlemen associated with me in conducting it to state its true nature 
and objects; and I do not doubt that you will with pleasure give the 
statement to your readers, and thus correct the erroneous impression 
which you have, I am sure unintentionally, created. The purposes for 
which The Northern Light was established were to disseminate useful 
knowledge, more particularly in respect to facts applicable to the practi- 
cal business of life, and to open to free discussion a single branch of politi- 
cal science — political economy, including the tariff and the policy of pro- 
tecting duties. I consented to take charge of the publication, with the 
assistance of five other gentlemen, whose names are given in the pros- 
pectus, and with the distinct and express understanding that its columns 
were to be kept free from all partisan discussions. The gentlemen re- 
ferred to would not have been concerned in the publication but upon 
the condition of abstaining from party politics. Several of them have 
been uniformly opposed to the political party with which I have always 





been connected. They believed with myself and the proprietors of The 
Northern Light that, after a long and angry political contest, a portion 
of the public attention might be turned, with pleasure and profit, to the 
discussion of less exciting topics than those which entered into the re- 
cent election, and that among the literary and scientific publications in 
which the country abounds a place might be found for theirs. The top- 
ics referred to, for the most part of practical usefulness, will be presented 
in a popular shape, and made intelligible to all classes of readers. The 
only source of anxiety to the members of the association is a distrust of 
their ability to render the enterprise in its execution worthy of the de- 
sign. Among those who know us we are sure no apprehension will be 
felt as to a scrupulous adherence on our part to the avowed purposes of 
the publication. Those who are not personally acquainted with us will, 
it is believed, feel equally at case on this point, when it is considered 
that we belong to different political parties, and that we have all an 
equal voice in deciding questions concerning the management of the 
editorial department. I will only add that if you, or any of your friends, 
will do us the favor to prepare a paper on any subject embraced in our 
prospectus, it will afford us the greatest pleasure to insert it." 

The first number of The Northern Light appeared in April, 
1841 : the last that I can find is that of July, 1843. Its liter- 
ary excellence may be inferred from the fact that among its 
contributors were Professor Alonzo Potter, of Union Col- 
lege, afterward Bishop of Pennsylvania ; J, R. Poinsett, Min- 
ister to Mexico, and Secretary of "War, under Mr. Van Buren ; 
the Rev. "William Croswell, D.D. ; Thomas Cole, the painter ; 
Miss Sedgwick ; Edwin Croswell ; J. Louis Tellkampf, Pro- 
fessor of German in Columbia College ; Noah "Webster ; 
Matthew Henry "Webster; Professor Charles AV. Ilackley; 
Alfred B. Street ; Amos Dean ; Samuel S. Randall, the biog- 
rapher of Thomas Jefferson ; the Rev. Horatio Potter, now 
Bishop of Kew York ; John L. O'Sullivan ; Horace B. Web- 
ster; Salem Town; James E. Freeman, the painter; Gerritt 
Smith ; Willis Gaylord ; James Hall, geologist in the State 
Survey ; AVilliam II. Jansen ; Drs. E. B. O'Callaghan, He- 
man J. Redfield, and Caleb Lyon, of Lyonsdale. In addition 
to these the five gentlemen whose names appear on the pros- 
pectus were occasional contributors. General Dix, besides 







having the editorial management, wrote a series of articles on 
the English poets, beginning with Sir Henry Wotton, Edmund 
Spenser, and Ben Jonson, and also treated, in his usual lumi- 
nous and scholarly manner, of many other subjects, among 
which were the Corn-laws in England and France, the state 
of the laboring population of Ireland, the temperature of the 
earth and meteorological phenomena, the organic chemistry 
of agriculture and physiology, and the charms of rural life, 
giving occasional translations of romances and tales from the 
French language. 

Among the letters of that period is one from Henry James 
Anderson, a very intimate friend, and one of the most charm- 
ing and accomplished gentlemen of his day. General Dix 
held him in the highest possible regard, not only for his sci- 
entific attainments and the purity and nobility of his charac- 
ter, but also for the peculiar raciness and delicate wit which 
rendered his society so agreeable. It appears that he had ap- 
plied to Dr. Anderson for a contribution to The JS'orthern 
Light; this is the answer which he received : 

"New York, December 18, 1841. 

" Dear Sin, — Your notice that you held on account of Tim Northern 
Light a post-note of mine promising ' an article ' to tliat journal, came 
duly to hand, and is hereby acknowledged. 

"As I keep no bill-book I am unable to refer to anything better than 
my memory for the date and maturity of 'said' post-note. It seems to 
me that it ran in this way : ' I do not promise to write an article for The 
Northern Lights either for a day certain or uncertain, near or remote.' I 
thought I was safe and had contracted no debt, but now I find that I had 
'put out paper,' and must make arrangements to redeem. I certainly 
did not intend to 'create stock;' but if I have, as it has not yet passed 
into tlie hands of innocent third parties, I feel strongly inclined to 

" Since I sent you my non-promissory note I have entered into positive 
engagements with a publisher to deliver a certain quantity of 'copy ' in 
a given time. This is my first departure from the cash system — my first 
step in the downward path of debt. I am already seized with the hor- 
rors of remorse, and I dare say I shall pay for my folly by seeing myself 
gazetted as a bankrupt under the new act. 







"In the name of humanity do look again at that no-bond of mine and 
see if I am 'liable,' under the strictest letter of the law-merchant, or even 
under the sharpest interpretation of the law-moral. I feel quite dis- 
tressed by this unexpected addition to my obligations; and yet, if you 
can convince my 'conscientiousness' — a bump which is not wanting in 
size — I will pay you, or order, in the shortest time and best paper I can 

" We have just organized here a little band of ' Brothers,' as we call 
ourselves. We are 'free-trade-mad,' and propose to dine together at 
Blancard's every fortnight or week, perhaps, on beefsteak and oysters, 
with wine on the voluntary principle, and rejoice in tlie wisdom which 
we shall utter on the occasion. Our first meeting is this evening, at five, 

" I cannot close without my heartfelt congratulations on the result of 
the elections. And happy I am that you, among the first I loved for 
their devotedness to Truth and Right, have held, througl\ cither fortune, 
unfalteringly to the course which the appeal to the people's sober 
thought has so gloriously vindicated. 

" Truly yours, IIenhy Jas. Andekson," 

The General's editorial labors were soon interrupted. In 
the year 1841 he was recalled to public life by election as 
member of Assembly. Tlie event caused a sensation at the 
house on AVashington Street. The General was absent from 
the city at the time. One evening, as my mother was sitting 
quietly in her room, Mr. John Yan Buren, with two or three 
friends, rushed in and told her that she must make haste and 
shut all the doors, as a vast body of the unterrified Democ- 
racy, wild with enthusiasm, and flaring with torches and ban- 
ners, was moving up toward the house to congratulate the 
General on his election. Measures having been rapidly taken 
for defence from the embraces of the delighted crowd, Mr. 
Van Buren met them at the entrance of the grounds, and, 
mounted on a chair, addressed them in that characteristic 
style which made him one of the most popular of public 
speakers. They accepted the apology thus rendered for the 
absence of the object of their quest, and, after the usual 
uproar of cheers and shouts, relieved the household of aj^pre- 
hension and boisterously withdrew. 

General Dix's election gave gratification in many quarters. 











I select one from a large number of similar letters addressed 
to him at that time. It is from General Borland : 

" Montgomery, November 1?, 1841. 
" General John A. Dix: 

" Deau Sir, — In view of the recent triumphs of Democracy I cannot 
withliokl an expression of my high gratification. 

"And will you allow me to say (for so I verily believe) that no single 
event, in the whole range of Democratic success, has been more grateful 
to my feelings, or more important to the great cause of liberal principles, 
than your own election. 

" For years past we have, as a party, too much neglected moral worth, 
integrity of character, sound sense, and high literary attainments. 

"Your success will, I trust, induce our friends thoughout the State 
hereafter to look more for your likeness than they have for years past. 

" My friend Mr. Hill* having afforded a favorable opportunity, in jus- 
tice to my own feelings I could not but embrace it, to give you a faint 
expression of the high regard I entertain for your character. 

" Yours cordially, etc., Cuarles Borland." 

The following year brought with it a terrible anxiety, ending 
in the breaking up of our home, amid sorrowful forebodings 
and tearful separations. The life at Albany abruptly ended, 
and we want forth, to return to it, as a household, no more. 

My mother's health, which had not been strong, became so 
seriously impaired, that her medical advisers advised a re- 
moval to a milder climate for the winter. The urgency being 
great, preparations for departure were hurriedly made. After 
much consultation and inquiry the island of Madeira was se- 
lected as the best place in which to pass the ensuing months. 
Access to it was not easy ; but it happened that a small ship 
bound for Funchal was then lying in the port of New York. 
In that vessel, the Mexican, 300 tons. Captain Doming, my 
parents, with three of their children, embarked on the 16th 
of October and for the second time took their way across 
the sea. 

* The Hon. N. P. Hill. 





A.D. 1843—1844. 

R f 

Voyage to Madeira. — Funchal. — Passage to Cadiz. — Seville. — Holy 
Week. — Murillo's Paintings. — Gibraltar. — Spanish Coast. — Florence. — 
The Villa d'Elci.— Rome. — France. — Navigation of the Loire.— Havre 





TiiEKE is a little volume, of 377 pages, 12mo, wliicli may 
occasionally be picked up in those shops in which they deal 
in rare books. It is entitled "A "Winter in Madeira, and a 
Summer in Spain and Florence." It was written by my 
father some time after his return from this second journey to 
Europe, and contains a narrative of one of the most interesting 
and happy years of his life. Agreeably written, and illustra- 
ted by a few woodcuts, rather coarsely executed, from some of 
my own pencil sketches, it gives an account of our voyage 
from New York to Madeira, of the heavy gale encountered 
on the way, of our passage through the Azores, and of our ar- 
rival, on the 11th of November, at the exquisitely beautiful 
island which was to form our winter home. Guided by that 
little volume, the reader may pass from scene to scene amid 
the superb mountains and dizzy ravines, and become familiar 
with the manners and customs of the simple and industrious 
peasantry of that dependency of the. Portuguese crown. If he 
have a taste for them he may revel in statistics concerning 
climate and productions, commerce and trade, agriculture, gov- 
ernment, and religion. He will see us in our pleasant apart- 
ments near the Carreira, under the charge of our merry Portu- 
guese landlord, Gambaro Baxixa. He may read the exploits 
of Don Miguel, and sigh over the romance of Eobert Machin 
and Anne D'Arfet. It was a winter's idyl, a grateful time of 
rest and refreshment, in one of the most delicious climates in 
the world, where an invalid is hardly ever kept in-doors by 
rain, where the sun is rarely too warm for open-air exercise, 
and where a light overcoat suffices for the coolest day ; where 
one can go only on horseback or on foot, and where each path 




leads to Bomo grand Bpcciincn of tlio works of the Almighty, 
Bucli us volcanic regions alone exhibit in perfection; where 
the roads are often bordered by hedges of heliotrope higher 
than the tallest man's head, and the vine spreads her clusters 
to the noonday, and the century - plant shoots up, with her 
candelabra of white blossoms, all but lumoticed amid the 
bloom of the landscajie. If anything were needed to en- 
hance the thorough enjoyment of that happy winter, it was 
supplied in my mother's perfect recovery of her health, and 
in the birth of another beloved daughter of our house. How 
full of enjoyment were those months to one tired out by hard 
work, and long tossed on the waves of New York politics, 
may be discovered in the General's grajihic account of that 
winter of 1842-'43. 

From the book referred to — which, by -the -bye, went 
through five editions, though now almost forgotten — I take 
the account of our departure from the beautiful island, and 
the memorable passage to Cadiz. He says : 

" On the 17th of March we bade adieu to Madeira, and with 
the most sincere regret. The winter liad not passed away 
without bringing with it some inconveniences and trials ; but 
these were far over-balanced by the ir'ldness of the atmos- 
phere in which we lived, and the beauties of the scenery by 
which we were surrounded. 

" It was about four in the afternoon when we left the beach 
to embark in the little brig which was to convey us to the 
European continent. In an hour more we were sailing slow- 
ly out of the roadstead. The sun shone with unusual splen- 
dor, and as he sunk down in the west, casting heavy shadows 
across the ravines back of the city, and bathing the tops of 
the mountains in golden light, the scene was scarcely less 
beautiful in our eyes, familiar as it had become, than when it 
first broke upon our sight. During the night we passed the 
Desertas near enough to make out their harsh, ragged outlines 
in the moonlight. At dawn the next day they were far in the 
distance, faintly relieved by the shadowy form of Madeira in 



184* 1844.] JUl'ii AND PERILS OF THE OCEJX. 



tho background. In a few hours more tliey had all disap- 
peared, and nothing remained to bound tho sight but an un- 
broken horizon of sky and waves. 

" The passage from Madeira to Cadiz, the port to which we 
M'ere destined, averages six or seven days. The vessel in which 
we had embarked was a small one, not measuring more than 
170 tons, but she was strong, skilfully commanded, and had 
a crew of fine young men. She was from the city of Boston, 
and bore its name. She had for eight years baitted the fogs 
and north-easters which preside over the New England coast, 
jind there was a guarantee in this that she would do her duty 
in case of need. Ilcr cabin was small ; but having discharged 
her cargo at Funchal, and being in ballast, a roomy apartment 
was fitted up in her hold, and a neat and delightful one it 
was, of clean, freshly planed but ujipainted boards, far outdo 
ing the principal cabin in convenience and comfort. It had 
got the name of the steerage while the carpenter was fitting 
it up, but it soon sunk this cognomen in the more appropriate 
one of the gentlemen's cabin. The passengers were seventeen 
in number, including ladies, gentlemen, children, and servants, 
and, with the crew added, we nmstered twenty-six souls. The 
wind was fair, the skies serene, and the moon was in her third 
quarter, giving us fine bright nights. Time never hangs heav- 
ily at sea under such circumstances. Even sea-sickness loses 
half its horrors when you know that you are speeding on to 
your destination, and that your sufferings will soon be at an 
end. For two days and nights the wind blew steadily, but 
was constantly thougli almost imperceptibly increasing. From 
five and six knots an hour our log began to report seven and 
eight, and nt last nine and ten ; the sky became overcast, the 
rain came down at intervals in torrents, without any abate- 
ment of the wind, and a dense fog set in on the morning of 
the fourth day, just at dawn, when we were indulging the 
hope of seeing land. Our situation was now extremely un- 
pleasant. The wind blew violently — so much so that the 
courses were taken in, and the vessel was running under 
I.— 12 




close-reefed top-sails — and we were on a lee-sliore, in a thick 
fog. The captain had never been at Cadiz, but he had been 
up all night studying an excellent chart, which he had found 
at Funchal, and had made himself as familiar with the coast 
and harbor as though he had navigated them all his life. At 
nine in the morning he told a few of us that he should be op- 
posite the light-house in an hour, if his reckoning was right, 
and he must then choose between the alternatives of standing 
in or of attempting to beat out to sea. The latter would have 
been full of peril, for if the wind had continued to increase, 
as in fact it did, we should in all probability have gone ashore 
before night. The captain at half-past nine took his station in 
the foretop, and in half an hour more stood boldly in for the 
land. To those of us who understood the matter the next 
half-hour was a period of extreme anxiety. But it was hard- 
ly over before the captain's clear voice was heard, amid the 
roaring of the storm, giving his orders to the helmsman with 
as much confidence as if he had been on his own native coast. 
He had descried the light-house at a distance of about half 
a mile — the first object we had seen, excepting a few vessels 
which crossed our path, since we lost sight of the Desertas. 
He was now at home. He had so thoroughly mastered his 
chart that he knew the bearings of all the shoals and break- 
ers which lie at the mouth of the harbor from the light- 
house, and he remained in the foretop until we had passed 
them all, directing the motions of the vessel with perfect 
calmness and coiifidence. It was certainly no small triumph 
of nautical skill on the part of our Yankee captain. lie had 
sailed nearly six hundred miles, and had hit the light-house at 
the mouth of the harbor to which he was destined within fif- 
teen minutes after his reckoning was up. It must be con- 
fessed, too, that there was some good-luck in it. But his sul> 
sequent management of the vessel, steering her through break- 
ers and reefs of rocks without the aid of a pilot, w^as all skill 
and good judgment." 

It would be diflScult to speak too warmly of the pleasure 





derived from our glimpse of Spain. Landing at tlie wliite- 
walled Cadiz, we spent some days enjoying the novel sights 
of that city ; now strolling about the streets, where the beau- 
tiful, dark-eyed women, with their mantillas about their jet- 
black hair, flitted gracefully to and fro, and often stopped to 
admire and kiss our bright, curly-headed Charley, as though 
he were an angel in the midst of the brunette monotony ; 
now penetrating into the faintly perfumed chapel of some 
religious house in quest of notable pictures ; now looking at 
the port, filled with ships of manifold rigs, among which 
plied the boats of the deft Spanish oarsmen. And then one 
day we took the steamer, and, having crossed to the other 
side of the bay, went up the Guadalquiver, following its 
numberless turns and bends, till we saw the Golden Tower 
of Seville in the distance, and the vast pile of the Cathedral, 
with its crested Giralda, looming over the orange groves. In 
that city we spent several days, including the Holy Week ; 
and we looked with wonder on the processions and pageants, 
which recalled the mediseval Mysteries, as angels and arch- 
angels, saints and martyrs. Virgins and doctors swept by, 
mounted on great cars drawn by handsome horses, and es- 
corted by thousands of troops of the line, whose military 
bands filled the air with music. And at the dead of night 
we listened to the big bell of the Cathedral, whose tone, like 
low thunder, is heard but two or three times in the year, 
when Holy Church is keeping up the memory of some great 
act in the suffering life of the Redeemer of men. We heard 
them sing the Miserere in the Cathedral, and High Mass on 
Easter ; and then we went to see the bull fights at the amphi- 
theatre, ■which holds 20,000 spectators. But that which gave 
us most joy was the sight of the treasures of art in that shrine 
of Spanish painting — tlie works of Valdes, Zurbaran, Velas- 
quez, and Roelas, and the solemn splendors of the Carmen, 
where the canvases of Murillo display the histories of the 
old and new dispensations, and seem themselves like miracles 
of reliffious devotion and technical skill. I remember noth- 


i 'I 







ing more impressive since tliat day; nor shall I ever again 
enjoy such sensations as those awakened by the siglit of that 
lordly wealth, iinrivalled save in Venice, and breathing of 
the very awe and majesty of religion ; for surely, if there 
be religion in art, it is to be seen at its height in the work 
of the Spanish School. 

From these glories we turned reluctantly away, and, de- 
scending the river, went back to Cadiz ; and thence by steam- 
er to Gibraltar, where we saw the Union Jack flying in the 
breeze, and the red-coated sentries pacing tho rocky platform, 
and heard the beat of the British drums and the shrill music 
of the fife ; and walked through the galleries in the rock, and 
drove across the Xeutral Ground to get a distant view of the 
great lion -like rampart of the Straits. A Spanish steamer 
then took us up and carried us along the coast. Every day 
we landed at some new town : at Malaga, Almeria, and Agui- 
las ; at Cartagena, Alicante, and Valencia ; at Barcelona, on 
which the guns frowned from Monjuich ; and so along the 
Mediterranean to Leghorn, and then to Pisa and Florence. 
It was a journey to be long remembered, standing clearly on 
the horizon of the far-away. 

The General spent the summer of 1843 in a villa outside 
the walls of Florence. It belonged to the Marquis d'Elci, 
and had all the requisites for one of Mrs. Henry Wood's 
romances. It was quadrangular, enclosing a paved court : 
three sides of the structure constituted the residence, while 
the fourth was a thick wall, pierced by a great gate, and broad 
enough for a passage-way along the top from wing to wing. 
There were suites of rooms enough for lialf a dozen families ; 
and an immense hall, which we called the ball-room. The 
floors above and below were of brick, and the sleeping apart- 
ments had great high - i>ost bedsteads, with awful hangings ; 
and on the walls hung full-length pictures of nobles, soldiers, 
priest&j and nuns. Then there was a chapel, in which from 
time to time Mass wus sung; and once during the summer 
the peasantry came thither to keep a fete, and the floor was 






made into a rich mosaic of many-colored leaves of roses and 
other flowers, and it was a great gala of costumes, banners, in- 
cense, and song. I had a room, or rather a suite of rooms, in 
the upper story ; from the windows I could trace the wind- 
ings of the Arno down the rich valley between dark -blue 
hills ; and I remember how, when the moon was setting, and 
a little owl would come and sit over my window and cry in 
doleful tone, I used to wish myself anywhere else, and did not 
like the look of the tall pictures surveying me in the dim 
light, nor the rustle of the tapestries about the bed. In the 
end of the summer a dear friend of my mother's died there, 
in the apartment adjoining mine. She was the daughter of 
Captain James Lawrence, who fell fighting his ship, the Chesa- 
peake, against the British frigate Shannon. Mary Lawrence 
was with my mother at Miss Desabaye's school in New York. 
She afterward married Mr. William Preston Griffin, of the 
Navy. We met them on the way to Italy, and persuaded 
them to go with us to Florence for the summer. She died in 
child-bed at the villa, September 3. It was like the falling of 
a sudden night about our path. After that 1 went to another 
part of the villa, for the associations of that side of the court- 
yard were too painful to be borne. Indeed, the rumor was 
that the English doctor had brought her death about by bad 
treatment ; and it was whispered among the contadlne that 
" the American signora who was murdered at the Villa d'Elci 
walked at night." 

Tuscany was then a grand-dukedom ; Leopold II. its mild 
and popular ruler. The summer residence was close by us. 
We often met the Grand -duke taking his afternoon walk, 
with his wife and children, under the cypresses, or through 
the vine-bordered roads of the country, with no more state 
than any honest citizen. 

Of all these things my father has written in the volume al- 
ready referred to : of the Duomo and Giotto's tower, of the 
bridges and the Cascine, of Fiesole and the Apennines, of the 
manners of the people .and their mode of life ; of the chariot- 



I ' 

C I 



races in the ancient Roman style in the great Piazza on the 
eve of St. John's-day, and the festa and fireworks and races 
of barbs on St. Peter's -day, and the Ilaydn music at the 
PaLizzo Vecchio. 

From Florence we went to Home, where we spent the fol- 
lowing winter, that of IS-AS-'M. There is little worth noting 
in the domestic annals of those months ; they passed quietly 
and happily, in the society of friends who, like ourselves, were 
far from home ; in reading and study in connection with daily 
visits to the wonders of the old and new cities ; and in at- 
tendance at the magnificent services at St. Peter's and other 
churches. ^Ve saw a great deal of the artists of that period, 
among whom was James E. Freeman, whose merit my father 
had discovered . ome years before, when they met at Albany, 
and in whose progress in his art he took a deep interest as 
long as he lived. Home was then the Rome of the Pontiffs 
and of a past age ; Gregory XVI. occupied the Papal throne ; 
the era of radical change seemed far away. By the side of the 
yellow Tiber the city and its inhabitants dozed and dreamed ; 
and no dreamy life w%as ever more delicious than that Avliich 
they led who, in their wanderings, found themselves within 
the venerable walls. Twelve years afterward we were there 
again. Many changes had come ; others were imminent ; the 
French were holding the city and protecting the Supreme 
Pontiff from the storm outside. Since that day how wonder- 
fully has everything changed ! What is the Rome of 1881 
to those who remember the Rome of 1843? 

Leaving tlie Eternal City on the 2Gth of March, tlie General 
took us to Naples, where he distinguished himself by a fool- 
hardy performance. Vesuvius was in partial eruption. AVc 
ascend '^'1 the mountain to see what could be seen. The crater 
looked liki a hollow bowl sunken about one hundred feet 
below the rocky ledges on which we stood ; from side to side 
beneath stretched a smooth layer of hardened lava, hot enough 
to scorch the soles of the boots. In the centre of that plain 
was a cone, rising to the level of the sides of the mountain, 



and liaving three or four apertures at the summit, out of 
which came fire, with showers of stones. As these were shot 
forth the cone shook to its base. Tlie General insisted on 
descending into the crater, attended by one of the guides, 
whom he bade to lead on as far as lie dared to go. The guide 
accordingly led him down, step by step, and rapidly, across 
the field and to the very foot of the cone, where he stopped, 
refusing to go farther. But the General, grasping his climb- 
ing-staff, mounted to the top of the cone, and actually poked 
his stick into one of the open vents — looking up, when red- 
hot stones flew out, to dodge them as they fell. lie did not 
defend these proceedings in after -years, but agreed with us 
that they ore preposterous. Still, they were characteristic 
of his cr less and love of adventure. 

From j>raples we went by steamer to Marseilles, and thence 
through France to Paris. The journey was, in some respects, 
very characteristic, our route being througli Aries, Avignon, 
and Givors, and by Iloaime and Cosne, on the river Loire, to 
Orleans. AVe travelled part of the way on a railroad M'hich 
was one of the first constructed in the kingdom ; and, as the 
engineers proceeded on the theory that, as a straight line is 
the shortest distance between two points, so the simplest way 
to build a railroad was to carry it straight along, no matter 
what stood in the way, this particular road, passing through 
a hilly country, was little better than an interminable succes- 
sion of tunnels, connected by brief ventilation in the open 
air. On the river Loire we journeyed in a strange kind of 
steamer, of immense lengtli, very narrow, and drawing very 
little water. The whole line had a common name — the 
Ineicplosihhs — numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. AVhcnever the Inex- 
plosihh JVo. 4, our noble craft, grounded on the shoals of 
the river — which happened every hour or so — the sailors 
jumped overboard — the water being not quite up to their 
knees — and shoved her along, to the delight of the voy- 

In those days there was a justly celebrated line of Havre 




packets, delightful ships, roomy and comfortable, with good 
captains and crews, and everything needed for the happiness 
of the passengers on their four weeks' voyage. We embarked 
in one of those ships, the Iowa, on May 8, 1844. To cross 
the "Western Ocean was no light affair in those days. The 
traveller had a taste of real sea life ; and the restless and ex- 
citable voyager of our time, whose highest ambition is to dash 
at break-neck speed from Navesink to Fastnet in seven days, 
is not altogether the enviable being he deems himself in con- 
trast with the old-fashioned tourist. Though our innumer- 
able and insatiate excursionists have gained in time, they have 
lost in other things : in the pleasure of quiet, dreamy days on 
shipboard, in delightful companionships, in some knowledge 
of the seaman's craft, and the subtler phenomena of wind 
and wave, sky and cloud, tides and currents, calm and storm. 
Each of those white-winged ships was a school, each voyage 
a course of study; and many and precious were the lessons 
learned during the four weeks spent at sea. 











A..D. 1845-1833. 

New York Politics. — Barnburners and Hunkers. — Abolitionism. — Silas 
Wright. — Canvass of 1844. — 1845: Elected Senator of the United 
States. — Annexation of Texas. — First Speech in the Senate, on the 
Oregon Question. — Speech on French Spoliations. — Speech on the 
Warehouse Bill. — Declines the Mission to England. — Speech on the 
Lieutenant-general Bill. — The War with IVIexico. — Speech on the Three 
Million Bill. — Extension of Slavery. — Battle of Buena Vista. — Letters 
of Major II. S. Dix. — Speech on European Intervention. — Slavery in 
the Territories. — Anti-rentism in New York. — Defeat of Governor 
Wright. — His Death. — Political Credo of General Dix. — Free-soil 
Movement of 1848. — East Hampton. — Climate of Long Island. — 
Sporting. — Nomination for Governor. — Defeat of Free-soilers. — Last 
Speech in the Senate. — Port Chester. — Death of John J. Morgan. — 
Manursing Island. — 1852: Death of Baldwin Dix. — Reunion of tlie 
Democratic Party. — Baltimore Convention. — Election of Franklin 
Pierce. — The Mission to France. 




With the return from Europe came a change from tranquil- 
lity to confusiori, from the quiet pleasures of foreign travel to 
the caldron of New York politics, then bubbling and seething 
more furiously than ever. The Democratic party, hard pushed 
by its enemies, was divided into sections, which grew daily 
more hostile in their attitude. To these schools the grotesque 
names of " Barnburners " and " Old Hunkers " were applied : 
they might have been more philosophically described as Radi- 
cals and Conservatives. Nearly equal in numbers, they dif- 
fered on many points, and, first, on questions of finance and 
State government. The Barnburners were the party of strict 
economy ; abhorring debt, they insisted that provision ought 
to be made for paying the interest on State loans by taxa- 
tion before pledging the credit of the State ; they were sus- 
picious of banks, believed in hard-money, and adhered to the 
financial policy of President Yan Buren. The Old Hunkers, 
on the other hand, appear to have held easier views on all 
these points ; speculative, and ready to take risks, they were 
lax where the Barnburners were severe.* But now another 

* A very high authority, in reply to an inquiry as to the origin of the 
names of those sections of the Democratic party, wrote to me as follows : 

"My impression is that the factious known as Barnburners and Old 
Hunkers grew out of the early insinuations of the slavery question into 
general politics. The Old Hunkers were opposed to any discussion of 
the subject, as likely to destroy the harmony of "the party;" and the 
Barnburners were in favor of treating it like all other questions of pub- 
lic interest. The significance of the names, if I apprehend them rightly, 
was, that the one kept at home, or to their hunk, never knowing what 
was going on in the world; and that the other was willing to bum 
down the entire barn to get rid of a few rats." 



) \ 

question was troubling tlio camp, and threatening to make 
tlic family quarrel much more acrimonious. The problem of 
slavery had been forever settled, as -was fondly supposed, by 
the " Missouri Comproniise," in 1820 ; it was now re-opened, 
and in a way to become more complicated than before. For 
this certain persons, known as Abolitionists, were mainly 

The views of the earliest Abolitionists were moderate com- 
pared with those of the men to whom that title became subse- 
quently restricted. In time a division took place in the body, 
resulting in the formation of a radical Abolition party, includ- 
ing such men as Gerritt Smith and William Lloyd Garrison. 
These extremists were, theoretically, the iirst Secessionists : 
they resigned office under the government, and refused there- 
after either to hold office, or even to vote ; they regarded the 
Constitution of the United States as a compact with Satan, 
would have nothing to do with public affairs, and preferred 
a rupture of the Union to living under a system which toler- 
ated slavery and protected slave-holders. The moderate Abo- 
litionists stopped short of those extremes : they continued to 
vote, did not refuse office, and were known as the " Liberty 
party ;" they nominated candidates of their own as such, and 
were not unwilling to work with any other party in the coun- 
try, North or South, for the attainment of their ends. The 
distinction between the moderate and ultra Abolitionists is 
important. Whoii I speak of " Abolitionists " hereafter I re- 
fer to those of the latter class, the followers of Garrison 
and Smith, and not to the " Liberty party," which supported 
James G. Birney for President in 1810 and 1811. 

No one can justly blame the people of the South for their 
anxiety and indignation at the progress of the Abolition 
movement. Its ultimate aim was to overthrow that social 
compact under which the free and slave-holding States %vere 
united under a common Constitution, while the actual inva- 
sion of the right of the Southerner to his property was so 
flagrant as to lead him to demand redress for wrongs already 


sustained and guarantees for tlie futurq. Out of all this it 
was inevitable that new issues must arise, with complicated 
and dangerous positions. The Democratic party recognized 
and respected the rights of the South under the Constitution 
of the United States ; yet it was easy to see that questions 
might come up on which men, though all alike friendly to 
the South, would feel at a loss what to say, and might bo 
driven to take opposite sides. 

No figure of that era is more conspicuous than that of 
Silas Wright, Senator of the United States, and Governor of 
the State of New York. To those who form their ideal of 
the patriot by study of the classical models of ancient Homo 
lie must be one of the most charming figures of our liistory — 
a true Cineinnatus ; an image of pristine simplicity and integ- 
rity. Mr. Wright was one of my father's warmest friends, 
and the object of his sincere admiration and devoted attach- 
ment — a man after his own heart. A few words with ref- 
erence to this great statesman and illustrious citizen. 

Silas Wright was born at Amherst, Mass., in the year 1795, 
being three yeai*s my father's senior ; he was brought up in 
Vermont, amid the green hills, and was graduated at .Middle- 
bury College in 1815. His family was a humble one, and it 
is even asserted that his father was without education. They 
were intense lovers of their country, and his father and one of 
his brothers were soldiers in the war of 1812. The son Sihia 
received a literary training through the self-denial of his peo- 
ple, who desired to give that advantage to at least one of their 
liouse. In the year 1819 he settled in Canton, St. Lawrence 
County, in the State of New York, and began the practice 
of the law. There, subsequently, he married ; thither he re- 
treated from the cares of public life whenever a breathiug- 
spell was given him ; there, in the spring immediately suc- 
ceeding his defeat when nominated a second time for Gov- 
ernor of the State of New York, he might have been seen 
driving his team afield and w'ping the sweat from his brow, 
like a noble Roman of the sterling stamp ; and there, Au- 



gust 27, 1847, lie rcHijifned his soul to God, Icaviiifij no blot 
on his name, and mourned in silonco by men who hardly 
knew till then what manner of person it was whom the land 
had lost. 

Mr. Wright's political career began about the year 1820; 
in 1827 he was sent to Congress. His popularity among his 
towns-people was immense ; his success was striking. An op- 
ponent of Governor Clinton, and a supporter of Mr. Crawford 
for the Presidency, he espoubcd the cause of General Jackson 
in the year 1828, and thereupon became associated with Mr. 
Van Buren and my father in the political movements in which 
they were engaged subsequently to that date. Having ably 
filled the office of Comptroller of the State from 1829 to 
1832, he was elected, with little or no ojiposition, to the United 
States Senate, and took his seat there January 14, 1833. It 
may be truly said that " there were giants in the earth in those 
days." A writer, speaking of the statesmen among whom Mr. 
Wright was thus called to take his place, and with whom ho 
contended for the honors acquired in his Senatorial career, 
enumerates — 

"... The gallant and chivalrous Clay, captivating the 
heart and enchaining the imagination by the magic bursts of 
his thrilling eloquence ; Calhoun, the fearless champion of 
the sovereignty of the States, with his chaste diction and ana- 
lytical mind, every sentence that he uttered a whole chapter 
of argument, and every word a political text ; Webster, calm, 
profound, and argumentative, powerful in stature and gigan- 
tic in mind ; the smooth and plausible Clayton ; and Preston, 
fervid and impassioned as the rays of the Southern sun which 
had warmed his genius into life. On the opposite side there 
was Benton, industrious, determined, and unyielding, with his 
pockets overflowing with statistics, and his head full of his- 
torical lore ; Forsyth, easy and graceful in his address, but an 
able and experienced debater ; Rives, the eloquent and talent- 
ed Senator from the Old Dominion, seeking to give vent to 
the inspiration he had caught in the groves of Monticello; 




White, with liifl metaphysical and Bontentions apophthogtna ; 
and tlio shrewd and cautious (rrundy, familiar witli ])arlia- 
mentary tactics, watcliiiig for the weak points in his adver- 
sary's ar<j^ument, and never caring to conceal his gratification 
when he saw the fabric reared with so much labor toppling 
down in the dust."* 

Mr. Wright made a brilliant name for himself \k the Sen- 
ate, and became one of its most influential members, lie 
supported the linancial policy of President Van Buren ; and 
when petitions came praying for the abolition of slavery 
in the District of Colund)ia and other parts subject to the 
direct control of the general government, he voted either to 
refuse to receive them or to lay them on the table. IFo was 
no abolitionist, in the technical sense in which the word was 
used in the jiolitical debates of the time ; still, like the old- 
fashioned Democrats of that day, he regarded slavery as a ter- 
rible evil, desired its suppression by just and lawful means, 
and confidently expected its ultimate extinction. But he rc- 
sjiected the guarantees of the Constitution, and declined to 
have part or lot in the proceedings of those enthusiasts who 
were stirring up the connnunity and evoking the spirits of 
disunion and civil war. In these views my father and he 
were one. 

Early in the yea;r 1844 a movement was begun to nominate 
Senator Wright for the office of Governor of this State. It 
is well known that it was most distasteful to him, and that he 
did his utmost to prevent it. If evidence on that point were 
needed it might be supplied by quotations from his letters to 
General Dix during the summer of that j'car. lie was happy 
and contented in his place in the Senate ; he dreaded the 
change to the turmoil at Albany. No man knew better than 
he how serious were the divisions in the Democratic party ; 
and although, up to that time, the section known as the 

• • 

* " Lives of the Governors of the Stvite of New York," by John S. 
Jenkins, pp. 758, 759. 




'ii'i' f ' 

i fe.-i 

Hunkers had not declared war against him, yet there was no 
sympathy between them and a man who regarded them as 
politically unsound and unworthy of confidence. Signs of 
trouble became more and more distinct on the wider horizon of 
"Washington. President Yan Buren's defeat in 1840 was due 
alniost entirely to questions of finance. But time had proved 
the wisdom of his policy, and there was a strong desire in the 
Northern and Eastern States for his re-nomination in 1844. 
Undoubtedly this would have occurred, but for the pressure of 
the question which was now casting all others into the shade 
and throwing a disastrous shadow on the entire country. 

Texas, a part of Mexico, had declared her independence of 
the mother country, and successfully resisted attempts to re- 
duce her to subjection. At this fatal juncture the idea was 
broached of bringing the revolted Mexican province into the 
American Union. On announcing her indej)endence Texas 
had established slavery, but prohibited the importation of 
negroes from all parts of the world excepting the United 
States. Mr. Calhoun, under the administration of President 
Tyler, negotiated a ti 3aty of annexation. This was done, as he 
frankly avowed, in the interests of the slave-holding people of 
the South, and with a view to preserve and perpetuate that 
institution. While the question was pending it was under- 
stood that Great Britain was using her influence to induce the 
Mexican Government to acknowledge the independence of 
Texas, on condition that she should abolish slaveiy and agree 
not to be annexed to the United States. Thus the question 
of slavery was set in a new light. A party had been formed 
who, forsaking the ground taken by their predecessors, no 
longer tolerated the idea that slavery should be allowed to 
waste away and die out by degrees, but, on the contrary, de- 
sired to preserve, strengthen, and perpetuate what my father 
once eloquently characterized as " the solitary monument left 
among us of a barbarous age." The reader may imagine 
how thoughtful men must have become at this turn of affairs, 
and to what searchings of heart it must have given rise. 





But the South was united, and thoroughly in earnest ; and 
they demanded the opinions of the men of the North on the 
subject of annexation, with all that it implied. The position 
of Mr. Van Buren, as a competitor for the Democratic candi- 
dacy in 1844, must be understood at once ; and the question 
was peremptory, " Are you, or are you not, in favor of the an- 
nexation of Texas ?" To this Mr. Van Buren replied that he 
was opposed to that measure. But his opposition, as stated 
by himself, was based on grounds of international law and the 
comity of peoples and governments : we had no right to take 
a portion of the territory of a nation with whom we were at 
peace; Texas had not so thoroughly established its position 
as to force from the mothcv country an acknowledgment of 
its independence. The position thus taken killed Mr. Van 
Buren with the South ; and at the Baltimore Convention, al- 
though a majority of the delegates went there with instruc- 
tions to nominate him, yet, by the adherence to the two-thirds 
rule, he was defeated. Thereupon the name of Mr. Wright 
was brought forward. lie, anticijxiting the result, had already 
sent a letter, to be read in the event of Mr. Van Buren's dis- 
comfiture, in which, in the spirit of a man of honor, he abso- 
lutely refused to accept a nomination which should come to 
him through the misfortunes of his friend. The Convention 
agreed, after long deliberation, to nominate James K. Polk, of 
Tennessee. The Northern Democracy were comjielled to sub- 
mit v.'ith what grace they could. It was spoken of as a mag- 
nanimous sacrifice on their part. It was a sacrifice indeed, 
and one of those which call for many more in sequence. 

It will be remembered that slavery had been already estab- 
lished in Texas before it asked for annexation. The Baltimore 
Convention adopted a resolution in favor of the immediate 
receiition of that country into the Union. The measure was 
opposed, however, by many Democrats, some concurring with 
Mr. Van Buren in the views which he had expressed on the 
subject, others fearing that the measure would indefinitely 
postpone the extinction of slavery. It may be inferred that, 
L— 13 




under these circumstances, Mr. "Wright felt reluctant to ac- 
cept the nomination for Governor, He was strongly opposed 
to the annexation, and therefore to the Baltimore platform ; 
yet if elected it would be his duty to keep in accord with the 
new administration. The/e was no escape for him, however. 
The life of the American politician is ever a life of sacrifice. 
The fall elections decided the double question before the peo- 
ple : Mr. Polk was elected President, and Mr. Wright found 
himself Governor of New York, and in an extremely embar- 
rassing position. 

Mr. AYright's chair in the Senate now became vacant, 
though five years of his term remained. About the same 
time the place of his colleague, Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, also 
became vacant, on his appointment by the President to be 
Governor of the Territory of "Wisconsin. It was necessary 
to elect a Senator to serve for the remainder of Mr. AVright's 
term, and another for the six weeks of Mr. Tallmadge's term 
which yet remained ; and fartiier necessary to make another 
election for the full term of six years, to commence on the 
retirement of Mr. Tallmadge. For these purposes a Demo- 
cratic caucus was held February 24, 1845. On that occasion 
the feud between the two sections of the party was disclosed 
in all its intensity. The conflict, which was sharp, ended in 
the election of General Dix to be the successor of Senator 
"Wright, and Daniel S. Dickinson to succeed Senator Tall- 
madge, while Mr. Dickinson was also elected for the six-years 
term, in spite of the strong opposition of the radical members 
of the caucus. This was a triumph for the conservatives, and 
a defeat for the friends of Governor "Wright. The closing 
years of the great statesman's life were overcast by shadows ; 
adverse influences were evidently in the ascendant, not only 
at "Washington, but close about him and at home. 

Next to the Presidency, no place was so much desired, in 
the times which we are now reviewing, as that of Senator of 
the United States. The body was illustrious through tlio 
fame of its members, who generally exhibited the very flower 



and highest outcome of American political life; dignified, 
powerful, respected, it was the pride of the nation, and one 
of its main bulwarks. There men, relieved from the vexa- 
tions of petty concerns, breathed a calmer air ; they resided 
in a charming capital, enjoyed an agreeable society, mingled 
with representatives of the leading nations of the world, had 
a tenure of office much longer than that of the Chief Magis- 
tracy of the Union, and thus were somewhat independent of 
the changes of administration and the vicissitudes of public 
life. The Senator of the United States had a certain free- 
dom of action ; he might outlive adverse influences ; he was 
secure from the assaults of a capricious constituency ; accord- 
ing to the use and law of social etiquette he and his family 
ranked second only to the President. The height of ordinary 
ambition was satisfied by attainment to that place ; and men 
once securely seated there would have been content to hold 
it on and on, asking no more. One cannot doubt the sinceri- 
ty of the expressions in which Mr. Wright announced his 
distress at being thrown from that delightful eminence into 
the whirlpools and quicksands at Albany. 

The record of my father's work in the Senate of the 
United States will be found in the first volume of his col- 
lected sjjeeches. lie prepared the volumes with great care, 
and gave them to the public in the year 1864. At the begin- 
ning of the first volume is this dedication : 


" Tou have hnown for several years my intention to collect and puUishfor 
preservation and reference the speeches which I delivered on the leading ques- 
tions of the day while representing the State ofNeio York in the Senate of the 
United States. They form the greater part of the material of these volumes. 
I have added several occasional addresses and a few of the numerous official 
reports made l>y me during my connection with jniblic affairs. This collec- 
tion, designed chief y to mal'e those who are to come after us acquainted loith 
the part I have home in the national movement during a quarter of a centwi-y 
of extraordinary activity and excitement, I dedicate to you, as an imperfect 
acknowledgment of the intelligent and devoted co-operation which you have 
lent vie in all the vicissitudes and labor's of my life.'''' 



I shall liavc occasion to refer to this volume in giving an 
account of the years spent at Washington, from December 1, 
1844, till March 4, 1849. 

The bill for the annexation of Texas came before the Sen- 
ate soon after General Dix had taken his seat in that body. It 
passed the House of Ilepresentatives January 25, 1845, by a vote 
of 120 to 98, and the Senate by a vote of 27 to 25, February 
27. General Dix was one of those who voted for the bill. His 
action was sharply criticised at the time ; and he wrote to a 
friend, five years afterward, that he intended to give a full 
explanation of his reasons for the vote. I have not been able 
to find the paper refeiTcd to, if it was ever drafted ; but I 
shall give, by-and-by, the reasons for my belief that the 
charge of inconsistency based on his course at that time can- 
not be sustained. For the present let it be remembered that 
slavery was in existence in Texas, and formed a part of the 
political system of that country, before the question of annex- 
ation came before Congress, and that it lay south of the line 
fixed in 1821 as that which was to constitute thenceforth the 
dividing line between the slaveholding and non-slaveholding 

General Dix made his first speech 'n the Senate February 
18 and 19, 1846, on the Oregon question, then before Con- 
gress. The territory on the north-west coast of America, west 
of the Rocky Mountains, known as Oregon, and long in dis- 
pute between the United States and Great Britain, was, by a 
convention between the two countries, concluded October 20, 
1818, made free to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of both 
for the period of ten years. This agreement was continued 
in force and indefinitely extended by a convention of August 
26, 1827. In consequence of collisions between the people 
of the two countries within the disputed territory, resolu- 
tions were introduced into the Senate in February, 1846, 
requiring the President to give notice of tl.<e abrogation of 
the last-mentioned convention, in accordance with one of its 
stipulations. A portion of the Senators were in favor of 



adjusting the controversy by adopting the 49th parallel of 
latitude as the boundary, leaving to Great Britain the ter- 
ritory north of it ; and the others of insisting on the abandon- 
ment by Great Britain of the whole country as far north as 
54° 40', from which line northward the title of Russia had 
been acknowledged by both the parties to the pending dis- 
pute. General Dix, while asserting the title of the United 
States to the whole territory derived from the discoveries 
and occupation of Spain, was nevertheless in favor of the 
compromise line of 49°, which had been offered to Great 
Britain in previous negotiations ; and his speech, which occu- 
pied two days in delivery, was an argument in favor of his 

The greater part of this address might very properly be 
reprinted as a publication of an historical society. It con- 
tains a minute and entertaining account of the voyages and 
discoveries of the Spanish and English navigators, beginning 
with Ferrelo, the pilot of Cabrillo, the commander of an ex- 
pedition fitted out in Mexico a.d. 1543, forty-one years after 
the discovery of San Domingo by Columbus, and continuing 
with a relation of the acts of Sir Francis Drake, Juan de 
Fuca, Vizcaino, Perez, Ileceta, Quadra, and Maurelle. The 
Russian navigators are mentioned, and Captain Cook, who 
landed at Nootka Sound in 1778, and Berkeley and Meares, 
Martinez and Yancouver. Copious notes and references en- 
rich this portion of the text, after which follows a severe crit- 
icism on the speeches of the Earl of Clarendon and of Lord 
John Russell in the House of Commons in protest against the 
positions taken by President Polk in his inaugural address 
relating to the discovery of the Columbia River, and the claim 
of the American Government founded on that fact. 

General Dix, while defending the Spanish title to the north- 
west coast, by stating the historical facts on which it rested, 
argued in favor of leaving the whole question in the hands of 
the administration, relying on its firmness and sense of recti- 
tude to sustain the just rights of the American people and to 



respect those of others. He had no fear of war with Great 
Britain ; he felt sure that the British Government, aware of 
the invalidity of tlieir title, would not embark in a contest 
which must draw on them the condemnation of all civilized 
communities ; he believed that even if war should come we 
were better prepared to meet it than was supposed ; but he 
felt confident that the good-sense of both countries would re- 
volt at a contest which would bring no good to either, and 
that an adjustment of existing difficulties could be secured 
on terms honorable to both nations. 

It is well known that the question was settled by the adop- 
tion of the 49tli parallel as the boundary line, under a treaty 
negotiated by the Hon. Louis McLane, and ratified by the Sen- 
ate during the same session in which this debate took place. 

The speech on the Oregon question was the first made by 
the new Senator. At its close Mr. Thomas II. Benton, the 
father of the Senate, so called from his six successive elections 
and thirty years' service in that body, rose and said, in begin- 
ning his remarks, " that it had not been his intention to ad- 
dress the Senate in relation to our title to Oregon, but if he 
had intended to speak on that brandy of the subject he should 
have relinquished his purj)ose after listening to the very able 
and lucid exposition of it by the honorable Senator from New 
York. That gentleman had placed the American title to 
Oregon on grounds tliat were impregnable, and on which it 
must forever stand. A speech more replete with historical 
facts, evincing greater research, or more crowded with perti- 
nent remark and convincing argument, it had never been his 
lot to hear, and he could not refrain from congratulating that 
honorable gentleman on the important service he had render- 
ed to his country, and not less upon the honor which he had 
gained for himself. lie would leave the question of title 
where that Senator had placed it, and turn his attention to a 
different branch of the subject."* 

* Daily National /rt?<?Z%««ccr, Washington, February 20, 1840. 


It has been said of this his first speech in the Senate that 
" his historical knowledge and clear perception of the law of 
nations, the purity and force of his style in debate, were strik- 
ingly developed in the memorable discussion of the Oregon 
question. This masterly effort placed him at once in the 
front rank of well-informed statesmen and powerful debaters. 
That exciting topic called out no abler speech, nor one 
which met with more universal favor in the Senate and 
among the people." It is believed that the administration 
though not in favor of the compromise, was unduly influenced 
by the clamor of a noisy and reckless faction, whose cry was, 
" Fifty-four forty, or fight." Sound sense and calm wisdom, 
howcer, carried the day, and the laurels of the peaceful set- 
tlement of an ugly question were gracefully and modestly 
worn by the Senator from New York. 

On the 27tli of April following General Dix addressed the 
Senate on the subject of French spoliations. I well remem- 
ber the earnestness with which he was wont to express him- 
self in our conversations on the subject. Prudent and econom- 
ical, and avei*se to expenditures not justified by necessity or 
propriety, nothing exasperated the General more than at- 
tempts to di'aw on the public treasury for the benefit of the 
harpies who hover about it. The bill which he strenuously 
and successfully opposed provided for the satisfaction of 
claims of American citizens for spoliations on their property 
committed by the French prior to the ratification of the con- 
vention with France in September, 1800. These claimants 
were numerous and persistent; for all 1 know to the con- 
trary they may still be cherishing a hope which should long 
since have been effectually blighted ; but General Dix, re- 
garding these demands as without a shadow of justice to sup- 
port them, and indignant at the proposition to put money 
of the public into the pockets of individuals who, as he 
tliought, had no right to it, took a lively satisfaction in fight- 
ing the scheme, and gave it, at that time, another quietus. 
His speech on this subject, like that already referred to, is full 






of learning, and would form by itself an interesting chapter 
in the history of the United States from 1777 to 1800. 

I come now to a subject of much greater importance. 
General Dix took his seat in the Senate on the 27th of Jan- 
uary ; on the 30th he was appointed a member of the Com- 
mittee on Commerce, by Mr. Mangum, then President j9/'o 
tempore of that body. At the next session he was elected a 
member of the same committee, and for two sessions was 
its chairman. His labors on that committee were indefatiga- 
ble, and their result is nowhere better known or more highly 
appreciated than in the city of New York. It had long been 
a cherished object among commercial men to secure by law 
the right to convey foreign importations through the country, 
and to re-export them with the privilege of drawback. At 
the commencement of this session Mr. Ashley, of Arkansas, 
had called the attention of the Senate to this subject, so far as 
it related to the adjacent Mexican States. To secure this ob- 
ject a bill was reported by the Committee on Commerce, and 
had passed the Senate before General Dix took his seat. The 
bill was returned from the House with an amendment extend- 
ing this privilege to the British North American possessions 
adjoining the United States. These amendments were vastly 
more important than the original bill itself, and especially to 
the State of New York. The bill as amended was referred 
to the Committee on Commerce on the 22d of February. On 
the amendments the committee were divided, General Dix 
sustaining them. Mr. Huntington, the chairman, consented to 
report the bill and amendments, he stating to the Senate the 
condition of the committee. The question of concurring in 
the House amendments came up on the last day of the session, 
and elicited an interesting debate. General Dix was the prin- 
cipal advocate of the amendments, which were finally adopted. 
But for his exertions they would not have been favorably re- 
ported upon by the committee. But for his defence of them 
it is not probable they would have received the favorable con- 
sideration of the Senate. To his efforts is New York mainly 


indebted for a measure the value and importance of which 
are not easily calculated. 

Notwithstanding the great value of his services in this mat- 
ter, the commercial world deem them inferior to those relat- 
ing to the Warehouse Bill. No measure of a recent date has 
proved equally useful to commerce. This bill was introduced 
in the Senate on the 21st of January, 1846, by General Dix, 
and, after varied and persevering opposition, finally passed 
on the 15tli of July. It was vehemently resisted l)y Messrs. 
Huntington, Crittenden, Clayton, Simmons, and other promi- 
nent Scnatoi-s. Its defence rested solely upon General Dix, 
though Mr. "Webster and Mr. Calhoun briefly assigned the 
reasons why they should vote for it. The merit of introduc- 
ing and carrying this great measure may be safely ascribed to 
the Senator from Ne^v• York. 

As tlie author of this bill he was looked to as its defender. 
His speeches on it, delivered on the 19th of June, 1840, and 
on the 9th of July next following, are regarded as irrefragable 
evidence of his ability to comprehend the subject of trade and 
commerce, and to guard and protect the great interests in- 
volved in that department of political economy. Although a 
reply to his first speech was made by Senator Huntington, of 
Connecticut, his last, reviewing it and the English warehous- 
ing system, remains unanswered to this day. Mr. Huntington 
did not publish his speech. General Dix's closing speech is a 
monument of the industry and ability of its author. The 
warehousing system, as established by law, is daily conferring 
on commerce and business all the advantages predicted by its 
friends ; and the city of New York feels, and has in various 
ways acknowledged, her obligations to him, as the author of 
this great and salutary measure.* 

If General Dix had been disposed to make a change in his 
position his stay at Washington would have been very short. 

* See Twenty-second Annual Report of the Chamber of Commerce, 
New York, pp. 1-9. 



Early in July lie was offered the mission to England. It was 
just after the speeches on the warehouse system. He imme- 
diately wrote to Mr. Wright on the subject as follows : 

" Private. 

" Wasliington, July 10, 1840. 

"Mf DEAu Sin, — Tlic President sent for me this morning and offered 
me the mission to London, Mr. McLane will return in August. Tlio 
President said he had contemplated making me tlie offer for some time, 
but had not communicated his intention to any (me till to-day. lie had 
mentioned it this morning to two members of his Cabinet, wlio had con- 
curred fully in the propriety of the selection. He said he desired to 
take tlic occasion to say that no one in the Senate had given liim a more 
fair or cordial support, that he should regret losing me, etc., but that the 
position he offered me was one of great importance, and might become 
more so from our unfortunate relations to Mexico, and he desired to 
place in it a person in whom he had confidence. I mention these things 
that you may understand the whole matter. His manner was very kind 
and frank, and I desire to treat the matter in a corresponding spirit. 
He desired no answer, but wished me to consider the proposition, and 
advise him as soon as I should have decided what to do, 

" Now, I have only to add on this subject that I wish you to commu- 
nicate this matter to no one but Mr, Flagg, if you think you and he arc 
competent to decide the matter. If you are not, you may cull in the 
Magician ;* but I should think the question might be settled without 
any supernatural agency, I feel a little pride in having this matter kept 
secret, unless the President chooses to mention it himself I ask no ad- 
vice, unless you have a fancy to give it. If I am left to myself, I shall 
decide the question ' to the best of my ability,' 

" The President desired me to say to you, if I should write, that he had 
no schemes of conquest in view in respect to Mexico, no intention to take 
possession of any portion of her territory with a view to hold it, and that 
his only object was to push military operations so vigorously that she 
should be made willing to adjust the matters in dispute between her and 
us on fair terms. As to the regiment designed for California, the inten- 
tion was to have it discharged there, and it was, therefore, deemed wise 
to have it composed of persons who would be willing to remain and be- 
come citizens ot our own territory on the Pacific — i. e., Oregon, He said 
there had been an unintentional omission in failing to communicate with 

* This was the adbriqxiet of Mr. Van Buren. 




you at nn earlier day, which lie regretted— and ho earnestly hoped the 

explanation which had hecn made would bo satisfactory. 

" Truly yours, John A. Dix. 

"Silas Wriout." 

It was, to say the least, a coincidence that this offer of a 
place abroad should have been made to the General at that 
particular time. No one would venture to impugn the Presi- 
dent's motives or question his sincerity ; but there are always 
powers behind the throne, whose movements are, perhaps, cau- 
tious enough to escape detection from the throne itself. Ko 
doubt there were those a': Washington and at Albany who 
would gladly have got rid of one whose opposition to their 
designs was foreseen and dreaded ; and if he had accepted the 
offer, and been absent from the country for three or four 
yeai*s, the history would probably have been very different. 
But, after due deliberation and consultation with political 
friends and those of the home circle, the offer was declined. 

At the' first session of the Twenty-ninth Congress, General 
Dix was appointed a member of the Committee on Military Af- 
fairs. His training in the army and long experience and close 
study qualified him for duties which were rendered peculiarly 
arduous by the breaking out of war between Mexico and the 
United States. He was actively engaged in maturing and car- 
rying through the Senate the bills relating to the organiza- 
tion, transportation, and management of the forces which were 
Bent to Mexico. On the 4th of January, 1847, he spoke in 
favor of a bill to appoint a Lieutenant-general to command 
the military forces of the United States during the war, a 
measure which had been recommended by the President in 
a special Message to Congress. On the 1st of March ensuing 
he made a speech against the passage of what was known as 
the Three Million Bill. As this involved the question of 
the extension of slavery, the attention of the reader is called 
to the principles which lay hidden under the simple proposi- 
tion to aid the government against a foreign enemy. 

The annexation of Texas to the United States led, of 




! I 

conree, to a niptiiro with tlio Mexican Government. In 
May, 184G, (Jcncral Zachary Taylor crossed the Rio Grande 
and commenced active liostilities. The impression was that 
the war could not last long; and the President asked Con- 
gress for a grant of two millions of dollars, to enable him to 
negotiate for a satisfactory adjustment of our difficulties. 
Since indemnification for losses sustained by American citi- 
zens must necessarily form one of the items of the settlement, 
and since it was deemed desirable to acquire territory on the 
Pacific coast belonging to Mexico, the means to facilitate 
such transfer were desired by the executive, and a bill framed 
with that view was introduced into Congress. But when this 
bill came up for consideration Mr. "Wilmot, a meriiber of the 
House of Kepresentatives from the State of Pennsylvania, 
offered, by way of amendment to it, what at once became 
famous as the " Wilmot Proviso." It was as follows : 

" Provided, that there shall neither be slavery nor involun- 
tary servitude in any temtory on the continent of America 
which shall hereafter be acquired by or annexed to the Unit- 
ed States by virtue of this appropriation, or in any other man- 
ner whatever, except for crimes whereof the party shall have 
been duly convicted. Provided always, that any person es- 
caping into that territory, from whom labor or service is law- 
fully claimed in any one of the United States, such person 
may be lawfully reclaimed and carried out of such territory 
to the person claiming his or her service." 

AVhat the administration desired was to buy a part or the 
whole of New Mexico. The Wilmot Proviso stipulated that 
such territory, if purchased, or acquired in any way, should 
not be cut up and made into slave-holding States. The vital 
question therefore was, whether Congress would grant money 
to purchase free territory with a view to establishing slavery 

The bill providing for the appropriation was introduced 
into the House of Representatives on the 8th of August, 
184G, and passed, with Mr. Wilmot's amendment, the same 

1845-1853.] A "BLOW STRUCK FOR FREEDOM.'* 



day, every member from the State of New York voting in 
its favor. It went to the Senate late that ni^ht. The fol- 
lowing (lay M'as Sunday. On Monday morning the hill was 
taken np in the Senate, hut no vote wjis had ; Mr. Davis, of 
Massachusctt.s, liaving spoken against it until the hour for 
adjournment sine die arrived. 

To understand the issue presented by the Wilmot Proviso 
it nmst be observed that its advocates sustained it on the dis- 
tinct ground that, as slavery had been abolished throughout 
the Mexican llepublic, the acquisition of territory without 
prohibiting slavery would, on the theory asserted by the 
Southern States, lead to its restoration where it bad ceased 
to exirit, and make the United Stalos resi)onsible for its ex- 
tension to districts in which universal freedom had been 
established by the fundamental law. 

On tlie 4th of January, 1847, during the next session of 
Congress, a new bill, similar to the former, but increasing the 
amount of the appropriation to three millions of dollars, was 
brought in by Mr. Preston King, a Democratic member from 
St. Lawrence County, New York. This bill, which also con- 
tained the Wilmot Proviso, passed the House of Ileprcsenta- 
tives,''^ all the New York representatives, with a single excep- 
tion, voting for it. "When the bill reached the Senate an at- 

* On tlie passage of the bill in the House of Representatives, Mr. John 
Van Bnrcn wrote to General Dix in this vigorous strain, anent the look 
of things at the cajjital : 

" I have been suffering for some days with a lame arm from rheuma- 
tism, and cannot therefore write you at length as I should wish. But I 
am so rejoiced at the passage of Wihnot's Proviso tliat I cannot help 
congratulating you on it. Our friends have stood nobly up to this great 
blow struck for freedom. How hel2)less and contemptible the adminis- 
tration have become ! Polk's consolidation of the party by throwing all 
the honest men overboard has resulted as might have been expected. 
Calhoun's speech is very able and very treasonable. I think General 
Jackson would have hung him if he had been in Washington as Presi- 
dent. Such en exposure and exaggeration of the weakness of our coun- 
try for the benefit of an enemy in time of war is unparalleled." 




tempt was made by the advocates of the extension of slavery 
to strike out the proviso. General Dix spoke upon this 
question March 1, 18-1:7. If it had been possible to avert the 
evil which was impending, and to change the minds of men 
by the force of argument, by the weight of historical testi- 
mony, and by the impression sometimes produced by digni- 
fied, earnest, and courteous remonstrance, those results might 
have followed on the delivery of this noble appeal. 

General Dix first alluded to the fact that the legislatures 
of nine of the non-slaveliolding States had already adopted 
resolutions in accordance with the views which he held. The 
Legislature of New York, in particular, had, by an almost 
unanimous vote in both branches, instructed their Senators 
and requested their representatives to use their best efforts 
to procure the insertion, in any act for the acquisition of ter- 
ritory, by purchase or otherwise, of an unalterable and funda- 
mental article or provision forever excluding slavery from such 
territory. He considered the rights of the original parties to 
the Constitution, in respect to the subject of slavery within 
their own limits, and showed that the ground taken by the 
advocates of the "VVilmot Proviso, so far from being new, was 
precisely the same as that held more than sixty years before 
by Mr. Jefferson, with the unanimous support of the repre- 
sentatives of Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Vir- 
ginia: it was the old, traditional, American position. Tie re- 
pelled with earnestness the charge that the course of the 
Northern States was aggressive ; on the contrary, it had been 
from the earliest period liberal and forbearing. They had 
acquiesced in every proposition to add Southern territory to 
the Union ; they hr.d concurred in appropriating money for 
the purpose, contributing their own share, and bearing a part 
of the burden of the purchase. They had united in the pur- 
chase of Louisiana and Florida, and in the annexation of 
Texas, by which measures the institution of slavery had been 
extended over an area exceeding that of the thirteen original 
States. lie was no abolitionist ; he admitted to the "^allest 



extent the exclusive control of each State ove^ the question 
within the limits of its own jurisdiction, its right to be pro- 
tected from interference and intermeddling within its own 
borders; it was he who introduced resolutions at the first 
meeting ever held at the North in opposition to the move- 
ments of the Abolitionists. ^Nevertheless, he and those 
whom he represented were accused of aggression, because 
they would not consent to tlie extension of slavery to free 
territory. This the North would not agree to. There was 
a universal opinion on that subject pervading the whole 
North and West. Consent would never be given to the ex- 
tension of slavery beyond its present limits. It was regarded 
by all parties as involving a principle which rose far above 
the fleeting interests of the day — a principle which the North 
should not be asked to yield. 

General Dix referred to the threats then openly made of 
the dissolution of the Union. lie said : 

" I can hardly think those who so connect the two subjects 
are aware of the position in which they place themselves. It 
is virtually declaring that unless we will consent to bring free 
territory into the Union, and leave it open to the extension of 
slavery, the Union shall be dissolved. Our Southern friends 
have heretofore stood upon the ground of defence ; of main- 
taining slavery within their own limits against interference 
from without. The ground of extension is now taken, and 
of extending slavery upon free territory. I caimot believe 
this position will be sustained by the Southern States. It is 
new ground, and is taken with avowals which are calculated 
to spread surprise and alarm throughout the non-slavehokling 
states. ... I say for the State of New York, and in her name 
— I believe I do not misunderstand her resolutions — tluit slie 
can never consent to become a party to tlie extension of sla- 
very to free territory on this continent. If it is to be extend- 
ed to new areas — areas now consecrated to free labor — the 
work must be done by other hands than hers ; and she nmst 



H . 

leave it to time and to the order of Providence to determine 
what shall be the legitimate fruits of measures which she 
believes to be wrong, and to which she can never yield her 

Let me give one more extract, full of significance, and now 
to be read with painful interest — it expresses the strife in a 
mind which weighs two evils against each other : 

"Mr. President, I regret to hear either disunion or civil 
war spoken of in connection with this measure. But, I re- 
peat, the former is to be preferred to the latter. In wars 
waged with foreign countries, dei)lorable as they always are, 
there are some moral fruits which atone, in a slight degree, 
for their accompanying evils. There is the sense of national 
honor — the parent of high achievement ; the sentiment of pa- 
triotic devotion to the country, which shrinks from no labor 
or sacrifice in the public cause ; and the feeling of mutual 
sympathy and dependence, which pervades and unites all 
classes in the hour of adversity and peril. Far as they are 
overbalanced by the domestic bereavement and the public 
evil which war always brings in its train, they serve to pu- 
rify the thoughts of something of their selfishness by turning 
them away from the sordid channels in which they are too 
apt to run. But civil war has no ameliorations. It is pure, 
unmixed demoralization. It dissolves all national and domes- 
tic ties. It renders selfishness more odious by wedding it to 
hatred and cruelty. The after-generation whicli reaps the bit- 
ter harvest of intestine war is scarcely less to be commiserated 
than that by whose hands the poisonous seed is sown. Less, 
far less than these, would be the evils of disunion."* 

I think there is no argument for tlie extension of slavery 
which is not met and answered in the speech from which I 

* " Speeches and Addresses," vol. i., pp. 195-197. 




it to 




bh I 

have made this long extract ; it is one of several on the same 
dire subject. He spoke, January 26, 1848, in suppor', of a 
bill to raise an additional military force wherewitl . to retain 
possession of the territory of Mexico until she should consent 
to make peace on terms satisfactory to the United States — a 
measure opposed by Mr. Calhoun and South Carolina. He 
spoke, and for the last time, in the Senate, February 28, 1849, 
on the question of the institution of governments for the 
territories acquired from Mexico — a question embarrassed 
throughout by the determination of the Senators from the 
slave States to extend slavery to those territories, and by a 
majority of the Senators from the free States to guard, by an 
express prohibition, against what they deemed a moral and 
political evil, and the national dishonor of restoring it where 
it had been formally abolished. His views on this question 
may be gathered from those addresses. They appear to me 
to do honor to his clear head, his sensitive conscience, and his 
affectionate heart. They show an extreme solicitude to main- 
tain the rights of our Southern brethren, a horror of disunion, 
a disposition to bear anything rather than provoke civil war ; 
they exhibit patience, forbearance, toleration ; the hope that 
Divine Providence might in some way avert the calamities 
which he foresaw already threatening in the future ; a love 
for his State, a stronger love of the Union. These were the 
characteristics of that calm, conscientious, affectionate mind 
of the people of the North, which the Southern leaders could 
not understand, and scrupled not to provoke past all endur- 
ance, and drive at last to a point at which it was impossible 
any longer to forbear. It is needless to say — for all know 
the main facts — that the opposition led by General Dix and 
others was of no avail. The three million bill passed the Sen- 
ate Avithout the proviso. The settled determination of the 
Southern leaders wrung one victory after another from the 
hotly contested fields. Men like my father were forced into 
a minority; they were ostracized, they were put under the 
ban ; they were stigmatized as traitors to their party and false 
I.— 14 





to Democratic traditions ; for years tliey rested under the dis- 
pleasure of administrations ruled by the sentiment of the slave 
power. The triumph, though brief, seemed fo/ the time com- 
plete. In fact, it was no triumph, but a march downward, 
through some glare and pomp of temporary success, into 
night and silence. In the year 1847 they were scornfully 
voting down all propositions to arrest the extension of sla- 
very, and endeavoring to provide for its perpetual continu- 
ance among us. On the 1st of January, 1863, by proclamation 
from "Washington, every slave throughout this country was de- 
clared free. This was the outcome of the infatuation of the 
slavery propagandists. It is not so much to the North that 
the black owes his freedom to-day as to the South, which, not 
content with the protection afforded to that institution un- 
der the American Constitution, demanded its extension, and 
attempted to break up the Union when that demand was re- 
fused. If- they had listened to the counsels of wisdom and 
prudence, and been content with the position held on that ques- 
tion by their own ancestors, the institution which they prized 
so highly might have been secure among them to this day. 

From May, 1846, till February, 1848, the war with Mexico 
dragged its tedious length along. On the 4tli of January, 
1847, General Dix spoke on the bill to appoint a Lieuten- 
ant-general. On the 22d of February next following Zachary 
Taylor fought and won, at Buena Vista, the battle which made 
him President of the United States. Roger Sherman Dix, a 
pay- master in the army, was with General Taylor at the time, 
and, as chance would have it, saw service in that fight. One 
or two of his letters seem to merit a place in this story : 

" Saltlllo, Mexico, February 25, 1S47. 

"My DEAii Brother, — I Imvc but a few moments to write you, but I 
have such news to communicate as will be gratifying to you and every 
American, man, woman, and child, and I therefore give it. 

" We have had another fight with the Mexicans, and, as usual, have 
gained the victory, Santa Anna commanded in person. He had 20,000 
troops — we had barely 5000. Skirmishing between the two armies com- 








menced on tlie evening of the 22d (mark the day), and continued dur- 
ing the night. About 7 a.m. of the 23d the battle began in earnest, and 
we fought until 5 p.m., when the enemy retired from the field. The next 
morning they were in full retreat, and in the evening encamped about 
ten miles from the battle-ground, the last place at which tliey could get 
water for a long distance. Our position was a strong one, which we did 
not wish to lose, and we were weak in numbers, or we would have pur- 
sued them. They encamped at Agua Nueva ; the battle was fought at 
' Buena Vista,' ten miles this side. 

" I was in the action from its commencement to its close — with General 
Taylor part of the time. General Wool part of the time, and carrying their 
orders to difierent parts of the field. I flatter myself I made myself al- 
most as useful as ornamental. I came off", thanks to God, without a 
wound. How it was I know not, for the musket-balls flew thick as hail 
around me. ind a cannon-shot would occasionally throw up the dust 
near me. 'Twas an awful fight, and 'tis said by all to be much harder 
than that of Monterey. Ten hours' fighting is no trifle. I came to Mex- 
ico to see the 'elephant.' I have seen him, and am perfectly willing 
never to see him again. General Wool behaved most nobly, and well 
has he earned the brevet of Major-general. 

" I can hardly think that Santa Anna will try it again. Their loss, 
'tis said (I do not believe it), was between three and four thousand, ours 
I do not think exceeds five hundred in killed and wounded. Many valu- 
able lives have been lost. Captain Lincoln (son of Governor Levi Lin- 
coln, of Massachust .ts). Adjutant-general to General AVool, and one of the 
noblest, most chivalrous, and gallant soldiers, was killed at the commence- 
ment of the action, while encouraging an Indiana regiment to stand its 

" Lieutenant - colonel Ilcnry Clay, Jr., of the Kentucky foot, is also 
numbered among the dead. A more gallant soldier or high-minded and 
honorable man never lived. He and Lincoln were among my best 
friends. Clay was my classmate when I entered West Point, and we 
have always been warm friends. Poor fellow, he is gone ; Colonel Yell, 
of Arkansas, formerly Governor of the State, is among the killed, and 
many others whom I have not time to enumerate. 

"I will only mention one thing more, and let it be strictly entre nous. 
I ought not, perhaps, cither to say anything about it ; but as I have com- 
menced here goes : 

"Soon after the fight commenced one of the Indiana regiments, which 
was exposed to a tremendous fire from the enemy, broke and ran. They 
were some distance oft' when General Wool met me — I was then with 
the dragoons, and about to charge with them — and ordered me to rally 




them and bring them into action. I put spurs to my horse and galloped 
to the rear. They were broken into parties of tliree and four, and Avere 
more than half a mile from the fight. I stopped them ; I urged, begged, 
and entreated them ; then cursed and abused tliem ; and finally, in about 
half an hour, with the aid of Captain Linnard, of the Topographical En- 
gineers, I succeeded in collecting about half of the regiment ; then, tak- 
ing their flag (they were still souiewliat panic-stricken),! called to them 

that if they were not a d d set of cowards they would follow their 

flag, and I moved toward the field. They gave me three cheers, and I 
led them to tlie field and reported to General Wool. These men after- 
ward fouglit bravely and never left the ground. Their General (Lane) 
and their Lieutenant -colonel (Haddon) both tried, without success, to 
bring them back ; and Lane that evening, after the fight and again next 
morning, thanked me, and told me if it had not been for me they would 
never have returned to the fight. I do not know if General Taylor saw 
it, but General Lane mentioned it to him next morning. I felt that I 
had done my duty — that was enough for me. General Wool and Colonel 
Churchill both shook hands with me next morning and congratulated 
me (I suppose, upon the result of the battle). 

" Santa Anna sent in a flag of truce before the fight, requesting General 
Taylor (merely to save the eifusion of blood) to surrender with his army, 
saying that he had over 20,000 men, etc., etc., and promising to treat us 
kindly. General Taylor wrote him back, "twas all the same if he had 
50,000, and if he wanted us, he must come and take us,' thanking him at 
the same time for his kindness. The next morning he told his troops 
that ours were all volunteers, and he would whip us in ten minutes — a 
sliglit mistake. At one time I feared, as did many others, that the battle 
would go against us — 'twas when my Indianians ran. They had turned 
our left flank and were pouring in their forces ; but our artillery poured 
such discharges of grape into them that they soon fell back. I rode over 
the field the next day, and the sight sickeued me ; 'twas horrible — the 
wounded and the dead ! Many of the poor Mexicans are now in our 
hospital and well cared for — officers as well as men. I think Santa Anna 
has got enough, and will now retire to San Luis. God grant it I for I am 
tired of sucli scenes as this. 

"This will be handed you perhaps by Additional Paymaster, Major 
Coflije (son of old General Coffee). He takes the despatches of General 
Taylor to New Orleans, and probably to Washington. He has been with 
me for some weeks. He was in the battle, and is a noble fellow. Treat 
him kindly. Love to Catherine and all your family. 

" Ever your affectionate brother, R. S. Dix. 

"Hon. John A. Dix, U, S. Senator." 




I with 



"Saltillo, Mexico, March 25, 1847. 

" My dear Brotheb, — Ere this reaches you you will doubtless have 
seen aa account of our late glorious victory at Buena Vista. I wrote 
you on the 25th, giving you a brief account of it. 

" Santa Anna has retreated out of this province, and will undoubtedly 
push on to the city of Mexico, to prevent (I think) another revolution. 
His fate is sealed. The loss of this battle witli such disparity of force 
is enough to damn him with the Mexican people and Congress. lie has 
written to the Governor here that he has not been defeated — that he has 
captured three pieces of our cannon (this is true, and their loos saved us), 
and that he is going to MatahiMla, about one hundred and twenty-five 
miles distant, to recruit his army. This is all stuff and nonsense. That 
place can't supply his army with provisions for one day. He has gone 
for good, and we shall, in :r.y opinion, see no more of him on tliis line. 
I understand there are five regiments en route for this place. Had they 
been here before the battle Santa Anna would have been routed, for on 
his retreat we should have been strong enough to have pursued him. 
'Tis well, however, as it is ; we have gained a glorious victory. Had they 
attacked us the following day, I believe sincerely we should have been 
defeated. The best of the volunteer officers, or quite a number of them, 
had been killed, and their men had had enough of fighting, and no per- 
suasions or entreaties or cursings could have got them to do any more ; 
at least, they refused to move that evening. General Wool and myself 
rode on to one of the heights, where parts of two regiments were (and 
they those who had fought best), and endeavored to get them forward 
to the next height, and all that we could say was of no avail. General 
W. struck one or two officers with his sword, lut it would not do. 'Tis 
true the men were nearly exhausted, but had Santa Anna then pushed 
forward two or three fresh regiments of infimtry, the result of the battle 
would have been dift'ercnt. Thanks to God, he felt he had got enough, 
and so did his troops." 

The successes of General Taylor gave iis the virtual posses- 
sion of the whole of Northern Mexico as far south as the 
mouth of the Rio Grande and the 2Gth parallel of latitude, 
comprehending about two-thirds of the territory of tliat unfor- 
tunate republic and about one-tenth of its inhabitants. Tlie 
brilliant movements of General Scott subsequently au^^-'^'ontcd 
those acquisitions by the reduction of Vera Cruz and the Cas- 
tle of San Juan de Uloa ; the capture of Jalapa, Perote, and 
Puebla; the surrender of the capital, and the occupation of the 



three states of Vera Cruz, Puebla, and Mexico, with nearly 
two millions and a half of souls. The chief towns were re- 
duced, the military forces which defended them captured or 
dispersed, their civil authorities superseded, and the whole 
machinery of government within the conquered states virtu- 
ally transferred to our hands; and these results had been 
achieved by an army at no period exceeding 15,000 men, and 
against forces from three to five times more numerous than 
those actually engaged on our side in every action since the 
fall of Yera Cniz. Eeferring to these extraordinary suc- 
cesses. General Dix, when presenting some army petitions 
in the Senate, spoke as follows : 

" I will not detain the Senate by entering into any detailed 
review of these events with a view to enforce the appeal con- 
tained in the petition on the attention. I hope, however, I 
may be indulged in saying, in justice to those who bore a part 
in them, that the first conquest of Mexico cannot, as it appears 
to me, be compared with the second, either as to the obstacles 
overcome or as to the relative strength of the invaders. The 
triumphs of Cortez were achieved by policy, and by superior- 
ity in discipline and in the implements of warfare. The use 
of firearms, until then unknown to the inhabitants of Mexico, 
was sufiicient in itself to make his force, small as it was, irre- 
sistible. In the eyes of that simple and superstitious peojjle 
he seemed armed with superhuman power. Other circum- 
stances combined to facilitate his success. The native tribes, 
by whom the country was possessed, were distinct communi- 
ties, not always acknowledging the same head, and often 
divided among themselves by implacable hostility and resent- 
ments. Cortez, by his consummate pinidence and art, turned 
these dissensions to his own account ; he lured the parties to 
them into his own service, and when he presented himself at 
the gates of the city of Mexico he was at the head of four 
thousand of the most warlike of the natives, as auxiliaries to 
the band of Spaniards with which he commenced his march 


from Vera Cruz. Thus liis early successes were as much the 
triumph of policy as of arms. General Scott and the gallant 
band he led had no such advantages. The whole population 
of the country, from Vera Cruz to Mexico, was united as one 
man against him, and animated by the fiercest animosity. 
He was opposed by military forces armed like his own, often 
better disciplined, occupying positions chosen by themselves, 
strong by nature, and fortified according to the strictest rules 
of art. These obstacles were overcome by his skill as a tac- 
tician, aided by a corps of officers unsurpassed for their knowl- 
edge of the art of attack and defence, and by the indomitable 
courage of their follower. With half his force left on the 
battle-field or in the hospital, and with less than six thousand 
men, after a series of desperate contests, he took possession of 
the city of Mexico, containing nearly two hundred thousand 
inhabitants, and defended by the remnant of an army of more 
than thirty thousand soldiers. I confess I know nothing in 
modern warfare which exceeds in brilliancy the movements 
of the American army from the Gulf to the city of Mexico. 
I shall not attempt to speak of them in the language of eulo- 
gium. They are not a fit theme for such connnent. Like 
the achievements of General Taylor and his bravo men on 
the Rio Grande, at Monterey, and Buena Vista, the highest 
and most appropriate praise is contained in the simplest state- 
ment of facts." 


General Dix addressed the Senate, January 20, 1848, in 
support of a bill to raise an additional military force with a 
view to retain possession of the territory of Mexico until she 
should consent to make peace on terms satisfactory to the 
United States. Mr. Calhoun oj^posed this measure, having 
offered resolutions to the effect that " to conquer Mexico, and 
to hold it, either as a province or incoi-porated into the Union, 
would be inconsistent with the avowed object for which war 
has been prosecuted ; a departure from the settled policy of 
the government; in conflict with its character and genius; 



and in the end subversive of our free and popular institu- 
tions." The public mind was divided between two proposi- 
tions : the first was, to withdraw our forces from the Mexican 
territory, and leave the subject of indemnity for injuries and 
the adjustment of a boundary between the two republics to 
future negotiation, relying on a magnanimous course of con- 
duct on our part to produce a corresponding feeling on the 
part of Mexico; and the second was, to retain possession of 
the territory which had been already acquired until Mexico 
should consent to make a treaty of peace providing ample 
compensation for the wrongs of which the American people 
had complained, and settling to their satisfaction the bound- 
ary in dispute. The latter course was advocated by General 
Dix. Desiring above all things a restoration of permanently 
amicable relations between the two countries, and the re- 
moval of the causes of dissensions, he was firmly of the opin- 
ion that the withdrawal of our forces, instead of bringing 
about a speedy and lasting peace, would have the opposite 
effect; that it would open a field of domestic dissension, 
and possibly of external interference in the affairs of that 
distracted country, to be followed, in all probability, by a re- 
newal of active hostilities with us, and under circumstances 
in which the advantages already gained would have been 
lost, and the whole subject would be embarrassed with fresh 
dangers and evils. 

This speech is especially interesting, inasmuch as he took 
up and considered the alleged right of European powers to 
intervention in the affairs of this continent. That right had 
been formally asserted in the French Chamber of Deputies, in 
the year 1845, by M. Guizot, Minister of Foreign Affairs, as 
the organ of the Government of France. lie then declared 
that it belonged to France " to protect, by the authority of 
her name, the independence of states, and the equilibrium of 
the great political forces in America." That notion of trying 
to carry out the European system of the balance of power on 
another continent has long since been exploded ; no foreign 


government would for an instant entertain it. An able argu- 
ment, and a manly protest against it, will be found in the ad- 
dress to which I now refer. General Dix's words were the 
true expression of the American spirit, which would not brook 
the interference of the European powers in the affairs of this 
side of the world. The position taken by him is now, and has 
long been, conceded by those powers, although at that day 
there was no liesitation in asserting their arrogant claim. In 
the course of his remarks he said : 






" Mr. President, any attempt by a European power to in- 
terpose in the affairs of Mexico, either to establish a monarchy 
or to maintain, in the language of M. Guizot, ' the equilibrium 
of the great political forces in America,' would be the signal 
for a war far more important in its consequences and inscru- 
table in its issues than this. AVe could not submit to such 
interposition if we would. The public ojiinion of the coun- 
try would compel us to resist it. AVe are committed by the 
most formal declarations, first made by President Monroe in 
1823, and repeated by the present Chief Magistrate of the 
Union. "We have protested in the most solemn manner 
against any farther colonization by European powers on this 
continent. We have protested against any interference in 
the political concerns of the independent States in this hemi- 
sphere. A protest, it is true, does not imply that the ground 
it assumes is to be maintained at all hazards, and, if necessary, 
by force of arms. Great Britain protested against the inter- 
ference of France in the affairs of Spain in 1823; she has 
more recently protested against the absorption of Cracow by 
Austria, as a violation of the political order of Europe, settled 
at Vienna by the Allied Sovereigns ; and against the Montpen- 
sier marriage, as a violation of the treaty of Utrecht ; but I 
do not remember that in either case she did anything more 
than to proclaim to the world her dissent from the acts 
against which she entered her protest. It has always seemed 
to me to be unwise in a goveniment to put forth manifestoes 



without being prepared to maintain them by acts, or to make 
declarations of abstract principle until tho occasion has ar- 
rived for enforcing them. Tho declarations of a President 
having no power to make vfViV without a vote of Congress, or 
even to employ tho military force of a country, except to de- 
fend our own territory, is vory different from the protest of 
a sovereign holding tho issues of peace and war in his own 
hands. But tho former may not be less effectual when 
are sustained, as I believe those of rrcsidents Monroe id 
Polk are, in respect to European interference on tho Ameri- 
can continent, by an undivided public oi)inion, even though 
they may not have received a formal resiionse from Congress. 
I hold, therefore, if any such interposition as that to which I 
liavc referred should take place, resistance on our part would 
inevitably follow, and we should become involved in contro- 
versies of which no man could foresee the end." 

I quote a striking passage against the aggressive policy of 
Great Britain : 

" In the references I have made to Franco and Great ^ 
ain, I have been actuated by no feeling of nnkindness or 
tility to either. Rapid and wide-sj)read as has been the prog- 
ress of the latter, we have never sought to interfere with it. 
She holds one-third of the North American continent. She 
has established her dominion in tho Bermndas, the AVest In- 
dies, and in Guiana, on the South American continent. She 
holds Balize, on the Bay of Yucatan, in North America, with 
a district of about fourteen thousand square miles, if we may 
trust her own geographical delineations. "VVe see her in the 
occupation of territories in every quarter of the globe, vastly, 
inordinately extended, and still ever extending herself. It is 
not" easy to keep pace with her encroachments. A few years 
ago the Indus was the western boundary of her Indian em- 
pire. She has passed it. She has overrun Afghanistan and 
Beloochistan, though, I believe, she has temporarily with- 
drawn from the former. She stands at the gates of Pereia. 


Slio lias discussed tho policy of passing Persia and making 
the Tigris her western boundary in Asia. One stride more 
would place her upon the shores of the Mediterranean, and 
her annies would no longer liiid their way to India by the 
circumnavigation of Africa. Indeed, she has now, lor all 
government purposes of communication, except the transpor- 
tation of troops and munitions of war, a direct intercourse 
with the East. Her steamers of tho largest class run from 
England to Alexandria; from Alexandria there is a water- 
communication with Cairo — some sixty miles; from Cairo it 
is but eight hours overland to Suez, at tho head of the Red 
Sea ; from Suez her steamers of the largest class run to Aden, 
a military station of hcra at the mouth of the Red Sea ; from 
Aden to Ceylon, and from Ceylon to China. She is not 
merely conquering her way back from Ilindostan. She has 
raised her standard beyond it. She has entered the confines 
of the Celestial Empire. She has gained a permanent foot- 
hold within it ; and who that knows her can believe that pre- 
texts will long bo wanting to extend her dominion there? 
Though it is for commerce mainly that she is thus adding 
to the number and • \tent of her dependencies, it is not for 
commerce alone. 1 ' love of power and extended empire 
is one of the efficieui >rinciples of her gigantic efforts and 
movements. No island, however remote, no rock, however 
barren, on which the Cross of St. George has once been un- 
furled, is ever willingly relinquished, no matter how expen- 
sive or inconvenient it may be to maintain it. She may be 
said literally to encircle the globe by an unbroken chain of 
dependencies. Nor is it by peaceful means that she is thus 
extending herself. She propagates commerce, as Mohamme- 
danism projiagated religion, by fire and sword. If she nego- 
tiates, it is with fleets and armies at the side of her ambassa- 
dors, in order, to use the language of her diplomacy, ' to give 
force to their representations.' She is essentially and emi- 
nently a military power, unequalled on the sea and unsur- 
passed on the laud. Happily, the civilization which distin- 




!l . 


guishes her at home goes with her, and obliterates some of 
the bloody traces of her march to unlimited empire." 

Kor is the following a less striking picture by way of con- 
trast to the passages just quoted : 

"One position we have assumed, and I trust it will be 
maintained with inflexible firmness — that nations beyond this 
continent cannot be permitted to interfere with our progress, 
so long as there is on our part no violation of their rights. I 
would resist at the outset, as matter of the gravest offence, all 
indications of such interference. If the abstract right could 
be asserted on grounds of international law, there has been 
nothing ia the nature of our extension, or the means by 
which it has been accomplished, to warrant its application to 
us. From the formation of our government, for nearly three- 
quarters of a century, military power — brute force — has had 
no agency in the conquests we have achieved. "We have 
overrun no provinces or countries abounding in wealth. Our 
capital has witnessed no triumphal entries of returning arm- 
ies, bearing with them the spoils and trophies of conquest. 
Our ships have not been seen returning from subjugated dis- 
tricts, freighted with the tributes of an extended commerce. 
In the extension of our commercial intercourse we have not, 
like our Anglo-Saxon mother, been seen hewing down with 
the swcrd, with unrelenting and remorseless determination, 
ever}' obstacle which opposed itself to her progress. Our 
career thus far has been stained by no such companionship 
with evil. Our conquests have been the peaceful achieve- 
ments of enterprise and industry — the one leading the way 
into the wilderness, the other folloM'ing and completing the 
acquisition by the formal symbols of occ':i])ancy and posses- 
sion. They have looked to no objects beyond the conversion 
of uninhabited wilds into abodes of civilization and freedom. 
Their only arms were the axe and the ploughshare. The ac- 
cumulations of wealth they have brought were all extracted 
from the bosom of the earth by the unoffending hand of 











labor. If, in the progress of onr people "Westward, they shall 
occupy territories not our own, but to become ours by amica- 
ble arrangements with the governments to which they belong, 
which of the nations of the earth shall venture to stand forth 
in the face of the civilized world and call on us to pause in 
this great work of human improvement ? It is as much the 
interest of Europe as it is ours that we should be permitted 
to follow undisturbed the path which, in the allotment of 
national fortunes, we seem appointed t j tread. Our country 
has long been a refuge for those who desire a larger liberty 
than they enjoy imder their own rulers. It is an outlet for 
the political disaffection of the Old World — for social ele- 
ments which might there have become sources of agitation, 
but Avhich are here silently and tranquilly incorporated into 
our system, ceasing to be principles of disturbance as they at- 
tain the greater freedom, which was the object of their sepa- 
ration from less congenial combinations in other quarters of 
the globe. Nay, more : it is into the vast reservoir of the 
Western wilderness, teeming with fruitfulness and fertility, 
that Europe is constantly pouring, under our protection, her 
human surpluses, unable to draw from her own bosom the ele- 
ments of cheir support and reproduction. She is literally go- 
ing along with us in our march to prosperity and power, to 
share with us its triumphs and its fruits. Happily, this conti- 
nent is not a legitimate theatre for the political arrangements 
of the sovereigns of the eastern hemisphere. Their armies 
may range, undisturbed by us, over the plains of Europe, Asia, 
and Africa, dethroning monarchs, partitioning kingdoms, and 
subverting republics, as interest or caprice may dictate. But 
political justice demands that in one quarter of the globe self- 
government, freedom, the arts of peace, shall be permitted to 
work out, unmolested, the great purposes of human civili- 

It IS a curious fact, and one which shows what good ground 
there was to fear European intervention, if the relations be- 




tween tlie United States and Mexico had been left at loose 
ends, that on the very day after this speech Avas delivered 
General Dix received from a friend in New York, v/ho could 
have no knowledge of his intention to speak, much less of the 
topics he designed to discuss, a translation from a speech de- 
livered to the Cortes of Spain, December 1, 1847, by Senor 
Olozaga. It appeared from that speech that, but a short time 
previous to M. Guizot's declaration above referred to, large 
sums w^ere expended in Spain for the purpose of establishing 
a monarchy in Mexico, and placing a Spanish prince upon 
the throne.* 

Soon after the delivery of this speech the treaty of peace 
was made, by which Mexico ceded to the United States the 
line of the Rio Grande as a boundary, and the territory of 
New Mexico and California, in consideration of which the 
United States agi'eed to pay her the sum of $15,000,000, and 
to assume her debts to American citizens to an extent not to 
exceed $3,500,000. 

The termination of the war with Mexico, and the results at- 
tained by that contest, prepared the way for an acrimonious 
renewal of the strife b(itween the Northern and Southern sec- 
tions. The question was as to the equal rights of our citizens 
in the occupation of the territory acquired. On the one hand, 
it was contended that the United States Government ought 
not to permit the establishment of slavery in any region al- 
ready free ; on the other, it Avas urged that no discrimination 
should be made between settlers, and tliat the Southerner had 
as clear a right to carry his property with him, including his 
servants, as the Northerner had to take his tools and invested 
funds. The question came up in the Senate, as j^, matter of 
course ; it was debated with great earnestness and no little 
feeling. General Dix's speech, June 2G, 1818, on the estab- 
lishment of a Territorial go\ crnment in Oregon, deals princi- 

* Sec foot-note on p. 214, vol. i., " Speeches and Adclresses." Sec also 
Appendix, No. III., for a Project of a Treaty, by Albert Gallatin. 







pally witli that subject. The bill for establishing such a gov- 
ernment expressly excluded slavery, by declaring all laws then 
existing in the Territory to be valid and operative ; and one 
of those laws prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude 
otherwise than for the punishment of crimes whereof the 
party should be duly convicted. Mr. Jeiferson Davis, of Mis- 
sissij)pi, was among the Senators on the Southern side of the 
House who opposed the scheme. The bill passed, however, on 
the 12th of August ensuing, with the restrictions and prohibi- 
tions of slavery contained in the memorable ordinance of 1787. 
Again the question came before the Senate, when a bill was 
introduced embracing the whole subject q^ organizing govern- 
ments for the Territories acquired from Mexico, the material 
point of disagreement being the question of permitting slav- 
ery to be established in those Territories. The Southern Sena- 
tors insisted that citizens of the United States had the right, 
under the Constitution, to carry into those Territories what- 
ever was recognized as property in the States from which 
they emigrated. The free States denied this doctrine, and in- 
sisted that, slavery having been abolished in Mexico, it could 
only be restored by positive enactment. But, to remove all 
doubt upon this point, it was contended that the acts organiz- 
ing governments in those Territories should contain an abso- 
lute prohibition of slavery, in order to save the government 
from the reproach of re-establishing it where it had long been 
abolished by the fundamental law. General Dix, in address- 
ing the Senate on this subject, took occasion to defend the 
State of New York from aspersions cast on her by Senator 
Butler, of South Carolina. In this speech, and in one deliv- 
ered just a month before, may be found a full historical vin- 
dication of the course of the men who were equally opposed 
to external interference with slavery in the States in which it 
existed, and to its extension to territory where it did not exist. 
If a calm, critical, and dispassionate examination of the public 
records of the nation from the beginning, the statements of 
its founders, and the acts of its representative bodies can 




prove anything, it shows this, that General Dix and those 
who acted with him truly represented the thought of our 
earliest statesmen on that subject, and vindicates them from 
the reproaches of extremists in both sections of the country. 
Througliout that exciting period, in which the skies grew 
stormier every day, their position, as stated by themselves, 
was as follows : 

" 1. All external interference with slavery in the States is 
a violation of the compromises of the Constitution, and dan- 
gerous to the harmony and perpetuity of the Federal Union. 

" 2. If territory is acquired by the United States, it should, 
in respect to slavery, be received as it is found. If slavery 
exists tlierein at the time of the acquisition, it should not be 
the subject of legislation by Congress. On the other hand, if 
slavery docs not exist tlierein at the time of the acquisition, 
its introduction ought to be prohibited while the Territory 
continues to be governed as such. 

" 3. All legislation by Congress, in respect to slavery in the 
territory belonging to the United States, ceases to be ojDcra- 
tive when the inhabitants are permitted to form a State gov- 
ernment ; and the admission of a State into the Union carries 
with it, by force of the sovereignty sucli admission confers, 
the right to dispose of tlic wlnle question of slavery at its 
discretion, without external interference." 

It was the determination of those men to resist interfer- 
ence with slavery in the States, as unauthorized and disor- 
ganizing, and at the same time to withhold assent to its ex- 
tension under any pretext, and to oppose such extension in 
CYGvy constitutional mode, as of evil tendency in government, 
wrong in itself, and repugnant to humanity and civilization. 
They appear to have demonstrated that in this position they 
were in accord with the fathers of the Republic. The appeal 
to the representatives of the Southern people, with which 
the speech from which I have just quoced closes, will be read 
with profound interest, considering the contempt with wliich 
the solemn remonstrance was met : 


" I do entreat our Southern friends earnestly, solemnly, not 
to press this measure upon us : I mean that of insisting on the 
right to carry slaves into New Mexico and California, I say 
to you in sincerity, and with the deepest conviction of the 
truth of what I say, that the Northern feeling can go no far- 
ther in this direction. I appeal to you, through the memory 
of the past, to do us the justice we have rendered you. You 
asked for Florida. You said it shut you out from the Gulf 
of Mexico. It was an inlet for political intrigue and so- 
cial disorganization. It was necessary for your safety. We 
united with you to obtain it. Our blood, our treasure was 
freely shared with you in making the acquisition. "We gave 
it up to you without reserve. You asked for Texas. It was 
said to be in danger of falling under the control of your com- 
mercial rivals. It was necessary for your safety. You said 
it would become a theatre for the intrigues of abolitionism. 
Your slave population might be endangered without it. "We 
united with you again, and gave you back, by legislation and 
arms, what you had lost a quarter of a century before by dip- 
lomacy. We have now acquired free territory. We ask only 
that it may remain free. Do not ask us to unite with you in 
extending slavery to it. We abstain from all interference 
with slavery where it exists. We cannot sanction its exten- 
sion, directly or indirectly, where it does not exist. And if the 
authority of the United States is exerted for this purpose — if 
slavery is carried into and established, as it will be by this 
bill, in the territory we have acquired — I am constrained to 
say — I say it in sorrow — the bond of confidence which unites 
the two sections of the Union will be rent asunder, and years 
of alienation and unkindness may intervene before it can be 
restored, if ever, in its wonted tenacity and strength. Not 
that I have any present fears for the integrity of the Union. 
I have not. It is capable of sustaining far ruder shocks than 
any possible settlement of this question can give. But what 
I fear is that the current of reciprocal kindners and confidence 
which runs through every portion of the community, pervad- 
L— 15 




I ■' 




ing, refresliing, invigorating all, may be turned out of its 
course and forced into channels to which the common feeling 
is alien, and in which it may be converted into a fountain of 
bitterness and strife. I conjure you, tlien, to avoid all this. 
Ask us not to do what every principle we have been taught, 
and taught by your fathers, to venerate, condemns as unnatu- 
ral and unjust." 

Amid these painful discussions it is refreshing to turn to 
an address of a different character. I allude lO the speech, 
made March 21, 1848, on a proposition to abolish the mission 
to the Papal States. This measure was opposed by the Sena- 
tor from New York. His remarks were listened to with at- 
tention and interest, including as they did an account of the 
order and state of the Court of the Vatican, a summary of the 
history of the temporal power, and such a pleasant descrip- 
tion of the Eternal City, its Campagna, and ancient port, as 
an accomplished classical scholar would be expected to give. 
Pope Pius IX. had but recently begun his reign ; he was ad- 
mired and honored as a prince of liberal views and progres- 
sive tendencies ; it was in a spirit of great cordiality toward 
him, and of veneration for that branch of the Church of 
which he was the admired head, that this plea for a suitable 
representative near him was made; and the desired object 
was accomplished. 

I omit particular mention of other speeches made about 
this time, such as tliat on the California claims, March 29, 
1848 ; on the Yucatan bill, May 17, in the same year; and 
on trade with Canada, delivered several months later. It is 
time to proceed to the subject of the Free-soil movement in 

Silas "Wright was inaugurated Governor of the State of 
New York January 1, 1845. The reluctance with which he 
accepted that office was justified by the events which follow- 
ed. Ilis administration was embarrassed by a series of un- 
toward occurrences, in consequence of which, notwithstanding 



his abilities and honesty of purpose, he lost popularity. The 
anti-rent disturbances lost him the support of a part of the 
rural population, in consequence of the firmness with which 
he repressed the proceedings of the agrarians of that day, and 
maintained the cause of law and order in disaffected regions. 
His disapproval of the Canal Bill, though in accord with his 
well-known and unalterable convictions, alienated those who 
were in favor of large expenditure for internal improvements. 
More serious than either of these was the harm done by the 
quiet yet persistent opposition of the " Hunkers." Nor can 
it be doubted that the influence of the Government at Wash- 
ington was thrown against him in that critical hour. Gov- 
ernor Marcy was Secretary of War ; Samuel Nelson had just 
been appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United 
States ; Governor Bouck held one of the most influential 
GflUces in the city of New York — all these were members of 
that section of the party with which Governor Wright was 
not in sympathy. It was evident that he would be unable to 
maintain himself against an opposition of which the elements 
were so numerous, so varied, and so dangerous ; and, accord- 
ingly, it occasioned little surprise among intelligent observers 
of public affairs when, in the autumn of 1846, he was defeated 
by a majority of nearly 12,000 votes. 

Nothing can be imagined more admirable than the conduct 
of that great man under these trying circumstances. He re- 
turned at once to his beloved farm at Canton, and resumed, 
with apparent delight, the occupations of a rustic life. Visit- 
ors to that place have related how they found him at work in 
his fields, in the midst of his farm-hands, setting an example 
of industry and zeal which kept all about him up to their 
duty. His house M'as the shrine of many a pilgrimage ; and, 
as profound regret at the loss of such a man from the helm 
of affairs and the councils of the State took the place of a less 
honorable sentiment, his poijularity began to return. Already, 
as the time for the nomination of a President drew near, men 
were looking to him, as an illustrious representative of the 





principles and hereditary faith of the Democratic Republican 
part^ , in whose hands the country would be safe, no matter 
from what quarter the tempest might come. 

But it is not always possible for sinners to bring forth fruits 
meet for repentance, however earnestly disposed to do so, nor 
can the wrong and injustice done to noble citizens be always 
repaired. A higher power rules the affairs of states, and 
often cuts short the designs wliich men would fain carry into 
effect. The State Agricultural Fair was to be held at Saratoga 
Springs in the month of September, 184:7 ; Mr. Wright had 
consented to deliver the customary address on that occasion. 
The work of preparation was completed on the evening of 
the 26th of August. At ten o'clock on the following morn- 
ing he fell dead of disease of the heart. The news produced 
a profound impression. It was officially announced to the 
Legislature of the State ; it was brought to the notice of the 
United States Senate. The city of Albany appointed the day 
for the funeral, and, with the honors appropriate to great men, 
what remained on earth of that venerable and patriotic citi- 
zen was consigned to its last resting-place. 

The address wliich he had just completed was read at the 
opening of the Fair by General Dix, his faithful and devoted 
friend. Another duty in connection with that melancholy 
event devolved upon my father. Previous to Mr. Wright's 
death the merchants of the city of New York had ordered 
a magnificent service of plate to be presented to him in rec- 
ognition of his eminent worth, and of the benefits resulting to 
the public from his official conduct and private and personal 
example. The workmen had not yet completed it when he 
died. It Avas thereupon determined to present it to his wid- 
ow, which was done on the 18th of November. On that occa- 
sion Mr. John D. Yan Buren made an address ; and General 
Dix, on the part of Mrs. Wright, received in her name and 
acknowledged the splendid gift. 

Thus ended, for this world at least, a friendship of many 
years. On me, as a youth, it made a deep impression. I well 



in lie 
I occa- 


remember the man in "whom my father's faith was so strong, 
and to whom he was so warmly attached. Ever a welcome 
guest at our house, Mr. Wright was, when at a distance, in 
constant correspondence with us. I could appreciate the 
truth and sincerity of that friendship; I was too young to 
comprehend how great was the blow to my father and the 
men who stood with liim when the standard-bearer of their 
cause and exponent of their deepest convictions was thus 
suddenly taken from them. 

For now a critical movement was at hand, wherein no one 
knew what might occur. The next Presidential election was 
to be held in the autumn of 1848. The aggressive temper of 
the Southern statesmen, and their determination to extend if 
possible the area of slavery, had produced a deep uneasiness 
in many quarters, and in some directions a feeling of resent- 
ment and indignation. Evidently something formidable was 
in the air. 

Tlie trouble which resulted in the open rupture in the 
Democratic party in 1848 had been brewing for a long time. 
It seems probable that the administration heljoed to push mat- 
ters to a crisis by its treatment of the Barnburners and its thin- 
ly disguised sympathy with their opponents. Very early in 
President Polk's administration it became evident how mat- 
ters were likely to go. I have before me a letter addressed 
to General Dix, March 14, 1845, only ten days after the in- 
auguration. Speaking of the New York appointments, and 
referring particularly to a person for whom tlie writer would 
have secured the favor and influence of the Senator, he adds : 

" When I first heard of this, a month since, I thought there 
was much certainty of Mr. 's success. I did not antici- 
pate at that time that the present administration at Washing- 
ton was to be a mere elongation of the trading, time-serving, 
mongrel Tyler concern. I thouglit tliat President Polk would 
be desirous of having his administration stand out in alto-ri- 
lievo, separate from the past, and only provident of the good 
of the future. Eecent appearances, however, give mc other 

i m 

\ \ 



forebodings. To my vision it is hardly in lasso^ilievo. If 
the present and tlie future are to be a reproduction of the 
past, I do not desire that you should incur the humiliation 
for yourself or for me of asking anything for any friend of 



The use of the term " humiliation " in the preceding letter 
was apt, and amply justified by facts. General Dix, as repre- 
sentative of the State of New York in the Senate, and expo- 
nent of the old Democratic traditions, had a right to be heard 
on the subject of the appointments. But, though there was 
an apparent desire to oblige him and to defer to his wishes, 
yet it seems clear that he was wilfully and constantly de- 
ceived. Assurances were held out to him that Mr. Jonathan 
I. Coddington should be appointed Collector of the Port, that 
Mr. riagg should go into the Treasury, and that Mr. Benton's 
plan of annexation should be adopted. Not one of these prom- 
ises was fulfilled, nor is it likely that there was any intention 
of fulfilling them. The course pursued toward him was re- 
garded as one of duplicity. My father, honest himself, relied 
on the honesty of other men, and on this occasion, as on oth- 
ers in the course of his life, allowed himself to bo deceived. 
But his disgust and indignation were great when he discov- 
ered that he had been cheated. Among his letters are two 
addressed to President Polk, which express, in dignified 
terms, his sense of the arts practised at "Washington, and 
imply that the government had broken faith with him and 
cajoled him by what looked like deliberate falsehoods. The 
sense of these wrongs burnt in the breasts of many of the 
old-line Democrats. Mr. Flagg, referring to the new cabinet, 
writes, March 5, in a somewhat desponding tone : 

" The President will have a hard time in restoring the Sub- 
treasury with agents who were opposed to it in 1837 and 
probably now. But we have learned to bear gi'ief by being 
schooled in adversity ; if the President gives us sound princi- 
ples, we can get along." 

But that was the question : whether the government would 



bo administered on sound principles. There is no doubt what 
the men of the school of Flagg, Wright, and Dix understood 
by those words. There is a paper, without date, but evidently 
written about this time ; I transcribe it just as I find it, since 
it seems to bo a summary of my father's political credo. It 
is endorsed by him "Democuatio Points," and it runs as 
follows : 

" 1. A strict construction of the Constitution of the United 
States ; 

" 2. Unyielding opposition, in every constitutional mode, to 
all encroachment on the reserved rights of the States ; 

" 3. The receipt and disbursement of the revenue in gold 
and silver, and the custody of the public money without the 
agency of banks ; 

" 4. The full and complete payment of the public debt at 
the earliest practicaW ^ day ; 

"5. Eetrenchment .i the public expenditure, and a rigid 
economy of our resourcv>8 ; 

"6. A curtailment of the patronage of the Federal Gov- 
ernment ; 

" 7. A tariff for revenue, to defray the necessary expenses 
of the government ; 

" 8. AjDpropriations of money from the public treasury for 
the improvement of rivers and harbors, to be confined to such 
as are general in their character; and no more than one new 
work to bo provided for in the same bill ; 

" 9. A graduation and reduction in the price of the public 
lands ; 

"10. No interference by Congress with slavery where it 
exists ; and 

" 11. Absolute prohibition of slavery in the Territories of 
the United States where it docs not exist." 

This was their creed in those days ; and this, according to 
their idea, was the old faith of the party to which they were 
devoted, and of which they were the consistent represent- 

: n 

i 'I 



Year by year matters grew worfic, till the time came to 
nominate for the elections of 1848. That year is one of tho 
most perplexing in American political history. A review of 
the steps successively taken with reference to the questions 
then agitating the country throws light on the position of 
General Dix in the Free-soil movemLMit, and shows to what 
extent he approved of it, and at what point ho lost confidence 
in it ; for it ia evident, from his correspondence, that ho re- 
garded it, in the form which it ultimately assumed, as a gravo 
if not a fatal blunder, and would have withdrawn from it if 
he could have done so. The course of events may be traced 
by observing the conventions held about that time. These 
I shall note in order: 

(«) The State Democratic Convention was held at Syra- 
cuse, September 29, 1847. Its session was stormy, lasting till 
October .'?. Both sections of the party were represented. A 
split took place before the adjournment, owing to the refusal 
of the majority to adopt resolutions sustaining the Wilmot 
Proviso. The Hunkers retained the control ; while the Barn- 
burners announced their dissatisfaction with the proceedings, 
and their refusal to accept them as a true index of Demo- 
cratic sentiment. 

(J) The Barnlmrners, thus outnumbered at Syracuse, met 
soon after at Herkimer, and then adjourned, after making 
arrangements to hold a convention of their own in the month 
of February following. 

(c) A convention was held at Albany, January 2G, 1848. 
It was composed exclusively of the Hunker wing. It ap- 
pointed a full delegation to represent the Democracy of the 
State of New York iu the National Convention, which was to 
meet in May. 

{d) The Barnburners next held a convention at ITticn 
ruory 16. They also appointed a full delegation ^'> J)ni 
and claimed, as the Hunkers had done, to be tl 
racy of the State. 

{e) The National Democratic Convention met at Balti loro, 

■ \ 






IVfuy 24. Both of the New York delegations presented tliem- 
selves, offered their credentials, and demanded seats. It was 
resolved to admit both, but on condition that the vote of the 
State should be divided ])etwecn them. To this the liarn- 
burners would not consent; they were farther irritated by 
the refusal of the convention to pledge the Democratic party 
and its candi<late8 to resist the extension of slavery. They 
withdrew ; and the convention, having nominated Lewis 
Cass of IMichigan, and AVilliam O. Butler of Kentucky, ad- 

The action of the National Democratic Convention was the 
signal for a violent agitation in the State of New York. On 
the reception of the news the Bai'nburners called meetings at 
Albany and New York, to express the feelings of the " Iladi- 
cal Democracy." At these meetings the proceedings at Balti- 
more were denounced; support to the nominations was re- 
fused, on the ground that the party had not been fully repre- 
sented, and that the nominations were, in consequence, irregu- 
lar ; and it was declared that regular Democratic nominations 
had yet to be made. Under these circumstances another con- 
vention was called. 

{f) It met at Utica on the 22d of June. It was composed 
exclusively of Democrats who were dissatisfied with the action 
of the National Convention, and hostile to its candidates. The 
question first to be settled was, what should be done ; on that 
men differed greatly ; some advising, or rather insisting, that 
new nominations should be made ; others, more moderate in 
their views, considering that it would be unwise and inexpe- 
dient to proceed to a measure so extreme. This was the view 
of General Dix, and for it he was roundly abused by his ex- 
cited friends ; it was also the view of Mr. Van Buren, the 
most sagacious of Democratic leaders. But men of moderate 
counsels were overborne in the excitement of the hour, as may 
be seen in the following letter from Mr. Van Buren, from 
which it appears that his judgment was against the proposed 
action, and that he had been compelled to yield : 





P? iV 



" Stuyvesant, June 20, 1848. 

" My dear Sir, — In a private letter written by me to our friend Colonel 
Benton I intimated a concurrence with him and j'ourself in an opinion 
adverse to a national nomination at Utica, at the same time informing 
him that it was by no means certain that an opposite course would not 
be pursued. The exhibition of a desire to nominate has since appeared 
so universal with the Radical Democracy of the State, and the reasons 
assigned in favor of it so strong, as to satisfy me that I ought not to ad- 
vise against it, and it is quite certain that a nomination will be made. 
Application has been made to me for permission to use my name, which 
I have declined to give, on the ground that I have long since retired 
from public life, with the tacit approbation of my friends, and I am re- 
Folved never again to be a candidate for public ofHce. Finding a strong 
desire to nominate you, and a very groat degree of sensibility upon the 
subject, it has occurred to me as possililc, tliough not probable, that my 
letter to the Colonel, which ho was authorized to show to you, might in 
some degree influence your opinion. I therefore write you this letter, 
which will, I understand, come to you in person, to communicate by tele- 
graph with the Convention, if there sliould happen to be any ground 
for my apprehension. 

"There is an unusual degree of animation in the Party, and I have 
no doubt that the Radical Democracy of this State will rally in favor 
of the Utica proceedings with great uuauimity and power. With kind 
regards to Mrs. Dix, 

" Very respectfully and truly youra, M. Van Buren. 

"Gcnl. Jno. A. Dix." 

The views of General Dix on the subject of separate nomi- 
nations were well understood; he took no pains to conceal 
them ; he disapproved of what his political friends were bent 
on doing ; he declined to be tlie opposition candidate for the 
Presidency. But the convention represented a movement 
which could not be stopped at that hour ; and the result was 
that they nominated Martin Van Buren, and Henry Dodge, 
of Wisconsin, as the candidates of " the Radical Democracy." 
Having accomplished this, tlie convention adjourned ; but 
Mr. Dodge declined the nomination, and thus their work was 
left incomplete, and their design partially frustrated, as they 
remained without any candidate for tlie Vice - Presidency 
whom they would regard as having been regularly nominated. 
















This unfortunate and unexpected position must be borne in 
mind in connection with what followed. 

Thus far the quarrel in the Democratic party was strictly 
a family dispute ; no outsiders had as yet been drawn in, and 
therefore the alienation was not altogether hopeless. 

A meeting was held at New York, July 18, to ratify the 
nominations of the Radical Democracy. General Dix was 
not present ; he wrote a letter, however, giving his adhesion 
to the movement at the stage which it had then reached. It 
will be observed that he mentions Mr. Van Buren only, Mr. 
Dodge's name having been withdrawn : 

«' Washington, July 17, 1848. 

" Gentlemen, — I received some days ago your favor of the 7th iustant 
inviting mc to attend and address a meeting of tlie Democracy of the 
city of New York in the Park, on the 18th instant, 'for tne purpose of 
ratifying the nomination of Martin Van Buren for the Presidency, and 
of contributing to the extension of free soil and the perpetuation of free 

" I have deferred answering your favor to the latest practicable mo- 
ment from a desire to accept the invitation, if in my power, without neg- 
lecting my public duties. But I find it impossible. Important subjects 
of legislation press on both Houses of Congress ; and I may at any mo- 
ment be required to vote on some one of them. 

" In respect to the great question on which so deep an interest is felt 
by yourselves and those you represent, I have so recently exiircssed my 
opinion in the most public manner that any farther annunciation of it 
would be superfluous. It accords entirely with your own ; and much as 
I desire to see this distracting question settled, 1 cannot advocate or 
acquiesce in any adjustment by which slavery will be planted wh'jre it 
does not now exist. 

"So long as there was a possibility of maintaining the integrity of the 
Democratic party in New York, without submitting to a sacrifice of prin- 
ciple, my eflbrts were directed, in every proper way, to the restoration of 
harmony. Events too clearly indicate the hopelessness of its reunion. 
Under such circumstances I cannot hesitate an instant as to the course 
of propriety and duty. From the Radical Democracy of New York I 
cannot sepai-ate ; their principles and measures are those for the main- 
tenance of which I have contended, side by side, witli them in the politi- 
cal field from the moment I entered It. To introduce and preserve a 


i' \ 

t ^\i 










rigid economy in the public expenditure ; to curtail the i)atronage of 
the Federal Government, or, in otlier words, to diffuse political power 
and not to centralize it; to liberate industry under all its forms from 
useless and ojipressive restraints ; to narrow the sphere of monopoly and 
exclusive privilege; to uphold the rights office labor; to maintain with 
fidelity and good faith all the compromises of the Constitution, by ab- 
staining from every species of interference witli the domestic concerns 
and relations of the people of the States, and at the same time to resist 
the extension of slavery to those portions of the territory of the United 
States in which it does not exist, and especially where it is prohibited — 
these are the great issues presented by the position you have taken, I 
shall contribute my humble efforts to maintain it, satisfied as I am that 
the public honor and prosperity are alike involved m your success. 

"I have never considered the Democracy of New York bound by the 
nominations at Baltimore, No portion of the Democracy of the Union 
can be committed to the support of proceedings in which it has had no 
part, or to a participation in which it has been admitted in such a manner 
as to deprive it of all influence upon the result. I have, therefore, deemed 
it a matter of entire discretion with the Radical Democracy of New York 
how far they should acquiesce in the proceedings referred to. They 
have deemed it due to their own rights to make a separate nomination, 
and thus to sustain their delegates in the firm, manly, and dignified 
course by which they disconnected themselves from the Baltimore Con- 
vention. That nomination I shall support, as tlie one best in accordance 
with the principles and issues I have alluded to, and the only one by 
which they can be fully vindicated, 

" Of the talents, firmness, moderation, private worth, and public ser- 
vices of Mr. Van Buren, and his great experience in the affairs of govern- 
ment, no one can entertain a higher opinion than myself; and I shall 
give him my support, cheerfully and cordially, as the standard-bearer of 
the New York Democracy in a great contest for principle, and as a states- 
man who has graced every official position he has occupied in the ser- 
vice of his country, and none more than the highest. 

" I am, very respectfully, your fellow-citizen, 

" John A. Dix. 
" Messrs. JouN CocnuAN, 

Eugene Casseult, 

Clement Guion, 

James Pattison, \ Committee," 

Isaac V. Fowler, 

Andrew Caruigain, 

Gabriel Uarrison, 

1845-1853.] A NEW THING— THE ''FREE-SOIL PARTY » 237 

I have already observed that the trouble in the Democratic 
camp amounted, thus far, to no more than a very angry do- 
mestic quarrel. In going with his old associates General Dix 
had done nothing inconsistent cither with his political convic- 
tions or with his position as a life-long Democrat. But the 
time was at hand when "strangers and aliens" were to be- 
come involved in the dispute, making matters a hundred-fold 

{g) The next convention to be noted was that which met 
at Philadelphia, June 7. This was the National Conv^ention 
of the Whig party. The question of slavery came up, as it 
had done in the National Democratic Convention, and again 
it led to a rupture, through the refusal of the majority to 
adopt resolutions against the extension of the peculiar insti- 
tution of the South. General Taylor, " the hero of Buena 
Vista," was nominated for President, and Millard Fillmore 
of New York for Vice-President ; but the nominations were 
disapproved by a portion of the party, and a secession took 

(A) A convention next assembled at Buffalo. It was called 
by the seceders from the Whig National Convention, who 
were unwilling to support the Philadelphia candidates. Pre- 
viously to this time the moderate Abolitionists, then styl- 
ing themselves the "Liberty Party," had made their nomi- 
nations ; and it seems that at this juncture a scheme was 
set afoot to fuse, if possible, the Liberty Party, the Whig 
seceders, and the Democratic " Barnburners," so as to bring 
their united strength to bear in the approaching election. 
Into this ingeniously contrived trap some of the leaders of 
the "Radical Democracy" fell, and the result was seen in 
the formation of a new thing, the "Free -soil Party," com- 
posed of heterogeneous elements, and constituting a transi- 
tion tc something else which was to come of it in later years. 

{i) A convention next assembled at Buffalo, August 9, 
Tliis was the outcome of the scheme already referred to — a 
fusion convention, composed of all the elements that were 




r I' 

! i 

1 .i 

hostile to the extension of slavery. There were delegates 
from every free State, and also from Delaware, Maryland, 
Virginia, and the District of Columbia— these latter represent- 
ing those who, though residing in slave-holding States, held 
the old views on the subject, and desired its peaceful and 
final extinction. Salmon P. Chase of Ohio was chosen pre- 
siding officer of that remarkable assemblage. Preston King, 
of the House of Representatives, John Van Buren, and Benja- 
min F. Butler of New York, i^rominent members of the Radi- 
cal Democracy, were there ; while Nathaniel Sawyer of Ohio, 
Governor Briggs, and Charles ± . Adams of Massachusetts, 
represented the AVhig party in its deliberations. Joshua R. 
Giddings and Frederick Douglass, abolitionists of the extreme 
type, struck hands with the rest, and added to the motley as- 
pect of that incongruous assemblage. With a view to unite 
the largest possible number in support of the candidates to 
be brought forward, it was thought essential that they should 
be representatives of both the great parties ; and as the Radical 
Democracy had alreadj'' a candidate for the Presidency, but 
none for the Vice-Presidency, the course of the convention 
seemed clear. Martin Van Buren, the nominee of the New 
York malcontents, was nominated for the Presidency, and 
Charles Francis Adams of Massachusetts, an eminent AVhig 
politician and statesman, for the Vice-Presidency. And then 
the convention adjourned. 

It was a strange combination, that of a New York "Barn- 
burner" and a Massachusetts " Conscience-AVhig."* 

(k) Fiiuilly, another convention was held at TTtica, Sep- 
tember 14. This, the last which I have occasion to mention, 
was actually a " Free-soil," or Democratic, Convention, but 
it united all the elements that had assisted at Buffalo on 


, *l. 


\\ I; 


* The love of grotcsqv • names seems to be a passion in American poli- 
tics. We read of "Buck lails," "Barnburners," "Old Iluni'ers," "Con- 
scicnce-Wliigs," " Cotton-Wliigs," "Silver Grays," " Loco-focos," "Cop- 
per heads," and now of " Stalwarts " and " Ilalf-brceds." 

i I- 



the 9tli of August. It ratified the nomination of Mr. Van 
Buren and Mr. Adams ; it proceeded, farther, to nominate 
a candidate for the ofiice of Governor of the State of New 
York. The choice fell on General Dix : he was unable to re- 
sist the pressure, and submitted to the misfortune which had 
thus overtaken him. 

I have always felt great sympathy with my father in the 
trying position in which he was thus placed since I came to 
understand what it involved. He disapproved of the design 
of that section of the Democracy with whom he acted to 
make separate nominations, thinking it unwise and unneces- 
sary, and foreseeing that it would increase the difficulty of 
brinorinir about a reconciliation. But he must have regarded 
■with much greater concern the fusion of members of oppo- 
site parties who were divided on subjects regarded by him 
as of the utmost importance. That he, a Democrat of the 
old school, should find himself associated with gentlemen 
of the Whig party, from whom he differed on almost every 
point, whose political principles he had always opposed, and 
with whom he could never agree on questions of taxation, 
public works, finance. Constitutional interpretation, and State 
and national policy, was a painful and distressing surprise. 
He was willing, if it must be so, to go with his own section 
of the Democratic party, though deeming their course not 
the wisest. But when it came to alliance with Whigs and 
Abolitionists he lost all heart in the movement. This ac- 
counts for his strong expression in after -years on the sub- 
ject of the fusion in 1848, for the indefatigable zeal with 
which he labored to bring about a reunion of his own peo- 
ple in 1852, and for his strenuous efforts to justify himself 
from the charge of being an Abolitionist and false to his 
old faith. 

It will be asked, of course, why he yielded ; and to this tho 
reply is simple. lie was caught in a torrent wliich he could 
not stem ; he was also under personal and domestic influences 

Looking back to 



which it Avas impossible for him to resist. 




'.• ,(. 


ii ii, 

those clays, I frankly admit that I do not sec how he could 
have resisted. I will throw what light I can on this part of 
his life. lie was one of those men who arc never influenced 
by passion, hut follow the dictates of a sober judgment. lie 
was very cautious; prudent, perhaps, in some things, to a 
fault ; foresightcd, wise. The rash enthusiasm which hurries 
men forward with little or no reflection, leading them more 
frequently to derisory failure than to brilliant success, was 
not in him. Though he had the temper of self-sacrifice in 
perfection, he was not the man to commit political suicide 
without a distinct intellectual impression that the cause was 
worth the price. Hence he failed his eager and excited 
friends in the earlier stage of their proceedings in 1848. He 
"was vehei^icntly urged, before the Convention of the 23d of 
June, to allow himself to be nominated for the Presidency. 
He was assujcd that nine-tenths of the Radical Democracy of 
the State were convinced of the expediency and projiriety of 
making separate nominations, and that every hour strength- 
ened their convictions on that point ; that the nomination of 
Mr. Yan Burcn was out of the question ; that the thoughts of 
men were turning more and more toward him ; and that he 
must not withlold his consent to the use of his name. lie 
was threatened with the consequences of failing to throw him- 
self into the arcnr., and told that the man wha M'ould not " go 
with the masses in their triumphal progress would be trampled 
under foot." The letters of that date vary.* Some are calm 
and rational, but most of them are mere fire and fury. The 
writers seem, to have looked for no inuncdiate result beyond 

* I refer to private letters which pourccl in at that time. Tliere is one 
from Ward Hunt, of Utica, June 3 ; another from Bradford R, Wood, 
June 13; another from Benjamin F. Butler, June 16; another from 
T. M. Burt, of Kindcrhook, June 30 ; and finally a notable one frum 
myself, then a college student, in my twenty-first year. Of it I am now 
heartily ashamed, yet it shows the wild extravagance of the " Young 
America " of the day, as well as the feeling of the household in Bond 




the defeat of General Cass, wliose name, apparently, was 
odious to thcni ; yet the idea possessed them that tlie de- 
feated candidate of 1848 would undoubtedly be victor in 1852. 

No doubt General Dix saw through the cloud of decep- 
tions thus raised, and perceived the end of these fond exj^cc- 
tations. His reason could not have been convinced ; nor was 
it possible to intimidate him by threats, as some attempted to 
do. But he was very closely bound to his political friends, 
and devoted to them ; personal ties were even stronger than 
political, and he could not have broken oil his intimate rela- 
tions without great pain. Added to this, hoM'cver, Avas the 
fact that Mr. Morgan, liis father-in-law — to whom he was in- 
debted for a constant sympathy, a generous assistance, and an 
affectionate devotion — was committed to the movement, and 
intensely interested, or rather violently excited, on the sub- 
ject. Mr. Van Burcn and Mr. Morgan were on terms of the 
closest intimacy ; the cx-Prcsident and he were warm friends ; 
while it was to Mr. Morgan that my father owed the means 
of releasing him from army life, of t;?;tablishing him in his 
profession as a lawyer, of enabling him to maintain his fam- 
ily in comfort and ease while out of public office, and of in- 
numerable advantages enjoyed by him in the varied experi- 
ences of his career. AVhen all these circumstances are taken 
into consideration it will be better understood how hopelessly 
my father was involved in a movement Avhich his judgment 
disapproved, and under what peculiar j)ressure he yielded to 
what must have sounded to him like the mandate of a domi- 
nant and irresistible fate. I see not how he could have done 
otherwise without the risk of trials from which a man of 
sensibility instinctively shrinks, and in which others more 
dear to him than himself are sure to become involved. The 
sentiments which actuated him were such as no good man 
need be ashamed of ; the guiding motive was self-sacrifice. 

Tlie Southern ]>(>litielaus never forgave General Dix. For 
this I do not blame them ; but they deserve censure for their 
systematic misrepresentation of Ids motives and his principles. 
L— IG 





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I may add that Xorthcrn men of the Democratic party, jeal- 
ous of him, and determined to remove him from the field, 
were equally unscrupulous in their attacks on him based on 
his connection with the Free -soil movement. Tlie policy 
of revenge was pursued with success, under administrations 
which trembled at the thouijht of losing the confidonco of the 
slave-holding leaders and tlie vote of the South. Of this a 
striking illustration will be given in the proper place. 

But let me leave this scene of strife and turn to more re- 
freshing subjects. It was fortunate that, during the years of 
prolonged excitement and continuous labor in the Senate, 
General iJix found rest and refreshment in the summers spent 
at East Hampton, on Long Island. Ileiwrts of the charms of 
the climate and the rural beauty of the place induced him to 
go there. It was not easy at that time to reach the sequester- 
ed village. A tedious railroad took us to Grccnport : there 
we were obliged to secure a couple of small sail-boats, one for 
ourselves, the other for the luggage ; and in these we made a 
voyage of uncertain length round Shelter Island to Sag Har- 
bor. Thence, by stage, we proceeded to the quaint and se- 
cluded settlement which was the object of our quest. It was 
well worth seeing. It has changed but little since that time ; 
there is the same village street^ a mile long, having at each 
end a windmill, a goose-pond, and a graveyard ; there are the 
same brown, weather-beaten houses, shaded by rows of stately 
trees ; but in the year 1846, when we first went there, its look 
was somewhat more venerable than it is now, as became what 
was almost a terra incognita. It was originally settled by peo- 
ple from Kent, in England, and at that time M'ords and j^hrases 
were in use among the villagers and country folk which were 
heard nowhere else in the world save in Kent. The General 
passed his sunnners al)out a mile and a half from the village, 
at a house kept by an Englishman named Candy. The handet, 
still known as Appaquogue, consists of one or two dwellings 
at one end of Georgica Pond, a great sheet of water which, at 
its lower edge, almost touches the ocean, being divided from it 




by a mere strip of sand Leach. Every siiniiner it was our cus- 
tom to proceed, with spades and shovels, to that link between 
the fresh-water pond and the sea .ind cut a trench through it 
some five feet wide. When once the inland waters began 
to flow into this little canal it took but a short time to tear 
through the beach, and then they rushed with prodigious 
force, like a broad river, to the main, and the pond, disappear- 
ing, left in its place, for some four or five weeks, a broad ex- 
panse of sandy shallows and sedge. On these immense flocks 
of birds would alight on their passage westward ; and tlicre 
the General found ample field for his favorite pastime of gun- 
ning. There were few sportsmen in that region ; ho enjoyed 
a practical monopoly of the game, and his delight was im- 
mense, lie spent his whole time, day after day and week 
after week, in the fresh, pure air, surrounded by his decoys, 
which he carved and painted with his own hand, and aided 
by us, his boys, whom he trained to love the open life and 
to help him in his work. lie was an unerring shot ; it 
was certain death to any bird to come within range of his 

The General added many years to his life by his habit of 
spending his summers in the open air, and wading about all 
day barefoot on the sand-flats and sea-beaches of the southern 
shore of Long Island. Thus he spent three or four successive 
summers near East Hampton. Later (in 1855) he went to 
Quogue, and passed six or seven seasons there ; at last, in 
1870, he purchased land at AVest Hampton, built a large house 
on it, and was a resident of the town of South Hampton, in the 
county of Suffolk, at the time of his death. He loved Long 
Island, its scener}', its climate, and its quiet, simjilo ways ; he 
wished himself back there when away from it. Through the 
winter he made occasional visits to his place, " Scafield ;" as 
soon as possible in the early summer he went thither, and 
left it late in the autumn, returning reluctantly to the city. 
This will not appear strange to any who have felt the fasci- 
nation of that region of the Hamptons. 

' ;l 

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■' » 

; I* ■ ■ 

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For I question whether tliere can bo found on the Atlantic 
coast of America a summer climate so a^reeal)le as that which 
one reaches by goin^ some seventy miles eastward of New 
York on the Long Ishind ^ lilroad. The prcvaiHng summer 
wind ah)ng our seaboard is tiie soutli-west ; but, as tlie coast 
trends from soutli-west to nortli-east, it is obvious that the 
south-west must be a hot wind along the shore, coming as it 
does from the torrid plains and bayous of the South. But 
that odd -looking, fish-shaped ])iece of outlying sea-beach, 
known on the maps as " Long Island," thrusts forth at a bold 
angle from the general line of the coast. Montauk Point is 
really about one hundred and thirty miles out at sea ; and the 
breeze which blows from the heated land on the dwellers along 
the Jersey shore is a pure sea-breeze at the more fortunate 
Hamptons. The thermometer sometimes stands, with very 
slight variation, for weeks together at a pleasant summer heat, 
while the wind from the deep water fills the land with fresh- 
ness, and at evening proves almost too cool. Such is the cli- 
mate; the scenery is as peculiar in its way. As flat almost 
as Holland, the fields stretch to the low horizon, leaving a 
full dome of sky unbroken on its entire circle, save by the 
pine and oak forests inland, and, oceanward, by picturescpie 
sand-dunes, which stand as nature's ramparts between us and 
the M'hite surf on the beach. Nowhere else have I seen 
such skies, such thunder-storms, such sunsets, such auroras, 
such display of stars — the. panorama of the heavens is shown 
on an absolutely unobstructed field. Nor, in the way of color, 
could the artist ask for aught more delicious than the varied 
greens of the great meadows of salt -grass, and the rustling 
mantle of the dunes, where the strong stalks of an incom- 
prehensible vegetation whistle in the breeze, leaving us ever 
in doubt on what they thrive as they do. And out beyond 
lies the immeasurable sea, rolling to the far horizon and 
thence till its waters strike the other side of the world, and 
beating its incessant music on the white sand, with a roar 
which reminds me of nothing so much as the cadence of 

r! ! 

; i v!l i 

1 1 ! 

\ !i 


the ancient Gregorian chanting wliich I liavo heard, swelling 
out and dying away, in the aisles of Santa Maria del Fiore at 
Florence, and in other churches of the Old AVorld ; a music 
of which some one well said, when hearing the objection that 
it had no tiiyie, and could not be counted off by bai*8 : " Of 
course there is no time in it, for it is not the music of time, 
but of eternity." 

It was the summer of 1848. Congress sat on and on, in 
the terrible heat at Wasliington, until at length the adjourn- 
ment released those weary men and gave them a breathing- 
spell. "With what eagerness my father hastened to his sum- 
mer quarters at East Hampton may be inuigined. The reason 
was one of unusual interest to him in more ways than one. 
It was at that time that his eldest son, having completed the 
course at Columbia College, in the city of New York, was 
graduated from that venerable institution by the President, 
Nathaniel F. Moore, one of the most accomplished scholars 
and gentlemen that ever filled that post. The commence- 
ment exercises were held in a dismal and ugly Methodist 
meeting-house in Greene Street, near Grand, wherein were 
gathered many of the elite of the day ; and strange was the 
contrast between the dingy edilice and the radiant hues of 
the beauty and fashion which then, perhaps for the first and 
last time, lit up its dust and dimness. It fell to my lot, by 
the rule of the college, to deliver the Greek salutatory — an 
honor wliich brought care with it, as mos'„ honors do ; yet I 
found a certain satisfaction on that occasion in descril)ing to 
the audience, in a tongue to them unknown, the absurdity of 
their appearance as they sat listening, with an air of interest 
and an affectation of intelligence, to a discourse of which it 
was impossible for one of them to gather the purport. Pro- 
fessor Charles Anthon, the official critic of the Greek and 
Latin oratory, smiled grimly as he read my manuscript, but 
kindly permitted me to give it as it stood, cpiite sure that 
few, if any, of the audience would be the wiser. 

Among the companions of that summer at East Hampton 



— the last wo spent there — was Colonel Dix. lie had re- 
ceived liirt brevet for galhint and meritorious conduct at the 
battle of J3uena Vista, in whicii bloody en<i;a^einent he served 
as extra aidede-cauip to (leneral Taylor, as his letters, already 
given, relate. We never saw hini again, lie died of chol- 
era, on the 7th day of January following, at Wheeling, while 
crossing the Alleghany Mountains, on his way to Washington. 
The summer passed by and the autumn came on. The 
month of September brougi't with it the unwelcome nomina- 
tion to the office of Governor of the State. The General 
submitted to the inevitable. I give the correspondence on 
the subject between the Committee of the Convention at 
Utica and himself: 

" utica, September 14, 1843. 
"lion. John A. Dix: 

"In belmlf of the Free -soil Democratic Convention of the State of 
New York, now in session liere, whose Committee we are for tliat pur- 
pose, we would respectfully communicate to you that said Convention 
have, by acclamation, nominated you, as the candidate of the free De- 
mocracy of the State of New York, for the office of Governor, and ask 
your acceptance thereof. 

" Your unyielding advocacy of human freedom, efficient opposition to 
the extension of slavery over the Territories, in the United States Senate, 
and long, faithful public services, have emphatically pointed you out as 
the man upon whom the hearts of the virtuous and the good concentrate, 
and around whom the Democracy cluster, as most worthy to be their 
standard-bearer in the contest for free soil, free labor, free men, and free 
speech, with New York's favorite son, ^lartin Van Buren ; and your ac- 
ceptance will be hailed by thousands as a sure harbinger of victory. 
" Yours we are, very respectfully, 

" Edoau C. Dibble, 

R. P. WlSNEH, 

IIeniiy B. Stanton, 
H. W. Sage, 

G. A. GUANT." 

"East Hampton, September 21, 1S48. 
" Gentlemen, — On my return to this place last evening, after an ab- 
sence of a few days, I found your favor of the 14th inst., informing me 
of my nomination for the office of Governor of this State by the Free-soil 


ig me 

Democnitic Convention, then in session ftt Utica. Tliis conimiuiicatlon 
WU8 entirely unexpected, no intinuition Iiaving been made to me, from 
any qiiuitcT, tliat tlic intention of putting mc in nomination for tliat liigli 
antl responsible trust was entertained. If I had been aj)prise(l of it I 
should have endeavored to satisfy the political friends who have thus 
honored mc with their contldenco that the great interests at stake would 
have been better promoted by conferring the nomination on some one 
more worthy to receive it than myself IJut, as it has been their pleasure 
to act without consultation with me, I submit myself to their better 
judgment by responding with cheerfulness and promptitude to their 
call. Holding an offlco under the authority of the State, I acknowledge 
the right of those who were chiefly instrumental in conferring it on me 
to nominate me for any other whenever they think proper to do so; and 
I deem it my duty to accede to their wishes without regard to my own. 
" Whatever objection, arising from considerations personal to myself, I 
might have, under ordinary circumstances, to a nomination for an offlco 
the honor of wiiich no one appreciates more highly than I do, all such 
objection is outweighed by the public considerations in view of which 
it is now presented to me. The State of New York, though not the first, 
Avas among the earliest of the thirteen States Avhich have, through legis- 
lative instructions to their Senators and Representatives in Congress, de- 
clared themselves opposed to the farther extension of slavery. Her reso- 
lutions were i)rcsented to the Senate of the United States in the early 
part of February, 1847, and during the same month I supported them in 
that body to the best of my ability in a speech setting forth at large the 
grounds on which New York and her associates, then eleven in number, 
among the free States, had placed themselves in opposition to the exten- 
sion of slavery into Territories in which it doi!s noh exist. I also endeav- 
ored to show that this course, which they deemed enjoined upon them 
by the highest considerations of patriotism and humanity, was in strict 
accordance with all their obligations and duties to their sister States. 
These positions I have labored to defend, whenever practical questions 
involving them have come before the Senate, in a manner which, while it 
did full justice to the States assuming them, could not reasonably be 
complained of as offensive to those who differed with us in opinion. 
Regarding the nomination which has been conferred on mc as an ap- 
l)roval of this part of my public service in the Senate, it is received as a 
gratifying token of the confidence of those you represent. And now, 
when the ground in favor of freedom in the Territories, assumed by thir- 
teen of the sovereign States of the Union (and one of them a slave-hold- 
ing State), is both openly and covertly assailed — the ground taken more 
than half a century ago by "Washington, Oeflferson, Franklin, Madison, 


f » 

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f- 1 

lil 1 

iiml ^ 




Miison, Randolph, Hancock, Adams, and others among the founders of 
the Republic — as the use of my name has been deemed material to sus- 
tain the position of New York in rcsi)ect to a principle, on the main- 
tenance of which the honor and the rrosperity of the country depend, it 
is, on my part, freely yielded, though with the apprehension that undue 
importance may have been attached to it. 

" With my thanks for the kind manner in which the result of the 
proceedings of the Convention has boeu communicated to me, I am. 

Gentlemen, very respectfully, 

"Your obedient servant. 

" Joiix \. Dix. 

"Messrs. Edgar C. Dibble, 

It. P. WiSNEK, , 

IIenky B. Stanton, 
U. A. Grant, 
II. W. Sage, 


The result of the fall elections was wliat General Dix had 
expected. The Free - soil candidates were defeated : Mr. Van 
Buren did not receive a single electoral vote. General Tay- 
lor became President ; Hamilton Fish, Governor of Kew 
York. The official canvass shows tlio feeling of the people 
of this State as expressed by tlicir ballots. I give it below.* 

* The Albany Argus gives the aggregate of tlie official vote for Gov- 
ernor in all the counties of the State, which we compare with the vote 
for Presidential okctors, as follows : 

Fish 218,016 

Walworth 110,019 

Dix 122,r)8;3 

Total 457,318 


Taylor 210,551 

Cass 114,593 

Van Buren 120,519 

Total ,. . 453,063 

E.vcess of votes for Governor, exclusive of scattering votes, 352G, viz. : 

Fish, more than Taylor 05 

Walworth, more than Cass 1,427 

Dix, more than Van Buren 2,004 

Total 3,550 

Fish's plurality over Wahvorth, 102,597 ; over Dix, 96,033 ; Walworth 
and Dix over Fish, 19,980. it should be observed t'.iat Mr. Di.v received 
nbout 3500 p,uti-rcnt votes, which were withheld from Mr. Fisii. 






iz. : 


I spent the winter of 1848-'49 in 'W"asliin<^ton. It was my 
father's last year in tlie Senate. His residence was on C 
Street ; Colonel Benton, his intimate personal friend, was his 
near neighbor, hut two or three houses away. Opposite us 
lived Senator Eagley, and near him Mr. Philip Barton Key 
and his beautiful wife. Nothing could be more delightful 
than the society of Washington at that time to one able to 
enjoy the lazy, listless, easy existence led by the families of 
prominent officials or pleasure-seekers at the capital. Tlierc 
M'as, and probably still is, a certain indefinable charm in the 
place, due in part to temperate climate and agreeable air, and 
in part to the intermingling of cultivated persons from all 
parts of our country, officers in the military and naval service, 
and a select foreign society in the Diplonuitic Corps. Presi- 
dent Polk and his very agreeable wife were at the White 
House. Tlie Vice-President, Mr. George M. Dallas, was a 
picture to look upon, tall and commanding, with snowy white 
hair, a florid visage, and aristocratic bearing. On the square, 
not far from the Executive Mansion, the venerable Mrs. JVEad- 
ison held her court, conspicuous for her anti(piated costume, 
her ' [»otlePs turban, and her rigid observance of the maimers 
of the olden time. Next door to her lived my father's old 
friend, Benjamin Ogle Tayloe, occupying one of those ample 
and comfortable houses wherein one feek instantly at home. 
The families of General Totten, of the Engineers, Commodore 
Morris, of the navy, and other ofiicers, were represented at the 
balls and receptions by lovely young women in the full bloom 
of their charms. M. de Bodisco was Russian Minister; his 
wife, an American lady, celebrated not less for her beauty 
than for her virtues. Colonel Benton's daughter Jes.sio, the 
young wife of the brillianl soldier Fremont, himself a kind 
of idol among us ai that day, shone radiantly in the galaxy. 

I remember tiie picturesque mansion "Kalorama," which 
overlooked the city from a wooded ridge; and "Arlington;" 
and \\i(i fetes given in those and other stately houses, destined, 
alas! in time to put oil their glory and gather up grime and 

<■.': i i 


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gloom in tlio years of the Civil "War. I recollect a long drive 
to Mount Vernon over an intolerable corduroy road ; our cor- 
dial reception by Mr Washington, and the dinner to which I 
was hosjiitably invited, with other guests. That winter was 
full of excitement and interest. One administration was pre- 
paring its departure, another was coming ; the city was agog 
with leave-takings and welcomes. Grulf old Zachary Taylor 
was coming in March ; and a ball was in preparation to relieve 
the official severities of the Inauguration with a background 
of gleaming dresses, and a whirl of mazy dances, and nmsic 
and revelry. Tlicse things go on, no doubt, to-day, as they 
have ever gone, though the actors change and vanish, and one 
generation passes away and another takes its place ; and we, 
who sec them in the far past, greet the image of those van- 
ished hours and are glad of the brief pleasures tasted in this 
care-burdened life. 

"With the ending of that administration came also the end 
of my father's service in the Senate. His last speech was 
made February 28, 1849, three days before the adjournment 
of Congress. The question before tlie Senate, presented in 
a variety of forms, was the institution of governments for th^ 
Territories recently acquired from Mexico, a question embar- 
rassed throughout by the determination of the Senators from 
the slave States to extend slavery to those Territories, and by 
a majority of the Senators from the free States to guard, by 
an express prohibition, against wliat tlicy deemed a moral and 
political evil, and tlie national dishonor of restoring it Nvhere 
it had been formally abclisliod. 

General Dix's argument was against the proposed adinis- 
sion of California and New Mexico into the T^nion as a State, 
and against the conferring of extraordinary powers upon the 
President to govern them as a Territory. lie regarded them 
as wholly unfit in their actual condition to be taken into the 
Union with the rights and powers of States; he also consid- 
ered the proposition to arm the President witli despotic pow- 
ers ?s utterly 'ndefensible : his wish was that Territorial gov- 



ernments should be organized for California and New Mexi- 
co, and that the act establishing such governments should 
contain ii prohibition of slavery. Tlie speech gives a brief 
and interesting summary of the history of slavery in the 
American Colonies and the United States, from t]>e year 
1620 down to 1808, when the slave-trade was abolished by 
Congress. The views of General Dix upon the subject are 
presented with a force and clearness which ought to have ren- 
dered it impossible to mistake his position. By way of an ap- 
propriate conclusion to this review of his services in the Sen- 
ate, I give, in full, the peroration of this his last address to 
that distinguished body. Having completed his argument, 
he brought his remarks to an end in l.iCsc words : 




"Mr. President, two years ago, when 1 first addressed the 
Senate upon this subject, under the instructions of the Stat'> 
of New York, I said that by no instrumentality of hers should 
slavery be carried into any portion of this continent which is 
free. I repeat the declaration now : by no act, by no acqui- 
escence of hers, shall slavery be carried where it does not 
exist. I said, at the same time, that in whatever manner the 
(piestion should be settled, if it should be decided against 
her views of justice and riglit, her devotion to the Union and 
to her sister States should remain unshaken and unimpaired. 
Sj)eaking in her name, and for the last time within these walls, 
I repeat this declaration also. Slie does not believe in the 
possibility of disunion. I am thar.kful that her faith is also 
mine. My confidence is founded upon the disinterestedness 
of the great body of the people who derive their subsistence 
from the soil, and wliose attachment is strong in proportion 
to their close communion with it. They have incorporated 
with it the labor of their own hands. It has given tliem back 
wealth and health and strength — health to enjoy and strength 
to defend what they possess. In seasons of tranquillity and 
peace they are unseen — too often, perhaps, forgotten ; but it 
is in their silent and sober toil that the public prosperity is 

' >i 






wrought out. It is onl;y in the hour of peril that tliey come 
fortli from a thousand hills and valleys and plains to sustain 
with strong arms the country they have made prosperous. In 
them the Union Avill find its surest protectors. They are 
too virtuous and too independent to be corrupted. They are 
spread over too broad a surface for the work of seduction. It 
is in towns and public assemblies, where men are concentrated, 
that t'lc tempter can with more assurance sit doAvn, as of old, 
in the guise of friendship and whisper into the unsuspecting 
or the willing ear the lesson of disol)edience and treachery. 
From this danger the great body of the people are secure. 
And let us be assured that they will never permit the banner 
which floats over them at home, and carries their name to 
every sea, to be torn down either by internal dissension or ex- 
ternal violence. Such is my firm, my unalterable conviction. 
But, if I am mistaken in all this — if the spangled fleld it bears 
aloft is destined to be broken up — then my prayer will be, 
that the star which represents New York in the constellation 
of States may stand fixed until every other shall have fallen." 

On the breaking up of his home in Washington, General 
Dix had to consider, first of all, the question of a future resi- 
dence. His preference was for Long Island ; but that region 
of delicious climate and fine shooting was too far away. The 
Xorth River was considered hot and, perhaps, unbealthy. IIo 
disliked cities in general, and the city of New York in partic- 
ular, and wished, above all, a country home. After much de- 
liberation he fixed on Westchester County, and, desiring to 
be near the salt-Avater, rented a house not far from the village 
of Port Chester. Tiiither he took us early in the summer 
of ISttl). Mr. Morgan's health was greatly impaired ; he was 
not able to make the usual journey to his much-loved place 
in Madison County, and it was decided that he should pass 
the summer with his son-in-law and daughter. The General 
writes thus to an old friend : 

" Since the adjournment of Congress I have been incessant- 

3 '• U ;,t»IS 







l; to 

I tier 


ly engaged in tlie most annoying and unsatisfactory of all 
occui)ations, packing up books and furniture in Washington, 
unpacking tliein here, and putting a house in order, rather for 
tlie purpose of an encatnpnicnt than a 2)erinanent residence ; 
for, not being able to lind a place I like -well enough to buy, I 
have only hired, and therefore feel that ray connection "with 
the ancient Saw})it (the modern Port Chester) may at any 
time be dissoh'cd. But I am looking out for a place in this 
neighborhood which I can fancy well enough for a future 
residence, though I have still a hankering after Long Island." 

In fact, that sununer sojourn at Port Chester led ultimately 
to the purcliasc of an island in the Souiul, near the village of 
liye, on which my father built a house, intending to make it 
his permanent residence. The island was bought in 1850 ; 
the house was iinislied and occupied in the spring of 1852 ; 
but owing to a series of painful circumstances it never be- 
came our home. 

The summer of 1810 was noted for tlie ravages of the 
cholera ; my uncle, Lieutenant-colonel Dix, died of that horri- 
ble disease early in the year. Great alarm Avas felt through 
the country. We were all put on a strict regimen of roast 
beef and rice, and lived in constant dread lest it should 
spread from the city where it was raging to the country. 
My brother Baldwin, next in age to me, was to have gradu- 
ated from Columbiii College in Jane ; but the Commencement 
was postponed till the month of October, in consequence of 
the epidemic. 

But though we escaped the dreaded malady, yet the shadow 
of deatli fell on our house. Ere the summer was over Mr. 
Morgan was taken from us. lie died in the hired house at 
Port Chester, July 20, 1810. His decease made a cliango in 
General Dix's plans, who reluctantly became a resident of the 
city of New York. The summers, liowever, he still passed on 
the shores of Long Island Sound — that of the year 1850 at a 
house near Bye, close to the water -side; tliat of 1851 at a 
house still nearer the village, which overlooked a pretty mill- 

it m 

I I 







pond and a picturesque mill, and commanded a view of Man- 
ursing Island, a light-house farther off, and the shores of Long 
Island nine miles distant across that expanse of water which 
rolls stately between the hold coasts and out toward the open 
sea. It was Manursing Island which my father bought, and 
there he built his house. One of his chief amusements was 
that of planning houses : he would have made an enthusiastic 
architect, had that been his profession. I remember three at 
least that he built : one at Albany, one on Manursing Island, 
and, finally, one at Scafield. All these he designed with the 
greatest care, drawing the plans, making the specifications, 
and superintending the construction. 

In this design of making a country home on Manursing 
Island he was ardently seconded by my brother Baldwin. 
Dear, noble youth ! cut off untimely at the entrance on 
manhood! Amid what tears did he go away to his long 
home ! AVliat hopes were buried with him in the narrow 
vault in Trinity Church -yard! After nearly thirty years 
my hand trembles as I write ; my eyes are dim looking 
back, lie was a high-spirited, generous fellow ; pure, true, 
honorable ; beloved by liis companions. lie graduated the 
year that his father left the Senate. He studied law, and 
was admitted to the Bar in 1851. lie was fond of country 
life, a fine shot, a good boatman. My father had a little sail- 
boat, a schooner, the W/iite Eiujlc. He took us out in it, 
managing it himself, with our help, and teaching us how to 
sail it. AVe pas^sed half our time on the water, and many a 
night did we spend, becalmed under the lee of the land at 
Cold Spring Harbor or Oyster Bay, Avhen the stiff breeze had 
died away from us and we could not get back. We always 
went on our expeditions provided for that emergency. My 
brother delighted in the Avater, and was never happier than 
when the White Eagle spread her wings to the currents of 
air that rushed deliciously up or down the Sound. 

And thus we lived our life : in town during the winter, at 
llye all summer ; and we saw the house rising on the island, 

1845-1853.] ".1 CHAPTER IN I'RIVATE HISTORY." 


and all had some suggestion to make to the dear chief-archi- 
tect, who duly considered all reasonable wishes, and among 
tliem this — that a little chapel, or oratory, should he attached 
to the liouse, forming a kind of wing to the cast. To com- 
plete the arrangements for occupation of the island, it was 
necessary to have a bi'idge built connecting it with the main- 
land, and desirable that the proprietor of the island should 
also be the owner of a mass of rock and earth covered with 
fine trees, and known as " the Hammocks," which projected 
from the coast-line, and imist be traversed before reaching 
the bridge. To get possession of the Hammocks was impos- 
sible without propitiating their owner, an ancient inhabitant 
residing at Rye Xeck, and rejoicing in the appellation of 
Billa Theall ; for the bridge an act of the Legislature was re- 
quired. An expedition w^as undertaken by the General to ao.- 
complish both those objects. He wrote an account of it for 
the entertainment of our domestic circle, addressing it to my 
youngest sister, then a little bit of a girl and the baby of 
the family. 




Ir, at 



" I. Mr. Dickens seU out on a Visit to the Seat of 

" On Tuesday morning Mr. Dickens, in company with his 

friend Captain B , after a hearty breakfast of buckwheat 

cakes and sausages, got on board the railroad cars, and in fifty- 
five minutes they were landed at the village of Bye. Lea\ing 
the train, they proceeded to the house of Billa Theall. Tonnny 
was, luckily, down on Bye Neck foddering cattle ; and the old 
gentleman, as he had promised, signed the paper and took the 
money. "When the geld was all counted out and piled up on 
the table Mr. Dickens asked the old gentleman if it didn't look 
pretty, to which he answered tliat it did — ' very pretty ;' and 
his eyes glistened as he said it. Mr. Dickens and his friend 

ii ■ 



then went on to St. Jolm's ;* and having an hour of leisure, 
Mr. Dickens took the Captain's gunning i)unt, with black 
John to row, and started for the llanunocks. Just as they 
were pushing olf, Billy Dixon, the water-spaniel, made a leap 
for the boat, but falling short, he went over head and ears into 
the water. Mr. Dickens, pitying his condition, took him in 
and set him on the bow, and they i)roceeded thus : 

"After a pleasant row liiound the Ilannnocks, which looked, 
like Billa Thcall's gold, with which they were purchased, ' very 
pretty,' Mr. Dickens returned to St. John's, dined on boiled 
pork and salt beef, went to Port Chester, got into the cars, 
and rode to Bridgeport, where he arrived at seven o'clock. 

"II. IIoio Ml'. Dlclicns passed liimsclf off among the 
Yankee Girls for a Bachelor. 

" After taking a cup of tea at Bridgeport, Mr. Dickens sat 
down in the bar-room — the only sitting-room in the hotel — 
and, having nothing to do, grcAV melancholy. lie looked at 
all the pictures in the room — a veiy bad view of the Leaning 
Tower of Pisa, a sailor loading a cannon, and a pack of hounds 
catching a fox ; and having finished, he was thinking of going 
to bed in despair, when a man came in and said there was a 
fair in the Methodist Church. Mr. Dickens was insj^ired with 
new life ; he put on his overcoat, walked into the street, 
and, meeting a little negro girl, he gave her a sixpence to 
show him the way to the Methodist Church. It was full of 
tables covered M'itli beautiful things, which young ladies were 
selling to visitors. Mr. Dickens, after walking two or three 
times around the church, went up to a table, and, addressing 
himself to one of the young ladies who were attending it, 
he said, ' Miss, have you any bachelor's needle-cases V The 
young lady replied, 'I don't know what they arc.' Mr. 
Dickens said, 'Any needle-case will do which is suited to a 

* lie was the owner of the house which we occupied while the island 
home was in preparation. 





gentleman that has to do his own sewing.' The young Lady 
then handed him two — one in the shape of a diamond, and 
the other in the sliape of a heart. Mr. Dickens immediately 
seized upon the heart and said, 'Ah! this is exactly suited 
to my case.' '1 am very sorry,' said the young lady, 'but 
that one is sold ; won't you take the otlier, sir ? it is equally 
good.' Whereupon Mr. Dickens rejoined, ' It may be equally 
good, miss, but 'tis not half so expressive. Still, if I can't 
have j'our heart, I'll console myself with your diamond.' 
Thereupon all the Yankee girls exchanged glances and 
laughed, and Mr. Dickens retired to the hotel with a burden 
off his spirits and fifty cents out of pocket. 

" III. IIoio Mr. DicTccns tcd'cs to Earhj Itldng. 

" The next morning, before it was quite light, Mr. Dickens 
was awoke by the ringing of a bell at his door, and the next 
minute the waiter came in and asked for his boots. ' What 
bell is that V said Mr. Dickens. ' The broakfast-bell,' said the 
waiter. 'IIow long to breakfast?' said Mr. Dickens. 'Fif- 
teen minutes,' said the waiter. 'Good gracious!' said Mr. 
Dickens; 'what o'clock is it?' 'Half -past six,' said the 
waiter. 'Have you no late breakfast?' said Mr. Dickens. 
' Ko, sir^ said the waiter. ' And shall I lose my breakfast if 
I don't get up ?' said Mr. Dickens. ' I'm afraid j^ou will,' said 
the waiter. ' Well, then,' said Mr. Dickens, ' I'm afraid I 
shall have to get up.' Accordingly Mr. Dickens resolved to 
go down to breakfast and 'turn over a new leaf.' The sun 
rose about the time Mr. Dickens took his breakfast, and he 
remarked to a gentleman at table what a blessed thing it was 
to get up early in the morning, and that he could never won- 
der sufiiciently how some people would lie in bed. 

" IV. How Mr. DicJccns Ban off the Track. 
" After breakfast Mr, Dickens took the cars for Albany, 
and when he had gone about twenty miles found the coun- 
try covered with snow. The day was cold, but the weather 
I— IT 




was very fine, and the journey was very pleasant. The train 
had reached Schodack — about eight miles from Albany — and 
it was a quarter before five, and he was congratulating him- 
self that he would be there in fifteen minutes, as it was all the 
way down-hill, ■when suddenly the bell rang, the stcam-whistlo 
screeched ; he felt the engine making a great effort to hold 
back, and in an instant the train stopped so suddenly that ho 
was almost thrown off his seat. Mr. Dickens ran to the door, 
and the following spectacle presented itself : The engine was 
half-buried in a sand-bank, and the tender and baggage-car 
were entirely off the track. Fortunately, the Boston train 
came on in an hour, and after a delay of four hours Mr. 
Dickens arrived safely in Albany at nine o'clock. 

"The next dav Mr. Dickens went to the Assemblv Cham- 
ber, and was hardly seated when the clerk began to read ' A n 
act to authorize John A. Dix to build a bridge,' whereupon 
he cut, and walked over to the Senate Chamber, lie after- 
ward understood the bill passed by ninety-five votes to one, 
and the man who was in the negative voted by mistake; 
whereupon Mr. Dickens went to see the Governor and Mrs. 
Fish, and Mrs. Fonday and many other friends, and retired to 
his room in the evening to give an account of himself to his 
dear little Kitty ; and he begs she will kiss grandma and 
mother and all her brothers and sisters for him, and let them 
know how he is oettino; on. 


"Tluirsd.iy evening, January CI, 1850. 
Mr. Dickens intends to write to Kitty's mother to- 


So the years passed by, and the house was finished, and 
it was all that each would have had it, and the summer of 
the year 1852 should have seen us there, happy and content. 
But ere the summer days arrived the joy and light were fled. 
We were all in mourning, for the heaviest blow yet dealt 
upon our house had fallen with fatal effect. My dear brother, 
just admitted to the Bar, industrious and ambitious to learn, 



made it a part of his duty to watch important cases in their 
progress, and frequently spent numy liours of the day in the 
unwholesome atmosphere of court -rooms. It was also his 
habit to sit up hitc into the night in his study reading hnrd, 
and more than once forgetting that his firo liad gone out. 
Early in January, 1852, he was taken ill. AVe thought the at- 
tack of little importance ; hut he said to me one day, " I shall 
never get up again." The prophecy was fultilled ; in three 
weeks he was dead, of typhoid fever ; and on the Feast of the 
Purilication, February 2, we followed his body, like persons 
stunned, to its long home in the family vault in Trinity 

No one but themselves can ever know wliat tliat loss was to 
his father and mother. The scars of such wounds are there 
for life: each anniversary renews the pain. 

In due time they went to Manursing Island. It was the 
first sunnuer there. A cloud seemed to rest on the i)lace ; it 
never lifted ; it grew deeper. My eldest sister was taken very 
ill ; my grandmother, Mrs. IMorgan, already three years a M'id- 
ow, was also a great sufferer that sunnuer ; her mind appeared 
to be weakened, and her constitution M'as evidently giving 
way. No pleasant memories are in that retrospect — so much 
had been anticipated, so little was found to enjoy 1 We felt, 
one and all, that the phice coukl never be the home for which 
we longed. And, strangely enough, other circumstances were 
at work to break up our plans and give the family history 
another and a complete change. 

During the administration of General Taylor and of Mr. 
Fillmore — who, ujion the lamented death of the President, 
July 0, 1850, took his place — General i)ix took great interest 
in movements in which, however, he was debarred from bear- 
ing an official part. Convinced that a groat blunder had been 
committed in breaking up the Democratic organization, it was 
his earnest wish that the party should, if ])ossible, be thor- 
oughly united once more. This is the subject of the corre- 
spondence of those years : the importance of reunion, the diffi- 









If 1^ 




U 1111,6 








4j W'i 





WEBSTER, N.Y. 14580 

(716) 872-4503 










culty of mediating between the " Hunkers," as they continued 
to be called, who had supported Mr. Cass, and the " Barnburn- 
ers," who had seceded under the standard of Mr. Van Buren. 
He had no active part in the goveniinent, though constantly 
consulted by men in official position ; his advice was asked on 
great public questions ; he appeared at meetings and addressed 
them ; at one held at Herkimer, July 13, 1850, he was the 
principal speaker. His attitude toward the propagandists of 
slavery remained the same; their dislike of him increased. 
Fear lest he should again be called to public life, jealousy of 
him as still a dangerous rival in the political field, appear to 
have influenced the leaders of that portion of the Democracy 
who desired to conciliate the South, and depended on South- 
ern influence for their own advancement. Regardless of these 
unfriendly and ungenerous sentiments, he kept on his way, 
laboring for the restoration of unity, convinced of the ultimate 
triumph of free principles, desirous that the Democratic party 
should have the honor and prestige of the final victory ; while 
the men who desired to control the party, unable or unwilling 
to forget the events of 1848, and convinced that Democratic 
success could only be secured by the help of the slave-holding 
interest, were resolved that, by any and all means. General 
Dix must be kept from ever coming back into public life. 

The defeat of tlie Democratic party in 1848 was the result 
of the Free-soil schism : to restore it to its old supremacy, and 
secure a triumph in 1852, was tlie problem presented to the 
leading men of its several sections. To reunite the party 
was the condition necessary to success ; but that was no easy 
thing. Taking the whole country through, men were dis- 
tributed somewhat as follows : 

1st. The South so far substantially united as to be unwilling 
to support any one not favorably known to it ; yet even there 
divisions were apparent, for the movement toward secession 
had already begun, and on that question men were divided 
as States-rights Democrats and Union-Democrats. 

2d. The Whig party at the Korth, representing all elements 



hostile to Southern aims and policy, and destined to develop 
into the Republican party. 

3d. The Northern Democrats, including the Free-soil sec- 
tion, who had revolted in 1848, and the Hunker section, who 
had acted with the pro-slavery Denocrats of the South in 
the same year. 

4th. The " Liberty party," the Conscience- Whigs, and the 
advanced Abolitionists. 

The "Whig victory in 1848 was a victory over a combina- 
tion of the united South and a portion of the Democratic 
party of the North. To defeat the Whigs in 1852 the Demo- 
crats must be one again. The Free-soilers, therefore, held the 
balance of power, and it depended on them whether the next 
President should be a Democrat or a Whig. 

Two classes of men were hostile to reunion with the Free- 
soilers: the extreme Southern Democrats, and those at the 
North who relied for success on a close alliance with them. 
The Southern leaders of the radical type detested all who 
had taken part in the Free-soil movement, reproached them 
for the past, and mistrusted them as to the future. Moreover, 
the programme of forcible secession had been by that time 
arranged, and plotters of that conspiracy knew that the old 
Free-soil Democrats, whatever concessions they might make 
on other points, would be sure to resist them in that nefarious 
design. On these and other accounts the embryo Secession- 
ists desired no reconciliation with their Free -soil brethren. 
A similar unwillingness to forget the past and come together 
was exhibited by the Hunker Democrats, but on different 
grounds. They wished no rivals, expecting, with the help 
of the South, to recover and retain the supremacy in their 
own part of the country. The Free-soil Democrats would, 
no doubt, have been kept out in the cold had it been deemed 
safe to tlu'ow them off. But this course was abandoned in 
dread of another defeat. Meanwhile the old leaders of the 
Free -soil movement engaged in strenuous efforts to bring 
about a thorough and cordial reunion. Accused of selfish 








motives in this particular, they earnestly repelled the charge. 
As to General Dix, the very active part which he took in 
those efforts was due, as I think, to several causes, each cred- 
itable to his patriotism and good-eense. His disapproval of 
the fusion of 1848 had been justified by results. A life-long 
opponent of abolitionism, he had maintained uniformly and 
consistently that slavery ought not to be interfered with 
where it existed; he could not, therefore, act either with 
Northern Abolitionists or with the members of any party 
which made interference with slavery an article cf its plat- 
form. A Democrat of the old school, and a believer in the 
Democratic creed, he was convinced that the principles of the 
party were sound, and that it was to the interest of the nation 
that they should be the rule of public and political action. 
The question of the extension of slavery he regarded as set- 
tled, on terms which he thought sound and jupt. But beyond 
and above all these reasons there was another on which I 
nmst henceforth lay stress in connection with his history up 
to the beginning of the war. Although he detested slavery, 
he hated one thing worse, disunion. That, and not slavery, 
was rapidly becoming the leading issue ; and to prevent that 
he saw that the principles of the Jacksonian Democracy must 
be revived and asserted. It mattered very little what might 
be done or said about slavery in comparison with a deeper 
and graver question now taking the precedence of all others, 
whether the Union of the States could be preserved ; and he 
thought that the ascendency of the Democratic party was 
essential to that end. He therefore threw himself with ear- 
nestness into the political contest. There was no longer any 
reason why he should not cordially and heartily act with his 
party. It was, as I believe, with a clear conscience, and in a 
broad and statesman-like spirit, that he addressed himself to 
the work which appeared to him most important. Without 
the aid of New York it would be impossible to elect a Demo- 
cratic President in 1852. The State of New York could not 
be carried unless the two sections of the Democracy in that 



State could be rt onciled. To use the words of the Hon. 
Preston King, in a letter to General Dix, January 1, 1851, the 
effort now was, " to consolidate all the sides of the real De- 
mocracy in a homogeneous party, friendly to freedom, in 
New York," believing as they did that "no other kind of 
party could live." 

It must be admitted that the men had undertaken a very 
diflScult work. Prejudices were to be met, opposition was to 
be overcome, both North and South. The question, of course, 
was already complicated by personal considerations. The 
South were divided on the subject of the most available can- 
didate. Mr. Cass, Mr. Buchanan, and Mr. Dickinson, of the 
Senate, had been mentioned ; Colonel Benton, General Hous- 
ton, and Mr. Woodbury. Of these men, it was certain that 
Mr. Dickinson could not carry New York ; that Colonel Ben- 
ton could not carry the Southern vote ; that the nomination 
of General Houston was impossible : still, each of these men 
was pressed by his friends. The impression among many 
Southern Democrats was that New York was hopeless under 
any circumstances, and that the best policy was to put the 
Free-soilers of that State under the ban, and try to carry the 
election without their help. Even among Southern men 
favorable to freedom there was great doubt as to the course 
to be pursued. One of them — a politician of great influence 
and sagacity — wrote as follows to General Dix from his house 
near Washington, March 21, 1851, presenting a dilemma, and 
uncertain which horn to choose : 

" In a letter in reply to I gave my views at large as 

to the course our Free-soil Democrats should take in the 
present state of politics. I will try to find the copy, and 
send it to you ; I cannot now lay my hands on it. The con- 
clusion I come to is this : that we must either run a Radical 
Free-soil Democrat and nail his flag to our mast, and sink or 
swim with it through our sea of troubles, or take some man 
who can break up the Hunker coalition, and who, if elected, 
must take our complexion from stress of circumstances. My 




plan was for the boldest course : to take Benton, and brave 
and beard all Ilunkerdora, North and South. Benton re- 
fusing, I was for taking the same course, with you, or John 
Van Buren, or Preston King for our leader. Benton's pol- 
icy is opposed to what he calls killing oflE our good men 
by running them at an unpopular moment, when, Free- 
soilers having carried their point in the Territories, the dis- 
affection in the South would enable the Northern Hunkers 
to break them down by the cry of danger to the Union. I 
shall go with our Free-soil branch of the party, if they deter- 
mine to stake upon the force of their principles. If this be 
considered a forlorn-hope under present circumstances, then 
I think Benton's plan of running Woodbury our best 

About this time a prominent Free-soil politician visited 
Washington on a tour of inspection. His report, in a letter 
to General Dix, of what he saw there throws light upon the 
history of that period. 

He took letters of introduction from General Dix to Col- 
onel Benton and others, by whom he was very kindly re- 
ceived. He learned from an unquestionable source that the 
two Van Burens were for Woodbury, and that it was probable 
that Colonel Benton was with them. The South were divided 
between Messrs. Cass, Buchanan, and Dickinson : the desire 
was to nominate the man who would suit the South and stand 
the best chance of carrying New York, although little hope 
of this last was expressed. The feeling of the "full-blood 
Southern men" was intensely strong against the Van Burens ; 
" they were unwilling to make peace with them on any terms ; 
they hated them with a vindictive hatred." To persons hold- 
ing that attitude it was represented, cautiously and confiden- 
tially, that the great central body of the Free-soilers would, if 
allowed to, act with the party without any personal stipula- 
tions ; that the next Presidency depended on the Free-soilers 
of New York ; that " the policy of reasonable men was not to 
goad the moderate and truly democratic Free-soilers of New 






York to madness." This seemed to be an entirely new view 
of the ease, and not at all understood at "Washington. It 
produced a strong impression, though at first treated with 

Colonel Benton had abandoned all idea of the nomination, 
and had no desire for it whatever. He was evidently for 
Woodbury, and desirous of the reunion. As for General 
Houston, his confidence in himself was absolute : he told the 
writer that he was sure of every Southern State, both in the 
caucus and in the election, and he counted on the North with 
almost equal certainty. This created great merriment among 
wiser men. It was thought by some of the leading Demo- 
cratic Senators that Mr. Cass expected a renomination, but 
was not over-anxious for it unless reasonably sure of suc- 
cess ; while Mr. Buchanan's supporters were moving heaven 
and earth in his behalf. 

Upon the whole, the argument that the body of the Demo- 
cratic Free-soilers of the North were still Democrats, and, 
unless goaded to desperation and driven off, would steadily 
and faithfully adhere to the old party ; that without the vote 
of the State of New York the Democratic candidate could 
not be elected ; and that New York could be carried by giv- 
ing it a liberal candidate — this argument appears to have 
made the desired impression, and to have aided in securing 
the reunion of the party. Substantially it was a victory 
for patriotic and conservative men ; and, had the compro- 
mise been honorably carried out, the country might have been 
in a better condition when the heaviest strain came, some 
years later. 

In reply to an invitation from the Tammany Society to at- 
tend the celebration of the anniversary of our National In- 
dependence, General Dix thus referred to the movement in 
progress : 

" Port Chester, July 1, 1&51. 
" Gentlemen, — I have received your favor, inviting me to attend the 
celebration of the approaching anniversary of our National Independence 

•! i 



by the Society of Tammany, and I regret tliat an engagement on that 
day will prevent me from accepting it. 

" The honored name your Society bears, the prominent part it haa 
taken in the great public questions involved in the political contests of 
the country, the open disregard in which the obligations of the Federal 
Constitution and the Constitution of this State are held by portions of 
our fellow-citizens, combine to give universal interest to the occasion ; 
and I am sorry that I am unable to testify by my presence my strong 
appreciation of its importance. 

" I feci with you that only a thorough and cordial reunion of the 
Democratic party here and elsewhere can eradicate political heresies, 
and put the ship of state again (to use the language of Jefferson) ' on 
the Republican tack.' With the assurance that in this great work, in- 
volving, as I sincerely believe, the permanent welfare of the country, I 
shall in every possible mode most cheerfully and earnestly co-operate, 
" I am. Gentlemen, very respectfully, 

" Your friend and fellow-citizen, 

" JouN A. Dix. 

"Messrs. Elijah F. Purdy, 
Wm. I. Brown, 
Tnos. DuNLAP, 
Hhnrt Storms, 


Committee of Arrangements." 

The deatli of Judge "Woodbury, wliicli occurred on the 7th 
of September, 1851, made it necessary for his friends to unite 
upon some other person. The man selected as most accept- 
able to them was General William O. Butler of Kentucky ; 
his military record was good, his personal character without 
a blemish. He had already run with General Cass as candi- 
date for the Vice - Presidency, and shared his disastrous de- 
feat, in the campaign of 1848. Governor Marcy was strongly 
urged in many quarters, and it was thought that the State of 
New York might be carried by him ; but many were of the 
opinion that his friends never considered it j)robable that he 
would be nominated, and that they kept his name prominently 
before the public with the hope of obtaining a cabinet ap- 
pointment for him under the next administration, and thus 
securing the influence of that section of the New York De- 
mocracy to which he belonged. Since this was precisely the 




result that followed, it is fair to infer of the shrewd poli- 
ticians of the day that they had made their plans with that 

The Democratic National Convention was held at Balti- 
more, on the Ist of June, 1S52. General Dix, though not a 
delegate, was invited and urged to go to Baltimore, and aid by 
his presence and influence in harmonizing views and securing 
a favorable action. lie answered, declining to appear there : 

" Your favor of yesterday urging me to go to Baltimore, 
and expressing the ojiinion that my presence there might have 
much effect in harmonizing the party, is received. I should 
be most happy to contribute in any way to so desirable a 
result, but I have always had an insuperable repugnance to 
attending conventions of which I am not a member. Besides, 
I am confident that the delegates must be too strongly im- 
pressed with the importance of the coming contest to allow 
differences of opinion Avith regard to individuals to prevent 
the reunion of the Democratic party. Though unwilling to 
interfere personally with the action of the Convention, I shall 
acquiesce cheerfully in its decisions, and give to its nomi- 
nees a cordial support. The importance of the election en- 
joins this duty on us all, and I shall not be backward in per- 
forming it." 

I find a very entertaining letter from Mr. Francis P. Blair 
to General Dix, written about a week previous to the meeting 
at Baltimore. It presents a graphic; if not an attractive, view 
of the position of affairs : 

" Silver Spring, May 24, 1853. 
"My deau Gexeral, — I have had but little communication with the 
city for a month past, antl have taken so little interest in the movements 
there that I could not write j'ou a word, even of conjecture, that would 
deserve your attention. In two or three flying visits recently I have 
found tlie purlieus of the Capitol all in a buzz with delegates and their 
various managers seeking to hive them. There certainly never was such 
a scene out of a bazaar, which it strongly resembles in many aspects. 
Nobody seems to think that anybody has a certain, or even a probable, 
force made up to give him a nomiuation. All is contingent, and I sup- 




f? .1 i 

H: :J 

L t''.'! 






pose there never was as much jockeying on a race-course where there 
were a dozen entries — all the old nngs to start, never having won a race, 
and all the young ones watched, and having neither blood nor appearance 
to recommend thcni. It is a clear case for black-leg management to 
come in for the stakes ; and as this is generally felt, I have no doubt 
the black art will be busily plied. The jobbers stationed at Washington 
have all opened their houses ; wine and wassail is the order of the day 

with them, and I am told that these appliances are doing wonders for . 

The young and thirsty and greedy arc becoming enthusiastic in his 
cause. , , and seem to be the only ones to whom the hon- 
est men turn with any hope of getting deliverance from the plunderers, 
and their chance depends altogether upon the possibility that the rogues 
may fall out. There may be enough of the patriotic class, if they should 
act understandingly, to prevent the Rottons from combining on any one 
of them; but I am afraid the instincts of the latter will induce them, like 
wolves, to hunt together, and run down the game by chasing first with one 
pack and then with another, until they have the carcass among them to 
rend and growl over. If I were to hazard a conjecture as to the most 
probable person to keep at bay and drive off the prowlers, I should name 
Houston ; he has hau good-luck always on his side, and he has kept such 
good guard in all his movements as not to provoke nor expose himself 
to the attacks of his opponents. If there should be an exasperating 
struggle at Baltimore between the Cass, Douglas, and Buchanan clans, 
there is great likelihood that the General of San Jacinto may gain 
another victory." 

The history of the proceedings at Baltimore is well-known. 
First came a terrific slaughter of the old veterans, in which 
James Buchanan, Lewis Cass, and William L. Marcy, together 
with General Butler and the hero of San Jacinto, fell pros- 
trate, while Stephen A. Douglas and other younger aspirants 
shared their fate. Then, after some thirty -five ballotings, 
came a nomination, by the delegation from Virginia, which 
took the body by surprise — that of Franklin Pierce of New 
Hampshire. The confiict became terrific, until, when the 
ballots had run up to within one of fifty, the Virginia nomi- 
nee was announced as the choice of the Convention, General 
Pierce was a ITorthern man, but with strong Southern sym- 
pathies. To the South he was entirely acceptable. The De- 
mocracy of both sections combined to support him ; and it 



was, no doubt, believed that lio would pursue a just and im- 
partial course toward the entire party. To any farther agita- 
tion of the slavery question ho was earnestly opposed, while 
strongly desirous of forgetting that a division aniDUg his 
own friends on that question had taken place. He lacked, 
however, among other things, the firnmess to pursue an inde- 
pendent course, and was unable to resist influences soon to 
be brought to bear on him by those who were determined to 
complete the ostracism of the Free-soil Democrats. 

Tnie to his promise, General Dix supported the Baltimore 
nominations, and exerted himself to secure the election of 
the candidate of the reunited Democratic party. lie was 
immediately called upon for active service during the ap- 
proaching canvass, and threw himself with his accustomed 
ardor and energy into the work. Invitations to address 
public meetings poured in : one of the first was from 
the Democracy of Berks County, Pennsylvania, who pro- 
posed to hold a meeting on the Fourth of July. The com- 
mittee say: 

" You, with other distinguished Democratic citizens, have 
been selected for invitation to unite with us in commemorat- 
ing the approaching Sabbath-day of our Independence and lib- 
erty. "VVe but express the sincere sentiments of our minds 
when we say that your presence with us on that interesting 
occasion would afford us the highest gratification. The im- 
portant service which you rendered to the Democracy of the 
country, as a member of the United States Senate under the 
Polk administration, and the firm position which you have 
taken in favor of Pierce and King, our nominees for the 
oflices of President and Vice-President of the United States, 
induce ns to hope much from you in the great canvass which 
is upon us. Hence we most cordially invite you to honor ns 
with your presence and to address us on that day." 

Some idea of the amount of work done during that summer 
and autumn by General Dix may be formed from his memo- 
randum of appointments to speak. It is as follows : 


I -I 




Tammany Hall: Ratification Speech published. 

--,,„„ ■,,-,„< 150,000 copies published 

Ncwburgh.N.Y July 30. ] , ^^ ,. , r. 

° "^ < by National Comuiittcc. 

White Plains, N. Y Aug. 7. 

Hillsborough, N. II " 10. Speech i)ublishcd. 

Trenton, N.J Sept. 15. 

Augu8ta,Mc " 22. 

Washington Valley Oct. 5. 

Kingston " 11. 

Utica " 13. 

Onondaga Hollow " 14. 

Seneca Falls " 15. 

Rome " 10. 

Pulaski " 18. 

Fulton " 10. 

Oswego " 20. 

Manlius " 21. 

Ogdensburgli " 23. 

Watertown " 25. 

Brookfield " 20. 

Sangei-liekl " 20. 



The autumn elections brought victory to the Democrats. 
The rout of the "Whigs under their gallant and distinguished 
leader, Major - general Winfield Scott, was complete : four 
States only were carried by his friends. It was one of those 
sweeping triumphs which result from the perfect union of a 
party, and place the successful candidates imder a moral obli- 
gation of the strongest kind to all who have aided in making 
the victory complete. 

Franklin Pierce, the fourteenth President of the United 
States, was a native of the State of New Hampshire ; he came 
of one of its most respected families ; an ancestor fought in the 
War of the Revolution ; the descendants were Democrats of 
the Jackson school. A lawyer by profession, he had repre- 
sented his nat've town in the Legislature and his State in the 
Senate ; he had also seen service in the army under General 
Scott during the operations against the city of Mexico. In 
view of the hereditary and traditional sympathies between 


tliG President-elect and General Dix, tlieir personal relations, 
and the eminent services rendered by the latter in promoting 
the election of the former, it was not surprising that General 
Dix should have received a message from Cfeneral Pierce, 
soon after the announcement of the result of the election, 
requesting him to come to him at once. Nor was it strange 
that, at the interview which took place at General Pierce's 
residence at Concord, General Dix should have been inform- 
ed that he had been selected as Secretary of State under the 
new administration. This communication was made by the 
President-elect in a very cordial manner, and with the frrthcr 
statement that, of all men in the country, there v/as none 
whom he more earnestly desired to have comiectcd with his 
administration. These expressions M'crc received by Gen- 
eral Dix with assurances of his wish to aid the President in 
every way in his power; and they parted with an under- 
standing which could not have been more clear. * 

As soon as this became known, however, an intrigue com- 
menced, with a view to compel the President to abandon his 
design. The opposition came, first, from the extreme South- 
ern politicians, and, secondly, from the Hunker section of the 
Northern Democracy. In assaults of this character men are 
seldom scnipulous as to the weapons to bo employed. The 
President was told that the proposed appointment would bo 
a fatal, and probably an irretrievable, mistake ; that tiie ad- 
ministration must be thoroughly loyal to Southern interests ; 
that on every point in which those interests had been or 
might be involved the Cabinet must be a unit ; thai +he sup- 
port of Southern Senators and Congressmen could not be ex- 
pected if a prominent Free-soiler were at tli."^ President's right 
hand. One can easily imagine what kind of argument and 
influence would be emploj'ed under those circumstances, and 
with what vigor the screws would be applied to the individ- 
ual thus placed upon the rack by way of inducement to 
change his mind and break a promise. 

General Pierce had not the force of character to enable 

\ f 

( \ 

■ H 

{ I 




' \'> 

him to resist this pressure. A second interview took place, 
at which he began, with embarrassment, by intimating that it 
was possible that his action had been precipitate. General 
Dix, who was aware of the intrigue, and regarded it as likely 
to prove successful, hastened to the relief of the President, 
assuring him that he anticipated what he was about to say, 
and that he released him at once from any sense of obligation 
founded on what had previously occurred. The President 
could not withhold his thanks for the manner in which his 
intended apologies had been arrested, and the painful inter- 
view terminated. 

For this first breach of faith it is thought that his old op- 
ponents among the Democracy of Xew York were mainly 
responsible. I have already observed that their persistency 
in supporting Mr. Marcy as a candidate for the Presidency 
was not the result of an expectation that he could be nom- 
inated, ]>ut rather of a hope to secure the chief place for him 
in the Cabinet. When the interview at Concord took place 
Mr. Marcy was absent on a visit to Florida for the benefit of 
the healili of a member of his family. The intrigue against 
General Dix began soon after his return to the North ; and 
when the Cabinet was announced his name was sent to the 
Senate as the President's nominee for Secretary of State. 
These coincidences are, to say the least of it, impressive. 

Great indignation was felt at this breach of faith by the 
friends of General Dix; and it may be supposed that the 
President himself was conscious of a certain degree of shame 
at the way in which he had treated his old friend. But per- 
sonal considerations were not the only ones involved ; a largo 
section of the Democratic party was thus aggrieved, and, as 
it were, officially informed that it was to consider itself as 
proscribed by the new administration. It was, then, with a 
double motive that a movement was immediately begun, hav- 
ing for its object to atone to General Dix for the indignity 
offered to him, and to secure for his friends a recognition at 
Washington. But, as soon as he heard of this design, ho 



wrote an earnest protest against it so far as he himself was 
involved : 

" New York, March 9, 1853. 

"My dear Sir, — I have just returned from Philadelphia, and found 
your favor of the 5th inst. 

" You say you intend to jiresent my name to the President for a for- 
eign mission. I beg you not to do so. After all that has occurred, such 
an appointment, if made at all, should be voluntarily tendered. I would 
not, under any other circumstances, even take an acceptance under con- 
sideration. Excuse my baste, and believe me, sincerely yours, 

" John A. Dix. 
"Hon. Preston Kino." 

The invitation came, however, freely tendered, and again 
by the President : he was offered the mission to France. 
Satisfied that the circumstances absolved him from any re- 
sponsibility save that of mere acceptance or refusal ; knowing 
that he had not sought it, nor taken any steps, directly or 
indirectly, to obtain it ; and yet not without much hesitation 
and careful consideration, he finally concluded to accede to 
the President's desire, and informed him that he was willing 
to go abroad. 

The time fixed was early in the summer of that year. The 
President happened to be, for the moment, in embarrassment 
about the Treasury in the city of Is^ew York ; it was without 
a head, and he could not immediately nominate. lie there- 
fore requested General Dix, as a matter of personal favor to 
himself, to hold the otfice for a few weeks, until the date of 
his sailing for France. This proposition was most distasteful 
in every way ; still, always unselfish and ready to sacrifice his 
convenience to oblige others, he agreed to render the Presi- 
dent the temporary service thus demanded of him, and en- 
tered on his duties at the Treasury. Meanwhile passage was 
taken for Havre, preparations for a four years' residence 
abroad were made, and every arrangement was complo* id 
which an anticipated absence from home renders necessary. 

But political intrigue was instantly resumed, and again 
with complete success. I shall not pursue the details of this 
I.— 18 












miserable business. The opposition now came, or appears 
to liave come, mainly from ceitain Southern politicians.* 
Among them a Senator from Mississippi was particularly ac- 
tive. Charges which they must have known to be false were 
made by prominent individuals — such, for example, as this : 
that General Dix was an abolitionist, and that the adminis- 
tration would be untrue to the South by allowing a man 
of that fanatical and extreme party to represent it abroad. 
Nothing could have been more untrue. Whatever the mer- 
its of the abolitionists and their rilaims on the respect and 
admiration of posterity, one thing was perfectly clear and 
well known to every statesman, North and South — that Gen- 
eral Dix was not of that school, but had invariably, from the 
beginning of his political career, opposed their designs. His 
vote had been given in the Senate for the admission of Texas 
to the Union ; he had endorsed the union of the Democratic 
party on the basis of the Compromise measures introduced 
by Mr. Clay; he was in favor of the surrender of fugitive 
slaves ;t he had given his cordial support to the administra- 
tion. There was no ground for the charge that he was an 
abolitionist ; as little for suspicion of his sincerity in adher- 
ing to the Baltimore platform and desiring the removal of 
the question of slavery from the national politics. Wlien, 
therefore, I find prominent Southern politicians denouncing 

* See Appendix, No. IV. 

t "The Northern States have been repeatedly charged in this debate, 
and on many previous oecasions, with aggression and viohitions of the 
Constitutional compact in their action on the subject of slavery. With 
regard to the surrender of fugitive slaves — the case most frequently 
cited — it is possible that there may have been some action, or inaction, 
in particular State." Mot in strict accordance with the good faith they 
ought to observe in this respect. I know not how it is ; but we know 
there is an effective power to legislate on this subject in Congress, and 
I am sure there will be no want of co-operation on our part in carrying 
out the requirements of the Constitution by providing all reasonable 
means for executing them." — U. S. Senate Debates, July 20, 1848. 

! . 



liim as they did, my conclusion if that they must have had 
another and a deeper design. Their real objection was not on 
the score of abolitionism. They knew as well as lie did that 
it could not be sustained. The fact was this, that Secession 
was already in tlieir thoughts ; that steps had even then been 
taken toward a dissolution of the Union, and that they feared 
the influence of one who might be counted on as their enemy 
if it came to the question of asserting the right of individual 
States to withdraw, forcibly if necessary, and set uj) a sepa- 
rate government under a separate flag. 

The vile charges of "mercenary motives" and "personal 
debasement" which, in addition to that of abolitionism, were 
freely made against General Dix, drew forth an able and con- 
vincing defence from his friends, both North and South ; but 
though these insinuations were repelled, the influence exerted 
to prevent the President from nominating him to the French 
mission was too strong to be resisted. In fact, the place was 
wanted for an eminent gentleman from the State of Virginia. 

About the 1st of June rumors were current in Xcw York 
that a very strong opposition Avas made to the appointment of 
General Dix as Minister to France. By the middle of the 
month these had assumed so definite a shape that he was con- 
strained to believe them to be well-founded. lie addressed a 
letter to the Hon. R. McClelland on the subject, in which 
he says : 

" Let me say, first, that I have not sought the appointment in question, 
and that its cliief vahie in my estimation would be tlie evidence it would 
furnish of the President's confidence. 

"My object in writing to you is to ascertain, if I can, what the opposi- 
tion amounts to, I do not desire any information which you cannot 
with the strictest propriety give. If I know its source and its extent, I 
can judge better what is its motive, and whether it is due to myself to 
attempt to correct misrepresentation, or whether my self respect demands 
that I should let it have its course. 

"The President is fully acquainted with my position, and can refute 
any misstatement which comes to his ears. 

" I supposed the question of free-soilism was settled on my nomination 

% ■ 


.Ill ' 




to the office I now hold ; and it was only the consideration that I had 
been made instrumental to the good of the Democratic party which rec- 
onciled me to a place utterly repugnant to my wishes and tastes, and 
exceedingly prejudicial to my private interests. If tliis question is to be 
re-opened I shall regard myself as having suflfered in vain. I have the 
materials of self-vindication in my own hands, but I will not use them 
to procure an appointment I do not ask. In defence of the appointment, 
if made, I can do so without any sacrifice of my self-respect. 

" Cordially, your friend, John A. Dix." 

The spring and summer i^assed away, and it became quite 
certain that the nomination to the French mission would not 
be made. The General was prepared for this fresh affront, 
K^ut his sense of duty triumphed over that of a keenly-felt 
pergonal indignity, and he strove to screen the administration 
from the criticism which it merited. The following letter 
was addressed to one of those personal friends, himself an 
officer in the United States Xaval Service, whose indignation, 
if not restrained, might have carried him beyond bounds : 

*' Pnvate. 

•'New York, August 29, 1853. 

"My deah , — The President will violate his pledge to me and 

give the mission to France to some one else. Mr. Flagg and I have 
considered this settled since the middle of June (before I had been in 
this office a month) — not that the President so intended at that time, 
but we knew he was giving ear to counsels which would bo too power- 
ful for his firmness of purpose. A politician is like a woman : he must 
resist the first accents of seduction, or he is lost. 

" I write you this in advance of the public annunciation of the result, 
in order that you may prepare yourself, by suitable discipline of feeling, 
to take it calmly. Whatever others may do, I must entreat you to keep 
quiet, as I intend to do myself. It is too grave a matter to be met with 
any exhibition of ill-temper. 

" I consider the honor of the administration at stake ; for the Presi- 
dent told me that every member of his Cabinet was in favor of my ap- 
pointment. We must remember that he is the head of the Democratic 
party and the Chief Magistrate of the country, and that the public repu- 
tation will be impaired by the act of bad faith he is about to commit. 
Should we not, then, as good citi< ?us, rather cover it up, if wc can, than 





expose it and furnish a subject of public scandal to our enemies? This 
is my wish ; and no one has so large a pei-sonal interest in the question 
as myself. The mission, as you know, is of no consequence to me ; and 
if the President had written to me frankly, as he was bound on every 
principle to do, saying that he considered it important to his adminis- 
tration or to himself to make some other disi)osition of the appointment, 
I should have told him at once to do with it as he pleased. But, instead 
of communicating with me directly, he has, since the last of June, been 
conversing with a number of persons who have come to me, by his de- 
sire, to repeat what he said to them — that I had better decline the ap- 
pointment—that my views on the slavery question were not sufficiently 
understood— that I might not be confirmed by the Senate, etc. Besides 
the awkwardness of declining an appointment before it is formally ten- 
dered, I never could consent to withdraw on tlie grounds above assigned. 
It wor be a confession of their validity, which I do not admit. 

"^ .espect to the office I hold I have no concern. I have requested 
the ^resident to release me from it. If he does not, I shall send him a 
formal resignation of a place which I accepted most unwillingly on a 
condition — a condition he docs not intend to fulfil. Under tlicse cir- 
cumstances I have no fears that I shall not be allowed to retire at an 
early day. 

"I write in great hasce, and have no time to copy. My sole object is 
to entreat you, as my friend, to be silent when you see the appointment 
to Franco announced. Yours ever, 

" John A. Dix." 

Later in tlie summer (August 20, 1S53) General Dix re- 
ceived a letter from the President, requesting an interview 
" on matters of interest to him." The invitation was politely 
declined, with a counter-request to be immediately relieved of 
liis duties as Assistant Treasurer. His courco in declining to 
see the President received the cordial approval of his friends. 

The end of this wretched business, discreditable to the ad- 
ministration and to those who succeeded in thus leading the 
President to a second breach of his promise, came in due time. 
The name of the Hon. John Y. Mason, of Virginia, was sent 
to the Senate ; he was immediately conlirmed as Minister to 
the French Court ; and Cerberus, ]:)ropitiated with this addi- 
tional sop, was for the moment satisfied. 

Upon the whole I think it a matter of congratulation that 

'I .Iv 

■ m 





tlie well-meant efforts of President Pierce to strengthen his 
administration by connecting General Dix with it did not 
succeed. I have no doubt of the sincerity of the President : 
subsequent acts attested it. But he could not do what he 
wished, and was forced to submit to circumstances. What 
might have been the result if my father — with liis devotion 
to the Union, and his vigorous way of dealing with some 
questions — had been in the Cabinet, is matter for conjecture. 
The policy pursued through those four years deepened the 
trouble and darkened the prospect in front. That unfortu- 
nate administration helped by almost every measure to pre- 
pare the way for the Civil War; it heightened the fever 
already burning in the political system. Those were forma- 
tive years, during which disaster was pressing forward a pas 
de charge. Looking back to them, and seeing how the tide 
then ran, and how fast the ship of state was driving, I do 
not regret that my father was in retirement. When at 
length he reappeared on the stage of events it was easier to 
gee the way, to know what ought to be said, and to do what 
must be done. 



A..T>. 18G3-1800. 


Voyage to Havre. — Stcamslnp Ilurnboldt. — Death of Mrs. Morgan on tlic 
Vo3'age. — Wreck of the IlumJioldt, — "Missouri Compromise." — Bagui 
di Lucca. — December 8, 1834 : in Rome, — Journal of Travel from Rome 
to Marseilles. — Return Home. — St. Augustine, Fla. — Fort of St. Mark. 
—Cornwall. — N. P. Willis: "Idlewikl."— President of the Chicago 
and Rock Island Railroad. — Project of Railroad to the Pacific. — 
Vestrj-man of Trinity Church. — Attack on the Cliurch in the Legis- 
lature. — Defeat of the Assailants. — Letter from Bishop Potter. — Polit- 
ical Affairs of the Period : the Riots of 1857. — Stephen IL Branch. — 
The Canvass of 18oC for the Presidency. — The Election of James Bu- 
chanan. — Letters to him from General Dix on his Policy and the 
Prospects of his Administration. 



The arrangements for a removal to Europe and a residence 
abroad, which had been made when the President offered the 
mission of France to General Dix, were carried into effect 
notwithstanding tlie unexpected action of the administration. 
On tlie 22d of October, 1853, a part of the family sailed for 
Havre in the steamship Humboldt, whose commander. Cap- 
tain Lines, is still remeinbered as a popular officer and a thor- 
ough seaman. General Dix, having business which detained 
him in New York, deferred his departure till the following 
year. One of the party on the Ilamholdt was Mrs. Morgan. 
She had been very ill at Manursing Island during the sum- 
mer; it was hoped that the sea -voyage would restore her 
health, and this appeared to be the result, for no one on the 
ship seemed brighter or happier than she. On the 5tli of 
November she remained in the cabin till an unusually late 
hour of the evening, playing her favorite game of whist, and 
afterward joining in the general conversation with more than 
her usual vivacity. That night she was found unconscious in 
her state-room, and at two o'clock a.m. of the 7th, as the ship 
was entering the Roads of Havre, her soul departed. 

The body, having been embalmed, was placed in a metallic 
coffin, and sent home by the same vessel. Ill-fated ship ! On 
the return voyage she went ashore near Halifax. The wreck 
did not break uji at once ; there was time to secure what could 
be saved. On the 9th my father was notified by a telegram 
from the scene of the disaster that the coffin had been recov- 
ered. It was brought to New York by the steamer Marion, 
and received by us on the 22d of December. The following 

11 I 



day (Friday), at 10 a.m., the body, after its dread passage from 
coast to coast, and its temporary loss in the sea, was at length 
laid reverently in the family vault in Trinity Church-yard. 
Few person? were present besides the General and myself. 
The weather was inexpressibly dreary — gloomy, and dark, 
with a heavy wind from the raw north-east, and a dull, steady 
rain. Others, alas ! had reason to remember that day. The 
wind shifted in the afternoon and came out from the north- 
west, blowing with fury, as a gale from that quarter always 
does when it begins. At sunset a long line of clear sky ap- 
peared under the rapidly lifting curtains of the previous storm. 
It betokened trouble on the deep. Among the ill-fated vessels 
out that awful night was the steamship San Francisco. She 
sailed from New York, December 21, for San Francisco, via 
the Straits of Magellan, having on board the Third Regiment 
U. S. Artillery, Colonel Gates commanding ; Major Merchant, 
Lieutenant-colonel Washington, and other officers, with their 
wives and children. She was struck by the storm off the 
North Carolina coast, and foundered a day or two after- 
ward. Rarely has a disaster of that kind produced a more 
painful sensation ; the city was filled with consternation at 
the accounts of the horrible scenes attending the destniction 
of so many brave men and helpless women and children, and 
for years that awful night was remembered with a shudder. 

The winter of 1853-54 was spent by my father in New 
York. I was in Philadelphia at that time, connected with St. 
Mark's Church, as one of the assistant ministers, under the 
Rev. Joseph P. B. "VVilmer, D.D., afterward Bishop of Louis- 
iana. My father came occasionally to Philadelphia, where he 
was welcomed by old friends. Among these was Mrs. Eliza- 
beth Biddle, at whose house he sometimes stayed: a very 
charming and accomplished woman, the daughter of Mr. Jo- 
seph Ilopkinson, and a descendant of one of the signers of 
the Declaration of Independence. 

Always busy, and devoted to his home circle, the General 
spent some time that winter in preparing a series of papers 





on the liistory of Rome, its sokliers and statesmen, its poets 
and philosophers ; each of these papers when finished was 
sent to tlie family, for their entertainment and instruction, 
during their residence in the Eternal City, lie would have 
them to 1)0 students together with him, and, though absent, 
he thus pleasantly allied himself with their pursuits, and kept 
in constant communion with them. 

Meanwhile trouble thickened about the path of the admin- 
istration. Within ten months after the inauguration of Presi- 
dent Pierce a rude shock was given to the hopes of peace and 
security founded on his election. The act of 1820, known as 
the ^^Mlssouri Compromise^'' was always regarded by North- 
ern statesmen as a kind of palladium of national quiet, and as 
settling the slavery question fairly and equitably by admitting 
Missouri as a slave-holding State, but forever excluding sla- 
very north of 30° 30'. In the month of January, 1854, Mr. 
Stephen A. Douglas brought a bill into the Senate of the 
United States repealing the latter branch of that compro- 
mise in the case of the States of Kansas and Nebraska, to be 
formed out of territory part of which lay north of the line. 
The bill provided, indeed, that it should be left to the inhabi- 
tants of that region to determine the question of slavery or 
freedom for themselves, but it removed the prohibition of 
thirty-four years' standing. This bill, opposed by Thomas II. 
Benton in the House of Eepresentatives, and by Messrs. 
Chase, Sumner, Seward, and Houston in the Senate, passed 
both Houses of Congress, however, the majority in the Senate 
being 37 over 1-1, and the vote in the House being very close, 
113 to 100. A great sensation was produced by these pro- 
ceedings. Mr. Francis P. Blair wrote to General Dix on the 
subject as follows : 

"From my present impressions of things I infer that we 
are to have a renewed contest for the ascendency of slavery 
over freedom, which will shake the pillars of the Confederacy. 
The South finds it so easy to purchase support in the North 
by pandering to the ambition of leaders in the North, who 






manage the people through the corrupt convention system, 
tliat she will set up for dominion over the North, as England 
now docs in Ireland, by buying i.p leaders. I hope there 
will bo honest patriots enough found to resist it, and that the 
present aggression will be rebuked. I am willing to devote 
the balance of my life to this object. I would not hesitate 
to put myself on the tread-mill of a press and declare war 
against all the conspirators, high and low, if I could hope it 
would avail anything." 

The views of General Dix on the Nebraska bill are ex- 
pressed in the following letter : 

" Nuw York, February 25, ia,4. 

" My deau Siu, — Your letter came to me at Pliiludelpliia a few clays 

"I consider tlio movement in favor of tlic repeal of the Missouri Com- 
promise an act of equally bad policy and bad faith. We were told that 
the Compromise of 1850 was "a finality"— tliat there was to be no more 
slavery legislation — that the Missouri Compromise disposed of the 
Louisiana Territory— that the Compromise of 1850 disposed of the ter- 
ritory acquired from Mexico— and tlmt there was nothing left to quarrel 
about, We assented to the compromise measures of 1850 with tliis dis- 
tinct understanding. The country assented to them for the sake of re- 
pose from the slavery agitation. The Nebraska bill violates this under- 
standing and disturbs this repose. The Compromise of 1850 would never 
have received the assent of Congress or the people, if they had been told 
that it was to annul the Missouri Compromise and re-open the slavery 

"The Nebraska bill allows the people of that Territory to have slaves 
if they will. This is not the end. Some of the Southern men already 
contend that the people of a Territory have no right to exclude slaves 
from it — that slave-lioldcrs have a right to take their slaves into any Ter- 
ritory of the United States and hold them there, whether the people of 
the Territory wish it or not. This will be the next movement, and I fear 
there arc Northern politicians who, for the sake of office, will yield the 

" I am in favor of adhering to all the compromises honestly and faith- 
fully — to the Missouri Compromise in respect to the laws over a Territory, 
and to the Compromise of 1850 in respect to tlie territory acquired from 
Mexico — I stand by them all, for the sake of honor, truth, and domestic 
peace. There is no safety in any other course — none for us and none for 

'' ; ( 



tho South — for if ono compromise is good for notlilng, the otlicrs are 
wortlilcss, ns time will inevitably show. 

"I am mortified and grieved at this state of things. It is bad in prin- 
ciple, worse in policy, and good in nothing. 

" You ask me wliat General Pierce's opinion is. I do not know. Somo 
sny he is for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise— others as confident- 
ly that he is against it. I should be very sorry to differ witii the Presi- 
dent and his Cabinet on any question, for I look to them with coufldenco 
for sound financial measures, and these are always of vital importance to 
good government. But I regard this question as one of high obligation 
and good faith, and I am against the Nebraska bill, whoever may bo for 
it. In tl>e mere practical concerns of government it is sometimes a duty 
to yield to the opinions of those with whom wo act, but never in mat- 
ters involving essential principles. I write in great haste, and not for 
publication. I need not add, I am always your friend, 

"John A, Dix. 

"Hon. Jas. C. CuuTis." 

"Writing to Colonel Benton, April 15, 1854, lie expresses 
the doubt he felt as to the best way of dealing with this new 
difficulty, and gives very distinctly his views as to the blunder 
committed in the Free-soil movement of 1848 : 

" Mr. Van Buren has written and spoken freely against tho 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise as proposed by the Ne- 
braska bill ; and he made a movement in favor of a meeting 
of the leading Democrats in the city of New York to express 
their views on the subject. But it was found that they would 
consist mainly of the old Free-soil leaders, and it was thought 
by most of us that such a meeting would do more harm than 
good. The unfortunate union with the Whigs at Buffalo in 
1848 has disqualified us for any useful service as leaders in 
any great party movement, partaking in any degree of a sec- 
tional character. I say iis, although you are well aware that 
I disapproved of that imion, and did all I could to prevent it. 
I mention this fact in confirmation of the opinion I have ex- 
pressed that Mr. Y. B. has been from the begirming opposed 
to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. lie has spoken 
and written against it, and was desirous of taking part in a 
public demonstration against it." 





The following spring I resigned my position at St. Mark's 
Church, Philadelphia, and went abroad, to join the rOiSt of 
our family in Italy. 1 took passage on the steamship Arctic, 
Captain Luce, another of the ill-fated Collins line, and des- 
tined to a more terrible destruction than the Humboldt, her 
sister ship. It was my intention to have returned to the 
United States in the autumn, in the same vessel, but a change 
of plans saved me from being involved in the horrible calam- 
ity so well remembered, and, perhaps, from perishing with 
the rest. Late in the month of May I met my people at 
Leghorn ; we went thence to the Bagni di Lucca, where we 
passed the summer. The region is one of the most beautiful 
that can be imagined ; the hills are high, and covered with a 
magnificent foliage of chestnuts, oaks, and other forest trees. 
The Serchio winds its way among them, a mere rivulet in the 
dry season, but in the spring and winter a deep, strong flood. 
There were three hotels at the Bagni, two on this side of the 
river, and the third just opposite — the "Europe," at which 
we stayed, the "Cardinali," and the "Nicolai." The pro- 
prietor of these three houses was an ex-ofiicer of Napoleon's 
army ; he conducted his little realm with a military precision 
which was not only admirable but somewhat amusing. Five 
minutes before the dinner-hour mine host appeared at the 
front-door of the " Europe," his hand on a bell-rope, and his 
eye on the front-doors of the other two hotels ; four minutes 
before the dinner-hour a sub-lieutenant (as it were) appeared 
in the door of the " Cardinali," and a similar officer at that of 
the "Nicolai," each with his hand on a bcll-roj)e, and each 
fixing his eyes on the chief. Precisely at the first stroke of 
four the three bell-ropes were jerked, and a tremendous clat- 
ter awoke the echoes up and down. Everything else was 
managed in the same formal and exact way, the bustling 
Frenchman all the while beaming with good-humor, swelling 
with importance, and directing operations as if a division of 
the grande armee were under his command. 

The Baths of Lucca were, and I believe are still, a favorite 




place of summer resort. Among our friends were Mr. and 
Mrs. Thomas Crawford, who, with their children, occupied an 
apartment not far from our hotel. A most original character 
was also there, a Mrs. Stisted, the wife of General Stisted, an 
old Peninsular officer ; she had written a book or two, occa- 
sionally gave an entertainment, and conducted herself in an 
eccentric manner. The contrast in size between herself and 
her husband was striking ; she took a certain pleasure in ob- 
serving his extremely emaciated .appearance, remarking on 
one occasion that he looked like " the shadow of a fishing- 
pole." Mrs. Stisted was an object of continual interest, 
whether she appeared in her landau, driving up and down 
the smooth roads, or taking a constitutional with attending 
lackeys, or devoutly engaged in the service at the English 
church. That edifice, fearfully plain, and as unlike a house 
of God as it could be made, was served by a chaplain of Irish 
blood and extreme evangelical views. Although I was there 
three months, and never missed a service at the chapel, he did 
not honor me with tlie slightest fraternal recognition, having 
observed, doubtless, that my clerical coat was of that peculiar 
cut which the English of the period used to designate as the 
" M. B.," or '' Mark of the Beast." Times have changed for 
the better since that day, and I question whether the clergy 
of our Church, be their schools what they may, could now be 
guilty of such incivility to each other. 

"We left the Bagni on the first day of September, at six 
o'clock in the morning, and at half-past one that afternoon 
found ourselves in Florence, at a hotel in the Piazza Santa 
Trinitu. On the 30th the General arrived, and a joyful re- 
union of the family occurred. We were happy in being all 
together once more and again, after the lapse of ten years, in 
the city of Era Angclico and Giotto, and near the Uffizi, the 
Pitti, the blooming Cascine, and the heights of San Miniato 
and Eiesole. The autumn passed rapidly away, and the time 
drew near for a return to Rome for the winter. 

On the 8th of December of that year the new dogma of 

;i 1 "I 



!f ,'! 

i it I 


:! r' 

the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was 
to be officially proclaimed, and thenceforth, under the dire 
penalties of excommunication, to be bound on the consciences 
of Roman Catholics as an article of the Christian faith. Re- 
port of the ceremonies with which this announcement was to 
be celebrated going forth on every wind attracted multitudes 
to Rome. Desirous of being present and witnessing the ex- 
traordinary scene?, I set out, in advance of the family, on the 
27th of November, and travelled by malle-poste to Rome, 
passing through Siena and Radicofani, and arriving at the 
Porta del Popolo at half-past 3 a.m. of the 29th. I was ill 
when I left Florence, and worse when I finished the journey ; 
and after a day or two of fighting against the inevitable 
found myself in bed, in my room in the Hotel Spillman, in 
the Via della Croce, burning up with typhoid fever. Word 
was sent to Florence by the physician who had been called 
to me, and in a few days the family arrived. I was in bed 
forty days and nights, and did not leave my room till March 
of the following year. The 8th of December came ; 1 had a 
confused sense of the ringing of bells and the roar of cannon ; 
but it was like a dream of one knows not what. One day I 
asked my father — looking at his calm, quiet face, with the 
earnest expression in it which had then become habitual — 
how near we were to Christmas ; and he told me that it was 
long past, and that we were near the middle of the first 
month of the new year. 

I cannot think of those terrible weeks without profound 
emotion. Un-lcr God I OAved my life to my fathers untiring 
watchfulness and tenderness. For twenty-five nights in suc- 
cession he never left me, and never slept. By day he slept a 
while and took a brisk walk outside the city walls, but all night 
long, night after night, he kept his vigil by my side. Some- 
thing was to be done every half-hour, and he would trust no 
one in that critical time of the twenty-four hours, wherein, if 
the attendant be careless or forgetful, a man's soul may pass 





What went on that winter I know only from report of 
others ; it was a blank in my life. From that peculiar type 
of the disease one recovers, if at all, a mere wreck in body and 
mind. I could not remember anything that had occurred; 
memory and the power of thought seemed to be lost for the 
time ; slowly they came back, and the past rose up again dis- 
tinct and clear. 

The French were then in occupation of ICome. Detach- 
ments marched out of the city every morning for driU be- 
yond the walls; the crash of the drum corps was heard al- 
ways about a certain hour, or the loud, clear ringing of the 
bugles blowing at the head of the column. The men had 
the bright, easy, nonchalant air of their nation, and passed 
jauntily up and down the Corso, as if they had not a care or 
serious thought. Sometimes things would happen to stir the 
dull surface of commonplace life. Under the mild sway of 
the Papacy capital punishment was never inflicted ; but dur- 
ing the French occupation the rule was changed, and execu- 
tions were done under military direction. One morning two 
criminals were put to death. Several days in advance pla- 
cards on the walls of houses and at the corners of the streets 
announced the impending tragedy, and requested prayers for 
the souls of the doomed men. The General had never seen 
the guillotine in operation. He went in the gray dawn and 
obtained a place close by the machine of death. After wit- 
nessing the proceedings he came home and ate his breakfast 
as usual. lie was, apparently, a man without nerves, and al- 
ways as calm as a morning in summer, whatever the affair in 
hand might be. 

It was far on in April before I was able to travel: by 
that time, however, we had another invalid in the party. The 
impression made on my mother by my illness, and by the 
dread of its fatal termination, was so great that, on my recov- 
ery, she broke utterly down. Our anxieties were now for 
her; she had not been in so critical a state since the yeai 
1842, when they went to Madeira to save her life. It was 
I.— 19 

! ■ 1 



under these depressing circumstances that the General took 
his departure from Eome, on the 8th day of May ; but the 
journey then undertaken proved a delightful one, and facili- 
tated the recovery of the invalids. It abounded in entertain- 
ing incidents ; and a journal, freely illustrated with caricature 
sketches, was kept by one of the party. A few extracts, with 
fac-similes of some of the grotesque drawings, may amuse the 
reader. The setting out is thus described : 

" On Monday, the 7th of May, 1855, the Family Dix were 
all awake and flying around at an unusually early hour. The 
morning was cloudy, and rain had already fallen, so that their 
spirits were somewhat dull ; but the General consoled them 
by an Irish proverb to this effect, tliat ' if it rains before seven 
in the morning, the divil a bit will it rain that day.' Break- 
fast having been despatched, the important information came 
that our vetturino, Marcelin Ravel, was at the door, and the 
process of packing the trunks was commenced. 

" Some time before we started we saw from the window two 
large carriages, heavily laden, driving iip the Corso. Their 
occupants were an English family of the name of 'Dod- 
worth,' consisting of thirteen persons. As they saw our car- 
riage still standing at the door we observed grins of satisfac- 
tion lighting up their countenances, as it is reckoned desira- 
ble to get off first and keep ahead. "We felt rather down in 
the mouth at this, l)ut subsequent events restored our spirits 

"As we arrived at the Piazza del Popolo wc saw another 
vettura coming up behind us, a discovery which afforded us 
no small satisfaction, as we found ourselves not the last. 
Passing through the old gate, we left Rome with varied feel- 
ings of pleasure and regret. 

"Nothing of much importance occuiTcd, except that it 
rained, in spite of the Irisl: proverb, and pretty fast, too. 
The great discovery of the morning was that of three ' uglies,' 
which L had caused to be prepared some three weeks be- 

' ,ii 




fore, and which were now for the first time displayed, much 

to M 's discomfiture, who had, for the rest of the journey, 

those dreadful objects constantly before him. 

" At one o'clock we arrived at Sette Vene, the first stop- 
ping-place, where we ordered a ' fork-breakfast.' At this sta- 
tion we overhauled the Dodworths, or ' Dodworth's Band,' as 
they were familiarly termed ; and presently after our arrival 

came up the other carriage before referred to. C went 

down and scraped acquaintance with the people. He found 
that it was the family of a gentleman from Bengal going on 
to Florence. 

" Breakfast being finished, we started again about three 
o'clock. In about two hours and a half we found ourselves 
at Civita Castellana, an uninteresting place. Fortunately, we 
arrived at the hotel on the very heels of the Dodworths, and 
found the innkeeper puzzled to death to know what to do 
with them ; when, seeing our comparatively small party, it 
probably occurred to him to solve in some degree the compli- 
cated problem by instantly showing us to an apartment ; in 
which, for about half an hour after we had been comfortably 
ensconced, we could see various members of the unhappy 
Dodworth family walking distractedly up and down, and 
could hear the still perplexed landlord ejaculating, ' Sono 
dieci padroni !' " 

The next day they resolved on an early start. 

" Breakfasting at half-past six, we were off by seven. "What 
of that ? Dodworth's Band and tlie Bengal tiger had started 
by five or thereabouts ! 

" The rain had ceased ; the day was very warm, witli a 
bright and unmitigated sun. AYe passed through some lovely 
scenery, and for at least an hour after our departure were near 
that most beautiful of mountains immortalized by Horace in 

his ode : 

* Vidcs ut alta stet nive candkluin 

" M made several sketches of it as we passed rapidly 

i ! 

I i| 

\ i-.* 



along. We also descended into an exquisite valley at a place 
where a tremendous battle was fought between 8000 French- 
men under Macdonald and 40,000 Neapolitans ; but, while all 
were gazing at the majestic ruins of the Castle of Borghetto, 
the discovery was made that one of the party was calmly oc- 
cupied in perusing a little story called ' Daisy Burns.' So 
great was the general indignation that she put down her 
book, and for a time looked at the view, like everybody else." 
That day they passed through Terni, and struck a region of 
enormous beds. 

" At Terni was the most tremendous bed that ever we saw : 
there was room in it for at least five persons. The beds all 

along this road were very pecul- 
iar ; they grew higher and high- 
er, till, at the last two stations, 
we had to climb into them on 

. On the third day they crossed 
the great mountain of La Som- 
ma, up which the horses were 
helped by yokes of oxen. Ar- 
riving at Sj)oleto, "the first 
thing we saw as we drove up 
to the inn was several heads of 
the Dodworths thrust from the windows above, and serenely 
contemplating us. They and the Bengalese had already ar- 
rived, of course." 

Foligno was the resting-place that night. 
" The inn, like all along the route, was wanting in the com- 
fort of carpets. This defect we attempted to supply by put- 
ting our shawls on the bare brick floors, and then sitting 
round in a ring, with our feet on them — a particularly droll 

The fourth day brought them to Pe' ngia, where " the party 
sallied forth in search of the works of Pietro Perugino, hav- 
ing previously ascertained from ' Murray ' that the principal 

•11 , 



ones were in the Exchange and one or two other specified 
places. And now occurred accidents worthy to be recorded, 
not upon parchment, but upon brass. The General assured lis 
that he knew perfectly well the position of the Sola del Cam- 
bio, and was so confident about it that wo followed him with 
no hesitation. He led us to a building venerable enough to 
be any salu in the world, and asked the sentry who stood at 
the door where Perugino's frescoes were to be found. The 
man appearing to be hopelessly in the dark on this point, we 
entered the gloomy building, and were assailed by a small and 
ragged boy, who answered our incoherent inquiries by equally 





incoherent answers. Tims we went on, up one pair of stairs, 
and down a long passage, in which were nothing but small 
doors, and then up another and another flight, and down di- 
vers passages, expecting every moment to arrive at the door 
of the majestic Hall of Exchange ; when at last we brought 




■>' 1] 

lip, boy and all, at the end of a dark corridor. There was an 
iron grating, and outside stood an ill-favored man, regarding 
ns with amazement, in which we found ourselves sharers with 
himself. At last the silence was broken by his question, 
' Cosa vogliono V Vogliono vedere i prigionieri V 

" The tinitli was, that the General had ingeniously guided ns 
to the door of the Criminal Prison, and the frescoes of Peru- 
gino danced as ignes fatui before our confused minds. How 
cheap we felt, how astounded the spectators were, how the 
sentry and the laimdress of the prison grinned, and how 
M blew up the ragged boy as we slowly retired in con- 
fusion, may be left to the imagination." 

On leaving Perugia they at last got to the front of the 

"We had experienced much annoyance thus far. The 
Bengal man generally started an hour before us, but, as wo 
had better horses, we invariably overtook him. It is a point 
of honor with the vetturini not to pass each other on the 
road ; so we were obliged to tug on behind, and got in much 
later than we should otherwise have done. On this occasion, 
however, by a skilful manoeuvre we got the start, and were 
thenceforth ahead of the whole field, the Dodworths having 
been left hull -down, for we never heard of them or saw 
them again on the journey." 

The next night was spent on the shores of the beautiful 
and historic Lake Thrasymene, and thence, passing through 
Arezzo and Monte Yarchi, they arrived in Florence on the 
12th of May. So delighted were they with their driver, their 
equij)age, and the pleasant manner of the journey, that they 
resolved to continue it to Xice, by way of Genoa, over the 
Cornice Road, undoubtedly the most beautiful drive in the 
world. These things are now utterly lost to the general 
traveller, who is whirled by rail through a region of which 
it is impossible for him, in that breathless, reckless hurry, 
to form a just appreciation. Far happier were we in those 
days, ere the lovely coast had been profaned by such im- 





provements, and when the choice was between the leisurely 
progress by land and a passage by steamer. 

The drive from Florence to Nice began on the 17th of 
May. The first day's journey brought them to Pisa. The 
artist of the expedition has given 
a sketch of " one of the antiquities 
of the place." 

At Pietra Santa they crossed 
the frontier of Parma, and passed 
in view of the marble moun- 
tains of Carrara, and so went into 
Sardinia. Beyond Sarzana they 
achieved the high adventure of 
the river Magra, of which a par- 
ticular account is given, with an 
illustration : 

"It is a broad and rapid 
stream, without a bridge, and too deep to ford. Arrived at 
the bank, the carriage was backed down to the water's edge. 

All got out of it except mother and L ; the horses were 

taken off, and then eight stout men, with pantaloons rolled 
up as high as they could be rolled, laid hold of the wheels, 
and, plunging into the water, dragged the carriage out to a 
large, flat scow-boat, into which they rolled it. As we stood 
contemplating these things from the shore, and uncertain 
what was coming next, other men, with a similar arrange- 
ment of legs, rushed up, and, seizing us, carried us off in 
their arms or on their backs, and bore us in safety to the 
boat. It would be impossible to describe the feelings of 
the party thus taken by surprise, but all resigned themselves 
with fortitude to the trying circumstances. The horses fol- 
lowed, Eavcl riding one and C another ; and so we all 

got safely aboard. The boat was then poled across to the 
opposite bank, where we were landed in the same extraordi- 
nary manner. This thing is sometimes no joke ; in stormy 
weather it is dangerous to cross, and in the spring-time the 





river is sometimes impassable when swollen by the melting 
of the snow on the mountains. Two days before wo were 
there no one could cross." 

Sunday, May 20, was quietly spent at Spezzia, then the 
naval station of the American Mediterranean squadron. 
After that they passed through Borghetto and Scstri di Le- 
vante, crossing spurs of the Apennines, and enjoying mag- 
nificent views of the blue Mediterranean. On ascending the 


long hills all who could walk did so, not merely to relieve the 
horses, but also from preference. The only drawback was 
the importunity of beggars. The General had an ingenious 
method of relieving himself from these tormentors. My 
mother's sobriquet was " the Principessa," a title first be- 
stowed on her by the Roman beggars, who, seeing her walk- 
ing about in a velvet cloak trimmed with fur, and a fur muff, 
tippet, and armlets, took her for a Ilussian princess, and in- 
voked her aid under that impression. On the way up the 
long hills the General, finding himself surrounded by beggars 
and unable to enjoy the view, addressed them in a depreca- 
tory air : " I," said he, " am only a poor pilgrim, and have 
nothing for you ; but there comes a carriage up the hill con- 
taining a principessa, who is very charitable ; go to her." 
The effect was magical : the pilgrim was instantly deserted, 
and the whole herd scampered off to meet the approaching 

From Sestri to Xice the journey was on the celebrated 
Cornice Road. 

" It is a lovely drive. You go winding in and out of the 
bays and passing through the most enchanting scenery as one 




promontory after anotlicr is doubled, and bay after bay re- 
cedes, bidding you pass along and quite around its whole 
extent. The waves roll in almost under the carriage win- 
dows, and the views up and down the coast extend for many 
miles each way. In point of mechanical execution the road 
is simply magnificent. Some of the stiff est headlands are 
traversed by tunnels, and the pathway rests on solid walls, to 
save it from destruction by landslips on the one side or sea- 
ward storms on the other." 

In a large family there is always plenty of delightful chaff. 
The General afforded opportunities for this by his character- 
istic habit of speaking most energetically and decidedly on 
nearly evory subject. One day, as we were about to start, a 
loud excl lUiation was heard from him: "Now, there is a 
thing which I dislike more than anything in this world !" A 
sudden rush of the entire family was made, each anxious for 
information as to this antipathy, when wo perceived the 
General regarding, with severe 
aspect, a trunk which had hang- 
ing out at the side one of the 
linen strajis which arc used to 
hold the top steady when ojien. 
All took warning for the fut- 
ure. The trunk was opened, the strap slipped in, and the 
excitement subsided. 

Passing along, " we came to a village which struck Mrs. Dix 
as so very beautiful in its position and its general aspect that 
she was anxious to know its nrtine. The General informed 
her, to her surprise, that it liad no name and was no place. 
How he found this out we presumed not to inquire ; but, 
notwithstanding its insignificance, it was thought right to 
mention it in the journal, and to observe that ' no jilace ' has 
a picturesque church and graceful cottages ; that no place is 
traversed by a mountain stream spanned by a graceful bridge ; 
that no place pleased us very much ; and, finally, that no place 
delighted us more than any place we saw that day." 


T?f— ' 

1:1 i;; 

■>■■ -^- — ^:^-s>L4_ 





On the 20th of May, after leavhig Genoa, they passed 
through a memorable little town, of whieh an unpleasant ac- 
count is given : 

"Cogoleto claims the honor of having given birth to Co- 
lumbus. If that distinguished man had as poor fare and as 
many b-d-b-gs as we were afflicted with in tliis i)laco, it is 
easy to see why ho became discontented and went away to 
try and find a new world." 

Arriving at Nice on the 29th, they remained there a week, 
and then pursued the journey to Marseilles, always with their 
devoted liavel. The region is historically interesting, and 
fidl of memories of the Emperor Napoleon I.: at Cannes and 
Frejus these abound. The country about Cannes is lovely; 
Provence is a garden, and that is one of its most delicious 
portions. The journey from Nice to Marseilles occupied 
three days ; and so delighted were the party with their jour- 
ney that it is placed on record as the unanimous feeling that 
if there had been any means of going homo to America by 
land they would undoubtedly have kept Ravel, and made a 
contract with him to drive them thither. 

Such an arrangement, however, being impossible, resort was 
had to the means of transportation commonly in use ; and on 
the 4th day of July the General, with nearly all the family, 
sailed from Havre in the steamship Arago, Captain Lines, for 
home. I followed them ten days later, having spent a fort- 
night in England. 

The winter of 1855-'5G was passed in Florida. The Gen- 
eral, who disliked cold weather, found himself thoroughly 
comfortable and happy, in a delicious summer climate, and 
with plenty of alligators at hand Avhcreon to try his skill as a 
rifleman. Many were the remarkable exploits performed by 
him on the bjyiks of the St. John's in his pursuit of those 
repulsive reptiles. The monotony of life at Dr. Benedict's 
" Sanitarium " was relieved by a visit to St. Augustine, then, 
as now, one of the most interesting relics of antiquity in the 
United States. Its old gate-way and picturesque plaza, with 


the Roman Catholic church on the one side and the Episco- 
pal church just opposite ; the sea-wall, alYordiug a delightful 
walk in the cool of the day ; the palm-trees and tiled roofs ; 
the veiled Minorcan women — all these gave an air of strange- 
ness to the place. But the ohject of chief interest was tho 
foi*t of St. Mark, built in the days of the Spanish domination, 
and at such a cost to the home government that it is related 
how, on one occasion, tho King, on a fresh requisition for 
funds, ascended tho roof of his palace in despair, and, gazing 
wistfully westward, exclaimed that he thought by this time 
he ought to see the walls rising out of the ocean. The inter- 
est awakened by the sight of this relic of other days may be 
Inferred from a letter to the Senators from Florida d j^ntpoa 
of its importance and value : 

" New York, May 10, 1856. 
^^ Messrs. Yulee and Malhry, U. S. Senator's from Florida: 

" Gentlemen, — Although I liavc just returned from Florida, where I 
have passed tho greater part of the last winter with my family, I feel 
some dclicac}', not being a Floridian, in writing to you on a matter 
chiefly of a local nature. But, as the whole country has an interest in 
it, I shall make no apology for presenting it to you. 

*' I allude to the condition of the old Spanish fortress at St. Augustine, 
which I consider disreputable to us as a nation. There arc numerous 
reasons why it should be repaired and preserved. Let me state a few 
of the principal ones : 

"1. It is necessary for the defence ol St. Augustine, which I regard as 
a most important position. Suppose us engaged in a war with Great 
Britain. From the vicinity of St. Augustine to the St. John's River, 
Savannah, and Charleston, it would afford great facilities for depreda- 
tion on our coast and on commerce. Although the bar at the mouth 
of the harbor is in its present state an obstruction, it might by a very 
little drctlging be made a convenient and safe resort for vessels of light 
draught; and its vicinity to the Bahama Islands would enable the 
enemy with ease to supiily and defend it. I know no point south of 
Charleston which could be converted to so great annoyance to the 
whole Southern Atlantic coast. But I need not enlarge on a subject 
which you understand so much better than myself 

" 2. The fort, as a specimen of military art, deserves to be preserved, 
and put in a state of perfect repair. I have seen few works iu any 



!i ( 

country better calculated to illustrate on a small scale the theory of 
scientific fortification. It is rapidly falling into decay, and a few years 
more of neglect will complete its destruction. The wall over the case- 
mates is worn away, and some of them leak badly, though others are 
yet perfect, and are used for storing ammunition. A very little expense 
would arrest this process of dilapidation. The casemates secured from 
moisture would be perfectly dry, and suited for quarters for a garrison 
in case of war. The stone of which the fort is constructed seems to be 
admirably adapted to the purpose. It yields to cannon-balls without 
breaking into fragments, as may be seen by the indentations made by 
the batteries of General Oglethorpe. 

" 3. As an antiquity of extraordinary merit and interest it should be 
repaired and preserved. I would not incur the expense for this reason 
alone ; but when considerations of utility are so strongly in favor of it, 
this argument may be urged to strengthen the case. It is one of the 
few memorials which the discoverers of America have left on tlie north- 
ern part of this continent, and it would be discreditable in the highest 
degree to us to allow it to perish. 

" In a word, as a woiic of military science and art, as an indispensable 
protection to St. Augustine, and as a memento of those who preceded us 
on this portion of the American continent, and to whose enterprise wo 
owe our homes and all the prosperity and greatness which after-ages 
have in reserve for us, let us preserve this ancient fortress and restore it 
to its pristine condition. Tiie expense will not be great — not half so 
much as would be necessary to construct a work of one tithe of its cfii- 
ciency ; and when Congress (I intend no disrespect) is scattering the 
public treasure with so lavish a liand, is there not every reason to be- 
lieve that a joint efibrt on your part may secure an object which is essen- 
tial to the protection of the Atlantic coast south of Charleston, and in 
■which I feel tliat the good name of the country is concerned ? 

" As to the barracks at the other end of the town, the sooner tlie gov- 
ernment can get rid of tliem the better, especially if they can be applied 
to any useful purpose. They are in the wrong place, are rapidly decay- 
ing, and would not, I think, by supplying Lny future military want, 
indemnify us for the expense of keeping them up. 

"You will excuse me for bringing this subject before you. Though a 
New Yorker, I may say (taking a slight liberty witli the poet), ' Nihil 

" I am. Gentlemen, very truly yours, John A. Dix." 

A part of the following year was spent at Cornwall-on-tlie- 
Iludson, a delightful summer resort, and evei more attractive 



in the autumn. The scenery is perfect ; the air pure ; the 
prospect diversified. There the Highlands open toward the 
south, and the broad waters of Newburgh Bay give the idea 
of an inland lake bordered by stately hills. Next to the 
house at which we lodged was " Idlewild," the residence of 
Nathaniel P. WilUs. His health was at that time seriously 
impaired, but his manners and conversation were as charming 
as ever. My mother and he felt a strong interest in each 
other, as she was still very delicate, and not yet entirely re- 
covered from the severe illness contracted in liome. Many 
pleasant notes came to her from the mansion on the other 
side of the glen, where the trees made a perpetual twilight 
above the noisy little stream that flowed below to join the 
waters of the river. Of these I transcribe one or two : 

" Idlewild. 
" Dear Mrs. Dix, — Tho elements have relented toward you this morn- 
ing, and the south-west wind is good for our mutual consumptions and 
sorrows. It will be soft and sunny over the hills this afternoon, and I 
will re-claim your tender comijlianco of yesterday and call for yourself 
and daughter at 3 p.m. Please bring all your griefs and shawls to the 
wagon with you, for I long for sympathy, and wish it to be warm. 
" Do not trouble yourself to answer this, unless you are too ill to go. 
" Yours very sincerely, N. P. Willis." 

"Sunday morning. 

" Dear "Mns. Dix, — You have too much of the conception of genius 
yourself not to be interested in seeing the author's child before birth, 
and so (by way of announcing my return, alive and well) I enclose you 
a proof-sheet of my leading article for next week. It is to give me an 
excuse, also, for announcing to you that I propose to cross Idlewild cat- 
aract at 11 A.M., and report to you my voyage of discovery to the myste- 
rious Hon. Mrs. Wliyte. Please have your astonishment ready. 

" It seems striving to clear off, and will achieve it by noon, I think. 
Illcantime, dear Mrs. Dix, I remain, 

" Yours most truly, N. P. Willis." 

*' Idlewild, Thursday morning. 
"My dear Mrs. Dix, — I have a brother named after you (Mr. Ricli- 
ard Willis), and it is 2?tci'a intention to be here to dinner to-day. lie 



is, like liis namesake, worth knowing as a variety of tlie liunian type, 
and a gem of liis kind ; and wc have all agreed, therefore, tliat you and 
he must not die in ignorance of each other. To prevent this catas- 
trophe I shall be at your door with my wagon at half-past one, this day, 
and I trust you will let no obstacle prevent my taking charge of you for 
the remainder of the daylight. I will restore you safely at your own 
hour of the evening with the family wagon. We shall have some good 

music after dinner. Believe me, yours most trulv, 


During those years in wliicli lie was excluded from public 
life my father gave much time and thought to matters con- 
nected with the development of the country. He was ac- 
tively employed as one of the pioneers in the gi[^antic en- 
terprise of uniting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts by one 
continuous line of railway. On Vv'itlidrawing from politics ho 
accepted an invitation to become President of the Chicago 
and Eock Island Railroad, a post which brought much hard 
work, with small pecuniary return. It, gave him, however, 
what he most desired, constant occupation, and filled his 
active mind with large and important subjects. His jour- 
neys to and from the West for several years were frequent ; 
and as the work under his immediate observation grew so did 
his enthusiasm increase, until he saw, by faith, the " Union 
Pacific Railroad " already an accomplished fact. His speech 
at Davenport, Iowa, in the month of June, 1854, in response 
to that of the Mayor of that place, contains his views of the 
grandeur of the work in which he was engaged. An excur- 
sion was made in which some twelve hundred citizens of the 
East — capitalists, merchants, statesmen, geographers, and sci- 
entific men — took part. On returning from St. Anthony's 
Falls to Davenport they were received witli appropriate dem- 
onstrations. The Mayor, in addressing them, said : 

"Ladies and Gkntlemen, — AVe invite you to an entertain- 
ment on this side the great water. It is not of breads though 
we could feed a multitude, and we touch not the wine. You 
see yonder archway invading the bold shore of old Missis- 




eippi, fit monument to the genius Redfield. That is the road 
to California and the Indies. 

"Wo have haniessed up a horse which, like the fabled 
steeds of Diomedes, vomiteth lire from his nostrii.\ and, 
without grants of land or other aid than your own, we intend 
to land the first train on the Pacific. We are on a great line. 
It is not a line dividing states and empires ; it is not Mason 
and Dixon's line, but it is Dix's line to the great West. 

" Our train is now ready to start through the Iowa prai- 
ries. AVe have a Dix for a conductor, a Flagg for a finan- 
cier, Famam for an engineer, and Sheffield for a fireman, 
and we have all the men who have been engaged on this 
road from Chicago to aid us in the enterprise. We wish 
you to join us, and with such a noble company we shall be 
at the metropolis of this State in December next, and we 
invite you to celebrate another such a scene as tliis in two 
years on the Missouri. 

" Embark in this train, and before our rivals are done talk- 
ing of their projects we shall have the railroad to California's 
golden sands half finished, and invite them to celebrate the 
completion of another link in this great chain on the summit 
of the Eocky Mountains." 

In reply General Dix made a speech, from which I take 
this extract. It shows the cherished purpose of New York 
and the East : 

" We have, as yet, gentlemen, only reached the Mississippi. 
But the tide of population has fiowed far beyond it. Iowa, 
the great State of which we have merely touched the bound- 
ary, one of the youngest of the American sisters, is still west 
of us. With I know not how many hundred thousand inhab- 
itants — you, fellow - citizens of Iowa, cannot tell yourselves 
from week to week how many people you have, so rapidly is 
immigration adding to your numbers — with fifty thousand 
square miles, and the richest fifty in a body in the whole 
Union — if the reports of the government surveyors are to be 










trusted — no estimate can be formed of the rapidity of her 
growth or the standard of wealth and strength she is destined 
to attain. We have come from the Atlantic Ocean to the 
Mississippi River by an uninterrupted line of railroads. If 
we had come seven months later we could have gone on to 
Iowa City, nearly sixty miles farther west, by an extension 
of the same iron track which has brought us here. 

"It is unnecessary for me to say to you, fellow-citizens of 
Iowa, that a railroad is now in progress of construction from 
Davenport, on the Mississippi, where we now stand, to Coun- 
cil Bluffs, on the Missouri, by the Mississippi and Missouri Rail- 
road Company, for the work is going on under your own eyes. 
The two rivers are three hundred miles apart. The grading 
on the first sixty miles will be finished in September, and the 
rails, which are now arriving in New York, will be laid before 
the 1st of January next. One hundred and twenty miles 
more are ready to be put under contract. This road must 
and will be promptly completed. It is the great highway to 
Nebraska, and its speedy completion is vitally connected with 
the future prosperity of that Territory. 

" Let it not be supposed that we are to stop at the Mis- 
souri River. The character of the country still invites us on- 
ward, and we shall go on. Our surveyors and engineers have 
been beyond Council Bluffs into Nebraska, as far as the Platte 
or Nebraska River; others have been several hundred miles 
farther west, and they report that it has the same fertility of 
soil which enriches Iowa so greatly. Gentlemen, we may as 
well come to the point at once — we are on the way to the 
Pacific; and we intend to go there. It will require years 
of perseverance, but the work will be accomplished in good 
time. I may reasonably expect, with the ordinary chances 
of life, to live to see it. So long as the same rich soil is 
spread out before us, we may continue on the line we are 
now working. 

"The country, as it is settled and its productive powers 
are developed, will furnish the means of sustaining the work. 


The State of Iowa now provides all tlie money to grade the 
road through her territory by subscriptions within hereelf. 
She has not received a single dollar from subscribers on the 
seaboard. She only asks of the Atlantic States — where her 
improvements will virtually terminate — to funiish rails and 
the running apparatus to put the road in operation. The 
gentlemen who have constructed the Chicago and Kock Isl- 
and Railroad are engaged in the construction of this, and 
it is their opinion that the one will be as productive as the 

" I have said, gentlemen, that we are on the way to the 
Pacific, and that we may continue on the line we are now 
working so long as we have the same rich country to traverse 
— a country which will continue to draw men and means from 
the East, and especially from New England, ' the Northern 
hive ' of this continent, sending out her legions, not for plun- 
der or conquest, but to extend the arts of civilization, to carry 
the hardy virtues of the Pilgrims, perpetuated in their de- 
scendants, into the pathless wilderness, and make it what the 
country before our eyes has been made in a quarter of a cen- 
tury of time. Where this great highway to the Pacific is to 
cross thj Rocky Mountains we need not care to know. The 
question is not an urgent one now. Whether we are to bear 
north, following the course of the Platte, or incline south, 
may be settled hereafter ; and it must be settled, not by cur- 
sory exploration, but by the most careful and minute exami- 
nations under the directions of experienced engineers. One 
thing is certainly desirable — that the States from the Lakes 
to the southern boundary of Missouri .aould have a common 
exodus from the American wilderness, which spreads itself 
out from the eastern face of the Rocky Mountains. 

" The railway companies between the Atlantic and the Mis- 
sissippi have a common interest, and they should l.nre a com- 
mon aim. Let them go westward in the respective districts 
which they are traversing, and when they reach the wilder- 
ness beyond the Mississippi and the Missouri they may, by 
I.— 20 



their combined influence and means, open a common avenue 
to tlie Pacific, or more tlian one, if their western termini must 
be fixed at different points. A large view of this subject 
should extinguish all jealousy, which is always bred in nar- 
rowness of feeling, and is almost always blind to the very 
interest it seeks to promote." 

The work on the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad was 
pushed with the rapidity and energy which characterize 
American enterprises. It was commenced April 10, 1852, 
and opened to .Toliet, 40 miles, October 18 in the same year; 
to Morris, 61 miles, January 5, 1853 ; to Ottowa, 83 miles, 
February 14 ; to La Salle, 98 miles, March 10 ; to Peru, 99 
miles, March 21 ; to Tiskilwa, 122 miles, September 12 ; to 
Sheftield, 136 miles, October 12 ; to Geneseo, 158 miles, De- 
cember 19. This was the first continuous line of railroad to 
reach the Mississippi River from Lake Michigan. The west- 
ern extension of the road was the Mississippi and Missouri 
Railroad ; and the bridge connecting the two sections of the 
road was a good sjiecimen of engineering skill. It is an 
interesting fact in his life that General Dix should have 
been connected with these great works, and with the grander 
project for which they prepared the way. As was observed 
in a letter to him from Davenport, June 20, 1854, by one 
engaged in the same enterprise : 

" Your earnest and devoted label's are M'orth to the com- 
pany a very large amount ; and not only so, but they place 
your name high on the pinnacle of fame in a different line 
entirely from any one in which you have thus far won a 
great reputation." 

Referring to the work then in progress, General Dix wrote 
to Mr. Dean, member of Congress, as follows : 

"New York, March 21, 1854. 
"My dear Sir, — If j'ou have constitutional scruples in rcsjject to 
grants of lands to States for roads within their own limits, it will not bo 
worth your while to talvo the trouble to read this letter; but if you re- 



gard the question as one of practical propriety, I should be glad to have 
you inquire into the merits of the Iowa land bill, which, I understand, 
•will be shortly reported by the proper committee in your House. The 
bill has passed the Senate in strict conformity to the memorial of the 
Legislature of that State to Congress, It is a clean bill. It will not be 
pressed on your House or its members by any unworthy appliances, but 
will be left to stand on its own merits. 

" You are, perhaps, aware that a railroad was opened last month from 
Chicago to Rock Island, on the Mississippi River, and that it has been 
constructed in an almost incredibly short period by private capital and 
enterprise. Our friend Mr. Flagg is treasurer. It has cost between four 
and five millions of dollars. It has been opened by sections, and has 
actually yielded, on the finished portions, in ten months, over $600,000 
in tolls. The receipts the next year will not fall short of a million. 
This unprecedented success points it out witli certainty as the great 
route to the Mississippi from cur own State. A railroad has been com- 
menced in continuation of this from the Mississippi, at Rock Island, to 
the Missouri, near Council Bluffs. It is in rapid progress, and we hope 
to open a section by the 1st of June. With the aid of tlie land bill it 
can be opened to Iowa City by the 1st of January next, and to the Mis- 
souri by the 1st of January, 1850. Over twenty years ago Redfield,\vho 
lias distinguished himself so much by his scientific writings, particularly in 
respect to the laws of storms, pointed out this route for the great railway 
to the Pacific. It is now the principal channel of emigration to districts 
beyond the Mississippi, and I think is rapidly confirming Rcdficld's sug- 
gestion. It is the line of enterprise and physical power. I have been 
associated, as President of the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad Com- 
pany, since its organization ten months ago, with the Iowa gentlemen 
engaged in it. They are prosecuting it with discretion and vigor, and 
with clean hands. Tluis far the enterprise has been carried on by Iowa 
capital and credit, and we are preparing to procure the iron by means 
obtained here. 

"I believe the Iowa land bill to have as strong claims on New York 
as it would have if the lands it appropriates were to be granted to her. 
I believe the appropriation of tlie lands to the contemplated improve- 
ments in Iowa will be more beneficial to us than any application of the 
proceeds possibly could be within our own limits. They will penetrate 
the heart of the richest region in the Union in proportion to its magni- 
tude, and pour its products into the lap of New York. My object in 
writing to you is to ask your attention to the subjcc —that is, if you 
have no conscientious scruples as to such grants — and, if you desire any 
farther information, the Honorable John P. Cook, a member of your 






House, can tell you all about it. If you think favorably of it, I should 
be happy to have you sliow this letter to our friends, Messrs. Bishop 
Perkins, Hughes, Westbrook, Fenton, and any other of our State dele- 
gation, if you think proper. I am, dear Sir, sincerely yours, 

" JoiiN A. Dix. 
"Hon. G. Dean, M. C." 

The following letters bear on the same subject : 

" Miignolia, Florida, March 14, 1856. 

" My dear Sin, — I perceive by the newspapers that Mr. Brown of the 
Senate, on the Gth instant, reported a bill for the construction of a rail- 
road and telegraph line from the Mississippi River south of latitude 37° 
to the Pacific at San Francisco. This project cuts off St. Louis and 
isolates the State of Iowa, so far as a central road to the Pacific is con- 
cerned. The phrase 'south of latitude 37° ' is very vague; but I take it 
for granted it is intended to endorse the rccommendation of the Secre- 
tary of War to adopt the route near the thirty-second parallel. 

It strikes me that such a bill would be very unjust to those who have 
invested so largely in carrying railroads beyond the Mississippi, and who 
have completed nearly one-half of the entire line from the Atlantic to 
tlie Pacific ; and if this bill is to pass, it certainly ought to make a simi- 
lar provision for the route through Iowa, otherwise a severe check may 
be given to the progress and the ultimate prosperity of your truly noble 
young State. Under a general view of the subject it is of little conse- 
quence through wliat part of Iowa the great road to the Pacific should 
pass. But the bridge at Davenport and the comi)lction of the line to 
Iowa City seem to indicate this as the proper one. I have always thought 
tliat the line from Dubuque west should meet us at the Missouri, and that 
we must go together through the Platte Valley to the South Pass. I am 
told fifty miles of road are already in operation on the Sacramento, and 
that the California improvements point to Utah, the South Pass, and the 
Platte Valley. 

"I send you a speech which I made at the Iowa City celebration, 
and which has been printed in pamphlet form since I left. I consid- 
ered what I said as intended only for the persons present, and those 
who were interested in the particular line, of which we had just fin- 
ished the first section. Had I foreseen that so much prominence 
would have been given to it, I should have gone more in detail into 
the subject. 

"I really hope this matter will take a right direction, and if the line 
of 32° must be taken, that the friends of the route through Iowa, Illinois, 


Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York will insist on a grant of 160,000,000 

acres of land for that route. 

" I write you in haste, and am, dear General, sincerely yours, 

" John A. Dix. 
"Hon. M«. Jones, U. 8. Senate." 

•' Magnolln, Florida, March 21, 1856. 

"Deau Sir, — I iierceivc by the newspapers that Mr. Brown introduced 
into the Senate, on the 6th instant, a bill making provision for a railroad 
and magnetic telegraph, south of latitute 37°, from the Mississippi River 
to the Pacific at Snn Francisco. I consider this movement as an adop- 
tion of the lino of 32° through the Colorado desert. Such a road for all 
the purposes of transportation and travel will be nearly useless to the 
North-western States ; and to tlie line of Chicago and the great Lakes 
its influence must be positively detrimental. The great route between 
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is marked out by natural features too 
strong to be mistaken. It is from New York by the Hudson River, 
the remarkable level from Albany to BuflUlo, and the Great Lakes, to 
Chicago, Rock Island, Council Bluffs, the Platte Valley, the South Pass, 
Utah, and the Sacramento. I have no objection that the Southern 
States should have 40,000,000 acres of land to aid in the construc- 
tion of their road, and any allowance for carrying the mail that may 
be thought reasonable. But every consideration of fairness demands 
that the same provision should be made at the same time (I mean in the 
same bill) for the other route. The road through Iowa and Nebraska 
will pay as fast as it can be constructed ; and the local business will sus- 
tain it to the end of time. The North-west, the North-east, and the 
Middle States are all interested in it. I believe it is in your power to 
put this matter right. I write to you promptly to invite your early at- 
tention to the subject ; and you will excuse me suggesting that not only 
great public considerations, but others personal to yourself, render it of 
the highest importance that this measure should be carried by your 
efllcicnt aid. 

" I made a speech at Iowa City early in January, in whicli I took a 
general view of this question. General Jones of Iowa has a copy. It 
was a dinner si)eech ; and as there were many others to speak, my re- 
marks were necessarily brief. I am at present President of the Jlissis- 
sippi and Missouri Railroad Company, as you will perceive. I have no 
selfish interest in tliis matter, my only motive is to see a great public 
enterprise succeed ; and I stand ready to relinquish my position at any 
moment, if by doing so I can farther the object in view. 

"I am passing the winter here on account o-f my wife's delicate health, 
and shall be in New York about the middle of April." 





The year 1857 was one of varied interest in the present his- 
tory. I shall first mention the attack on Trinity Church dur- 
ing the session of the Legislature in the begnining of that year, 
in connection with a statement of the service rendered to the 
Corjwration by my father at that time. But here it may be 
proper to state the leading facts in his history as a member 
of the Episcopal Church. Born of a Puritan stock, and 
brought up under Congregational influences, he has given 
us in his autobiography the story of his early sentiments on 
the subject of religion. The questions of man's relation to 
Almighty God, and the duties consequent upon it, were ever 
regarded by my father as of the utmost importance. That 
this was his habit of mind is evident from the fact that, at 
an age when the thoughts are little inclined to turn serious- 
ly to the subject of religion, he asked to be baptized into the 
Church. lie was about twenty years of age, and stationed at 
Fort Constitution, Portsmouth, N. II., when he received the 
first of those great sacraments ordained by our Lord Jesus 
Christ for the salvation of the souls of men. The record is 
in the register of baptisms in St. John's Church, Portsmouth, 
of which the Eev. Charles Burroughs was Rector : 

"John Adams Dix, nn nrlult, agecl 20. Samuel Larkin, Esq., Timothy 
Upham, Esq., and Mr. Samuel E. Watson were his chosen witnesses." 

The date was July 10, 1818. 

From that day my father remained a staunch and exem- 
plary member of the Church to whose fold lie was then ad- 
mitted, lie was prominent in the congregation of St. Pe- 
ter's, Albany, as I have already related. He received his 
first communion in the English Chapel, outside the Porta 
del Popolo, at Home, during our residence in that city in 
the winter of 1 843-' 44, and he was always a regular and 
frequent partaker of that holy sacrament to the very end 
of his life on earth. 

On the 12th of November, 1849, General Dix was elect- 
ed a member of the Yestry of the parish of Trinity Church, 


in tlie city of New York, succeeding his fatlicr-in-law, Mr. 
Morgan, who had been a member of that body for many 
years. It is hardly necessary to say that ho was neither idle 
nor inactive in that position ; his energetic character and 
practical sagacity found there a new field of exercise, and ho 
became, in course of time, one of the most influential mem- 
bers of the Corporation. His attention was early directed to 
the fiiumcial condition of the parish. For a long series of 
years the policy had been one of profuse, not to say prodigal, 
liberality ; largo sums of money were given away to parishes, 
colleges, and societies all over the State of New York, and en- 
dowments of land were granted to such an extent as seriously 
to diminish the estate and revenues of the church. If that 
policy had been pursued, not enough of the estate would have 
been left to carry on the work of the parish in this city. Per- 
ceiving a danger to which his fellow-trustees seemed blind, 
General Dix resolved to endeavor to secure a cliange of policy, 
and thus save the Corporation from deeper embarrassment. 
He has often told me the story : how he introduced certain 
resolutions, tending to stop the profuse donations to other 
bodies, and to restrict gifts to a comparatively narrow com- 
pass ; how he had difficulty in finding one of the vestry to 
second his proposed measures ; how he urged the new policy 
of retrenchment and economy year after year, slowly making 
converts ; until, after the lapse of several years, he had the 
pleasure of finding a majority on his side. Ilis view was 
this : that the proper field for the use of the wealth of Trin- 
ity Church is the city of Nev/ York, and especially those dis- 
tricts which other churches have abandoned ; that ours should 
be, first of all, a missionary work among the poor and needy 
in the forsaken regions of the metropolis ; and that no dona- 
tions, subsidies, or aid of any kind should be made outside 
the parish limits, until every need within those limits had 
been supplied. The results of that policy are seen in the 
vast work, spiritual, educational, and eleemosynary, now car- 
ried on in this city under the auspices of the Corporation of 



Trinity — a work for which tho efforts and perseverance of 
General Dix did much to prepare tlie way. 

Devoted as lie was to the Cliurch, and deeply interested 
in tho success of these designs for the glory of Almighty 
God and tho salvation of the souls of men, it may be imag- 
ined with what feelings ho regarded tho assault on our par- 
ish in the year 1857. For nearly two hundred years Trini- 
ty Church has been an object of attack ; no* his to bo 
wondered at, considering the jealousy of wealthj *d the more 
aggravated jealousy of ecclesiastical corporations. Moreover, 
in the case of this estate, as in that of many others, peraons 
have set up claims to the property, and designing men have 
succeeded in persuading the credulous, and perhaps, at length, 
themselves, that the Corporation is irreligiously excluding 
them from the possession of their own. But the attack now 
referred to was much more serious than any previously made, 
either by lewd fellows of the baser sort, who lust after gain 
and seek to lay hands on the wealth consecrated to God's 
service, or by the crazy dreamers who march under the ban- 
ner of old Anneke Jans. It was commenced ^d kept up 
by some of the best people in the city, by v( M clergy- 
men, and laymen conspicuous for every Cliri>.aan virtue. 
Induced by I know not precisely what desires, these per- 
sons framed the theory that every meml)er of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church resident in the city of New York was ijpso 
facto a corporator of Trinity Church, and had a right to vote 
at the annual election for church-wardens and vestrymen, and 
thus to control her concerns. According to this notion tho 
Rector of the Parish of Trinity Church should be regarded 
as the Rector of the entire Protestant Episcopal population of 
the city ; and they must be regarded as members of his parisli, 
with a right in its government ; and the Easter elections must 
be decided by a levy eu masse^ at the head of Broadway and 
Wall Street, of the members of all the parishes, which, in fact, 
seem to have been considered as mere parts of one stupendous 
whole. Accordingly a bill was introduced into the Legisla- 


ture, the effect of which would liave been to overthrow the 
existing system, to give the property into the hands of per- 
sons not connected with our parish, and to secure — what many 
conscientiously regarded as desirable — the complete undoing, 
overthrow, and destruction of the oldest corporation in this 
city, and the division of its lands and property atnong a 
crowd of hungry organizations, some of which had sprung 
from its own bowels, and many of which were the recipients 
of its steady and free benefactions.* 

It seems a marvellous thing that such men as the Rev. Dr. 
Muhlenberg of the clergy, and Mr. Robert B. Minturn of 
the laity, could have been carried away by these notions and 
become the advocates of the scheme of 8i)oliation. I shall not 
trace the history of the attack, as it went from stage to stage 
in the Legislature, nor relate the particulars of its iinal defeat; 
it suffices to add that the Corporation found one of its ablest 
champions in General Dix. Called to appear before a Com- 
mittee of the Senate, but supposing at the time that it would 
be impossible for him to do so, he prepared a communication 
to be submitted to them. This communication was sent to 
Albany by one of his associates in the Vestry; but the ses- 
sions of th( Committee continuing longer than was expected, 

* This bill, wiiich was presenter' 'n the Senate, March 25, 1857, and 
which, as its distinguished mover 'I'en stated, emanated from a rector 
of one of the largest parishes in the city of New York, numbering up- 
ward of six hundred conununlcants, provided means whereby all the 
inhabitants of this city, to whatever parish belonging, should vote, by 
representatives, five from each parish, at the annual election for church- 
wardens and vestrymen of Trinity Church. It further provided for the 
management of the financial affairs of the Corporation, by instructing the 
Vestry of Trinity how they must, for the future, apply their income; and 
it required an annual report from them to every parish of the city, in 
which they should give, as to their masters, an account of their steward- 
ship. There are occasions when one is driven to the use of vulgar terms 
to characterize actions; and, after due examination of this bill, I cannot 
avoid describing it as one of the most prodigious specimens of "cheek" 
within my recollection. 



he was able to appear in person, and read his paper as a part 
of his testimony. It was subsequently printed in pamphlet 
form, and may be found in the Appendix to the present 
work. I have only to add that it received the highest en- 
comiums from such theologians and canonists as Drs. Samuel 
Seabury and Francis L. Hawks, who regarded it as unanswer- 
able, and that it did unquestionably produce a powerful effect 
in deciding the fate of the bill. The document is particular- 
ly valuable, because it contains the views of General Dix re- 
lating to the mission of Trinity Church and the duty of its 
custodians, and shows that the principles which he advocated 
so strenuous] v in the financial administration of the State and 
general governments were deemed by him of equal soundness 
in their application to the affairs of the Church. 

It is proi)er to notice at this point the aid rendered to the 
Corporation by the Eight Rev. Dr. Potter, Bishop of New 
York. At a critical hour he addressed the clergy and laity 
of his diocese in a letter worthy the chief custodian of the 
interests of the Church and religion in this great centre of 
activity and intelligence. The letter is here given in full : 

"To the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Keio Torh: 

"BiiETmiEN, — Extraordinary efforts liav; been made of late, in several 
quarters, to turn popular feeling against the venerable Corporation of 
Trinity Church in this city. The public Press has been enlisted; the 
report of a Special Committee of the Senate, made up of partial and in- 
sufficient materials, and filled with erroneous views, has been industri- 
oisly circulated far and wide ; private influence has been employed at 
the capital of tlic State ; and it is believed that the object of all these 
agencies is to surround the Legislature of the State with sucli a pressure, 
with such a clamorous expression of popular feeling, as will constrain it 
to some aggressive measure against a Church whose only crime is that 
she has property, and that, with all her giving and spending for pious 
uses, she does not give and spend quite in the way, or quite to the extent, 
that certain persons desire ! 

" While so many influential persons are lal)oring, by partial statements, 
to exasperate the public mind, and to prepare the representatives of the 
people for lawless acts, I should feel myself unworthy of my high office 
if I did not step forth to warn and entreat you not to allow yourselves to 



be drawn inconsiderately into movements -which, whatever their authou 
may think, can only tend to violent and illegal issues. 

" But for local and fugitive circumstances of recent date, it is believed 
that no respectable body of persons would ever have been found to ques- 
tion these two propositions : 

" Ist. That the title of Trinity Church to her property is unquestion- 

" 2d. That it was the intention of the original charter, as it has always 
been the practice, to confide to the members of the parish, and to those 
only, the privilege of electing her wardens and vestrymen. 

"To attack her property, thereibre, or to attempt to dictate to her 
what she shall do with her property, is the same in principle as to attack 
tlie property of a private individual, or to attempt to dictate to him what 
use he shaU make of it. 

" Those who have been within her Vestry have seen that she has labor- 
ed hard to serve the cause of religion and learning. She has assisted 
two hundred churches in tlie State ; she has provided free education in 
schools and colleges and theological seminaries for tlie poor; she has 
prevented the whole of the lower part of this city from becoming a 
moral waste ; she has four large churches where no otlier churches would 
remain. Besides parting with a portion of her original estate, she has 
ventured beyond her income in her forwardness to do good, and has 
thereby incurred a large debt ! In a rehearing of the case these facts 
are now coming out before the Special Committee of the Senate. They 
are facts well known to all who have been conversant with the doings 
of Trinity Church. Tiie public will in due time see and recognize the 
truth, and will interpose to protect the rights of property and the char- 
acters of good and faithful men. 

" I flatter myself that the Churchmen of the Diocese of New York 

will, for the most part, be too considerate and too temperate — too mucli 

the friends of public order and public justice — to allow their influence 

to be pressed into the cause of oppression and violence. 

"Horatio Potter, 

" Provisional Bishop of New York. 
"New York, February 23, 1857." 

This communication from the eminent prelate fell like a 
bombshell into the camp of the enemy. A meeting of 
clergy and laity was held, at which violent expressions were 
used by certain prominent Rectors of the city, one saying that 
" the day had gone by when the ijpse dixit of a Bishop was 



to weigh with the Church ;" and another declaring his opin- 
ion that " the Bishop was not responsible for the letter, hut 
that he probably affixed his signature to it while under the 
influence of chloroform administered by one of the "Vestry." 
The meeting, which had been called previoasly to the appear- 
ance of the Bishop's letter, broke up in confusion, after pro- 
ceedings so disorderly as to resemble those of a political cau- 
cus ; and an intelligent gentleman who was present gave it as 
his conclusion, after what he had seen, that, even if Trinity 
Church had no legal right to the exclusive control of the 
property, it would be better that it should remain in her hands 
than fall into those of the persons at that meeting, since, if 
they were to undertake the management of the affairs of the 
parish, the disaster of Pandora's box would be repeated, and 
things would end in confusion worse confounded. It is due 
to the venerable Bishop of New York to say that to him be- 
longs the honor of striking the first decisive blow at a con- 
spiracy of a most serious character, which threatened vested 
rights and religious interests, and which, if successful, would 
have wrought infinite mischief among us, and ended in de- 
stroying i\\Q most valuable and important endowment in the 
Episcopal Church. 

The motives actuating the jjromoters of this agitation were 
as diverse as their character and princij)les. Some conscien- 
tiously believed that all the inhabitants of the city in com- 
munion with the Protestant Episcoj)al Church were, by virtue 
of the original charter, corporators of the parish ; some desired 
to relieve their own parishes from embarrassment by tlie spoils 
of the venerable mother ; some hated Trinity Clmrcli because 
of her wealth and honors ; some detested and dreaded her for 
her Iligh-Church princij^les ; and some were mere adventur- 
ers, going in for everything from which they might hope to 
draw personal adv^antage. 

The excitements of that year were not confined to ecclesias- 
tical circles ; a spirit of lawlessness and disorganization seemed 
to be in the air. There were riots in the city during the sum- 


mer. On the 16th of June, as our crack regiment, the Seventh, 
was on the march down Broadway, to take the steamer at 4 p.m. 
for an excursion to Boston, orders were given to halt oppo- 
site the City Hall, and then to take forcible possession of that 
edifice. The Mayor, Fernando Wood, suddenly found himself 
a prisoner; the City Hall was garrisoned by the National 
Guard. There were at that time two sets of police, each 
claiming to be the lawful guardians of our public peace. Be- 
tween them occurred desperate collisions, while the citizens, 
wild with excitement, found their safety due, for the nonce, 
to bayonets and field-pieces. On the 4tli day of July follow- 
ing there was bloody work in the Five Points. The rioting 
continued during Sunday, the 5tli, and the city was again pre- 
served from mob violence by the Seventh Regiment, which, 
together with the Eighth and Seventy-first, repressed the fury 
of the rabble, marching through the dangerous districts, clos- 
ing up shops, scattering crowds, and arresting ringleadere. 
Those were exciting days for us, who could not leave the city, 
and were kept in continual suspense, passing from one crisis 
to another. All tragedies, however, have their dash of com- 
edy; and, looking back to those times, I recall a certain odd 
character, by name Stephen II. Branch, who flitted constantly 
before the public eye, acting the part of a clown or jester^ 
though, no doubt, with serious intent. He was a man of good 
education and some abilities, and had a command of language 
which made me often regard him as a kind of combination of 
Carlyle and Ruskin in the state of lunacy, if such a thing can 
be imagined. Take, for example, his proclamation proposing 
himself as a candidate for the ofiice in which Fernando Wood 
had so distinguished himself ; it is one of innumerable squibs 
emanating from the same eccentric genius. We used to read 
them with eagerness for their delicious absurdity, and I re- 
member the General's delight at the awful threat of assuming 
" doubtful powers :" 

" I have been far out beyond the remotest bounds of civil- 
ized beings, and have scaled bolder cliffs and higher peaks 



than Alps reflected in the placid waters of Switzerland. 
From bewildering heights I beheld the gorgeous scenery of 
the vales, and the eagle on his mighty throne, gilded by the 
moon and her pretty children of the firmament, while the 
music of the winds and birds and rivulets, and the mountain 
fragrance, and the glories of the morning and evening sun, 
filled my soul with supernatural joy. I exchanged these 
pure and tranquil solitudes for the vice and tumult of the 
plains, and now proclaim myself a candidate for Mayor of 
New York, subject to the decision of the people. If elected 
I will toil and sweat to reduce the taxes from seven-and-a-half 
to five millions a year, which will give bigger mouthfuls, more 
commodious apartments, and better apparel to the people. If 
I fail to reduce the taxes, I will blow the City Hall and its 
thieves into a million fragments. And if I fail to render life 
and property more secure, I will drown the entire Police De- 
partment in the dog-pond. I will also drive every alien from 
office with American bayonets. This is only a sample of what 
I will do. In a word, I will assume doubtful powers, for the 
public good. I am in the field, and all the threats and money 
of the eartli shall not allure nor drive me from it. To death 
only will I yield. Up, then, Americans, and charge for a 
Mayor who will charge the sad aspect of these tiiii, .i." 

During the summer of this year the house on Manursing 
Island was sold. On the 20th of August we left it, to return 
no more : the sad associations connected with the place tem- 
pered the regret of parting. After that time the General 
spent his summers on his beloved Long Island, excepting 
when absent from the United States. The autumn of 1857 
found him established in the city of New York, and occu- 
pying a house in Thirty -first Street, near Broadway. His 
youngest son, Charles Temple Dix, was pursuing his studies 
as a landscape painter. The General watched his progress 
daily, with the hope of seeing him among the first marine 
painters of the day. This, like many other aspirations, was 



destined to extinction, through the fatal influence of that 
cruel war of which the presages were becoming more defi- 
nite from year to year. 

The attention of the reader must be directed once more to 
the unedifying spectacle of party strife. The poHcy pur- 
sued during the administration of General Pier(;e resulted in 
widening the breach between the North and the South. The 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise was resented at the North, 
and bitterly denounced as destructive of the hope of better 
days, and indicating the determination of the propagandists 
of slavery either to rule the whole country or to break up 
the Union. This feeling was deepened by the proceedings 
of the notorious Conference at Ostend, which looked to the 
acquisition of Cuba, either by purchase or by force, in order 
to prevent the emancipation of the blacks in that island — a 
measure already projected by Spain — and to hold the island 
as a fountain of sujiply of slaves and a market for their sale. 
Then followed, in the month of May, the outrage in the 
Senate House — perpetrated by Preston Brooks of South Caro- 
lina on Charles Sumner of Massachusetts — a brutal act, which 
still more embittered Northern men. About that time the 
Republican party came to its birth. The Whigs, as an or- 
ganization, had ceased to exist, though a remnant held to- 
gether under the name of "Know-nothings." But these 
were soon to be absorbed by that great political power which 
Avas destined to rule the future with an iron sway. 

General Dix supported the Democratic candidates, James 
Buchanan and John C. Breckinridge, in the canvass of 1856 : 
he did not, however, take an active part in the contest. John 
C. Fremont and AVilliam L. Dayton were nominated by the 
new political organization, by way of distinct menace to the 
South ; and Millard Fillmore and Andrew J. Donelson repre- 
sented the Know - nothings. The position and views of Gen- 
eral Dix at that particular time may be understood from some 
letters which follow, and from two communications addressed 
to Mr. Buchanan, the one before, the other after, his election : 


t- I 




"NcwYork, Juno 13, 1856. 

" Deak Sir, — I have just returned from the West. I heard at Chica- 
go, with unfeigned gratification, of your nomination. It lias relieved 
the sound and considerate portion of the community of all parties from 
a good deal of uneasiness. The ratification meetings now in progress 
in this State are bringing together the men who have been most active 
in keeping us, for the last six years, in a perpetual ferment. The work in 
the counties— which is to tell on the result of the canvass — will com- 
mence in a few weeks, and it will give me great pleasure to contribute 
my best eflforts to its success, which I look forward to with confidence. 

"I am compelled to return to Iowa next week (about the 20th), but 

shall be back early in July. I am, dear Sir, truly yours, 

" JoiiN A. Dix. 
"Hon. Jas. Buchanan." 

" New York, June 17, 1850. 

" Gentlemen, — Your invitation to address the meeting of the united 
Democracy of the city and county of Rochester on the evening of the 
19th inst., to ratify the nominations for the Presidency and Vice-Presi- 
dency at Cincinnati by the delegated Democracy of the Union, and to 
respond to the declarations of principle and policy made by the Con- 
vention, was duly received. 

" Concurring, as I do cordially, in the nominations and in the leading 
declarations by which they were accompanied, I regret that engage- 
ments here will deprive me of the pleasure ot accepting your invitation. 
I hope, however, to be able, at an early period of the canvass, to take an 
active part in it. 

*' I consider the nomination ot Mr. Buchanan a vcy fortunate one, 
both for the Democr"cy and the country ; and I look with confidence to 
his ability, exiicrience, and sound judgment for a satisfactory adjustment 
of the disturbing questions by which the public peace is endangered. 
Firmness, moderation, good-sense, and fearlessness in the discharge ot 
public duties are always indispensable to the administration of our gov- 
ernment, representing, m it does, so great a variety of interests ; and they 
are pre-eminently so at the present juncture. Few public men are as 
much distinguished for these qualities as Mr. Buchanan ; and he com- 
bines with them a thorough knowledge of public affairs, foreign as well 
as domestic. Believing him to be able, honest, and equal to any emer- 
gency likely to arise in the administration of the government, I shall 
give the Democratic ticket a cordial support. 

" I am, Gentlemen, truly yours, John A. Dix. 

"Messrs. Isaac Butts, etc." 



"Philadelphia, September 11, 1856. 
" Deak Sik,— The Democracy of Eastern Pennsylvania, and all other 
friends of the Constitution, will hold a monster mass meeting in Inde- 
pendence Square, Philadelphia, on Wednesday, the 17th instant, being 
the anniversary of the adoption of that great charter of American liberty. 
" In fulfllment of a pleasing duty as Chairman of the Democratic Cen- 
tral Committee, and conscious of your eminent ability as a friend and 
champion of the Constitution, I most earnestly ask your attendance ou 
that great occasion. Yours truly, 

" J. W. Forney, 
" Chairman of Democratic Central Com. of Pennsylvania.'' 

" New York, September 15, 1858. 

"Dear Sir, — Your favor is just received, inviting me to attend a 
monster mass meeting of the Democracy of Eastern Pennsylvania, and 
all other friends of the Constitution, in Independence Square, Philadel- 
phia, on 'the 17tli instant, being the anniversary of the adoption of that 
great charter of American liberty.' 

" I regret exceedingly that an engagement to address a Democratic 
meeting in this State will deprive me of the pleasure of accejiting the 
invitation. No one can venerate more than myself the profound wisdom 
and the spirit of conciliation in which the Constitution of the United 
States had its birth, or appreciate more keenly the vital necessity of 
maintaining all its provisions with scrupulous fidelity. It is only 
through such a strict adherence to it that we can hope to preserve the 
union of the States. I have never for a moment doubted that the people 
would be faithful to all its requirements, and frown with indignation on 
every attempt, from whatever quarter it may come, to dissever the Con- 
federated States, and to inflict upon us and the cause of popular govern- 
ment throughout the world the greatest of calamities. And though 
clouds darken our horizon now, I look forward to the election of the 
distinguished Pennsylvanian, whom the Democracy of the Union have 
chosen for their standard-bearer, as the dawn of that brighter day which 
is to succeed and dissipate them. The pleasure of attending the meet- 
ing of his political friends at the great emporium of his State would be 
greatly enhanced by the opportunity of bearing testimony by my pres- 
ence to the importance of the day which they selected for the pur- 
pose ; and it is with great regret that I am compelled to relinquish it. 
" I am, dear Sir, truly yours, Joiin A. Dix. 

"J. W. FoRNKT, Esq." 

" New York, November 19, 1850. 

"My dear Sir, — I hope you will not take it amiss if I say a few 

words to you in regard to the condition of our political affairs, Avhich in 

I.— 21 




'« • t 





the Northern section of the Union arc very unsatisfactory. Still, I be- 
lieve it to be not only possible, but comparatively easy, to regain the 
ascendency we have lost. This, I think, is mainly to be effected by giv- 
ing us different issues — not new ones, but issues as old as the Democratic 
party itself. 

" I consider the slavery question settled, and I think it should be ig- 
nored. The Kansas-Nebraska Act is simply to be emorced, and tl^'s is a 
mere matter of ordinary executive duty. 

" When General Pierce came into office I pressed on him the adoption 
of a system of thorough commercial and financial reform by means of a 
modification of the tariff and a reduction of the revenue ; and I have for 
years believed that this could be effected mainly by adding to the free 
list foreign products not coming into competition with our own, thus 
avoiding any injurious interference with our domestic industry. This 
subject has composed the chief staple of my speeches during the two 
last canvasses for the Presidency ; and I have feared at times my friends 
might think me in a little danger of becoming monomaniacal. I believe, 
however, the great body of the Democracy throughout the Union feel 
as deep an interest in the subject as I do, and think, like myself, that our 
enormous surplus revenue is corrupting Congress. If your administra- 
tion is placed upon this ground, I have not the slightest doubt that you 
•will rally around you the larger and better portion of the great political 
parties in all sections of the Union, and that they will bring to your sup- 
port a weight of popular confidence which will enable you to carry out 
successfully not only the measures referred to, but any others which you 
may deem essential to the welfare of the country, and which are un- 
deniably within the pale of the constitutional authority of the govern- 
ment. In a word, I am sure it is in your power to organize an adminis- 
tration which shall be alike honorable to yourself and the country. If 
you agree with me in regard to the necessity of such a commercial re- 
form as I suggest, is there any man who is likely to be as serviceable to 
you in maturing and carrying it out as Mr. Walker ? Is there any man 
who in that department would be more acceptable to the commercial 
classes and the friends of financial reform ? I think not. There is no 
one who has given so much thought to this subject in all its complicated 
details, as you well know from your intimate association with him while 
be was framing the Tariff Bill of 1840. You are sure his views are 
sound ; it is not absolutely certain that those of any other man would be 
equally so; and the Treasury Department is the one of all others in 
which a safe man is required, independent as it is, in some respects, of 
the head of the government. I hope you will excuse these suggestions. 
They are dictated by a sincere and disinterested desire that your admin- 


istration may be a successful and distinguished one ; and I can say with 
the same sincerity that I Imve no other wish than to see you call around 
you in organizing it the men best qualified to be serviceable to you, and 
best calculated by their reputation for talents, integrity, and moderation 
to command the public confidence. 

" I write this letter currente calamo at the sick-bed of one of my chil- 
dren. You will, therefore, excuse it, and pardon also, in consideration of 
the motive, the liberty I have taken in alluding at all to a subject of so 
much delicacy as the organization of your Cabinet. 

" I am, dear Sir, with sincere regards, yours, John A. Drx. 

•' Hon. Jas. Buchanan. 

" P.S. — The suggestion in respect to the Treasurer is made on the sup- 
position that the present incumbent has determined, independently of 
any wish of your own, to leave it at the close of General Pierce's ad- 

General Dix held no official position under President Bu- 
chanan during the first three years of his administration. lie 
passed those years in private life, and in congenial occupation 
as a man of business and of letters. It was not until the year 
1860 that he was recalled to the service of the public, under 
circumstances which I shall proceed to relate in the following 
section of this biography. 



A.r>. 1860-1801. 

The New York Post-office. — Isaac V. Fowler.— General Dix as Postmas- 
ter. — Resists System of Assessment for Political Purposes. — Letter to 
Andrd Froment. — Reception of Prince of Wales, 1800. — Review of His- 
tory of Parties. — Republican Party. — Secession. — Question of Slavery 
with Reference to General Government. — Review of the Course of Gen- 
eral Dix on the Slavery Question, and Conclusions. — His Paramount 
Desire the Prescvation of the Union. — Slavery a Secondary Question 
in Comparison. — Autumn Elections of 1800. — Sympathy with the 
South. — Autograi>h Memorandum on Events between 1801 and 1805. — 
Election of Abraham Lincoln. — " Confederate States of America," Feb- 
ruary 4, 1801.— Efforts to Avert the War.— "The Pino Street Meeting." 
— Address to the People of the South. — Financial Embarrassment of 
the Government. — Appointed Secretary of the Treasury. — At the 
AVhite House. — Action Relating to Custom-houses, Light-houses, Mint, 
Hospitals, Revenue -cutters, in the Seceding States. — History of the 
Famous Despatch about the Americau Flag. — Major Anderson at Fort 
Sumter, — Sensational Story about a " Cabinet Scene." — Close of Mr. 
Buchanan's Administration. — Return to New York. — Reception at 
City Hall. — Other Compliments and Honors. 



It was discovered, during the early part of the year 1860, 
that great frauds had been committed in the New York 
Post-ofRco, and that the I'ostmaster, Mr. Isaac V. Fowler, 
was a defaulter to a large amount. The disclosures caused a 
feeling of unusual public excitement, and even of personal 
alarm : they were regarded as an illustration and result of 
the demoralizing tendency of the prevailing system of pub- 
lic appointments. Rumor magnified the evil ; the journals 
of the day raised a hue-and-cry against the entire corps of 
the Post-office, which filled every one connected with the de- 
partment with trepidation. The general government found 
itself gravely compromised ; the accusations of its opponents 
were incessant and violent ; and it was obvious that the ad- 
verse current of popular feeling could only be withstood and 
checked by the appointment of some person as Postmaster 
about whose reputation and ability no question could be 
raised. At such a crisis the day of the mere politician is at 
an end ; a man of integrity and unsullied honor, a man of the 
highest moral grade, is demanded. The President, in this 
emergency, called on General Dix, and earnestly requested his 
acceptance of the post. Ilis name was sent to tl o Senate on 
the 17th of May, and the nomination was unanimously con- 
firmed, without the usual reference. 

In accepting the position thus tendered to him, under cir- 
cumstances peculiarly honorable and complimentary. General 
Dix bade farewell, for many years, to the tranquillity of the 
domestic circle and the quiet of the retired citizen. His ap- 
pointment was regarded with universal satisfaction as one of 



the best that could have been made. The field for the dis- 
play of executive ability was an ample one, and he possessed 
the confidence and esteem of the business community. 

Twenty-one years after that date the men\ory of the Gen- 
eral is still warmly cherished in the New York Post-office, 
and men who knew him then as their honored and beloved 
chief delight in recalling incidents of his vigorous, wise, and 
kindly administration. I have had no greater pleasure, while 
engaged in compiling this humed record, than in gathering 
information respecting those days from such men as Post- 
master James, the venerable Mr. Forrester, Messrs. Yeoman, 
Bradley, Dunton, and others of the staff. Tlieir statements 
to me ran somewhat as follows (I give them nearly in the 
language of the narrators, and therefore place them, in quota- 
tion marks) : 

" "When he Avent into the Post-office he found it in a state 
of alarm and uneasiness, no one knowing what was to come, 
and many sujiposing that a comj^lete sweep would be made, 
without regard to merit or demerit, by way of satisfying pub- 
lic oj)inIon and exhibiting a specimen of thorough reform. 
General Dix, however, reassured them, promising a radical 
investigation of everything connected with the service, but 
guaranteeing justice to every man; and he kept his word. 
No one was turned off except for incompetency or neglect. 
To each one who came inquiring if he might hope to remain 
the same answer was made: 'As long as you attend to your 
business properly you shall stay here while I do.' 

" lie made it his first business to master the details of the 
service, lie looked into all matters, great or small; noth- 
ing escaped his attention. The men said that no one had 
ever asked so many questions before. lie would give no 
order until he understood everything that it involved. • lie 
introduced improvements in the method of cancelling stamps 
and in that of making out the way-bills, in rcqviiring a care- 
ful comparison of the bills, and in counting the letters. lie 
was the first to pay off the employ(;s by checks payable to 



his own order, by which means lie compelled every employe 
to appear before him personally for the needed endorsement, 
thus becoming acquainted with every man under his direc- 
tion, and breaking up certain dishonest practices ; for it is 
said that a considerable number of checks thus made out 
were never presented to him, their holders fearing detection. 
This system has been in use in the Post-office ever since. In 
some of his practical reforms he met with opposition. Men 
said that what he wished could not be done ; upon which he 
would take hold with his own hands and do it, shaming them 
into compliance. Every honest man liked him and felt safe 
in his charge ; the dishonest silently disappeared. Nor was 
he inattentive to their morals. When he wanted information 
he went to the men who did the work, and not to the heads 
of departments or superintendents of sections. It created 
some jealousy, but it gave him what he desired — a personal 
acquaintance with the entire force. Hearing of one man in 
particular who was addicted to profanity, he sent for him and 
said, ' It is related that General Washington sometimes swore, 
and that General Jackson also did ; but I have never found 
the need of it, and I request you to discontinue it.' That 
wa^ the end of swearing. He was always kind and courteous, 
even to those in the lowest positions — to the porters and the 

But if there is one thing more strongly impressed upon 
the memory of his old force than another, it is his resolute 
conduct in defending them from the extortions of the politi- 
cian-assessor. He found a system of political taxation, every 
employe being expected to pay a certain percentage of his 
salary for party purposes, with the tacit understanding that if 
he refused he would lose his place. The General was partic- 
ularly incensed at this custom, and set ^'imself to break it up. 
When the party assessors came to him as usual, asking for a 
list of the men under his charge, with a memorandum of the 
wages of each, he perenq^torily refused it, and forbade them 
to solicit subscriptions in a place in which, as he said, every 




one's time belonged to the government. He farther ad- 
dressed a circular to his men, telling them that if they chose 
to subscribe they might do so, but that if they refused to do 
so it should make no difference with him, so long as they 
were honest and faithful in their work. His proceedings in 
this respect greatly increased his popularity. His noble words 
to the Committee of Assessment were heard and reported 
everywhere : 

" Gentlemen, the force in tliis office is the hardest worked 
and the poorest paid under the government. It is an outrage 
to exact from their small jHttances the means to defray the 
expenses of campaigns ; and, as long as I am Postmaster, not 
one cent shall be levied on them for political purposes." 

I believe that his action in this particular was un2:)rcce- 
dentcd in the political annals of this city ; and, that his views 
on the subject may be the more clearly understood, I give 
them in the shape of a letter thoroughly characteristic of the 
man : 

"Post-office, New York, October 15, 18G0. 
'^'^ Andre Fvomcnt, Esq., 

" Chairman of the Democratic General Committee: 

" Siu, — I have received your letter soliciting a contribution from my- 
self, and the privilege of assessing the subordinates in my office, to raise 
funds in aid of the ' Union ticket' and ' the coming Presidential election.' 

" Before your letter was received I had engaged to contribute as large 
a sum as I can afford in aid of that ticket, and it is hardly necessary for 
me to add that I shall support it cordially by all efforts in my power. 

" In regard to an assessment on the subordinates in this office, I annex 
extracts from a letter ■written by me a few weeks ago in reply to a simi- 
lar application from another organization: 

" ' I may say of a majority of them (the clerks in this office) that the as- 
sessments (proposed to be made) on them cannot be paid Avithout pinch- 
ing their families, who are utterly dependent on their salaries. I cannot 
consent to be the instrument of wringing from their necessities means 
absolutely indispensable to their daily wants. I think, moreover, that 
this system of assessing subordinates in i)ublic offices for political pur- 
poses, when they liave for the most part no more than is sufficient to 
give their families the common necessaries of life, is all Avrong. If men 
of means — lawyers, farmers, merchants, capitalists — whose projierty has 


BO deep a stake in the maintenance of good government, will not consent 
to pay the legitimate expenses of our elections, we may as well abandon 
all hope of keeping up our organizations by money, 

'"Let me add that my contributions are made by me as a private citi- 
zen, and that I do not recognize the right of any committee to assess me 
as a Federal officer for political purposes.' 

" I must refer you to these extracts for an answer to your letter. 

" I deem it proper to add that I know nothing more degrading to our 
public offices and those who fill them than the practice which has exist- 
ed of sending political tax-gatherers to the doors of the i)ay-room, to 
levy contriljutions on the clerks as they emerge with their hard-earned 
stipends. I cannot allow this office to be so dishonored. I intend, if I 
can, to restore it to the respectability which belonged to the earlier and 
better days of the Republic. I shall be pleased to have my subordinates 
contribute voluntarily whatever they think they can afford to the sup- 
port of the Democratic cause. But I cannot permit any forced contribu- 
tion to be laid on them. On the contrary, I shall regard it as my duty 
to protect them from a system of political extortion disgraceful alike to 
the government and the country." 

The administration of the New York Post-office was 
brouglit to the highest state of efficiency yet reached under 
the management of Colonel Thomas L. James, now deservedly 
promoted to the place of a Cabinet Minister. I have it from 
himself that many of the improvements introduced by him 
had their origin in the policy and suggestions of his prede- 
cessor, General Dix. 

I ask the indulgence of the reader for introducing at thia 
point an episode of a totally different character. In the au- 
tumn of this year Trinity Church saw for the first time a 
surpliced choir Avithin its walls. For a long Avhile the singers 
— men and boys — transferred from the organ -gallery over the 
front-door, had occupied benches in the chancel ; but wo could 
not obtain the Hector's consent to put them into the proper 
cathedral dress. It was a motley band of spirits, black, blue, 
and gray, with garments of divers patterns and variegated 
neck-tics, that the congregation beheld, Sunday after Sunday, 
between themselves and the altar. A generous layman had 
presented us with a full set of vestments, to be used when the 




good time should come ; but these were locked up in a cup- 
board, salted down and carefully preserved, biding some hal- 
cyon moment. At length it came, ushered in by no less a 
personage than Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who arrived 
in New York on Thursday, October 11, 18G0, and presently 
signified his intention to go to Trinity Church on the ban- 
day following. The announcement led to great results. "We 
knew that the choral service would be fairly well sung, but 
we also knew that it would never do to parade our Fal- 
staffian company in their secular costumes before his Royal 
Highness. So, seizing the opportunity. General Dix and an- 
other of the Yestry waited on the venerable Dr. Berrian, 
then Rector, and obtained his consent that +he choir should, 
for that occasion only, be permitted to wear the surplices, in 
case of the Prince's being disturbed by the sight of their 
incongruous and varied toilets. It is hardly necessary to add 
that the surplices once on, were on for good and all. The 
congregation could never endure the sight of the secular dress 
again in the holy place, and thus, somewhat notably, it came 
about that, as we owe our endowments to the Crown of Eng- 
land, so we are indebted to the Royal Family for another good 
turn, in getting our singers " decently habited," some time be- 
fore it was deemed j^ossible. To do justice to the good old 
Rector, no one was more delighted than he : at heart he was 
in favor of all that we now have and enjoy ; but he was far 
advanced in years, and timid, and lived under the bondage 
which has daunted so n^any in their time — the dread of criti- 
cism and the fear of bigots. 

I approach with reluctance the terrible scene of the open- 
ing of the war for the Union. I desire that the position of 
General Dix during those exciting days should be clearly un- 
derstood; that it should be made rpiite plain what he was 
and Avhat he was not ; what were his views as to the possibil- 
ity of erting the fatal conflict ; what was his faith in those 
trying hours ; and what thought Avas uppermost in his heart 
when the storm did finally burst on the laud. For this pur- 



pose let me briefly review the transactions of some pre- 
vious years with refercace to that political organization with 
which he had been connected during the whole of his public 

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, in the 
year 1854, was substantially the death-blow to the old histor- 
ical Democratic party. It re-opened the question of slavery ; 
it was the beginning of a schism never to be healed. The 
effort of the Democratic leaders in the North was to hold the 
party together as long as possible, and so retain control of the 
government. But to this end it was necessary to make con- 
cessions to the Southern Democracy which were denounced 
by a great number of the peoj)le of the North. On this side 
the Republican party was growing up out of the disintegra- 
tion of the Whig and other organizations ; on the other side 
men were clamoring for Southern independence. The Union 
Democrats had a part to act which could hardly have been 
more difficult : to resist the growth of Republican ideas and 
to keej) the fire-eaters quiet. They played it with consum- 
mate skill, but in the end they failed. They were held in 
check at the North by a feeling which they could not disre- 
gard, Jind with which, no doubt, many of their own number 
were in sympathy ; for opposition to the extension of slavery 
was a genuine Democratic tradition ; and yet the pressure on 
them from the South grew daily heavier, with louder threats 
of secession unless the North should accede to their full de- 
mands. This was the jiosition of the Democratic leaders 
during the seven years which included the administration of 
Mr. Buchanan, and were rudely- terminated by the proceed- 
ings at Montgomery. Their defeat and destruction as a 
national party were due to tlic Southern chiefs, in whose 
hands the Union men of that part of the country were like 
children in the grasp of a maniac. 

The Secessionists had already announced that they should 
consider the election of Mr. Lincoln, if it occurred, as the 
signal for the development of their designs. It did occur, 


■ .V 

1 ' ' 

" 'i 
'/ 'I 



li ii 




and they kcjit their word. But their fatal error was that of 
resorting to violence. There is reason to believe that they 
could have obtained by peaceable measures what they desired. 
Never did men make a greater blunder. Their attack on the 
govennnent instantly obliterated party distinctions ; its effect 
was to divide by a new line the country for or against the 
Union. The subject of slavery was dropped for the time ; men 
forgot all else in enthusiasm for the country and the flag. The 
war, when it began, was not an abolitionists' war ; it had no 
reference to the black man ; its sole object was to maintain the 
National Government and the union of the States. On that 
question the Northern Democrats were strong and united: 
they became "War Democrats; they led the movement by 
word, by pen, with money, and sword in hand. The madness 
of the Southern extremists forced them into that position. 
Their action was not inconsistent. Their effort had been to 
preserve the Union ; for that they had made great sacrifices ; 
they had conceded to the South all that they could, and even 
more than they ought to have yielded. They had compro- 
mised themselves in the hope of conciliation ; they had gone 
to the verge and last extreme — but in vain. When, in spite 
of these efforts, they found themselves set at naught, disre- 
garded, and treated as imbeciles and fools, they had a right 
to feel the indignation whicli they openly expressed. And 
when at last the National Government was defied, its officers 
attacked, and its flag turn down, they had but one course — to 
fly to arms. The acts of the Southern leaders drove them to 
that position. 

Underneath this the Power was working which rules in the 
affairs of men and mysteriously orders all tilings in heaven 
and earth. It is diflicult to see how the country could ever 
liave been at rest while slavery remained among us, or how 
slavery could have been abolished Avithout a civil war. It 
had been from the very beginning the crux of our existence. 
It was tlie subject of debate and agitation in 1784-, in 1787, 
in 1819-'20, in 1848, in 1850, iu 1854— always and every- 




where. It was a shadow overhanging the march of the 
nation, ever threatening storm, and 

"Darkening the dark lives of men." 

Slavery must be destroyed before there could be peace. 
But slavery could not be destroyed except by the power of 
the National Government. That power could not have been 
exerted for that purpose in time of j)eace: a state of war 
was necessary before it could so act : and that must be a home 
war, not a war with a foreign nation. Such a state of war — 
the indispensable preliminary to the destruction of the insti- 
tution of Slavery by the United States Goverament — was 
brought about by those who madly attempted a violent seces- 
sion. If they had not attacked the United States Govern- 
ment there could have been no war. If there had been no 
war the United States Government could not have abolished 
slavery. If slavery had not been abolished, and the impossi- 
bility of getting rid of it had become a quiet, settled convic- 
tion, there would have been a peaceable ser>aration : the South 
would have asked it, and the Democratic i)arty would have 
led the North in assenting, though with sorrow, to the re- 
quest. That solution of the question was rendered impossible 
by the course taken by the Secessionists. Even then years 
passed before the under current became an upper one. The 
war, at first, was not an abolition movement. Stri-l "x-'iors 
were given to our generals not to meddle with slav. ;'y in 
any way; and so things went on. But it is said tliat bay- 
onets can think. It took some time for the Army to per- 
ceive thot unless slavery were destroyed their work must 
fail. "When that became perfectly clear slavery was doomed. 
When the question was fairly put which should live. Slavery 
or the United States Government, the answer was prompt, 
and slavery vanished like wax in a burning, fiery furnace. 

These considerations explain the joosition of my father and 
many others of like mind in those trying and terrible days. 
He was, as he had been from his youth, a Democrat by con- 





f 1 


i' t 

viction : he believed in the party, and gave liis energies to its 
cause. The movement of 1848 was disapproved by him ; he 
tliought it unwise, predicted its faihire, and was connected 
with it only under the pressure of influences to which it was 
no dishonor to yield. lie was flriii in his opposition to sla- 
very ; he was not less firm in asserting the constitutional rights 
of the Southern people. lie knew that those rights could 
only be secured by the maintenance of the Union ; and there- 
fore, for the sake of North and South alike, he strove for it 
with all his heart. lie yielded to the stress of necessity as 
times grew worse, and in his horror of disunion was willing 
to give up to the South at a later period, for the sake of pre- 
serving the national existence, what at an earlier period he 
would have refused. Above all else, however, next to God, 
he loved the country and the flag — that flag under which he 
had marched to the field as a conmiissioned officer at the age 
of fifteen, and which, in his last hours, he ordered to be wrap- 
ped about his coffin instead of a pall. lie felt for his South- 
ern friends and comi3anions, appreciated theii' trials, extenu- 
ated their faults, and labored with marvellous patience and 
forbearance to calm their angry mood and bring them to a 
better mind. lie never was an abolitionist ; he opposed the 
nascent party which the South held in such dread; he did 
everything in his power to avert the final catastrophe ; he 
would have given his vote for a peaceful dissolution of the 
old compact, had that ordeal been demanded. But when the 
question was reduced to that simple, lucid j)roposition pre- 
sented by the leaders of Secession arrayed in front of Fort 
Sumter, he had but one answer, and he gave it with an em- 
phasis that could not have been stronger, and in words which 
were as the lightning coming out of the east and shining even 
unto the west. 

And here, as well as anywhere else, I may say what ought 
perhaps to be said on the question of my father's consistency 
to his principles, as regards that subject which tu.'ned our 
world upside down. The only part of his history about 


which there might be misunderstanding among those who 
thoroughly trusted and believed in him is that which relates 
to his connection with the agitation about slavery. I have, 
therefore, made that part of his life the subject of careful 
study and long reflection, solicitous, not only to refute in- 
vidious criticism, if it should be attempted, but also to ascer- 
tain, for my own satisfaction, what was his precise position, 
and what was the working of his mind during those vexing 
and unquiet years. The results of that investigation I now 
present. My analysis may not be correct, but it seems so to 
me, and the light is, at any rate, the clearest that I can obtain. 

A man's actions, if questions arise concerning them, must 
be interpreted by the motives which appear to have influenced 
him most strongly. But those in my father's case were the 
love of country and devotion to the American Union and 
Constitution. About this there can be, I think, no reasonable 
doubt. He considered the Federal Constitution as the great- 
est achievement of the human mind in the field of political 
science, and regarded the American nation as fortunate above 
all others in their system of government. To the maintenance 
of that system, as bequeathed to us by our forefathers, he post- 
poned all other questions. He did not regard it as perfect ; 
he looked on slavery as a blot upon it ; but he expected with 
confidence the time when that blot would disappear — it was a 
transient and temporary evil, destined to pass away under the 
slow but irresistible working of natural laws. While the evil 
existed it must be accepted as one for which the nation was 
not responsible ; to interfere with it by legislation would be 
to invade the constitutional rights of a portion of the Ameri- 
can people : those rights were protected by the system which 
blessed all alike ; they must be faithfully maintained ; and to 
time, which cures all diseases, it must be left to eradicate the 
malady which impaired the common health. 

But in the course of events two new parties appeared upon 
the scene — the Abolitionists on the one hand, the propagan- 
dists of human servitude on the other. He thought it his duty 
I.— 22 

i.:( i 

• .1 

I 1 




to resist them both. lie opposed the Abolitionists, as invaders 
of the rights of a portion of American citizens ; he opposed 
tlic advocates of the extension of slavery, because their policy 
was calculated to postpone for a great while the date of its 
extinction. But he never became unduly excited about sla- 
very. He had no sympathy for the religious or sentimental 
side of abolitionism, nor was he moved by the words of the 
philanthropists, preachers, or poets by whom the agitation 
was set ablaze and persistently fanned. lie probably regard- 
ed it as an evil of less magnitude than several others that 
threatened the country. In the summary of the articles of 
his political belief* nine points are mentioned first, which 
have nothing to do with slavery, and only the last two con- 
cern it at all. 

In his course in the Senate this attitude is distinctly marked 
in everything that he did or said. He voted for the annexation 
of Texas, where slavery already existed ; he opposed the ex- 
tension of slavery to the free territory acquired from Mexico. 
Yet he admitted that a peaceful dissolution of the Union, if 
the slave-holding South should seek it, was to be preferred to 
a civil war with a view to its abolition. He would have had 
no fighting about slavery, either for it or against it. The 
charge of being an abolitionist ho always repudiated with 

The fusion of Democrats and Wliigs during the Free-soil 
movement was regarded by him, before and after its develop- 
ment, as a great blunder. He believed that the safety of the 
country depended on the ascendency of the Democratic party, 
of which he had been an active member ever since he began 
to take an intelligent part in political affairs ; and he thought 
it unwise to divide that party for what ho deemed an inade- 
quate cause. The thing to be thought of first was the preser- 
vation of the American Union, the An\erican Constitution, 
and the American Nation ; and for this he relied on the 

* >Stfepage 231. 

on, if 


Democratic p^xrty, whose principles ho identified witli the 
pure Kepublican tlieorj. He de{)recated swerving to tlie one 
Bide or to the otlier ; he tried to keep the ship of the party 
steady on an even keel ; when it deviated with a strong list to 
the side of the South he was perplexed and distressed ; and, 
contrary to his judgment, and mainly under the influence of 
a personal pressure which he could not resist, he joined the 
Free-soil movement. 

But as soon as it was possible to do so he retraced his steps 
and would have resumed the old position. lie labored to re- 
unite the party in which he still trusted, r.nd from which lie 
had never separated. lie hoped, and perhaps fondly believed, 
that the slavery question might be regarded as settled, and 
renewed his efforts in the line of national progress under the 
compromises and guarantees of the Constitution. 

Then came, nearer and nearer, the 6j)ectro of a dismem- 
berment of the nation and a separation between North and 
South. To him this was the most terrible of prospects, except- 
ing that of a fratricidal war. The dissolution of the Ameri- 
can Union would have been, in his opinion, tlie greatest of all 
disasters, not only in its effect on our own people, but also as 
certain to extinguish the hopes of advocates of popular gov- 
ernment throughout the whole M'orld, lie yielded to avert 
so horrible a calamity. He made concessions which at an 
earlier date ho would not have made, in the hope of saving 
the nation : first in his thoughts were the country, the Union, 
the flag. Men in extremis must sacrifice something to save 
the rest. The only chance was in making common cause 
with those at the South Avho still adhered to the Union ; 
their support could not be obtained at that critical hour with- 
out the plainest assurance that their constitutional rights 
should be perfectly safe, and that the privileges enjoyed un- 
der the Constitution by inhabitants of the free States should 
be enjoyed equally by them. 

Then came the war. His course thenceforth was clear. 
They who in fog and mist are puzzled which way to move, 

1 ■■;' 

U ' 




doubt no longer when the winds arise and l)low away the 
clouds : they see once more the beacon-light, and nothing else. 
One dominant principle, love of the American Democratic 
Keiiublican system, as practically realized under the Federal 
Constitution in the union of the States, had ruled him all his 
life; it ruled him then, lie went into the war because, by 
the action of the South, the chance of a peaceful separation 
had been destroyed. The contest, though connnenced by 
slave-holders, was nut for the destruction of slavery, but for 
the defence and perpetuation of a system, under which the 
institution of slavery was amply protected, and might have 
continued to exist a thousand years more. Slavery was a 
dead issue for the moment ; they who drew the sword did so 
for the assertion of principles deemed by them vastly more 
momentous than any rpiestion concerning the relations of 
negroes and white men. It is true that Emancipation follow- 
ed, but only after years of blood and sorrow, and as an after- 
thought, of which the "War Democrats" never dreamed 
when tlie^ rose in defence of the country and for the honor 
of the nation. 

To me, carefully studying the subject, this appears to be 
the simple story of his course. He lived, from the age of fif- 
teen to that of eighty-one, in active service of his beloved 
country. To whom is it given, in this j)erplexing world, to be 
perfectly consistent throughout the immense and varied activ- 
ities of sixty-six years ? Yet he was, I think, consistent, if 
tested by the question, what he regarded, next to religion, as 
the hig^' st duty and the proper aim of the citizen. Every 
act of his political life may be ex2)lained by one of these 
convictions : 

(«) That the Constitution of the United States of America 
was an all but perfect work ; 

(b) That it was for the interests of the American people, 
and those of all advocates of jiopular government throughout 
the world, that our jjolitical experiment should prove suc- 
cessful ; 







(<?) That the old Democratic party was tlio tnio exponent 
of tho principles of the Constitution, and that tUo safety of 
the American people and the liope of mankuid in general 
depended on tlie continued ascendency of those principles ; 

{(I) That the preservation of the American Union under tho 
American Constitution, at any sacrifice, must bo the supreme 
object of those who enjoyed the blessings of its protection. 

These convictions are consistent with each other, and they 
explain the acts of liis public life. 

Nothing could have shown more clearly the distracted state 
of tho public mind, as the administration of Mr. Buchanan 
drew to an end, than the sight presented in the autumn elec- 
tions in 18G0. There were no less than four sets of candi- 
dates in the field : Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois and Iler- 
scliel V. Johnson of Georgia, nominated by tho regular 
Democratic Convention ; John C. Breckenridge of Ken- 
tucky and Joseph Lane of Oregon, the candidates of tho 
seceding Southern Democrats ; John Bell of Tennessee and 
Edward Everett of Massachusetts representing another sec- 
tion of the people, who, rejecting the older organizations, 
aimed simply at the enforcement of the principles of tho 
Constitution and tho preservation of the Union without 
farther agitation of vexing questions ; and Abraham Lincoln 
of Blinois and Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, tlie leaders of tho 
Republican national organization. It had been found im- 
possible to hold tho Democratic party together any longer. 
Their national Convention assembled at Charleston, April 23. 
Irreconcilable antagonisms were soon apparent, and scenes of 
great violence occurred. At length most of the Southern 
delegates withdrew. The main body adjourned to meet at 
Baltimore, Juno 18. Tho seceding delegates, having adopted 
a platform satisfactory to themselves, called a Convention, to 
bo held at Richmond, June 11. Separate nominations fol- 
lowed, and the fatal schism was complete. But a much worse 
thing was impending. It grow j)laincr every day that, in 
case their demands were not complied with, the Southern 

I nu 

1 1 


;■ * 







States would seek to form a separate organization ; but in 
what way no man as yet could tell. True, there were om- 
inous signs in more than one quarter, yet it was probably the 
general oj^inion that the secession would be peaceful. Even 
that prospect was regarded with dismay by patriotic Amer- 
icans. The end seemed not far off — the edifice, reared with 
infinite toil and pains, appeared to be tottering to its fall. 

Great numbers of us were terribly peri>lexed in those days. 
Doubtless there was a glamour about t? Southern cause which 
influenced men in spite of themselves, a certain sophistry of 
logic which gave to their demands a color of justice. It 
should be remembered also that many of us never tliought it 
possible that a violent separation from the Union would be 
attempted ; we conceded the right to a peaceful and orderly 
departure, if our Soutiiern brethren should insist on having 
it so. It is a matter of little or no importance what were the 
feelings of the writer at that particular time, excepting as a 
specimen of those of a considerable number of persons, wlio 
loved at once the old Union and their kinsmen in the South. 
As for myself, I never dreamed of the coming war ; I detest- 
ed abolitionism ; I deemed the course of the Ilejjublican par- 
ty one of unjustifiable and mischievous aggression ; my sym- 
pathies were with the South, and I had no doubt of their 
right, if they chose, to free themselves gently from those 
bonds which held us together. Under t)iese impressions I 
v^ted for Brcckonridge and Lane, leaving my bed while suf- 
fering from severe illness, and taking the risk involved by 
standing in the cold air on an inclement day, waiting my turn 
to vote, because I felt it a sacred duiy to do whatever my one 
ballot coidd accomplish to prevent tiie election of Mr. Lin- 
coln. Looking back to those days is like looking into a land 
of dreams, WIvat broke the dream at once, and set me and 
others in my position face to face with facts never before un- 
dciotood, was the opening roar of the guns directed against 
Fort Sumter. AVith that portentous sound the old illusions 
passed forever and a new cycle came ii , 



As the fatal time drew nearer the anxiety of men in high 
position became intense. I recall occasions when my father 
spoke to me on tho questions of the day, disclosing tlie grave 
trouble that possessed his thoughts. On one such occasion 
he referred to the possibility that New York might become 
a free-city, entirel}^ independent, in case of a general break- 
up ; not that he advocated the idea, but he placed it in the 
category of possibilities.* It was his opinion that a separa- 
tion, if sought by the South through peaceful means alone, 
must be conceded by the North, as an evil less than that of 
war. A memorandum, written in the year 1875, gives his 
views on the subject of the attempted secession : 

1 1 


" Ten years have elapsed since the attempt of the Southern 
States to withdraw from the Union and to overthrow the 
Tederal Government by force was frustrated. The Great Re- 
bellion, as it will probably be termed in after-times when the 
history of that epoch shall be impartially written, cost the com- 
])atants a desperate struggle of four ycai-s for the ascendency, 
the loss of half a million of lives, a debt on the part of the 
general government of twenty-six hundred million dollars, a 
heavy indebtedness in most of the non-slave-holding States, 
wide spread ruin throughout the South, the emancipation of 
four millions of s\T,ves, and an inability on the part of the Con- 
federated States to redeem the pecuniary obligations they had 
contracted in the prosecution of their enterprise. When the 
Itrejudiees and passions enlisted in this fratricidal conflict shall 
have passed away and another generation shall have come to 
manliood, it will l)e diflicult to lind an adequate cause for this 
insurrection against the connnon government. The pretexts 

* The plan was atlvocated by Fernando Wood, i ♦he annual message 
addressed by liim to the Common Council of New York, January 7, 1801. 



on the part of its authors were that the non-slave-holding 
States did not execute in good faith the requirement of the 
Constitution of the United States to deliver up persons escap- 
ing from labor or service — a provision acknowledged to have 
been intended to include fugitive slaves — and that the elec- 
tion of Mr. Lincoln by the votes of the non- slave -holding 
States alone, against the unanimous vote of the slave-holding 
States, was dangerous to the prosperity of the latter, and to 
their equal participation in the benefits which the Federal 
Government was instituted to secure. There was no just 
ground for the former pretext. Congress had passed all nec- 
essary laws for the purpose of compelling the surrender of 
fugitive slaves, and the Supreme Court of the United States 
had decided that there was no obligation on the part of indi- 
vidual States to legislate in furtherance of that object. In 
some of the Northern and Western States individuals, who 
believed the tenure of slaves to be a crime, had associated to 
shelter fugitives and to facilitate their escape to Canada, where 
they could not be reclaimed by their owners. These associa- 
tions, though unquestionably in violation of good faith, were 
the acts of individuals, and involved no responsibility on the 
part of the Federal Government. The escape xrom slavery 
was almost exclusively confined to two or three slave-holding 
States bordering on the States in which slavery was proliil)ited. 

" The election of Mr. Lincoln was in strict conformity to 
the Constitution ; and a decided majority of the Senate of 
the United States was opposed to the policy of his party, and 
in favor of maintaining in good faith all the obligations of 
the government. There was, therefore, no possibility that 
the rights of the Southern States could be inq)aircd by un. 
friendly legislation. 

" TJie real cause of the secession movement was, beyond 
disp''^"e, a belief on the part of the slave-holding States that 
their blave property was imperilled by their association with 
the Northern States; that their prosperity would be pro- 
moted by the establishment of an independent government ; 



that tlie intellectual and social condition of the two sections 
of the country, arising out of the tenure of slaves in one, and 
a prevalent conviction in the other that it was a violation of 
the laws of God, was incompatible with an impartial adminis- 
tration of the government, and that the association was a per- 
petual menace to the existence of slavery. To this cause may 
be superadded the influence of the suggestion that the new 
ofiices, which a separate political organization would require 
at home and abroad, would furnish more ample means of 
gratifying the ambition of their aspiring statesmen. 

"It is by no means improbable that if a separation had 
been sought by the slave - holding States persistently, and 
through peacefuJ means a^ ""c, it might have been ultimately 
conceded by the Korthern States in preference to a blooviy 
civil war, with all its miseries and demoralization. But the 
forcible seizure of arsenals, mints, revenue-cutters, and other 
property of the common government, and the attack and cajit- 
ure of Fort Sumter, put an end to argument as well as to the 
spirit of conciliation, and aroused a feeling of exasperation 
which nothing but the arbitrament of arms could overcome. 
Acquiescence under such circumstances of aggression would 
have been ascribed to pusillanimity ; and it should not have 
been expected from any portion of a community which, in 
the establishment and maintenance of its independence, and 
in the vindication of its honor and its rights during a period 
of nearly a hundred years, had never hesitated to put life, 
property, and all it held dear in peril. 

"The result of this great conflict — one of the most notable 
in the history of human society — has been accepted as conclu- 
sive by both parties ; and although time alone can wholly re- 
move the animosities to which it gave birth, it may be safely 
said that no civil war of such vast dimensions was ever con- 
ducted l)y the cojnbatants with so little cruelty and vindic- 
tiveness. It is, no doubt, due in some degree to this absence 
of the worst characteristics of intestine strife that the two 
sections of the country are coming together in the ancient 

r; ., 

... i , , 





Miamiiis or joiix .ii)A.]rs nix. 

Hj)irit of fratcniiil coneonl, to ooiiHult and labor for thoir 
coiumoii prosperity and fauiu." 

Tlio doctioti of Mr. Lincoln, Novonibcr 0, ISOO, wjis tlio 
boi^inniniij of the ond. TIio Sontla-rn leadors had agreed to 
rc\i>;ar(l that cvont aw a wiirnal that tho Union could ho main- 
tained no loni<;cr. Nothiiiuj could have ])r(!vente(l it except 
a consolidation of the Democratic, forces, North and South, 
which was innHKssihle. Action soon followed : on the 20th of 
December the State of South ('arolina adopted an ordinance 
of secession. On the 4th of February, iSd!, jjrecisely one 
month before the time fixed by tho Constitution of the United 
States for tho inau,!j;uration of President Lincoln, a convention 
held at Mont_i:;omery, in Alabama, announced to the world the 
existence of the "Conkkokua-'k Statkh of Amkkioa." 

There is somethinjj; almost i)athetie in the history of the 
elTorts which were made, during the profjjresH of those startling 
and sinister events, to avert, if possible, the comin<ij shock. 
The state of public feeling became more intense from day 
to day; and, as the outline of the terrible future was more 
plainly revealed, recourse was had to every action by which it 
was thought possible to propitiate a threatening Deity or to 
conciliate angry men. Friday, the 4th of Jamiary, was desig- 
nated, by ]>roclama*^ion from Washington, for observance as a 
day of humiliation, fasting, and ])rayer that it might please 
Almiy;htv Ciod to avert the horrors which seemed to be clos- 
ing darkly around the path of the nation. ]^>isho])s issued their 
pastoral letters to the clergy and laity of their Hocks, and set 
forth sj)ecial ollices for the occasion ; cluirch doors stood open 
all day long ; fathers gathered their households together about 
the Iiome altar — one great petition for help went np to Heav- 
en. Meanwhile, citizens of repute and intluenco wore engaged 
in strenuons elTorts to bring estranged brethren to a better 
mind, to calm wild passion, and to exorcise the spectre of Civil 
War. Among the notable movements of the hour may bo 
mentioned the introduction of the "Compromise licsolutious " 

1800-18(51. J TUl'J NICW YOlili "I'lMi STIUCET MEKTlNa." ?A1 

ill tlio Uiiit(!(l StatcH Soriiitu, Dorcmlxsr IM, JHOO, l)y .lolin J. 
(Jrittcii(U'ii of K(;iit,ii(;ky, and the HUHHiuu of the "I'eaco Cori- 
grt'HH " at VVuHliington. 

Procecdin^H ii; tlio Banio general line took j)Ia(30 in New 
York ; and hero I may Bay a few \vonln about what was 
known at the time as "the Pine Street Meeting," in whieJi a 
large nnnihor of our most reHj)e('.ted and inHuential (Mtizens 
took ])art. My friend ('olonel Jiichard Lathers has furniHluid 
me with some interesting details of its })roeeedings, whieh I 
give in his own words: 

''Tlie period referred to in your note is quite fresli in my 
memory, and I have always recalled the incidents connected 
with tiie Tine Street Meeting' as wortliy of more prominence 
tlian the patriotic [>urposes of the actors have received. I 
will give you a short history of the affair from the beginning. 

"General Dix, in 1801, was the J'ostmaster of this city, 
and, in accordance with the whole tenor of his life, was an 
active ])articipator in everything which sliould intcsrest a citi- 
zen or promote the welfare of the whole country, his influence 
being felt and vaaied in all sections of the Ifnicm, in and out 
of his own ])arty, and far beyond the confines of his own 
section. When the Union was first menaced by F.ecessiou he 
was the counsellor and ready adviser of all ])atri(;tic men ; for 
while he was an advocate of Soutiiern rights under the limits 
of the Constitution, yet he was a firm and uncompromising 
Union man, and, ju» sucli, l»cnt his energies to convince our 
erring Southern brethren that secession must fail; tliat it 
could not be justified in any event ; and that even those who 
then sympathi/ed with them would promptly confront them 
if resistance to the authority of the government should be 
attempted. While in eonnnunication with prominent men of 
the South, by personal interviews or by correspondence, he 
.addressed a letter to the Hon. Howell Cobb, then Secretary 
of the Treasury, but showing sigT;s of secessionist proclivities. 
It contained an exhaustive and most convincing argument on 
the question of the day. This letter he sent to me to read be- 



?' ' It 













fore mailing it.* I immediately ran up to the Post-office and 
requested a copy, to send to a few prominent men in South 
Carolina, under cover of a letter of my own, which I had pre- 
pared and submitted to Mr. Evarts and other distinguished 
Republicans, and in which I had expressed the view that the 
probable measures of the Eepublican party would develop a 
policy favorable to Southern interests. In my letter I re- 
quested a formal answer from my correspondents in the 
South, and promised them that a meeting should be called 
to consider the whole situation from a friendly stand-point, 
irrespective of party lines. 

" The meeting was called by a private circular addressed to 
leading men throughout the State of New York ; among the 
signers were your father, William B. Astor, John J. Cisco, 
"Wilson Gr. Hunt, and James W. Beekman. The responses 
were so hearty and general that I found there might be some 
two thousand persons present ; and 1 was compelled, instead 
of receiving them at my office, to hire a couple of buildings in 
Pine Street, in order to afford accommodation for so large a 
body. Charles O'Conor was called to the chair. I opened the 
meeting with a short speech, by request of General Dix ; and 
speeches were made by ex-Senator Dickinson, John McKeon, 
Mr. A. A. Low, and other distinguished men of both parties, 
and representing different sections of the State. An address 
j)repared by General Dix was passed unanimously, without 
debate ; resolutions appended to it were amended, and then 
adopted unanimously. Ex-President Fillmore — who, though 
unable to bo present, heartily endorsed the objects of the 
meeting — was ai)pointed chairman of a committee to visit the 
South as bearers of the address, and of this committee 1 had 
the honor to be made a member. Another committee was 
then appointed to take measures for a public demonstration 
by the citizens of New York, and this led to the great meet- 
ing which was held at Castle Garden a short time afterward. 

* See Appendix, No. V. 

i ! 

if. J.; 

)ffice and 
ill South 

had pre- 

that the 
levelop a 
ter I re- 
3 in the 
be called 

rcsscd to 
Qong the 
J. Cisco, 

be some 
, instead 
Idings in 
) large a 
ened the 
)ix ; and 
L parties, 
L address 

.nd then 
, though 
3 of the 
visit the 
DC I had 
ttce was 
at mcet- 


I il 

I n 

C\ ^ 

^ 1 


"At the Pino Street meeting the letters which I referred 
to were read, together witli replies which had hy that tiino 
been received. I regret to say that they were not as concilia- 
tory as had been expected. 

" Mr. Fillmore was unable to go South ; but I carried tho 
address and resolutions, and read them to Jefferson J)avi8 
and the Governors of South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. 
The general response was an expression of regret that tho 
action had not taken place earlier, before all parties were so 
far committed to secession. "While I was at Mobile, making 
a Union speech before the Chamber of Commerce by tho re- 
quest of members of that body, irrespective of party (General 
Walker, brother of the Secretary of War of the Confederate 
Government then just organized, presiding), the meeting came 
to a speedy end, before I had concluded my remarks, in conse- 
quence of the reception of news by telegraiih that the attack 
on For. Sumter had commenced. 

" By invitation of the Union merchants of Now Orleans I 
went there to address the Chamber of Commerce of that city ; 
but the newspapers assailed me, and the Mayor, calling on me 
at my hotel, requested me to return home at once, and said 
that a Union speech at such a time of excitement might pro- 
duce a riot, and certainly could have no effect in the interest 
of my mission. I took his advice ; and on my return to New 
York I found gveat excitement here, even against myself, the 
papers having stated that I had gone to the South to give aid 
and comfort to the rebellion ! Such is life !" 

Among my father's papers I have been so fortunate as to 
find the original of the address referred to, with the auto- 
graphs of the signers. These I now present to the reader, 
and with a personal statement A\hich will explain one motive 
among others for j^reserving them as they stand. It will be 
observed that my father's signature is at one side, with that 
of Mr. James T. Souttei', and that these two names are some- 
what apart from the rest. Mr. Soutter was at that time Pres- 
ident of the Bank of the Rei^ublic, a man of unsullied repu- 

t ' 













[ 2.2 



U 111.6 















(716) 872-4303 

w MP. 

W^. :i 




tation, great abilities, and a noble spirit; remembered now 
with respect and love by all who knew him. He was one of 
those Southerners who, loyal to the Union and strongly op- 
posed to secession, regarded civil war with absolute horror. 
The South had many such patriotic citizens within her bor- 
ders, but unhappily their voices were drowned by the cries 
of excited revolutionists, and they were ultimately swept 
away by a torrent which it was impossible for them to resist. 
In after-years, when this good and kind-hearted gentleman, 
having patiently sustained a long and sad trial of unmerited 
suspicion, unjust persecution, and exile from his native land, 
liad found release from his earthly sorrows in a Christian's 
death, and when many of the distressing events of those days 
had faded into dim memories, there came into my own life 
the greatest brightness and the fullest happiness I ever knew, 
through my marriage with a daughter of his house, a woman 
who does honor to the name she bore, and fills the perfect 
measure of wife, mother, and friend. I never had the good 
fortune to know her father ; but, in looking on her, I can 
imagine what he must have been. One fact more I venture 
to add in this connection. When Mr. Soutter returned home, 
after years of involuntary absence, upon the conclusion of the 
war, it was necessary for him to seek his pardon and amnesty 
from the Government of the United States — a pardon for 
crimes never committed! — and the first signature to the 
petition addressed to President Johnson in his behalf was 
that of John A. Dix. 

The address adopted at the Pine Street meeting appears to 
merit preservation, as throwing light upon the history of the 
efforts to avert the dissolution of the Union : 

" Fellow-Citizens and Brethren of the South, — It has 
become our painful duty to address ourselves to you under 
the most alarming circumstances in which we have been 
placed since the formation of the government. In the ful- 
ness of our prosperity, our strength, and our credit the Union 



to which we owe it all is in imminent danger of becoming a 
prey to internal dissension, sacrificing the great interests of 
the country, and forfeiting the high position it holds among 
the nations of the earth. To avert a calamity so disgraceful 
to us as a free people, so difastrous to the common welfare, 
and so disheartening to the friends of representative govern- 
ment in both hemispheres, we appeal to you by the sacred 
memory of that fraternal friendship which bound our fore- 
fathers together through the perils of the Revolution, which 
has united us all through succeeding years of alternate good 
and ill, and which has conducted us, under the protection of 
the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, to wealth and power — 
by a progress unexampled in the history of the past — by all 
the endearing recollections with which this association is hal- 
lowed, we conjure you to pause before the current of disun- 
ion shall acquire a force which may prove irresistible, that we 
may consult together, with the calmness due to the magnitude 
of the crisis, for the removal of the causes which have pro- 
duced it. We make this appeal to you in entire confidence 
that it will not be repulsed. "We have stood by you in the 
political contest through which we have just passed. "We 
have asserted your rights as earnestly as though they had 
been our own. You cannot refuse, therefore, to listen to us, 
and to weigh with becoming deliberation the reasons we have 
for believing that the wrongs which liave led to the existing 
alienation between the two great sections of the country may, 
with your co-operation, be speedily redressed. "We do not in- 
tend to go back to the origin of these wrongs. "We will not 
review the dark history of the aggression and insult visited 
upon you by abolitionists and their abettors during tlie last 
thirty-five years. Our detestation of these acts of liostility is 
not inferior to your own. We take things as they exist, to 
deal with them as an evil not to be eradicated by violence, 
but to be remedied by a treatment which shall at the same 
time be considerate and firm. We call on you as friends to 
delay action until we can induce those through whose agency 





the evil has been brought upon us to listen to the voices of 
reason and duty, and to place your relations and ours to the 
common privileges and benefits of the Union on a footing of 
perfect equality ; or, failing in this, until we can bring the 
majority of our fellow - citizens in the North to co-operate 
with us, as we do not doubt they will, in the proper measures 
of redress. We do not despair of securing from those to 
whose hands the reins of government are about to be intrust- 
ed a recognition of your rights in regard to the surrender of 
fugitive slaves and equality in the Teniiories. We know that 
great changes of opinion have already taken place among their 
most intelligent and influential men — that a reaction has com- 
menced, which is not likely to be stayed — that errors and prej- 
udices which in the heat of the canvass wc\e inaccessible to 
reason and persuasion have been on cool reflection renounced ; 
nay, more, that many, whose opinions have undergone no 
change, are willing, in a praiseworthy spirit of patriotism, to 
make on questions which are not fundamental in our system 
of government, but merely accessary to our social condition, 
the concessions necessary to preserve the Union in its integ- 
rity, and to save us from the fatal alternative of dismember- 
ment into two or more empires, jealous of each other, and em- 
bittered by the remembrance of differences which we had not 
the justice or the magnanimity to compose. 

" Let us enumerate briefly the grounds on which we repose 
our trust in a speedy accommodation of the existing disagree- 
ment between the l^Torth and the South : 

"I. The late Election. — Although it was adverse to us 
throughout the North, we have in the detail added materially 
to our strength in Congress, where the power to redress 
wrong and prevent abuse is most needed. In this State, 
against five Democratic and Union members of the present 
Congress, eleven members have been elected for the next, and 
in the other Northern States five members more have been 
gained, making a change of twenty-two votes in the House of 
Representatives, giving a decided majority in that body to the 




friends of the Union and the equal rights of the South, ren- 
dering all hostile legislation impossible, and affording assur- 
ance that existing wrong will be redressed. 

"In regard to the general result of the election we do not 
hesitate to say that the conservative men have been defeated 
by their own divisions rather than by the votes of their oppo- 
nents, and that it is not a time criterion of the relative strength 
of parties. The slavery question was but an element in the 
contest ; it would have proved utterly inadequate to the re- 
sult had not the Democratic party been disorganized by its 
own dissensions. Even in the city of New York, with an 
overwhelming majority, one of the most conservative Con- 
gress districts was lost by running two candidates against a 
single Republican. 

"In the Congress districts carried by the anti-Republicans 
the canvass was placed distinctly on the ground of sustaining 
the equal rights of the States in the Territories. In the 
month of May last an address was published in the city of 
!N j'v York reviewing the controversy between the two great 
sections of the country in regard to the Territorial question, 
and assuming as a basis of settlement the following grounds : 

" 1. A citizen of any State in the Union may emigrate to 
the Territories with his property, whether it consists of slaves 
or any other subject of personal ownership. 

" 2. So long as the Territorial condition exists the relation 
of master and slave is not to be disturbed by Federal or local 

"3. Whenever a Territory shall be entitled to admission 
into the Union as a State the inhabitants may, in framing 
their Constitution, decide for themselves whether it shall 
authorize or exclude slavery. 

" We stand on these grounds now. We believe the contro- 
versy can be adjusted on no other. Many who sustained in 
the late canvass a candidate who did not assent to them dis- 
agreed with him in opinion. We speak particularly of the 
city of New York ; and we say with confidence that we be- 
L— 23 


I J 


; 5 





■' 1 

lieve the gieat conservative party of the North may be ral- 
lied successfully on the foregoing propositions as a basis of 
adjustment. In carrying thein out we shall re-establish the 
practice of the government from its organization to the year 
1820, running through the successive administrations of 
Washington, the elder Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. The 
Territory north-west of the Ohio River, in which slavery was 
prohibited by an ordinance adopted under the Articles of Con- 
federation, was an exceptional case. In the other Territories 
emigrants from the States were freely admitted with slaves 
when composing a part of their families. The adoption of the 
Missouri Compromise, under the administration of Mr. Mon- 
roe, was the first departure from the practice of the govern- 
ment under the Constitution. We nmst go back to the policy 
of the founders of the Republic if we hope to preserve the 
Union. We believe this great object can be accomplished, 
and that harmony may be restoied to the country, if time for 
action be given to those who have its destinies in their hands. 
"II. The Republican party. — It cannot possibly remain 
unbroken during the term of the incoming administration. 
The two chief elements — the political and religious — can nev- 
er harmonize in practice. The process of sejDaration has al- 
ready commenced. While those who ostensibly represent the 
religious element are as fierce as ever in their denunciations, 
leading politicians, no doubt, in view of the responsibility to 
devolve on the President-elect in carrying on the government, 
have renounced ultra opinions, and proclaim the duty of en- 
forcing an efiicient fugitive slave law. In Boston the Union 
party triumphed by a majority of several thousand votes in 
the late municipal election, and the abolitionists have been 
expelled by the people from the public halls in which they 
attempted to hold their disorganizing assemblies. In other 
cities of New England the same reaction has taken place. 
The theorists and the politicians can never hold together 
when measures of government are to be agreed on; and it 
is not believed that the Republican party can sustain itself 


for a single year on the basis of the principles on which it 
was organized. 

"It is a mistake to imagine that the whole Republican 
party, or even the great bulk of it, is really at heart animated 
by any spirit hostile to the rights or menacing to the interests 
of the South. Antislaveryism has constituted but one of va- 
rious political elements combined in that 'Republicanism' 
which has elected Mr. Lincoln. We pledge ourselves to you 
that, whenever a fair opportunity shall be presented of a dis- 
tinct and simple vote of the l^orth upon the full recognition 
of all your Constitutional rights, a very large majority in 
nearly every Northern State will be found true to the Con- 
stitution, and true to the fraternal relations established by 
it between you and us. 

" III. The Fugitive Slave Law. — Eight or nine States have 
passed laws calculated, if not designed, to embaiTass the sur- 
render of fugitive slaves. Wrong as these enactments are in 
principle and in purpose, they have been practically nugatory. 
We believe no fugitive from service or labor has been dis- 
charged under any one of them. They are, nevertheless, 
utterly indefensible as the index of unfriendly feeling ; they 
have wrought in practice the farther injury of furnishing an 
example of infidelity to Constitutional obligations — an injury 
to us as well as to you ; and no one doubts that they will, 
when brought before the judicial tribunals of the country, 
be pronounced violations or evasions of a duty enjoined by 
the Constitution, and therefore void. 

"A movement has already been made in "Vermont — the 
most hopeless of the Republican States — to repeal her per- 
sonal liberty bill, and the question, as we understand, is yet 
undecided in the hands of a committee. Massachusetts, it is 
believed, will repeal hers at the approaching session of her 
Legislature ; nor is it doubted that Mr. Lincoln, who has pub- 
licly declared that the Fugitive Slave Law must be faithfully 
executed, will exert his influence to procure the abrogation of 
all conflicting enactments by the States. That it is the duty 








of the States to repeal them, without waiting for the courts 
to pronounce them invalid, no man who justly appreciates the 
existing danger will deny. 

" IV. The Conservative Men of the North. — Since the adop- 
tion of the compromise measures of 1850 we have firmly 
maintained your rights under them. Previous differences of 
opinion were cheerfully renounced. The contest with the 
ultraism of the Republican party, active and strong as it is, 
has not been unaccompanied by personal sacrifices on our 
part. They have been encountered unhesitatingly, and with- 
out regard to political consequences to ourselves. We felt 
that we had a stake in the issue not less important than you. 
Believing the Union essential to the prosperity and the honor 
of the country,; holding that its dissolution would not only 
overwhelm us with calamity and disgrace, but that it would 
give a fatal shock to the cause of free government through- 
out the world, we have sought by all practicable means to 
maintain it by carrying out with scrupulous fidelity the com- 
promises of the Constitution. Though beaten at the late elec- 
tion, it is our sincere belief that we are stronger on this ques- 
tion now than we have been at any previous time. We believe 
we are nearer a solution satisfactory to you than we ever have 
been. We regard it as certain to be accomplished, unless it is 
defeated by precipitate action on your part. 

" These are a few of the grounds on which we rely for an 
adjustment of existing differences. There are others which 
M'e deem it needless at this juncture to press on you. But we 
should leave the view we take of the question unfinished if 
we were not to add, that any violation of your Constitutional 
rights by the incoming administration, if it were attempted, 
would meet with as prompt and determined a resistance here 
as it would from yourselves. We desire it to be distinctly 
understood that we speak with full knowledge of the import 
of our words, and that we pledge ourselves to such a resist- 
ance by all the means which may be necessary to make it 
effective. But we are satisfied no such danger is to be feared. 


It cannot, in the nature of tilings, be an ultra administration. 
No party in power, under our system of government, can fail 
to be conservative, no matter on what declarations the canvass 
may have been conducted by its leading supporters. There 
is an undercurrent of moderation in the flow of popular 
opinion, which will inevitably withhold those, to whom the 
great interests of the country are only temporarily confided, 
from running rashly into extremes. 

" Let us, then, fellow-citizens and brethren, again appeal to 
you to abstain from any movement which shall have for its 
object a dissolution of the political bonds which have so long, 
and so happily for us all, united us to each other. They have 
given us honor, wealth, and power. If occasional differences 
have disturbed the general harmony, they have been speedily 
adjusted, with fresh accessions of benefit to the common wel- 
fare. No nation has had so uninterrupted a career of pros- 
perity. To what are we to attribute it but to the well-adjust- 
ed organization of our political system to its several parts? 
We do not call on you to aid us in upholding it on these con- 
siderations alone. There are othera of a more personal nature 
— not addressing themselves to you as communities of men 
merely, but as individuals like ourselves, bound to us by ties 
of reciprocal obligation, which we call on you in all candor to 
respect. We should not make this appeal to you on an occa- 
sion of less magnitude. But when the very foundations of 
society are in danger of boino" broken up, involving the peace 
of families, the interests of communities, and the lasting wel- 
fare and reputation of the whole Confederacy of States, no 
feeling of delicacy should dissuade us from speaking freely 
and without concealment. We call on you, then, as brethren 
and friends, to stand by us as we have stood by you. 

" During the angry contentions of the last nine years we 
have been the open and unshrinking vindicators of your 
rights. It is in fighting wnth you the battle for the Consti- 
tution that we have by an unfortunate combination of causes 
been overthrown — not finally and hopelessly (far from it), 



1 1 


\ ^ 






but temporarily only, and with a remaining strength which 
needs only to be concentrated to give us the victory in future 
conflicts. Is it magnanimous — nay, is it just — to abandon us 
when we are as eager as ever to renew the contest, on grounds 
essentially your own, and leave us to carry it on in utter hope- 
lessness for want of your co-operation and aid 2 We cannot 
doubt the response you will give to this appeal. You cannot 
fail to see that, by hastily separating yourselves from us, you 
will deprive us of the co-operation needed to contend success- 
fully against the ultraism which surrounds us, and may leave 
us without power in a political organization imbued, by the 
very act of separation, with a rancorous spirit of hostility to 
you. We conjure you, then, to unite with us to prevent the 
question of disunion from being precipitated by rash counsels, 
and in a manner altogether unworthy of our rank among the 
great nations of the earth, and of the destinies which await us, 
if we are only true to oureelves. 

" If the event shall prove that we have overstated our own 
ability to procure a redress of existing wrongs, all the disnosi- 
tion of others to concede what is due to you, as members of a 
Confederacy which can only be preserved by equal justice to 
all, let us, when all the efforts of pjitriotism shall have proved 
unavailing, when the painful truth shall have forced itself on 
the conviction that our common brotherhood can be no longer 
maintained in the mutual confidence in which its whole value 
consists — in a word, when reconciliation shall become hope- 
less, and it shall be manifest (which may God forbid !) that 
our future paths must lie wide apart — let us do all that be- 
comes reasonable men to break the force of so great a calam- 
ity by parting in peace. Let us remember that we have -pub- 
lic obligations, at home and abroad, which for our good name 
must not be dishonored ; that we have great interests within 
and without — on the ocean, in our cities and towns, in our 
widely extended internal improvements, in our fields and at 
our firesides — ^which must not be inconsiderately and wanton- 
ly sacrificed. If, undervaluing the great boon of our prosper- 




ity, wo can no longer consent to enjoy it in common, let us 
divide what we possess on the one hand, and what we owe on 
the other, and save the Repuhlic — the noblest the world has 
seen — from the horrore of civil war and the degradation of 
financial discredit. 

" If, on the other hand (which may God grant !), you shall 
not turn a deaf ear to this appeal; if it shall bo seen in the 
sequel that we have correctly appreciated the influences which 
are at work to bring about a reconciliation of existing difEer- 
ences and a redress of existing wrongs ; if mutual confidence 
shall be restored, and the current of our prosperity shall re- 
sume its course, to flow on, as it must, with no future dissen- 
sions to disturb it, and in perpetually increasing volume and 
force, it will be the most cheering consolation of our lives 
that, in contributing to so happy an issue out of the prevail- 
ing gloom, we have neither misjudged your patriotism nor 
the willingness of our common countrymen to do you justice. 

" The Resolutions. 

'^Whereas, tlie Constitution of the United States was designed to se- 
cure equal rights and privileges to the people of all the States, which 
were either parties to its formation or which have subsequently thereto 
become members of the Union; and, whereas, the said instrument con- 
tained certain stipulations in regard to the surrender of fugitive slaves, 
under the designation of ' persons held to labor or service in one State, 
under the laws thereof, escaping into another,' which stipulations were 
designed to be complied with by the Act of Congress making provision 
for such surrender ; and, whereas, the agitated state of the country aris- 
ing out of differences of opinion in regard to these provisions demands 
that we should declare explicitly our sense of the obligations arising 
under them ; therefore, 

"Hesohcd, That the delivery of fugitive slaves to their masters is an 
obligation enjoined by the Constitution, in which all good citizens are 
bound to acquiesce ; and that all laws passed by the States with a view 
to embarrass and obstruct the execution of the Act of Congress making 
provision therefor, are an infraction of that instrument, and should be 
promptly repealed. 

^'' Resolved, That the Territories of the United States arc the common 
property of the people thereof; that they are of right, and ought to be, 



tit! I 







open to the free immigration of citizens of all the States, with their fami- 
lies, and with whatever is the subject of personal ownership under the 
laws of the States from which they emigrated ; that the relation of mas- 
ter and slave cannot, during the Territorial condition, bo rightfully dis- 
turbed by Federal or loeol legislation ; and that the people of any such 
Territory can only dispose of the question of slavery, in connection with 
their own political organization, when they form a Constitution with a 
view to their admission into the Union as a State. 

" Resolved, That wo pledge ourselves to uphold these principles by all 
the means in our power; to seek by all practicable efforts a redress of 
the wrongs of which the Southern States justly complain, and to main- 
tain their equality under the Constitution, in the full enjoyment of all 
the rights and privileges it confers. 

"Jiesolced, That, while we deplore the existing excitement in the South- 
ern States, we do not hesitate to say that there is just ground for it. 
But wo earnestly entreat our Soutaern brethren to abstain from hasty 
and inconsiderate action, that time may be afforded for bringing about a 
reconciliation of existing differences, and that the union of the States — 
the source of our prosperity and power — may be preserved and perpetu- 
ated by a restoration of public harmony and mutual confidence. 

'■'■ Iteaolved, That Hon. Millard Fillmore, Hon. Greene C. Bronson, and 
Richard Lathers, Esq., be appointed a committee to proceed to the South, 
with a view to make such explanation to our Southern brethren, in re- 
gard to the subjects embraced in the address and resolutions, as they 
may deem necessary, and to give such further assurances as may be 
needed to manifest our determination to maintain their rights. 

" Resolved, That in case either of the gentlemen named in the forego- 
ing resolution be unable to perform the service for which he is appoint- 
ed, the Committee on the address and resolutions be authorized to fill 
the vacancy. "Charles O'Conou, Chairman. 

•'James F. Cox; Wm. B. Clerke; O. G. Carter, Secretaries. 

" JoirN A. Dix, 
James T. Soutter, 
Wilson G. Hunt, 
James W. Beekman, 
Gerard Hallock, 
A. S. Jarvis, 
E. Pierrepont, 
John McKeon, 
Thomas W. Ludlow, 
Edwin Croswell, 

Samuel J. Tild£n, 
Stephen P. Rcssel, 
Wm. H. Aspinwall, 
G. Kemble, 
Royal Phelps, 
T. W. Clerke, 
John M. Barbour, 
j. l. o'sullivan, 
Geo. E. Baldwin, 

GusTAVus W. Smith, 
Edward Cooper, 
Richard Lathers, 


John Kelly, 
J. H. Brower, 
Charles A. Davis, 
Watts Sherman, 
Stewart Brown." 


The alarm created by the proceedings at tlio South was 
intensified by tlio conduct of the administration. Members 
of Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet were in open league with the par- 
ty of secession, and actually using their official influence to 
promote the cause. It is not to be doubted that the Presi- 
dent was personally loyal to the nation and to his oath of 
office; but ho was surrounded by men engaged in the con- 
spiracy to overthrow the government, and had not the force 
to rid himself of their presence until they had wrought al- 
most irreparable mischief. But the time had come at which 
to apply an outside pressure on the part of the advocates of 
law and order. The President received distinct intimations, 
from the Democratic representatives of New York in Con- 
gress that, unless ho could maintain the supremacy and dig- 
nity of the government and protect the public property, he 
must no longer rely on their support ; and it was said that, in 
Cabinet Council, ho had expressed himself very strongly as 
to the course pursued in the disaffected quarters of the coun- 
try ; that he had charged the South Carolina representatives 
with misunderstanding his motives and abusing his forbear- 
ance, declared that his conduct had been influenced by repre- 
sentations of strong Union men in the South who were oppos- 
ing secession, and protested against the action of South Caro- 
lina in forcing useless and dangerous issues on the country, 
and pursuing a line which must end in making the question 
a military instead of a political one, and settling it by force 
of arms. 

General Dix was in constant correspondence with the gov- 
ernment, as a maintainor of its dignity and honor and an op- 
ponent of schemes of nullification. lie had the confidence of 
the community ; it was exhibited in a manner nol io be mis- 
understood. The government was in imminent iieril, from 
the seizure of its forts, arsenals, custom-houses, and navy- 
yards throughout the South ; of the forts, at the close of Mr. 
Buchanan's administration, there remained, within the seven 
States which had seceded, only Fort Sumter, at Charleston, 



and Fort Pickens, at Pensacola. Attempts at conciliation 
were met with scorn and contumely. But there was a much 
greater evil than any of these. The government could get 
no money; the want of money would be ruin. Howell 
Cobb, Secretary of the Treasury, resigned on the 10th of 
December, leaving the Treasury empty, and joined the se- 
cession movement, becoming President of the Montgomery 
Conference. On his abandonment of his post Philip F. 
Thomas, of Maryland, was appointed in his place. The choice 
was an unfortunate one. The Secretary was coldly received 
in Wall Street ; his efforts to obtain aid for the government 
were met by a frigid silence. At length the President was 
given to understand distinctly that not one dollar would be 
forthcoming from the banks and financial institutions of the 
metropolis until he should have placed in his Cabinet men 
on whom the friends of the government and the Union could 
depend. The argument is one to which administrations are 
compelled to yield. The President asked what would satisfy 
them ; and at a meeting of our leading men, held at the Bank 
of Commerce, it was decided to require of him, as a condition 
to their support, the appointment of General Dix to a Cabinet 
position. The understanding among the gentlemen present 
was that the position should be that of Secretary of the 
Treasury, although they did not deem it courteous to express 
it openly. No higher proof could have been given of the 
moral power of a good name. 

On the evening of Tuesday, January 8, my father received 
a despatch from the President asking liim to come at once to 
the White House. He went immediately, and was offered 
the War Department. This he declined, infonning Mr. Bu- 
chanan, as had been agreed upon, that at that moment he 
could be of no service to him in any position except that of 
the Treasury Department, and that he would accept no other 
post. The President asked for time. The following day he 
had Mr. Thomas's resignation in his hands, and sent General 
Dix's name to the Senate : it was instantly confirmed. The 



news of the appointment was received in New York and else- 
where with profound satisfaction : the financial dead-lock was 
at once broken ; the government found itself in possession of 
all the money that it wanted ; and the country saw a strong 
Cabinet and a Union Administration. Mr. Holt was in the 
War Department, Judge Black was Secretary of State, Mr. 
Toucey Secretary of the Navy, and Mr. Stanton Attorney- 
general. The reins were at last in the hands of men ready 
to defend the Constitution and oppose secession. 

General Dix returned from Washington, on the 11th, to 
make Immed arrangements for the ensuing six weeks. On 
the following day a meeting of bank officers and directors 
of moneyed institutions was held at the Bank of Com- 
merce, at which the following resolution, moved by Mr. 
Charles II. Russell, and seconded by Mr. Moses Taylor, waa 
adopted : 

'■'■ Resolved, That this meeting learns with great satisfaction the ap- 
pointment just announced of the Hon. John A. Dix, as Secretary of the 
Treasury of the United States, believing, from the well-known ability, 
integrity, and honorable character of tliis gentleman, his devotion to 
the Union, and his determination to maintain the laws, that the change 
thus effected will inspire throughout this community increased confi- 
dence in the administration of that department and the stability of the 

Upon motion of Mr. James Gallatin, seconded by Mr. James 
Puunett, it was farther 

'■'■Resolved, That we will meet at tins place on Friday next, at one 
o'clock ; and in the mean time will confer with the Boards of our re- 
spective institutions, and then determine the rate of interest at which 
we will bid for the proposod issue of United States Treasury notes." 

These resolutions tell the story in brief. As was justly 
observed: "All parties have concurred in rcj( " Jng at the 
appointment of Mr. Dix, but we have seen no tribute to his 
worth more striking than this. A man has lived to some 
pui-pose whose appointment instantly raises the credit of his 






country, from a simple conviction of his honor and patriot- 



Before his departure for Washington, General Dix went to 
the Post-office and took formal leave of his corps. The men 
were hastily called together. He addressed them, compliment- 
ing them on their fidelity, zeal, and ability. Alluding to the 
circumstances under which he had been called to the office of 
Postmaster, he exonerated the men, one and all, from blame, 
and declared his conviction of the integrity of those by whom 
he was then suiTOunded. Referring to the troubled condition 
of the country, he expressed the belief that, with God's help, 
the peril would pass away, that the bonds which had held the 
States together would be reunited, and that when he and 
those around him should meet again it would be to welcome 
the arrival of days of tranquillity and peace. And, so saying, 
he bade them farewell. 

General Dix was the guest of the President, and in resi- 
dence at the White House, from the date of his appointment, 
January 11, 18G1, until the end of that administration. Mr. 
Buchanan was still hopeful of a solution of our difficulties ' 
but the members of his Cabinet could not have shared his 
views. The six weeks to which I now refer were among the 
most exciting of my father's life. He found the Treasury 
Department in a state of the utmost confusion. Public busi- 
i^ess had been neglected ; letters from merchants and capital- 
ists remained unanswered ; complaints from all parts of the 
country had been unheeded; irregularity in the transaction 
of affairs appeared to be the rule and common practice ; dis- 
honesty and knavery were apparent through their results; 
underneath all was a spirit of disloyalty to the governinent. 
In a r>rivate letter from Washington the following expres- 
sions occur : 

"Things look dark here to-day (January 16). The utter 
inactivity of Congress stupefies those who otherwise would 
have some hopes. The House of Representatives is an assem- 
blage governed by the cant and hypocrisy of the worst Puri- 


tan elements. National men are discouraged. Southern lead- 
ers reiterate that outside of South Carolina, even in Georgia, 
Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, the Union sentiment pre- 
vails in the hearts of the people ; but that it cannot be got at. 
It is buried in a present triumph of feverish, demagogic se- 
cessionism. All eyes have been turned toward "Washington ; 
but here nothing is done. Mr. Buchanan has but a few weeks 
more to remain in oflBce, and can neither act upon hopes or 
fears, as he would be enabled to do if his term were but half 
expired. lie is next to powerless, though his intentions 
are good, and he is surrounded by comparatively able men. 
Stanton and Dix alone might have aided the country great- 
ly if they had been in office earlier ; and then there is 
General Scott, who is indefatigable. But I fear it is all in 



The difficulties with which the Secretary had to contend, 
inside and outside the department, were prodigious. Major 
Anderson was shut up in Fort Sumter, and commissioners 
from tlie Governor of South Carolina were in "Washington, to 
treat for the surrender of that fortress to the State. Gen- 
eral Dix and Major Anderson were old friends ; they had 
belonged to the same regiment in the regular service ; it 
may be imagined with what suspense and anxiety the for- 
mer watched the fortunes of his comrade in arms. Men 
of sense were cursing the folly and rashness of South Car- 
olina. Congress w'as besieged by petitions for redress and 
relief in some ways acceptable to both sections of the coun- 
try. Hope was still entertained of conservative action on 
the part of the Legislatures of "V^irginia, Kentucky, Tennes- 
see, and Arkansas. Maryland stood firm. If those States 
had proved loyal the Union might have been maintained 
without a war. 

The Secretary's embarrassments may be understood by an 
attentive perusal of a letter, dated February 21, and sent by 
him to Congress, in response to a resolution of the House of 
Representatives calling for information on some matters of 





va3t importance to the government. It embraces the follow- 
ing points : 

1. The collection of duties on imports ; 

2. Light-houses, beacons, and buoys ; 

3. The Branch Mint at New Orleans ; 

4. The Marine Hospital ; 

5. The revenue-cutters. 

It appears from this communication that the duties on im- 
ports continued to be collected in the ports of entry establish- 
ed by law in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, 
Louisiana, and Florida, but that the collectors assumed to per- 
form their duties under the authority of the States in which 
they resided, and held the money they received subject to the 
State authority. As a specimen of the unspeakable coolness 
of those demoralized officials, take the following : 

On the 4th instant the following letter was received from 
John Boston, Esq., collector of the customs for the port of 
Savannah, whose resignation, dated January 31, was subse- 
quently tendered : 

" Custom-liouse, Collector's OflSco, Savannah, Jauuary 30, 1861. 
" Siu, — I to-day received the following despatch from his Excellency 
Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia : 

" ' You will pay no more money from the Custom-liouse to any govern- 
ment or person without my order.' 

" Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

" John Boston, Collector. 
" Hon. John A. Dix, 

"Secretary of the Treasury, Washington." 

The following answer was immediately despatched by mail : 

•' Treasury Department, February 4, 1861. 

" Sir, — Your letter of the 30th ultimo, containing a copy of a despatch 
from the Governor of Georgia, directing you to pay ' no more money 
from the Custom-house to any government or person without his order,' 
is received. 

" You will please to advise me, by return of mail, whether it is your 
purpose to obey his direction, or whether you will conform to the instruc- 


tions of this department, and perform your duty under the laws of the 
United States. Very respectfully, John A. Dix, 

" John Boston, Esq.. "Secretary of the Treasury. 

"Collector of the Customs, Savannah, Georgia." 

On the 12tli instant the following reply was received : 

" Savannah, February 8, 1861. 

" Sir,— Your letter, under date of the 4th instant, asking me whether 
it is my purpose to obey the direction of the Government of Georgia to 
pay no more money from the Custom-house to any government or person 
without his order, or whether I will conform to the instructions of this 
(your) department, and perform your (my) dnty under the law of the 
United States, is this moment received ; and, in reply, I beg to say that 
I will, as a good and loyal citizen, as I hope 1 am, obey the authority of 
my State. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"Hon. John A. Dix, 

"Secretary of the Treasury, Washington." 

"John Boston. 

This declaration was carried out at a later day by refusing 
to pay a draft for the compensation of a revenue-officer in 
his own State. 

It also appears that the free navigation of the Mississippi 
River, which had been guaranteed as a perpetual right to the 
people of the United States at the time of the purchase of 
Louisiana, had been interrupted by the authorities at New 
Orleans, to the great loss and injury of all the North-western 
States, the inward commerce of the great West having thus 
been made subject to the authority of the State of Louisiana 
and tributary to her treasury. No madder proceeding could 
have been imagined, nor one more certain to open the eyes 
of "Western men to the results of secession. 

The subject of the Marine Hospital at New Orleans in- 
volved (as will be seen in the following extracts from Gen- 
eral Dix's papers) some vigorous correspondence : 

" The Marine Hospital, 

" In the month of June, 1858, the Marine Hospital opposite 
New Orleans became seriously injured by the overflow of the 

■ i ft' 

■ ;, 



waters of the Mississippi River. Its foundations were so dis- 
turbed by the flood that it was deemed unsafe for occupation. 
The barracks, two miles below the city, being untenanted and 
not needed for troops, they were, with the consent of the "War 
Department, appropriated to the use of the sick, who were 
removed to them, and have occupied them ever since. 

" On the 26th day of January, ultimo, I received the fol- 
lowing letter from the Collector of the Customs at New 
Orleans : 

•' ' Custom-house, New Orleans, Collector's Office, January 14, 1861. 
" ' SiK, — I have the honor to inform you that the United States bar- 
racks below the city have been taken possession of in the name of the 
State of Louisiana, as will appear by the enclosed communication from 
" C. M. Bradford, Captain Louisiana Infantry." I shall take steps to re- 
move these invalids, if necessary, at an early date, and with due regard 
to economy. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"'F. H. Hatch, Collector. 
" ' Hon. P. F. Thomas, 

" ' Secretary of the Treasury, Washington.' 

" In this letter was enclosed one fi'om Captain Bradford, to which it 
alluded, and which is as follows: 

" ' Barracks, near New Orleans, January 13 (Sunday), 1861. 

" ' Sir, — On the 11th instant I took possession of these barracks in the 
name of the State of Louisiana, and they will hereafter be held by the 
same authority. I find herein some two hundred and sixteen invalids 
and convalescent patients, who were removed here some months ago, by 
your authority, from the Marine Hospital on the opposite bank of the 
river during the recent overflow. 

"'As these quarters will all be required for the Louisiana troops now 
being enlisted, I have to request that you will immediately remove those 
patients who are convalescent, and, as soon as in the opinion of the resi- 
dent surgeon it may be practicable and humane, those who are now 
confined to their beds. 

" ' I beg leave farther to add that the quarters now occupied by the 
surgeon and his assistants, nurses, stewards, etc., will remain at their use 
and disposal as long as may, in the surgeon's opinion, be necessary. 
" ' Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

" ' C. M. Bradford, 

" ' Captain, First Louisiana Infantry. 
"'F. H. Hatch, Esq., 

" ' Collector U. S. Customs, New Orleans.' 


" On the following day I sent to the Collector the following despatch 

by telegraph : 

" ' Treasury Department, January 27, 1801. 

•"Apply to the Governor of Louisiana to revoke Captain Bradford's 
order. Remonstrate with the Governor against the inhumanity of turn- 
ing the sick out of the hospital. If he refuses to interfere, have them 
removed under the care of the resident surgeon, and do all in your 
power to provide for their comfort. John A. Dix, 

" ' Secretary of the Treasury. 
'"F. H. Hatch, 

" ' Collector of Customs, New Orleans.' 

" On the 28th I addressed the following letter to the Collector : 

'"Treasury Department, January 28, 1861. 

" ' Sin, — I did not receive until the 26th instant yours of the 14th, 
informing me that the United States barracks below the city of New 
Orleans had "been taken possession of in the name of the State of 
Louisiana." I found enclosed a copy of the letter of Caj)tain C. M. Brad- 
ford, of the First Louisiana Infantry, advising you that he had taken 
possession of the barracks ; that they would " be required for the Louisi- 
ana troops now being enlisted ;" and requesting you to " immediately re- 
move those patients who are convalescent, and, as soon as in the opinion 
of the resident surgeon it may be practicable and humane, those also 
who are now confined to their beds." He also states that the barracks 
contained " two hundred and sixteen invalids and convalescent patients." 

" ' On this transaction, as an outrage to the public authority, I have no 
comment to make. But I cannot believe that a proceeding so discordant 
with the character of the peojile of the United States, and so revolting 
to the civilization of the age, has had the sanction of the Governor of 
the State of Louisiana. I sent a telegraphic message to you yesterday, 
desiring you to remonstrate with him against the inhumanity of Captain 
Bradford's order, and ask him to revoke it. But if he should decline to 
interfere, I instructed you in regard to the removal and treatment of the 
sick; and, in that event, I trust you will carry out my direction, not 
merely with " economy," but with a careful regard to their helpless con- 

" ' The barracks, it seems, were taken possession of on the 11th instant. 
Captain Bradford's letter is dated the 13th, and yours the 14th, though I 
had no information on the subject until the 26th. I infer from the news- 
paper paragraph you enclosed, which telegraphic advices in regard to 
the subject-matter show to be of a later date than your letter, that the 
latter was not despatched until the 21st or 22d instant. I hope I am 
mistaken, and that the cause of the delay is to be found in some unex- 
plained interruption of the mail. I should otherwise have great reason 
I.— 2i 



to be dissatisfied that the infurraiition was not more promptly communi- 

" ' From the tone of the newspaper paragraph you enclosed, and from 
the seizure of the barracks, in violation of a usage of humanity, which in 
open war between contending nations, and even in the most revengeful 
civil conflicts between kindred races, has always held sacred from dis- 
turbance edifices dedicated to the care and comfort of the sick, I fear 
that no public property is likely to be respected. You will, therefore, 
have no more money expended on the revenue-cutter Washington, now 
hauled up for repnirs, until I can have the assurance that she will not be 
seized as soon as she is refitted, and taken into the service of those who 
are seeking to break up the Union and overthrow the authority of the 
Federal Government. 

" ' I am, respectfully, yours, Joim A. Drx, 

" ' Secretary of the Treasury. 
"'F. H. Hatch, Esq., 

" ' Collector of Customs, New Orleans.' " 

I must now give the history of the famous despatch refer- 
ring to the American flag. It made a profound impression 
on the country, and fell like a live coal on a mass of material 
ready to ignite. There are two accounts, both given by my 
father ; one may be found in the second volume of his pub- 
lished Speeches and Occasional Addresses, under Section V. 
of his communication to the House of Representatives. The 
other is now printed for the first time. It was written for 
Mrs. "VYilliam T. Blodgett, of New York, with the request 
that it should not be published during his own lifetime or 
that of ex-President Buchanan. The limitation has long since 
expired, and I am glad to be able to present this most inter- 
esting document to the reader, referring him for additional 
particulars to the official report made to Congress : 

" Ilcad-quartcrs, Dopartment of the East, 
New York City, March 31, 1865. 

"Mt dear Mns. Blodgett, — I fulfil the promise, made to you last 
summer, to give you the history of the order issued by me to shoot any 
man who should attempt to haul down the American flag. The only 
request I make is that no publication shall be given to it during my 
life and Mr. Buchanan's. 

" I was requested by Mr. Buchanan to go to Washington early in Jan- 
uary, 1861. He said he wished me to take a place in his Cabinet, and 














oflFeretl me the War Department, which I declined. Mr. Holt, Postmas- 
ter-general, was Acting Secretary of War, and I told the President I could 
do nothing in that office to which the incumbent was not fully adequate. 
But I said to him that if ho thought I could be of any use to him in 
the Treasury Department, I would not refuse it. lie replied that ho 
thought he could make the arrangement, and I left Wasiiington for New 
York. Before I reached homo I saw my appointment in the newspapers. 
Howell Cobb had resigned as Secretary of the Treasury a few weeks be- 
fore and returned to Georgia, for the purpose of co-operating with that 
State in the attempt to break up the Union. Philip F. Thomas of Mary- 
land had been appointed in his place, but had not responded to the 
expectations of the President or the country in the performance of its 
duties, the credit of the government having fallen under him even to a 
lower ebb than under his predecessor. 

"I entered on my duties on the 15th day of January, 1801, and at Mr. 
Buchanan's urgent request stayed with him at the President's house. 
Forts, arsenals, and revenue -cutters in the Southern States had been 
seized by the local authorities. No effort had been made by the gov- 
ernment to secure its property ; and there was an apparent indifference 
in the public mind to these outrages which was incomprehensible to me. 

"On the 18th of January, three days after I entered on my duties, 
I sent a special messenger, W. Hemphill Jones, Esq., who was chief clerk 
in one of the bureaus of the Treasury Department, to New Orleans, for 
the purpose of saving the revenue-cutters in that city. He was then to 
proceed to Mobile and Galveston and try to save the revenue-cutters 
there. My orders were to provision them and send them to New York. 
I knew if they remained there that the State authorities would take 
possession of them. 

" I received from ]\Ir. Jones, on the 29th of January, the despatch pub- 
lished on page 440, vol. ii., of my Specclies, advising me that Captain 
Breshwood, of the revenue-cutter McClelland^ refused to obey my order. 
It was about seven o'clock in the evening. I had dined, and was at 
the department as usual, transacting business. The moment I read it I 
wrote the following order: 

" 'Treasury Department, January 29, 18C1. 
" ' Tell Lieutenant Caldwell to arrest Captain Breshwood, assume com- 
mand of the cutter, and obey the order I gave through you. If Captain 
Breshwood, after arrest, undertakes to interfere with the command of 
the cutter, tell Lieutenant Caldwell to consider him as a mutineer, and 
treat him accordingly. If any one attempts to haul down the American 
flag, shoot him on the spot. John A. Dix, 

" ' Secretary of the Treasury.' 



" Not a word was oltercd ; but tho original was hamlccl to tbo clerk 
charged with tho custody of my telegraphic despatches, copied by 
him, and tho copy signed by mc and sent to its destination. Before I 
sent it, however, a question of military etiquette arose in my mind in re- 
gard to the arrest of Captain Bresliwood, and I took a carriage and drove 
to the lodgings of Lieutenant-general Scott, to consult him in regard to 
it. Mr. Stanton was then Attorney-general. My relations with him were 
of tho t^.ost intimate character; and as ho resided near General Scott's 
lodgings I drove to his house first, and showed the despatch to him. 
lie approved of it, and made somo remark expressing his gratifica- 
tion at tho tono of tho order. General Scott said I was right on tho 
question of etiquette, and I think expressed his gratification that I had 
taken a decided stand against Southern invasions of the authority of 
the government. I immediately returned to tho department and sent 
the despatch. General Scott, Mr. Stanton, and tho clerk who copied it 
were tho only persons who saw it. 

" It was on Tuesday evening, the weekly drawing-room evening of 
Miss Lane, and before nine o'clock I was with her visitors. 

"I decided when I wrote the order to say nothing to tho President 
about it. I was satisfied that, if ho was consulted, he would not permit 
it to be sent. Though indignant at tho course of the Southern States, 
and the men about him who had betrayed his confidence — Cobb, Floyd, 
and others — ono leading idea had taken possession of his mind, that in 
tlic civil contest which threatened to break out the North must not shed 
the first drop of blood. This idea is the key to his submission to much 
which should have been met with prompt and vigorous resistance. 
During the seven weeks I was with him he rarely failed to come to my 
room about ten o'clock, and converse with me for about an hour on tho 
great questions of the day before going to his own room. I was strong- 
ly impressed with his conscientiousness. But he was timid and credu- 
lous. His confidence was easily gained, and it was not difficult for an 
artful man to deceive him. But I remember no instance in my unreserved 
intercourse with him in which I had reason to doubt his uprightness. 

" Tuesdays and Fridays were Cabinet days. The members met, with- 
out notice, at the President's house in the morning. My order was given, 
as has been stated, on Tuesday evening. I said nothing to tho President 
in regard to it, though he was with me every evening, until Friday, when 
the members of the Cabinet were all assembled, and the President was 
about to call our attention to the business of the day. I said to him, ' Mr. 
President, I fear we have lost some more of our revenue-cutters.' ' Ah !' 
said he, ' how is that?' I then told him what had occurred down to the 
receipt of the despatch from Mr. Jones, informing me that Captain Bresh- 


wood rt'fiisc'l to obey my order. * Well,' said ho, • what did you do ?' I 
tlien repeated to him, slowly and distinctly, the order I had sent. When 
I came to tiio words, ' Slioot him on the spot,' he started suddenly, and 
said, with a good deal of emotion, ' Did you write that ?' ' No, sir,' I said, 
• I did not write it, but I telegraphed it.' lie made no answer; nor do I 
remember that ho ever referred to it nftof ward. It Avaa manifest, as I 
liad presupposed, that the order would never have been given if I had 
consulted him. 

" It only remains for me to say that the order was not the result of any 
premeditation — scarcely of any thought. A conviction of the right course 
to bo taken was as instantaneous as a flash of light ; and I did not think, 
when I seized the nearest pen (a very bad one, as the fac-simile shows) 
and wrote the order in as little time as it would take to read it, that I 
was doing anything specially worthy of remembrance. It touched the 
public mind and heart strongly, no doubt, because the blood of all patri- 
otic men was boiling with indignation at the humiliation which we were 
enduring; and I claim no other merit than that of having thought right- 
ly, and of having expressed strongly what I felt in commou with tho 
great body of my countrymen. 

" It gives me great pleasure, my dear Mra. Blodgctt, to place in your 
hands this plain history of an official net which has made me so nuich 
your debtor. I can never forget that I owe to your kindness tho most 
valuable testimonial of my public services that I have ever received. 
The obligation is the more grateful to me, because you seem of all others 
to be the least conscious of tho value of what you have conferred. 

" With the sincerest regard, your friend, John A. Dix." 

Such is the history of the famous despatch. In conchiding 
it I quote my father's words by way of explanation and justi- 
fication of his language. lie says, in his report to Congress : 

" It may be proper to add, in reference to the closing pe- 
riod of the foregoing despatch, that as the flag of the Union, 
since 1777, when it was devised and adopted by tlie founders 
of the Republic, had never until a recent day been hauled 
down, except by honorable liands in manly conflict, no hesita- 
tion was felt in attempting to uphold it at any cost against an 
act of treachery, as the ensign of the public authority and the 
emblem of unnumbered victories by land and sea." 

The valuable testimonial referred to at the close of this let- 
ter was a flag, designed by Leutze, made by Tiffany & Co., 




and given to General Dix by Mrs. Blodgett at the Metropoli- 
tan Fair in 1864. An account of the presentation will be 
found farther on. In the mean time the reader may be glad 
to know the history of the flag which was flying on the rev- 
enue-cutter when the now famous despatch was sent to Mr. 
Hemphill Jones. The striking incidents are contained in the 
following documents : 

" Head-qnarters, Department of tlie Gulf, 
New Orleans, La., June 26, 1863. 

" My dear General, — When I read your decisive and patriotic order, 
as Secretary of Treasury, 'to shoot on the spot' whomsoever should at- 
tempt to liaal down the American flag, luy lieart bounded with joy. It 
wns the first bold stroke in favor of the Union under the past adminis- 

" It gives me, therefore, redoubled pleasure more directly to testify 
my admiration by sending you the identical flag of the revenue-cutter 
McClelland, which was the subject of that order, together with the Con- 
federate flag which was hoisted by traitor hands in its place. 

" David Ritchie, a young Scotch sailor on board that boat, remaining 
true to his adopted country when so many of her sons proved recreant, 
went on board the McClelland when she was being burnt by the Confed- 
erates and brought oif the flags. 

" His aflSdavit, which accompanies this, will give the detail of the 

" I doubt not the Secretary of the Treasury will permit you to retain 
the flags, which could not be in better hands. 

" Believe me. General, most truly yours, Benj. F. Butler." 

" To Major-general John A. Dix. 

" * Statement of David Ritchie. 

'"Am a native of Montrose, in the north of Scotland; have lived in 
tlus country seven years ; have followed the sea as a profession since I 
left school. 

'"For two years prior to August, 1859, 1 was employed by Henry 
Mitchell, Esq., in the United States Coast Survey Department, From 
this I enlisted on board the revenue -cutter Hobert McClelland, at the 
time she was put in commission in New York. 

" ' Was on the New York station about a year, and then left for New 
Orleans, where the McClelland was to relieve the revenue-cutter Wash- 
ington. Arrived at New Orleans late in September. After Mr. Jones, the 


special agent from Secretary Dix, arrived I lieard Captain Hudgins of the 
McClelland say that Mr. Jones had read the famous order — "Shoot tlie 
first man that attempts to haul down the American flag " — in the cabin 
of the McClelland^ and had placed Captain Breshwood in irons for dis- 
obedience of orders. About a week after this the Revenue flag was taken 
down from the McClelland and put into the signal-house. For about 
two "weeks no flag was raised ; then the Secession flag was run up to the 

" ' On the night of the 24th of April last, the authorities here, learn- 
ing that the Federal fleet had passed the f( rts, determined to burn the 
McClelland. She lay at the dock in Algiers, and as they were remov- 
ing such articles in her as they wished to save I remarked to a friend 
that I was bound to get the old Revenue flag and the Secession one also. 
About hf If-past two o'clock, on the morning of the 2J>th of April, the 
McClelland was droi)ped off", and her anchors let go and then fired. Just 
before she dropped off I jumped aboard and went to the signal-house, 
where among various signal flags I found the Revenue and Secession 
flags, and rolled them up and carried them off", and have since kept them 
in my house in Algiers. 

" ' I am perfectly certain and satisfied that this Revenue flag is the iden- 
tical one which elicited the noted order of General Dix, and tliat the oth- 
er is the flag which has been flying from the McClelland since, until the 
capture of the forts. (Signed) David Ritchie. 

" ' Subscribed and sworn to before me, 

" ' (Signed) Wm. M. Ball, Provost Judge.' " 


The history of another of the revenue-cutters may also be 
given here, by way of completing the gloomy picture of that 
anxious time. I take it from the Secretary's official report 
already referred to. 

The revenue - cutter Ilenry Dodge, at Galveston, Texas, 
was understood to be so much out of repair as to render it 
very questionable whether she could be safely taken to New 
York. Under these circumstances, the following order was 
sent to her commanding officer : 

" Treasury Department, January 23, 1861. 
" Sm, — If the revenue-cutter Ilenry Dodge, to tho command of which 
you were assigned by an order of the 19th instant, should on examina- 
tion prove to be seaworthy, you will immediately provision her for six 



weeks and sail for New York, reporting yourself on arrival to the collect- 
or of the port. While making your preparations for sailing you will 
exercise the utmost vigilance in guarding your vessel against attack 
from any quarter. If any hostile movement should be made against 
you, you will defend yourself to the last extremity. The national flag 
must not be dishonored. If you are in danger of being overpowered by 
superior numbers, you will put to sea and proceed to Key West to pro- 
vision ; or if intercepted so that you cannot go to sea, and are unable to 
keep possession of your vessel, you will run her ashore, and if possible 
blow her up, so that she may not be used against the United States. 
" I am, very respectfully, John A. Dix, 

" Secrctaiy of the Treasury. 
" Captain J. J. Morrison, 

" Commanding rcvenue-cuttcr Henry Dodge, Galveston, Texas." 

"It was the determination of this Department to adopt such measures 
as to prevent, if possible, the revenue-vessels, for which it was responsi- 
ble, from being taken by force, and used for the purpose of overthrowing 
the public authority. Any attempt to gain possession of them by mili- 
tary coercion could not be regarded in any other light than as an act of 
war, proper to be resisted by force of arms ; and it was deemed far more 
creditable to the country that *^^hey should be blown into fragments than 
that they should be pusillanimously or treacherously surrendered and 
employed against the government which they were constructed and 
commissioned to support. 

" At the last accounts the Dodge, in consequence of her unfitness to 
proceed to New York, was to be placed at the disposal of the Coast 
Survey in the vicinity of Galveston for temporary service, in case of any 
hostile demonstration against her. Captain Morrison, who was ordered 
to take charge of her before his fidelity to the government was question- 
ed, having been dismissed from the service, the command has devolved 
on Lieutenant William F. Rogers, in whose good faith and firmness 
entire confidence is reposed. 

" It only remains to state, under this branch of the inquiries addressed 

to this Department, that Captain John G. Brcshwood and Lieutenants 

S. B. Caldwell and Thomas D. Fistcr, who voluntarily surrendered the 

revenue - cutter Robert McClelland to the State of Louisiana, have been 

dismissed from the Revenue Service. 

" I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

" John A. Dix, 

" Secretary of the Treasury. 
"Hon, Wm. Pennington, 

" Speaker of the House of Representatives." 




General Dix's service as Secretary of the Treasury, though 
brief, was very important. When called to that position the 
financial affairs of the government were apparently beyond 
redemption ; the Treasury was without money, the adminis- 
tration without credit. Ilequisitions from the various depart- 
ments, to the extent of nearly ^2,000,000, were on the table, 
with no funds to meet their payment; the Treasury notes 
overdue amounted to about $350,000. Not a dollar could be 
had from the bankers and capitalists of "Wall S';reet. No one 
would have undertaken the apparently desperate task of 
bridging over the interval between the outgoing and incom- 
ing administrations except a man who was both confident in 
his ability to meet the crisis, and unselfish enough to risk a 
total failure ; no one would have been equal to the emergency 
except a man who placed the love of his country above all 
personal and private considerations, and had impHcit confi- 
dence in her future. His success was complete. He cleansed 
and purified, in great measure, what had become a house of 
corruption ; he transferred to the hands of Mr. Chase, Presi- 
dent Lincoln's Secretary, a balance of $6,000,000, applicable 
to the current expenses of the government. In a word, he 
set the National Government on its legs, restored the credit 
of the country, and put it in a position to meet the shock un- 
der which, if not so strengthened, ii must have gone down. 
All this was done, not only with consummate financial ability, 
but in the spirit of the broadest patriotism, and with an ear- 
nest effort to avert the terrible arbitration of war. Referring 
to the desires and hopes which actuated himself and his col- 
leagues during the close of the last Democratic administra- 
tion that the country has seen, he left on record these mem- 
orable words:* 

"Throughout the whole course of encroachment and ag- 
gression the Federal Government has borne itself with a 
spirit of patenial forbearance of which there is no example 

* Speeches and Occasional Addresses, vol. ii., page 424. 



in the history of public society, waiting in patient hope that 
the empire of reason would resume its sway over those 
whom the excitement of passion has thus far blinded, and 
trusting that the friends of good order, wearied with sub- 
mission to proceedings which they disapproved, would at no 
distant day rally under the banner of the Union, and exert 
themselves with vigor and success against the prevailing 
recklessness and violence." 

In the London Observer^ February 9, 1862, a sensational 
story appeared about an alleged " Cabinet Scene." It ran 
as follows: 

" Major Anderson, when commanding Fort Moultrie, 
Charleston Harbor, finding his position endangered, passed 
his garrison, by a prompt and brilliant movement, over to the 
stronger fortress of Sumter ; whereupon Mr. Floyd, Secretary 
of "War, much excited, called upon the President, to say that 
Major Andei*son had violated express orders and thereby seri- 
ously compromised him (Floyd), and that unless the major 
was immediately remanded to Fort Moultrie he should resign 
the War-office. 

" The Cabinet was assembled directly. Mr. Buchanan, ex- 
plaining the er^barrassment of the Secretary of War, remark- 
ed that the act of Major Anderson would occasion exaspera- 
tion in the South. He had told Mr. Floyd that, as the govern- 
ment was strong, forbearance toward erring brethren might 
win them back to their allegiance, and that that officer might 
be ordered back. 

" After an ominous silence, the President inquired how the 
suggestion struck his Cabinet. 

"Mr. Stanton, then Attorney -general, answered: 'That 
course, Mr. President, ought certainly to be regarded as most 
liberal toward erring brethren ; but while one member of your 
Cabinet has fraudulent acceptances for millions of dollars 
afloat, and while the confidential clerk of another — himself in 
Carolina teaching rebellion — has just stolen $900,000 from 
the Indian Trust Fund, the experiment of ordering Major 


Anderson back to Fort Moultrie would be dangerous. But 
if you 'utend to try it, before it is done I beg that you will 
accept my resignation.' 

" ' And mine,' added the Secretary of State, Mr. Black. 

" ' And mine also,' said the Postmaster-general, Mr. Holt. 

"'And mine too,'- followed the Secretary of the Treasury, 
General Dix. 

" This, of course, opened the bleared eyes of the President, 
and the meeting resulted in the acceptance of Mr. Floyd's 

This highly colored narrative was not only untrue, but may 
be taken as a specimen of the numerous inventions of a time 
of excitement. I have the written testimony of two of the 
alleged actore that no such thing occurred at any time while 
they were in the Cabinet. General Dix, in reply to a letter 
from a gentleman who quoted the foregoing extract, and 
asked for information as to its authenticity, says : 

" New York, September 11, 1863. 

" Dear Sir, — I owe you an apology for so long neglecting to answer 
your letter of the 31st ultimo. 

" I do not recollect any circumstances like those stated in the extract 
quoted in your letter. The extract is in more than one respect altogether 
eiToneous. I never met Mr, Floyd in Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet. I was 
appointed Secretary of the Treasury after Mr. Floyd had retired from the 
War Department, and while the duties were discharged by the Post- 
master-general, Mr. Holt. During my connection with Mr. Buchanan's 
administration no incident occurred to suggest to me a tender of my 

" My public duties have been so engrossing that I have been unable 
to refer to memoranda of dates, etc., but I will do so, if my answer is not 
sufficiently explicit. I am, respectfully yours, 

" JouN A. Dix. 

"Augustus Scuell, Esq." 

Judge Black, another of the persons mentioned in the ac- 
count, says, in a letter addressed to me December 10, 1881 : 

" What is called a ' Cabinet Scene ' was falsely described in 
a way to do Mr. Buchanan gi-eat injury, and he felt it deeply 



for tlie last seven years of his life. Some of the versions 
represent General Dix as backing Stanton, and others in bul- 
lying and insulting the President, who, according to all the 
stories, submitted like a coward and backed out of his pre- 
determined measure. It was a mere fabrication; nothing 
at all like it ever took place. The date assigned to it by 
the inventors was before General Dix was appointed. Never- 
theless, the lie had such a run, that some friend of General 
Dix, after his death, repeated it in an obituary notice. I 
trust you will pardon me for suggesting that you may honor 
your father by showing that he never countenanced this false- 
hood. I cannot furnish the proof that he ever publicly con- 
tradicted it, but you doubtless know that he often expressed 
his contempt for it and its authors. I speak confidently, be- 
cause he was incapable of doing anything to encourage a 
mere slander." 

On the inauguration of President Lincoln, General Dix 
returned to New York. Before his departure from Washing- 
ton he took leave of his associates and friends in a farewell 
interview, which is thus described in the National Intelli- 
gencer of March 8, 1861 : 

" Valedictory of Mr. Secretary Dix. 

" Yesterday, in the saloon of the south wing of the Treas- 
ury building, there was a very large meeting, consisting of 
over two hundred and fifty in number, almost spontaneously 
assembled, of the heads of bureaus and clerks of the Treasury 
Department, to pay their farewell respects to General Dix, 
whose brilliant administration of the Treasury Department 
during the past eight weeks has restored confidence in the 
financial world, and his affable manners and prompt business 
habits have secured him the affection as well as respect of all 
those who were brought into communication with him. 

" The meeting was altogether informal, and, by request, Mr. 
Medill, the First Comptroller of the Treasury, made the fol- 
lowing address to General Dix : 


" ' General Dix, — Tlie heads of bureaus and the clerks of 
the Treasury Department have sought this occasion to express 
to you their high appreciation of the dignity and efficiency 
with which you have presided over and administered the 
affaire of the Department, and to take a respectful leave of 
you before you depart for that home from which you were so 
suddenly and so unexpectedly drawn by the demands of your 

" ' Called, Sir, to a most difficult position at a time of un- 
precedented embarrassment, and when the credit and the 
Treasury of the country were almost equally low, it was not 
long until your energy and high character restored both. 

"'Your kind deportment and quiet amenity of manners 
have secured you the pereonal respect and warmest regards of 
all who had the pleasure of serving under your direction, and 
we now avail ourselves of the opportunity to bid you adieu, 
and to wish you every happiness which a grateful country 
can bestow.' 

" To this address General Dix made the following reply : 

"'Governor Medill and Gentlemen, — When I came 
here I was not aware that any remarks were to be addressed 
to me. Much less could I have anticipated that they would 
have been couched in language so far transcending any merit 
that I possess. I beg you to be assured, however, that I am 
not the less grateful for the kind feelings by which they have 
been dictated. 

" ' When I requested you to meet together, it was for the 
pui'pose of affording me an opportunity of expressing to you 
my deep sense of the fidelity and zeal with which you have 
discharged your various duties during my brief connection 
with the Treasury Department. We have, it is true, seen lit- 
tle of each other ; but I know you must have understood the 
true cause — the severe pressure upon me during a period of 
unprecedented financial embarrassment, caused by a combina- 
tion to overthrow the government on the part of men who 




were living upon its bounty. If I have, by the force of cir- 
cumstances, been constrained to give prominence to the con- 
eequences of that conspiracy in other sections of the country, 
you may rest assured that it has been no pleasant duty. It 
was performed because it was a duty, and because it was be- 
lieved that the moral of this lesson of disloyalty to the Union 
would be best read in the odiousness of its manifestations — its 
recklessness, its violence, and its open disregard of high official 
obligations. Happily, its influence on this and other depart- 
ments of the Government has been neutralized ; and I take 
pleasure in saying that, in the talents and personal integrity 
of my successor in office, the country may confidently count 
on an able, honest, and efficient administration of its finances. 
You all know that I have during the last eight weeks been in 
intimate association, not only officially but personally, with the 
late Chief Magistrate of the Union, under whom most of you 
have served during the past four years ; and I should do in- 
justice to my own feelings if I were not to say that I have 
been strongly impressed with the purity of his motives, his 
conscientiousness, his thorough acquaintance with the business 
of government in its most complex details, and his anxious 
desire that the unhappy questions which distract the country 
may have a peaceful solution. His responsibilities have now 
passed into other hands ; and I trust that no one within the 
reach of my voice may forget that an administration consti- 
tutionally fonned is the government of the country, and that 
its labors for the public good, and its efforts at this juncture 
to restore harmony and confidence, should meet with a cordial 
and disinterested support. I did all I could to prevent it 
from coming into power, but I consider it a duty to test it 
by its merits, and its just measures should never encounter 
in any of us a factious opposition. 

" ' And now. Gentlemen, I must bid you farewell. There 
has been much in the course of our association, brief as it has 
been, there is much in the surrounding circumstances of its 
close, to render this parting painful. It is not in the order 


of human life that another sun shall see us all re-assembled. 
But, wherever you may go, however widely we may be sepa- 
rated from each other, you will carry with you my best wishes 
for your prosperity. For myself, having laid down the bur- 
den of my oflBcial service, I shall return, with a feeling of 
relief which no one can understand, to my domestic occupar 
tions and duties, trusting that no public necessity may again 
call me from them. But if the dark clouds by which our 
political horizon is overcast shall continue to obscure it, if 
the emergency shall come, I hope I may not forget that every 
citizen owes what remains to him of strength, or health, or 
life to the maintenance of the honor and welfare of the 

"The company present then severally advanced and ex- 
changed parting salutations with the highly esteemed Secre- 
tary, ar.d afterward retired." 

Upon his return to New York, General Dix received an 
invitation to a public dinner. The letter and his reply form a 
part of the history of his services as Secretary of the Treasury : 

" New York, March 4, 1861. 
"Ilonordble John A. Dix: 

" Deau Sin, — The undersigned, your fellow citizens of New York, de- 
sire to express their grateful sense of the efficient services rendered by 
you at a critical emergency in the affairs of the country. 

" Your management ot the National Treasury, at a period when dis- 
trust and disorder seriously menaced the public welfare, was marked by 
decision, firmness, and fidelity to the great trust confided to you. Under 
your prompt and sagacious action confidence was restored, the national 
credit preserved, and the integrity of the laws vindicated. 

"As members of a community deeply interested in the maintenance of 
all the authority of constitutional government, the undersigned feel a 
just pride in the success achieved by one connected with them by ties 
of citizenship and a common sense of public duty; they earnestly request, 
therefore, that you will afibrd the citizens of New York an opportunity 
of expressing these sentiments in a more appropriate manner, by con- 
senting to accept a public dinner in this city, at such time as may bo 
most convenient to yourself. 



" The undersigned avail tliemselves of this occasion to assure you of 
their sinccro and most respectful regard. 

"LuTHEn BuADien, 
Hamilton Fish, 
P. Perit, 

Wm, H. Aspinwall, 
D. Thompson, 
Shepherd Knapp, 
Watts Sherman, 


Benj. H. Field, 
Wm. Chauncey, 
Samuel Osgood, 
B. W. Bonney, 
F. De Peyster, 
Geo, S. Coe, 
Abram S. IIewitt, 
Morris K. Jesui 
Moses Taylor, 
F. Tileston, 
Jas, Gallatin, 
Wm. a. Booth, 
David Hoadley, 
Jos. D. Alsop, 
Edwin Bartlett, , 
Henry Ciiauncey, 
Theodore Deiion, 
O. D. F. Grant, 
Wm. Barlow, 
Morris Ketchum, 
Joseph Laurence, 
Peter Cooper, 
Greene C. Bronson, 
John H. Swift, 
S. Baldwin, 
James G. King, 
Gracie King, 
Henry A. Hurlburt, 
Robert L. Stuart, 
Robert B. Minturn, 
Danl. F. Tiemann, 
Wm. H. Appleton, 
8. B. Chittenden, 
John J. Phelps, 
George Bliss, 

Waldkn Pell, 
George Opdyke, 
Alex. T. Stewart, 
Fredk. S. Winston, 
J. Green Pearson, 
j. punnett, 
Samuel B. Rugoles, 
A. E. Silliman, 


Wm. V. Brady, 


Nathl. Hayden, 
Saml. D. Babcock, 
Wm, & John O'Brien, 
Henry E. Davies, 
August Belmont, 
Wm. p. Lee, 
Gabriel Mead, 
Richard Berry, 
A. A. Low, 
Royal Phelps, 
Geo. T. Eliot, 
Geo. B. De Forest, 
M. Morgan & Sons, 
J. Kernochan, 
R. Withers, 
William B. Taylor, 
Charles A. Davis, 
Edwd. Whitehouse, 
G. W. Duer, 
John D. Jones, 
Robert C. Goodhue, 
Wm. Nelson & Sons, 
David Adee, 
Jas. M. Brown, 
Howard Potter, 
AV. H, Hays, 
Cammann & Co., 
E. T. H. Gibson, 
Sajil. T. Skidmore, 
Marshall O. Roberts, 
George Folsom, 
A. P. Halsey, 

J. L. Douglass, 
Edwin Croswell, 
Wm. T, Coleman & Co,, 
Stewart Brown, 
W. C, Wetmore, 
Henry Grinnell, 
Alfred Pell, 
G. T. Bobbins, 
Jas. D. p. Ogden, 
John J. Cisco, 
W. H, Johnson, 
Jonathan Sturges, 


Wm. G. Lambert, 
Tuo, J, Howes, 
Morris Franklin, 
Jonathan D, Steele, 
J. M. McLean, 
Ward & Co., 

C. R, Robert, 
Wm. E. Dodge, 
J, R. Whiting, 
Arthur Leary, 
Geo. p. Morris, 
Cyrus W. Field, 
Thos. Clerke, 
Jos. Sutherland, 

D. p. Ingraham, 
Henry Welles, 
Wm. H. Leonard, 
John T. Hoffman, 
Henry Hilton, 
Chas. p. Leverich, 

E. H. Gillilan, 
Geo. T. Strong, 
Chas. A. Peabody, 
And. Carrigan, 
H. G. Bronson, 
James J. Roosevelt, 
Alex. W. Bradford, 
Murray Hoffman, 
Chas. P. Daly, 

J. W. Gerard." 


♦•Now York, March 13, 1861. 

" Gentlemen, — I have the honor to acknowledge tho communicntion 
which you presented to mc yesterday, signed by a large number of my 
fellow-citizens, expressing their approbation of my official service in tho 
Treasury Department, and inviting mc to accept a public dinner in tliis 
city at some convenient time. 

" I have no words to express my thankfulness for tho honor intended 
for me, or my gratification in being assured that my brief administration of 
the financial department of the government has been deemed worthy of 
the approbation of those whoso interests are so intimately interwoven 
with it. I am not conscious of having done any farther service than that 
which every good citizen owes to his government, in laboring to uphold 
its credit and its authority. That it has been rendered with earnestness, 
an'l without regard to any other considerations than those which em- 
bro ced in their scope the interests and the honor of the whole country, I 
can sincerely say ; and in your approval I see, not so much tho merit 
which you are pleased to ascribe to me, as your own devotion to tho 
Union and its precious institutions, baptized in the blood of our common 
ancestors, and bequeathed to us as an inheritance to be maintained if nec- 
essary with our own. In its defence New York has in every emergency 
borne a conspicuous part: in war, by sending her own citizens against 
the common enemy, when the power of the General Government was in- 
adequate to the public security; in seasons of financial embarrassment, by 
pouring out her treasure to uphold the credit of the country, as her chil- 
dren have poured out their blood to uphold its honor. I need not say 
that I regard the approbation of such a community as the highest testi- 
monial it can give and the most valuable any man can receive. I shall 
cherish the expression of confidence you have tendered to me as one of tho 
proudest recollections of my life, never forgetting that without your gen- 
erous and disinterested support my own labors would have been fruitless. 

" In conclusion, Gentlemen, I beg you to excuse me from accepting 
the public dinner you have kindly tendered to me. You will, I know, 
appreciate my motive when I ask quietly to allow me to return to my 
domestic avocations. Residents of the same city, we shall often meet, 
and never without a deep sense on my part of your generous confidence 
and kindness. 

" I am, with the sincerest respect and regard, your obedient servant, 

"John A. Dix." 

Although the public dinner was declined, he accepted an 
invitation from the Mayor and Common Council to a recep- 
tion at the City Hall, " for the purpose of affording the citi- 
L— 25 



zona of Now York an opportunity to express their high esti- 
mation of him as a man and a patriot, in liis noble stand in 
maintaining the dignity of tlio American flag and in the dis- 
charge of the duties of liis office." Tlio day fixed was the 
14th of March. A detachment of Police escorted him to the 
City Hall, where he was met by the Hon. Fernando Wood, 
and conducted to the Governor's Room. His reply to the 
brief address of welcome was as follows : 

" Mr. Mayor, — I thank you for the kind expressions with 
which you have been pleased to receive me, and for the gi'eat- 
er kindness which, as the chief magistrate of this city, you 
have done me by consenting to be present on this occasion. 
My thanks are especially duo to the Common Council for the 
groat honor they have conferred on me by tendering to mo for 
the reception of my friends a place usually appropriated to 
those M'ho have far greater claims than myself to such a dis- 
tinction. They have thought proper to place this mark of 
their approbation on the ground of my recent services in the 
Treasury Department. But, in truth, Mr. Mayor, I feel that 
in this service I have done no more than any other sincere 
friend of the Union would have done. If the public credit 
is in danger of being dishonored, who would not strive by all 
the means in his power to protect it ? If the public authori- 
ty is set at defiance, what citizen with an honest heart in his 
bosom would not labor zealously and fearlessly to defend and 
uphold it ? These duties are no more than the common obli- 
gations of loyalty to the government and to the Union, of 
which the government is the representative. They became 
mine in a peculiar sense when I was called to a position in 
which they devolved on me as attributes of official service. 
Whatever dishonor there might have been in disregarding or 
violating them, the merit of fidelity to them is only that of 
doing what it would have been discreditable not to have 
done. Sir, I have no claim beyond this to the approbation 
of my fellow-citizens. But I am not the less thankful for 




tho honor the Common Council have done mc. They have 
given to mo tho most grateful of all welcomes — that which 
proceeds from the confidence of those among whom wo live ; 
and I beg to express to them through you my deep and last- 
ing sense of their kindness." 

Of tho great number of letters received at that time I 

limit myself to transcribing the two which follow; tho one 

from Governor Morgan, the other from the Hon. Revcrdy 

Johnson : 

"Albany, March 0,1801. 
•T/je Ilonoralle John A. Dlx: 

"My dear Sir, — I niu uot willing to let another day pass without 
bearing my testimony, nnil expressing my sense of obligation to you, for 
tho valuable services rendered to both our State and country by your 
prompt occeptauco of and efficient discbarge of the duties of Sccrei ry 
of the Treasury, at a period of peculiar trial and peril to the Natio..i_ 

" During the few weeks that you were at the head of the Treasury 
Department, at tho close of President Buchanan's administration, you 
happily brought order out of chaos, and gave to capitalists and to others 
confidence and assurances that treason and traitors had done their worst, 
and that henceforth law and order were to bear sAvay in the councils 
of the Federal Government. 

"Your patriotic course during the late most trying emergency has 
placed tho people under obligations to you, which should not pass with- 
out some public rccognitiou. And I am sure you neither desire nor can 
you ever have any acknowledgment that will bo so gratifying as the 
consciousness which you must ever possess of having, under God, faith- 
fully discharged your duty. 

"I have the honor to be, with very great respect, your obedient 
servant, E. D. Morgan." 

. •' Waahhigton, March 9, 1861. 
"My dear Gexeral, — I join, with your permission, tho universal 
voice in thanking you for the able and truly patriotic manner in which 
you discharged, from the first, your duties as Secretary of the Treasury. 
Such firmncfes and ability at the commcucemcnt of our troubles would, 
I have no doubt, have preserved the Union. As it is, God only knows 
what is to be the result. The revolution, though begun without the 
smallest excuse, much less justification, has now progressed so far that 



nothing can arrest it, if that can, but conciliation. This may preserve 
the border slave States, and I think -will. And that done, I have hopes 
that, sooner or later, the rest will return. But I doubt, greatly doubt, if 
the President is at all fit for the emergency ; and if he is not, civil war 
may soon be upon us, and this will be ruin to all. 

" Nothing but a severe indisposition, from which I am recovering but 
slowly, prevented my bidding you an affectionate adieu before your leav- 
ing here. Happen what may, I shall ever look with interest and confi- 
dence to your future. Sincerely your friend, 

"Reverdy Johnson. 

"General Dix." 





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